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Yevgeni Pepelyayev:

A Red Predator


"MiG Alley"


The date was October 6 1951 and the Captain Gill Garrett was flying his sortie #97 in the F-86A Sabre BuNo 49-1319, 334th FIS of 4th FIW, as leader's wingman of a group of 4 Sabres. Two squdrons (his own and the 336th) were doing a CAP over the "MiG Alley", a zone near the Yalu river, the border between China and North Korea, and also the area where the MiG-15s flew by the Communist pilots were more active. Garrett waited to end without trouble this one and the three remaining sorties left to complete the 100 of his tour, or even perhaps with some kill in his account. As a matter fact, he already had participated in 35 engagements and he also had seriously damaged a MiG, all without suffering a single scratch. But his luck was over that day, as the own Garrett explained:

The two MiGs had led us straight into a trap. They had two buddies who now were cutting down on us from our flank at a time when we were at our lowest air speed.

A MiG bore down on me and began firing with his 37 mm. and 23 mm. cannons. I could see that mean-lookining red nose gun flash when my ship bucked, skidded around and head down. I had been hit - but good. A shell had slammed into my engine just aft of my right wing. The force of the blast had trown the plane around and into a spin. One second I was in the middle of the fight the next I was on my way out with a GI insurance policy due to mature."

Garrett had the bad luck to meet that day one of the best MiG-15 pilots never sent to Korea, who also was the commander of the 196th IAP of 324th IAD of the VVS (Voyenno Vozdushnye Sily, Soviet Air Force): Colonel Yevgeni Georgievich Pepelyayev.

A little promising beginning

Yevgeni Pepelyayev was born on March 18 1918 in Bodaybo, Irkutsk (Eastern Siberia), son of a railroad worker. Even when he learnt and worked in his youth in hisfather's proffesion, he felt atraction for the aeronautics since his childhood, and when his elder brother Konstantin enlisted in the Soviet air force, he looked for job in Odessa as assistant in the aeroclubs of the city, with the intenttion of following his brother's steps later.

He graduated in 1938 from the 8th Military Pilots School and was sent to serve in the regiments deployed in the Soviet Far East. When the German invasion to the USSR began in June 1941, he requested several times to be transferred to the battle front, and those requests were more frequent after the death in combat of his brother Konstantin. With the only exception of a short period when he play as instructor of the 162nd IAP about late 1943, those requests were always rejected. And in this lone instance, the bad weather reduce his battle chances to recce flights. In one of them, his Yak-7 was attacked by German planes and seriously damaged, even when Pepelyayev could return to his base. In 1945 his unit, the 300th IAP, participated in the operations against Japan in Manchuria, and he performed 30 sorties, finding no aerial opposition during them.

Photo of Yevgeni G. Pepelyayev taken in August 1945, when he was 27 years old, posing besides his Yakovlev fighter few time after the USSR's declaration of war against Japan. His unit, the 300th IAP, supported the advance of the Red Army over Manchuria. In that period Pepelyayev flew 30 sorties, distributed between escort missions and recce missions. However, due to the weakness of the Japanese (remember that those are the final days of WWII) almost there was no enemy fighters in the air, and Pepelyayev ended the war without any shootdown in his score. That would change six years later.


In 1947 he graduated in the VVS Academy and he married with his first girlfriend, Maya. Even when his flight habilities and command capacities didn't remain unappreciated -he was promoted from a deputy commander of squadron to deputy commander of the 196th IAP- certainly nothing seemed indicate that this 29 years old officer would be one of the top aces of the typical post-war conficts caused by the "Cold War".

The USSR gets into the Korean War

When in October 1950 the Colonel Pepelyayev recieved the command of the 196th IAP, the War of Korea was in its climax, with the UN troops and air forces (leaded by USA) entering in North Korea after defeating the initially succesful North Korean invasion to South Korea. Both Josif Stalin and Mao-Tse-Tung decided do not see how a Communist allied (Kim Il Sung) was defeated without move a finger. With a big secret, the USSR sent several air regiments equipped with the new MiG-15s to the Chinese base of Andung (in Manchuria) with the mission to support the Chinese counter-strike. In a short period of time the Soviet fighters transformed the southern shore of the Yalu river in the most dangerous area for the UN aviation, zone that received the nickname of "MiG Alley".

Both sides deployed their best fighters in a try to obtain the air superiority.


