Grigoriy Rechkalov

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Rechkalov Grigoriy Andreevich
Born (1920-09-02)September 2, 1920[1]
village Khudyakovo (now Zajkovo), Irbitskiy district of Sverdlovsk region
Died December 20, 1990(1990-12-20) (aged 70)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Buried at cemetery of settlement Bobrovskiy, Sysertskiy DC
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Air Force
Years of service 1938 - 1959
Rank Major General
Unit 216.IAD, 9.IAD, 16.Gv.IAP
Battles/wars German-Soviet War
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union — 1943 Hero of the Soviet Union — 1944[2]
Order of Lenin

Grigoriy Andreevich Rechkalov (Russian: Григо́рий Андре́евич Речка́лов; February 9, 1920–December 20, 1990) was a fighter pilot for the Soviet Union during World War II. He was made a Hero of the Soviet Union on two separate occasions (24 May 1943 and 1 July 1944). He scored 56 confirmed personal victories and 6 additional shared victories in air combat. He is the second highest scoring Soviet pilot in World War II.[citation needed]


Early life

He was born on 9 February 1920 in Khudyakovo into a peasant family. After graduation from school, he joined the Army in 1938, and in 1939 graduated from Perm Military Aviation Pilot School. He was initially grounded because of Daltonism (colour-blindness), but eventually in 1941 he was posted to the 55th IAP, stationed in the Odessa Military District.

War career

He began his combat career on 22 June 1941 over Moldavia flying a I-153 marked "blue 13" on the tail, undertaking 30 sorties in this aircraft during the month and engaging in ten combats. On 27 June, Rechkalov attacked and brought down an Hs.126 east of Boksha, near Sculeni, for his first claim. On 11 July he claimed a Ju-88 near Kotovsk[disambiguation needed]. On 26 July 1941 near Dubasari, Rechkalov was wounded in the right leg by AA fire. He returned safely to his airfield and after landing was hospitalised. He returned to the 55th IAP in April 1942.

During the summer of 1942 the 55 IAP was re-christened 16 GvIAP for outstanding service, and Rechkalov served with 16 GIAP from the summer of 1942. Rechkalov was also part of the 216th Air Division, which later became the 9th Guards Air Division (GIAD).

By the end of 1942 Rechkalov had claimed 4 and 2 shared victories. At the end of 1942 the 16th regiment was re-equipped with new P-39 Airacobra. In the spring of 1943 they were posted to the North Caucasus Front and the Kuban River. On 24 May 1943, he was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for 12 (and 2 shared) claims in some 194 sorties. In May 1944 Rechkalov took command over the 16th GIAP.

On 31 May 1944 Rechkalov was leading a formation involved in a disastrous battle over Jassy with Bf 109 fighters, and five P-39s were lost. According to official accounts, Rechkalov was disciplined by his superiors for pursuing the enemy alone rather than offering leadership to his less experienced squadron.

Upon the recommendation of his commanding officer Aleksandr Ivanovich Pokryshkin, Rechkalov was replaced by Dmitriy Glinka of the 100 GIAP as commander of the 16th GIAP, removing Rechkalov, for (according to Pokryshkin) "losing control, indecisiveness and lack of initiative".[3] Interestingly, Rechkalov had previously been the wingman of Pokryshkin. Despite his apparent failure as a leader, Rechkalov was awarded his second Hero of the USSR two months after this disciplinary action.

On 15 July 1944 Glinka was seriously wounded when he bailed out of his badly damaged P-39 and struck the tailplane. Rechkalov again took over as regiment commander.

Rechkalov resigned command of 16 GIAP in February 1945 and was appointed Inspector for Flight Training of 9 GIAD. By the end of the war the Air Division was credited with 1,147 victories and some 31 Heroes of the Soviet Union had served with the unit.

His last combat against the Luftwaffe was fought over Berlin in April 1945, flying the Lavochkin La-7.

During 609 combat sorties flying the I-153 “Chaika”, the I-16, the Yak-1 and the P-39 he engaged the enemy on 122 occasions.[4] After initially flying the I-153 and the MiG-3, Rechkalov gained most of his victories on the P-39 Airacobra [5] which was provided to the Soviets by the USA through Lend Lease.

He was one of the highest scoring fighter pilots on the P-39 with 44 victories. The majority of his kills were achieved on two aircraft; P-39N-0 number 42-8747 and P-39Q-15 number 44-2547.

Post war

In 1951 he graduated from the Air Force Academy in Monino. He then commanded a regiment, and various air divisions. In 1957 he was deputy commander of the fighter aircraft separate Far Eastern Air Defense Army. Rechkalov went on to become a Major General of Aviation in the Soviet Air Force (VVS) in 1959.

He wrote two books about his wartime experiences - Dymnoe Nebo Voiny ('The Smoking Skies of War') and V Nebe Moldavii ('In Moldavian Skies'). Rechkalov lived in Moscow before until his death on 20 December 1990.


  2. Soviet Aces of World War 2, Hugh Morgan, ISBN 1-85532-632-9, 1997
  3. Soviet Aces of World War 2, Hugh Morgan, ISBN 1-85532-632-9, 1997
  4. Soviet Aces of World War 2, Hugh Morgan, ISBN 1-85532-632-9, 1997