Yak-9T, I.N. Stepanenko, 4 iap, 185 iad

By Michal Sekula

Updated on August 21, 2021

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Here are pictures of the Yak-9T flown by I.N. Stepanenko, More info about this pilot as well as the profile of this previous plane Yak-9 can be found at http://massimotessitori.altervista.org/sovietwarplanes/pages/yak9/misos/stepanenko/stepanenko.htm.

Here follows info about Stepanenko and related events I have found at Russian web pages put into chronology.
Yak-9T was serially built at the factory No.153 from March 1943.
June 1943 - the regiment converted to the Yak-9, and in the late autumn Stepanenko received a Yak-9T with a 37 mm cannon (https://www.vif2ne.org/nvi/forum/0/0.htm)
July 3, 1943 - directive no.2389/0133 - the upper and side surfaces of all fighter aircraft have to be painted in greyish blue AMT-11 and dark grey AMT-12 colors.Military trials for combat use were carried out on 34 Yak-9T aircraft on the Central Front in 16 VA from July 5 to August 6, 1943.
From July 9, 1943 4 iap became the part of 287 iad /1VA /Western Front and participated in the Battle of Kursk.
From July 27, 1943 4 iap became the part of 11 cak /15VA /Bryansky Front.
- July 26, 1943 - regiment received an order to fly over to the Bryansk front, and on July 29 they were already flying around the front line.
- After participating in the Kuban battle, the regiment relocated near Ryazan receives "new, more advanced Yak-9 aircraft with a 37-mm cannon". And immediately a tiger and a caricature of Goebbels appear on its white No. 17 drawn by a mechanic.
- August 5, 1943 - "17" is mentioned, as well as the fact that "the regiment is replenished with new machines and flight personal. The aircrafts were improved, they acquired new qualitative changes.
- Orel Operation "Kutuzov" - from July 27, 1943 to August 18, 1943.
- Bryansk Operation - from August 17, 1943 to October 3, 1943.
- Few days later when based near the city Sukhinichi Stepanenko’s "04" is again mentioned during flights from Sukhinichi airport.

September 3, 1943 - No.267 issued - red stars have to have outline with white line 5cm wide edged with red line 1cm wide.This is well known photo dated to summer 1943 that circulates over internet. If we suppose that heavily retouched photo in not only "artistic creation" but it reflects reality to some extent - 16 victory starlets, number 04 has the same shade of grey as the red star on the tail, but tail cap is significantly brighter (light blue). Note the whole visible rear fuselage (between two left guys) is dark - repainted plane or wrongly retouched photo?

According to http://airaces.narod.ru/all1/stepanen.htm 4x4=16 victories is from about May 1943 then it could have black-green camouflage.

I have found this picture from Stankov's book at http://scalemodels.ru/modules/forum/viewtopic.php?t=68753&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0. Photo is dated to the autumn 1944, Pribaltic region. If it is correct, then grey-grey camouflage is more probable.

Compare number of victory starlets - 24 - with the previous photo. Which photo is correct?

There are 2 months between introduction of the new grey-grey camo (July) and new type of red stars (September). I do not know how long time it took to transfer aircraft from the factory to 4 iap, whether Zavod No.153 changed camo to the new NKAP 1943 scheme immediately, e.g. in July, whether supply of the new grey-grey paints were on hand immediately, or if they continued with black-green camo until they spent all stock etc.If everything took "appropriately enough" time, Stepanenko’s Yak-9T "04" from the summer 1943 when 4 iap belonged to 11 cak /15VA /Bryansky Front could still have old black-green camouflage.

However, if things ran "miraculously fast", then this Yak-9T could have already new grey-grey camouflage with old type red stars. I put there 24 starlets like is on the photo from Stankov's book. This number better reflects score from the summer 1943.


September 12, 1943 - The last flight from Suhinichi airport before relocation to a new direction... and a month of rest and replenishment.
From November 1, 1943 4 iap became the part of 11 cak /15VA /2nd Pribaltic Front.
All planes within 11 cak had red prop spinners.

Stepanenko was commander of the 2nd Squadron of the 4 iap. In April 13, 1944 Stepanenko was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.
Another half year latter from September 28, 1944 4 iap together with 148 iap and 293 iap became part of 185 iad /14 iak /15VA /2nd Pribaltic Front and participated in the Riga Operation.
After another month in October 23, 1944 Order No.07 was issued and specified fast recognition marking for planes in 185 iad:
- red prop spinners for all planes in 185 iad.
- 5cm thin stripe around the prop spinner, tail top and board number in the regimental color - blue for 4 iap, yellow for 148 iap and white for 293 iap (source http://wio.ru/simbols/iad185.htm).


November 4, 1944 - 4 iap was awarded by Order of Red banner, emblem was painted on the left side of the engine cowling. If this photo shows Stepanenko’s "04", its camouflage on the front fuselage fits NKAP 1943 very well:


Here is my interpretation of the possible appearance of Stepanenko's Yak-9T "04" from 1945, when 4 iap already belonged to 185 iad /14 iak /15VA /2nd Pribaltic Front. It could be either new Yak-9T or his old one but in the meantime repainted during very probable overhaul - it was already more than year old war machine.

Unfortunately there in no publicly known photo of Stepanenko's plane from this late period, the profile in Stankov's book is based on drawing of Stepanenko's plane mechanic, so it is more-less speculative.
So if I could speculate based on the mentioned info then I would say:
- plane had standard NKAP 1943 grey-grey camouflage,
- red propeller spinner,
- light blue tail cap, board number "04" and thin ring on the prop spinner,
- standard red stars with white and thin red outline,
- about 35 victory starlets without Red banner emblem, or up to 40 starlets with Red banner emblem,
- preserved weathered and bleached picture of the eagle on the side (if this was his old overhauled plane).


this work collects a lot of photos from many sources, not always identified and mentioned.
If someone has rights on the images reproduced on this site, please don't feel hurted, email to me and I shall provide to remove or to credit them.


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