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Nikolai Sutyagin – ace pilot, hero of the Korean War, Hero of the Soviet Union – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Date: March 27, 2023 Time: 13:57:54

restless butt

Sutyagin was born in the Nizhny Novgorod region, graduated from the Gorky flying club. On the eve of the Great Patriotic War, he was drafted into the army, sent to the Chernihiv military aviation school, and then to the deep rear, to the Far East. This rearguard, however, could become a front line at any time. Manchuria was occupied by Japan in 1931. In 1938, the Red Army fought the Japanese near Lake Khasan, in 1939 – near the Mongolian Khalkhin-Gol river …

Captain Nikolai Sutyagin (1923 -1986).

The regiment, where Sergeant Sutyagin ended up, was stationed in Primorye. Here the pilot met his future wife, the gunsmith Raisa Baranova. In 1944, pilots switched from obsolete donkeys to yaks. Sutyagin, already a flight commander, lieutenant, was eager to go to the front, but fate saved the pilot for another war.

…and his MiG-15-bis. Photo: soviet-aces-1936-53.ru

It received its baptism of fire in August 1945, when the Red Army, by agreement with the Allies, went to war against Japan. In Manchuria, Sutyagin completed 13 sorties for reconnaissance and free hunting, he received the first award from him – the Order of the Red Star. He continued his service in Primorye, in the 17th Fighter Regiment, which in the fall of 1950 was included in the 303rd Air Division. He was commanded by an experienced pilot Georgy Lobov, who shot down 15 enemy planes during the Great Patriotic War.

Sutyagin was proficient in jet aircraft, the Yak-17 and MiG-15, and was no angel: in 1950 he received a reprimand from the party line for “drinking with debauchery”: he quarreled with an officer from a neighboring unit.

An American Sabers flight in the Korean sky.

the language of war

In the fall of 1945, Korea, liberated from the Japanese by the Red Army, was divided along the 38th parallel into Soviet and American zones of influence. Two states soon arose on the peninsula: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north and the Republic of Korea in the south. The first was headed by a former partisan, Red Army Captain Kim Il Sung, the second – by Professor Lee Syngman, who had lived in the United States for a long time.

In the summer of 1950, a bloody war broke out between these states, which quickly surpassed the civil war. From the South side came the UN contingent (mostly American), commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. China and the USSR defended the North a little later, although the participation of Soviet citizens in the hostilities was not officially recognized. Our planes were based at Chinese airfields and carried Korean symbols. It was forbidden to cross the front line and fly over enemy-occupied territory to prevent Soviet pilots from being captured. The pilots wore Chinese uniforms, they did not take documents on the flight, but they did take cheat sheets to be able to communicate in Korean.

From the book of the ace of the Korean War, Hero of the Soviet Union Sergei Kramarenko “Against the” Messers “and” Sabers “(the conversation with him was published in Rodina No. 5, 2015):

“We learned to give orders… in Korean, and as a clue they held a tablet on their right knee… During the training flights, things… were more or less successful… But when… it came to the hostilities…all radio traffic was exclusively in Russian. American radio interception facilities…recorded everything, but the radio traffic was no evidence.”

There is only one moment!

Appointment in the “MiG alley”

The Americans quickly realized that even the F-80 and F-84 fighter jets were inferior to the MiGs and sent new equipment to Korea – the F-86 Saber fighter jets. “Saber” (“saber” in English) turned out to be a worthy opponent of the Mikoyan car. The planes were comparable in terms of engine power, but the Mig was lighter and therefore gained in rate of climb and vertical maneuvering, losing some in the horizontal. Against three MIG guns, the Saber had six 12.7mm machine guns; cannons could fire from 800 meters, machine guns – from 400. A semi-automatic sight was in the “instant”, the “saber” had an automatic sight and a radio rangefinder, which made it possible to shoot even in darkness and clouds. . The Americans had anti-g suits, which made the pilot less tiring.

In general, the cars were close in quality; as the ace of the Korean War, Hero of the Soviet Union Yevgeny Pepelyaev, wrote in the book “Migi” against “sabers”, success in battle depended “on the skill and courage of the pilots, the choice of the maneuver and group combat interaction.”

It was the first and last war in which dozens of jet planes converged on both sides. Since the spring of 1951, the pilots of the 64th Corps fought in the MiG-15bis, modernized vehicles. In early 1952, they were fitted with a “friend or foe” system, the area of ​​the brake flaps was increased, and new radio stations and sights were installed. A little later, the MiGs were equipped with a periscope for viewing the rear hemisphere and an “anti-radar” warning of radar exposure.

