Evdokia Nikulin. Illustrious Night Witch Pilot
Female regiments of the Red Army
Formation of female aviation regiments began in October 1941 according to order No. 0099 of the USSR People's Commissariat of Defense (dated October 8, 1941) "On the formation of female aviation regiments of the Red Army Air Force." Thus, the People's Commissariat accepted the offer of the famous pilot Marina Raskova (1912-1943). At that time, 29-year-old Marina Raskova already bore the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union - she was awarded in 1938 for courage and heroism shown during a non-stop flight on the route "Moscow - Far East", during which a distance of 6450 km was covered. By order of Grizodubova, Raskova made a parachute jump into the taiga during an emergency landing and was found only ten days later. At the same time, from the food supplies, the pilot had only two chocolate bars with her. By the time the Great Patriotic War began, Raskova served in the military aviation and at the same time was on the staff of the People's Commissariat for State Security, having the military rank of senior lieutenant of state security.
Using her authority in Soviet society and the availability of an outlet personally to Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Raskova achieved the creation of exclusively female aviation units of the Red Army. In the world military stories there was no such precedent yet - no, of course, there were also women - military pilots, but there were no proper units proper that would be fully staffed with women. However, the idea of Marina Raskovoy appealed to the all-powerful party and state leader. Stalin signed a top secret decree on the creation of women's aviation regiments. Marina Raskova was appointed responsible for their formation. Moreover, she herself took command of the 587-m bomber aviation regiment on Pe-2, which was later reorganized into the 125-th Guards pick-up and bomber aviation named after Marina Raskova of Borisov Order of Suvorov and Kutuzov Regiment (Order of the NKO USSR No. 265 from SNNMN of 03.09.1943 from the NNN of the USSR NNO of the XNUMX from the NNT of the NNT USSR)
Under the command of another illustrious and experienced pilots - Evdokia Bershanskaya - February 6 1942 588, was created-Bomber Aviation Regiment, received in the same year the name of 1943 46-Taman Guards Red Banner Order of Suvorov 3-th degree Night Bomber Regiment. Only women served in the regiment - they held all positions - from aviation mechanics and aviation technicians to navigators and pilots, and the commanding staff of the regiment remained female. So, the 46 regiment was commanded by Evdokia Bershanskaya, and the deputy commander for political affairs was Maria Runt (the first commissar of the regiment was the battalion commissar Evdokia Rachkevich). The headquarters of the regiment at different times were headed by Maria Fortus and Irina Rakobolskaya.
The other two aviation regiments — the 587 th bomber and the 586 fighter — originally created as women’s, later headed by men, began to take over men as engineering staff, because it was quite a challenge to train the girls in a short time directly to aircraft maintenance. Thus, only the 46 th regiment (the former 588 th) remained completely feminine in composition. This, in the first place, was his special “zest” as a front-line unit.
Evdokia Bershanskaya (maiden name - Karabut) (1913-1982) was from the North Caucasus, from the territory of the Stavropol Territory. Enrolling in the Batay Aviation School in 1931, it is in 1932-1939. was an aircraft instructor. In 1939, she took command of an aerial special purpose 218 aviation squadron based in the Krasnodar Territory in the village of Pashkovskaya. Considering that in the 1941 year, despite being young (28 years), Bershanskaya had a ten-year aviation experience behind her back and, moreover, the experience of commanding a female aviation squad formed at the Bataysk Aviation School, it was Marina Raskova and the highest military air command entrusted the post of commander of the 588-th Bomber Aviation Regiment, assigning the military rank of captain of aviation. Evdokia Davydovna ended the war as a guard lieutenant colonel.
The number of 588 th aviation regiment Bershanskaya ("Dunkiny regiment", as it was jokingly called in the Red Army) was originally 115 people. Mostly they were very young girls - 17-22 years, who, nevertheless, very much wanted to contribute to the victory over the Nazi invaders. Among them were a lot of students - mostly from the faculties of exact sciences - physical, mechanical and mathematical, the girls were sent to the navigators from the geographical faculty. The implication was that the knowledge gained by them in civilian universities would facilitate the assimilation of military subjects and would only train future pilots, navigators, technicians and mechanics in practical subjects related to the management and maintenance of aircraft. “Students from different universities in Moscow were enrolled in the navigator group. They settled us in the house of sports and again on the double-decker beds. And the persistent doctrine began: classroom work on 11 hours a day, including Morse code and drill, and in the evenings it was necessary to prepare for the next day. The discipline in the unit was very tough "- recalls Irina Rakobolskaya (Rakobolskaya I., Kravtsova N. We were called night witches. So the female 46 th Guards Regiment of night bombers fought. - 2 e edition, supplemented. - M .: MGU Publishing, 2005).
