It so happened that among the Soviet fighter aces who distinguished themselves during the Great Patriotic war, national fame and glory got, in fact, only two of them, the best – Ivan Kozhedub (according to the revised data – 64 personal victory) and Alexander Pokryshkin (59).
To utter unfortunately, our other "Sokolov" in the people almost do not know. Well, you know, really, yet – thanks to the book by Boris Polevoy about Alexei Maresyev (11, including 7 after return to duty, an amputee). Some may remember the glorious son of the Crimean Tatar and Dagestani peoples Sultan Amet-Khan (30 plus, 19 victories in the group). That is, in fact, and all, or rather all...
In the shadow of Kozhedub and Pokryshkin was even our third speaker, a colleague Pokryshkin, twice Hero of the Soviet Union Grigory Rechkalov, who lost quite a bit Pokryshkin (56 wins).Here, however, there is one circumstance: Rechkalov was a fine pilot and a brave man, but had a complex character, was overly ambitious and was poor on the part of military discipline.
...Well, not our nation knows its heroes aviators and extremely important therefore work to eliminate "blind spots". But, by the way, the red Army fought the best female speaker in the history of aviation – Lydia Litvyak. It particularly distinguished itself in the battle of Stalingrad, the 70th anniversary of the victory in which we are celebrating now. And Litvyak was buried in Ukraine in a mass grave in the village of Dmitrovka of the Miner's region of Donetsk region.
Lydia was born in Moscow in 1921. Like many young people of the 30's, became fascinated with aviation. With 14 years she attended the air-club and at 15 made his first solo flight. After graduating from the Kherson flying school of the pilots-instructors worked as an instructor at the Kalinin aeroclub. And Litvyak made a good showing in this work, prepared before the war, 45 cadets.
When the Great Patriotic war, the Soviet command did not plan the inclusion of women in combat aviation. However, the huge losses of aircrew were forced to change their original intentions. In October 1941 it was decided to form a volunteer three women's air regiments. To guide this work was entrusted to the legendary pilot Marina Raskova.
In early 1942 Lydia Litvyak made a petition to military – fighter – aircraft, attributing a missing 100 flight hours. Her enlisted in the 586 th fighter regiment (IAP). His first sortie Litvyak made in June in the sky above Saratov.
And in September she was already fighting on the Stalingrad front in the 437 th "men's" regiment, flying the La-5. Later he switched to the Yak-1 with yellow number "44" on Board.
The first personal victories she has won 13 of September 1942, shooting down two fighter Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Junkers high-speed bomber Ju 88. Soon "followed by" another "Junkers". Then Litvyak was transferred to a separate women's unit, established at division headquarters, and then in the regiment of aces of the 9th Odessa guards IAP.
Lydia Litvyak was still quite a young girl – she was barely 21 years old. A young and very romantic: the memories, Lydia wore long scarves sewn from parachute silk, and always kept in the cockpit of a fighter a bouquet of wildflowers. On the hood of the Yak-1 it was painted a bright white Lily.
Many considered her beautiful. And at the front came to Lydia's great love: her husband became her master – Alexey Salomatin, who won just 12 games.
By the end of the battle of Stalingrad Lydia Litvyak achieved the title of ACE (an ACE is considered to be a pilot, won 5 wins). On 23 February 1943 the girl received the first combat award – the order of the red Star. By the time the fighting on its account already was registered 8 downed aircraft.
A very tough fight she had to endure on March 22 in the district of Rostov-on-don. Participating in the intercept group Ju 88 and shot down one of them, she entered into combat with six Bf 109. In that fight Litvyak was wounded and barely managed to bring the damaged car home. After treatment, in may, she returned to the regiment.
At the end of may Litvyak in a brilliant manner, a lightning attack from the sun brought down a German balloon-spotter, who could not shoot down other fighters. For this victory, Junior Lieutenant Lydia Litvyak was awarded the order of red banner. About her exploits wrote in the Newspapers, her name became known to the country.
Twice she herself was shot down and behind enemy lines. The first time she was able to walk to get to his own, and in the second case, her comrade has committed a desperate act – sat near the brought-down pilots and took her on Board.
Success in fights was marred, however, by the loss of loved ones. 21 may 1943 killed Lydia's husband – Hero of the Soviet Union guards captain Alexei Salomatin. On July 19, never returned from battle best friend Katya Budanova, which at the time was the top female ACE (11 victories).
August 1, 1943 Lydia Litvyak on his Yak-1 was accompanied by Il-2. It was already the fourth of its departure for the day, and she already managed to shoot down two enemy machines. The fourth flight, however, turned out recently in life. Witnesses said that "Yak" with conspicuous white Lily on Board was attacked by several of the pilot, and the plane fell near the village of Dmitrovka. Lydia Litvyak just half a month did not live up to 22 years old...
In his short, little more than a year, military career she completed 186 sorties, spent 69 air battles and scored 12 confirmed victories.
For a long time the circumstances of the death pilots, and even the place of her burial remained unclear. In the course of "hot pursuit" searches, neither the plane nor the body of the woman were not found. Because she had been missing, and what is Lydia Litvyak had not then been proclaimed for 10 downed enemy aircraft the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
In 1979 it was found that the pilots ashes buried in a common grave of the village of Dmitrovka. The veterans of the regiment, in which she fought, fought for the recognition of her work. The decree of the President of the USSR from may 5, 1990 for exemplary performance of tasks of command and shown in the battles with the Nazis, the courage and heroism of Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union (posthumously). And in 1993 it was awarded and the title of Hero of Russia.
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