The searchers found a shot down Il-2 in 1943 with the crewThe personalities of the pilot and the shooter they managed to identify.
Last weekend the searchers of PO "Search-Dnepr" which is a part of All-Ukrainian public organization "Union "People's Memory" made a unique expedition trip: they found the pieces of Il-2 with cannons NS-37 which was downed by the Germans and also the remains of the pilot and the shooter.
According to Andrey Bizhko, the head of PO "Search-Dnepr", search operations were being done on the border of Dnepropetrovsk and Kirovohrad region. In remote 1943 here there were fierce battles regarding Borodaevsky bridgehead's expanding, just for one single day the enemy shot down ten Soviet attack aircrafts Il-2.
organization of search camp
“We held an exploration as far back in 2015, but only now did we organize a full-scale expedition. We have managed to determine the place of the aircraft crash and discover the remains of the crew and pieces of the machine. The personalities of the pilot and the shooter were identified very quickly beforehand,” says Andrey Bizhko.
According to him, it was the weapons installed on the aircraft that allowed to identify the crew so operatively. Such cases are unique, no exaggeration.
searchers are literally putting together IL-2 by piece
“Usually for the aircraft's identification we try to find the engine number or the tail number of the machine. But this attack aircraft had one very distinctive feature: it was equipped with modern, by those standards, suspended (gondola) cannons NS-37 which were intended for tanks destruction. They appeared in aviation units for passing military trials in 1943 and were not numerous. It was this fact that helped to identify the personalities of the pilot and the shooter. We addressed Boris Davydov, our friend and colleague at air search who works at Podol archive. He repeatedly helped with the identification of crews. The same evening we receive a preliminary message: 16 October 1943, in the area where our group is currently working there was a massive attack of the German troops. This day ten aircrafts Il-2 were shot down. Just one of them was with cannons NS-37. It is from this board that we were given a preliminary staff of the flight group," - notes Bizhko.
According to him, like the archival data confirms, that fateful day Il-2 set off for a combat mission with the following crew:
Pilot is Lieutenant V. D. Vetrov, born in 1922.
Shooter of guard is Sergeant S. M. Kankin, born in 1922.
They both served in assault regiment № 673, assault air division № 266, assault air corps № 1, air army № 5. Both did not return from combat mission.
the crew heroically deceased in 1943, but it is at present that it became possible to discover the remains
Also, the searcher noted that when falling, the aircraft was burning like a torch: the remains of the crew and the parachute system burned very badly.
“It is dreadful even to imagine what was going on in the sky at that moment. Against our aircraft worked not only the German artillery, but also fighter aviation. The guys from Il-2 were firing back until the last: when raising the shooter, we payed attention to the fact that he was strewn with shot cartridges of the onboard machine gun. In the remains of the shooter we discovered a bullet from a 13-mm machine gun MG-131 which is placed as a coursework against aircraft Bf.109. The attack aircraft Il-2, judging by the fragments' disposition, collided with the ground by nose, the machine was falling, spinning around its axis," - stated the Head of "Search-Dnepr".