interview by Oleg Korytov
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Interview with Ivan Lukich Zvyagin, pilot from 43 IAP.
Photo: Ivan Lukich Zvyagin in 2005
Interviewer and translator: Oleg Korytov
Redactor: Igor Zhydov
Archive research and control: Vlad Antipov
Interview taken on: 01.07 and 09.07.2006
Text in ( ) is technical information and some corrections in the text. Since I.L. passed away, we decided to do minimal changes for ease of reading only.
Oleg Korytov (Further on Q): Ivan Lukich, please, tell us about Your childhood, where you were born and so on?
Ivan Lukich Zvyagin (further on Z): I’m chaldon, that is, I’m a Siberian. I was born in a 40 to 50 houses large village Kolnyakovo, in Kemerovskii district on 05.05.1920.
My parents were peasants, and I had an older sister, Maria, who used to live in Leninsk-Kuznetskii. It was about 60 kilometers from my village. I finished 4 classes at home, and then it was decided that I should move to the city for further education. I went to my sister’s house, but when I came to the school, at which we were supposed to live in, I simply ran away – it was too cold and there was nothing to eat there. So, I went back home. For a year I was fooling around, but then a new school was opened at our village, so I continued my education. Since there were only 7 classes out of 10 needed to finish primary education, I moved to my siste’s house once again, and while I was in 9-th class, Stalin had issued an order to create aeroclubs.
Medical commission decided that I was suited for flying without limitation, and I finished aeroclub in Leninsk-Kuznetskii.
Q: What was your first aircraft?
Z: There were quite a few planes at that time, I was flying in a Po-2, U-2, as it was called back then.
I finished 10-th class and I was called to the military duty. I was 19 at that time.
So I was sent to a rifle company, became a machine gunner, and for a year we were guarding army depot ?252.
Later, a military pilots school was created close to the town of Horol. I even remember its first commander - Mamakov. So I applied and finished it.
We studied there for a short period of time. I had 2 flights with instructor in a Po-2, then I was allowed for solitary flight. I must have been quite an apt pupil. (laughs). Flying a Po-2 I finished educational program, and had 5 or 6 flying hours. Then UTI – a training I-16.
At the beginning of 1941 I was sent to 48-th IAP also at the Far East. There I was re-trained for I-153…
Photo: I.L. Zvyagin, 48 IAP, 1941
Z: Yes, «Chaika»!.. I thought no one knows these days…
48-th IAP was stationed at Lesnoe AB, 8-10 kilometers from Spassk.
Commander of our squadron was Sidor Romanovich Shepel. I’m even now surprised at the level of his knowledge, although he never studied anywhere after finishing flight school... He used to train us for low level flights, night shooting, maneuvering… Everything that pilots need to know. No other squadron commander could match with him…
Q: First class commander?
Z: Extra class… But, when we arrived to the Kuban, he flew only for a week, and he was shot down with his wingman – Zhichin .
(Shepel, Sidor Romanovich was shot down in a fight with Me-110s near Novorossiisk on 24.04.1943 in Yak7b ?4213. Had claimed 1 aircraft shot down. Zhichin Ivan Alexeevich did not return from a combat mission in a Krasnodarskii district on 29.05.1943, flying a Yak-1. Official story says: "Shot down in a fight, plane burned down, pilot left plane with parachute. Current location unknown". Claimed 1 enemy aircraft).
Q: In a military flight school did you make group flights and dogfights?
Z: We were shown how to do it and made a couple of flights.
Q: What was your rank after you finished school?
Q: In your opinion — most noticeable drawback of the training?
Z: Too few flights and flying hours.
Q: So, you had not had enough flying practice and low tactical expertise?
Z: We were well trained… But still not enough… Tactics was given mainly by word of mouth.
Q: Were you expecting the war?
Z: No, not really.
O: So, 48-th IAP became a workshop for preparing the pilots for war?
