Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Starshiy Leitenant Ivan Yefimovich Minayev

1919 – 4 May 1943

Date Decoration Note
17/08/41 Order of the Red Star  
24/11/41 Order of the Red Banner  

Ivan Minayev was born in 1919.

He graduated from Serpukhovskaya flight school in 1940.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, mladshiy leitenant Minayev served in 5 IAP-KBF of the Air Force of the Baltic Fleet.

In September 1941, he was posted to 71 IAP-KBF, which was equipped with Polikarpov I-153s.

Minayev, Ivan Tsapov and a third pilot claimed a shared Bf 109 over Zelenets Island on 1 January 1942.

Late in the day on 3 April 1942, luutnantti Veikko Sauru’s five Fokkers from 2/LLv 30 was attacked by a dozen Chaikas on a mission to Seiskari area. The Finns claimed two enemy fighters as reported by kersantti Otto Karme:

“At 16:05, altitude 500 m. Our five-plane formation led by luutnantti Sauru headed west towards Seiskari. A six-plane enemy formation flew towards our detachment (another six-plane formation, which I did not observe at that moment was flying higher). The observed enemy aircraft were I-153s. We attacked straight on coming from slightly below. I observed the burst I fired hit the engine of the I-153, but I could not tell the impact. Right after I pulled a steep right-hand curve and simultaneously saw on my left side a burning plane in dive. I could not follow up any longer as I observed four other I-153s coming towards me. One of these flew a bit higher than the others. I gained altitude and then the I-153 above the others made a slight curve to the right and got in a firing position straight from the side. I continued firing and got all the time in a better position somewhat from behind and aside and also slightly underneath. I saw my bursts hit all the time the enemy aircraft and then saw a puff of smoke and then the plane fell in a dive seemingly out of control. When this shooting took place we were inside the layers of the clouds. I could not follow the aircraft down to the deck. My own plane FRw-130 suffered no damage.”
Karme was credited with one shot down and one probable (claimed without witness) I-153s. Vänrikki Tauno Saalasti (FRw-123) claimed a damaged I-153 in the same area. No Finnish aircraft were lost.
It seems that they had been in combat with the 71 IAP-KBF. The ORB of the KBF mentions that at 16:05, six Chaikas led by kapitan Konstantin Solov'yev met four Fokkers. The encounter began with attacks in opposite directions and turned into a curve battle where starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Baturin’s pair sent one Fokker down 11km east Seiskari, without losses.

Between 18:00 and 19:10 on the same day, kapteeni Kullervo Lahtela’s eight Curtiss of 1/LLv 32 flew a reconnaissance mission to the Gulf of Finland and engaged around a dozen Chaikas in the Seiskari area. Five I-153s were claimed by Lahtela (CU-556), vänrikki Juho Nyholm (CU-564), luutnantti Esko Ruotsila (CU-558), kersantti Niilo Erkinheimo (CU-551) and lentomestari Viljo Ikonen (CU-568). Kersantti Eero Visuri (CU-572) was shot down and killed in the combat.
The Chronicle of KBF reports:

“At 18:24 began at 500 metres a combat lasting 15 minutes between starshiy leitenant Baturin’s eight I-153s from 71 IAP and twelve Fokkers. After the attack of the Soviets the enemy tried to get in the clouds. The separated (obviously less experienced pilots) planes aimed to form into pairs and swarms after which they returned to the battle just under the clouds. The more experienced pilots attacked straight from the clouds. To avoid the surprise attacks the Soviet pilots manoeuvred 200-250 metres below the clouds. Three aircraft were shot down in the vicinity of Seiskari and one aircraft broke off towards Koivisto. After the combat the enemy broke off to the north. No own losses.”
The Soviet pilots reported that one Fokker fell burning on the ice 4km south-east of Seiskari, the second crashed 10km south-east of the island, the third crashed in villages 3km north-east of the island while the fourth was last seen flying smoking and losing height towards Björkö. After the combat, the remaining Finnish aircraft flew north.
The Soviet claims are somewhat confusing. Starshiy leitenant Baturin and leitenant Abram Ashkinazi are credited with two shared victories in this combat; these being shared among all pilots in the flight while mladshiy leitenant Georgiy Belyakov seems to be credited with a shared in all three claimed enemy fighters (all shared ”in group”). Minayev is credited with two shared ”in group” and a third together with another pilot. Leitenant Ashkinazi is also credited with a third together with another pilot. Kapitan Konstantin Solov’yev is credited with one shared ”in group”. Who the second pilot in Baturin’s earlier claim was, is not known (Ashkinazi, Minayev or Solov’yev?).