12 June 1942, the regiment's first departure took place, and 8 February 1943, he was awarded the honorary title of the Guards regiment. The combat path of the regiment was held in 1942 in the Rostov Region, Stavropol Territory, and North Ossetia. In 1943 participated in the breakthrough of the enemy's defense, the liberation of Novorossiysk, and later supported landing operations on the Kerch Peninsula, the liberation of the Crimea and Sevastopol. In June-July, 1944, the regiment liberated Belarus, in August, 1944, Poland, in January, 1945, East Prussia. April 1945 The pilots of the regiment were met on the Oder, where they broke through the enemy defenses.
During the three years of war, the regiment did not go to re-form, its composition remained female, although it was part of a larger "male" air force - the 325 night bomber aviation division, for a while - in the 2 2nd guards night bomber aviation division ( in May 1944 g., during the fighting to liberate the Crimean peninsula). The regiment flew the Po-2 bombers. At the beginning of the war, the regiment had 20 airplanes, at the height of the hostilities, 45, and the regiment met its victory with 35 machines.
How did Dina come to aviation
In this regiment, and had a chance to serve the heroine of our article. Like many of her colleagues, Evdokia Andreyevna Nikulina (1917-1993) was a professional pilot with pre-war experience. She was born in the year of the October Revolution - 8 in November 1917 of the year in the village of Parfenovo (now it is Spas-Demensky district of Kaluga region) in a peasant family. In 1930, thirteen-year-old Evdokia (her relatives called her Dina) went to Podolsk, where her older brother worked at a cement plant. In this suburban town of Dina entered the factory school at the cement plant, which she graduated in 1933 year. It would seem that the way of life of a girl from a simple family was predetermined - working as a laboratory assistant at a cement plant, family life, retirement.
But, like many of her peers and peers, Evdokia dreamed about aviation. Stalin's industrialization not only made the Soviet Union one of the world industrial powers, but also set a certain vector of life strategies for millions of Soviet young men and women. Evdokia enrolled in an aviation school - initially studying for aircraft. Then, in her second year, she decided to try herself at the controls of the aircraft. Passed exams for an on-board mechanic and for a pilot. In 1936, a female aviation squadron was formed, which was transferred to an aviation school in Bataisk (a suburb of Rostov-on-Don). During the two years of study, Evdokia was able to take a three-year flight training course. After graduation, she was given a direction to serve in the Smolensky Aviation Unit of the Civil Air fleet, where Evdokia regularly coped with the tasks of delivering airmail, urgent medical departures, the destruction of malaria mosquitoes and other important matters for two years. Then the war began. The first days of the war, Evdokia Nikulin served at the headquarters of the Western Front, then received an appointment to the city of Engels, where Marina Raskova formed the women's aviation regiments of the Red Army Air Force.
Her front-line journey began in June 1941. In the bomber aviation regiment she went through the whole war - until 1945 of the year. I flew Po-2. Then released a book of memories I.V. Rakobolskaya and N.F. Kravtsov described this plane in the following way: “a wooden biplane with two open cockpits, located one after another, and dual controls for the pilot and navigator. Without radio communication and armor-pins capable of protecting the crew from bullets, with a low-powered motor that could reach a maximum speed of 120 km / h. There was no bomb bay on the plane, the bombs were hung in the bomb racks right under the plane of the plane. There were no sights, we created them ourselves and called them PPR (simpler than the soared turnip). The amount of bomb load varied from 100 to 300 kg. On average, we took 150 — 200 kg. But over the night, the plane managed to make several sorties, and the total bomb load was comparable to the load of a large bomber ”(Rakobolskaya I., Kravtsova N. We were called night witches. So the female 46-th Guards Regiment of night bombers fought. - 2-e edition, augmented. - M .: Publishing House of MSU, 2005). It is significant that pilots did not use parachutes before August 1943. More precisely, parachutes, of course, were in the regiment, but the “night witches” themselves preferred not to take them, trying to free the aircraft for extra 20 kilograms of bombs. That is, consciously taking risks. In the summer of 1942, Nikulina joined the VKP (b). After the death of the squadron commander Lyubov Olkhovskaya, Evdokia Nikulin was appointed in her place as an experienced and talented female pilot.
