War in the sky: Interview with a Soviet pilot, part 1

War in the sky: Interview with a Soviet pilot, part 1

On March 19, 1944, near Proskurovsk, Ukraine, we came across a squadron of bombers guarded by Messerschmitt 110 fighters. We started to attack them. Our leading pilot Pavel Maslyakov attacked the lead bomber, I went for the second. We hit both of the planes. When I started attacking the other plane, suddenly there was an explosion. The enemy Messerschmitt 110 opened fire and a shell hit my cockpit. It exploded under my legs. The gasoline pipes were damaged. The whole cockpit caught fire. Everything was burning. I unfastened the seatbelt. The plane started to dive and I was thrown out of the cockpit. I pulled the parachute ring. The ground was very close, but the parachute opened before I hit the ground. But I broke my legs. I lost consciousness. Soon I felt someone searching my body. There were people in green uniforms, with skulls. It was an SS division. I immediately thought that my life was over. A German lieutenant came up to me and started asking questions: what unit I was from? How many planes were there? Who was in charge? Where it was located? I refused to answer. He looked at me, waved his hand and ordered the soldiers to shoot me. In a moment a group of officers came out of the headquarters. One of them walked past and took an interest in the badly burned man he noticed. He asked the soldiers about me, they explained that I was an enemy pilot and had orders to shoot me. He thought for a moment and said only two words: “nein”, “hospital”. The next day I woke up on a metal bed. A wounded soldier lying next to me asked who I was. I explained that I was a pilot who got hit. The guy turned out to be a pilot too, a navigator. In six days the medics told us that the Soviet forces were approaching the town. The Germans started to retreat. In the evening we heard explosions. The Germans had started to burn down the hospital barracks. The whole place was on fire. We were waiting for when they would burn down our barrack. I fell asleep at 11pm and found myself alive in the morning. It turned out that our barrack had a sign outside: “TYPHUS. DO NOT ENTER”, so the Germans didn’t burn us down, the medics said.

2 Comments on "War in the sky: Interview with a Soviet pilot, part 1"

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this 🙂 I am Swedish but my best friend is half-russian (his father is swedish and his mother russian). His grandfather was a soviet fighter pilot in ww2 on the eastern front, but he died from cancer before my friend was born, so im looking for clips that can help him understand what his grandfather went through (hell on earth, and back again) 🙂


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