Above: several F-86A Sabres of the 4th FIW ready to take off from Kimpo right to the "MiG Alley".

Right: Even when this photo of Soviet pilots preparing themselves to ride their MiG-15s is taken in an airbase of the USSR, it illustrate perfectly the aspect and the activity existing in Andung since late 1950 until July 1953.


Anyway, the arrival of the fighters F-86 Sabre of the 4th Wing of the USAF in December 1950 turned the tables in favour of the UN again. It was decided to create the 64th IAK (Fighter Corp) with two fighter regiments and to assign them the best available pilots. The chosen units were the 176th GvIAP y 196th IAP (the Pepelyayev's unit) of the 324th Division and the entire division was put under the command of the best possible man: Colonel Ivan Kozhedub, three times awarded with he Golden Star of the Heroe of the Soviet Union (the highest Russian military award) and Top Scoring Soviet Ace of the WWII with 62 victories against the German Luftwaffe.

Pepelyayev arrives to Andung

The 196th Regiment arrived to Manchuria in January 1951, and was in second-line airfields until complete the training of the pilots and their familiarization with the temperamental MiG-15 with Kimov RD-45 engine, and was later deployed to Andung. On April 1 both regiments were finally commited to combat, but their results weren't good initially. The reason was simple: in an attempt to keep in secret the Soviet injerence, to flight over UN controlled areas or the sea was forbidden to the Russian pilots (due to the fear of being downed and captured), and their MiGs carried Chinese roundels. But the worst thing was the order of speak only Korean or Chinese language in the radio. It caused a lot of complains from Pepelyayev and Lt.Col. Sergei Vishnyakov, CO of the 176th GvIAP. As the own Pepelyayev explained:

It was impossible psychologically in the heat of battle to use a foreign language you hardly knew. So after a week or two we just decided to ignore the order. The top brass started complaining, so I told them: 'Go and fight yourselves''

Col. Kozhedub supported his subordinates in front of the commander of 64th IAK, Lt.Gral I.V.Belov, and due to Kozhedub was one of the Stalin's "favourite sons", the High Command of the VVS finally gave up and allowed that the pilots speak Russian in combat. That caused an immediate raise in battle efficiency, which reach its peak on April 12 1951, when 36 MiG-15s of the 176th GvIAP and 196th IAP intercepted an American formation of 48 B-29s of the 19th, 98th and 307th BW (Bombing Wings) escorted by 34 F-84s and 18 F-86s when they tried to attack the bridges thru the Yalu. In the following battle three B-29s were shot down and seven more were seriously damaged, all that against the loss of a single MiG due to a Sabre.


Col. Yevgeni Georgievich Pepelyayev was one of best MiG-15 Fagot pilots and was also one of the Top Aces of the war. He commanded the 196th IAP, 324th IAD, and he obtained 23 kills in Korea -19 were official and the other 4 were possible victories- distributed among 12 F-86s, five F-80s, four F-84s and two F-94s. His first victory happened on May 20 1951 (a F-86), and the last one occured at the beginning of the next year, on January 15 1951, against a Sabre too. But he obtained his most famous air-to-air victories on July 11 and October 6 1951 (both Sabre kills).
Pepel's MiG

Drawing of the MiG-15bis Fagot # 1315325 ("325"), plane used by Colonel Yevgeni Pepelyaev on October 6th 1951 to shotdown the F-86 BuNo 49-1319. With this aircraft Pepelyaev obtained 17 of his 19 official air victories.

First victory

May 20 1951 meant the end of three weeks where both sides were relatively quiet. That day a force of 50 MiGs fought with 28 Sabres, and during that combat both sides claimed more shootdowns that the ones actually obtained (three claims the USAF side and four ones in the VVS side). The truth is that both sides lost only one plane each: a pilot of F-86 Sabre of the 334th FIS, Captain James Jabara, shot down one of the Pepelyayev's men, Captain Nazarkin, and in retaliation the commander of the 196th IAP, flying the MiG-15bis Fagot # 1315325, shot down one F-86; as indicates the after-battle report presented by Pepelyayev:

"...on 20 May 1951, during the period of 1508-1558 hours, during an air battle with a group of F-86 Sabres I fired at an F-86 at a range of 500-600 meters. At the time of my firing, I noticed shell strikes along the enemy's right wing, after which the aircraft went from a bank to the left into a right turn."

