This Soviet pilot stole the plane of a Nazi pilot who landed to try and kill him
In 1942, not long after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Soviet pilot S. Kuzniecov was returning to base from a reconnaissance mission over Nazi-occupied Russia. As he flew over Kalinin (modern-day Tver), he was ambushed by German Messerschmidt fighters. He was shot down and forced to crash land his Iluyshin Il-2.
A profile publication written by Witold Liss of the Il-2’s combat record describes what happened next.
One of the German pilots landed at a nearby flat strip of land to collect souvenirs from his prey and to kill the Soviet pilot if he was still alive. But Kuzniecov wasn’t in the cockpit of the downed fighter anymore. He hid in the nearby woodline waiting for the enemy pilot.
As soon as the German approached Kuzniecov’s Il-2, Kuzniecov made a mad dash to the German’s waiting Messerschmidt. He took off and headed for home. But his troubles didn’t end there.
Soviet pilots didn’t take kindly to German Me-109 fighters approaching their airbases. The Russian managed to survive getting shot down by the Nazis and almost died trying to avoid getting shot down by his comrades.
He did survive and was later awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest honor the USSR could bestow on its fighting men and women. Kuzniecov was blinded by anti-aircraft fire over Poland in 1944. He managed to land his new Il-2 in a wheels-up crash landing, but what happened to him after he left the cockpit is unknown to this day.
When the Il-2 first appeared, it was called the “Flying Infantryman” by the Red Army, as beloved by ground troops as the A-10 is for Americans today. When given an inspection and a test flight, American Ace Eddie Rickenbacker called it the “best aircraft of its type in the world” and the “Beast from the East.”
It lived up to the hype as maybe the most important Soviet airframe of World War II.
Here's where the military's highest award is made — the Medal of Honor
Approximately 3,500 brave troops have earned our nation's highest honor. Crafting such an important medal takes precision, dedication, and extreme care.
You can buy a civilian version of the Army's new sidearm system
Sig Sauer, maker of the Army's new M17, is planing to make and sell 5,000 civilian versions of the MHS 9mm pistol. There is no estimated price tag yet.
This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
Hundreds of ghost ships, filled with skeletal remains and shrouded in mystery, have washed ashore in Japan in recent years. They may be from North Korea.
This Marine veteran uses this special ingredient to boost his men's morale
Bill Joerger, Marine veteran and South Philly firefighter, uses his culinary talents to help his men combat the stresses they face every day.
Now you can read about every single fallen US troop in the Vietnam War
The Virtual Wall has a searchable, browsable database with casualty information and tributes for every name on "The Wall," broken down by city and state.
10 places in the world where US influence has plummeted
As the U.S. burns bridges with allies left and right, China has been following behind, picking up the pieces, and forging stronger ties around the world.
Watch this WW2 pilot take to the skies in his old trainer aircraft
After the attack against Pearl Harbor, Capt. Jerry Yellin became a P-51 pilot to defend his country, serving until the last combat mission of World War 2.
Russia's biggest transport plane hauled the Soviet space shuttle
The Anotov An-225 can carry 275 tons of normal cargo in its hold, equivalent to a platoon of M1A2 Abrams tanks. Learn more about this Soviet aircraft.
Nobel Prize winner warns the world is 'one tantrum away' from nuclear crisis
While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons warned that we're just "one tantrum" away from nuclear war.