Military Review

The youngest pilot of the Great Patriotic War

The life of the youngest pilot of the Great Patriotic War tragically ended at the age of 18. Arkady Nikolaevich Kamanin lived a short but very bright life. What he managed to do in time measured on Earth would have been enough for several heroic lives. Kamanin became the youngest pilot of World War II. He made his first flight on the famous U-2 multipurpose biplane in July 1943, when he was only 14 years old. As part of the 423rd separate aviation he fought a communications squadron on the Kalinin, 1st and 2nd Ukrainian fronts. Already at the age of 15 he received his first order, and at the age of 18, having survived the war, he died of meningitis.

Arkady Nikolaevich Kamanin was the son of the famous Soviet pilot and commander Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, who served as a colonel-general of aviation. Arkady's father, among other things, was one of the first Heroes of the Soviet Union; he was awarded 20 on April 1934. He was awarded for courage and heroism shown in the rescue of the Chelyuskinites, receiving the Gold Star medal for the number XXNX. In total, Nikolay Kamanin on the Р-2 plane performed 5 flights, having taken a man off the drifting ice floe 9, his wife and son, of course, rescued the rescue of the Chelyuskinites. It is not surprising that having such an example in the face of his father, Arkady himself became interested in aviation and fell in love with the sky.

Arkady Kamanin was born 2 on November 1928 of the year in the Far East, where his father served at that moment. Even then, changing the place of residence: Spasskoe, Ussuriysk, Vozdvizhenka, Arkady, very young, was on the airfields, communicating with pilots. Replacing several places of residence, which was connected with the change of service places of Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, Arkady and his parents found themselves in Moscow. This was due to the fact that in the fall of 1934, Nikolai Kamanin entered the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy. The family of the famous pilot and Hero of the Soviet Union was given a luxurious apartment for those times, located in the famous House on the embankment.

The youngest pilot of the Great Patriotic War

Already at a sufficiently young age, Arkady showed considerable interest in his father’s service and in everything that had anything to do with the aviation and aviation industry, from childhood he was drawn to airplanes and flight business, engaged in an aircraft modeling circle. During the summer holidays in Moscow, he did not spend time on the river, not playing football, not at summer cottages near Moscow, he literally disappeared at a military airfield, where he learned the nuances and subtleties of the profession of aviation mechanics. Working at the airport helped him, before the very war in 1941, to get a job as a mechanic at the Moscow Aviation Plant, where he worked for several months. At the same time, the young man’s range of interests was not limited to aviation alone, the boy loved to play sports, tried to read a lot, he even played musical instruments, including the accordion and accordion. Literature and music fascinated him no less passionately than the sky, the child grew up fully developed, parents could be proud of him even then.

In 1941-1942, Arkady Kamanin lived in Tashkent, where his father was transferred to serve just before the start of World War II. By the time he moved to Tashkent, Arkady had completed only 6 grade. Already after the start of the war, an aircraft factory was evacuated from the capital to Tashkent. After classes at school, Arkady immediately fled to the avimaster shops, where wrecked and damaged aircraft arrived from the front for repair. In May, 1942, Nikolai Kamanin was finally allowed to go to the front. Before leaving, he had a serious talk with his son, allowing Arkady to work in aircraft repair shops in the summer for 6 hours a day, and during his studies - for 2-3 hours. In fact, as Nikolai Petrovich later learned, his son disappeared in the workshops of 10-12 hours a day, dropping into school for only two lessons. And in January, 1943, he dropped out of school altogether, writing to his father that he would complete his education after the war.

By that time, Nikolai Kamanin had formed an air corps on the Kalinin front. The officer's wife, Maria Mikhailovna, who had been working at the hospital in Tashkent for a year and a half of the military, as well as Arkady Kamanin, was rushing to the front. Together they put forward an ultimatum to the head of the family: you will not take service in your aviation corps, we will find the way to the front. As a result, Nikolai Petrovich conceded, Maria Mikhailovna began to work as the clerk of the corps headquarters, and Arkady - as a mechanic for special equipment in the communications squadron of the 5-th Guards ground attack corps.