On 4 April, kapitan Petr Biskup of 71 IAP-KBF claimed a shared Bf 109 in the Leningrad area together with another pilot. Both leitenant Abram Ashkinazi and Minayev claimed a shared Bf 109 ”in group” during the day but it’s not known if these claims were made at the same time.

In combat over Kronstadt on 24 April, 71 IAP-KBF claimed two Ju 88s shared among seven pilots; four of these being starshiy leitenant Vladimir Abramov, starshiy leytenant Aleksandr Baturin, Vasiliy Fedorov and Minayev. A third Ju 88 was claimed by leitenant Abram Ashkinazi.
Fedorov also claimed a Bf 109 shared with another pilot while Minayev claimed a Ju 87 with another pilot.
Leitenant Ashkinazi was seriously wounded in air combat.
The claims for Ju 88s can’t be verified with Luftwaffe records.

On 13 July 1942, I-153s from 71 IAP-KBF were involved in combat with a reported group of “Severskies” north-east of Someri. One of them was claimed as a shared by kapitan Nikolai Korolev, starshiy leitenant Vladimir Abramov, starshiy leitenant Minayev and starshiy leitenant Ivan Tsapov.
It seems that they had been involved in combat with luutantti Joel Savonen’s swarm of Buffaloes from 1/LeLv 24, which reported that they intercepted eight Chaikas in the Lavansaari area between 20:20-21:20. One of the I-153s was shot down over the island by ylikersantti Reino Malin (BW-366).

In the evening on 31 August, kapteeni Eino Luukkanen led five Brewsters of 1/LeLv 24 to a search in the Seiskari-Lavansaari area. In a clash with eight Chaikas, half of them were claimed shot down into the sea over Lavansaari. The claimants were vääpeli Eero Kinnunen (BW-382) (18:50-20:00), ylikersantti Reino Malin (BW-373) (19:50-20:00) and kapteeni Luukkanen (BW-393) (19:50-20:05). The fourth was claimed between 19:50-20:05 as a shared between luutnantti Kai Metsola (BW-375) and ylikersantti M Pellinen (BW-376).
The Soviets reported that kapitan Petr Biskup’s four I-153s from 71 IAP-KBF were patrolling over Lavanssari, when they were attacked by 12 Capronis and Fiats. RS-82 rockets were launched in the first head-on firing which split the enemy formation. The attacked then continued in pairs and also from head on. After one such enemy turn, Biskup and starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Gruzdev scored hit on one Caproni, which went into the sea. After 20 minutes of fighting 12 additional Capronis appeared on the scene and also four I-153s from 71 IAP-KBF. In repeated attacks two more Capronis were damaged with rockets and machinegun fire, and they then broke off to Someri direction. One of them could not make it and fell into the sea.
It seems that this last was claimed as a shared among at least six pilots including Biskup, Vladimir Abramov, Vasiliy Fedorov, Gruzdev and Minayev.

In January 1943, Minayev transferred to 3 GIAP-KBF.

In the afternoon on 26 January 1943, five LaGG-3s from 3 GIAP-KBF, led by kapitan Konstantin Ageyev fought with a pair of Bf 109s from II./JG 54. Major Hans Hahn (Stab II./JG 54) claimed two shot down at 14:00 and 14:03 at 3,000 meters altitude respectively 2,100 meters altitude while Leutnant Max Stotz (4./JG 54) claimed three shot down at 14:00, 14:03 and 14:05 at respectively 3,000 meters altitude and 2,000 meters altitude (the two last).
Kapitan Minayev claimed one Bf 109. The only loss in this combat was the LaGG-3 flown by serzhant Stepanov, who was posted missing.

