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#4077404 - 02/12/15 05:52 AM Re: Mostovskoy goes to war: BoS campaign Ch. 2 AAR #9 Feb 10: Winter Campaign' Unlocked' ***** [Re: HeinKill]  
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Nice!! Can't wait for the next episode.


I used to work for a living, but then I took an arrow to the knee.
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#4077951 - 02/13/15 08:51 AM Re: Mostovskoy goes to war: BoS campaign Ch. 2 AAR #9 Feb 10: Winter Campaign' Unlocked' [Re: HeinKill]  
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Thx! The next Chapter will take us back to the Russian side, and a rather different view of the conflict...the Soviet female aces.

It actually needs the planned summer 1942 map, but who knows when we'll see that, so we'll have to allow for some historical time/place stretching.

wink

H


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#4077963 - 02/13/15 09:50 AM BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #1 Feb 13: YEKATERINA 'KATYA' BUDANOVA GOES TO WAR [Re: HeinKill]  
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YEKATERINA 'KATYA' BUDANOVA GOES TO WAR: PRELUDE

Shtab Glavnogo Verkhovnogo Komandovaniya
October 8, 1941

NGO 0099

By order of Commander Air Force Main Administration
Colonel General A A Novikov

Subject: About the constitution of female air regiments of the Red Army Air Force.

In order to use available female flight and technical personnel it has been ordered to create three aviation regiments under the organisation of Aviation Group 122: the 586 IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment), the 587 BAP (Bomber Aviation Regiment) and the 588 NBAP (Night Bomber Aviation Regiment), drawing from the number of women serving in the Air Force satellites, CAF, Osoaviahima and Komsomol Trainees.

Headquarters for Aviation Group 122 staff will be the territory of Petrovsky Park in Moscow in the building VVIA. Operational flight and training headquarters will be established at Engels, in Saratov region, under the command of Chief of the School for Flight Training Lieutenant Colonel V.P. Petrovicha.

It is instructed that all regiments are to be fully established and training to be commenced no later than 1 December 1941.

By this order, Hero of the Soviet Union Comrade Major Marina M Raskova is hereby promoted to Women's Aviation Group Commander Aviation Group 112 effective immediately.

Signed

Novikov, AA





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#4079060 - 02/15/15 06:57 PM BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #2 Feb 15: Katya's first kill [Re: HeinKill]  
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(Reader note: each one of the following AARs represents an actual mission flown by Soviet combat pilot Yekaterina 'Katya Budanova' - 16 December 1916 to 19 July 1943, RIP. The Chapter starts with the posting of Budanova and four other women pilots of the 586th IAP to the 437 IAP based at Verkhnaya Akhtuba. Historical detail comes primarily from the book "Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat" by Reina Pennington. Much detail is based on Budanova's letters home to her sister Olga, or 'Olya' Budanova.).

14 September 1942: According to historian Hans Seidl, on this date Yekaterina Budanova shared her first aerial kill, a Bf 109 fighter, over Stalingrad, Russia; the kill was shared with fellow pilot Lydia Litvyak. However according to her merit citation for the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st Degree, on 22 July 1943, this shared kill was a Ju88. This AAR assumes a 109.

Dearest Olya

At last! Training is finished!

Two days ago Lydia, Maria, Raisa and I were transferred to the 437th Fighter Regiment which is currently at CENSORED on the east bank of the Volga river. Partly it is because we caused such a fuss about that cow of a commander Kazarinova. General Osipenko put her in charge just because she has an Order of Lenin Dedushka! She was an acrobat before the war, she knows nothing about combat flying. Colonel Starishenko called a meeting of the pilots because we were not the only unhappy ones. All her toadies spoke for her, but we were more who spoke against. Starishenko told us he did not have the authority to change our commanding officer, but a week later, we were told that the four of use would be sent to Stalingrad as replacements, along with our Yaks and our ground crews! I was angry at them removing us from the unit, rather than Kazarinova, but Lydia was right, she said it didn't matter as long as we were not reporting to that cow, and we were going to a front line regiment!

Our Yaks are such beautiful machines Olya, you would be amazed if you could see one. The other pilots in the 437th fly Laggs, which are also fine machines, but they cannot touch our Yaks, which can carry cannons, rockets and bombs and are better than any machine the Germans have.

[Linked Image]

The men here will not fly with us. They say they do not want the responsibility of 'looking after women' in combat, and they do not trust us to protect them. Lydia says they have 'Yak envy'.

But the reason for my letter! Today we saw our first real combat!

We were supposed to conduct a patrol along the front line. We were to avoid combat with enemy fighters and concentrate on their ground attack aircraft, which were supporting their push on Stalingrad.

[Linked Image]

But the Germans had not read our orders.

We took off just after lunchtime, the first time all four of us - Lydia, Maria, me and Raisa, were going on a patrol over the front lines together. The Lagg pilots had gathered outside dispersal to cheer us off. Even though they wouldn't fly with us, I think they wanted to see us get back in one piece! Well, mostly Lydia probably, but that's another story Dedushka.

[Linked Image]

I was flying at the rear of the formation, protecting all three. Lydia calls me 'Mother' just because I am five years older than the others, and I try to keep them all out of trouble - in the air, and on the ground.

I had seen Stalingrad from the air, but it was a terrible sight today. The whole city was burning, and the low cloud trapped the smoke so that the whole horizon was black.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

We were just settling into the flight, and I had only just trimmed myYak for low level cruising, under the clouds at the height the German Stukas would have to fly in this weather.