Arkady Kamanin with his father

In this case, Arkady briefly worked as a mechanic. He began to fly in a U-2 two-seater communications aircraft, first as a navigator-observer and flight mechanic. By the time he already thoroughly knew the device of the aircraft. The Biplane U-2 was originally designed as an educational one, therefore it had dual controls in both booths. At first, the younger Kamanin requested permission after the take-off from the pilots to fly the plane himself, they allowed. So he gradually got real flight practice. And in July, 1943 was released on his first "official" independent flight on the U-2 aircraft. After that, at the age of 14, Arkady Kamanin was appointed pilot of the 423-th Separate Communications Squadron, becoming the youngest pilot of the Great Patriotic War. This was preceded by a two month training flight program. As well as passing exams on piloting techniques, flight theory, materiel, air navigation. Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin himself took the exams and checked his son on flights.

The fact that Arkady was born to fly was also confirmed by the incident that happened to him as a navigator and flight mechanic during his flights. During one of the flights, a stray bullet landed in the cockpit of the pilot's cockpit, the fragments seriously saw the pilot's face, blood prevented him from orienting himself in space. Feeling that he might lose consciousness, he handed over control to Arkady, switching his walkie-talkie to him. As a result, the boy led the plane to the aerodrome and reported on the situation. The squadron commander, who gave instructions to Arkady on the radio, rose from the ground into the sky, as a result, he was able to land the plane on his own, everyone was alive.

At first, the newly-made pilot flew a multi-purpose biplane U-2 (Po-2) between the airfields of the corps, as well as the headquarters of the air army and the front headquarters. After masterfully on turns he managed to escape from the Messerschmitt pursuing him, Arkady began to fly to the headquarters of the ground armies, as well as to the forward command center of the air corps. On some days, he spent hours in the sky on 5-6. On his plane was depicted an arrow that looked like lightning. Pilots of the communications squadron were affectionately called the young pilot - “Letunok”.

Legendary Y-2 (Po-2)

Once, returning to the airfield from a mission, he saw the German-attacked Il-2 attack aircraft, which was located in the neutral zone. The cockpit canopy was closed. Arkady suggested that the pilot was wounded and could not get out of the plane, he decided to land his biplane next to him. Under the mortar attack of the enemy, he managed to land the plane next to the damaged car and dragged the unconscious pilot into his plane. In addition, the boy was taken from the IL-2 photo equipment pilot along with the footage. Our attackers and gunners helped him rise into the air, who provided support by opening fire on the enemy, diverting the attention of the Germans from the biplane taking off from the "neutral" position. As a result, Arkady took the wounded pilot to the hospital, he was Lieutenant Berdnikov, who flew to the front line with a reconnaissance task for photography. For the rescue of the pilot, Arkady Kamanin was awarded the Order of the Red Star, at that time the boy was only 15 years old.

"Flyer" was distinguished by real fearlessness. Once, returning from a mission, he saw a T-34 tank wrecked on the edge of the forest on the ground - tankers on the ground conjured over an extended track. Landing next to them, Arkady Kamanin asked whether tankers needed help. It turned out that tank two tracks were killed, tankers had spare links, but there were no suitable bolts for the connection. As a result, the pilot flew behind the missing bolts and threw them to the tankmen from the air along with ointment from burns.

The second Order of the Red Star Arkady received in 1944, when Bandera attacked the front headquarters. Taking off under enemy fire, the young pilot from the air threw attackers with hand grenades and also called in reinforcements. The attack on the front headquarters was repulsed; for this feat, Arkady Kamanin, who fought on the 2 Ukrainian front at that time, was awarded the second Order of the Red Star.

Over time, the "flyer" increasingly flew over an unknown terrain, including flying into the rear of the enemy. So in the spring of 1945, he was able to successfully deliver power elements for the radio and secret documents to members of the partisan detachment who operated in the deep German rear and hid in the mountainous terrain in the Czech city of Brno. For this departure Arkady was presented to the Order of the Red Banner. By the end of April, 1945, he completed more than 650 sorties to communicate with parts of the air corps and the remote control point, having flown a total of 283 hours. For all this time, he has not had a single flight incident and not a single case of loss of orientation. In addition to the two orders of the Red Star and the Order of the Red Banner, he was awarded the medals "For the Capture of Budapest", "For the Capture of Vienna" and "For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945". On the day of the historic Victory Parade, which was held in Moscow 24 June 1945, 17-year-old Arkady Kamanin marched across Red Square in the ranks of the best pilots of the 2-th Ukrainian Front.

