The pilots - the heroes of the Great Patriotic War

The fact that the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War, fought legless pilot Alexei Maresiev thanks to writer Boris Polevoy and "The Story of a Real Man" knows half the world. The fact that in the Soviet Air Force pilots with the Luftwaffe fought and won more than a dozen pilots with an amputated leg, foot, or feet, they know very few. But it turns out, in the history of Soviet aviation was even more amazing event: combat sorties in the front skies made the pilot, who had his right hand! This man - Ivan Antonovich Leonov. And his fate is truly unique ...

And it began like many village boys who were born in the early 1920s: barefoot, half-starved childhood, seven-year school, factory school and simultaneous sessions in the Bryansk flying club. Work at the plant has not yet eighteen - and conscription. And then the direct road to the flight school.

Armavir school cadets pilots fighter Ivan Leonov began in April 1941. And in July, he received a lieutenant's tabs on their tops - the war, the accelerated release. All rushed to the front, and even freshly baked pilots - with double force. But fate decreed otherwise, and authorities: the first location service officer Lieutenant Leonov became the 56th Aviation Regiment, based in Mongolia. Far Eastern frontiers of the motherland Ivan Antonovich guarded eight months. Naturally, all this time filled up command of the report with a request to transfer him to any of the fronts. And got his - was ordered to go down to the fighter regiment, defended the Moscow sky. There, in April 1942, he received a baptism of fire.

The Nazis had driven away from the capital, but the German bombers continued in small groups outraged in the air, trying to strike a military factory and echelons, hurrying to the front line. These hijackers and had to catch the lieutenant Leonov with colleagues

In the first air combat Ivan Antonovich managed to knock down heavy "Junkers-88". But his LaGG-3 was set on fire bomber gunner. Lieutenant, following an order commander, left the burning car and stone flew down - parachute opened completely. Only a few hundred meters off the ground dome filled with air. Therefore, although the landing turned tough, but there were no deaths - young pilot escaped with dislocation of both legs.

However, comrades, watched the breathtaking fall were absolutely sure of his death with a heavy heart is ready to send a death notice to parents of Ivan Antonovich. Thank God, do not have time: two weeks later the pilot came back to his unit, told how on the edge it picked up local boys, on their hands was taken to a nearby village as heal old woman sorceress and what adventures he gets to his native regiment.

In spring 1943, Leonov was in Arzamas, where he was training at the newest fighter La-5. By this time the huge forces of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht massed under the Kursk, which is about to be ready to break out one of the biggest battles of the Second World War. There's also a part of the 1st Guards air force was also twenty fighter pilot First Lieutenant Ivan Leonov.

…Mid summer. The Battle of Kursk in full swing. In the skies over Tierra arc Ivan Antonovich made 50 sorties, chalked up seven Nazi aircraft: five personally shot down and two in group combat.

July 15 to 18 hours Leonov had five times the rise in the air to cover the dive bombers and attack aircraft, the thunder of the enemy tank columns. The sun was setting, and the pilot ordered mechanics to prepare for tomorrow's fighter flight. But suddenly the order came to hold an urgent aerial photography cluster of enemy trains on the stretch of Eagle Ponyri.

Ivan took off in a pair with a flight commander. The main task - to maintain the exact height: costs slightly raise or lower, and the focus will knock photographic image on film becomes opaque, unreadable.

The Germans installed along the railroad lot of flak. Their calculations, when he saw "Lavochkin", opened heavy fire. But aerial reconnaissance has no right to maneuver. The only salvation - speed ...

When the shooting was over, a couple of La-fifths and rolled away from the shot through the zone lay on the opposite course. And then two hundred meters below flashed "Focke-Wulf-190". In fact, the scouts is prohibited to engage in battle - more expensive than any film footage shot down a German fighter. But the commander could not resist and ordered: "We attack!". Guided followed him.

Banked with a loss of height, lead fell to the "Fokker" polosnuv his cigar-shaped body long queue. Following the attack went Leonov. The second longest of all - "Fokker" puffed and went into a nosedive. But then from behind the clouds tumbled six fighters with crosses on the fuselage. Ivan took pliers. Dodging the fire trails, senior lieutenant caught sight one more enemy aircraft. Utopia trigger - and the second "Fokker" flashed bright fire.