"Enemy fighters! Three oclock, two hundred metres below!" Maria called.

"Watch them, do not engage, remember our orders," Lydia said. But she led us in a slow turn above the German fighters, keeping an eye on them as we passed.

[Linked Image]

There four of the, 109Fs, you have probably seen a picture of them Dedushka. Small, with square wings, cannons and machine guns, they are fast, but we could out turn them in a dogfight.

[Linked Image]

Unfortunately, they saw us, and started to climb toward us. They would catch us eventually if we ignored them, and we were not the types to run from a fight.

"Stork flight, engage, engage!" Lydia called, "Stay with me Katya!"

She put her machine into a steep dive and headed down toward the 109s. We had practiced this many times. You did not want to meet them head on, with their weapons all aimed at you. The idea was to pass them on the side, going at high speed, then pull around and up beneath them while they were at the top of their climb, and vulnerable.

[Linked Image]

Lydia made the maneuver perfectly, but I misjudged my dive, going too fast. As I tried to pull up, I nearly blacked out!

[Linked Image]

As my vision cleared I spotted an enemy fighter up above, close to a stall and zoomed up under him.

[Linked Image]

But Lydia was already on his tail. He panicked and turned right in front of her, but he was too slow, and she was moving at nearly 400 kph.

[Linked Image]

She fired and I saw puffs of smoke from his machine.

[Linked Image]

But then his wingman came from nowhere. I should have been there to protect her, but I lost her when I blacked out. "Break left Lydia!" I called over the radio and she pulled left just as he fired. He hit something on her machine, because she started leaking fuel, but she was still flying.

"Finish off that 109!" she ordered, "I'm OK."

[Linked Image]

I came in behind him as he tried to climb away, trailing grey smoke. The smoke from his engine mingling with the smoke rising up from the city.

[Linked Image]

He turned back to his own lines, and I got within firing range. I fired one burst with cannon and MG.

[Linked Image]

He banked hard left, trailing an ugly black plume now.

[Linked Image]

I let go with another burst, and he decided it was better to take his chances on the ground, than in the air with me! He jumped for it.

[Linked Image]

"Good shooting Katya!" Lydia called, and we formed up on each other's wings again. The 109s were gone, but Lydia had lost the fuel from her port wing tank, and Maria was also reporting her engine was running rough, maybe had taken a hit. We decided to be satisfied with our one kill and return to CENSORED.

Back at the airfield, we lowered our wheels and Lydia and I made a pass over the airfield in two by two formation as she asked for permission 'for two victorious pilots' to land.

[Linked Image]

After her bragging, I was terrified I would make a bad landing, and there was a strong crosswind too to make it worse, but I put it down alright.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

So now I have finally started to repay the Germans for what they are doing to Mother Russia Olya. I will make you and Pyotr proud of me.

Say hello to everyone in Konoplanka for me, I hope the winter is not too hard and you have enough to eat. When my pay catches up with me, I will try to send some money home for you.

Yours,

Katya.

PS I included a photo of me from a month ago, with Lydia on my left, and Maria on my right. It was a photographer from a magazine who took it. He said they would do an article about us, but I don't believe him. At least he gave us a copy of the photograph.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by HeinKill; 06/02/18 08:55 AM.

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#4082342 - 02/22/15 10:52 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #3 Feb 23: She who fights and runs away... [Re: HeinKill]  
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20 September 1942

Dedushka,

Maria is dead and it is my fault.

It is impossible. I keep staring at the door of the mess, waiting for her to walk in, but I know she never will, ever again.

Just this morning at breakfast she was reading a letter she had received from an RAF pilot. Yes, someone she had never met! Apparently he saw her on a newsreel in London and so just wrote a letter addressed to 'Russia, The Female Combat Pilot, Maria Kuznetznova.' There are two M Kuznetsova in the VVS and it took time to realise that he meant Maria Mikhailovna Kuznetsova - our Maria.

She wouldn't even touch the letter!

"You have to read it aloud," we told her. "So we can try and translate for you." Of course we all wanted to know what was in it.

"I don't even want to look at it," she said, "I'll be accused of having 'foreign relations'."

So we took it from her and read it. It seemed to me he was saying he wanted to give her his hand and heart, but that sounded more like a Russian than an Englishman.

"Budanova, Kuznetsova!" our CO called, "Stop gossiping, get on patrol!"

We were not late, he just resented us enjoying ourselves. We started our takeoff roll at exactly 0800 as ordered. I led the flight away, with Kuznetsova, who was much more junior, on my wing.

"We will take off and stay low until we cross the Volga, then climb and come back over at about 3,000," I had told her. "First we will scare off any low flying Germans, then we can see if there are any fighters or medium bombers looking for trouble."

As we were taking off, I looked over to see her on my starboard wing, and was shocked to see she had her landing lights on! "Maria!" I called over the radio, "Cut your lights!" I briefly flicked mine on and off, "See how bright they are, you have to learn to take off in the dark, without them."



"Yes, comrade Budanova, I am sorry," she said meekly.

As we pulled up from the runway at Verkhnaya Akhtuba I looked back with satisfaction to see she had cut her lights.



But it was too late.

Those brief flashes must have been like lighthouse beacons to the 109s circling above Stalingrad.





I don't know how long it took them to stalk us and find us. We made it over the Volga and had turned and started to climb back toward the city when we saw them.

There were at least eight.



