Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Sergey Mikhaylovich Petukhov

1916 – 21 March 1945

Sergey Petukhov was born in 1916.

While serving in 56 IAP, he took part in Khalkhin Gol conflict against Japan in 1939. He flew Polikarpov I-15bis and I-153 in this conflict but didn’t make any claims.

He took part in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War in 1939-40, flying Polikarpov I-153 with 38 IAP, without making any claims.

In June 1941, he served in 348/743 IAP, flying Polikarpov I-153s.

On 30 March 1942, leitenant Nikolay Kovalev and starshiy leitenant Petukhov claimed a shared He 111 in the Chelochik area on the Crimean.

In May 1942, he was posted to 13 IAP. With this unit, he flew LaGG-3s and La-5s.

Four La-5s from 13 IAP claimed one Bf 109 over Novo-Maksimovka on 10 December 1942. Two of the pilots were Sergey Zhukovskiy and Petukhov.

He was posted to 236 IAP later in December 1942 and was to fly Yak-1s, Yak-7s and Yak-3s with this unit.

On 9 January 1943, 214 ShAD attacked Salsk airfield which was a large base for Ju 52/3m trying to provide support and relieve for the beleaguered Stalingrad. This, the third attempt was reportedly successful with 72 Ju 52 3/ms knocked out, according to Soviet sources. This is quite a famous air operation in Soviet and Russian accounts of the air war, contrary to accounts based on German sources, and thus is one of the curiosities of the air war in the East. Even if other Soviet sources place this incident on 2 January 1943 (erroneously), nothing on the German side even remotely supports the claimed Soviet successes. The Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe loss statistics to hand report only one Ju 52 3/m (from of KGrzbV 50) destroyed in a crash landing at Salsk on 9 January (and none on 2 January). These statistics may indeed be wrong for this date, but historian Joel S. A. Hayward has correctly remarked that ”had Soviet squadrons destroyed any aircraft at Salsk that day, all three German commanders [Pickert, Fiebig, and von Richthofen] would have recorded that fact in their diaries”, which none of them did. However, a report from I. Flakkorps on 9 January stated:

“Airdrome Salsk 0905 to 0915 hrs concentrated bombing by 8 Il-2, altitude 300-1,000 meter. 1055-1100 hrs 1 Pe-2, altitude 4,000 meters, reconnaissance, bombs dropped.”
The attackers’ own report of this raid, having been hidden in the TsAMO archives in Podolsk for many years, sheds some new light on the circumstances, however:
"On 9 January 1943, the commander of 622 ShAP, major Ivan Yemelyanov, and 236 IAP’s commander, kapitan Sergey Petukhov, assigned the combat mission to the Shturmovik task force leader, eskadrilya commander kapitan Ivan Bakhtin, and the leader of the fighter escort group, eskadrilya commander starshiy leitenant S. L. Belousov.
[…] At 1030 hours, the group of seven 622 ShAP Il-2s escorted by seven 236 IAP Yak-1s took off to carry out the strafing attack against the [Salsk] airfield. While assembling the formation, a radio link between the two airborne groups and the ground control station was established. During the approach flight, our airmen took advantage of the low cloud ceiling to avoid detection. The strafing run was performed from the south, with our aircraft diving out of the clouds. The enemy was apparently caught by surprise. Our airmen remained over the target between 1108 and 1123 hours, i.e. for 15 minutes, during which time six strafing runs were made. During the first two runs, the crews selected their targets individually and dropped their bombs from an altitude of 400 m. During the succeeding runs the crews attacked their targets with RS rocket-projectiles, cannon and machine-gun fire. FAB-100 bombs were used. A total of twenty-six FAB-100s, fifty RS-82s, 1,386 VYa cannon shells, 300 ShVAK cannon shells, 120 BS rounds, and 3,830 ShKAS rounds was expended. A total of seventy-two Ju 52 aircraft were damaged and destroyed as a result of the raid according to an official confirmation of people working on the airfield that day. Another two Ju 52s were shot down over the airfield. Il-2 pilot mladshiy leitenant Mordovtsev shot down one Ju 52 that attempted to land and one Me 109 which tried to attack the Shturmoviks. During the withdrawal from the target, the air gunner serzhant Svetlishnev shot down one Me 109 that tried to take off. The escort fighters fought an air combat with four Me 109s during the strafing attack. As a result, starshiy leitenant Lipin shot down one Me 109.
Following the first strafing run, the enemy's anti-aircraft artillery opened heavy fire on the Shturmoviks. Up to seven anti-aircraft batteries were observed. Own losses: Two Il-2s were hit by anti-aircraft fire and belly-landed in enemy-held territory. Two Yak-1s failed to return from the mission.”
Thus it is clear that the disputed claims for seventy-two destroyed or damaged Ju 52s stemmed from apparently less reliable, or at least insufficiently experienced for such tasks, ”Hiwis” (Soviet manual helpers) at Salsk. In conclusion, this air operation, which has been portrayed as a model example of a successful airbase attack in Soviet literature and even in military lectures, was actually a failure.
For 236 IAP, the operations on 9 January were quite costly. Starshiy serzhant Kubanov and serzhant Kochetov were posted as missing from the mission against Salsk, with the latter returning to base on foot.

The Yak-1s from 236 IAP claimed three Ju 87s on 20 January 1943, when Petukhov claimed one between Manychskaya and Krasnyy while Ulvan Shinkaruk and Vladimir Verenikin claimed one each over Manychskaya.

On 25 August 1943, 236 IAP became 112 GIAP.

He was killed in an air-crash on 21 March 1945.

At the time of his death, Petukhov was credited with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of 8.

During the war, he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (three times), The Order of Alexander Nevskiy, the Order of the Patriotic War and the Order of the Red Star.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  30/03/42   1/2 He 111 Shared destroyed I-153   Chelochik area 743 IAP
1 17/07/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed LaGG-3   Morozovskaya area 13 IAP
2 30/11/42   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed La-5   Pitomnik 13 IAP
  10/12/42   1/4 Bf 109 Shared destroyed La-5   Novo-Maksimovka 13 IAP
3 20/01/43   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-1   Manychskaya - Krasnyy 236 IAP
4 23/10/43   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yakovlev   Dudari 112 GIAP
5 15/03/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yakovlev   Proskurov 112 GIAP
6 15/03/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yakovlev   Proskurov 112 GIAP
7 20/04/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Yakovlev   Luka 112 GIAP
8 27/07/44   1 Fw 190 Destroyed Yakovlev   Lopushna 112 GIAP

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 8 and 2 shared destroyed.

All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Black Cross/Red Star Volume 4 Stalingrad to Kuban - Christer Bergström, 2019 Vaktel Förlag, Eskilstuna, ISBN 978-91-88441-21-8
Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov

Last modified 01 August 2021