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Thread: The youngest pilot of WWII

  1. #1

    Default The youngest pilot of WWII

    As VE Day is nearing, I thought a bit of almost forgotten history could be interesting to some.


    While flying back to base, a pilot of the U-2 liaison squadron of the 5th Assault air corps noticed an air assault aircraft that crash-landed on the neutral ***** between enemy and his own lines. He banked hard and flew over the aircraft on the ground. The canopy of the damaged plane was still closed: that could only mean that its pilot was still inside, probably injured, unable to climb out or disabled. The U-2 pilot decided to try and land next to the damaged plane on the bomb-shelled neutral *****. Parking his fragile plane, he was careful to put the wreckage between him and the enemy line of fire. After a run to the damaged assault aircraft, he saw that he was right: its pilot was still there, unconscious after a serious head injury. The name of the injured was Berdnikov, his mission was recce of enemy positions, he managed to shoot his film before being shot down by AAD. The pilot of the U-2 first took care of the camera and retrieved it on his own airplane. Afterwards, he contacted fellow arty by radio and asked for cover. Then, he ran back to the Il-2 and with considerable effort, hauled the unconscious Berdnikov out of its cockpit and transferred him to his U-2. Under enemy fire, he managed to take off and return to base with the recce data and his fellow pilot. For this feat, he was awarded the order of the Red Star.He was 14 years old.

    His name was Arkadi Nikolaevitch Kamanin was not supposed to be there, or to be at the front at all. He was the son of Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, one of the most famous Soviet aviators of his time, who was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (one of the first recipients) in 1934 for the rescue of the Chelyuskin crew from an improvised airfield on the frozen surface of the Arctic Sea. In July 1942, Nikolai Kamanin took command of the 8th mixed, then the 5th liaison Air Corps, and raised from the rank of colonel to Major General in 1943. A general on the front had some privileges: his wife and his young son could visit him. His wife stayed to work at the corps HQ, his son, Arkadi, categorically refused to return, arguing that he already had some knowlegde in aeronautics (having already worked as an mechanic aide in an aviation production plant for six months) and his father allowed him to work as an aviation mechanic in one of the Air corps liaison squadrons.

    Arkadi soon demonstrated an outstanding knowledge of his craft, and was raised in rank to become a flying system operator (onboard mechanic) and navigator. During a training flight, a loose bullet struck his canopy, rupturing it and effectively blinding him with glass splinters. Calling assistance by radio, Arkadi was directed by a fellow pilot flying in formation to a nearby airfield, where he managed to land perfectly. After this "remote controlled" landing, he was officially cleared for combat training flight. After two months of training, he managed to pass the entry exams and was cleared for autonomous flight by no one but his own father, who could find no official reason to block the application of Flight Sergeant Arkadi Kamanin.

    Arkadi Kamanin first task was to assure liaison between air*****s and bases, but was soon cleared for missions of greater responsibility on the frontline, especially after he demonstrated his piloting skills by evading a German fighter by sheer maneuvering. One of these combat missions resulted in the saving of Lieutenant Berdnikov.

    While stationed in Poland, Kamanin saved the life of another comrade-in-arms by flare-signalling to an aircraft that had just took off that it still got its mechanic on the tail (mechanics used to ride on the tail of light aircraft taking off from mud *****s to avoid flutter and take-off crashes, the mechanic had to jump off before the aircraft effectively took off before the aircraft was airborne).

    In 1944, Arkadi Kamanin was awarded his second order of the Red Star for taking off under enemy fire (the base HQ was attacked by an Ukrainian nationalist OUN army unit), covering troops on the ground by throwing hand grenades from his liaison plane and contacting reinforcement by radio.

    In 1945, he was awarded the order of the Red Banner for transporting radio power chargers and secret postage to a partisan unit near Brno, spending 1,5 hrs behing enemy lines and flying over uncharted and unrecced mountaineous terrain.

    After WWII, he finally could fulfil his dream and enrolled as a 17-years old veteran at the Zhukovski Flight Academy. He was a very eager and capable student, but never graduated, because he died from meningitis at the age of 18 on the 13th of April 1947.

    His father Nikolai survived him reaching the rank of Airforce Col-General and Air Army commander role after the war. In 1960-1971, General Kamanin was head of cosmonaut raining. He recruited and trained the first generation of cosmonauts, including Yuri Gagarin, German Titov and A. Leonov. Kamanin was the Airforce representative in space program, a proponent of manned orbital flight and Airforce influence over the space race. His diaries (1960-1971), published in 1995-2001, are among the most important sources documenting the progress of Soviet space program.
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  2. #2

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    thats just awesome........thanks for posting it.

  3. #3

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    Wow. A fighter pilot who probably didn't even have all his pubes yet. Much respect to that little man!

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    Youngest WWII veteran pilot. A hero. An example for future generations.
    RIP

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    Senior Member Podman's Avatar
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    George H.W. Bush was the youngest Naval Aviator in 1941. At the very old age of 18 compared to this kid. Amazing.

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    Senior Member YevgenyP's Avatar
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    almost finished translation by myself, but yours is better

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    Senior Member Mu-Meson's Avatar
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    Much respect to the young man. Doesn't sounds right to call him a kid.
    While stationed in Poland, Kamanin saved the life of another comrade-in-arms by flare-signalling to an aircraft that had just took off that it still got its mechanic on the tail (mechanics used to ride on the tail of light aircraft taking off from mud *****s to avoid flutter and take-off crashes, the mechanic had to jump off before the aircraft effectively took off before the aircraft was airborne).
    Hahaha! Oh wow.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mu-Meson View Post
    Much respect to the young man. Doesn't sounds right to call him a kid.

    Hahaha! Oh wow.
    Well he wasn't decorated for that, for sure Notwithstanding the haha-factor, methinks that the slow-reaction mech was still quite grateful to him for the rest of his life though... Stupid deaths and Darwin prizes are an inherent part of any military, but it's better to laugh at such kind of "mistake" than to bury a (even slightly retarded) comrade.

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    thx for posting

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    Member eechoss's Avatar
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    Thats awesome!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Figurant View Post
    In 1945, he was awarded the order of the Red Banner for transporting radio power chargers and secret postage to a partisan unit near Brno, spending 1,5 hrs behing enemy lines and flying over uncharted and unrecced mountaineous terrain.
    Thats my home town!

    Thanks.

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