"Fighters, 11 oclock high!" I called. "Coming straight for us!" They had the height, and the numbers. What should we do? To turn into them would be suicide!

"Orders comrade?!" Maria called.

I was frozen. And in that moment, Maria made the decision I should have made.

"Breaking left to engage!" she called, and her guns opened up almost immediately.



I could see her target scream past her, trailing grey smoke.

"A hit," she called, "They are on my tail! Katya!"

But I was too late Dedushka! Too late! As I got my machine in position behind her, one of the 109s opened fire and I saw a flash of fire from Maria's Yak.





"Bail out Maria!" I yelled, "Bail out!"



I could see her hammering at the canopy, but it didn't open.

By now I had two Germans on my own tail, and I watched in horror as her burning machine plunged toward the ground.



The German who was trailing smoke appeared in my mirror.



And I lost my nerve. It was like that time when our cow bolted and I couldn't shut the gate in time, and I went and hid under the straw, remember?

I put my nose down at tree level and ran.



I headed for the smoke over Stalingrad, trying to hide in the noise and chaos.





They lost me. Then as I put the city behind me, heading back over Russian ground, I felt ashamed. Maria was dead, for nothing. I pulled back on the stick and began to climb back toward them.



There is no heroic finish to this story Dedushka. It was still eight to one and I did not want to add my name to the list of those who died for nothing. I just wanted to show them...I don't know. That they had not scared me into hiding under the straw.

So I pushed the engine to its maximum and climbed out over Stalingrad.



Eventually I saw them again, circling just behind German lines, waiting for their next victim.



I rolled over on one wing and started diving toward them and my airspeed rocketed...280...300..350...400...450...500...



The Yak shook so hard I was sure the wings were going to rip off. At 620 km/h I gripped the stick hard and pulled it slowly into my stomach so the machine would not tear itself to pieces in mid air, trying to line up on the rearmost pair of 109s. They were turning gently but it was still too much for me to follow at that speed and I just managed to get off a snapshot across their noses.





Before I was past again, and climbing for the sky, leaving them scattered and confused in my wake, searching for their attacker.



I left them swirling in confusion and headed back toward Verkhnaya Akhtuba. And that was it. My hands were shaking, I was crying, and my fight was over. I was alone, and beaten and I had done exactly nothing to avenge Maria.

As I made my approach, I looked at the dashboard clock. It was 0835.



I had prepared myself for thirty years for this, and it took thirtyfive minutes to prove I was no sort of flight leader after all.



Perhaps I should go to a factory. I might be more use making cannon shells, than trying to fire them.

Yours,

Katja.








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#4082496 - 02/23/15 09:33 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #3 Feb 23: She who fights and runs away... [Re: HeinKill]  
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Golly!

#4085394 - 02/28/15 01:37 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #4 Feb 28: Two birds with one Yak [Re: HeinKill]  
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2 October 1942: According to regiment archivist Ekaterina K. Polunina on 2 October 1942 Budanova achieved her two first solo air victories, shooting down a bomber and a Bf 109 over Stalingrad. However, Budanova's aircraft mechanic and good friend, Inna Pasportnikova, wrote that she shot down her first aircraft on 6 October when she attacked 13 Ju 88 bombers, downing only one. Her actual tally of kills remains the subject of considerable debate.

Dearest Olya

We are not only fighting the Junkers and 109s, we are fighting the attitudes of our own men as well.

When I reported that Maria had been shot down, the squadron political, Myalo, sniffed, "What do you expect? She was probably using the mirror to fix her hair."

"I'll set your hair on fire, see if you can fix it!" I told him, before Lydia pulled me out of the room.

She pushed me up against the wall outside. "You can't let them get to you!" she told me, "Remember back at the start, when they ordered us all to shave our heads, just like the men? 'Why should there be different rules for you?' What did we do?"

"We shaved our heads," I said, remembering the humiliation of walking out bald and hearing the men's jeering.

"And when we cut up that old fur coat to put fur collars on our flight jackets, they ordered us to remove them again, what did we do?"

"We removed them."

"And ...?"

I looked at her, standing there with her long blonde hair that she bleached with peroxide given to her by a hospital orderly, with the fur collar of her flight jacket snug around her neck.

"And now we have our hair and our fur collars," I admitted.

"We have to earn everything we want Tanya. We have to cut our hair to win it back, we have to wear their uniforms before we can make our own, and we have to die...like Maria...like they do, before we they will give us respect. You are a fighter pilot, as good as any of them!"

It was a fine speech, but inside I did not believe it. I was a pilot, yes, but not yet a fighter pilot.

In civilian life I had been an instructor, I could fly single, twin engine machines. biplanes, monoplanes. I could repair engines and patch canvas. I was the oldest pilot in the regiment.

But in that last fight, I had frozen. And Maria had burned alive.

I asked to be number four of four on our next mission, a late afternoon bomber intercept. No one questioned that, and I didn't blame them.





The Germans liked coming over Stalingrad at dusk, using the fires from the already burning buildings to aim their bombs.



We climbed to 5000m, steering for the intercept coordinates we got from ground control, our contrails were standing out against the ice blue sky.



But so were theirs.





"There they are comrades," Lydia called. "Snowflake two, you stay with me, we'll take the bombers. Snowflake three and four, you take the fighters."

We acknowledged and dropped toward the German formation about 500m below us.






There was no time for nerves, and I only had to follow orders, not give them. I picked out one of the escorts.