It must be noted here that he do not claim any shootdown directly; he do not say "I shot down an F-86" but he simply describe what really happened, and such style is typical in all his reports. The confirmation of his victory would come from the Chinese ground troops, which capture the pilot of the F-86 downed by Pepelyayev. Unfortunately, even when the Chinese give the pilot's name to the Soviets, they changed the spelling in such way that even today is imposible to know who was this pilot (USAF never gave a complete list of the Sabre pilots taken prisoner), sending also the flight suite, the helmet and other pertenencies. This unknown pilot became that way in the first of the 19 victories credited to Colonel Pepelyaeyev.


Yevgeni G. Pepelyayev, this time taken in 1951, whe he already was Colonel and he was 33 years old. Many people considered him too old to fly an exigent plane as the MiG-15, but he would demonstrate that sometimes the experience compensate the reflexs' reduction that came with the age. Such a prejudice wasn't an Russian prerrogative: Joseph McConnell, the Top American F-86 Ace, 28 years old in 1952, was considered too old to be a Sabre pilot


Colonel Pepelyayev in the USSR in the late 1950, after a routine flight with the (at that time) new MiG-15; few time later his regiment would be send to Andung

On July 11 Pepelyayev scored another important victory when he downed other F-86 which pilot was captured, and even when again the Chinese failed to indicate his name to the VVS, it is also known that this pilot was interrogated by the KGB in an attempt to obtain information. This pilot mentioned the weak points in the F-86A, such the low climbing-rate and the loss of thrust and maneuverability at alttitudes higher than 10,000 meters (about 30,000 feet). That information would allow to develop better tactics in the following months. Few days later, on July 21, Pepelyayev and Captain Boris S. Abakumov intercepted what they identified as a F-94 formation, and both devastated it: Pepelyayev shot down with his MiG-15 two of the enemy aircraft, and so did Abakumov with a third one. The Chinese search teams confirmed the three shootdowns, because they found the remains of all the planes. In the case of Pepelyayev's kills, the Chinese could identify a serial number in one of the wreckages -"109-I-405116"- and also found the death bodies of both pilots in the crash sites. The pilot of the "F-94" downed by Abakumov was a little bit more lucky, because he could eject, only for being captured later. The only one thing wrong in the claims of both Russian pilots was the type of plane: there was no F-94s in Korea until 1952,and as amatter of fact the downed planes were F-80Cs with a special fuel tank -"Misawa"- that gave the Shooting Star a profile similar to the F-94 (after all, the F-94 Starfire is the night fight two-seat version of the F-80)

The Sabre's Hunter

But the most important MiG-15 victory of this period happened on October 6 1951, when Colonel Pepelyaev (flying the MiG-15bis Fagot # 1315325 again), during a battle among 10 MiGs belonging to his regiment and 16 Sabres of 4th FIW at 8,000 meters (about 24,000 feet), he downed a F-86 with 37 mm ammunition. In first place he organized the engagement and later himself performed an attack against the leader of the heading pair of Sabres, firing against him at 550 meters (yards), without confirm the results of the attack, due to the second pair of Sabres also attacked both -Pepelyaev and wingman- MiGs almost in a head-on attack (according the Pepelyaev narration, from 1 or 2 o'clock). On the own Pepelyaev words:

"I remember this battle as if it happened yesterday. Their leader opened fire on my aircraft and ripped off a piece of the air intake...I remembered a maneuver developed by me and my friends, when we were trying to develop new tactics. During head-to-head attacks, when both aircrafts are trying to get on each other's tail, one of the maneuvers was to indicate a 'boevoj razvorot' [combat turn in Russian - Note of Vlad "PG Monster" Arkhipov] to one side, but then to make a sharp turn to the other side and follow the opponent. When the enemy aircraft wouild exit from the combat turn, I would end up on its tail. That's what happened that time. When I passed the Sabres on the head-to-head course, they initiated a right turn while rapidly gaining altitude. I, on the other hand, continued to fly level for a while, and then begun turning to the right, towards the Sabres. When I achieved a turning angle of between 40-50deg, I initiated a sharp left turn and ended up behind the lead Sabre slightly above it and to the right.