On 21 April 1943, the Baltic Fleet air force’s Il-2s raided Kotka escorted by Soviet fighters. They were intercepted by all three Brewster flights from LeLv 24, which reported 37 sorties during the day. The Finnish fighters reported intercepting 35 Yak-1s, LaGG-3s and La-5s of the Baltic Fleet air forces between Seiskari and Kronstadt. Kapteeni Karhunen’s six fighters and kapteeni Iikka Törrönen’s six took of at 08:00 to meet the formation. When already in combat, kapteeni Jorma Sarvanto arrived with five more Brewsters. Kapteeni Törrönen reported:

“I took off with my flight of six Brewsters for a scramble to the Gulf of Finland. At Peninsaari I observed five Il-2s and their escort of six LaGG-3 and Yak-1 fighters. After noticing us the enemy aircraft went into a dive and by Seiskari they were already down on the deck. We chased the planes, but did not catch them until on the east side of Seiskari, were kapteeni Karhunen was already waiting for a reception. With the escort fighters ensued a fierce combat, where more enemy fighters appeared their number going up to twenty to thirty by the end of the air battle. I fired at several enemy fighters. Finally one LaGG-3 began to smoke after shooting and crashed in the forest near Lipeva village. After this I was forced into another combat over Tolbuhin-Kronstadt area. Three La-5s attacked me and vänrikki Riihikallio. I shot at a La-5, which had appeared behind the tail of vänrikki Riihikallio, so that it begun to pour smoke and it crashed on the shore of the north-west tip of Kronstadt Island. The enemy fighters carried out well their escort duty. La-5 proved to be rather agile and completely superior in both speed and ability to climb compared to the Brewster.
My plane was BW-380.”
Luutnantti Hans Wind reported:
“I shot at one Yak-1 from straight behind, pulled off after which lentomestari Kinnunen shot at the same plane. After this I shot it from a close range. It began to smoke and dived in about 45o angle to the sea. Soon after this I got behind another Yak-1. I shot, the plane began to smoke instantly going vertically in the sea. The battle shifted over the Oranienbaum encirclement, where after a short curve battle with two Yak-1s I got to fire at one from 20 m at 600 altitude. The plane went vertically in the forest.
Combat altitude 10-6,000m.
My plane BW-393.”
Totally, LeLv 24 claimed 19 Soviet aircraft destroyed. Between 08:00 and 09:30, vänrikki Olavi Puro claimed a LaG-5 in a big and violent dogfight 12 km from Oranienbaum when he shot it down in a vertical climb. The Russian aircraft crashed fiercely burning into the sea. Later in the same combat, he claimed a LaGG-3 over Kovenskajan järvi. The other Finnish claimants were:
Ylikersantti Tapio Järvi (BW-377) – 1 Yak-1 25km from Seiskari between 08:00-09:00
Lentomestari Eero Kinnunen (BW-352) – 1 shared Yak-1 15km from Seiskari and 1 LaGG-3 over Oranienbaum between 08:00-09:00
Luutnantti Hans Wind (BW-393) – 1 shared Yak-1 15km from Seiskari between 08:00-09:00 and 1 Yak-1 over Shepeleva and 1 Yak-1 over Oranienbaum between 08:15-09:30
Luutnantti Antti Saikkonen (BW-353) – 1 Yak-1 at Seiskari-Shepeleva between 08:00-09:10
Kapteeni Jorma Karhunen (BW-366) – 1 Yak-1 15km from Seiskari between 08:00-09:20
Vääpeli Martti Alho (BW-383) – 1 Yak-1 in the Ystinskin area between 08:00-09:30
Vänrikki Eero Riihikallio (BW-374) – 1 LaGG-3 over Lubeuskojen järvi between 08:00-09:30
Luutnantti Urho Sarjamo (BW-386) – 1 LaGG-3 over Yhinmäki between 08:00-09:30
Kapteeni Iikka Törrönen (BW-380) – 1 LaGG-3 over Oranienbaum and 1 La-5 over Kronstadt between 08:00-09:30
Ylikersantti Emil Vesa (BW-351) – 1 Yak-1 over Harjavallanjärvi between 08:00-09:30
Kersantti Erkki Pakarinen (BW-357) – 1 La-5 at Yhinmäki-Tolli between 08:10-09:10
Kapteeni Jorma Sarvanto (BW-373) – 1 Yak-1 10km from Shepeleva between 08:45-09:20
Vänrikki Mikko Pasila (BW-388) – 1 Yak-1 10km from Oranienbaum between 08:45-09:20
Ylikersantti Tauno Heinonen (BW-354) – 1 La-5 in the Tollin area between 08:45-09:20