I pushed the engine to its limit, but as I closed within firing range, I quickly checked behind me, and closing fast, was his wingman.



I got off a quick burst that went across his nose without hitting him...



Then I rolled the Yak on its back and dived away just as the 109 behind me opened fire.



"That's it Katja, keep them busy!" I heard someone call.

The 109 on my tail followed me down, and I chopped the throttle. He screamed overhead and suddenly I was the predator, and he was the prey. He appeared in the top of my cockpit glass.



He pulled up into a gut wrenching zooming climb. Usually we could not follow the 109s in a climb, but I had a massive amount of energy from my dive, and I followed him up, urging my Yak higher, and higher. We both hit the top of our climb at the same time, and he hung in the air, two hundred meters ahead of me.



As we dropped he filled my sights, I pushed my nose down to follow, opened fire and he fell away, his contrail crossing my nose as I followed him through.



As I looked over my shoulder I saw his machine twisting like a leaf, something wrong with his tail.





My shells had sawn his tailplane and elevators clean off, and he was fluttering to the ground, out of control. The pilot leapt.



"One for Maria," I thought to myself.

I turned back toward the bombers. There were no more escorts in sight. One bomber was falling out of the formation, damaged or dead. I saw Yaks buzzing around them like deadly gnats.





"Snowflake four rejoining," I called over the radio. "Orders please."

"Katja!" Lydia called, "Just in time! We are out of ammunition, there are three of them left, do you still have guns?"

"I have guns," I confirmed.

"Then use them comrade," she replied. "We'll cover you."

I closed on the rearmost bomber. After the two or three bursts I had used on the 109s, I guessed I might have five or six seconds of cannon ammunition left. It was a dangerous rear aspect angle but I got as close as I dared.

They were curving left and I banked to follow them. I fired, holding down the trigger until my guns ran dry.





MG fire from the bombers thudded into my Yak, but my rounds hit home, and the bomber fell away, fire streaming from an engine.



I pulled up into clear sky.

"Snowflake 4, ammunition gone, rejoining, where are you Snowflake one?" I looked around me.

There was no answer.

"Snowflake four to Snowflake flight, anyone?"

Nothing but static and dark blue sky.



I tried again for a few minutes, increasingly worried as I circled. I was still deep behind German lines, and now I was alone. I turned back toward Verkhnaya Akhtuba. I doubted German radar would pick me up, but I was also low enough for the German sound locators to be able to hear me. Sure enough, two searchlights suddenly sprang to life and started combing the sky around me.



One of them played over my machine, lost me, and then locked itself onto me. Blinding white light poured into my cockpit and I stood out like a coloured kite against the starry sky.





There was nothing for it but to dive for the ground and try to lose the searchlights in the ground clutter.



That brought me within range of light MG fire from the troops below, but I ignored it and snaked my way back and forth over the German positions.





Finally I made Stalingrad itself, and ploughed through the smoke of the burning city.





It was only five minutes flying to the airfield, but to avoid night attack, it would not be lit at night, and I would have to find it by dead reckoning.

The light was so weak, all I could make out on the ground below was trees and snow. And none of it looked familiar.



I slowed the machine down to 180 km/h, threw back the canopy and stuck my head into the roaring cold wind. Through eyes that were quickly starting to gel, I saw something ahead. A field! But, ours or theirs?



I pulled the canopy shut and made a pass across the field, hoping the ground defences wouldn't wake up too quickly. As I passed overhead a white flare shot into the air, to signal that they had recognised me.



"Verkhnaya field, this is Snowflake 4, requesting permission to land." I asked, with relief.

There was a short delay, then in Russian, "Permission granted Snowflake 4, but you will have to land without lights, enemy aircraft in the area."

I dropped my gear and flaps and approached on the edge of a stall. There would be no second pass this time unless I wanted to land in full darkness.



As the ground loomed up, I panicked a bit, hauled the canopy back and stuck my head out again.





I was short! I hauled back on the stick, the nose reared, the airspeed dropped to almost nothing and the Yak slammed down onto the packed ice and gravel right at the end of the runway.



I trundled to a stop by the control tower, panting heavily. I could see the other 3 Yaks in their berms at the other end of the field. So they got back safely. Good.



Two kills this time. That made two solo kills and a shared kill now. Clearly, I was a better follower than I was a leader.

But two kills wasn't enough.

It won't ever be enough.

Our pay has finally arrived. I have enclosed some money for you and the neighbours. Don't worry, we don't need it here. We get food, a place to sleep, and mighty Russian fighter aircraft to fly. Tell Pyotr I am fine,

Your sister,

Katja.

*****






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#4085737 - 03/01/15 09:57 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #4 Feb 28: Two birds with one Yak [Re: HeinKill]  
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Thanks for these great stories popcorn

#4087384 - 03/04/15 08:58 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #4 Feb 28: Two birds with one Yak [Re: HeinKill]  
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You're welcome. I really find these stories of women pilots from WWII inspiring.

Totally recommend reading the book

Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat" by Reina Pennington

http://www.amazon.com/Wings-Women-War-Airwomen-Studies/dp/0700615547/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425459179&sr=8-1&keywords=Wings%2C+Women%2C+and+War%3A+Soviet+Airwomen+in+World+War+II+Combat%22+by+Reina+Pennington



And another good one, from a different front, but just as impressive:

http://www.amazon.com/Contact-Britain-pilots-during-England/dp/1453787836/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1425459375&sr=8-5&keywords=raf+Air+Transport+Auxiliary+%28ATA%29



By Nancy Stratford who flew no fewer than 50 different types of combat aircraft during WWII!

