Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev

Guards' Captain (later Major-General) Kirill Alekseyevich Yevstigneyev (17 February 1917 – 29 August 1996) was a Soviet fighter pilot and one of the top Soviet aces of World War II. During is career he claimed 56 aerial victories.

World War II Combat Service
Evstigneyev gained his first pair of victories not two weeks after his arrival at the front. On the 28th of March, 1943, near the village of Urazovo in the Belgorod province, southwest of Moscow near the border with the Ukraine, he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 ("Messer" in Soviet Air Force parlance), followed by his first Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. On the 12th of April, he brought down a Messerschmitt Bf 110, and became an ace three weeks later, on the 6th of May, when he shot down a Junkers Ju 88 and another Bf 110. In the huge aerial engagements during the Battle of Kursk in July, 1943, Yevstigneev scored six more victories. On the 7th of July, he brought down the leader of a ten-strong bomber formation. The following day, July 8, he engaged a formation of 9 Stukas, and again brought down the leader. The remaining Stukas turned and fled. Yevstigneev pursued and scored a manoeuvre kill when the Stuka he engaged struck the ground. A subsequent sortie the same day saw him bring down one more Stuka. On the 9th, he scored his second Bf 109 kill, followed by two more on the 13th and the 16th of July.

On the 5th of August, flying a close-air-support sortie on the approach to Belgorod, Yestigneev's eight-aircraft formation engaged opposing German fighters. In the ensuing dog fight, Yestigneev was badly wounded in both feet, and had to be sent to a field hospital ("medsanbat" in Soviet military-speak). There, he had to repeatedly dissuade surgeons from amputating at least one of his feet. He ended up escaping after nine days and crossing the 35 km to the nearest airfield - on crutches. He found his way back to his assigned airfield and finished his recovery there. A month after being wounded, and still on crutches, he flew his next combat sortie.

Between March and November, 1943, the then-Senior Lieutenant Yevstigneyev is recorded as having completed 144 combat sorties, with 23 enemy aircraft shot down, with a share in another 3.

On the 2 August 1944, the squadron commander 240 Fighter Air Regiment (302nd Fighter Air Division, Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) Senior Lieutenant Kiril A. Yevstigneyev was awarded the Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the presentation of the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold star" (№ 2284).

Yevstigneyev continued to serve until October 1944, and completed 83 additional combat mission, claiming 20 aircraft shot down.

On 23 February 1945, the squadron commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment (14th Guard Fighter Air Division, 3rd Guard Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) guards captain Kirill A. Yevstigneyev was awarded second Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the medal "Gold star" (№4039).

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev finished World War II as the commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment.

Evstigneyev's World War II record:
    more than 300 combat missions
    120 aerial engagements
    53 enemy aircraft shot down + 3 shared

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