Klavdia Fomicheva

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Yakovlevna and the family name is Fomicheva.
Klavdia Yakovlevna Fomicheva
Captain Klavdia Fomicheva.jpg
Born February 25, 1917
Moscow
Died October 6, 1958
Moscow
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Flag of the Soviet Air Force.svg Red Army Air Force
Years of service 1941-1956
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union — 1945
Order of Lenin Order of the Red Banner Order of the Red Banner Order of the Red Star
Medal "For the Defence of Stalingrad" Medal "For the Defence of the Caucasus" Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"

Klavdia Yakovlevna Fomicheva (Fomichyova)[1] (Russian: Клавдия Яковлевна Фомичёва) was a Red Army Air Force officer and combat pilot. She fought in the Second World War in command of a bomber flight and a squadron. Fomicheva was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Early years[edit]

Klavdia Fomicheva was born in Moscow, but spent her entire childhood in Znamenka village (Dankovsky District, Lipetsk Oblast).[2][3] Her father died in a year after her birth and later her elder brother Valentin, who was the primary breadwinner of the family after father's death, also died, so the family suffered severe material hardships. In 1931 after graduating from a 7-year comprehansive school she was hired as a bookkeeper's apprentice while studying in a banking school. Upon graduation she became an accounting assocoiate in the Gosbank. She took pleasure in hiking, mountaineering and other sports. In 1936 Fomicheva joined glider club. Her skills were so good in it that she was invited to participate at the paramilitary flying club. By 1938 she was qualified as a flight instructor and in 1938-1941 trained young people in a flying club in Reutov.[4]

Military career[edit]

Second World War[edit]

22 June 1941 in the very first day the Third Reich invaded the USSR Fomicheva volunteered for the frontline flying service and was accepted by the 122nd Aviation Group - a special women's unit[5] under the command of Marina Raskova. Initially she opted to train as a fighter pilot but Raskova, after examination of her abilities, decided to assign her to the 587th Bombardment Aviation Regiment, intended to operate Sukhoi Su-2 light bomber. She took her military and tactical training in the Engels Military Flying School, Saratov Oblast. Then she converted to the Petlyakov Pe-2 bomber. By January 1943, when 587th first engaged in combat, Fomicheva was a flight commander and the vice-commander of her squadron. Later she took the command of the squadron.[4][6]

17 September 1943 Fomicheva's aircraft was damaged by enemy flack while she had her face wounded by fragments of the cockpit's glazing. Since her navigator was severely wounded and uncapable to bail out, Fomicheva could not egress the aircraft and had to land it on the airfield of a soviet fighter unit near the frontline. There was an aircraft on the main runway, so the landing was made aside of the main runway. On the landing run a wheel of Fomicheva's aircraft get into a bombhole and the plane nosed-over and get aflame. Fomicheva suffered severe injuries (including fractures in six ribs) and burns. Airfield personnel helped the crew to escape the burning aircraft. By January 1944 Fomicheva recovered from her injuries and resumed flying.[4][6]

23 June 1944 in the second sortie of the day Fomicheva's aircraft was hit by enemy flack when approaching the target with the left engine set aflame and the gunner killed. Fomicheva herself had her leg severely wounded but continued the mission and dropped the bombs on the target. Then she turned the burning aircraft to the frontline and to avoid capturing by enemy kept flying until get over the friendly territory. She bailed out at the altitude no more than 200 meters not before making sure that her navigator Galina Dzhunkovskaya successfully parachuted to safety. Both she and Dzhunkovskaya suffered serious burns. 15 July 1944 Fomicheva resumed flying.[4][6]

By December 1944 Fomicheva flew 55 combat missions with 46,750 kg of bombs dropped.[6] Her command appreciated her performance as a pilot an as a commander to be instrumental in a number of instances to reduction or prevention of losses of aircrew and to destruction of valuable enemy assets and targets critical for the success of gound forces' operations.[4][6] 23 December 1944 Fomicheva's command recommended her to the title of the Hero of Soviet Union for "the exceptional services she rendered for the Motherland and for her valour and heroism in fights against the german invaders".[6] 18 August 1945 Fomicheva was officially bestowed the title.[7]

Postwar[edit]

After the war Klavdia Fomicheva served as an instructor at the Air Force Academy and later at Borisoglebsk Military Flying School. By 1955 she retired in the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Fomicheva died on 5 October 1958 and was buried in Moscow at Novodevichy Cemetery.[7]

Involvement in politics[edit]

In 1945 Klavdia Fomicheva participated in the founding WIDF congress in Paris.[4]

Honours and Awards[edit]

Campaign medals:

Memory[edit]

Streets in Moscow and Dankov are named after Fomicheva.

A bus stop with a portrait of Klavdia Fomicheva on Fomichevoy Street, Moscow

Literature[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Accordingly to different systems of transliteration
  2. ^ Heroines of the Soviet Union (PDF). Osprey Publishing. pp. 10–11. 
  3. ^ Borisoglebsk Flying School Website
  4. ^ a b c d e f Abramova, M.; Levashov, A. (1969). "Отвага и умение" [Courage and Skill]. In Toropov, L. Героини: очерки о женщинах — Героях Советского Союза [Heroines: Essays about Women - Heroes of the Soviet Union] (in Russian). Moscow: Politizdat. 
  5. ^ 122nd Aviation Group consisted of 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, 587th Bombardment Aviation Regiment (redesignated 125th Borisov Guards Bombardment Aviation regiment) and 588th Night Bomber Regiment (redesignated 46th Taman Guards Night Bombardment Aviation Regiment). All units initially had all-female personnel, but the first two eventually gone mixed with preponderance of females. All three units become operational upon the integration into regular VVS divisions where other regiments had all-male aircrew.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Hero of the Soviet Union Recommendation
  7. ^ a b Герои Советского Союза. том.2 ч.2 [Heroes of the Soviet Union. Volume 2, Part 2] (in Russian). Moscow. 1987.