But there was also a story tank HF, whose crew in July 1942 entered into an unequal confrontation with an armored column of fascists. And although after a day the Germans managed to shoot the crippled armored car, 16 tanks, 2 armored vehicles and 8 trucks with crosses on the sides remained on the battlefield.
Died in the battle of Stalingrad tank KV-1. Armor has numerous dents.
From postmen to tankers
The future hero, and then a simple lad Semyon Konovalov was born in the Tatar village of Yambulatovo 14 February 1920 of the year. If any of the fellow villagers had been told that in just over 22 of the year, their Sema would perform an unprecedented feat and become the Hero of the Soviet Union, the narrator would immediately have been laughed at. What feats, if the Komsomol member Konovalov could only become a simple postman, spreading letters and periodicals in the village? His whole life had to go in the Tatar wilderness, if the movie “Tractor Operators” had not been released on the big screens in 1939, in which sounded the legendary song “Three Tankmen”.
Like thousands of other young people, Semyon Konovalov decided that he would definitely become a tankman. After being drafted to the Red Army (1939 year), he declared that he wanted to become a tank commander, and was sent to study at the Kuibyshev military school.
In the summer of 1941, on the eve of the start of World War II, Semyon Konovalov received lieutenant shoulder straps and immediately went to hell, becoming the commander of the high-speed but already outdated BT-7 tank.
Hell of the first months of the war
Only tactical knowledge and confidence in the reliability of their own combat vehicle, which was significantly inferior to the German tanks in armor and weapons, allowed the young commander to leave the most difficult situations with honor.
Sources claim that the tanks driven by Konovalov’s crew received direct hits from enemy shells, and tankmen had to jump out of burning machines more than once. Fate kept the future hero, who, after receiving 1941 in August, was seriously injured in a Vologda hospital.
The country needed to train professional tankers, and the past combat school Semyon Konovalov turned out to be most welcome. He was sent to the Arkhangelsk Training Center, providing an opportunity to restore health, at the same time teaching new recruits the tricks of warfare.
“I won't sit in the rear”
Another would have been happy about this possibility, but Semyon had thrown the command of reports with a request to send him to the active army. As they say, the water wears away a stone, and in April 1942, the authorities decided to get rid of the annoying officer. Moreover, the losses among the tankers of the Red Army were monstrous, and the 1942 summer campaign promised to be very hot.
This time Konovalov was lucky. He was appointed commander of a platoon of tanks KV-1, which were considered the most powerful armored vehicles in the world and until the advent of the German "Tigers" did not have worthy opponents.
Heavy Soviet tank KV-1 ("Klim Voroshilov")
The main drawback of this combat vehicle was its gravity and sluggishness, but the shells fired from a powerful 76-millimeter cannon easily penetrated the armor of enemy light and medium tanks.
Unfortunately, even this power at the beginning of the summer of 1942 did not allow the fascists to stop the attack on the Donbass, Stalingrad and the Caucasus. Soviet tankers inflicted unexpected blows on the enemy’s flanks, destroying their manpower and military equipment, but also themselves suffered serious losses from the anti-tank artillery of the fascists.
In mid-July, the Red Army continued its retreat to the east. In the 15-th tank brigade there are only a few dozen vehicles, and the platoon of Konovalov consisted of only one commander tank, which was also pretty battered in battles.
On the morning of July 13, 1942, the brigade received an order to withdraw equipment to new lines of defense. As luck would have it, the KV-1 Seeds Konovalova on the march stalled. What the commander himself did, Kozyrentsev's driver-mechanic, Dementiev, the gunner, Gerasimlyuk, the junior driver, Anikin, the younger driver and Chervinsky, the gunner-radio operator, did not start the engine, delaying the entire column.
Staying in the open area near the village of Nizhnemityakin of the Rostov region was like death, and the brigade commander decided to continue moving, leaving mechanic lieutenant Serebryakov to help tankmen.
The task was extremely simple. In the shortest possible time to start the engine and follow to the place of concentration of the team. Or become a barrier for the German troops, covering the retreat of their comrades.
For the Motherland
Repairing the tank took a surprisingly short amount of time. Tankers were already preparing to give gas, when two German wedges, who were conducting reconnaissance of the territory, suddenly jumped out from behind a neighboring hill.
Instantly oriented Semen Konovalov opened rapid fire, destroying one of the tanks. The second, however, managed to sneak away, hiding behind a hill.
It was clear that the scouts should be a tank column, which must be stopped at any cost. The fighters, not doubting for a minute, began to prepare for the fight, knowing full well that he would be the last in their lives.
German tank column in the Don steppes
But even they were amazed to see the size of the German column, in which the soldiers counted 75 tanks and a large number of other military equipment.