H


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#4087689 - 03/04/15 08:21 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #4 Feb 28: Two birds with one Yak [Re: HeinKill]  
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Thanks for these references.

This one was nice too:

Anna Yegorova

She wasn't in Stalingrad though IIRC, fought in Caucasus.

Last edited by rollnloop.; 03/04/15 08:24 PM.
#4088878 - 03/07/15 09:30 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #4 Feb 28: Two birds with one Yak [Re: HeinKill]  
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Thx must read that one!

H


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#4088883 - 03/07/15 10:47 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #5 March 7: Katja and Pyotr against the world [Re: HeinKill]  
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6 Oct 1942 Yekaterina Budanova shot down a bomber over Stalingrad, Russia.

We are now at the tipping point Olya.

You remember I told you about my young friend Pyotr from the Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory? He was that cheeky boy who asked me for a date when he drove us out from the train station in his truck. I told him sure, he could date me one day, when he had started to shave. I said he reminded me of my little brother Pyotr who is just 12 years old. He didn't like that. Last night he came to the airfield in his truck with some supplies and I saw him. He said the last of the worker's brigades were evacuated from the factory yesterday after a full day of dive bombing from dawn to dusk. He said they counted hundreds of Stukas. During pauses in the bombing, the German troops attacked from Barrikady.

"Where were our fighter aircraft Katja?" he asked.

I had nothing to tell him. We are only three girls left of four. The men of the 437th Fighter Regiment have just six Laggs and we have our three Yaks. Every time we go up, it is two or three against one.

But the 37th Guards Rifle division is still holding onto the factory Dedushka, and the bombers keep coming.

We do what we can. This morning we were over Stalingrad waiting for the bombers.



It was Lydia and I in our Yaks, and four guys in Laggs. That was all we had to defend Stalingrad on October 6. The days when the men wouldn't fly with us were long past.



We had been on station about ten minutes, when I saw them.



"Bombers, looks like Heinkels and Stukas..." I called, "Five oclock!"

The flight leader in one of the Laggs gave the orders, "Laggs take the Stukas, Yaks the bombers, break now."

As we turned toward them, the German formation spotted us, and the bombers broke right, while the Stukas dove for the city below. I was still 600m away when the first tracer from the bomber's guns started streaking past my machine.





Lydia went high and I went low. It was a way to divide the gunners fire. Almost immediately I saw one of the bombers begin to belch black smoke. Go Lydia!



I had my own target and closed to 200m then opened with all guns.



If I really hit him, I don't know but he dumped his bombs and turned radically to starboard, just missing me as I went up and over.



I barrel rolled over the top of him and saw some thin smoke coming from his wing. He had his nose down in a steep dive, but was still under control, trying to flee.



Over the radio I could hear the Laggs were carving up the Stukas.





My target was going low and fast now, weaving right and left, but I could still get below him where he had only one gun able to threaten me.



I hung back, peppering him with cannon and MG, trying to knock out an engine, or at least, silence the gunner.



Thick black smoke began to pour from one engine, but still he kept flying.



It streamed overhead as I came at him, again and again.





Finally, I saw flame.

Burn you dolboeb. Like Maria burned. It was all I could think of Dedushka. I wanted them all to burn.



I pulled up ahead of them. Flame was pouring over one wing, but still the pilot kept it level and the gunners kept firing. They were dead men, but refused to admit it.





Finally, as slowly as a tree toppling in a forest, the bomber slid onto its side and went in.





Some sickness has taken my soul Dedushka. I watched men leaping to their deaths from that burning behemoth and you know what?



I was laughing.



One of their chutes opened, just before the man hit the ground. Probably he broke every bone in his body.



And I was glad.

I circled, and the bomber burned out. I wanted to watch it. Only as I pulled away did I realise something was wrong, and I was trailing white vapour from my left wing. I guessed that a German MG round had found my fuel tank.



It was only a few minutes flying back to the airfield. By the time I got there, the white vapour was taking on a more dirty, foul grey aspect. It was probably more than just a fuel leak, but my temps and revs were still alright.



I couldn't see any other aircraft taxiing around the field, and got permission to come straight in. I later learned they were still engaged. It is amazing how you fight your combat in a small bubble, where a long patrol ends in the small punctuation mark of combat, and suddenly you are home again. Or dead.



The landing strip was as hard as concrete and I bounced uncomfortably but then pulled the machine off to the side of the runway and shut down the engine quickly.



You know, as I disconnected my RT cable and harness, I wasn't even thinking about the German bomber? Or poor Maria in her burning Yak? As I reached up to take off my helmet, I was thinking about little Pyotr.



As we'd shared a cigarette I'd asked him what he was going to do.

"I'm going back across the Volga tonight," he'd said. "Zholudev's 85th artillery needs men." He'd shrugged. "I can't shoot a rifle, but I can push a wheelbarrow full of shells around."

He barely came up to my shoulders so when I gave him a hug, he complained I was smothering him.

So have heart Olya. Together little Pyotr with the bum fluff on his cheeks, and your tall awkward sister Katja will hold back Hitler's hordes!

Yours,

Kat.

PS another photograph for father's album. My mechanic Inna took it when I wasn't really ready, but it is not such a bad one anyway because you can't really see that big fat Budanova nose we got from Dedushka.