“Mig”, which turned out to be a formidable and tenacious machine, was dubbed by the Americans “Korean surprise”. After the appearance of these machines in Korea, the American air dominance came to an end. “It is he, the plane-soldier, who will make the West talk about Russian aviation without irony and be more moderately proud of its successes,” wrote Air Marshal Yevgeny Savitsky.

The zone of operations of Soviet aviation, a strip adjacent to the Yalu Valley, was nicknamed MiG Alley by the Americans – “MiG Alley”.

Nikolai Sutyagin, who “filled” the alley, did not receive a nickname. But the enemy recognized him in the sky without a doubt.

There is only one moment!

eternal record

It was Sutyagin who opened the battle account of his regiment, shooting down the first Saber on June 19, 1951. Three days later, he already had three “sabers” on his account. On July 29, the pilot shot down the fifth plane, becoming the first ace of the regiment and division. The political department of the division issued a brochure “The Brave Senior Lieutenant Sutyagin of the Stalinist Falcon”, the pilot was appointed deputy regiment commander for aerial shooting and combat tactics.

And his first reward for fighting in the skies of Korea was the removal of that very match penalty.

In October, Captain Sutyagin became a Hero of the Soviet Union. Together with him, the high rank was awarded to General Georgy Lobov (in Korea, he replenished his personal account with four downed F-80s), captains Grigory Ges and Sergey Kramarenko, senior lieutenants Boris Obraztsov and Evgeny Stelmakh (both posthumously), Major Serafim Subbotin and Senior Lieutenant Fyodor Shebanov.

At the presentation for the rank of major, which Sutyagin received in January 1952, it was said: “Battles are tactically competent, imposing their will on the enemy.”

Most often, Sutyagin’s victims were the main rivals of the MiGs, the Sabers: Nikolai Vasilyevich accounted for 15 of them, including the car of Colonel Glenn Todd Eagleston, who became an ace in WWII. In addition to the Sabres, the pilot destroyed two F-80s, two Gloucester Meteors, and three F-84s. In total, in Korea, Sutyagin made 149 sorties, conducted 66 air battles, personally shot down 22 aircraft and was not shot down or wounded.

This record has not been broken so far.

Nikolai Vasilyevich is not only the top Soviet ace of the Korean War, but also the world’s most productive jet-era fighter. Next to him you can only put Evgeny Pepelyaev (1918-2013), who officially counted 20 victories in Korea. It is interesting that neither Sutyagin nor Pepelyaev had serious combat experience before – during the war they served in the Far East, and during the liberation of Manchuria they did not meet the enemy in the air.

The reasons for Sutyagin’s combat success are his biographers, aviation historian Igor Seidov and the pilot’s son, Yuri Sutyagin, who wrote the book “Storm Sabers. The Best Ace of the Korean War”, called Good Health, the ability to relatively easily withstand overloads, pressure and temperature drops, excellent eyesight – he even first noticed mushrooms in the forest. You can add here and luck, that in war it never hurts.

B-29 strategic bomber.

The collapse of the “superfortresses”

On April 12, 1951, he entered the history of American aviation as “Black Thursday”, on October 30 – as “Black Tuesday”. During these days, Soviet “MiGs” destroyed entire armadas of “superfortresses”: B-29 strategic bombers, previously considered almost invulnerable; the Americans had to abandon the daytime use of the B-29 …

In the frame of the photo machine gun – “superfortress” B-29. April 1951

And in the spring of 1952 Sutyagin returned to his homeland. He received the Hero’s Star from the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Nikolai Shvernik. He graduated from the Air Force Academy, held various, higher and higher posts, mastered supersonic technology, studied again, at the Military Academy of the General Staff, headed the Kharkov Higher Aviation School. In 1967 he received the rank of general. He served in Kiev as deputy commander of the 69th Air Army – twice Hero of the Soviet Union, fighter pilot Nikolai Skomorokhov (it was to him that Vladimir Vysotsky dedicated “The Song of a Dead Friend”).

In 1970, General Sutyagin again went on a secret mission – to Vietnam, as a senior adviser on aviation. Now, like his colleagues, he no longer shoots down enemies, but shares his experience, supervises the work of the Air Force workshops and school, and gives lectures. For a year-long business trip, he received the Order of the Red Star, the third in a row.

Nikolai Sutyagin.

When his eyesight began to worsen, doctors forbade Sutyagin from flying in jet planes. He mastered control of transport planes and even helicopters; he did not want to be separated from heaven. In 1978, he retired, headed civil defense at the kyiv Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Land Reclamation…

About what he received the title of Hero, Sutyagin had no right to say, he did not leave memoirs. The general reader learned about the best ace of the infamous war from Anatoly Dokuchaev’s article “The Secret of Nikolai Sutyagin’s Feat.” She came out in the “Red Star” in 1993, when the pilot was long gone from this world.

Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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