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Old 23rd January 2017, 11:42
Nick Hector Nick Hector is offline
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Barkhorn's 200th. For Michael (Nokose)

Jubilee Day of Hauptmann Barkhorn
By Ivan Lavrinenko
(Translation by Michael Barrentine)

About the military career of the German air ace #2 during the Second World War Gerhard Barkhorn now it is known almost everything, although he always remained in the shadow of the most successful “expert” of the Luftwaffe Erich Hartmann. Moreover, it is much less knownas compared with lower listed in scoring of Herman Graf, Walter Nowotny or emerging of their #3 ace Gunther Rall. Nevertheless, the career of Barkhorn is full of interesting episodes, one of which fell on the last days of 1943.

It is known that, in the composition of Gruppe II/JG 52 is Gerhard Barkhorn who successfully fought on the Soviet-German Front from the start of operation “Barbarossa” to January 1945, scoring a total complication of 301 aerial victories. The German ace repeatedly seeking up to 2-3 victories for a day, and sometimes he was able to shoot down 4-5 Soviet aircraft per day. But the most productive day for him was the 28 December 1943, when in the region of the Kerch Peninsula in the course of three combat sorties of Barkhorn claiming seven victories above Soviet aircraft. In this case all the victories were won by him without witness – according to data of the leading German aviation historian Bernda Barbas, in the Luftwaffe operation status, according to which was gained more than 30 victories by the pilots could submit claims for shooting down enemy aircraft without confirmation of other pilots.
Let’s try to figure out, as depicted the success of the German ace in the Soviet operational documents of the 4th Air Army. It is possible to say with certainty, that 28 Decemberthat Barkhorn fought only with army pilots, but not with the naval: the documents of the VVS Black Sea Fleet indicated about the fact, that they operated on this day in other areas or at other times.The time difference of Moscow and Berlin on this day is two hours.
The main opponents of the operation of 1943 – 1944 over the eastern Crimea of the German aviation group II./JG 52 were pilots of the Soviet 229 and 329 Fighter Air Division. The first of their regiments (88 IAP, 249 IAP, 790 IAP) were equipped with LaGG-3 fighters, a fourth regiment (42 GIAP) flew on the Yak-1.“LaGGs” by this time were reasonably considered outdated and far inferior to the German “Messerschmitt” Bf 109 G-6, which operated in the II./JG 52, about which were well aware by both of the opposing sides. The choice of the pilots for the “LaGG”, unfortunately, it was not – to transfer them to new material there was no hurry, it was recommended only to keep fighting with the “Messerschmitts” on turns in the horizontal plane, where the odds are on the more aligned side. Somewhat better were the pilots of the 42 GIAP – the “Yak” was considered a successful machine.
All three regiments of the 329 IAD (57 GIAP, 101 GIAP and 66 IAP) were in the fall of 1943 equipped with American P-39 “Airacobra” fighters. Although this aircraft the Soviet pilots fell in love with for excellent radio, powerful weapons and survivability, but on the set of flight characteristics it is also somewhat inferior to the “Messerschmitt”. With the pilots of these two divisions have had to deal with Gerhard Barkhorn for his momentous day.
The first success of the commander of II/JG 52 was made at 08:47 on Berlin time, claiming a single Yak-1 north of Cape Barzovka (Varzorka) that is on the north-east outskirts of the Kerch Peninsula, and already another six minutes in the region of Dzhankaya (now a vanished village east of Kerch, not to beconfused with the same city in the northern part of the Crimea) he recorded to his score an Il-2. In all likelihood, Barkhorn engaged in combat with the “Ils” from the 55thSeparate Spotter Eskadril’i, who were under fighter escort of the 88 IAP photographing the region of Gryazevaya Puchina – Bultanak. They had no losses.
It is fair to say, that at the specified time (10:50-10:53 on Moscow) one loss was suffered by the 622 ShAP from eight Il-2, assaulting artillery positions north of the village of Bulganak, one crew was hit by fire of AAA and landed in the water two kilometers north of Cape Tarkhan. Even assuming, that the “LaGG” pilots of the 863 IAP covering the Shturmoviks did not notice the attack of the “Messerschmitts” on the Shturmoviks, in any case the area of Barkhorn’s claim strongly does not coincide with the place of death of the Soviet machine.
With regard to the claim for the downed Yak-1, then, in all probability, it was the LaGG-3 of deputy AE commander of the 88 IAP Starshiy Leytenant Georgiy Naumov. On Soviet data, flew to cover their forces in the area of the village of Bulganak, Naumov’s four engaged in combat with the same number of Me-109. According to some documents, Naumov was damaged, and he was severely wounded in the arm. Not able to reach the coast of Taman, the pilot made an emergency landing at 300 meters from the shore in the area of the settlement of Beregovey. When landing the “LaGG” nose dived. Since the depth was not very great, the aircraft’s nose buried in the bottom and the tail section was left above the water. On it climbed the wounded pilot.