Two Brewsters were lost and the pilots killed. Ylikersantti Tauno Heinonen (BW-354) (totally 4 and 1 shared victories) was heard to report his claim of a La-5 at 09:20 and then didn’t return. Lentomestari Eero Kinnunen (BW-352) (totally 21 and 3 shared victories) was shot down at 09:30. He was reportedly shot down by AA fire and made a forced landing on the sea but was killed before he could be rescued.
Luutnantti Aimo Euramo (MT-206) of 2/LeLv 34 scrambled over Kotka. He intercepted three Pe-2s, which evaded towards Estonia, but one was caught and sent down near the coastline, 15km from Peninsaari at 08:20-09:10 (reported as a probable).
The chronicles of the Baltic Fleet reported that between 08:44-10:01 (Moscow time) five Il-2s of 7 GShAP, protected directly by four LaGG-3s of 3 GIAP while four La-5s of 4 GIAP flew as top cover, attacked landing crafts in the Haapasaari area. The bombs sank one patrol vessel and hit tree landing crafts. On the way to the target area, the formation encountered two Bf 109s north of Lavansaari, one of which was shot down by the top cover swarm of the 4 GIAP. On the return flight, the same detachment clashed near Seiskari with twelve Fiats claiming at first one shot down by starshiy leitenant Dimitriy Sotsenko and leitenant Serafim Filatov. Right after, kapitan Georgiy Lagutkin sent down one Fiat off the tail of serzhant Arkadiy Stepanov. Finally, two Fiats forced Stepanov so low that he trees at Kovashi village and was killed. The rest of the formation was attacked near Seiskari by 10-14 Fiats and Brewsters. One of the LaGG-3 pair escorted the assault planes to their base and the other pair remained in battle, where starshiy leitenant Minayev and leitenant Tikhon Zhukhov claimed one Fiat as shot down and returned to base. The end of Minayev’s combat reported stated:
“… The enemy attacked us and shot at us from the distance of 20-30 metres. We retreated and continued to fight as a pair for 15-20 minutes because no other friendly aircraft were in sight. In the combat we tried to avoid becoming under the fire of the enemy. I attacked only when I could aim my fire. One Fiat got behind my tail, I turned steeply to the left. The Fiat passed me and ended in front of me. I turned to the right after it and fired two bursts. The plane began to smoke and fall. I did not observe its falling because behind me came all the time enemy planes from all directions. We were chased all the way to Gory Valdai Lake.”
At 09:49-10:52, four I-16s of 71 IAP-KBF protected returning Il-2s and their landing. At 10:30, they entered combat near Shepelevskiy with four Fokkers, of which one was shot down at Krasnaya Gorka. This was ylikersantti Tauno Heinonen’s BW-354.
At 09:50-10:00, four La-5s of 4 GIAP, which had taken off to cover returning Il-2s, fought against ten Fiats in the Seiskari-Shepelevskiy area. At first the leader, kapitan Yegveniy Tsyganov shot one Fiat down in the combat area by attacking from behind and firing at 100-50m range. Tsyganov shot at another separate Fiat, which came down on the coast at Lebyazhye village. leitenant Viktor Golubov shot one Fiat of Tsyganov’s tail. The Fiat fell in Baternaya Bay. As last, starshiy leitenant Gussein Bagirov got hits in one Fiat when shooting from 1,000m behind, this one falling down about 4km from Shepelevskiy lighthouse. Two La-5s were damaged in the combat. One of the Fiats, probably the one claimed by Golubov, was in fact lentomestari Eero Kinnunen’s BW-352.
At 09:52, another La-5 swarm of 4 GIAP encountered 18 Fiats near Shepelevskiy lighthouse. During the climb, the leader, kapitan Vasiliy Golubev fired at one Fiat from ahead at 200-30m range hitting the cockpit and the plane crashed on the ice. Seaman Georgiy Kostylev fired at one Fiat from behind at 30-70m and sent it down. Golubev had turned back and fired from 300-200m at one Fiat, which went in a flat spin. mladshiy leitenant S. N. Bytshkov attacked one Fiat from behind, shooting it down from 150m range.
Overclaiming seems to have been heavy in this confusing combat with many aircraft taking part. It seems that the Russians claimed 12 and 1 probably shot down while losing one La-5 (serzhant Arkadiy Stepanov). The Finnish claimed 19 and 1 probably shot down while losing two Brewsters (ylikersantti Tauno Heinonen and lentomestari Eero Kinnunen).

