Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Starshiy Leytenant Ivan Minayev

In July 1942, Starshiy Leytenant Minayev served in the 71 IAP-KBF, which was equipped with Polikarpov I-153s.

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 Korolyov, Starshiy Leytenant Vladimir Abramov, Starshiy Leytenant Minayev and Starshiy Leytenant 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).

Later, Minayev transferred to 3 GIAP-KBF.

On 21 April, 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 Leytenant Dimitriy Sotsenko and Leytenant 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 Leytenant Minayev and Leytenant 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. Leytenant Viktor Golubov shot one Fiat of Tsyganov’s tail. The Fiat fell in Baternaya Bay. As last, Starshiy Leytenant 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 Leytenant 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 ended the war with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of 2 shared.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  13/07/42 20:20-21:20 1/4 Buffalo (a) Shared destroyed I-153   NE Someri 71 IAP-KBF
  21/04/43 08:44-10:01 ½ Fiat (b) Shared destroyed LaGG-3   Seiskari area 3 GIAP-KBF

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Brewster Buffaloes from 1/LeLv 24, which claimed one I-153 without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed one Buffalo and it seems that they didn’t suffer any losses.
(b) 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).

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 17 September 2008