Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Kapitan Nikolay Yefimovich Lavitskiy HSU

7 December 1919 - 10 March 1944

Date Decoration Note
19/04/42 Order of the Red Banner 1st
01/02/43 Order of the Red Banner 2nd
05/04/43 Order the Patriotic War, 1st Class  
22/04/43 Order of the Red Banner 3rd
24/08/43 Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union No. 1133
24/08/43 Order of Lenin  
02/10/43 Order of Aleksandr Nevsky  

Nikolai Lavitskiy was born on 7 December 1919 in the village of Sloboda in the Smolensk region.
He learned to fly in the Smolensk aeroclub and joined the army in December 1939.
He graduated from the Borisoglebsk Military Air College before the end of the same year.

Mladshiy leitenant Lavitskiy was posted to 270 IAP in December 1941. At this time this unit was flying Polikarpov I-153s and entered combat against the German invaders on 9 December 1942. They were part of the Transcaucasian Front.

On 20 December 1941, he claimed a Bf 109 while flying an I-153 over Feodosiya.

In January 1942, 270 IAP was transferred to the Crimean Front.

Promoted to leitenant, he was posted to 45 IAP in June 1942, flying Yak-1s, operating over the Caucasus.

He claimed a Bf 109 over Balaklava on 11 June 1942.

In October, the 45 IAP was withdrawn to re-equip with P-40 Kittyhawks and P-39 Airacobras at Ordzhonikidze, returning to action in February 1943. At this stage the regiment was transferred to the North Caucasus Front, Lavitskiy now being promoted to starshiy leitenant and given the lead of a zveno.

On 28 February 1943, a pair Ju 88s from 4./KG 51 flew a rail hunting mission on the Kuban Front from only one returned. The crew, under Oberleutnant Wilhelm Häbich, reported how they had seen Oberfeldwebel Willi Püst’s aircraft got shot down by Soviet fighters near Stavropol.
Two Kittyhawks from 45 IAP flown by starshiy leitenant Lavitskiy and starshiy serzhant Veniamin Bezbabnov claimed that they had shot down one Ju 88 each in the area. Lavitskiy reported his claim at Uspenskoye.

On 9 March, 45 IAP landed on Krasnodar airfield with seventeen Airacobras and two Kittyhawks.

Further re-equipment, this time with P-39 Airacobras, took place and the unit then flew on the South Front over Donbass.

On 18 June, 45 IAP became a guard’s unit and renamed to 100 GIAP.

On 24 August 1943, he was decorated with the Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin after 185 combat missions and 66 aerial engagements.

He was appointed to CO of an eskadrilya on 1 September 1943.

In January 1944, was posted to the headquarter of 9 GIAD.

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. Major Pavel 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 sub-elements with Kryukov leading the first, kapitan 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.

At the time of his death Lavitskiy was credited with 2 biplane victories and a total of 20. These were claimed in around 250 sorties and more than 100 encounters.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 30/12/41   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-153   Fedosiya 270 IAP
2 28/03/42   1 Hs 126 Destroyed I-153   Dzhantora 270 IAP
3 11/06/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-1   Balaklava 45 IAP
4 13/06/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-1   Makenziyevy Gory 45 IAP
5 16/06/42   1 Bf 110 Destroyed Yak-1   Baydary 45 IAP
6 29/06/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-1   Chornaya River 45 IAP
7 29/06/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yak-1   Zibar-Yurt 45 IAP
8 28/02/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Kittyhawk   Uspenskoye 45 IAP
  19/03/43   1/2 FW 189 Shared destroyed Kittyhawk   NW Anastasiyevskaya 45 IAP
9 22/03/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Kittyhawk   Anastasiyevskaya - Slavyanskaya 45 IAP
10 22/03/43   1 FW 189 Destroyed Kittyhawk   NW Anastasiyevskaya 45 IAP
11 27/03/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Kittyhawk   S Prorva 45 IAP
12 10/04/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Kittyhawk   Crimean 45 IAP
13 15/04/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Kittyhawk   W Crimean 45 IAP
14 16/04/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Kittyhawk   Crimean 45 IAP
15 26/05/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Kittyhawk   SW Kiev 45 IAP
16 26/05/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Kittyhawk   Adagum 45 IAP
17 04/08/43   1 FW 189 Destroyed Airacobra   S Chistyakovo 100 GIAP
  13/08/43   1/2 FW 189 Shared destroyed Airacobra   NW Shtergres 100 GIAP
18 17/08/43   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Airacobra   Sukhaya Kamenka 100 GIAP
19 17/08/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Airacobra   W Krasnyy Liman 100 GIAP
20 30/09/43   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Airacobra   Prishib 100 GIAP

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 20 and 2 shared destroyed.

All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Attack of the Airacobras - Dmitriy Loza, 2002 University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-1140-1
Black Cross/Red Star Volume II - Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhailov, 2001 Pacifica Military History, ISBN 0-935553-51-7
Black Cross/Red Star Volume 4 Stalingrad to Kuban - Christer Bergström, 2019 Vaktel Förlag, Eskistuna, ISBN 978-91-88441-21-8
Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
P-39 Airacobra Aces of the World War 2 - George Mellinger and John Stanaway, 2001 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-204-0
Sovetskiye asy - Nikolay Bodrikhin, 1998, kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
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
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 16 August 2021