Unfortunately, help was a long time coming, and during that time Starshiy Leytenant Naumov not only lost a lot of blood, but became infected. Although the pilot was later sent to the hospital, he developed gangrene. Despite the amputation of the arm, Georgiy Ivanovich Naumov could not be saved, and died on the 31 December. According to the author of the documents the time of the departure of the group of the 88 IAP could not be determined, but judging from the area of combat, this victory could only be the win of Gerhard Barkhorn – other claims of German pilots of shooting down Soviet fighters during this day fell in much more southerly areas, where the group of Georgiy Naumov could not have been. In his margin of the 88 IAP losses is one of its most experienced pilots, who started combat in August 1942, competing 145 combat sorties and achieving at the moment of death of six personal and three group victories.
The following victories of Barkhorn made a half hour later, occurred in battle in the region of Cape Khroni at 10:20 and 10:23 on Berlin time claiming the next two Yak-1. In this case it is safe to say, that the German fighters engaged in battle with the pilots of the 790 IAP. Six LaGG-3 of this regiment, led by Leytenant S.E. Besediny, at 11:45 on Moscow flew to intercept German aircraft on the data of radar station RUS-2. In the region of the village of Yurakov Kut the Soviet pilots engaged four Bf 109. In the ensuing battle, whichlasted 20 minutes, Mladishiy Leytenant F.K. Mordanov managed to shot down one “Messerschmitt”, falling into the sea at Cape Tarkhan.
The group of the 790 IAP also suffered painful loss. Attacking from below the commander of the II/JG 52 managed to hit the LaGG-3 of Mladishiy Leytenant Nikolay Moskalev, the aircraft which fell in the sea a kilometer east of the village of Osoviny. The pilot left the doomed machine on a parachute and landed at 500 meters from the shore. The chance to hold out for long in the icy water he did not have, and the rescue boat for some reason did not respond. Although the pilot began combat only in November 1943, he already had engaged in aerial combat. At the moment of death on Nikolay Georgievich Moskalev’s score was three aircraft, shot down a personal and two in a group. The pilot was later buried in a mass grave at the settlement Fontalovskays under Temryuk.
The most successful for the German ace was the next sortie, during which he managed to shoot down at once three Red Star machines. At 14:05 on Moscow on a combat mission to cover three boats in the Kerch Strait and the troops on the bridgehead flew four Yak-1s from the composition of the 42 GIAP, led by the personal ace of the regiment, Hero of the Soviet Union, eskadril’i commander Kapitan Ivan Gorbunov, who had to his score 18 personally shot down aircraft and another one in a group. Besides Gorbunov, in the group was included another two aces of the regiment: deputy eskadril’i commander Hero of the Soviet Union Starshiy Leytenant Akhmet-Khan Kankoshev (14 + 0), who was the wingman of Gorbunov, and eskadril’i commander Kapitan Nikolay Pecheny (17 + 3). The wingman of Pecheny flew junior pilot Mladshiy Leytenant Yuriy Rubtsov (20 combat sorties, one shot down).
Despite the experience of the majority of the group pilots, the flight was almost immediately unsuccessful. In the region of the suburbs of the town of Adzhim-Ushkay a pair of Bf 109 attempted to attack the Soviet pilots. Gorbunov sharply deployed the group, in this case the “Yaks” of Kankoshev and Pecheny have broken into a tailspin. With Pecheny on leaving from the spin his aircraft was attacked and damaged by Barkhorn. Exiting from the battle, the Soviet pilot made an emergency landing on the water at the shore of the spit of Chushka. The aircraft was wrecked, and the pilot received injuries to the face and left arm. Pecheny’s wingman Mladshiy Leytenant Rubtsov after this lost the pair of Gorbunov and continued to perform the mission, to attach to the group of patrolling LaGG-3.
About this time (sortie 13:43-14:30) in an air battle with a large group of “Heinkel” He 111, traveled above covering “Messerschmitts”, has entered eight fighters of the 66 IAP, led by regiment commander Podpolkovnik V.A. Smirnov. According to Soviet data, our pilots have shot down five He-111 and two Me-109, but the group suffered losses. Did not return from the combat mission Mladshiy Leytenant Aleksandr Andrievskiy. Leader of the group was Podpolkovnik Smirov observing, as was hit an “Airacobra” in the region of El’tigen with the smoke going to the ground. As it turned out later, the pilot was not injured and was soon back in service. Andrievskiy’s fighter also became a victim of Gerhard Barkhorn, adding to his score a shot down P-39 at 12:10.
