Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Major Georgii Pavlovich Kuzmin HSU

21 April 1913 – 18 August 1943


Kuzmin in 1943 after being made Hero of the Soviet Union.

Kuzmin was born in Nagornoe in the Krasnodar district on 21 April 1913 and entered the Soviet Army in 1930.
In 1932, he started training as an aircraft mechanic. He graduated from the Volsk Military Air Collage and served in this capacity until 1939.

He won the Order of the Red Banner for his efforts during the war with the Japanese at the Khalkhin Gol in Mongolia in 1939 were he served as aircrew. Upon applying for pilot training, he was sent to Kacha Military Air Collage. He was graduated as a pilot in 1940 being posted to the 161 IAP as a Starshii Leitenant.

He fired his guns in anger for the first time in the evening on 27 June 1941 when he combined forces with his wingman to knock down one Ju 88 each near Lepel, south of Polsk, flying the Polikarpov I-153 (in his 7th sortie in a I-153). While returning home they spotted a lone Ju 88, which was attacked by Kuzmin. Just as he was on the point of firing, he found his guns were jamming and resorted to ramming. The bomber went out of control and crashed while Kuzmin parachuted to safety (alternatively force-landed his damaged I-153 back on his airfield).
Kuzmin was awarded a second Order of the Red Banner for this combat.

The regiment then withdrew to the Bryansk area where he single-handedly took on a formation of nine Ju 88s on 19 November 1941. Two of these fell from the sky in flames before a gunner made his mark and in an instant Kuzmin’s fighter was engulfed in flames. He temporarily lost consciousness but was lucky enough to regain control and put his aircraft down in a snow-covered filed. He had however come down in enemy held territory and he became a POW. A few days later however, he escaped, killing the guard. After coming back to the Soviet side his legs were found so seriously injured that his left foot and part of his right foot had to be amputated.

Following his remarkably quick recovery he joined with the 239 IAP as a squadron leader on Kalinin Front in March 1942 and participated in a number of missions prior to moving with the unit to Stalingrad.

He was to make a big name for himself in the hellish inferno over the Volga and on 2 September 1942, Kapitan Kuzmin claimed two Ju 88s.

On 22 September claimed a double while leading his La-5s to destroy five Ju 87s for no losses.

On 2 October 1942, Kapitan Kuzmin claimed two Ju 88s.

Next day Kuzmin achieved two more kills when his squadron stormed into a formation of fifteen Ju 87s near Mamayev, six of these being shot down. Unfortunately, Kuzmin was hit by return fire and wounded in his abdomen but managed to make a successful forced landing.

He claimed one more victory during October even if some sources claim that he was wounded between 3 October and November 1942.

On 21 January 1943, he claimed another double.

On 29 January, he claimed a double while leading five La-5s to score six kills without loss.

Further combat over Stalingrad ran his tally to 15 while his squadron was credited with downing 27 enemy planes throughout the battle.

He was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin on 28 April 1943 in recognition of 15 and 6 fractional (shared) victories and 270 sorties consisting of 30 escorts, 70 reconnaissance, 15 ground attack and 90 air-to-air combats as of January 1943.


Kuzmin in front of his La-5N.

He was then posted to the glorious 9 GIAP forcing down a Bf 109 on his first sortie with the unit on 30 May 1943.

On 18 August 1943, he was flying wing to Polkovnik Morozov, the regiment commander, when they had a tussle with Bf 109s near Pavlovsk. Major Kuzmin had to bail out but unfortunately his parachute didn’t open fully and he was killed. This was his second mission in a Bell Airacobra.

At the time of his death, Kuzmin was credited with 3 biplane victories and a total of 21. These were claimed on 280 sorties. There seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding Kuzmin’s claims and some of the above mentioned must have been mixed up regarding dates and with shared claims. There are also some confusion regarding the types of aircraft flown by him in the various combats.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1941                
  27/06/41 Evening 1 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Lepel 161 IAP
  27/06/41 Evening 1 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Lepel 161 IAP
1 27/06/41 Evening 1 Ju 88 (a) Destroyed I-153   Lepel 161 IAP
2 19/11/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed I-153   Bryansk 161 IAP
3 19/11/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed I-153   Bryansk 161 IAP
  1942                
4 03/07/42   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed Yak-1     239 IAP
5 03/07/42   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed Yak-1     239 IAP
6 02/09/42   1 Ju 88 Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
7 02/09/42   1 Ju 88 Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
8 22/09/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
9 22/09/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
10 02/10/42   1 Ju 88 Destroyed La-5     239 IAP
11 02/10/42   1 Ju 88 Destroyed La-5     239 IAP
12 03/10/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed La-5   Mamayev 239 IAP
13 03/10/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed La-5   Mamayev 239 IAP
14 mid/10/42 (b)   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed       239 IAP
  1943                
15 22/01/43   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Stalingrad area 239 IAP
16 22/01/43   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Stalingrad area 239 IAP
17 29/01/43   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
18 29/01/43   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed La-5   Stalingrad area 239 IAP
19 30/05/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-1     9 GIAP
20 18/08/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Airacobra   Pavlovo Kurgan 9 GIAP
21 18/08/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Airacobra   Pavlovo Kurgan 9 GIAP

Biplane victories: 3 and 2 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 21 and 7 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in a “taran” ramming attack.
(b) Kuzmin claimed 1 aircraft after a scramble. Some sources states that he was wounded during this period.

Sources:
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.




Last modified 28 February 2007