Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Grigoriy Shakbaz

– 28 March 1942

In March 1942, Grigoriy Shakbaz served in the 71 IAP-KBF.

On 27 March, Finnish forces invaded Gogland. This resulted in some heavy air combats over the island. On 28 March, 2/LLv 30 flew a cap mission to Gogland at dawn with kapteeni Veikko Karu’s seven Fokkers engaging a formation of about twenty fighters flying in two groups. During a ten-minute turning fight the Finns sent down two aircraft, when the enemy planes split and began to break off. The Fokkers entered a fruitless chase. Luutnantti Veikko Sauru claimed one and one shared fighters:

“At 05:45-06:10, altitude 1,500-100m. When I observed the enemy formation I attacked directly towards those flying at the lowest height. During the approach I reached the same altitude of a formation consisting of six I-153s. I got a chance to turn into one I-153 and shooting I saw smoke puff out of the aircraft. After this vänrikk Helle stayed to follow this plane. Soon after this I shot from opposite directions at one I-153. I avoided colliding by pulling over the Chaika in the last moment. Vänrikki Mattila and kersantti Krohn, who were following this encounter saw the I-153 go in a spin and hit the deck. I fired at a few other I-153s and one I-16.
My plane FR-124.”
Over Suursaari between 05:45-06:10, luutnantti Sauru claimed one I-153 and one shared with vänrikki Juha Helle (FR-123), kapteeni Veikko Karu (FR-136) claimed one probable I-16, kersantti Helge Krohn (FR-135) claimed and damaged I-16 and vänrikki Tauno Saalasti (FR-159) claimed one damaged I-16.
Majuri Olavi Ehrnrohts’s six Curtiss of LLv 32 fought against the same mixed formation and claimed two Chaikas and one Rata over Suursaari. Kersantti Aaro Kiljunen (CU-544) and Kersantti Niilo Erkinheimo (CU-551) claimed a shared I-16 from 11 IAP-KBF between 05:30-07:20. Between 05:30-07:30, ylikersantti Uuno Alpinnen (CU-572) claimed an I-153, vänrikki Jaakko Hillo (CU-553) claimed a probable I-16 while majuri Ehrnrooth (CU-571) and lentomerstari Viljo Ikonen (CU-565) claimed a shared I-153.
Totally the Finnish pilots claimed five shot down, two probables and two damaged without losses.
It seems that the I-153s were from 71 IAP-KBF and the I-16s from 11 IAP-KBF. The chronicle of the Baltic Fleet air forces reported:
“At 07:00 (Moscow time) nine I-153s of 71 IAP-KBF’s commander podpolkovnik Aleksey Koronets engaged on a ground attack mission 8 km north of Gogland nine Fokkers and two Curtiss and the escort detachment made a frontal attack. In this attack Koronets was killed. The I-153s of the strike detachment joined the combat after dropping their bombs on the ice. The combat lasted for ten minutes as individual clashes, were Grigoriy Shakbaz, shot down one Fokker, but he himself did not return from the mission.”
11 IAP-KBF lost one I-16 in this combat.
Later in the morning, luutnantti Osmo Kauppinen’s five Brewsters of 3/LLv 24 fought against ten Chaikas claiming half of them shot down. Lentomestari Ilmari Juutilainen claimed two:
At 07:45-08:15, altitude 2,000-10m. I flew in the top patrol with kersantti Huotari. Over the Suurkylä shore at Gogland I observed beneath me enemy fighters and we went to attack. During the combat I followed one I-153 shooting at it several time from 50m, until it suddenly flipped from 200 metres altitude to the ice. Then I chased with kersantti Huotari two I-153s to Lavansaari, Where I shot the aircraft burning on the west shore. The Russians were shooting rocket projectiles, which when exploding created a black cloud reminding an explosion of heavy flak, though a bit bigger. They exploded 100-200m ahead of my plane. I-153s had four of them under both wings.
My plane BW-364.”
Between 07:45-08:15 3/LLv 24 claimed five I-153s over Lavanssari when lentomerstari Juutilainen claimed two, kersantti Jouko Huotari (BW-353) claimed two and luutnantti Kauppinen (BW-366) claimed one.
It seems that the I-153s were from 71 IAP-KBF. The chronicle of the Baltic Fleet air forces reported:
“At 09:05 kapitan Solov’yev’s ten I-153 fighters of 71 IAP had just commenced the second pass of strafing the enemy troops, when four Curtiss and eight Fokkers attacked from above. The enemy was flying staggered in three altitudes: two Finnish I-153s were at 500m, the Fokkers were at 1,000m and the Curtiss were at 2,000m. The Soviet aircraft were in two groups, five planes in both the strike and escort groups. The aerial battle was fought in two altitudes, 100 and 1,000m. Two I-153s were shot down piloted by starshiy leitenant Mazurenko and serzhant Aleksander Pavlov. In addition, starshiy leitenant Vladimir Abramov made a forced landing near Seiskari with his damaged I-153 fighter.”
