Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Kapitan Vasiliy Stepanovich Doroshin

1921 – 23 June 1943

Vasiliy Doroshin was born in the Leningrad area in 1921.

In 1939, he entered Chuguev Military Aviation School and was posted to 72 SmAP-SF in October 1940 where he flew Polikarpov I-153s.

When German attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, he still served in 72 SmAP-SF, which was equipped with Polikarpov I-153s. This was a mainly fighter equipped composite regiment operating in the defence of Murmansk with the Air Force of the North Fleet.

In October 1941, he transferred to 78 IAP-SF and he flew Hawker Hurricanes with this unit.

22 February 1942, Doroshin was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

On 18 May 1942, 13 Hurricanes from 78 IAP-SF intercepted six Ju 88s and two Bf 110s. According to Northern Fleet Air Force Headquarters operations report No 0138 of 19 May 1942:

Sgibnev attacked one Ju 88 from above and behind, opening fire with four machine guns from a distance of 300-100 m. The aircraft caught fire and crashed near lake Kilp-Yavr. Babiy attacked another Ju 88 from above and behind, opening fire with four to five long bursts from a distance of 200-100 m. The aircraft entered a steep dive and crashed into the ground six kilometres southwest of Lake Dolgoe. Bershanskiy attacked a Ju 88 from directly behind its tail and opened fire with five bursts. The aircraft caught fire and crashed five kilometres south of Kyadel-Yavr. Doroshin shot down a Ju 88 and [leitenant Emil] Dilanyan shot down a single Me 110. The fall of these aircraft is confirmed by air defence posts and verified from the air by the regimental commander.”
78 IAP-SF thus claimed four Ju 88s and a Bf 110 destroyed. At the same time the pilots of 122 IAD and the 14th Army Air Force, who also played a part in countering the raid, claimed to have destroyed 13 Ju 88s, although, as was often the case, the reality was very different. Indeed, KG 30 lost only Ju 88A-4 WNr. 1746.

On the morning of 2 June, the Luftwaffe struck twice at Murmansk and its port. The Northern Fleet Air Force scrambled 30 fighters at 11:20 to repel the first raid, which comprised nine Ju 87s escorted by four Bf 109s and a similar number of Bf 110s. Several jetties were seriously damaged as well as the railway line to the port. A submarine, which was under repair in the shipyard, was also damaged by a bomb. The Hurricanes were joined by an eskadrilya of I-l6s from 27 IAP-SF under the command of kapitan Vasiliy Adonkin. The Polikarpov pilots engaged the Bf 109s and kapitan Adonkin claimed one of them. This gave their compatriots in the Hurricanes an opportunity to attack the enemy bombers without interference. Starshiy leitenant Aleksey Dizhevskiy, who was leading six Hurricanes, subsequently reported:

“We were patrolling over Mishukov Cape airfield when we encountered eight or nine Ju 87s at 1125 hrs at an altitude of 3500 m. They were flying out of the cloud and out of the sun on a bombing mission. I called on my group to close up and we attacked head-on and from below as a group. Having prevented the enemy aircraft from diving on their targets, they lost altitude and attempted to turn for home. This was a mistake, as their manoeuvring allowed us to get in behind them and continue the pursuit.
I attacked two Ju 87s, the first from behind and below. I fired two bursts into its engine and the Stuka started to smoke. Dropping onto its port wing, the aircraft went down vertically in flames. I then attacked a second Ju 87. I caught up with it and attacked from below and behind from a distance of 30-20 m. After I had used up all my ammunition, I watched as the Ju 87’s engine cowlings broke loose and the engine started to smoke heavily. The aircraft disappeared in a steep dive east of Lake Pyayve-Yavr. I was not able to pursue the dive-bombers any further because of an Me 110, which I engaged in combat. Following this battle I landed safely at my home airfield. My aircraft was undamaged.”
In all, the pilots of 78 IAP-SF claimed to have destroyed ten enemy aircraft during the raid. This total was comprised of six Ju 87s, three Bf 109s and a single Bf 110. The following pilots from 78th IAP were amongst those who claimed to have destroyed a Ju 87: starshiy leitenant Dizhevskiy (who was promoted to kapitan after this combat), starshiy leitenant Petr Sgibnev (1./78 IAP-SF), leitenant Emil Dilanyan, starshiy leitenant Petr Kolomiets, leitenant Nikolay Nikolayev and serzhant Alexei Pilipenko. Starshiy leitenant Doroshin claimed a Bf 109. This earned him a second Order of the Red Banner. The Soviet fighters from 78 IAP-SF suffered no losses.
German sources state that 3./StG 5 lost only two Ju 87Rs (WNrs. 5485 and 5545) and had three crewmen killed (Oberleutnant Karl Pauls, Unteroffizier Jakob Holtmaier and Leutnant Karl Rapp). Air gunner Obergefreiter Werner Somann survived being shot down and was taken prisoner. Under interrogation, he made the following observation:
“It has become more difficult to get away from the enemy fighters recently, in as much as now the Russian pilots are starting to get as close as 7-10 m from the bombers, which previously didn't happen.”
It was not such a successful day for the pilots of 2 GIAP-SF, however. Seven Hurricanes, led by Aleksey Kovalenko, were sent aloft to counter the second raid on Murmansk’s port, but they suffered heavy losses. Three Hurricanes (BH328, Z5052 and Z5252) were shot down and Guards serzhant A. V. Vanyukhin was killed. Only a solitary Bf 109 was claimed by Guards leitenant Pavel Markov (Hurricane Z5252) in return, although this was not confirmed.

On 13 June, eight Hurricanes from 78 IAP-SF were scrambled to intercept Ju 87s. Their pilots, however, encountered an escort group of seven Bf 109s, which they engaged. According to participants’ reports, starshiy leitenant Aleksey Dizhevskiy, starshiy leitenant Doroshin, starshiy leitenant Nikolay Nikolayev and leitenant Vasiliy Shalayev all claimed victories, although the latter was subsequently shot down. Having suffered a slight foot wound, Shalayev took to his parachute and landed safely.

By November 1942, he was CO of an eskadrilya in 78 IAP-SF.

Doroshin failed to return from a sortie in Hurricane JS259 on 23 June 1943. One account of his death noted:

“there were no encounters with enemy aircraft during the sortie, and the area around the target was covered by anti-aircraft artillery. On the way back at low level his radiator and propeller hit the water. The pilot made a technical error when entering low-level flight, for he got caught in the slipstream on an Il-2. His propeller hit the water and the aircraft crashed and sunk.”

At the time of his death, Doroshin was credited with 1 biplane victory and a total of 7.
These had been claimed during more than 437 combat missions (11 of them at night). Of his 600 flying hours, 348 were in the Hurricane.
During the war, he had been decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (three times).

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 15/08/41   1 Ju 87 Destroyed I-153   Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa 72 SmAP-SF
2 12/05/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Hurricane   Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa 78 IAP-SF
3 14/05/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane   Lake Pyayve-Yavr 78 IAP-SF
4 18/05/42   1 Ju 88 (a) Destroyed Hurricane   Lake Nyal-Yavr 78 IAP-SF
5 02/06/42 11:25 1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane   Lake Kilp-Yavr 78 IAP-SF
6 13/06/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane   "square 4672", Murmansk area 78 IAP-SF
7 21/02/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Hurricane   S Ura-guba 78 IAP-SF

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 7 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Ju 88s from KG 30. Soviet fighters claimed 17 Ju 88s while only 1 was lost.

All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Hurricane Aces of World War 2 – Yuriy Rybin, 2012 Osprey Publishing Limited, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-741-1

Last modified 12 November 2020