Piotr Kozachenko

Kuznetsov I.V.

Innokentyi Kuznetsov was born 12 December 1914 in Duma, a settlement in the Irkutsk area.

He started his aviation adventure in an aeroclub, then he completed the flying training at Bataysk military flying school in 1938. Kuznetsov was certified as a military pilot and junior commander of VVS RKKA.

When the Great Patriotic War began, he was flying Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 in the 129 IAP operating over Bialystok area. On 22 June 1941 129 IAP flew in consist the 9th SAD / ZOVO. The 9th SAD was painfully hit in first days of war. Aviation Division was led by the Hero of the Soviet Union Major-General S. A. Chernykh. He was a veteran from the aerial combats in the Spanish Civil War, where he had shot down three Franco-planes (including the first ever Messerschmitt 109B). According to an inspection shortly before the outbreak of the war, Major-General Chernykh's air division was one of the best in the Red Army. The four fighter regiments under his command were equipped with 233 of the modern MiG-3 fighter and had only 156 obsolete Polikarpov fighters. The bomber regiment of the division, 13 SBAP, was equipped with 51 bombers, including 22 of the experimental twin-engine Ar-2 dive-bomber (a modified version of the SB 'fast' bomber).

In fact, 129 IAP of this division was one of the first Soviet air units to take off on this Sunday morning, while other regimments of 9th SAD were almost annihilated! Hearing the sounds of artillery to the west, the regimental commander, Captain U. M. Berkal ordered three of the Regiment's four squadrons to scramble from Tarnovo airfield, approximately eight miles from the border. In a fierce clash with the incoming raiders, A. Sokolov shot down one Messerschmitt 109 (possibly piloted by 5./JG 27īs Gefreiter Kurt Paskowski, who was wounded during this action) while Kuznetsov and Viktor Nikolayev each destroyed one Heinkel 111.

ak-1 from 30 GIAP flown by Kuznetsov in February 1942.

So, Kuznetsov, during this first day of war claimed his first victory! In that time reach of any success from Soviet side was very difficult. After defeating and reforming Kuznetsov was transferred to the 180 IAP based north of Rzhev.

In June 1942 this unit re-equipped with Hawker Hurricane and transferred to Belgorod. Till this moment pilot's score stood at 5 claims (with shared kills).

During one month of battles unit lost almost all of their Hurricanes and in end of July 1942 180 IAP again re-equipped with Bell P-39 Aircobra (RAF Mk I version). In November 1942 the unit was renamed 30 G(uard)IAP and reformed in Soviet 015/174 specification (32 pilots in 3 Squadrons).

On 3 March 1943 he shot dawn (rammed) near Kursk FW 190. In this battle Kuznetsov was wounded in legs and rescued by Soviet soldiers. Now, on his score was 7 personal kills and additional 15 team's victories, in 32 air-to-air combats.

Ten days later, on 10 March 1943, 30 GIAP was transferred to Cherniava airfield, on Central Front.

In January 1944 Kuznetsow was awarded highest Britain war medals. In USSR only 7 pilots got DFC.

Kuznetsov with friend.

In April 1945 over Shernbekon, Germany he rammed (again - twice in war!) FW 190. After this attack Soviet pilot was forced to belly-land with his Aircobra. To the end of war he had flown 356 sorties since June 1941, claiming 27 (15-individual and 12-shared), but he wasn't awarded Gold Star !

In fact he claimed much more victories, but Kuznetsov was conflicted with his commander of IAP... In 1946 he was demobilised and returned back to Irkutsk aviation factory. Kuznetsov served as testing pilots on Il-28, Tu-14, An-12 and other.

In 1956 he subsequently volunteered for service in Egypt. Kuznetsov help Arab aviators flying Il-28. In beginning 60-s he retired from flying job. Kuznetsov settled in Gelenjik.

Only 22 March 1991 he was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for this claims in WW II.

Innokentyi Kuznetsov passed away in 1996.