Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: yesterday, today and tomorrow / Weekdays
Twenty two against one. As tank commander, feel free to leave humiliated the Third Reich
Material posted: Publication date: 11-11-2014

With the chief feat of the Soviet tankman Zenobia Kolobanova there was a strange incident — he simply refused to believe.

"Stand to death!"

In the early 1990-ies in Russia there was a huge amount of literature, glorifying the exploits of the German pilots, tankmen, seamen. Colourfully describes the adventures of Hitler's war created the reader a clear sense that to defeat these professionals the Red Army could not ability, and number — say, flunked the enemy corpses.

The exploits of Soviet heroes remained in the shadows. Wrote about them a little and, as a rule, questioning their reality.

Meanwhile, the most successful tank battle in the history of the Second World war was carried out by Soviet tank crews. And it happened in the most difficult time of war — in the late summer of 1941.

8 August 1941 German army group North started the offensive at Leningrad. Soviet troops, waging heavy defensive battles, retreated. In the area of Krasnogvardeisk (this name then wore Gatchina) the onslaught of the Nazis kept the 1st tank division.

The situation was dire — the Wehrmacht, successfully applying large joints of tanks, broke through the Soviet defenses and threatened the capture of the city.

Krasnogvardeisk had a strategic importance, as was a large knot of highways and Railways on the outskirts of Leningrad.

19 August 1941 the commander of the 3rd tank company 1st tank battalion 1st tank division Lieutenant feel free to leave received personal orders from the division commander: to block the three roads which lead to Krasnogvardeiskoe from Luga, Volosovo and Kingisepp.

— Fight to the death! — snapped the Colonel.

The company Kolobanova was equipped with heavy tanks KV-1. This fighting machine can successfully fight with the tanks, which was available to the Wehrmacht at the beginning of the war. Strong armor and powerful 76-mm gun KV-1 tank made a real storm of panzerwaffe.

A disadvantage of the KV-1 was not the best maneuverability, so best those tanks in the beginning of the war operated from ambushes.

Hell Zanegina didn't remember much about the war - she was 5 years old when she started.

For "ambush tactics" was another reason — the KV-1 and T-34, to the beginning of the war in the army were few. Therefore, available machine from the fighting in an open area trying to protect.


But the technique, even at its best, is only effective when it is managed by a competent professional. The company commander senior Lieutenant Zinovy feel free to leave it in such a professional and was.

He was born December 25, 1910 in the village of Arefino Vladimir province into a peasant family. Zenobia's father was killed in the Civil war, when the boy was ten years old. Like many of his peers at that time, Zinovy had early to join the peasant labor. After graduating from primary school, he enrolled in College, with a third year which he was drafted into the army.

Began service feel free to leave in the infantry, but the red Army needed the tanks. Capable young soldier sent to eagle, armored school named after Frunze.

In 1936 Zinovy feel free to leave graduated from the armored school with honors and with the rank of Lieutenant was sent to serve in the Leningrad military district.

Baptism of fire feel free to leave took on the Soviet-Finnish war, which began as commander of a tank company of the 1st light tank brigade. During this brief war, he was burning in the tank three times, each time returning to the ranks, and was awarded the order of red banner.

At the beginning of the great Patriotic war the red Army was lacking such as feel free to leave — competent commanders with combat experience. That's why he began to service the light tanks, had to master the KV-1, then not just beat on it the Nazis, but also to teach their subordinates.

Ambush company

In the tank crew KV-1 Lieutenant Kolobanova was part of the gun commander senior Sergeant Andrew Usov, senior mechanic-driver senior Sergeant Nikolai Nikiforov, the youngest mechanic-the driver soldier Nicholas Springs and gunner-radio operator Sergeant Pavel Kiselyov.

The crew was a match for his commander: people are well trained, with combat experience and a cool head. In General, in this case the advantages of the KV-1 were increased by the merits of his crew.

After receiving the order, feel free to leave put the combat mission: stop the enemy tanks, so in each of the five company cars had been loaded with two ammunition armor-piercing projectiles.

Arriving on the same day at a place near the farm voyskovitsy, Lieutenant thanks for download distributed forces. The tanks of Lieutenant Evdokimenko and second Lieutenant of Dagmara took the defense on the Luga highway, tanks sub-Lieutenant Sergeyev and Lieutenant bird's-Kingisepp was covering the road. Kolobanov got himself situated in the centre of defence coastal road.