And then the cabin "Lavochkin" Lead hail hit. A sharp pain shot through his left shoulder, the hand jumped from the Gaza Strip and along the lash hung bronespinki chair. La-5 fell into a tailspin. Losing consciousness, the pilot pulled back the canopy and rolled over the side. Of the last forces pulled ring parachute ...

He fell into a swamp in the neutral zone two hundred meters from the downed them German. The infantry on both sides Rushed forward - every pilot saved her. Under the gaps have connected to the case of Ivan Antonovich mortars carried in the first line of trenches. Then the field hospital, and then front-line hospital. And - the amputation of his left hand to the shoulder. Surgeons and so did everything to save the life of a young pilot who had a fractured shoulder, the shoulder joint is damaged and punctured lung.

Despite the successful operation, the condition of the wounded getting worse every day. Gangrene. And fellow pilots decided to forward it to Moscow. Acting in good faith, they practically stole from Ivan Antonovich chamber brought to the airport and the nearest health board was sent to the capital, without the knowledge of their arbitrariness none of the frontline staff of the hospital.

When the next morning to intercede to replace the nurse came into the room and saw the empty bed Senior Lieutenant Leonov, she found that one-handed patient afflicted with gangrene, was taken to the morgue ...! And the management of the Army (as the front-line hospital) documents left "dead" officer. And from there it was a notice to the regiment. So the second time Leonov got to lists of the dead.

After his recovery, Ivan Antonovich refused disability made his return to the army and the will of fate turned out to be one of the most advanced air adjustment positions. There, watching daily flight and air battles, crippled the pilot was thinking about how he go back up into the sky.

At that time the aircraft pilot's left hand worked only with the throttle lever. Now, if done in the plane pedal in the car. But it will have a lot to alter design ... And suddenly it dawned on Leonova: after all, you can simply pull the shoulder! On the same day of a thin sheet of aluminum removed from the downed fighter, he contrived scapular, has attached to it a hinge is connected to the handle of the Gaza Strip. Tested his invention on the ground - it seems to be working.

Not wanting to spend time walking around the small chain of command, Ivan Antonovich went to the reception directly to the commander of the 1st Air Force pilot the legendary Hero of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gromov. "How are you, one-handed, decided to ask for admission to the flight ?!" - barely penetrating the essence of the requests of the young officer, commander exploded. "So if I had two hands, I would not come to you" - calmly parried Leonov. Cooling off, the commander ordered to make available to the pilot the plane Po-2 and warned that next week he will take his exam in piloting.
Test Leonov passed as "excellent", and has been defined in the 63rd separate squadron is engaged in the transportation of the wounded and the delivery of goods to the guerrilla groups. So militarily the sky appeared the only one-armed pilot.

At the end of 1944, his plane did not return from a mission. And Leonov - for the third time! - Presumed dead. But he made itself felt through a weekly phone call to the squadron from the hospital reported that shots were fired from the ground, wounded in the leg and could hardly put bullet-riddled Po-2 directly to the trenches of our infantry, the bounce when landing his head on the edge of the cockpit. After these wounds and injuries Ivan Antonovich had to finally part with the sky: the war ended, he has staff work and met the victory at Konigsberg.

After the war, twenty-five officer, demobilized, graduated from Minsk Pedagogical Institute, he taught at the school building, served as director of the orphanage, headed by a driving school DOSAAF, and then for many years to train young cadres in the Tula road transport technical school. With his wife Nina V. They raised two daughters and raised five adopted children whose parents were killed during the Great Patriotic War.
February 16, 1995 Presidential Decree number 147 Ivan Antonovich Leonov was awarded the title Hero of Russia. He is an honorary citizen of Shablykinskogo District, Oryol Region and the city of Tula, his name is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, was awarded one of the streets in Orel and Tula secondary school № 70.

Following the example of other

No less astonishing biography of Peter Semenovich Shemendyuk - another Soviet fighter pilot with a similar fate front.

After graduating from high school and the Odessa factory school, he went to the Far East - to build Komsomolsk-on-Amur. There he met and became friends with peers Alexei Maresyev. They worked in a carpenter's crew, and when in 1936 the village was opened in the working flying club, enroll in courses with uchletov.

History does, however carpenters were Shemendyuk with Maresyev, but the flight talent in young people opened immediately. So after graduation friends got directions in Chita initial flight training school, and then - in Bataisk school of fighter pilots.
In 1940, the path of the road Alexis and Peter parted Shemendyuk went to the Leningrad Military District, was an instructor Maresiev Bataisk. And friends knew that the coming war will force them to go through a very similar life situations.

