Ivan Kozhedub

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Ivan Kozhedub
Ivan Kozhedub 2.jpg
Native name
Иван Никитович Кожедуб
Nickname(s)Батя ("Dad"), Борода ("Beard")
Born8 June 1920
Obrazhiyevka, Chernigov Governorate, Ukrainian SSR[1]
Died8 August 1991(1991-08-08) (aged 71)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Air Force
Years of service1940–1985
RankMarshal of Aviation
Battles/warsWorld War II Korean War
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union (thrice)

Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub (Russian: Иван Hикитович Кожедуб; Ukrainian: Іван Микитович Кожедуб; 8 June 1920 – 8 August 1991) was a Soviet World War II fighter ace. Credited with over 60 solo victories by most historians, he is considered to be the highest scoring Soviet fighter pilot of World War II.[2] He is one of the few pilots to have shot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. He was made a Hero of the Soviet Union on three occasions (4 February 1944, 19 August 1944, and 18 August 1945). After the war he remained in the military and commanded the 324th Fighter Air Division during Soviet operations in the Korean War.

Early life[edit]

Kozhedub was born in the village of Obrazhiyevka, a settlement in the Chernigov Governorate (now Sumy Oblast, Ukraine), during the Russian Civil War. He was the youngest of five children in a Ukrainian[3] family. For two years he attended a school for young workers, and in early 1940 graduated from the Shostka chemical technical school. Kozhedub learned to fly aircraft in the Shostkinsk aeroclub and joined the Soviet army in 1940. He graduated from the Chuguev Military Air School in 1941 at the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, but he was retained as an instructor. Kozhedub remained at the school for two years where he trained many young Soviet pilots.

Feeling his talents would be better used in combat, he requested a transfer to an operational unit and in March 1943 was posted, as a Senior Sergeant, to 240th Fighter Aviation Regiment, one of the first units to receive the new Lavochkin La-5.[4]

War career[edit]

His first combat mission was on 26 March 1943. He operated on the Voronezh Front and, in July over the Kursk battlefields. His first kill was a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, shot down during the Battle of Kursk on 6 July 1943. By 16 August he had claimed eight air victories. He was promoted to Junior Lieutenant. Then his unit moved towards Kharkiv. At this time he usually flew escort for Petlyakov Pe-2 twin-engine bombers. He served as a fighter pilot in several areas (Steppe Front, 2nd Ukrainian Front, 1st Belorussian Front) and at different ranks, starting from senior airman up to deputy commander of his air regiment. He claimed his 61st and 62nd victories – his final claims of the War– over Berlin on 16 April 1945.

Kozhedub was attributed with the highest number of air combat victories of any Soviet pilot during World War II. He is regarded as the best Soviet flying ace of the war, and is associated with flying the Lavochkin La-7. He was reputed to have a natural gift for deflection shooting, i.e. aiming ahead of a moving target at the time of firing so that the projectile and target will collide.

Kozhedub's World War II record consisted of:

  • 330 combat missions
  • 120 aerial engagements
  • 62 enemy aircraft shot down, including one Me 262 jet fighter (possibly Uffz Kurt Lange of 1./KG(J)54.)

Post war era[edit]

In 1949 Kozhedub graduated from the Air Force Academy.

In April 1951, promoted to Polkovnik (colonel), he commanded the 324th IAD (Fighter Air Division) and dispatched to Antung airfield on the China-North Korea border to fly the MiG 15[5] during the Korean War supporting the North Korean forces. He was not given permission to participate in combat missions. Under his leadership the 324th IAD claimed 239 victories, including 12 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses for the loss of 27 MiG-15s in combat and 9 pilots.

In 1956 he graduated from the High Command Academy, after which he was promoted to General. From 1971 he served in the Central Office of the Soviet Air Force and from 1978 in the general inspection group of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. He was made an Aviation Marshal in 1985.

Kozhedub was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union three times (1944, 1944, 1945), seven Orders of the Red Banner, two Order of Alexander Nevsky, two Orders of the Red Star, Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and numerous medals. He was promoted to his final rank of Marshal shortly before retirement.

List of aerial victories[edit]

Kozhedub near his La-5FN (#14) in 1944. He later passed the plane to Kirill Yevstigneyev.
Lavochkin La-5, operated in 1943–1944
Lavochkin La-5FN, operated in 1944

According to Soviet aces 1941—1945. The victories of Stalin's Falcons (Russian: Советские асы 1941—1945. Победы сталинских соколов) by Mikhail Bykov.