It was almost directly in front of me, just over 100 meters away. I pushed the stick, trying to align with the Sabre. However, the targeting indicator would always be above the Sabre, while at the same time negative g would try to pull me out of the cockpit. Then I rolled upside down so the g-force would press me into the seat; it's more convenient to aim that way. As soon as I rolled, the Sabre did the same thing, but by then I already got the targeting indicator over him, and I opened fire from a distance of 130 meters. A 37 mm shell hit him directly behind the cockpit. There was an explosion and the Sabre started to losing altitude. I did not follow him: after such a hit there was no reason to pursue him."

Image2 Image3

These images were captured by the gun camera connected to the 37 mm cannon belonging to the plane MiG-15bis Fagot # 1315325 piloted by Col. Yevgeni Georgievich Pepelyaev on October 6th 1951. In them appear the plane F-86A BuNo 49-1319 flew by Captain Gill M. Garrett perfectly placed in the fire line. The first photograph was taken at 130 meters, and the second one at 122 meters.

The Sabre's pilot, Captain Gill M. Garrett, used all his habilities to land upon his damaged plane in the Sokhoson Bay (East China Sea), and the American pilot was rescued by a SA-16 Albatross seaplane. It must be noted that the Sabre leader of the one hit by Pepelyaev, gallantry tried to provide cover to his wingman during the time after being hit until it landed in the sea shore; but it was seen by a group of MiG-15s of the 176th GvIAP, leading by the unit's deputy commander, Captain Konstanin Sheberstov, who apparently shot it down. American sources admitt the loss of two Sabres that day, the one downed by Col. Pepelyaev, piloted by Captain Gill Garrett (not classified as "shootdown" but as "forced to land") and the F-86E BuNo 50-671, most likely Sheberstov's victim. The same sources mentioned a third Sabre damaged, and that one could be the plane attacked by Pepelyaev in the beginning of the air battle.

Garrett's Sabre left almost intact under a few inches of water. It was gold for the USSR: finally an oportunity to get a look to the best USAF fighter jet, and the Soviet technicians took the chance: a special team leaded by the Engineer Kazankin achieved to rescue the damaged plane, put it on a truck and sent it to USSR (after a dangerous travel where the American B-26s tried to destroy the remains of the Sabre).



This picture shows the aspect of the F-86A Sabre BuNo 49-1319 when it was rescued from the East China Sea waters. This plane was sent to USSR.

During the air engagement with the Sabre 49-1319 happened on October 6th 1951, the MiG-15bis "325" was slightly damaged by 12,7 mm (0,50") bullets. The upper picture shows that damage, while the picture below shows the "325" after repairs.

Few days later -October 8- Pepelyayev's MiG-15 received an addittional mark, due to the Colonel scored a new kill (confirmed by USAF): one F-84 of the 182 FBS, which pilot -Earl Harbour- perished when his aircraft crashed near Syukusen.

An Amazing Final Act

Since November 1951 until January 1952 both sides tried to achieve the air superiority over the Yalu, or at least tried to deny it to the enemy, and in consequence the intensity of the aerial combats reached peaks not seen before. It was a good time for the aggressive fighter pilots both Soviets and Americans, and Pepelyayev was amoung them. On November 27 he shot down an F-84, the one piloted by Bernard Seitzinger -who died- and the next day, November 28 1951, was even better: flying his famous MiG-15bis Fagot # 1315325, Yevgeni Pepelyayev knocked-out one F-86, and later put himself at 6 o'clock of another Sabre, which pilot was forced to bailed out after a few bursts of 37 mm. This particular pilot resulted to be 1st Lt. Dayton W. Ragland, who performed with another partner an audacious strike against North Korean airbase of Uiju 10 days before, destroying four MiGs in the ground. He even claimed to shot down another MiG in air combat precisely few seconds of being downed by Pepelyayev. Yevgeni would obtain his kill #16 the day after, after shooting down another Sabre, which pilot couldn't eject and was kiled when his plane crashed near Syukusen.

Image7 Image8

One of the MiG-15 Fagot victories during the last months of 1951 was the one that can be seen in these pictures, obtained on November 28th 1951 by Col. Yevgeni Pepelyaev. It was a Sabre belonging to the 4th FIW, most likely the one piloted by 1st Lt. Dayton Ragland, who bailed out and became POW. He would obtain two more confirmed air-to-air kills  on December 1st (F-80) and December 6th (F-86), but, as a matter of fact -according to USAF data-, he shot down his last Sabre on January 15th 1952. His victim was 1st Lt. Vernon Wright.

