Kirill A. Yevstigneyev

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Kirill Alekseyevich Yevstigneyev
Native name Кирилл Алексеевич Евстигнеев
Born 17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1917
Khokhly, Orenburg Governorate, Russian Empire
(now Shumikhinsky District, Kurgan Oblast), Russia
Died August 29, 1996(1996-08-29) (aged 79)
Moscow, Russia
Allegiance Soviet Union Soviet Union
Service/branch Red star.svg Soviet Air Force
Years of service 1938—1972
Rank Major General (1966)
Unit 240th IAP(Fighter Air Regiment), 178th GuIAP (Guard Fighter Air Regiment)
Commands held 178th GuIAP (1945)
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union (2)
Order of Lenin
Orders of the Red Banner(4)
Order of Suvorov 3d class
Order of the Patriotic War 1st class & 2nd class
Order of the Red Star
2 foreign Orders

Guards' Captain (later Major-General) Kirill Alekseyevich Yevstigneyev (Russian: Кирилл Алексеевич Евстигнеев) (17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1917 – 29 August 1996) was a Soviet fighter pilot and one of the top Soviet aces of World War II. During his career he claimed 56 aerial victories flying the Lavochkin La-5 and La-7 fighter.

Early life

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev was born into a peasant family on 17 February [O.S. 4 February ] 1917 in the village of Khokhly, Chelyabinsky Uyezd, Orenburg Governorate, in what is now the Shumikhinsky District of Kurgan Oblast, in Russia's trans-Urals. He attended the Shumikhin elementary school, completing seven of the requisite eight years of study before moving on to the Chelyabinsk industrial school. He trained as a fitter-turner and upon graduation moved to work at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant where he joined the local aeroclub and got his first taste of flying.

Early Military Career

In September 1938 Yevstigneyev joined the Red Army with the aim of becoming a military aviator. In 1941 he graduated from the Bijsk military pilot academy in the far-eastern Amur region, and was posted as a flying instructor to Serashevo. At the end of 1942 he was reassigned to the Moscow headquarters of the VVS, where he was put to work in management of the procurement of Bell P-39 Airacobras from the United States under the Lend-Lease program. While important - over 4,000 Airacobras were ferry-flown from Alaska to the Soviet Union during the war - this was even further from an active role than Yevstigneyev's previous posting as an instructor. While in Moscow Yestigneyev came to the attention of I. S. Soldatenko, who arranged for a posting to the front on 17 March 1943.

In 1943—1991 member of Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

World War II Combat Service

Yevstigneyev gained his first victories two weeks after his arrival at the front. On 28 March 1943, near the village of Urazovo in the Belgorod province, southwest of Moscow he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109, followed by a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka.

On 12 April, he brought down a Messerschmitt Bf 110, and became an ace three weeks later on the 6 May, when he shot down a Junkers Ju 88 and another Bf 110. In the huge aerial engagements during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, Yevstigneyev scored six more victories. On 7 July he brought down the leader of a ten-strong bomber formation. The following day he engaged a formation of nine Stukas, and again brought down the leader. The remaining Stukas turned and fled. Yevstigneev pursued and scored another kill when the Stuka he engaged struck the ground. Another sortie the same day saw him claim one more Stuka. On 9 July he scored his second Bf 109 kill, followed by two more on the 13 July and 16 July.

On 5 August, flying a close air-support sortie on the approach to Belgorod, Yestigneyev's eight-aircraft formation engaged opposing German fighters. In the ensuing dog fight Yestigneyev was badly wounded in both feet and had to be sent to a field hospital. There he had to repeatedly dissuade surgeons from amputating at least one of his feet. He ended up escaping after nine days and crossing the 35 km to the nearest airfield - on crutches. He found his way back to his airfield to finish his recovery there. A month after being wounded and still on crutches, he flew his next combat sortie.

Between March and November 1943, Senior Lieutenant Yevstigneyev completed 144 combat sorties, with 23 enemy aircraft shot down, with a share in another 3.

On 2 August 1944 as the squadron commander of 240 Fighter Air Regiment (302nd Fighter Air Division, Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) Senior Lieutenant Kiril A. Yevstigneyev was awarded the Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the presentation of the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold star" (№ 2284).

Yevstigneyev continued to serve until October 1944 and completed 83 additional combat missions, claiming 20 aircraft shot down.

On 23 February 1945, as the squadron commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment (14th Guard Fighter Air Division, 3rd Guard Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) Guards Captain Kirill A. Yevstigneyev was awarded second Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the medal "Gold star" (№4039).

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev finished World War II as the commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment.

Evstigneyev's World War II record:

  • more than 300 combat missions
  • 120 aerial engagements.
  • 53 enemy aircraft shot down & 3 shared.

After World War II

In 1949 he finished several Tactical Aviation Courses, and by 1955 served at the Military Aviation Academy. By 1960 he was on the Military Academy General Staff (High Commandeґs Academy). He then became Major General of aviation in 1966, from 1972 he served in the reserve.

After retirement he lived in Moscow, where he died on 29 August 1996. He is buried at the Kuntsevskoe cemetery in Moscow. A bronze bust of him stands in Shumikha, Kurgan province, near the village of his birth.

Awards and decorations

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev awards: