Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Major Vyacheslav Dmitrievich Popov

4 March 1914 – 1 January 1991

Popov was born on 4 March 1914 in the Kursk region.

He joined the VVS on 10 January 1934 and graduated a year later.

As a Serzhant, he served in the Leningrad Military District from January 1935 to October 1936, including a a period in 11 IAP.

Popov served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War from 20 August 1937 using the nom du guerre ”Fernando Montanelli”.
In Spain he served in the 1a Escaudrilla of the Grupo de Caza No 26 flying the Polikarpov I-15.

On 4 November, Starshiy Leytenant Nikita Syusyukalov of the 1a Escuadrilla claimed a shared an Italian SM 79 off the coast near Amposta together with Serzhant Popov. However, Syusyukalov was hit by return fire from the doomed bomber and his fighter caught fire (according to some sources the engine on his I-15 caught fire due to technical problems). He was forced to bale out and landed in the sea. He was picked up by fishermen and returned to duty.

Popov left Spain on 24 March 1938.

During his time in Spain, he claimed two CR.32s together with a shared SM.79.

On 29 April 1938, he was promoted to Starshiy Leytenant and on 14 November 1938, he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

He served as a flight commander in 7 IAP (from May to October 1938) and 38 IAP (in January 1939) before becoming an assistant commander of the eskadrilya.

With his unit, he took part in the Winter War in 1939-40.

From April 1940 to December 1941, he served as an eskadrilya commander in 25 IAP in Baku.

From 9 December 1941, he served as eskadrilya commander deputy commander of 270 IAP on the Crimean front.

On 12 April 1942, he was promoted to Kapitan.
During the same month, he was decorated with the Red Star.

In April 1942, he was sent on courses to improve the regimental commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Military at the Air Force Academy.

After the end of the courses in April 1943 he became part of the 179 IAP, which fought on the Western Front, initially as eskadrilya commander (until June 1943) and then assistant commander of the regiment (up to July 1944).

On 10 June 1944, he was promoted to Mayor.

He participated in the battles for Budapest and Vienna. He was shot down once but managed to escape by parachute.

During the war, he flew 95 combat missions (including 5 with the I-153 , 48 with the I-16 , 8 with Hurricane and 34 with the Yak- 1) and claimed two enemy aircraft shot down.

He was decorated with the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class on 26 March 1945.

Popov ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 4.

On 10 November 1946, he retired with the rank of Mayor to live in Kiev.

Popov died on 1 January 1991.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  04/11/37   1/2 SM 79 Shared destroyed I-15   off Amposta 1a/Gr. 26
1 ??/??/3?   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   Spain 1a/Gr. 26
2 ??/??/3?   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   Spain 1a/Gr. 26
3 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Eastern Front  
4 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Eastern Front  

Biplane victories: 2 and 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 4 and 1 shared destroyed.

Russian Fighter Aces of 1914-1953 years
Soviet Fighter On Three Fronts - John Guttman, 1995
Stalin's Falcons - Tomas Polak and Christhoper Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-01-2
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 28 November 2013