The next three victories (one F-80 on December 1, one F-86 on December 6, and another more Sabre on January 11 1952) have no confirmation yet in the American side, but ironically a victory that was originally clasified as "probable" had been finally confirmed by American sources: the F-86 attacked by Pepelyayev on January 15 1952 -which he didn't confirm as shot down- was the one piloted by 1st Lt. Vernon D. Wright, who was captured and repatriated in 1953.

Hero of the Soviet Union

After all this performance, wasn't a surprise when, on April 22 1952, Colonel Yevgeni Pepelyayev was awarded with the Golden Star of the Heroe of the Soviet Union. A particular characteristic of the ceremony was that Pepelyayev have civilian clothes, and in the speech there was no mention of the actions why he deserve the award. The need of keep the secret caused that such story repeated 21 times more, with each Soviet pilot who were awarded during the Korean War.

Besides his impressive record as fighter pilot, his charisma as leader shouldn't be understimated. He knew how to motivate his men, obtaining the top of his capacities, but also facing the Top Brass when it dictated stupid rules of engagement that expose his pilots to an unneccesary risk. His unit recorded more than100 kills during 10 months (30 o 35 of them will be probably fully confirmed), loosing just 10 MiGs in action and suffering the lost of 4 pilots KIA. Excluding him, another seven pilots of the 196th IAP became Aces: Fiodor Shebanov, Boris Abakumov, Boris Bokach, V.N.Alfeyev, A.M.Kochegarov, I.K.Shelomonov and Lev Ivanov.

During a recent interview in Russia (where he is now a celebrity) a journalist asked his opinion about the Korean War, he answered:

"For us, Korea was both a love and an anguish. Back in the 50s we were defending North Korea, and we learned to care for the people. We also felt love for the Chinese people, on whose land our regiments were stationed. But I lost friends there. Soviet pilots lie in the Russian cemetery at Port Arthur. I still remember those sorrowful moments when they buried my fellow servicemen, excellent pilots, my wingman Sasha Roshkov, Fedya Shebanov,...."

Diego Fernando Zampini.



Acronyms used in the text:

  • FIS = Fighter Interception Squadron.
  • FIW = Fighter Interception Wing.
  • IAP = Istrevitelnye Avia Polk: Fighter Aviation Regiment.
  • IAD = Istrevitelnye Avia Divizya: Fighter Aviation Division.
  • IAK = Istrevitelnye Avia Korpus: Fighter Aviation Corps.
  • BW = Bombing Wing.
  • FBS = Fighter-Bombing Squadron.
  • CAP = Combat Air Patrol.

According to Soviet Military Interventions Since 1945 by Schmid, Soviet Union evaded direct involment in the Korean War. It has made large deliveries of tanks, trucks and artillery, yet well before invasion materialized it sharply reduced the number of its military advisers in North Korea. According to american intelligence estimates Soviet Union introduced some 20-25,000 troops into North Korea only after the front had stabilized, and they did not participate in serious fighting.

This does not imply that some number of military advisers were kept in the Korea at all times, including pilots.


From: Ulrich Eckel (uli@kaiwan.com)

My statistics here came from an article in the Sept-Oct 1994 issue of Command magazine and the TV series "Wings of the Red Star". The 64th Fighter Aviation Corps was sent to fight in Korea in Nov 1950. They performed very well, shooting down over 1,300 UN aircraft of all types while losing only 345 of their own. 16 Soviet pilots made ace, with the top scorer being Evgeni Pepelyaev with 23 kills. This info comes from the magazine article, and the author got his info from various US and Russian publications. The 2:1 MiG-15 vs. F-86 statistic is from the "Red Star" series. It should be mentioned that American and Soviet info do not contradict each other with regards to kill tallies. Only if an American plane is brought down over the combat area was it counted as a "loss". U.S. Air Force does not count planes damaged beyond repair or forced to land on the way home. The Soviets do, so their figures are naturally higher with regards to kills.

This makes sense because MiG-15 is considered the better plane. Its just that Chinese and North Korean pilots were SO bad that the US could score a 13:1 kill ratio against them. Many US and Soviet pilots were veterans of World War II. Most of the Soviet pilots sent to Korea were veterans and aces, including Ivan Kozhedub, 3-time Hero of the Soviet Union with 62 German kills to his credit. So pilot quality was even (since USSR sent almost exclusively elite pilots, you could even say that man-for-man they were superior). In addition to their good scores against enemy fighters, the Soviet pilots were the primary reason the US stopped using B-29 bombers (US first switched from day to night bombing and, after 1951, hardly used them at all).


