Under the command of V.I. Popkov, in a unique squadron consisting of 14 pilots, 11 received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and Popkov V.I. became the Twice Hero of the Soviet Union. After the creation of an amateur orchestra, the squadron was called "singing".
During the Great Patriotic War, V.I. Popkov, who became the prototype of the legendary squadron commander Titarenko, the hero of the film “Only Old Men Go To Battle”, made 648 sorties, participated in 117 air battles, shooting down 47 enemy aircraft personally, and 13 airplanes in the group , 123 times stormed the airfields and enemy ground targets.
During the Korean campaign, V.I. Popkov, who served as deputy division commander under I.N. Kozhedub, independently shot down the 4 of the aircraft, in addition, it was he who forced the B-29 to land, which was carrying the secret equipment.
24 July 1945, the commander of the "singing squadron" V.I. Popkov took part in the Victory Parade, held in Moscow on Red Square. After the war, he became a cadet of the Red Banner Air Force Academy in Monino, and graduated with honors in 1951. Then he continued his studies at the General Staff Academy, after which, in 1964, V.Popkov was awarded a gold medal.
Prior to his dismissal in 1989, the air ace continued to serve the Motherland, taking various command positions in the USSR Armed Forces, where he shared his combat experience with young pilots and commanders.
A bust of the hero is installed in Moscow, but V.Popkov is considered an honorary citizen in such cities as: Kiev, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Sochi, Gagra, Magadan, Prague, Parndorf, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Krasnik (Poland).
Like any front-line soldier, Vitaly Ivanovich had something to tell about the war, and, apparently, he liked to do it. At least this is evidenced by the presence of a significant amount of his front-line memories on the pages of Soviet magazines and modern Internet sites, both in the form of interviews and in the form of artistic retellings. Here are just some of the stories that happened to the legendary maestro during the Great Patriotic War.
One day, at the end of March of the heavy 1942 of the year, such a thing happened with Vitaly Ivanovich история. One of the regiments, of which there were countless, was assigned to accompany a pair of transport aircraft LI-2, which flew to Leningrad. Difficult it was the aircraft and with uneasy passengers. The First Secretary of the Leningrad Regional Party Committee A. Zhdanov himself flew on them and in the future one of the main heroes of the war, Marshal, and at that time General of the Army, Commander of the Leningrad Front, Georgy Zhukov. Of all the regiments, it was no coincidence that this was the main character in our history, Vitaly Ivanovich, often in times of peace went to his aunt in Leningrad, where she worked in one of the orphanages. On the way, he really enjoyed seeing the churches, which in spite of everything is rich Russian land. And it was precisely in the churches that Vitaly Ivanovich always determined the route. During the war, this technique helped him more than once - in flight it was often necessary to determine exactly where you were. Vitaly approached the other pilots and said that he was flying to an aunt who works in an orphanage. Naturally, there are few products there, and where are there many in the war? But the soldiers gathered and the pilots did everything they could - after all the children are starving, you can’t calmly think about it. Two bags of crackers, a bag of black bread, canned meat, dry potatoes, carrots - they found something they brought with them. Yes, and collected everything that was practically, did not regret. Kilogram 150 has accumulated. The planes were supposed to fly right over the notorious "dear life", which at that time saved the inhabitants of Leningrad from starvation, of course, the German aircraft did not sleep, and shelling was almost always. But the task was successfully completed.
Landed on the "Commandant" airfield. The bosses had already gone about their business, and Vitaly asked the commandant to give the car to take the food to the orphanage and visit her aunt. When Vitaly arrived at the orphanage, there was no limit to the joy of the children, such a gift! The aunt showed the guest the orphanage and the kitchen, showed that they cooked horse harnesses, and added dry grass. Harsh times were ... I saw Vitaly and some very thin, emaciated children. They lay in the room, crouched, lifeless, could not even move - just watched, 30 pairs of wonderful children's eyes ... Fighting pilot could not contain tears. Vitaly tried to encourage the children - but how, he himself was no longer cheerful at all. He gave the boys egg powder, some did not even have the strength to suck it, to such an extent they were exhausted. Vitaly decided to do something - he returned to the airfield and persuaded his colleagues to drain some of the fuel so that they could take the children with them, the wounded soldiers and officers were already loaded onto the planes. 30 children were delivered to Moscow, who were saved lives, thanks to Vitaly, a formidable combat pilot, imbued with children's suffering.