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#4088916 - 03/07/15 02:12 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #5 March 7: Katja and Pyotr against the world [Re: HeinKill]  
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The good stuff just keeps coming. thumbsup

Thanks for sharing your gift with us, HeinKill !!

#4090593 - 03/11/15 12:55 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #6 March 11: Yak down [Re: HeinKill]  
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On 2 December 1942 Budanova scored a double kill over Stalingrad, 2 German attack aircraft, according to regimental records. According to her merit citation, she was credited with only one kill.

(Note: first paragraph below from actual letter written by Katja Budanova to her sister Olga taken from the book 'The White Rose of Stalingrad: The Real-Life Adventure of Lidiya Vladimirovna by Bill Yenne'. They indicate that Budanova had by this time become very aware of her own mortality and the likelihood she would die in combat.)

My dearest Olya,

You write to me that you worry about me and hope I get back from the war soon. I can't lie to you - I doubt that will happen Olya. Though I don't want to die, I am not afraid of it. If and when I must die, my death will cost the enemy dearly. My dear winged 'Yak' is a good machine and our fates are indissolubly joined together. If we must perish, we are bound to die like heroes.

The fascists tried a few days ago, but as this letter shows, I am still here.

Lydia and I were sent to intercept German attack aircraft that were harassing our troops northwest of Stalingrad on the Don Front at Kachalinskaya.



My Yak had been damaged the day before, so Inna had prepped a reserve machine for me. It was still in the factory paint! (It did not stay shiny for very long, but I am getting ahead of myself).

Lydia told me to lead the flight. Even though she is younger, she is the superior officer but she wants to see me lead my own squadron one day and she says it will never happen unless I learn to take command in the air.





Over Kachalinskaya it was not difficult to find the enemy - there were at least half a dozen Stukas, with escort.



"Swan 2, take the escorts, I will go for the Stukas," I told Lydia. "Good hunting."

I blasted past the 109s as they came up to meet us, trusting that Lydia would keep them away from me.



I lost the Stukas momentarily in cloud.



But dropping lower I picked them up again.



My dive caused me to close quickly, too quickly, and I overshot on my first pass, scattering the enemy attack aircraft but without getting a single hit.



I stayed beneath them where their rear gunners and pilots would have trouble seeing me, and closed on one of the Germans. I opened fire at about 200m.





The crew of the Stuka leaped almost before I had even stopped firing.



But as I pulled away, I realised I was not as clever as I had thought. My brand new shiny Yak was pouring smoke from a hit to my engine.



Inna would be so angry! Not to mention the strips Lydia would tear off me.

But there was no time to think of that, because a flight of enemy aircraft lay right in front of me and I kept the engine at full throttle, willing it not to seize up, as I got closer, and closer...until...as I was about to fire



Oil erupted out of my engine and completely covered my windscreen!

My prop seized, and stopped turning. So I threw back the canopy and prepared to bail, but as I stuck my head out into the fierce, cold slipstream, through the tears in my eyes I could see the Germans just ahead of me!



I was without power, but within range, and with my head out the window, using just dead reckoning and with Saint Peter to guide my shells, I opened fire and sprayed the German formation.





My nose dropped and I began sideslipping away, but as I did, I saw one of the Stukas had been mortally wounded and was streaming smoke even more black and foul than my own.





He plumetted underneath me, and soon disappeared into the ground.



But now I was too low to bail out. I turned the machine back toward Kachalinskaya and our own lines, a dirty smudge on the horizon.



These emergency landings are not as terrifying as you would think Olya. You don't have time to be terrified. You are checking your instruments - airspeed, attitude, altitude - tightening your safety straps, spinning wheels to keep your pitch right and your attitude nose-up, reaching for levers to drop your flaps, craning your neck out of the cockpit trying to see ahead, and then suddenly the ground is there, right in front of you...



The machine slides on its belly, if you are lucky, or if you are not, or you don't manage to keep the nose up, the nose digs in and you are thrown forward, grinding your teeth as the prop bites the ground



The whole machine shakes like the worst fairground ride you can imagine, hard enough to rip the fillings from your teeth!



Do you remember when that grain elevator on our farm collapsed in the wind? It sounds like that - tearing metal, grinding stones - you just sit there strapped in thinking 'please don't flip, please don't flip'...



And then it is over.

The snow settles. You can taste blood from where you bit your lip or gashed your face.



And everything is suddenly quiet except for the tick tick tick of hot metal cooling in the freezing air.



Then all that is left is to gather your things and jump out of the machine as quickly as you can, in case of fire, and work out how in hell you are going to get back to your unit from here.



So, it was a lucky mission, considering I lost a Yak but kept my life, and took care of two of the fascists for you.

But not every mission will end this way Olya. You have to prepare for the day when you and Pyotr will have to fight on without me. You will have to be the strong one.

Keep well... and don't forget me.

Katja

PS Just learned we are being transferred to the 9th Guards Aviation Regiment so that we can keep flying Yaks. Not sure where they are currently based. But I heard they soon will be re-equipping with American P-39s so I don't think it will be a very permanent move if the idea is to keep us flying Yaks! I will try to write when I know more.



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#4091658 - 03/13/15 01:13 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #6 March 11: Yak down [Re: HeinKill]  
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Have been in touch with the author of 'Wings, Women and War' to see if there is any more archival material on these ladies to flesh out the story a bit more for the finale...

Looking forward to see what comes back!