Z: Yes, 48-th IAP… It’s commander was Tolbyshev. He was left behind…. Regiment was mainly manned by sergeants. Order came – more or less well flying pilots were to be sent to the front. That was when 43 IAP was born.
We went to Novosibirsk, where we went through training drill with Yak-7b. We
got new aircraft with a “Bashkyr kolkhoz sypy” insignia on them,
they were bought by kolkhoz workers of Bashkiria for us. We flew these planes
to Lubertzy under Moscow, where we abandoned them and got new aircraft. We got
some experience with them, and we were sent to the war. Most difficult situation
was at Kuban. There were a lot of German planes there.
Our division had 3 regiments with a total of 120-130 aircraft.
At Kuban I made 41 combat sortie, shot down 2 enemy planes, and everything went well, until on 42-nd mission I was shot down. I almost burned alive. Since then I have burn marks on my face, legs and hands.
This is what happened: It was nearly at the end of a patrol, and we had about 5 minutes of patrolling time left. Suddenly, my plane disintegrated. I did not think about bailing out, I was thrown out of the cockpit, all that I had – boots, pistol, helmet all was torn by the wind out. But luckily, the parachute opened. I came to my conscience, and found out that all that I wore was on fire. But – I was alive! Osadchiev flew around me, and weaved towards our territory, and set off. I landed at a place where Kuban river joins the sea...
Q: Was it AAA or fighters?
I don’t know… We were above our territory. I was picked by civilians, who were hiding on the shore, and they took me to the battlefront. Battalion commander looked at me, gave me some alcohol, and made me completely drunk. Since I was severely burned he sent me to the medical battalion. There I spent 20 days.
Q: So, then you were sent to front or army hospital?
No, field hospital. I was considered as “not worthy of transportation”. I was painted with KMnO4 solution, and after that I was completely bandaged. So, I was lying there on the earthen floor… Then doctor took the bandages out, and I saw that all of my wounds were festered… Then I was sent to Krasnodar.
There I was for 5 days, and was sent further on to Kirovobad. I spent 2 month in hospitals. In august I was commissioned. My neck would not turn – it was covered by scars.
Commission gave me one month to recover, which I spent with my parents in my village.
After that I went to military komissariat in Leninsk-Kuznetskii. New commission found me valid for further service. I went to the front via Moscow, where I got awarded in Granovitiy hall of Kremlin.
Photo: Moscow, Kremlin, Granovitiy Hall. After handing award.
Q: And who handed award over, do you remember?
Chairman of the Supreme of Moldova. Brovkov, I think, was his surname. (Chairman of Presidium of the Supreme council of Moldavian SSR Feodor Grigorevich Brovko), you know, memory fails me now. It had passed already over sixty years…
Also I have got again in my regiment. The regiment commander has collected everybody, and said that I’m a veteran of this regiment, and that everybody is glad to see me again. Quite a few people came back to their regiments after being wounded. And again I was in the second squadron. My head rotated badly, but I had to fly anyway. As the doctor told, healing took about a year. Stirred very much, but I flied.
I participated in clearing of Crimea, then Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and, at last, Berlin. I also have made for this time more than hundred combat sorties.
We accompanied Ils, bombers, strafed, flew reconnaissance flights, And I was a good scout. I flied to Black sea on scouting missions and have found ships, then we bombed them. There were a lot of scouts among us - in fact confirmation was necessary, no one would believe without one.
Then, after Crimea, on the 3 Belarus front I was engaged in the same business. One of the specialities of our regiment were recce flights.
Strafed retreating enemy... They went in columns, we came and strafed them on roads. Especially in Ukraine.
Scouts would find a column, and we would come in at low altitude making strafing runs. Roads were bad, dirty, and soldiers had to pull the artillery pieces on their feet. There was no place to run or hide from our attacks, so they hit the dirt. I made around 5 missions for this… In Crimea we also strafed enemy airbases.
Q: You flied on I-16, Chaika, Yak-7b and what other types?