The nearby ravine helped a lot. It managed to slightly disguise the KV-1, which, having let the enemy 500 meters, opened a quick fire on the Nazis.
So far, the Germans found out what was happening, they lost four of their tanks and were forced to leave the battlefield. The fascists thought that they had fallen on the well-organized defensive position of the Red Army, which they decided to simply crush with their might.
You're lying, do not take it!
The next attack of the Germans was organized according to all the rules of military art. First, the hollow was covered with artillery, cutting off all the vegetation with fragments of its shells, after which 55 tanks went into battle.
Column of German tanks Panzer III
Semyon Konovalov began to maneuver in his hollow, opening fire from its various points. With this, he created for the enemy even greater confidence that they are dealing with dots and several art installations. The German attack choked, and the number of burning tanks increased by 6 units.
The Nazis, confident of their invincibility, did not intend to retreat, and the next attack on the KV-1 was supported by the infantry. True, the Germans did not calculate the range of a tank gun, losing 8 trucks with soldiers as a result of direct hits.
Problems for our tankers came when one of the enemy shells prevented the KV-1 from moving. A hail of armor-piercing shells hit the stuck car. But the armor held, and the return fire destroyed even 6 tanks and 2 enemy armored vehicles.
Until the last shell
Only in the evening, when our fighters ran out of shells, and they only fired machine guns, the fascists managed to pull the 105-millimeter cannon to the tank. The gun was placed in 75-meters from the Soviet armored monster and shot to direct fire. KV-1 died, giving his comrades extra days to organize the defense.
When the next day a group of intelligence officers sent specially for the crew of Konovalov arrived at the scene of the battle, they looked up from the direct hits of the KV-1, in which there were fragments of the bodies of his crew.
On the battlefield, the skeletons of 16 German tanks, two armored vehicles and 8 trucks were still smoking, and residents of the village of Nizhnemityakin told a story about an epic battle between Soviet tankers and fascists.
The command, which learned about the feat of the crew, decided to present the crew to government awards, and its commander offered to award the Hero of the Soviet Union with the Golden Star (posthumously).
Hero or traitor?
But it turned out that the story does not end there. What was the surprise of the commander of the 15 Tank Brigade, when, in response to the funeral crew members sent to their relatives, an unexpected response came from the Tatar village of Yambulatovo.
It said that Semyon Konovalov was alive and was fighting on a trophy tank in another military unit.
The security officers immediately had clear questions, and an intelligent investigator from the NKVD was sent to the necessary part, who was supposed to convict the tankman of treason.
The truth turned out to be banal, and therefore even more incredible. The Germans began shooting the Soviet KV-1, when it was already getting dark. And having previously removed the machine gun Semyon Konovalov, gunner Dementiev and mechanic Serebryakov, they managed to get out through the lower hatch.
Under the cover of night, they left from persecution. Moreover, the Germans did not even allow the possibility that someone from the Russians could survive in such a meat grinder.
Incredible return to your
During the week, the fighters went east, but could not catch up with the rapidly retreating Red Army. His majesty came to the rescue. One night, the Red Army men went out to the crew of a German tank, who was resting carelessly in the Don steppes.
Hitler tank crews on vacation. Advertising picture
An unexpected blow, and the tank from German turned into a Soviet one, albeit having crosses on its sides.
Then everything was easy. The tankers overcame the occupied territory without any problems, and breaking through the line of defense, they were forced to turn the barrel in the opposite direction. Perhaps this, as well as a quick fire on the Germans who did not understand, saved an incomprehensible tank from destruction by Soviet artillery.
July 1942 of the year was perhaps the most critical for the Red Army. Therefore, the check of fighters who have left the encirclement has passed within one day. Tankers, without hesitation, enrolled in the state of the part to which they had left, and the Konovalov and Dementyevs allowed them to fight on the captured tank.
The commander promised to report the fighters to the 15 tank tank brigade. But in the heat of that time they simply forgot about it, or the documents were lost somewhere along the way.
Simple soviet man
Trophy tank "lived" for another three months, participating in defensive battles on the outskirts of Stalingrad. Semyon Konovalov repeatedly fell into serious troubles and was injured several times. But he stayed alive.
A well-deserved reward found a front-line soldier only in March 1943, when the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet decided to award Semyon Konovalov with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Not posthumous.
He went through the whole war, had a large number of state awards. He graduated from military service in the year 1956 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, after which he returned to his native Kazan.
Semen Vasilievich Konovalov
Semyon Konovalov was a welcome guest in schools, telling young people about the exploits of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. At the same time, he tried not to extend the most terrible fight of his life, considering that any Soviet person should have done so.
The humble 4 hero April 1989 of the year died. Grateful descendants called one of the streets of Kazan in his name.