Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Aleksey Rodionovich Kovalev

1906 –

Aleksey Kovalev was born in 1906.

Kapitan Kovalek took part in the Nomonhan Incident against Japan where he flew I-153s in 22 IAP.

Mongolian territory was cleared of Japanese units on 31 August 1939 and the last land battles saw 27 Japanese bombers (including Ki-30s from 31st Sentai) and 70 fighters from 1st, 11th, and 64th Sentai entering battle with 126 I-16s. The Japanese claimed to have brought down 21 Soviet fighters down (eight of them by 64th Sentai) and five probables for the loss of three own aircraft and four pilots. Known losses included the 31st Sentai 1st chutai CO Captain Jiro Inoue, who was killed and the crash-landing of Captain Saito (31st Sentai 2nd chutai CO). Saito had been attacked by enemy fighters and made an emergency landing at the vicinity of Chiangchunmiao. His gunner, 2nd Lieutenant Takeo Hidaka was KIA.
The Soviet side claimed to have lost a single I-16 and scored 22 victories, one against a single-engined bomber.
Kapitan Kovalev from 22 IAP (I-153) claimed a Ki-27 between Uzur-Nur and Lake Yanhu while starshiy leitenant Petr Grayevskiy claimed one destroyed.
In combat west of Lake Usur-Nur, Nikolay Viktorov of 70 IAP (I-16) claimed two shared Ki-27s together with another pilot while starshiy leitenant Anatoliy Nikolayev claimed one Ki-27. Starshiy leitenant Konstantin Bukhtiyarov claimed one Ki-27. One of the shared Ki-27s claimed by Viktorov was probably claimed together with Grigoriy Boychenko (Polikarpov biplane), who reportedly claimed one and one shared Ki-27 north-west of Lake Usur-Nur. Starshiy leitenant Semen Levin claimed one Ki-27 shared ”in group”.
Kapitan Mikhail Dolbyshev from 56 IAP (I-16) claimed four shared Ki-27s (”in group”) while starshiy leitenant Yakov Kurbatov claimed two.

He took part in the Finnish-Soviet Winter War (November 1939 to March 1940) but didn’t claim anything in this conflict.

From April 1942, Kovalev served as CO of 429 IAP in the struggle against Germany. This unit was at the time equipped with Yak-1s.

On 19 May, the Yak-1s from 429 IAP was in combat in the Stalingrad area and Kovalev (CO 429 IAP) claimed one Bf 109 while Konstantin Kiryanov claimed a ”Me 115”.

429 IAP was renamed to 875 IAP on 11 June 1942.

Between 6 August to 16 September, they retrained on the Yak-7B.
On 17 September, they arrived at Klin with 32 Yak-7Bs and was included in the newly formed 274 IAD.

They started combat again on 22 October with 274 IAD on the Kalinin Front.

The Yak-7Bs fought FW 190s and Ju 87s on 16 March 1943. Kovalev (CO 875 IAP) claimed two FW 190s; one over Schelgunovo and one over Onufrievo while Konstantin Kiryanov claimed one FW 190 over Schelgunovo and one Ju 87 west of Onufrievo.

On 18 March 1943, 875 IAP was promoted to a Guards-unit and thus renamed to 66 GIAP.

Kovalev left 66 GIAP as CO on 7 September 1943 and in November he was posted to 91 IAP.

He became CO of 91 IAP on 29 March 1944 and remained in this position until 24 October 1945.

Kovalev ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 6.
These had been claimed during 89 combat missions (as of 16 April 1945).
During his career, he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (twice), the Order of Aleksandr Nevsky and the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 31/08/39   1 Ki-27 Destroyed I-153   Uzur-Nur-Lake Yanhu 22 IAP
2 19/05/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-1   Stalingrad area 429 IAP
3 16/01/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-7B   Chuprovo 875 IAP
4 16/03/43   1 FW 190 Destroyed Yak-7B   Shchelgunovo 875 IAP
5 16/03/43   1 FW 190 Destroyed Yak-7B   Onufrievo 875 IAP
5 14/07/44   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-3   Zolochev 91 IAP

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 6 destroyed.

All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov

Last modified 20 September 2021