During the day, the island was taken by the Finns and when LLv 32 was flying top cover for the occupation parade, 29 Soviet fighters were approaching in three formations. In a 20-minute combat between 17:40 and 18:00 over Suursaari the Finns claimed fifteen shot down (five I-16s and ten I-153s) and one damaged I-153 without losses. Luutnantti Pentti Nurminen (3/LLv 32) downed two fighters:
“When I was leading a flight of six Curtiss in protection of Gogland, I received a message 4/1 west from Seivasto. I took my flight west of Lavansaari. Then the radio informed that west of Gogland first 8, then 11 and then 10 unknown aircraft at 3,000 metres. I climbed to 3,000 m above the clouds and then saw the streaks of the aircraft at about 2,000 m and right after the 8 aircraft themselves, part I-153s and part I-16s. I carried out an attack, when I got to shoot at one I-16 three good bursts from a close range at the side and behind. The aircraft shed fragments and went down out of control. After this I fired at three I-153s from behind and aside. The I- 153, which I shot from the side and behind descended smoking, but I had to pull up again due to other I-153s. The Russians had no will for fighting and rather wanted to head to St. Petersburg and Harjavalta. I did not observe the Russian firing their m-gs, instead they shot their rocket projectiles.
I-16 is an inferior op-ponent compared with 1-153. The Chaikas did not use a turn to opposite direction for dodging, but a climbing turn to port or starboard and then straight towards St. Petersburg direction (obviously extremely low on fuel).
My plane CU-571.”
The other claims for destroyed fighters were made by vänrikki Mauri Aalto (CU-553), who claimed one I-153 and one I-16 (over Tytärsaari), luutnantti Jarl Arnkil (CU-556), who claimed one and one shared I-153 (with vääpeli Fräntilä), vääpeli Mauno Fräntilä (CU-572), who claimed one I-16 and one shared I-153 (with luutnantti Arnkil), ylikersantti Aimo Gerndt (CU-551), who claimed one I-153, ylikersantti Lauri Jutila (CU-566), who claimed two I-153s, kersantti Jaakko Kajanto (CU-568), who claimed one I-16, lentomestari Eino Koskinen (CU-558), who claimed one I-16, kersantti Eero Tähtö (CU-564), who claimed one I-153, kersantti Väinö Virtanen (CU-554), who claimed one I-153 and kersantti Eero Visuri (CU-563), who claimed one I-153. Vänrikki Veikko Alapuro (CU-552) claimed one I-153 damaged.
The aircraft of LLv 6 still harassed the fleeing Soviet troops along the ice by bombs and machine-gun fire.
The Baltic Fleet reported:
“At 18:40 twelve 71 IAP’s 1-153 fighters of kapitan Petr Biskup and six 11 IAP’s I-16 fighters had just completed the strafing of the enemy troops on the ground, when 15 Messerschmitts and 8 Fokkers attacked at 1,000 metres altitude. Serzhant Vasiliy Fedorov, who fought alone with eight Fokkers, had to make a forced landing near Lavansaari after running out of fuel. The aircraft flipped on its back without injuring the pilot. Observation points at Seiskari and Lavansaari reported three Fokkers and one PZL-24 down.”
11 IAP-KBF reported having lost one I-16 and 71 IAP-KBF four Chaikas in aerial combat with the Fokkers and Spitfires, all these before noon. Concerning the largest air battle of the day fought just before 19 hours o'clock, in addition to what is mentioned above, the chronicle states only that Solov’yev claimed one individual and one group victory over Me 109s.
The Soviet claims are somewhat confusing on this day. According to modern sources, Konstantin Solov’yev is only credited with a shared victory together with another pilot on this day. However, it seems that one individual Brewster is credited to Solov’yev before noon while the shared Fokker is credited to the group in the evening including Solov’yev, mladshiy leitenant Georgiy Belyakov and serzhant Vasiliy Fedorov. Serzhant Fedorov claimed an additional Fokker during the day while starshiy leitenant Abramov claimed a Fokker (an I-153 according to other sources) north-east of Gogland and Shakbaz claimed a Fokker in the morning. This brings the total of known Soviet claims for the day to one Brewster and four Fokker D.XXIs.

At the time of his death, Shakbaz was credited with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 28/03/42 07:00-07:10 1 Fokker (a) Destroyed I-153   8 km N Gogland 71 IAP-KBF

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Curtiss 75As from LLv 32 and Fokker D.XXIs from LLv 30. The Finnish aircraft claimed 5 shot down, 2 probables and 2 damaged without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed 1 shot down while losing 2 I-153s and 11 IAP-KBF lost 1 I-16.

All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
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

Last modified 09 April 2021