Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Naval Major Konstantin Vladimirovich Solovev HSU

1914 – 27 December 1942

Konstantin Solovev was born in 1914 in Gorodishchi, a settlement in the Moscow area.

He joined the navy in 1934 and graduated from the Yeysk Military Air School for Naval Pilots. During the Winter War, he took part in the operations over Finland with the Air Force of the Baltic Sea Fleet.

When the Great Patriotic War begun, he was flying Polikarpov I-153s in the 71 IAP-KBF operating over the Gulf of Finland, occasionally flying an aircraft marked ‘24’.

During the summer of 1941 this unit undertook many ground attack sorties but was subsequently employed for the night defence of Leningrad in 1942.

On 22 September 1941, six I-153s from the 71 IAP-KBF, led by Solovev, fought with four Ju 88s near Peterhof. Three of the German bombers were claimed shot down, one of them by Solovev.

In October 1941, he was promoted to command an eskadrilya.

Solovev was the first pilot of the 71 IAP-KBF who claimed a victory at night when he shot down a He 111.

On 27 March 1942, Finnish forces invaded Gogland. This resulted in some heavy air combats over the island. In the morning on 28 March, 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 Konstantin Solovev’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.”
Additionally, kapitan Solovev claimed one individual enemy aircraft (claimed as a Bf 109) while starshiy leitenant Abramov claimed a Finnish I-153.

Between 00:30-01:15 on 3 June 1942, four I-153s from the 71 IAP-KBF were up against He 111s raiding Kronstadt.
At 01:10, kapitan Solovev and starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Baturin claimed one He 111 from a distance of 500-600m at an altitude of 800m. The burning bomber crashed into Lake Kopenskoe. They also claimed a second shared He 111, which they attacked and shot down near Shepelev lighthouse. It seems that these victories were recorded as one single victory each.
Major Vladimir Koreshkov and kapitan Ivan Gorbachev claimed a shared He 111 at an altitude of 1000-800 m and from a distance of 100m, which crashed near Inoniemi. They also shot down a second He 111, which fell at Tyvola.

Between 00:40-02:30 on 8 July, three I-153s and three I-16s from 71 IAP-KBF intercepted enemy bombers attacking torpedo boats near the northern forts of Kronstadt. Kapitan Petr Biskup and kapitan Solovev attacked and claimed a shared destroyed Ju 88. The ground forces confirmed this claim.
It is possible that this claim only was credited to Biskup since he is credited with a single victory in this combat.
During the same raid, major Aleksandr Alekseyev claimed an Ju 88, which crashed into forest on Björkö island.

In the summer of 1942, he had flown 417 sorties, 115 of them against ground targets. He had also claimed five victories and three shared.

He was then promoted to kapitan and given the leadership of an eskadrilya, having claimed four victories at night during 30 interceptions.

He was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin on 23 October 1942.

On 17 December 1942, he was transferred to the 13 IAP-KBF as deputy commander.

Late in 1942, he was promoted to major.

He was severely wounded in an air battle on 20 December 1942 but managed to return to base, dying in hospital from his wounds on 27 December.
He was buried in Pestovo in the Novgorod region.

During the war, he was also decorated with a second Order of Lenin and twice with the Order of the Red Banner.

At the time of his death, Solovev had claimed 5 and 10 shared victories, all of them while flying Polikarpov I-153s. These victories were claimed during 427 sorties and 65 combats.
According to some sources, he was credited with 12 victories but this score probably includes shares.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 22/09/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed I-153   near Peterhof 71 IAP-KBF
2 28/03/42 09:05- 1 Bf 109 (a) Destroyed I-153   Gogland area 71 IAP-KBF
3 03/06/42 01:10- 1 He 111 (b) Destroyed I-153   Lake Kopenskoe-nr Shepelev lighthouse 71 IAP-KBF
  08/07/42 00:40-02:30 1/2 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Kronstadt area 71 IAP-KBF
?     1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-153     71 IAP-KBF
?     1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-153     71 IAP-KBF

Biplane victories: 5 and 10 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 and 10 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Finnish Brewster Buffaloes from LLv 24 which claimed five I-153s without losses while 71 IAP-KBF claimed one enemy fighter for the loss of two aircraft.
(b) Claimed during a night mission.

Airmen of World
All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Black Cross/Red Star Volume II - Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhailov, 2001 Pacifica Military History, ISBN 0-935553-51-7
Soviet Aces of World War 2 - Hugh Morgan, 1998
Stalin's Eagles - Hans D. Seidl, 1998 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-0476-3
Stalin's Falcons - Tomas Polak and Christhoper Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-01-2
Suomen Ilmavoimat part IV – 1942 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-2-0
Additional information kindly provided by Laurent Rizzotti.

Last modified 18 June 2020