Fighter was shot down over Maresiev Demyansk springboard April 4, 1942. To bail out the pilot did not have time, and his plane crashed in the territory occupied by the enemy. Pilot thus ejected from the cab. With maimed, broken legs crawling eighteen days Alex made his way to the front lines. Near the village Plavni Valdai region of Novgorod region of the pilot found barely alive local kids. More than a week the villagers cared for him, and then with the help of guerrillas transported by plane to Moscow. At the hospital, doctors had to amputate both legs in the area of ​​the lower leg due to gangrene.
This story, laid the foundation Boris Polevoy "The Story of a Real Man", known to many. But as the fate of Peter.

By the beginning of the Battle of Kursk he was already a recognized ace: 261 sorties, shot down 13 enemy planes personally and six - in group battles.

August 1, 1943 the squadron commander, Senior Lieutenant Shemendyuk south of Eagle held its fortieth dogfight. Squadron commander had set fire to two "Messers" when he noticed that the tail of the aircraft added a second lieutenant Redkina enemy fighter. Time to warn about the danger of a slave was not - he still did not have time to react. And Peter tossed his "Yashku" intercept lead queues.

Fell out of the flames of the Yak-1, Shemendyuk opened parachute. While down on the bottom of the verdant treetops, circled around angrily triple Me-109 trying to shoot a helpless pilot. Kill not killed, but badly crippled: Peter had injured both legs, left arm slaughtered.

In the enemy's rear to survive such wounds almost impossible. Spas series of happy accidents. At an abandoned forester's hut, which happened near the site of his fall, Shemendyuk found food and some medicines, or stockpiled thrifty owner, whether he left for partisans. And on the second day of the pilot came across a group of scouts, who were returning after the mission behind enemy lines. They carried Peter to his. And after a while he and Alex Maresiev, was in the capital hospital. The legs have healed him, but his left hand, doctors could not save.

In the hospital ward wounded squadron leader nurse brought a fresh issue of the newspaper "Pravda", where the front page reported that "the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of August 24, 1943 for exemplary performance of command assignments at the front of the struggle against the Nazi invaders and for displaying courage and heroism of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold Star" was given ... ". Then came a long list, almost at the end of which stood his name.

But not only this news excited newfound hero. In the same decree was a few lines above the name of Alexei Maresiev! A couple of weeks in the hospital and he appeared Alexei Petrovich. At that time, he had already returned to the aircraft, conducted several air battles, shot down two German aircraft. He was desperate and convinced the other, after the amputation of the hands of the life and service in the air does not end there. What was it then for 27 years ...

After discharge from the hospital, Petr Semenovich long time to pester various instances. In the end it is good to return to a combat unit gave himself the commander of the Air Force Red Army Marshal Alexander Novikov.

However, for medical levitate Shemendyuk no longer allowed. But after completing the course at the senior officers' school, he was appointed deputy commander of the 130th Fighter Division of the air-rifle training. Interestingly, about the same period, it is absolutely not saying a word with a friend on the instructor's job went and Alexei Maresiev, transferred from the regiment in the combat control of the main universities of the Air Staff.

Although personally participate in air battles Petr Semenovich no longer ever, he trained young fighters airmanship. After the war is estimated that in the period from 18 October 1944 to 1 May 1945 pilots trained Shemendyuk, held in the skies over East Prussia 128 air battles, which shot down 81 enemy aircraft. So livestock fully paid off with the enemy for the blood of his mentor, and he lost a hand. But recognition of the homeland merit famous pilot became the Order of Patriotic War I degree, which is a major Shemendyuk got forty-five in April, shortly before the victory.

Demobilized from the army, Peter S. in 1946. And two months later he resigned and Alexey Maresyev.
After the war, Peter S. lived in Kaliningrad, Deputy Managing "Kaliningradenergo", was elected deputy of the City Council. In 1983, he moved to Kherson, where nearly ten years headed the Museum of History of the Young Communist League, and after the closing of the Fund worked Rehabilitation. May 9, 2000 with a delegation of Ukrainian veterans of the Great Patriotic War took part in the anniversary Victory Day parade on Red Square in Moscow.

Hero of the Soviet Union Pyotr Semenovich Shemendyuk died July 19, 2001. And two months before he died one hero of the Soviet Union Alexey Maresyev ...

Author Igor Sofronov


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