Yekaterina Zelenko

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Yekaterina Zelenko
File:Zelenko Ekaterina.jpg
Photograph of Yekaterina Zelenko
Born 14 September 1916
Koroshchine, Volhynian Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 12 September 1941(1941-09-12) (aged 24)
Sumy Oblast, Soviet Union (buried in Kursk)
Allegiance Soviet Air Force
Rank Senior Lieutenant
Unit 19th Light Bomber Brigade
3rd Squadron (11th Light Bomber Regiment of 8th Army)
135th Bomber Regiment (16th Mixed Flying Division of 6th Army)
Battles/wars Winter War, World War II
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union
Order of Lenin Order of the Red Banner

Yekaterina Ivanovna Zelenko (September 14, 1916 – September 12, 1941) was a Soviet (ethnic Ukrainian) war pilot. She is the only woman ever known to have performed an aerial ramming.[1][2]

Zelenko attended seven school classes in Kursk. With her mother's move to Voronezh, Yekaterina entered the Voronezh Secondary Flying School. In October 1933 she passed through Voronezh Flying Club and was sent to the 3rd Orenburg Military Flying Academy named after Kliment Voroshilov. Later she found herself in Kharkiv, assigned to the 19th Light Bomber Brigade. In the Winter War, Zelenko was the only female pilot.[3]

On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union Zelenko was taking part in the retraining of the leading personnel of seven flying regiments in use of the Sukhoi Su-2. Following the German invasion, Zelenko made forty flights (also at night) and participated in twelve air combats with enemy fighters.[4] On September 12, 1941, Zelenko's Su-2 was attacked by seven Bf-109s. After Zelenko ran out of ammunition, she launched a top-down air ramming which tore a Bf-109 into two as the propeller hit the German aircraft's tail. The Su-2 she was piloting exploded though, and Zelenko was pulled out of cockpit. The air combat was observed by local residents who identified her body. On May 5, 1990 Zelenko was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously. A minor planet, 1900 Katyusha was named after her. Zelenko's husband Pavel Ignatenko also died in air combat in 1943.


  1. "Sukhoi Company (JSC)". Retrieved 2007-10-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Rytov, A.G. "Rytsari pyatogo okeana" (in русский). Retrieved 2007-10-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal, №5 2005, p715" (PDF) (in русский). Retrieved 2007-10-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Yekaterina Ivanovna Zelenko" (in русский). Retrieved 2007-10-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>