Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Pavel Pavlovich Kryukov HSU

15 December 1906 - 11 November 1974

Kryukov was born on 15 December 1906 in the village of Birevo, near Moscow.
He flew for the first time in 1931 when he flew an R-1 biplane (unlicensed copy of DH-9).
In 1932, he joined the army.

During the summer 1939, he saw action in the 51 eskadrilya equipped with I-15bis against the Japanese over the Khalkin Gol River in Mongolia.

During this conflict, he claimed 3 victories.
In his last combat in this conflict, he was shot down and badly burned.

For his services during this conflict, he was awarded with the Order of the Red Banner.

In June 1941, he was a Kapitan leading an eskadrilya of the 55 IAP, flying reconnaissance missions in MiG-3s over the river Prut.

On 22 June, pilots of the 55 IAP were tasked with reconnoitring the enemy. Following orders received from divisional level, a pair of MiG-3s took off on a reconnaissance mission deep into Rumania, over Ploeşti. However neither pilot returned. Not having calculated their fuel reserves correctly, both had to force-land due to fuel shortage. Kryukov, who was flying the MiG-3 only for the second time, was barely able to cross the Danube and made an emergency landing. However, the other pilot, Yakovenko, was not able to reach friendly territory and landed in Rumania. He managed to return to his regiment several days later.

During the autumn, Kryukov commanded a training eskadrilya in the regiment where he together with the ace to be Pokrishkin trained new pilots.

On 7 March 1942, the unit was renamed 16 GIAP. At this time, it was operating on the South West Front, and later on the North Caucasus Front.

On 18 May 1942, he claimed a Ju88.

During the Kuban River operations of early 1943, the unit was re-equipped with P-39 Airacobras. Kryukov was at this time a Major.

On 11 April 1943, he claimed three Bf109s. this combat was witnessed by General Vershinin who awarded him with a second Order of the Red Banner.
Totally during the Kuban River operations he flew 50 sorties and claimed 6 and 1 shared victories.

On 24 May 1943, he was awarded with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin. At this time, he had flown 415 sorties.

He continued to lead the regiment on the South East Front, and from the beginning of 1944, on the Ukrainian Front.

In early March 1944, a group of pilots (36 men – 3 squadrons) from the 9 GIAD was dispatched to the Caucasus to pick up and ferry back P-39s, which was arriving by Lend-Lease through Iran. Mayor Kryukov of the 104 GIAP was placed in command of the group.
The aircraft was to be flown from the point of issue to their airfield in Chernigov (approximately 60 miles north-east of Kiev) and Kryukov planned and maintained a route with the fewest possible landings.

On 10 March, the pilots flew in squadron-size subelements with Kryukov leading the first, Mayor Nikolay Lavitskiy leading the second and Anatoliy Komosa leading the third. The planned flight altitude was 6560 to 9845 feet, depending on ceiling and visibility in any overcast they might encounter. A speed was selected that favoured fuel economy and radio listening silence was to be maintained.
When they approached Gudermes station Lavitskiy suddenly called Kryukov that his engine was smoking and Kryukov ordered him to land. A few moments later Lavitskiy radioed that his engine now was on fire and his aircraft was seen burning by his squadron comrades. Kryukov again ordered him to land immediately. Lavitskiy wasn’t however able to find any suitable spot to make an emergency landing on and soon his cockpit was full of smoke which made him unable to see the ground. Kryukov now ordered him to bail out but Lavitskiy refused since now he was over the Gudermes station, which was full of men and equipment.
Lavitskiy was able to stretch the glide of his burning aircraft over the station but then began to lose altitude rapidly, went over its left wing and hit the ground at full speed. Lavitskiy was killed instantly.

In July 1944, the whole 9 GIAD transferred to the 2nd Ukrainian Front to take part in the Lvov-Sandomierz campaign.

During July, he claimed three He111s.

Kryukov was then promoted to Podpolkovnik given command of the 104 GIAP. He continued to fly until the end of the war on the 1st Ukrainian Front with this unit.

In his last sortie during the war, he shot down three He111s.

Kryukov ended the war with 3 biplane victories and a total of 19.

He remained in the VVS after the war and graduated from the General Staff Academy in 1951.
In 1956, he retired as a General Major to live in Moscow.

Kryukov died in Moscow on 11 November 1974.

Also during his active career he was decorated the Order of Lenin (three more times), the Order of Suvorov 2nd and 3rd Class and the Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 ??/??/39   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-152   Khalkin Gol River 51 eskadrilya
2 ??/??/39   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-152   Khalkin Gol River 51 eskadrilya
3 ??/??/39   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-152   Khalkin Gol River 51 eskadrilya
? 18/05/42   1 Ju88 Destroyed MiG-3     16 GIAP
? 11/03/43   1 Bf109 Destroyed P-39     16 GIAP
? 11/03/43   1 Bf109 Destroyed P-39     16 GIAP
? 11/03/43   1 Bf109 Destroyed P-39     16 GIAP
? ??/07/44   1 He111 Destroyed P-39   Lvov area 16 GIAP
? ??/07/44   1 He111 Destroyed P-39   Lvov area 16 GIAP
? ??/07/44   1 He111 Destroyed P-39   Lvov area 16 GIAP
17 ??/??/45   1 He111 Destroyed P-39     104 GIAP
18 ??/??/45   1 He111 Destroyed P-39     104 GIAP
19 ??/??/45   1 He111 Destroyed P-39     104 GIAP

Biplane victories: 3 destroyed.
TOTAL: 19 and 1 shared destroyed.

Attack of the Airacobras - Dmitriy Loza, 2002 University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-1140-1
From Barbarossa to Odessa: Volume 1 – Dénes Bernád, Dmitriy Karlenko and Jean-Louis Roba, 2007 Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-85780-273-3
Sovetskiye asy - Nikolay Bodrikhin, 1998, kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.
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
Additional information kindly provided by Christer Bergström and Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 18 August 2009