## Date A/c type Location
1 06.07.1943 Ju 87 west of Zavidovka
2 07.07.1943 Ju 87 Gostishchevo station
3 09.07.1943 Bf 109 Krasnaya Polyana
4 09.07.1943 Bf 109 east of Pokrovka
5 09.08.1943 Bf 109 Prelestny
6 14.08.1943 Bf 109 Iskrovka
7 14.08.1943 Bf 109 Kolomna
8 16.08.1943 Ju 87 Rohan
9 22.08.1943 Fw 190 Liubotyn
10 09.09.1943 Bf 109 north of Iskrovka
11 30.09.1943 Ju 87 south-west of Borodayevka
12 01.10.1943 Ju 87 west of Borodayevka
13 01.10.1943 Ju 87 west of Borodayevka
14 02.10.1943 Bf 109 Ploskoye
15 02.10.1943 Ju 87 Petrovka
16 02.10.1943 Ju 87 south-west of Andreyevka
17 02.10.1943 Ju 87 south-west of Andreyevka
18 04.10.1943 Bf 109 north-west of Borodayevka
19 05.10.1943 Bf 109 south-west of Krasny Kut
20 05.10.1943 Bf 109 west of Kutsevalovka
21 06.10.1943 Bf 109 Borodayevka
22 10.10.1943 Bf 109 Dneprovo-Kamenka
23 12.10.1943 Ju 87 north of Ploskoye
24 12.10.1943 Bf 109 south of Petrovka
25 12.10.1943 Ju 87 south of Domotkan
26 29.10.1943 Ju 87 Kryvyi Rih
27 29.10.1943 He 111 west of Budovka
28 16.01.1944 Bf 109 Novo-Zlynka
29 30.01.1944 Bf 109 east of Nechayevka
30 30.01.1944 Ju 87 west of Lipovka
31 14.03.1944 Ju 87 Osiyevka
32 21.03.1944 Ju 87 LebedynShpola
33 11.04.1944 PZL P.24 Syrka
34 19.04.1944 He 111 north of Iaşi
35 28.04.1944 Ju 87 south-east of Vulturu
36 29.04.1944 Hs 129 Horleşti
37 29.04.1944 Hs 129 Horleşti
38 03.05.1944 Ju 87 Târgu Frumos — Dumbrăviţa
39 31.05.1944 Fw 190 east of Vulturu
40 01.06.1944 Ju 87 Cuza Vodă
41 02.06.1944 Hs 129 west of Stânca
42 03.06.1944 Fw 190 Rediu Ului — Tătăr
43 03.06.1944 Fw 190 Rediu Ului — Tătăr
44 03.06.1944 Fw 190 north-west of Iaşi
45 07.06.1944 Bf 109 Pârliţa
46 08.06.1944 Bf 109 Cârpiţi
47 22.09.1944 Fw 190 north-west of Strenči
48 22.09.1944 Fw 190 south-west of Ramnieki — Daksty
49 25.09.1944 Fw 190 north-west of Valmiera
50 16.01.1945 Fw 190 south of Studziana
51 10.02.1945 Fw 190 north-west of Mohrin airfield
52 12.02.1945 Fw 190 west of Kinitz
53 12.02.1945 Fw 190 west of Kinitz
54 12.02.1945 Fw 190 Kietzer See Lake
55 17.02.1945 Me 262 east of Alt Friedland
56 19.02.1945 Bf 109 north of Fürstenfelde
57 11.03.1945 Fw 190 north of Brünchen
58 18.03.1945 Fw 190 north of Küstrin
59 18.03.1945 Fw 190 north-west of Küstrin
60 22.03.1945 Fw 190 north of Zeelow
61 22.03.1945 Fw 190 east of Gusow
62 23.03.1945 Fw 190 Werbig station
63 17.04.1945 Fw 190 Wriezen
64 17.04.1945 Fw 190 Kinitz

Alleged shooting down of two USAAF P-51 fighters[edit]

Kozhedub allegedly shot down two USAAF P-51 Mustang fighters in a friendly fire incident April 17, 1945. He encountered a group of American B-17 Flying Fortresses under attack by Luftwaffe aircraft.[6] His aircraft was apparently mistaken by American escort fighters for the enemy and attacked. Kozhedub, having no other option, defended himself by shooting down two of the P-51s. So far, this story is not confirmed completely. Film footage exists that had been touted as Kozhedub's actual gun camera film from the event; however, the footage was shot using Zeiss equipment, which was used primarily by the Luftwaffe.

Honours and awards[edit]


A military university in Kharkiv is named in his honor, the Kozhedub University of the Air Force.


  1. ^ Nazarian, E. A. Маршал авиации Иван Никитович Кожедуб [Air Marshal Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub]. Encyclopaedia of the Russian Ministry of Defence (in Russian). Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  2. ^ Bourne, Merfyn (2013). The Second World War in the Air: The story of air combat in every theatre of World War Two. Troubador Publishing Limited. p. 263. ISBN 978-1-78088-677-0. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  3. ^ Shkadov, Ivan (1987). Герои Советского Союза: краткий биографический словарь I, Абаев - Любичев [Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Brief Biographical Dictionary, Abaev – Lyubichev]. Moscow: Voenizdat. p. 681. OCLC 313747315.
  4. ^ Polak 1999, p. 178
  5. ^ Polak 1999, p. 179
  6. ^ Наш славетний земляк – Іван Кожедуб [Our glorious countryman – Ivan Kozhedub] (in Ukrainian). College library – SNAU. 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  7. ^ Simonov & Bodrikhin 2017, p. 16-17.