From: bowers@wilbur.dfrc.nasa.gov (Al Bowers)

These are from Jon Eckel and David Lednicer, respectively.

16 Soviet pilots of the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps made ace.The highest scoring was Evgeni Pepelyaev, with 23 confirmed kills (12F-86s, 6 F-80s, 4 F-84s, and one F-94.  Most of the Soviet pilots thatwere sent to Korea were veterans or aces of World War II.  Ivan Kozhedub,a 3-time Hero of the Soviet Union with 62 German kills to his credit, wasone of those sent.The 64th was secretly sent to fight in the Korean War in Nov1950.  They did quite well, shooting down 1,300 UN aircraft of all typeswhile losing only 345 of their own.  MiG-15s piloted by Soviets outscoredthe F-86 guys at around 2:1.  However, MiGs in the hands of North Koreanand Chinese pilots were knocked down at something like 13:1 by the USAF.There doesn't seem to be any Chinese or Korean aces.I don't have all the details of this but there is supposedly a lotof good info on this in the Oct 1990 through May 1991 issues of Aviatiyai Kosmonavtika.  If there is anyone who can read Russian who has accessto these, I'd like to know more details.  The 28 December 1991 edition ofKrasnaya Zvezda should contain some info, too.

I came across the following article on Soviet Aces in Korea:

Soviet Air Aces of the Korean War

by Igor N. Gordelianow

Recently, a distinguished Soviet airmen has told of his participation in the Korean War from 1952-53.

This war started as a conflict between North and South Korean, but in a short time both the USSR and the USA were drawn into the battle. Alexandr Pavlovich Smortzkow was born in 1919. During the Korean War he served as the comra artder of the 18th Air craft Regiment. He was decorated with the "Gold Star" order for his service in the Korean War. He is also a "Hero of the Soviet Union" and at the present time he is a retired Colonel. He gave the following interview to a reporter of the Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda:

" In June 1950, I was flying MiG-15 out of Moscow when the commander of the Moscow Air Defense (PVO), General Colonel K. Moscalenko, informed me of the arrival of top secret orders concerning the conflict in Korea. The signal to initiate the orders, "Polikarpov Po-2 in Flight" had been received and we were to board a secret train at night to travel to the Far East. When we arrived in the Far East, we found the weather to be very bad; heavy tropical downpours such as I have never experienced in my lifetime. Many ducks were swimming on our airfield. First we operated from Mukdan airbase, but after a few days our 18-aircraft regiment was transferred to Andun airbase.

"Our first flights were in formation with MiG - 15s from other regiments: 24 MiG-15 in three groups of eight aircraft. We were dressed in Chinese uniforms and our aircraft carried Chinese insignia. Initially, we were ordered to speak only Korean over the radio. Since most Russian pilots did not know Korean and we had to use Korean dictionaries for even the simplest words necessary for fighting and flying, as you can imagine, this order was soon abolished.

"Our attitudes towards the American pilots were complicated. During the Second World War, we had been allies against Hitler. Therefore, in Korea, we did not view the Americans as enemies, but only as opponents. Our motto in the air was 'Competition - with whomever.'

"Americans attacking North Korea in our area had two main targets: The bridges across the Yalunczyan River and the Andun power station which was supplying electrical power to North Korea. Our pilots protected these two objectives with great success. Out first aerial victory was scored by Akatow who shot down an F-86 Sabre. This free pilot later died of wounds suffered in combat; he had only one aerial victory. Also killed was my friend Valentin Filimonow who was shot down when two F-86 Sabres attacked his MiG-15.

"My opinions about the relative abilities of Soviet and American aircraft and pilots were as follows: I thought the American pilots were very good. This opinion was shared by other Soviet pilots including my friends Vladimir Voistinnych and Pete Chourkin. However, the MiG-15 was a very good aircraft. It had only one big problem - the engine would stop abruptly during a sharp turn. As for the American aircraft: the F-80 Shooting Star was not very good, the F-84 Thunderjet was average, but the F-86 Sabre was very good.

"One day we attacked a group of Australian Gloster Meteors. They were a big, easy targets for us. My friend Oskin and I destroyed five Meteors during this one fight.