In the second half of 1945, the air corps, in which Arkady Kamanin served, was returned from Czechoslovakia to his homeland. The headquarters of the corps settled in Tiraspol. The young pilot decided to go to study at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy, which his father successfully graduated at one time. Continuing to perform the duties of a corps communications squadron pilot, he sat down to study textbooks. In a year and a half, he managed to complete the 8, 9 and 10 classes and in the fall of 1946, he passed the exams in the autumn, becoming a student in the preparatory department of the Academy.

By that time, it seemed to everyone that the worst was over. The Kamanin family survived the war and gathered together in Moscow, Nikolai Kamanin was appointed deputy head of the Main Directorate of Civil Air fleet USSR. However, misfortune awaited the family in peacetime. Arkady fell ill with the flu, he was not used to complaining and stubbornly endured the disease that had fallen on him on his feet. On April 12, 1947, he returned to his home from a lecture and, saying that he had a headache, lay down to rest. By evening, when they began to wake him up for dinner, he no longer got up. Unconscious, he was taken to a hospital, all night Moscow doctors tried to get the young man out of a coma, but nothing came of it. In the morning, Arkady Kamanin died, he was only 18 years old. An autopsy showed that the cause of his death was meningitis. Arkady Kamanin was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy cemetery.

Arkady Kamanin with his younger brother Leo

So tragically already in peacetime, the life of a young man who went through the war, who escaped wounds and injuries, was cut short. He could make an excellent career in aviation, he studied with great diligence at the Zhukovsky Academy. In the future, he could fall into the first detachment of Soviet cosmonauts, as his father became the organizer and leader of their training, but fate decreed otherwise, cutting off the life of the youngest pilot of the Great Patriotic War literally on take-off.

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  1. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 16 May 2018 05: 44
    Thanks for the story, Sergey. Previously, I did not know about Arcadia Kamanin. Although the name of his father was known.
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 16 May 2018 06: 20
      Quote: Reptiloid
      Thanks for the story, Sergey. Previously, I did not know about Arcadia Kamanin. Although the name of his father was known.

      Dima. Hey. Previously, in VO, there were articles by Sofia Milyutinskaya about him.
      1. Reptiloid
        Reptiloid 16 May 2018 06: 40
        Hello, Nikolai, Now I saw yesterday’s article by Sophia ---- in “opinions” --- at 15 o’clock.
  2. Olgovich
    Olgovich 16 May 2018 06: 13
    It is infinitely sorry that he left so early: he was a wonderful young man, an unusual, bright fate ....
    Bright memory to him. hi
  3. midshipman
    midshipman 16 May 2018 08: 38
    Thank you Sergey for the article. These are the sons and proud of our country. In general, it would be advisable to sometimes print the genealogies of respected people in VO. It was useful to many. For example, Ilyushin Aircraft Designer, and his son deserved. test pilot. There are many examples.
    1. bubalik
      bubalik 16 May 2018 09: 15
      In general, it would be desirable to sometimes print pedigrees of respected people in the "IN". It was useful to many, there are many examples.
      ,, This is true,,
      ,,,Vladimir Leonidovich Gulyaev (30.10.1924 - 3.11.1997) - son of a lieutenant colonel, deputy chief of the political model of the military aviation school and candidate of historical sciences Leonid Mikhailovich Gulyaev

      ,,was the youngest pilot-attack aircraft of the Great Patriotic War.

      ,,Gulyaev finished the war as a lieutenant in East Prussia. On account of 60 combat missions, on the chest - two orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Patriotic War, I degree and the medal "For the capture of Koenigsberg." He participates in the Victory Parade as part of the joint company 3-nd BA ,.
  4. iva12936
    iva12936 16 May 2018 11: 30
    Thank you, in some way thin. the film about the war was shot about the Kamanins, father and son, which movie I don’t remember.
  5. NF68
    NF68 16 May 2018 17: 44
    Not that the current majors are passionately fond of riding on footpaths ..
    1. Doliva63
      Doliva63 16 May 2018 18: 26
      Quote: NF68
      Not that the current majors are passionately fond of riding on footpaths ..

      Each time has its own heroes, as they say.
      1. NF68
        NF68 17 May 2018 16: 17
        Quote: Doliva63
        Quote: NF68
        Not that the current majors are passionately fond of riding on footpaths ..

        Each time has its own heroes, as they say.

        There were real heroes at any time. Like the glamorous cranks with the letter "m"
  6. peta locksmith
    peta locksmith 17 May 2018 00: 26
    about Arkady Kamanin in 1978 a very emotional film "And you will see the sky" was shot