Trench tank crew Kolobanova arranged 300 metres from the intersection, intending to fire at the enemy "in a forehead".

The night of 20 August was held in suspense. Around noon the Germans tried to break through on the Luga highway, but crews Evdokimenko and Dagmara, hit five tanks and three armored vehicles, forced the enemy to turn back.

Two hours later past the position of the tank of Lieutenant Kolobanova drove German motorcycle scouts. Disguised KV-1 is not found.

22 of the tank for 30 minutes of battle

Finally, came the long-awaited "guests" — a column of German light tanks, consisting of 22 machines.

Feel free to leave ordered:

— Fire!

The first volleys were stopped three head of the tank, then the gun commander Usov suffered a fire in the tail of the column. As a result, the Germans lost the possibilities for maneuver and could not leave the firing zone.

At the same time the tank Kolobanova was detected by the enemy, which brought down on him a heavy fire.

Soon from masking KV-1 there was nothing left of the German shells hit the turret of the Soviet tank, but the knock it was not possible.

At some point the next hit took out the turret, and then to continue the fight, the driver Nikolay Nikiforov put the tank out of the trench and began to maneuver through the deployment of the KV-1 so that the crew could continue to fire at the Germans.

Within 30 minutes of the battle the crew of senior Lieutenant Kolobanova destroyed all 22 tanks that were in the convoy.

A similar result during the tank battle was not able to reach anyone, including the vaunted German Panzer aces. This achievement was later recorded in the Guinness Book of records.

When a battle verse, feel free to leave subordinates on the armor found traces from more than 150 hits by German shells. But reliable armor of the KV-1 survived all.

In all, 20 August, 1941, five tanks of a company of senior Lieutenant Zenobia Kolobanova knocked out 43 German "opponent". Were also destroyed an artillery battery, a motor car and two mouth Nazi infantry.

Unofficial hero

In early September 1941 all members of the Zenobia Kolobanova crew were presented with the title Hero of the Soviet Union. But the high command did not consider that feat tank deserves such high ratings. Zenobia Kolobanova was awarded the order of the red banner, Andrey Usov — the order of Lenin, Nikolay Nikiforov — the order of the red banner, and Nicholas Rodnikova and Paul Kiselicova — orders of the red Star.

Three weeks after the battle of Voiskovitsy Roth senior Lieutenant Kolobanova was holding back the Germans on the outskirts of Krasnogvardeiskoe, and then covered the retreat of parts on Pushkin.

On 15 September 1941 in the town of Pushkin during refueling of the tank and loading of ammunition next to the KV-1 Zenobia Kolobanova exploded German shell. Senior Lieutenant received a very severe wound with injuries of the head and spine. The war for him is over.

But in the summer of 1945, after having recovered from injuries, though feel free to leave back in operation. Thirteen years he served in the army, being transferred to the reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and then for many years lived and worked in Minsk.

With main feat Zenobia Kolobanova and its crew there was a strange incident — he simply refused to believe, despite the fact that the battle of Voiskovitsy and the results were formally documented.

It seems that the authorities were ashamed of the fact that in the summer of 1941 the Soviet tankers could so violently to smash the fascists. Such deeds did not fit into the generally accepted picture of the first months of the war.

But here the interesting moment — in the early 1980-ies on the battlefield under Voyskovitsy it was decided to erect a monument. Zinovy feel free to leave wrote a letter to the USSR Minister of defence Dmitry Ustinov with a request to allocate a tank to be installed on the pedestal, and the tank was isolated, though not KV-1, and later is-2.

But the very fact that the Minister granted the request Kolobanova, suggests that the heroic tank crewman he knew and his feat under doubt did not put.

The legend of the twenty-first century

Feel free to leave Zino passed away in 1994, but the veteran organizations, social activists, and historians to this day attempts to press the authorities to assign him the title of Hero of Russia.

In 2011, the Russian defense Ministry denied the motion, finding new rewarding Zenobia Kolobanova "inappropriate".

In the end, the feat of the Soviet tankman in the Homeland of the hero and not appreciated.

To restore justice did the developers of the popular computer game. One of virtual medals in the online game tank on the theme is given to the player who single-handedly won against five or more enemy tanks. It is called "Medal Kolobanova". Due to this about feel free to leave Zenobia and his exploits learned tens of millions of people.

Perhaps this memory in the twenty-first century is the best reward for the hero.


RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security