When we were retrained in Novosibirsk, I flied on Yak-7b, then at the front we changed to Yak-9. 45mm gun was something terrible! When I got in a fight with Fokker I hit his wing, and it simply fell off.
Then full metal Yak-3. They were made in Saratov.
Just when regiment was about to switch for jet planes I was signed off flying duty. By that time only 2 or 3 men were in regiment who started with me...
Pilots were good, experienced, but aviation takes it’s toll. 2 crashed: Sakulskii and Kozarenko. Both died in Yak-9’s. Otherwise everything was alright. (Laughs)…
Photo: Mladshii Leutenant Zvyagin. June 1944.
Q: I have a list of Your squadron at the time of arrival to the
Kuban: Squadron commander Shepel, deputy commander Osadchiev, flight leader
Makovskii, flight leader Andriyushenko, sergeant-pilots: Merkulov, Smirnov,
Zvyagin, Vasilyev, Glushkov, Zhichin, Kryukov.
I had of all of my friends, and after war ended I visited all meetings of our regiments veterans.
Q: In TsAMO 20.04.1943 you shot down Me-109 near Novorossiisk at 16.48. Could you remember what happened?
You know, it was unintentionally… I flew with Andryushenko, and he simply appeared in my gunsight. I only had to press the trigger button. 2 MG’s and a cannon was enough…
Q: He must have attacked your flight leader?
Well, you can’t imagine how it looked like in Kubans air. When you would come for the frontline the air was festered with aircraft… Our planes, German planes, and no specific order of battle. That German got by himself into my gunsight. All of them got in it by themselves. And I got into their sights by myself… A la guerre com a la guerre… There is no way to avoid losses…
Q: 05.05.1943 You shot down Ju-88…
We escorted bombers that time… Hitler gave an order – German aviation was supposed to bomb out our descent at Little Ground.
They flew day and night. So our bombers were dealing with their positions, and their bombers with our at the same time. Bombers have poor maneuverability. It’s quite easy to shoot it down. Although their gunners were shooting, and we lost a lot of pilots to their fire…
Q: So, you simply were lucky once again?
On the front everything is about luck. But if you are not looking after your tail, there will be no luck… My flight leader attacked their flight leader, and since they were very close, I attacked his wingman. I get as close as 10-15 meters and opened fire. I saw a smoke trail from him. Single attack only. And of course I did not look after him later, I had flight leader to look after. He made a half-loop down and went home. So did I.
Q: Could you explain how claims were confirmed? For example — fleet aviation had slightly different approach…
Approach was always the same. You had to have a confirmation: where it fell to the ground and some spare part with number plate on it.
Q: there is no way to get spares from the bottom of the sea… That’s why fleet aviation had easier confirmation process...
Easier? When we were at Kuban we had a lot of fights over sea, and only confirmation that we had was smoke trail. No one was looking where it would wall to the ground… We had no time for that.
Q: I was asked to clear things about one episode: in the summer of 1944 you were escorting sturmoviks to the Kaunas area. Could you tell me what happened there? What was your conflict with regiment commander all about?
You are quite right… We lost 4 planes there. How did you find about it? Is there some kind of report available?
Q: Yes, all in TsAMO…
I was escorting 8 Ils. Supposed covering group was 4 fighters: me and Nyrchenko and Ronsin with someone… I do not remember now… In Ronsins group someone’s chassis failed, and that pair had to return. So, there were 2 of us left. We came to Kaunas area, Ils started attacking tanks. That’s when Focke-Wulfs appeared, whole bunch of them. And they started shooting Ils down – they shot 4 Ils…
Later we found out that they managed forced landings, all pilots were alive, but some rear gunners were killed and wounded. But 4 planes did not return.
Captain Doroshenko was a participant of the Mongolian war… But you know, he was some kind of insane… I do not know… May be he was good commanding officer, but he did not care for the pilots. So, he said: “What you were thinking? You are a piece of shit, not a pilot! How could you loose so many Ils? Why you left them?”
But what I could do, if there were only 2 of us? I shot down one Focke-Wulf, but that was it… We just had to live through it.
