Alexander Koldunov

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Alexander Ivanovich Koldunov
Born (1923-09-20)20 September 1923
Died 7 June 1992(1992-06-07) (aged 68)
Buried at Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Allegiance USSR
Service/branch Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Defence Force
Rank Chief Marshal of Aviation
Commands held Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Air Defence Forces
Battles/wars World War II
Awards

Chief Marshal of Aviation Alexander Ivanovich Koldunov (Russian: Александр Иванович Колдунов) (20 September 1923 – 7 June 1992) was a Soviet World War II fighter ace. He was the eighth highest ranking Soviet fighter ace of the 1941-45 period.

Biography[edit]

Koldunov joined the Soviet Army in February 1941. He graduated from the Kacha Military Aviation School in 1943 and joined the 866th Fighter Aviation Regiment (866 IAP), flying the Yak fighter on the Southern area of the eastern front in May 1943. On 7 November 1944 he was held responsible for the shooting down of three USAAF P-38 Lightnings of the 82nd Fighter Group, 15th Air Force in a 'friendly fire' incident near Belgrade. In that episode he was defending a column of soviet troops on the ground that came under US planes' attack. However, according to Yugoslavian sources (newspaper "Politica" from November,19,1988) citing Yugoslavian eyewitness reports in their article, the overall outcome of this "friendly fire" incident was as following: US AirForce lost 7 planes (2 "Mitchell" bombers and 5 P-38 "Lightning" fighters), 14 American crew members were killed while Soviets lost 3 Yak-3 fighters (no pilots killed). Also on the ground 31 Soviet troops were killed (including the commander of the infantry brigade general G.P. Kotov) and 37 Russian officers and soldiers were wounded.

He was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union in August 1944. By the end of the war Captain Koldunov had flown 412 operations, fought 96 air combats and claimed 46 air victories (and 1 shared). He received a second award of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1948.

Remaining in military service after the War he transferred from the Soviet Air Force to the Soviet Air Defence Force in the early 1960s. Koldunov was appointed as the Commander of the Moscow Air Defence District in November 1970. After a promotion to Colonel-General in 1972, in December 1975 Koldunov became the First Deputy Chief of Defence Forces. In 1977 he was promoted to Marshal of Aviation and the following year Koldunov was appointed to command the entire Air Defence Force. In 1984 he was promoted to Chief Marshal of Aviation, one of only a handful of officers to hold this very senior rank.

Koldunov was dismissed in May 1987 after Mathias Rust, a civilian German pilot flew from Finland to Moscow and landed in Red Square. Koldunov died on 7 June 1992 and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

References[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Pavel Batitsky
Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Air Defence Forces
1978 - 1987
Succeeded by
Ivan Moiseevich Tretiak