Yevgeny Rudnev served as the navigator of the aircraft piloted by Nikulin. With Evgenia Rudneva, Evdokia Nikulin was close friends. No wonder - after all, they had to regularly, on one plane, take off for combat missions. Evgenia Rudneva left her diary entries about those exciting days, weeks and months of war. Dedicated to her military friend and commander she and such a poem:
“So that the enemies of sleep have forgotten.
If the year flew together,
If there are more than two hundred sorties,
Wherever I later be,
Anyway, I won't forget you.
I will not forget how weave sat down,
As on the Manych guns we were beaten,
Over the burning homeland, we raced. "
Evgenia Rudneva was even younger than Evdokia Nikulina. She was born December 24 1920, in Berdyansk. Her father was a Ukrainian, served on the telegraph. The mother is Jewish by birth, marrying a father, adopted Orthodoxy. From that moment on, her relatives - Orthodox Jews - forever broke off all relations with her. Zhenya Rudneva graduated from high school with honors and before the war she managed to complete three courses of the astronomy department of the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow State University. While studying at the university, she gave very high hopes, was one of the best students of the course. When the Komsomol threw a call for Moscow students to join the ranks of female aviation units being formed, student Zhenya Rudneva eagerly responded - despite the craving for science, she felt she could not stand aside when her native land was being attacked by the invaders. Then there was the navigator school and sending to the front.
From May 1942, Mr. Zhenya Rudneva was at the front as a navigator of the Po-2 crew. “I really miss astronomy, but I do not regret that I went into the army: let's break up the invaders, then we will undertake to restore astronomy. Without a free Motherland, there can be no free science! ”- wrote Evgenia Rudneva in her diaries (Zhenya Rudneva's front lines // Earth and Universe. M., 1985. No. 3.). Unfortunately, Zhenya Rudneva was not destined to survive the war and return to the peaceful and interesting profession of an astronomer. On the night of April 9 1944, the 23-year-old senior lieutenant Yevgeny Rudneva died while performing a combat mission. She made the last flight with the pilot of 24-year-old Pan Prokopyeva, participating in the operation to liberate the Kerch Peninsula. Posthumously, Eugene Rudnev was awarded the highest award - the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Only in 1966, it was possible to establish that the plane Prokopyeva and Rudneva was shot down near Kerch. Pilot and navigator buried as unknown soldiers. Twenty years after the war, the commissar of the regiment Evdokia Rachkevich, who continued to search for her comrade-in-arms, managed to find a burial in Kerch and find out that her comrades were buried there.
However, let us return to the main character of our article Dina Nikulina. In the summer of 1943, during one of the sorties, the plane piloted by Nikulin (at the place of the navigator that day was Larisa Radchikova) was fired at by enemy guns. The car caught fire. Wounded Nikulina managed to land the plane near the front line, focusing only on the rare flashes of car headlights. The wounded Nikulin and Radchikova were in Krasnodar, in a military hospital. Nikulina was wounded in the thigh through the throat, after which she stopped at the evening of amateur performances, who had brightened up the night witches' everyday life, to dance her famous tap dance and switched to singing - the combat female pilot did not hesitate to display her artistic skills.
"Night witches" took an active part in the liberation of the southern regions of the RSFSR - the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region. It was possible, after the 4 year of absence, Evdokia to visit the native village of Parfenovo. It turned out that during the hostilities in the Smolensk region (the village then belonged to it), the Nazis almost destroyed this town. The houses were burned, there was no house and the Nikulin family left. People who survived lived in dug dugouts. It turned out that the war passed through death and the family of the pilot: her brother Fyodor died (the same one that thirteen-year-old Dina Nikulina went to Podolsk, to the cement plant), sister Olga, brothers Andrei and Mikhail survived, but were seriously injured. A visit to her native village, as the pilot then recalled, only added to her determination to fight the Nazis and, if necessary, put her life in order only to free her native country from the invaders.
