Naval Yak-1s in the air
over the Crimea.


Yak-1: The Yak-1 was the most formidable Soviet fighter plane in 1941, with performances close to those of the Bf 109 F.

On September 30, 1941 Kapitan Ivan Lyubimov's 5 Eskadrilya of 32 IAP/VVS-ChF, equipped with the by far best Soviet fighter plane, the Yak-1, intercepted a pair of Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7 from 4./JG 77 over the Crimea. Kapitan Lyubimov scored decisive hits on the Messerschmitt piloted by Unteroffizier Julius Dite. Then one of Lyubimov's pilots, Starshiy Leytenant Mikhail Avdeyev, closed in to deal the final blow. Avdeyev, who would develop into one of the major aces of the VVS-Black Sea Fleet, recalls:

"I approached the descending, burning Me 109 from the side. I decided to wait and see if the fascist would jettison his canopy and bail out. But to my astonishment, having jettsioned the canopy with ease, he pulled up his aircraft slightly and then pushed his stick forward. The machine banked downwards. I saw the pilot - tall and slim, dressed in a grey overall - pop out of the cockpit. Hastily, he opened his parachute."

Julius Dite, bailed out. He was taken prisoner and handed over his pistol (with an inscription telling that this was an award for his distinguished feats during the capture of Crete) to his captors. On February 3, 1942, this young Austrian perished in a Russian POW camp. His pistol however still is on display in the Central Navy Museum in St Petersburg.

On October 1, JG 77 took revenge on 32 IAP/VVS-ChF. A strong formation of Bf 109s intercepted a ground-attack formation consisting of I-15bis and I-16 Ishaks from 3 Eskadrilya/32 IAP, led by Kapitan Konstantin Denisov, and the Il-2 Shturmoviks of Kapitan Aleksey Gubriy's 46 OShAE . Ten Yak-1s of 5./32 IAP, providing fighter cover, turned against the Messerschmitts. An uneven combat followed. The Yakovlevs managed to escape without suffering any losses - Starshiy Leytenant Mikhail Avdeyev even managed to shoot down a Bf 109 F. But they could not prevent the JG 77 pilots from tearing up the formation of the ground-attackers. 3 Eskadrilya/32 IAP lost three I-16s. All three I-16s were credited to fighter aces of III./JG 77 - Oberleutnant Kurt Lasse scoring his 38th, Oberleutnant Kurt Ubben his 39th and Feldwebel Robert Helmer his 17th victory. II./JG 77 claimed two of 46 OShAE's Shturmoviks.

Kurt Lasse

Oberleutnant Kurt Lasse had scored 39 victories when he was killed in combat with Soviet fighters over the Perekop Isthmus to the north of the Crimea on October 8, 1941.

Eskadrilya, squadron (Soviet)
IAP, fighter aviation regiment (Soviet)
JG, fighter wing (German)
OShAE, independent ground-attack squadron (Soviet)
VVS-ChF, Air Force of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet

Meldungen über Flugzeugunfälle und Verluste bei den fliegenden Verbände Gen.Qu. 6
Abt., BA/MA.
Russian Military Archive TsAMO.
Prien, Jagdgeschwader 77.
Avdeyev, U samogo Chyornogo morya.

                            © Christer Bergström, Andrey Mikhailov 2000  

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