H


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#4092627 - 03/16/15 08:23 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #7 March 16: Chivalry is dead [Re: HeinKill]  
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By January 1943 Budanova had been promoted to Lieutenant from second Lieutenant, and given 'free hunter' status. After briefly being assigned to the 9th Guards IAP, together with fellow ace Lydia Litviak and her faithful mechanic Inna Pasportnikova, Budanova was transferred to the 296th IAP commanded by Nikolai Baranov. Various records indicate Budanova was lightly wounded in January 1943 (cuts and contusions) and no kills were accredited. On 10 February 1943 however she is credited in various sources with a shared kill on either a FW190A or FW 189 Uhu. Luftwaffe records however show no such loss occurring on that day, although Budanova herself claimed shooting down the FW 189 in a lecture to a group of young communist women. Her official citation for the Order of the Patriotic War did not include this kill.

Importantly, no further kills were officially accredited to Yekaterina Budanova between February 1943 and July 1943. Various authors claim that in March and April 1943 she was conducting propaganda duties (such as the speech noted above) in Moscow and other cities. Other sources claim she was badly wounded in combat in May 1943 and took several months to recover, but this was never revealed to the Russian public, for obvious reasons.



25 June 1943


Dearest Olya

I hope this note reaches you. I am so sorry that I have not been able to write and you must have been terribly worried, but I have been in hospital and though I am well and back flying again I was wounded and then got a terrible lung infection which has kept me out of communication since I saw you in Moscow in April.

But you see not even German shell splinters in my lungs can kill your Katja!

I will tell you what happened so you can read it to Pyotr. It was a heroic action - not my part, but the part of my comrade pilots.

I have moved to a new unit, the 296 IAP, at Kotelnokov southwest of Stalingrad. Lydia is already here, and Inna, so we are all together again. I have been given permission now to go on free hunts along the front line with my own wingman, and when I am not doing that, it is my honour to be chosen to fly as wingman for a great hero, regimental commander N Baranov, who flies a Yak with a bold red nose so the enemy can always see him. He is afraid of nothing.



We were conducting a routine patrol when we came across a formation of a new German aircraft, the Focke Wulf 190. It is no match for our Yaks in air to air combat, so the group of them were circling around below us, strafing our ground troops.





Commander Baranov ordered us to attack and led us down straight at the enemy.



Too late, they realised we were there and turned toward us, one of them just missed flying into me.



With me on his wing to watch his back, Commander Baranov had soon latched onto one of them, and even though we were outnumbered two to one, he pressed his attack.



The German pilots made the mistake of trying to turn and fight against us which their machines are not good for, and N Baranov made a shot straight across their bows and filled one of them full of holes so he started smoking.









Without waiting, Commander Baranov turned on another German, and he ordered me to 'finish him off'. He had disappeared behind me, so I needed to turn sharply to find him.





The speed of the turn made my sight go black - that happens if you turn too fast.



As my vision came back, I found myself surrounded by Fockers! One of them took a shot at me but he was not a good shot and only just slightly damaged my machine.



They came hard after me, but I was already on the tail of the machine that Commander Baranov had engaged and they were too slow even though my machine was damaged! I caught it trying to escape and finished it off as Baranov had ordered, with the help of another of our comrade pilots.









But those pesky Fockers had caught up with me by now, and my poor Yak was slowing down so I had to break off and head for a nearby airfield. They followed, but they were terrible pilots and could not get a clean shot.





They were still some distance behind when I arrived back at Kotelnokov airfield so I called our tower, lowered my wheels and prepared to land.

Now, you should know that lowering your wheels is the internationally accepted signal in modern air combat that your machine is out of the fight. No honourable pilot would ever attack a machine with its wheels down, because in that position, it cannot fight back.





I had just touched down, and was bouncing down the runway, when the ground erupted beside me!



The German pilot is never honourable, and does not respect the rules of war. One them was swooping down from above, and trying to destroy me on the ground.



I kicked my rudder and swerved away from his shells, but the ice and dirt from the explosions were battering my poor Yak.



I am not sure, but that may have been when I was hit, or it may have been later. As I looked up to see where he was, a shadow zoomed right over my cockpit and I saw him flash overhead, incredibly fast and low.





But as befits a coward like that, he could not pull up in time, and his machine slammed into the ground right beside our control tower.







The explosion was tremendous! I could feel the heat from the blast through the wall of my cockpit, and the machine was again rattled, this time with schrapnel. If I had not been hit earlier, I was certainly struck by some flying metal then.





Luckily for me, his cowardly comrades did not follow his example, and when they saw what happened, they retired from the battle to lick their wounds.



I felt like my side was on fire, and could feel my uniform was wet with blood, so I quickly stopped my machine and waited for help, which came very quickly.


In fact, Inna was the first one up on my wing and she pulled me out of my Yak and threw me over her shoulder and after that I think I passed out, because I don't remember anything until I woke up in hospital.

I had a lot of metal in my tough old hide, and unfortunately some got into my left lung, which is how it got infected and they say it was only my rude country girl health and lack of respect for God, which helped me hang on.

But now I am back flying, dear Olya and Pyotr, and back on the wing of the hero N Baranov, driving the cowardly fascists even further west.

For now, I will say goodbye and promise to write again soon.

Yours

Katja


PS This time I will send you a picture of Inna from a magazine article they wrote about us girls. I doubt you have seen it, but Inna is the one in the dark blue shirt fixing the engine of a Yak. That girl can fix anything from a watch to a tank and even Commander Baranov has asked her personally to tune his Yak after seeing how fast she has made mine.



