Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Podpolkovnik Nikolay Ivanovich Svitenko HSU

6 December 1913 – 18 September 2007

Nikolay Svitenko was born in Kharkov on 6 December 1913.

He joined the Red Army in 1934 and graduated from Roganskuju military aviation school in 1937.

Starshiy leytenant Svitenko took part in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 as part of 7 IAP, flying with Polikarpov I-153s.

When Germany invade the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Svitenko still served in 7 IAP with the Polikarpov I-153.

In the early morning on 22 July 1941, thirteen Russian I-153 fighters attacked Utti airfield. Four Finnish Curtiss Hawk 75A fighters of LeLv 32 took off at 03:25 and a wild melee over the airfield ensued. Alikersantti Mauno Kirjonen shot down one of the intruders just as his plane lifted off the ground, but at the same time one Tshaika attacked him from above; Kirjonen pulled up to meet the new enemy. Both pilots opened fire at the same moment. Kirjonen’s plane was hit, metal pieces flew off and the engine started to smoke. The Russian pilot, mladshiy leytenant Vladimir Shavrov, was hit through the head by one of Kirjonen’s bullets and the I-153 dived into nearby Lake Haukkajärvi (some sources claims that Shavrov’s claim was made in a ”taran” ramming attack). Kirjonen had to parachute. His parachute opened just before he landed into the shallow shore water of Haukkajärvi. These were Kirjonen’s victories 2-3 of a total 9 ¾. The Finnish Hawk was CU-501, which crashed in Karhula village near Valkeala at 03:35.
It seems that Svitenko (I-153) also made a claim in this combat as he claimed an Bf 109 over Utti during the day.
At least 14 MiG-3s from 7 IAP were also involved in combat over Utti during the day (reportedly with Bf 109s) and as the Finnish only reported one attack on Utti it seems that these also were involved in the morning attack. One Bf 109 was claimed by starshiy leytenant Aleksey Baranov and a second by leytenant Ivan Dubovik. Two more Bf 109s were claimed as shared by 14 pilots including starshiy leytenant Baranov and leytenant Dubovik.
Shavrov’s I-153 was lifted from the lake and the dead pilot was buried near the airfield. The engine of the I-153 was detached from the plane and it was lifted in the 1980s. For this combat, Shavrov was decorated with a posthumous Order of Lenin.

Alikersantti Mauno Kirjonen in front of the wreck of Vladimir Shavrov’s I-153 on the shore of Haukkajärvi.
Photo from SA-Kuva

Svitenko claimed a shared Bf 109 over Imatra together with eight other pilots on 1 August. It’s possible that one of the other pilots were mladshiy leitenant Yuriy Kamerilov since he is credited with a shared Bf 109 ”in group” during the day.

7 IAP became 14 GIAP on 7 March 1942.

Between 23 July 1942 and January 1943, he commanded 15 GShAP with Il-2s for ground-attack duties.
There is several unaccounted claims made by Svitenko and there is a possibility that these were claimed while flying the Il-2.

He was sent back to command 14 GIAP on 27 October 1943. The unit was at the time equipped with Yak-9s.

Svitenko was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin on 2 October 1943.

Svitenko ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 6.
These were claimed during 273 combat missions and 34 air combats.
During his career he was decorated with a second Order of Lenin (20 December 1941), the Order of the Red Banner (12 June 1944 and a second time on an unknown date), The Order of Kutuzov, 3rd Class (8 December 1944), the Order of Patriotic War, 1st Class (11 March 1985) and the Order of the Red Star (twice). He was also decorated for his part in the defence of Leningrad.

He continued to serve after the war.

Svitenko passed away on 18 September 2007. At the time, he lived in Kharkov.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 22/07/41 03:35 1 Bf 109 (a) Destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Utti airfield 7 IAP
  01/08/41   1/9 Bf 109 (b) Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Imatra 7 IAP
  10/08/41   1/16 (b) Bf 109 Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Inkel 7 IAP
  19/09/41   1/7 Bf 109 Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Uritsk 7 IAP
  19/09/41   1/7 Ju 88 Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Uritsk 7 IAP
  26/09/41   1/2 Ju 88 Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   SE Shlisselburg 7 IAP
  06/11/41   1/9 Bf 109 Shared destroyed Polikarpov I-153   Siverskaya airfield 7 IAP
2 05/03/44   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-9   Putki-Omutti 14 GIAP
3 08/03/44   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-9   Narva 14 GIAP
4 29/03/44   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Yak-9   NW Sirgala 14 GIAP
5 17/09/44   1 FW 190 Destroyed Yak-9   Tommitsu 14 GIAP
6 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed        
  ??/??/4?   1/? Enemy aircraft Shared destroyed        
  ??/??/4?   1/? Enemy aircraft Shared destroyed        
  ??/??/4?   1/? Enemy aircraft Shared destroyed        

Biplane victories: 1 and 6 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 6 and 9 shared destroyed.
(a) Probably claimed in combat with LeLv 32, which claimed 2 I-153s while losing 1 Curtiss Hawk (pilot safe). 7 IAP claimed 5 enemy fighters while losing 1 I-153 (pilot KIA).
(b) Svitenko led this mission but the claim isn’t included in his account.

All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov
Suomen Ilmavoimat part III – 1941 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-1-3

Last modified 10 October 2021