Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Starshiy Leytenant Vasiliy Averkyevich Knizhnik

Knizhnik was born in Kiev in 1918.

In January 1942, Knizhnik served in the 65 ShAP. During this time, the unit was equipped with Polikarpov I-15s, I-152s and I-153s and operated on the Soviet-Finnish Front in an assault and ground attack role.

On 24 January 1942, luutnantti L. Ohukainen’s five Brewsters from 2/LLv 24 attacked ten enemy biplanes, which were escorting a pair R-5s over Ontajärvi. Between 10:15-10:30, they claimed five aircraft when kersantti Eino Myllymäki (BW-358) claimed an I-152 over Kuusjärvi, lentomestari Yrjö Turkka (BW-352) claimed an I-152 over Ontajärvi and luutnantti Ohukainen (BW-356) claimed an I-152 over Kiimasjärvi. Lentomestari Turkka and luutnantti Ohukainen also claimed a shared R-5 over Kuusjärvi. Finally, between 10:15-10:20, alikersantti Paavo Koskela (BW-372) collided with a Chaika over Ontajärvi but managed to return back to Tiiksjärvi with a broken starboard wing tip to claim one victory.
The Soviet fighters were ten I-152s and I-153s from the 65 ShAP, which reported that Starshiy Leytenant Knizhnik in his I-152 made a “taran” ramming attack on one of the Brewster and after a forced landing he made a claim. . Two more Soviet aircraft were lost in the combat with the Finnish aircraft.
Brewster BW-372 was repaired and was later used by the Finnish ace Lauri Pekuri (18 ½ victories), who claimed seven victories while flying this aircraft until they were shot down on 25 June 1942 by a Hurricane from 609 IAP and crashed behind Soviet lines near Seesjärvi. Pekuri succeeded to return to his own line on foot.

For this combat, Knizhnik was decorated with the Order of Lenin.

65 ShAP was later re-armed with Il-2s and Knizhnik became an ace claiming 4 more victories to his total 5 victories.

Knizhnik retired as a Polkovnik.

Knizhnik ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 5. He also claimed 54 aircraft destroyed on the ground. These were claimed on 203 missions.

After the war, he was transferred to the reserve and worked as a flying trainer at Kiev aeroclub.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 24/01/42   1 Brewster (a) Destroyed I-152   Rukajärvi 65 ShAP

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in a “taran”-attack on Finnish Brewster BW-372. The pilot kersantti P. Koskela of 2/LLv 24 managed to return to his base.

Hävittäjä-Ässät (Finnish Fighter Aces) - Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman and Klaus Niska, 1994 Apali, Tampere, ISBN 952-5026-00-0
Lentolaivue 24 - Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinen, 2001 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-262-8
Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 1: Brewster model 239 - Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman and Klaus Niska kindly provided by Ondrej Repka
Red Stars 1 - Carl-Fredrik Geust, Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman kindly provided by Ondrej Repka
Suomen Ilmavoimat part IV – 1942 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-2-0
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka

Last modified 29 February 2008