"One night we intercepted B-29 Superfortresses. I was listening to my radio - 'Group of B-29s in front of you!' I dove my MiG-15 with my heart pounding. Soon I saw the B-29s with many protecting fighters. I attacked and destroyed two B-29s and one of the escorting Sabres. Over my radio came the question: 'Alexandr! How are you getting on?' I answered with a furious 'Victory! It's O.K.!' That night our regiment destroyed five B-29s."

Alexandr Smortzkow finished the Korean War with 12 victories (5 B-29, 2 F-86, and 5 Meteors.

Ivan Kozedub, the great Soviet ace of the Second World War (62 victories) and "Hero of the Soviet Union" with three "Gold Stars", was the commander of all the Soviet fighter regiments in Korea. He did not fly in Korea, but his regiments accounted for 258 viaories.

Other Soviet Aces of the Korean War:

Nikolay Shkodin: 5 victories (4 F-86 and one F-84G). During the war he flew 150 combat missions. He is presently a General-Major retired.

Yevgeny Pepelyaev: with 23 victories, he was the top Soviet ace in the Korean War. He was known as the "Big night boy".

Anatoly Karelin: 9 victories (all B-29s destroyed at night during "Free Hunter" missions.

Other Soviet aces were:

Nikolay Ivanov (6 F-86), Mikhail Mihin (9 F-86), Nick Sutyagin (23 victories), L. Schukin (more than 10 victories), and D. Oskin (more than 10 victories).

Other Soviets with more than 10 victories were: G. Pulov, G. Ohay, S. Veshnyakov, G. Ges, A. Boytzow, and D. Samaoylov.

Alexandr Smortzkow's interview concluded: "Before my last flight of the War, my division commander ordered that we were to attack Sabres and then fly back to the USSR. On this flight, I was wounded in the leg. Back in the USSR, I learned that an American pilot with the Russian name, Makhonin, had been captured along with his brand new F-86. It was interesting to study his aircraft up close. "Thus, the war was finished for us. However, many of my good friends had perished in Korea and they were buried at Port Artur."

Igor M. Gordelianow (SAFCH #1066), ul. Strijskaja 179 kw.68, Lvowskaja obl., g. Drogobych, 293720 Ukraina.
Small Air Forces Observer vol. 17 no. 1 (65) January, 1993


From: Andrew Mikhailov (mikh@kai.ksu.ras.ru)

...I'm sending you ... list of Soviet aces [which] I composed basing on the russian press of recent years. This list may have [few errors] ... because ... facts are different in various sources. I'm not sure that [this list] contains all ... Soviet aces, but it [does] the greater part of them:

Name Kills Comments

Sutyagin N V 21+2 (21 personal and 2 in group)
Pepelyaev Ye G 19 (and 4 more Pepelyaev's kills was recorded on his wingman score)
Smortzkow A P 15
Schukin L K 15
Oskin D P 14 (or 11 on another sources)
Ponomaryov M S 14 (or 11 on another sources)
Kramarenko S M 13
Sutzkow 12
Sheberotov N K 12
Bakhayev S A 11
Dokashenko N G 11
Ohay G U 11 (and 6 in WW2)
Pomaz 11
Samoylov D A 10
Milaushkin M S 10
Pulov G I 10 (or 8 on another sources)
Mihin M I 9
Subbotin S P 9
Zabelin N V 9
Ges G I 8 (or 9 on another sources)
Fedorets S A 7 confirmed and 1 unconfirmed - unconfirmed victory is downing of the best of American aces McConnell plane on 12.04.53.
Babonin N N 7
Zaplavnev I M 7
Ivanov L M 7 (not Nikolay Ivanov from your list who have 3 cofirmed kills 1 unconfirmed kill and 2 damaged planes)
Bokatz B V 6
Vishnyakov S F 6
Zameskin N M 6
Nikolayev A P 6
Nikulin P F 6
Boitsov A S 6
Hvostontsev V M 6
Abakumov B S 5
Bashman A T 5
Belousov V I 5
Berelidze G N 5
Bogdanov G I 5
Gerasimenko N I 5
Danilov S D 5
Dmitryuk G F 5
Karelin A M 5
Korniyenko N L 5
Kochegarov A M 5
Lepikov V L 5
Naumenko S I 5
Obraztsov B A 5
Olenitsa 5
Prudnikov 5
Siskov B N 5
Shelamanov N K 5
Shkodin N I 5 (or 3 on another sources)

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