Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Piotr Konstantinovich Kozachenko HSU

14 June 1914 – 18 March 1945

Piotr Kozachenko was born on 14 June 1914, in the small village of Korostienie in the Zhitomir region, Ukraine. After school, he went for three years in evening schools for workers education and when he was 20 years old, he entered the army, graduating from Odessa Military Air Collage in 1936.

As a volunteer, he joined the Chinese forces against Japan in one of the first group of volunteers to be sent there in July 1937. During fights over the Uchan Province he claimed 11 enemy planes while flying I-16s. He continued to serve in China until May 1938.

In 1938, he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for his achievements in China.

It seems that Starshii Leitenant Kozachenko served in 38 IAP at the start of the Winter War.

During the Winter War in 1939-40, Kozachenko shot down four Finnish aircraft, flying Polikarpov I-153s in the Karelian area and emerged as one of the more successful Soviet pilots in this conflict.

Kozachenko was posted from 38 IAP to 4./25 IAP on 21 January 1940 to set up the eskadrilia with Polikarov I-153s. This unit operated over the Karelian Isthmus.

Between 16:15-17:15 on 2 February 1940, ten I-16s and three I-153s from 25 IAP led by assistant CO Bushev fought with 18 Finnish aircraft over Imatra. The returning Soviet pilots claimed eleven Fokker D.XXIs and one two-seated fighter shot down without losses!
Participating (and claiming) Soviet pilots were Kapitan Bushev, Mladshii Leitenant Polupan, Starshii Leitenant Yakov A. Antonov, Starshii Politruk Aleksandr Ivashkin (I-16), Major Aleksandr Ketov (I-16), Leitenant Smirnov, Denisov, Starshii Leitenant Smiryagin, Starshii Leitenant Sviridenko, Starshii Leitenant Nikolai Zybin (I-16) and Starshii Leitenant Kozachenko (I-153; it seems that he claimed the two-seat fighter and a Fokker).
The only claim in this combat that can be verified is that the Danish volunteer Luutnantti Fritz Rasmussen of LLv 24 was shot down and killed in Fokker D.XXI FR-81 over Rauha.

On 19 February, Starshii Leitenant Kozachenko (CO 4./25 IAP) and Starshii Leitenant Grigoriy Sokolov intercepted twelve Finnish Fokker D.XXIs over Hamina and in the ensuing combat claimed four of them shot down (two each).
These claims can’t be verified with any Finnish losses.

Before the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, he was promoted to Mayor.

On the first day of the war with Germany, on 22 June 1941, Kozachenko and his group of I-153 aircraft of the 249 IAP (249th Fighter Regiment) flew ground attack missions against German forces at Lubera city (near Zytomierz).
During the day, Kozachenko claimed an unconfirmed He112.
Previously he has been credited with a He112 over Bolgrad the next day. However, the area of action for 249 IAP, tasked with PVO (air defence in Vinnitsa-Zhmerinka region, was way to far from Bolgrad.

Commanded by Captain Alexander Ivanovich Halutin, the 249 IAP was credited with 25 aerial victories for the loss of 10 planes and six pilots from June to October 1941 (when the unit was withdrawn from combat to be re-equipped with the LaGG-3s).

On 15 July, he claimed a Bf 109 over Kazatino.

On 16 July, he claimed a He 111 near Samgorodok.

In early 1942, he became commanding officer of the regiment, leading it over the North Caucasus Front.

On 1 February 1942, a weather-reconnaissance Bf 110 of 3(F)/11 was listed as missing over the Straits of Kerch, probably shot down by Mayor Kozachenko.

On 1 November 1942, a formation of six LaGG-3 fighters led by Kozachenko spotted a group of 15 Messerschmitt Bf 110s near Ardon. Catching the Germans in an unfavourable position, the Soviets downed five of the twin-engined fighters, one of them being claimed by Kozachenko.

A few days later, during a strike on Mineralniye Airfield, Kozachenko shot down a Bf 109.

Shortly afterwards, Kozachenko and six other pilots of the Fighter Regiment's 7 fighters blew 8 Junkers Ju 52s out of the sky in one combat.

In December 1942, he claimed two Ju 52s and one Bf 109 in one sortie.

On 28 February 1943, he claimed two Ju 52/3ms.

He claimed an Fw190 in March.

In the spring of 1943, the regiment moved to the South Front and saw action over the Kerch Penisula.

At this time, his regiment was instructed to organise "free hunting missions" on German Ju 52 transport aircraft. During one of these "free hunts" on 28 February, Kozachenko was seriously injured after shooting down two Ju 52s when he was hit in his left arm and stomach. He was able to return to base, but after landing he remained in the cockpit until his comrades helped him out and he was admitted to hospital for some weeks.

Mayor Piotr Kozacheko received the Golden Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin on 1 May 1943 (alternatively on 6 May 1943).