Perhaps, it is a call for help from the alienated from the group that Andrievskiy heard on the radio of Kapitan Gorbunov and Starshiy Leytenant Kankoshev. Although they have not identified the type attacking the pair as Bf 109 of the Soviet aircraft, but scrambled as it began to fall. Gorbunov opened fire on one of the “Messerschmitt”, which after this began to fall. The eskadril’i commander believed it shot down and did not pursue, but his wingman, to ensure finishing off the enemy machine, rushed at it.
Probably, in the expectation, that his attack covers Gorbunov, Kankoshev’s full attention focused on the wingman’s fire on the diving enemy, at the time as Gorbunov was distracted by another Bf 109 and lost sight of Kankoshev’s “Yak”. This Barkhorn took advantage of. In all likelihood, this was a classic “shot to the head” – fired at close range all around the cockpit or on the vital parts of the machine, at the base of the wing or tail unit, and then, as a rule, uncontrollably the aircraft dropped immediately. Since Kankoshev pursued the enemy to strafing level, a chance to escape by parachute he did not have.
Blaming Ivan Gorbunov in the death of the wingman is not quite right – Kankoshev, apparently, voluntarily rushed to finish the “Messerschmitt”. If he had not pursued the enemy, the Soviet pair would have remained united, and the enemy pilots would not have taken a chance with them in open battle.
Gorbunov had claimed a victory over a Me-109, which fell in the Kerch Strait at 200-500 meters from Mitrid mountain. With confidence we can say, that the confirmed victory was on the location an emergency landing of Kapitan Pecheny and officers from the guidance station have observed the fall of Kankoshev’s Yak-1, taking him for the shot down Bf 109. In fact the “Messerschmitt” was not shot down, though, perhaps, received damage. Kankoshev has since been considered a missing person, but it can be argued, that the Yak-1 piloted by Hero of the Soviet Union Guard Starshiy Leytenant Akhmet-Khan Talovich Kankoshev, rests in the bay of Kerch. Thus, in the course of a single flight the German “expert” for 15 minutes, was able to inflict damage on the fighters of two regiments. Especially hard is experienced the death of a brother-soldier in the 42 GIAP – Kankoshev, who became a Hero of the Soviet Union, perishing in battle above Kerch, who was the favorite of the regiment.
All in a day Gerhard Barkhorn has recorded to his combat score seven victories, in reality the German ace managed to shoot down five aircraft, depriving the 229 IAD immediately of three experienced and successful pilots. Continuing to actively fly in the last days of 1943, he claimed on 29-30 December another seven victories, several of which are confirmed by Soviet documents. All in the sky of the eastern Crimea in the period from November 1943 to February 1944, when the II/JG 52 left the Kerch Peninsula, Barkhorn claimed about 73 Red Star machines destroyed. All the same on the peninsula the aces claimed 90 victories, which was a record among the German pilots, who fought in the Crimea, from the beginning of the war.
The fate of the mentioned Soviet pilots has developed differently. Ivan Mikhaylovich Gorbunov, having during the Great Patriotic War had 24 personal and one group victory, perished in air combat in Korea on the 29 June 1953, piloting a MiG-15 jet. Nikolay Nikolaevich Pecheny survived the war. In May 1946 with 219 combat flights, in the course of which he did 88 air battles scoring 20 personal and three group victories, was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Mladshiy Leytenants Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Andrievskiy and Yuriy Sergeevich Rubtsov perished in later battles. The first was shot down on his 50th combat sortie in the region of Kerch on the 5 February 1944 by the German ace Otto nnekold, the second did not return from his 35th combat sortie on the 12 February 1944 from the area of the village of Bulganak, becoming all likely, 248thvictim of the same Gerhard Barkhorn.

Sources and literature:
1. TsAMO rf, fund 214 ShAD
2. TsAMO rf, fund 229 IAD
3. TsAMO rf, fund 230 ShAD
4. TsAMO rf, fund 329 IAD
5. TsAMO rf, fund 159 GIAP
6. TsAMO rf, fund 863 IAP
7. TsAMO rf, fund 42 GIAP
8. Bernd Barbas. Das vergessene As. Der Jagdflieger Gerhard Barkhorn – Luftfahrtverlag – Start, Bad Zwischenahn, 2014
9. Bernd Barbas: Die Geschichte der II. Gruppe des Jagdgeschwaders 52 – Eigenverlag, Überlingen, 2003
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Old 23rd January 2017, 17:08
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Juha Juha is offline
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Re: Barkhorn's 200th. For Michael (Nokose)

Hello Nick
Very interesting indeed
Thanks a lot for posting it.

Juha
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Old 24th January 2017, 01:00
Nick Hector Nick Hector is offline
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Re: Barkhorn's 200th. For Michael (Nokose)

Cheers Juha,

But the credit goes to Nokose, it's his article and he asked if I could post it for him as he was having trouble with attachments etc

Nick
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