Since the spring of the 1944, the regiment, along with other units of the Red Army, has steadily moved west. Soviet pilots fought in the sky of Poland, East Prussia. Here, in a strange sky, it was no less tense and dangerous than above homeland. By September 1944, the account of Major Evdokiya Nikulin’s guard had 600 sorties. Nikulina flew to the bombing of strategic facilities and military units of the enemy. For such an exemplary and selfless service, the Soviet leadership could not fail to award Evdokia Nikulin the highest award of the Soviet state - October 26 1944. By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Evdokia Andreevna Nikulin was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and awarded the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal for 4741.
His last combat mission squadron commander, Major Major Evdokia Andreyevna Nikulin and the subordinate pilots performed 7 May 1945 of the year. On this day, the squadron bombed Hitler’s airfield and military units in Swinemünde. By the time the Great Patriotic War ended, the squadron commander Nikulin had 774 combat sorties, the total duration of 3 64 hours in the air, including 1500 hours of night flights. All in all, the crews of the squadron subordinate to Nikulina made eight thousand combat sorties. In addition to Evdokia Andreevna herself, eight pilots and navigators of the squadron received the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union. In total, the 46 Aviation Regiment received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and received 23 military personnel, some of them posthumously.
Life and death after the war
In addition to the Golden Star and the Order of Lenin, Evdokia Andreyevna Nikulina was also awarded three Orders of the Red Banner, Orders of the Patriotic War of I and II degrees, the Order of Alexander Nevsky, medals "For Military Merit", "For the Defense of the Caucasus" and "For the Victory over Germany in the Great World War 1941-1945 years.
October 15 1945, the 46 th Guards Taman Red Banner Order of Suvorov 3 Degree, the night bombing aviation regiment was disbanded, and the vast majority of its pilots, navigators, technicians and mechanics were demobilized. Heroic Soviet pilots, nicknamed the "night witches," went "to the citizen." They had to realize themselves in a peaceful life, to catch up over the years of the war, first of all - in their personal lives, the acquisition of civilian professions. Most of them could be realized in peacetime. Many received pedagogical education, worked in institutions of secondary and higher education, in the organs of the party political apparatus. However, some of the pilots of the famous regiment never broke with aviation, continuing to work in the field of training young aviators in the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation and Fleet (DOSAAF).
Guards Major Evdokia Andreyevna Nikulina went into the reserve, and then was retired. In 1948, she graduated from the Rostov Party School, in 1954, the Rostov Pedagogical Institute. The further life of Evdokia Andreevna was associated with the work in the Rostov-on-Don city committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - as an instructor of the city committee of the party. After the war, she lived all her life in Rostov-on-Don. She actively participated in the activities of veteran public organizations. Much has been written about articles in Evdokia Andreevna, she also appears in memoirs, including the memoirs of Rakobolskaya and Kravtsova published in our time, which were quoted above.
Unfortunately, the life of Evdokia Andreevna ended tragically. After 48 years after the end of the Great Patriotic War, which she passed with honor, in 1993, a combat pilot in peaceful Rostov became the victim of a criminal scoundrel. An unknown person called the apartment of Evdokia Andreevna, where, besides her grandmother, her three-year-old granddaughter was there. The scumbag introduced himself as a friend of front-line comrade Nikulina, beating up her grandmother and her three-year-old granddaughter. The only thing that could have been valuable in the pensioner's apartment - her battle honors - the villain took with him. 23 March 1993, Evdokia Andreyevna Nikulina passed away.
In memory of the heroic Soviet military aviator, a memorial plaque was installed on the house where her post-war life in Rostov-on-Don (lane Zhuravleva, 104) was held, and the obelisk in the city of Spas-Demensk of Kaluga region (where Yevdokia Andreevna was born). In honor of Evdokia Andreevna Nikulina, a street was named in the neighborhood “Bolgarstroy” (Rostov-on-Don).
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.