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#4093862 - 03/19/15 10:20 AM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #8:THE DEATH OF YEKATERINA BUDANOVA [Re: HeinKill]  
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THE DEATH OF YEKATERINA BUDANOVA

Actual letter from Russian ace Lydia Litviak to her mother, 23 July 1943

Mummy dearest

I feel your pain quite clearly. It is one thing to lose a comrade in this war. It is another thing entirely to lose a close friend. It is with great sadness I inform you about losing my friend Katja, my flying comrade.

I am angry. What animal has done this?

I don't know if I could bear another such close loss. I wish you were by my side. You are always in my thoughts.

Much love,

Your Lilia.


The 'White Lilly' of Stalingrad, Lydia Litviak. Superior officer and close friend of Katja Budanova. 12 solo, 4 shared kills in 66 missions. Born August 18, 1921 died in combat August 1, 1943.

Account of the death of Yekaterina Budanova, from Inna Pasportnikova, gathered from the accounts of the pilots who flew with her and the villagers who found her body.


Inna Pasportnikova. VVS Mechanic and friend of Katja Budanova and Lydia Litviak


"The hero Lieutenant Yekaterina Budanova together with other pilots of 296 IAP were escorting IL2 Sturmoviks for an attack on German positions near the village of Novokrasnovka.





Suddenly, their Yaks came under attack by three Bf 109Gs of JG3.



Reacting instinctively, Katja pulled up to screen the bombers, trying to draw the Messerschmitts away from the Sturmoviks. As she succeeded, they turned to attack her aircraft instead.





She urged her machine into a turn, using its maneouverability and tight turning radius against the enemy's superior speed and power, and found a Messerschmitt in her sights.



She gave the Luftwaffe fighter a 20mm burst from her ShVAK cannon, and according to pilots who were there, it dropped its nose, lost control and went down.





Meanwhile, her Yak had taken some serious hits itself. Below, though not far below because the aircraft were operating at fairly low altitudes, people in the villages of Kalchynivka, Ksenivka, Novoansyol and Novokrasnovka were watching the aerial battle with great interest.





They heard the snarl of the Daimler Benzes and of the Klimovs and watched fast airplanes streaking through the sky.

They recall seeing Katja's Yak roll over on one wing, and rush at another Messerchmitt, let out a long burst and then the second Messerschmitt began to fly away leaving a black trail of smoke behind it.



The people of Novokrasnovka saw this red starred fighter turn upside down.



Out of control, it began to fall, then it sideslipped and leveled off. Tongues of fire licked its wings.



The plane began to glide into a field adjacent to the village. After it touched down, one of its wheels fell into a hole and the fighter nosed over.










The pilots who shot her down were Georg Schwientek of JG 52 or Emil Bitsch, of 8./JG 3, the only two pilots that claimed a Yak-1 at Novokrasnovka on 19 July 1943.

Some farmers from a nearby kolkhoz rushed to the plane and pulled out the pilot before the flames spread. They were shocked to see the pilot was a woman, and that she was still alive. An old woman wiped off the blood from Katja's face, loosened the collar of her flying suit, and took out her party card which read, 'Yekaterina Vasil'yevna Budanova'.



The people carried her to the nearest house, but Katja was dead by the time they got her there. They buried her nearby."

On 20 July 1943, Budanova was posthumously recognised. Her citation read, "For excellent performance of combat orders of command to defeat the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad and Rostov, for personally shooting down 2 enemy aircraft and for displaying courage and heroism, Comrade Budanov is awarded the government awards the Order of the "Red Star" and worthy of the government award the Order of "Patriotic War 1st degree."

Yekaterina Budanova's remains were not located until the 1980s. After a campaign by Inna Pasportnikova lasting nearly fifty years, in 1993 Russian President Boris Yeltsin conferred on her on 1 October 1993 the title, Hero of the Russian Federation.


Yekaterina Budanova
6 December 1916 19 July 1943, R.I.P.


Credits: with thanks to Prof Reina Pennington, author of 'Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat' for historical material. And Lupsons Simple Mission Editor for enabling the accurate recreation of Budanova's last mission.









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#4093973 - 03/19/15 03:52 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #8:THE DEATH OF YEKATERINA BUDANOVA [Re: HeinKill]  
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Again, masterful writing. Thanks for sharing Heinkill. Hope to see more!


"A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human 'wisdom' . . . and the other twenty percent isn't very important." - Jubal Harshaw
#4094010 - 03/19/15 04:42 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #8:THE DEATH OF YEKATERINA BUDANOVA [Re: SoupyC]  
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Originally Posted By: SoupyC
Again, masterful writing. Thanks for sharing Heinkill. Hope to see more!


Actually didnt write any of that last post. The first letter is Lytviaks actual letter to her mother, and the description of Budanova's last flight is the words of Pasportnikova her mechanic. I just flew the mission to illustrate what happened and it was actually quite spooky that I flew the mission three times, and what happened to Budanova happened 2/3 times to me, so getting the screenshots was not hard at all.

H


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#4094115 - 03/19/15 10:00 PM Re: BoS campaign Ch. 3 AAR #8:THE DEATH OF YEKATERINA BUDANOVA [Re: HeinKill]  
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Well, meaning all of these stories. You have a knack for narration and dialogue. Great work! smile


"A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human 'wisdom' . . . and the other twenty percent isn't very important." - Jubal Harshaw
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