In the summer of 1944, he returned to duty in the rank of Popolkovnik, commanding the 163 GIAP, which the 249 IAP had become. The regiment was now operating over the Crimea area on the 2nd Ukrainian Front.

In July 1944, he claimed a Bf 109.

With 163 GIAP, he also saw action in the skies over the encircled German troops near Minsk. His Regiment operated as part of the Soviet 4th Air Army on the 2nd Belorussian Front. Frequently, his regiment was ordered to cover special versions of the Petlyakov Pe-2 during very important reconnaissance missions. These Pe-2 reconnaissance crews put great faith in Kozachenko's cover, and named him "Daddy" (in Russian - "Bat´ka").

In March 1945, the 2nd White Russian Front fought near Gdansk and Gdynia.

On 18 March 1945, "Daddy" Kozachenko was killed in a mission while escorting reconnaissance Pe-2s over Danzig (now Gdansk). His La-5 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and started to burn. The last words heard from him over the radio were "I'm hit, going for a 'Taran'!" (Air-to-air ramming attack).

At the time of his death, Kozachenko was credited with 6 biplane victories and a total of 27. These were claimed during 227 combat missions. He had claimed 12 and 8 shared during the Great Patriotic War, 4 during the Winter War and 11 during the Sino-Japanese conflict.

During the war, he had also been decorated with Order of the Red Banner (two more times), the Order of Alexander Nevskii and the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
2 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
3 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
4 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
5 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
6 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
7 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
8 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
9 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
10 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
11 ??/??/3?   1 Japanese a/c Destroyed I-16   China  
12 02/02/40 16:15-17:15 1 Fokker D.XXI (a) Destroyed I-153   Rauha 4./25 IAP
13 02/02/40 16:15-17:15 1 Two-seated fighter (b) Destroyed I-153   Imatra 4./25 IAP
14 19/02/40   1 Fokker D.XXI (c) Destroyed I-153   Hamina 4./25 IAP
15 19/02/40   1 Fokker D.XXI (c) Destroyed I-153   Hamina 4./25 IAP
  22/06/41   1 He112B (d) Unconfirmed I-153   Lubera area 249 IAP
17 15/07/41   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-153   Kazatino 249 IAP
18 16/07/41   1 He 111 Destroyed I-153   near Samgorodok 249 IAP
? 01/02/42   1 Bf 110 (e) Destroyed LaGG-3   Straits of Kerch 249 IAP
? 01/11/42   1 Bf 110 Destroyed LaGG-3   Ardon area 249 IAP
? ??/11/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed LaGG-3   Mineralniye airfield 249 IAP
? ??/12/42   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed ?     249 IAP
? ??/12/42   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed ?     249 IAP
? ??/12/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed ?     249 IAP
? 28/02/43   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed       249 IAP
? 28/02/43   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed       249 IAP
? ??/03/43   1 Fw190 Destroyed       249 IAP
? ??/07/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed       163 GIAP
27 18/03/45   1 Enemy aircraft (f) Destroyed La-5     163 GIAP

Biplane victories: 6 destroyed, 1 unconfirmed.
TOTAL: 27 and 8 shared destroyed, 1 unconfirmed.
(a) 25 IAP claimed 11 victories but only Fokker D.XXI FR-81 of LLv 24 was shot down and the pilot KIA.
(b) Not verified with Finnish records.
(c) Not verified with Finnish records.
(d) Not verified with Rumanian records.
(e) Probably a Bf 110 of 3(F)/11.
(f) Claimed in a “taran” ramming attack.

Black Cross/Red Star Volume I - Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhailov, 2000 Pacifica Military History, ISBN 0-935553-48-7
Black Cross/Red Star Volume II - Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhailov, 2001 Pacifica Military History, ISBN 0-935553-51-7
From Barbarossa to Odessa: Volume 1 – Dénes Bernád, Dmitriy Karlenko and Jean-Louis Roba, 2007 Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-85780-273-3
Red Stars 7 - Talvisota Ilmassa - The Winter War In the Air - Carl-Fredrik Geust, 2011 Apali Oy, Tampere, ISBN 978-952-5877-04-5
Rumanian Air Force: The Prime Decade, 1938-1947 - Dénes Bernád, 1999 Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, ISBN 0-89747-402-3
Sovetskiye asy - Nikolay Bodrikhin, 1998 kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov
Stalin's Eagles - Hans D. Seidl, 1998 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-0476-3
Stalin's Falcons - Tomas Polak and Christhoper Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-01-2
Suomen Ilmavoimat part II – 1928-40 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2006, ISBN 952-99743-0-2
Voenno-Istoricheskiy Zhurnal, No. 3, 1983 kindly provided by Yuri Shakhov
WWII Ace Stories - Dariusz Tyminski
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka and Yuri Shakhov

Last modified 28 September 2019