When at Kuban I forced “Messer” away from his tail, he asked on the ground: “ Who flew ?38?” . “I did!”. “Thanks…”. And that was all…
But here… What could I do? There were about a dozen of FW’s…
Q: You shot from 45mm cannon and saw explosion on the wing? Are you sure that this planes wing was torn away?
Yes, I do. I can see it in front of my eyes right now…
Q: How did you uphold the morale, fighting spirit?
Moral, spirit… During battles over Kuban I was shot up 4 times… And I still was not afraid… If I see enemy airplane, I had to shoot it down… Just 100 grams in the evening to lower the stress, and that was it.
Q: How you spent your free time?
We did not have any free time. Aviation begins at 8 o’clock in the morning. We visited the diner, and until evening we sat close to our aircraft. We were unable to leave them. As soon as we got an order for take off, we jumped into the cockpit and flew.
Q: How were you fed? Did you eat with technical crew?
No, separately. We had 5-th ration, mechs had 7-th, it was a bit worse. We never were hungry. Where ever we were we would get sufficient rations, meat in tin cans from US, fruits, grapes, apples…
Q: How rookies were introduced to battle?
There were about 50 rookies in our regiment… First of all he had to study the region of operation. It was common, that young pilots were flying quite well, but were unable to find home AB… So they were downed quite fast… We would explain everything, he would take off and disappear… A lot of young pilots were lost… Those who were good at navigation everything turned out well. Piloting in the zones, ZKAP or KAP would make mock fights, then further education by squad commander...
Q: What was ordinary and maximal amount of flights in one day?
Up to 6 flights. Over Kuban. I made 142 flights. If the weather is bad – we are sitting on the ground, if the weather is good we would make up to 6 flights. Sometimes there was no weather for a month…
Q: Could you describe ordinary dogfight?
I can’t understand the question… There were no dogfights. You saw an airplane, approach it from behind, attack and leave. Bombers were not advised to attack from straight behind – the gunner would get you. Better attack it from behind-low, with an angle 20-30 degrees. Take lead and fire your weapons.
On the other hand over Kuban it was always cloudy, enemy would suddenly appear out of the clouds in front of you… And you just press the button… Single shot. I do not remember a single case when there would be a “dogfight”. Speed and maneuver is everything!
Q: Basically You see, you approach, you shoot and leave?
Yes, maximum 30 seconds. The attack itself lasts no more than 10 seconds. Still, you have to identify the plane, and this can only be done at close distance. Over frontline there always someone shouting over radio “Messer on your tail!” “Let’s do them!”. There were a lot of planes from both sides…
Q: in your personal opinion, what was our best fighter?
We had I-16 and I-153 from the start. They were by far too slow. Then Yaks and Las appeared. Which one was better… Speed was the same… Except that in La pilot was better covered from the front…
Q: Speaking of Yaks, which modification was easier for flying?
All the same…
Q: The one with 45mm cannon wasn’t heavier?
No, the engine was 1700 hp. Maybe speed was lower by 5 km\h. But when you are flying you cruise with 300-320 km\h, otherwise you would burn the fuel too soon. At maximum speed you would have empty tanks in 30-40 minutes, or you can fly slower, but for 2 hours.
Q: Was lack of ammo counter a problem?
No, not really.
Q: Which Yak modification was the best?
Yak-7b at the beginning, then Yak-1… Yak-3 from 1944. It was all-metal, very light, but the engine was the same. It was a pleasure to fly…
We also had Yak-9TD, it was heavy, like bomber. We also made bombing runs… Yak-3 is the best, of course.
Q: Did you try to fly German planes?
No, I only shot them down. They were better in terms of speed: faster by about 30-40 km/h. Horizontal maneuverability was poor, but vertical was great. They attacked only on the vertical plane.
Q: What is your opinion about German pilots? Respected them? Felt fear?
