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
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.
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.