Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Leitenant Nikolai Trofimovich Petrukhin

19 December 1907 – 16 September 1988

Nikolai Petrukhin was born on 19 December 1907.

Before going to Spain, he was a Zvena CO in 118 IAE, Moscow Military District.

Petrukhin served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, arriving in October 1936.
In Spain he served in the Escuadrilla Turzhanskii, flying I-15s on the Northern Front.

He was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner on 2 January 1937.

On 4 January 1937, the He 51B-1s of J/88 escorted Ju 52/3ms bombing enemy positions when they were surprised above Torrijos by Republican I-15s. The escorting fighters claimed three enemy fighters over the Bilbao area when Leutnant Wolf-Heinrich von Houwald (2 Staffel) claimed an I-16 and Unteroffizier Erwin Sawallisch (4 Staffel) and Oberleutnant Harro Harder (1 Staffel) claimed an I-15 each. Oberleutnant Harder (flying He 51B-1 2-64) described his first claim for a subsequent propaganda article:

“I hear machine guns behind me. A Red is coming for me sharply from above, his radial engine appearing like a giant eye. I pull “2-64” into a turn and the Red streaks past with two of our fighters already in pursuit. Far below, down in the valley, I see one turning around. Using my superior speed I know I can block him off. I get behind him, fire, he turns, I cut him off, another turn, the smoke twists from my tracer shells disappear into his machine. Now he climbs, black, with a red band in front of the tail, rolls onto his back and plunges almost vertically to the ground. I pull myself together - the intoxication has blinded me to everything else going on. I see a He 51 nearby. Exhausted, I pull up and fly to Vitoria, where I make a low-level loop over the airfield.”
One Ju 52/3m from 3.K/88 was lost over Bilbao when they attacked the Campsa fuel depots. Oberfeldwebel Adolf Hermann and Karl Schmidt parachuted but Feldwebel Herbert Barowski, Unteroffizier Paul Ziepek and Gefreiter Hans Schüll were all unable to escape the burning bomber and were all killed. This was the only bomber loss on this day. Once upon the ground, Oberfeldwebel Adolf Hermann tried to defend himself with his pistol from an armed mob but was rapidly overpowered. His body was dragged through the streets of Bilbao provoking a demand for rerisals by the Legion Condor which were, however, refused.
The Republicans reported that eight I-15s intercepted nine Ju 52/3ms escorted by 20 He 51s, claiming two Ju 52/3ms and two He 51s. One Ju 52/3m crashed near Bilbao while the second crashed at Vitoria airfield. Spanish sources credit the Ju 53/3m that was shot down near Bilbao to alférez Felipe del Río Crespo from the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte. There is some confusion in this claim since Soviet sources credits the Ju 52/3m shot down at Bilbao to Leitenant Sergei Bulkin while the second was credited to Leitenant Petrukhin (both from Escuadrilla Turzhanskii). No claimants for the He 51s have been found.
One I-15 was lost when teniente Juan Roldán Maldonado of the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte was shot down and killed in I-15 ‘15’. Three more I-15s were damaged and Leitenant Petrukhin was wounded.

He was hospitalized after the combat on 4 January and when released, he was sent home on 3 June 1937.
During his time in Spain, he had claimed two biplane victories.

He received a second Order of the Red Banner on 4 July 1937.

He took part in the Russo-Finnish Winter War with the VVS Baltic Fleet and was decorated with the Order of the Red Star on 7 February 1940 and a third Order of the Red Banner on 21 April 1940.

In June 1940, he became CO of 10 SAB (Mixed Aviation Brigade) and continued as CO until February 1942 when he was appointed CO of 61 SAB of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet.

In July 1942, he was in command of a Special Air Group of the PGK Main Command Reserve.

He was decorated with a fourth Order of the Red Banner on 23 October 1942.

Two times he became CO of 6 IAD Northern Fleet, first from July to September 1943 and then from June to December 1944.
This unit supplied air cover for the convoys coming to the northern ports.

After the war he remained in the Navy and from December 1949 until June 1958 he was Air Defense Commander Pacific Fleet and Deputy CO of the Far Eastern Army Air Defense.

In July 1958, he became CO of Northern Army Air Defense.

Petrukhin passed away on 16 September 1988.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 ??/??/36   1 He 51 Destroyed I-15   Spain Escuadrilla Turzhanskii
2 04/01/37   1 Ju 52/3m (a) Destroyed I-15   Bilbao area Escuadrilla Turzhanskii

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 destroyed.
(a) Republican fighters claimed 2 Ju 52/3m and 2 He 51. Only the loss of 1 Ju 52/3m can be verified.

Aces of the Legion Condor – Robert Forsyth, 2011 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8
Condor: The Luftwaffe in Spain 1936-1939 - Patrick Laureau, 2000 Hikoki Publications, Ottringham, ISBN 1-902109-10-4
Russian Fighter Aces of 1914-1953 years
Soviet airmen in the Spanish civil war 1936-1939 - Paul Whelan, 2014 Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7643-0
Spanish Republican Aces – Rafael A. Permuy López, 2012 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-668-4
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5

Last modified 08 February 2018