I have never seen a pilot, planes only… Fear? If you are under attack, every one fears… Enemy is enemy, and this describes everything. My opinion about German pilots? I do not know… We defeated “Udet” over Kuban. Those were serious opponents, they all had “oak crosses”, almost as our HSUs… Yes, serious opponent. Still, they had better planes…
Q: You were shot down 4 times? Did you see the enemy who attacked you?
I was shot down once and 3 times damaged. It happened only over Kuban. And of course I saw the enemy – you always see the stream of tracers… You maneuver to avoid it… Every 4-th bullet is tracer. If stream ends in the enemy’s plane – you hit it. If it goes further you have to make corrections.
Q: How did airframe react when your plane was hit?
As long as engine works and controls are not damaged everything is fine. But when you get home the fabric was torn away… The mechanics would overhaul the plane, and you are in the air again…
Q: how did radio work?
At first time it did not… Only flight leader had transmitter-receiver. Wingmen did not have anything… only 2 airplanes with full set in squadron… And radio was quite bad, it constantly switched frequency, and we had to try to catch it again, besides, it was very difficult to understand who said what…
Q: At what distance you weapons was set? Was it arranged by personal demand?
At first time it was set for 200m, and later for 100m. None demanded nothing, we were just informed.
Q: The recoil, specially from 45mm was not affecting accuracy?
You mean stopping power? Well, near Kaunas I slightly overshot landing strip, so I fired several rounds, and plane stopped…
Q: bombing and strafing was common?
At Kuban and Crimea, when we pursuited them… They went by roads… Effectivness? I do not know. Lorries going with people sitting in them, we shot… how many rounds would get their targets we do not know… How would I find out, how many soldiers I killed?
We strafed mainly columns and airbases with the aim of stopping enemy movement or blocking the AB.
Q: Which bombs did you use?
FAB-50 or -100. But we used them once, 2 bombs under wing. It was some kind of emergency.
Q: Was it common to reduce fuel load to reduce overall weight of the aircraft?
No, always full tanks…
Q: Your Yak-7b were with a 105PA or –PF engine?
Different, our planes were usually signed off active duty in a month or two.
Q: What kind of gunsight did you have?
Circles and a cross on the windscreen.
Q: what do you think about Yaks? Did you like them?
During war time I never tried other types, so we liked them. How could you not like the machines you fight in?
Q: LaGGs for example were not liked by their pilots for heaviness and slow combat speed…
Never heard about such opinions…
Q: What was the strongest part in Yaks, and what was the weakest?
In my opinion horizontal maneuverability was the strongest, with vertical – the weakest part… in horizontal fight no German would have bested me.
Q: Do you remember of any case when you got old planes from other regiments?
No, we had only new planes, we used to fly for 20-25 hours… new planes only, old had too low speed. We flew on critical rpms constantly, so the engines would wear out very quickly. No more than 50 flights in one plane. We sent them to the Krasnodar aviation school.
Q: Any specific improvements to the planes?
No, aircraft were used “as is”.
Q: Which one “messer’ or “fokker” was more difficult to fight with?
Hmm… Most of my fights were with Messerschmitts, and only a few with Focke-Wulfs. But in reality, you do not look what type you are fighting against. Fokker had thick nose and thin tail, while Messer was slim all over.
Q: Where and when you made your first fight and first combat sortie?
At Kuban, Novaya Titarovka. I made there 44 flights, almost each flight with a fight. But we had very brief engagements – single attack… It isn’t so easy to shoot enemy down…
At first time I was a wingman. My flight leader was Andryuschenko Nikolai. He attacks and leaves. I have to disengage also – I cant leave him. So I shot down only those who got into my gunsight by themselves.
Q: Did you destroy enemy planes on the ground? And how you confirmed their destruction?
Yes, we did. Confirmation? If it burnes, it is confirmed.
At cape Hersones whole airdrome was packed with planes, there were about 2 regiments there. It was “Udet” group – the best! (This can be a mistake, as far as I remember “Udet” was not at the specified time at Hersones. - O.K.) We would strafe early in the morning. At sunrise we would fall out of the sun, and get as low as 5 meters. There was a lot of AAA there, and we lost a lot of pilots over that field.
