In May 1943, Serzhant Kucherenko served in the 71 IAP-KBF. This unit was at the time still equipped with I-153s.
On 2 May, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force attacked Kotka with 30 aircraft and they were engaged by 18 Brewsters on the south side of the town. In a 60-minute combat, which raged across the Gulf of Finland between 10:00-11:30, the 2nd Flight managed to claim four LaGG-3s shot down into the sea. The cost was high however since the flight leader, kapteeni Ilka Törrönen (BW-380) was killed when he was shot down. Vänrikki Olavi Puro described the combat:
“We met an enemy bomber and fighter formation between Someri and Haapsaari heading south-east. I attacked the LaGG-3 fighters, which were escorting Il-2s, going towards Lavansaari. I managed to get behind one LaGG-3 and fired at it for about 3 km distance from behind at 100-50 m range. We descended all the time and finally at about 150 m altitude the burst hit the cockpit and it went straight in the sea about 10 km W from Someri. I chased with luutnantti Sarjamo a further three enemy fighters to east side of Lavansaari, where eight other LaGG-3s came from the south. They attacked us from the sun and in the ensuing curve battle I managed to give a good burst at one in a bank scoring hits between the engine and the canopy of the LaGG-3, when plating sheets flew around and flames came out of the plane. Smoking strongly it went down halfway between Lavansaari and Peninsaari. I fired at least at another six enemy fighters, when one landed immediately to Lavansaari airfield once I had fired from the opposite direction. Low on ammunition the Russians finally broke off and headed east.The claimants from 2/LeLv 24 were vänrikki Puro who claimed one LaGG-3 10km from Someri and another LaGG-3 over Lavansaari-Peninsari. The third was claimed as a shared vääpeli Martti Alho (BW-383) and ylikersantti Taipo Järvi (BW-377) over Kronstadt. Luutantti Urho Sarjamo (BW-386) claimed the fourth LaGG-3 over Peninsaari.
Brewster pulls tighter turns than the LaGG-3. The speed about the same at the deck. The Russians very aggressive and enterprising.
My plane BW-387.
Kucherenko ended the war with 1 shared biplane victory.
|Kill no.||Date||Time||Number||Type||Result||Plane type||Serial no.||Locality||Unit|
|02/05/43||11:30||½||Morane (a)||Shared destroyed||I-153||near Lavansaari||71 IAP-KBF|
Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.
(a) The Finnish fighter from 2/LeLv 24 and LeLv 34 claimed six victories while losing one Brewster. The Soviet units claimed four Finnish fighters while suffering one lost Il-2, one damaged LaGG-3 and one damaged I-16.
Suomen Ilmavoimat part V – 1943 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-3-7