Minayev was killed in air combat on 4 May 1943.

At the time of his death, Minayev was credited with 12 shared biplane victories and a total of 1.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  01/01/42   1/3 Bf 109 Shared destroyed I-153   Zelenets Island 71 IAP-KBF
  27/03/42 19:00 1/5 Fokker D.XXI Shared destroyed I-153   Gulf of Finland 71 IAP-KBF
  03/04/42 18:24- 1/8 Fokker D.XXI (a) Shared destroyed I-153   Seiskari area 71 IAP-KBF
  03/04/42 18:24- 1/8 Fokker D.XXI (a) Shared destroyed I-153   Seiskari area 71 IAP-KBF
  03/04/42   1/2 Fokker D.XXI (b) Shared destroyed I-153   Seiskari - Lavansaari 71 IAP-KBF
  04/04/42   1/? Bf 109 Shared destroyed I-153   Air Force of the Baltic Fleet 71 IAP-KBF
  24/04/42   1/7 Ju 88 (c) Shared destroyed I-153   Kronstadt 71 IAP-KBF
  24/04/42   1/7 Ju 88 (c) Shared destroyed I-153   Kronstadt 71 IAP-KBF
  24/04/42   1/2 Ju 87 Shared destroyed I-153   Kronstadt 71 IAP-KBF
  13/07/42 20:20-21:20 1/4 Buffalo (d) Shared destroyed I-153   NE Someri 71 IAP-KBF
  30/07/42   1/2 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Air Force of the Baltic Fleet 71 IAP-KBF
  31/08/42 19:50-20:05 1/6 Caproni (e) Shared destroyed I-153   Lavansaari 71 IAP-KBF
1 26/01/43 14:00 ca 1 Bf 109 (f) Destroyed LaGG-3   Air Force of the Baltic Fleet 3 GIAP-KBF
  27/01/43   1/2 Ju 88 Shared destroyed LaGG-3   Air Force of the Baltic Fleet 3 GIAP-KBF
  14/02/43   1/2 Ju 87 Shared destroyed LaGG-3   Stepanovka 3 GIAP-KBF
  21/04/43 08:44-10:01 1/2 Fiat (g) Shared destroyed LaGG-3   Seiskari area 3 GIAP-KBF
  21/04/43 08:44-10:01 1/2 Fiat (g) Shared destroyed LaGG-3   Seiskari area 3 GIAP-KBF

Biplane victories: 12 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 and 16 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Curtiss 75As from 1/LLv 32, which claimed 5 I-153s while losing 1 Curtiss 75A (pilot KIA). 71 IAP-KBF claimed 3 Fokkers without losses.
(b) Poaaibly claimed in combat with Fokker D.XXIs from 2/LLv 30, which claimed 1 destroyed, 1 probable and 1 damage I-153 without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed 1 Fokker without losses.
(c) Not verified with Luftwaffe records.
(d) Claimed in combat with Brewster Buffaloes from 1/LeLv 24, which claimed 1 I-153 without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed 1 Buffalo and it seems that they didn’t suffer any losses.
(e) Claimed in combat with Brewster Buffaloes from 1/LeLv 24, which claimed 4 I-153s without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed 2 and 1 damaged Buffaloes without known losses.
(f) Claimed in combat with Bf 109s from II./JG 54, which claimed 5 LaGG-3s without loss. 3 GIAP-KBF claimed 1 Bf 109 while losing 1 LaGG-3 (pilot MiA).
(g) The Russians claimed 12 and 1 probably shot down while losing one La-5 from 4 GIAP (serzhant Arkadiy Stepanov). The Finnish claimed 19 and 1 probably shot down while losing two Brewsters from LeLv 24 (Ylikersantti Tauno Heinonen and Lentomestari Eero Kinnunen).

All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
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
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov
Suomen Ilmavoimat part IV – 1942 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-2-0
Suomen Ilmavoimat part V – 1943 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-3-7

Last modified 10 February 2022