Q: Do you remember when you sorties were not counted?
If we are on escort mission, and one of our bombers was lost – whole group would not have a counted mission. But our commanders somehow bypassed this order…
Q: Can you describe people on the list?
Andryushenko Nikolai Ananyevich – died of wounds 27.03.1944. He jumped with parachute, and while he was going down Germans killed him. When our soldiers picked him he was still alive. (He was shot down on 26.03.1944, was shot at while he was going down. Claimed 16 enemy planes)
Q: was it common to kill parachutists?
Not only them. When we strafed Hersones one pilot bailed out, so Po-2 was ordered to go after him, and this Po-2 was shot down.
Kostikov Fedor Mikhailovich. He once came without boots and almost naked. He had to bail out, and everything was torn away by the air. I remember I had a thick leather belt but it was torn also… Even wires from the helm were torn…
Drobyazko Vasilii Ivanovich, he was killed while strafing Hersones AB. (06.05.1944 shot down, fell into Black Sea with parachute and sunk. Claimed 5 aircraft).
Zayats Nikolai Semenovich (Filippovich?) lost his life in 1943. Do not know how or where. (29.09.1943 did not return from combat mission. Shot down 6 enemy aircraft)
Koshman Yakov Ivanovich — was killed while strafing cape Hersones. He was supposed to strafe AAA positions, but he did not make a single maneuver and hit the ground. He must have been killed by shrapnel or fragments in the air. (24.04.1944 during strafing of Hersones AB was killed, having claimed 11 aircraft.)
Sdobnikov Alexandr (Alexei?) Vasilievich did not return from combat mission and was captured in 1944. (07.05.1944 was captured in Hersones area. Had 10 victories on his account. Returned after war ended).
Sokolov Alexandr Semenovich did not return 14.04.1944. (14.4.44 not returned in a Yak-9 from Crimea region, had 7 claims). He was Andryshenko’s wingman.
Shveide Grigorii Borisovich, He was wounded over Kuban, but he came back. Later he was transferred to the Douglases.
Kosenko Ivan Tikhonovich was my squadron commander in peace time. He was overenthusiastic on alcohol, got into the argument with his wife, left home and had frozen to death… He was a good man, and it was a tragic death.
Kuznetsov Viktor (Ivan?) Grigoryevich — Makovskii saved this man by bringing him from “abroad”…
Q: Did you see how pilots were killed?
It was quite rarely seen, pilots just disappeared…
Kommander of AE Shepel… He made 5 or 7 flights. They were supposed to strafe AB then. I was not in the group. Savitskii was the flight leader.
Sigarev Benedikt Petrovich is buried in common grave in Kuban… He wanted to force to land an enemy bomber at our AB, but he was killed by the rear gunner. He fell in our territory. (29.05.1943, parachute was caught by the tail of the aircraft, had 8 victories).
Q: In the mid of april 1943, regiment was strafed by Me-110s at AB Klinovets. SqC Andreev was killed. Do you remember this episode?
I was just returned from a patrol flight, and was sleeping on the wing of the aircraft. Then suddenly an explosion – I was hit by a fragment. Got some skin torn off from the left half of my chest. It went into the cockpit wall and stuck there…
Q: You were not expecting them?
Of course not, we did not have even observation posts…
Q: While you were flying to the front did you have a leading Pe-2?
We had an aircraft in front of us. By the way… When we were flying planes from Rostov-on-Don 2 planes landed by mistake on enemy AB. A SqC and an ordinary pilot. When the Squadron commander understood the situation, he killed the pilot and then himself. Germans buried them as officers and even erected a memorial.
Q: You said that Germans buried our pilots with all required rituals… Do you remember how our soldiers buried German pilots? Just into the shallow pit as grave without coffin?
You know… Everybody lies where he deserves. I do not have any pity about them.
