Alexander Klubov - Pokryshkin's Falcon.
In the photo above, from the Summer of 1943 (battles over Kuban), are from left: Cpt.
A. Klubov, Cpt. G. Rechkalov, Lt A. Trud, Mjr. B. Glinka. In the text is a portrait
photo of Klubov, probably retouched due to his facial burns. Klubov's uniform is
decorated with (from left): Great Patriotic War Medal 1st Class, Alexander Nevski
Medal, Gold Soviet Hero Star (upper right), Lenin Medal and two Red Banner Medals.
Alexander Fiodorowitch Klubov was born in 1918, in the small country-village of
Jerunovo, in the Wolgograd region. His father was Fiodor Ivanovitch, a country worker,
who nonetheless was a sailor on the battleship "Aurora", and thus was a witness of the
great shot - the signal that began the Bolshevist Revolution of 1917.
After graduating ground school, young Alexander arrived in Leningrad, where he worked as
a turner in an industrial plant named "Bolshevist". He joined the Soviet Aeroclub, and
after basic training, decided to make aviation his life. In 1939, Klubov volunteered to
Military Aviation School, and after finishing training, was promoted to the rank of
Leutnant. That promotion came just before "Barbarossa" the German invasion of the Soviet
In August of 1942, Klubov entered front-line duty as a fighter pilot. In one of very
hard battles over Mozdok, his I-153 suffered heavy hits. The plane caught fire, and
Klubov was forced to bail out, but not before flames had badly burned his face and
hands. Despite many weeks in the hospital, Klubov's skin remained scarred. In the
autumn of 1942, Klubov was awarded the Red Flag Medal. By early 1943 he returned to
front line duty with the 16 GvIAP, commanded by famous
Alexander Pokryshkin .
The unit entered battle 9 April 1943 and by the end of that month, had been in 28 air
battles, in which Soviet pilots downed 79 aircraft of the following types: 14 Bf 109E,
12 Bf 109F, 45 Bf 109G, 2 FW 190, 4 Ju 88, 1 Do 217, and 1 Ju 87. The most
successful pilots of this period were: Cpt. A. I. Pokryshkin - 10 Bf 109, Sen. Lt.
V. I. Fadieyev - 12 Bf 109 and Sen. Lt. G.A. Rechkalov - 7 Bf 109 + 1 Ju 88. Under
Pokryshkin's leadership and with daily exposure to heavy combat, the young pilots got a
lot of experience (or died...).
The following is an excerpt from Alexander Pokryshkin's book "The Sky of War", devoted
to young Soviet pilots. This is an episode during the fierce Battle of Kuban in the
summer of 1943, when the 16th GvIAP flew P-39 D Airacobras.
""...They flew their sorties without interruption, with heroism and battled with great
skill. Klubov, Trofimov, Sukhov, Lukianov, and Zherdiev. Not long ago, they were new
and inexperienced. Now they lead big formations and successfully fulfill combat missions
in extremely difficult conditions. Especially distinguishing himself with courage and
total control of his aircraft, was Alexander Klubov. He was calm, and a little phlegmatic
on the ground, but in the air he totally changed. He was brave, determined, and full of
initiative. Klubov did not wait for the enemy, he tried to find him. He had the
special "spirit" of a fighter pilot.
One day, we got very nervous about Klubov. It was sunset, his flying limit had surely
been reached, but Klubov had not returned from a reconnaissance mission. Following my
radio call, he simply replied: "I am in combat!" After that, the radio went silent. I
was worried that something could be wrong.
Suddenly his aircraft appeared, having been so long awaited by us. But he flew in a very
odd way. He flew down, then rapidly climbed again. It was obvious that his steering system
was damaged and only his will and excellent piloting kept his plane in the air. I ordered
him, by radio, to bail out, but he did not hear me. His radio was damaged.
When his fighter began the landing maneuver, I was really terrified. I was sure, that his
"swinging" flight would end with a ground crash. But Klubov kept the machine in control
and landed successfully without his landing gear down. Aviators, standing on the runway,
rapidly ran to help him, but Klubov climbed as calm as ever out of his cockpit. He walked
around his plane, wondering over all the many bullet holes and said to his aircraft,
"You fought very well, my friend!"
Klubov said nothing about his duel with six Messerschmitts, nor that he had shot down two
Alexander Klubov, was twice (on 13 April 1943, and then posthumously, on 27 June 1945)
awarded the highest military award of the USSR, the Golden Star, as a Hero of the Soviet
Union. He flew 457 sorties and took part in 95 air combats. He scored 31 personal
victories and another 19 were claimed as 'group' kills. On 10 October 1944 (some sources
say on 1 November 1944), Klubov was killed in the crash landing on the Jezowe airfield
(25 km from Stalowa Wola, Poland). It was a training flight in the new La-7 fighter, and
there was a malfunction of the plane's hydraulic system.
Special thanks to John Crump for English language support !
Klubov's friends from 16th GvIAP during battle break. Most successful of the P-39 D-2
pilots, commander of 3rd squadron from 16 IAP, Sen.Lt Vadim I. Fadieyev (right) and his
wingman Lt Andriey I. Trud (left). In the background is Fadieyev's P-39 D-2 41-38428,
tactical code "37". Fadieyev recorded 394 battle missions, 51 combats, 17 alone kills
and other 3 group victories. Flew on P-39 D-2 (since 9 April 1943 till 5 May 1943), he
downed 14 Bf 109 and 1 Ju 87. He was KIA on 5 May 1943 on a lone fight against group
of 12 Bf 109's.
1998.05.26, © WW II Ace Stories.