The story had an unexpected continuation. Many years later, on the anniversary of the liberation of Leningrad, Vitaly accompanied the army general Lyashchenko, whose division made a significant contribution to breaking the blockade. During one of the pauses, Lyashchenko told filmmakers that he, too, was in Leningrad at the same time, albeit in other circumstances. Those found a few people from the group of those children. They were already adults who even preserved the memory of life in besieged Leningrad - an aluminum plate with an engraving of the names of all 30 children saved, which they presented to their rescuer at the meeting. This plate is very significant for Vitaly and takes place in his archive, but the main thing is in his heart. "Angel from the sky" was called a military pilot Vitaly rescued children. And not only those that were transported to Moscow - but every one of them from Orphanage # XXUMX, because until the very end of the blockade they ate food brought by Vitaly then.
Vitaly Ivanovich said that during the war he felt that something above him was protecting him. There was another interesting episode in his life. After the Stalingrad crucial battle, he managed to fly to his grandparents in the village Buturlinovka Voronezh region. Grandfather and grandmother were devoutly religious people. Vitaly flew over the village and decided to land on the field near one of the temples, and then just find out about the fate of his relatives. In the church at that time was the service. As soon as the landing gear touched the ground, the people immediately rushed to the plane. And the father came up. Vitaly talked with him about what was happening at the front, found out that his grandmother and grandfather were alive and well. Batyushka suggested to the dear guest to consecrate the plane - Vitaly agreed, of course. And the father sprinkled the car with holy water and said: “Even if the car was shot down, you will remain alive. War with God! Protect your homeland. And after all the truth, God Vitaly's coast was the whole war, and he also celebrated Victory Day as his personal holiday.
Vitali's life was rich in events. In August, 1943 of the year, driven by Alexander Pchelkin, drove Vitaly from the factory to the regiment of the brand new La 7. Somehow they flew over the wonderful Black Sea and saw the motor ship “Georgia”, which was transporting the wounded from Mala Zemlya to Sochi. And suddenly he sees that German planes are flying to this motor ship with signs of the Red Cross! But such vessels cannot be attacked! But that the international conventions of the Germans at that time ... The aircraft being overtaken by Vitaly and Alexander were not carried, it was necessary to figure out what to do. A great idea was born. On the new aircraft were installed signal lights. Vitaly gave the command to Pcholkina, so that he simulated the tracing firing at the enemy with the signal lights of his car and went to a rapprochement with the German aircraft. By that time, the Germans already had lessons of air battles on the Kursk Bulge, even a bike went - if there are two Russian fighters in the sky, then you can only fight with them with a double margin. And the Germans had only three planes. They saw the tracing lights and went away, leaving the ship alone. And Vitaly and a friend flew around the ship and greeted the wounded on the deck and the captain on the bridge. The captain recorded everything in the logbook and on arrival at the port reported on the incident and found out the names of his rescuers. For this feat, Vitaly Popkov was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of the city of Sochi.
Most of all the famous pilot, by his own admission, I remember the battle with Johann Genn, colonel of the Luftwaffe. This fight was for Vitaly Ivanovich the most difficult. Genn was considered one of the best pilots in Germany. The air battle lasted more than 30 minutes, but none of the opponents made any mistakes. The fight went in the so-called "vertical maneuver." The difficulty of the maneuver was that the plane, moving at great speed, went vertically upwards, while attacking its enemy. Vertical maneuvers continued time after time, one more swiftly than the other, but no one wanted to concede. At the exit of the next maneuver Popkov still managed to set fire to the fascist with a queue. However, to him to help another Messerschmitt. The appearance of another enemy was so unexpected (the plane emerged from a cloud of smoke that Vitaly did not have time to react to a sudden attack, and the line fired from the Messer flashed Popkov's plane. The car caught fire, Popkov himself was burning, but, having managed to find himself forces, jumped out of the burning car and opened the parachute. But this did not help either - the parachute burst. Vitali was saved by a viscous swamp into which he was lucky to fall.
The pilots of the first air squadron, which I commanded from 1943, shot down 236 enemy aircraft in the air, conducted 436 air battles, carried out 481 attack, 21836 sorties, 4032 bombing. I am proud that the whole war has passed among these wonderful people. Our squadron was called “singing” because of our attachment to the song, and my call sign was called “Maestro.” From our squadron of pilots 11 received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, this honor fell to me twice. And each rank, each combat award was paid at the cost of risk, skill, military superiority and real victories.
Vitaly Popkov after the war continued to serve in the Air Force. In 1951, he graduated from the Air Force Academy, in 1964, the Military Academy of the General Staff. Lieutenant General of Aviation with 1968 of the year. Since 1980, she has been teaching at the Air Force Engineering Academy. 6 February 2010, Vitaly Ivanovich Popkov died. 10 was buried on February 2010 of the year at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
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