Besides, when you are shot down and going with your plane there is nothing left from the pilot… just very small bits of roasted meat and bones…
You do not have Glushkov in your list…
Glushkov was flying with Sigarev, and Sigarev turned sharply. Gluskov was on the inner side, and trying to keep up with Sigarev he lost speed and spinned. He fell into the swamp. I saw it with my own eyes. Shepel got into a Po-2 and went to search for the crash site. Only a small bit of tail was on the surface. (Glushkov Arsenii Dmitrievich, crashed on 12.04.43 in Yak-7b ?4205. AB Starii Oskol. – V.?.)
Q: What can you say about Savitskii as a pilot?
Savitskii was tall and slim man, flew Yak-3 and shot down 22 enemy aircraft. Near Berlin he organized a landing strip on a autobahn… He knew all pilots by name. Twice HSU.
He was like a father to us, he was a common and welcome guest to the regiment. Each time he would come we would run to see him.
Q: Did you meet downed Germans on the ground?
Q: Have you met Romanian pilots?
No. I met French pilots. We were stationed together.
Q: Did you make belly landings?
No. never. In Dneprodzerzhinsk I overrolled. I had to bring the pilot there, I checked everything, and in the end of a landing run I rolled over nose…
Q: Do you remember how your plane was camouflaged?
They all were of the same colour, Dark-Green.
Q: Did you paint over planes for winter?
No sense for doing this, you know… 20-30 flights and we got new planes…
Q: Tactical numbers?
White, I had 38 for all of the war.
Q: Any FRS?
No, nothing, all planes the same.
Q: After Bashkyr planes did you get any other personal planes?
Kochetov, HSU had one, from some sheep breeder.
Q: do you remember stars for victories?
No, no. Planes were plain… No paintings… We changed aircraft too often to make sense in paintings. Spinners and rudders were painted in colors of the division for FRS, 278 had blue, 265 division had red. And korpus symbol on both sides of aircraft.
Q: Anything funny happened?
Everything was funny… Each sortie we lost someone… You may laugh, you may cry, but that was the story…
Q: Have you met Allies in the sky?
Q: What was your opinion about the second front?
We did not think at that time about it. Although, when the 2d front was opened, there was no need of it already…
Q: Were you paid for downed planes?
1000 for each fighter, 2000 for each bomber.
Q: Do you remember if our pilots shot down our planes?
Yes… We got British fighters “Spitfire”… and shot several down, because we never saw them before, and their silhouette resembles that of Me-109. So they were landed to our AB for a week to let people get used to them.
Q: What was your last type of plane?
Last one in La.
We were sitting in the diner, we heard at the radio that the war ended, we jumped and started shooting in the air…
AFTER WAR ENDED…
Q: Why you left flying career?
I did not leave, I was signed off for health problems.
Q: What was you rank and position at that time?
Senior Leutenant, Flight leader.
Until 1949 I served with my regiment. Then we started receiving jet planes, for which I was not suited due to eyesight problems. So I became a trial-pilot at Ramsdorf, where engines were rebuilt and serviced.
I was there for 1 year, and decided to study further. I was sent to Mozhaiskaya academy in Leningrad. Studied for 6 years, and was sent after I finished it to the 1-st Guards regiment to Ramsdorf. For 3-5 years I worked as a chief engeneer of the regiment. And I left army from there – I was very sick. I spent more than 20 days in hospital in Budapest, then I signed a report and quit. I gave 29 years to the army. For the duration of my service I was awarded by 6 orders and medals.
Now I’m the last one among regiments veterans, all are dead by now… And it is time for me as well. I’ve been sick for more than 3 years, and I’m not going to get well any more…
I still love aviation, and when I see airplane in the air, I want to be there and fly with it…
9 of July 2006 Ivan Lukyanovich (Lukich) Zvyagin, Last pilot from 43 IAP 3 IAK who participated in the GPW had passed away after long and hard disease…
1947, memorial photo.
War results signet off to the post war flight book, 1945.