Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Vasily Alekseevich Smirnov

1909 –

Vasily Smirnov was born in 1909.

Smirnov took part in the Nomonhan conflict with Japan in 1939, serving in 22 IAP and flying Polikarpov I-15bis and I-153s with this unit.

On 9 July, Smirnov (Polikarpov biplane) claimed two shared Ki-27 over Lake Naryn-Nur together with one other pilot. This was possibly Mladshii Leitenant Aleksandr Smirnov (I-16), who claimed two shared Ki-27 (reported as a ”I-97s”) in the same area during the day.

Petr Agafonov of 22 IAP (I-153) claimed a Ki-27 south-west of Lake Yanhu on 21 August as did Smirnov (Polikarpov biplane).

Leitenant Nikolai Grinev of 22 IAP (I-16) claimed a shared Ki-27 in the Lake Buir-Nur area together with three other pilots on 30 August while Leitenant Pavel Solntsev (I-16) claimed a single Ki-27 and a second as a shared with four other pilots (including Vasily Naydenko) in the Lake Usur-Nur area. Smirnov (Polikarpov biplane) claimed one Ki-27 and a second shared Ki-27 together with another pilot in the Lake Usur-Nur area.

On 4 September, fighters clashed south-east of Shirin-Obo and overhead the Numurgin-Gol River when the Soviets flew 68 fighter sorties and the Japanese 40.
Initially, eleven I-153s and 39 I-16s from 22 IAP fought with and pursued 20 Ki-27s, and then eleven I-16s and seven I-153s from 70 IAP did the same with seven Ki-10s from 33rd Sentai led by Captain Takeo Kawada. The Japanese encountered a reported 20-30 Soviet aircraft at a height of 5,000 metres. Kawada had been personally forbidden to engage, but 2nd Lieutenant Tadashi Harada (NCO54) and Sergeant Major Akira Ishikawa (Sho-1) charged in, followed by the rest of the formation. In this combat the Japanese claimed nine and three probables, including three by Ishikawa personally, although he force-landed after suffering severe wounds, from which he died next day. Harada and Sergeant Major Seizo Hiraki (NCO66) were also killed.
The 33rd Sentai’s 3rd chutai was also engaged in combat claiming 13 victories and 13 probables.
Soviet reports were filed with claims of nine enemy fighters (at least one Ki-27 and five Ki-10s) while losing two I-16 tip 10s and one I-153.
Egor Ankudinov (I-16 in 70 IAP) claimed a single Ki-10 (reported as a ”I-95”) and two more as shared together with 15 other pilots (including Kapitan Andrey Dekhtyarenko in an I-16 from 22 IAP) at “Square 787” while Grigory Boychenko (I-153 from 70 IAP) claimed a Ki-10 over the mouth of the Numurgin-Gol River. Mikhail Abzianidze (I-16 from 22 IAP) claimed a Ki-27 during the day while Smirnov (I-153 from 22 IAP) claimed a Ki-10 over “Square 787”.

Smirnov ended the Nomonhan conflict with 3 biplane victories.

In August 1941, Smirnov served in 23 IAP, flying LaGG-3s with this unit.

Smirnov was posted from 23 IAP in March 1942 when he was posted to 66 IAP.
With this unit, Smirnov flew Yak-1s, Yak-7s and Airacobras.

Smirnov ended the war with 3 biplane victories and a total of 6.
These where claimed during 67 combat missions (as of 20 February 1945).
During his career he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (twice), the Order of Alexander Nevskii, the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class (twice) and the Order of the Red Star.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  09/07/39   1/2 Ki-27 Shared destroyed Polikarpov biplane   Lake Naryn-Nur 22 IAP
  09/07/39   1/2 Ki-27 Shared destroyed Polikarpov biplane   Lake Naryn-Nur 22 IAP
1 21/08/39   1 Ki-27 Destroyed Polikarpov biplane   SW Lake Yanhu 22 IAP
2 30/08/39   1 Ki-27 Destroyed Polikarpov biplane   Lake Usur-Nur area 22 IAP
  30/08/39   1/2 Ki-27 Shared destroyed Polikarpov biplane   Lake Usur-Nur area 22 IAP
3 04/09/39   1 Ki-10 Destroyed Polikarpov I-153   ”Square 787” Nomonhan 22 IAP
4 28/12/43   1 He 111 Destroyed     Bagerovo 66 IAP
  28/12/43   1/2 He 111 Shared destroyed     Bagerovo area 66 IAP
5 12/01/44   1 Ju 87 Destroyed       66 IAP
  01/02/44   1/4 Bf 109 Shared destroyed       66 IAP
  06/02/44   1/2 Bf 109 Shared destroyed     Kerch 66 IAP
6 13/02/44   1 Fw 190 Destroyed     E Tarkhan 66 IAP

Biplane victories: 3 and 3 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 6 and 6 shared destroyed.

Air War Over Khalkhin Gol: The Nomonhan Incident - Vladimir R. Kotelnikov, 2010 SAM Publications, ISBN 978-1-906959-23-4
All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Japan Against Russia In The Sky Of Nomonhan - Dimitar Nedialkov, 2005 Propeller Publishing, Sofia, ISBN 954-9367-33-9
Soviet Aces 1936-1953

Last modified 17 December 2018