Piotr Kozachenko was born in 1914, in the small village of Korostienie in the Ukraine. When he was 20 years old, he attended the Flight Training School. After ending his training, he was ordered to an Aviation Regiment. As a volunteer, he joined the Chinese forces against Japan. During fights over the Uchan Provence he downed 11 enemy planes. In 1938, he was awarded the Order of the Red Flag. In 1939-40, he flew over the Karelia area and achieved 4 aerial kills.
On 22 June 1941, the first day of the war with Germany, Major Kozachenko and his group of I-153 aircraft of the 249th Fighter Regiment (249 IAP) flew ground attacks against German forces at Lubera city (near Zytomierz). On the next day, a group of seven I-153's, under his command, intercepted 12 Heinkel He 112 B fighters of the Rumanian FARR´s Flotila 1 Vinatoare attempting to raid the Bolgard airfield. Kozachenko shot down the He 112 piloted by Adj.Av. A. Codnet, where after his group returned to base without losses. Commanded by Captain Alexander Ivanovich Halutin, the 249 was credited with 25 aerial victories for the loss of 10 planes and six pilots from June to October 1941 (when the unit was withdrawn from combat to be re-equipped with the LaGG-3).
On 10 July 1941 Kozachenko and his group of fourteen I-153 aircraft of the 249th Fighter Regiment (249 IAP) flew ground attacks against German forces on the road from Lubera to Krasnopol' (Zytomierz region). On 14 July Kozachenko's group of five I-153 destroyed enemy headquarters near Shurupovka village ( Vinnitsa region ), and on the next day, a group of seven I-153's, under his command, intercepted 12 Heinkel He 113 (really Bf 109F, possibly from JG3). Kozachenko shot down the He 113 near Kazatin, whereafter his group returned to base without losses. (from 1941 God. Yugo-Zapadniy front : vospominaniya, ocherki. Lvov, 1970 - Year 1941. South-West front : memoirs, essays. L'vov, 1970 - via Yuri V.Shakhov - thanks!) Note: the describe of the same (probably) combat against Heinkel fighters appeard twice and with different dates - depending from source.
In 1942, this regiment flew over the Caucasus - Kerch front area. On 1 February 1942, a formation of six LaGG-3 fighters led by Kozachenko spotted a group of 15 Messerschmitt Bf 110s. Catching the Germans in an unfavorable position, the Soviets downed 5 of the twin-engined fighters. During a strike on Mineralniye Airfield a few days later, Kozachenko shot down a Bf 109. Shortly afterwards, Kozachenko and six other pilots of the Fighter Regiment's 7 fighters blew 8 Junkers Ju 52s out of the sky in one combat. Being promoted as commander of the 249th IAP, Major Piotr Kozacheko received the Golden Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union on 6 May 1943.
At this time, his regiment was instructed to organize "free hunting missions" on German Ju 52 transport aircraft. During one of these "free hunts", Kozachenko was seriously injured. He was hit in his left arm and stomach. He was able to return to base, but after landing he remained in the cockpit until his comrades helped him out. He was admitted to hospital for some weeks.
In the summer of 1944, he returned to duty in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 163rd IAP. With this unit, he saw action in the skies over the encircled German troops near Minsk. His Regiment operated as part of the Soviet 4th Air Army on the 2nd White Russian Front. Frequently, his regiment was ordered to cover special versions of the Petlyakov Pe-2 during very important Reconnaissance missions. These Pe-2 reconnaissance crews put great faith in Kozachenko's cover, and named him "Daddy" (in Russian - "Bat´ka"). In March 1945, the 2nd White Russian Front fought near Gdansk and Gdynia. On 18 March 1945, "Daddy" Kozachenko was killed in an aerial combat while escorting reconnaissance Pe-2's. The last words heard from him in the radio, were "I'm hit, going for a 'Taran'!" (air-to-air ramming). This same day, as Kozachenko was killed, Hauptmann Joachim Brendel, the 189-victory ace in III./JG 51, claimed 3 victories over East Prussia...
Kozachenko flew 227 combat missions and downed 12 German planes. He was awarded the Soviet Hero Title, and four times was awarded the Order of the Red Flag. He also received the Alexander Nevski medal and many other awards.
According to my sources, there is information that Kozatchenko probably, on 9 November 1942, shot down a well know German ace - Oberfeldwebel Franz-Josef Beerenbrock (who had over 100 kills). Here is the story:
"One day, a group of fighters, commanded by Kozachenko, escorted a single Petlyakov Pe-2 on a photo reconnaissance mission. The German AAA was very intensive. But suddenly the Flak held its fire. German fighters were approaching. The enemy showed great determination to destroy the reconnaissance plane, but the Soviet fighters managed to keep the Pe-2 safe. The Pe-2 could make a second reconnaissance run, and a third run, but during the fourth photography run, one Fw 190 came up close behind the Pe-2. Flying at the same speed as the bomber-reconnaissance aircraft, the Fw 190 opened fire. The Pe-2 crew was caught by surprise and the radio operator was killed. A large hole, about the size of a man's head was blown open in the cockpit. Kozacheko was very close, and he saw many markings on the Fw190's fuselage, especially an indian with a bow near the cockpit. "This is a German ace from Mölder's Regiment" Kozatchenko thought. He was so close that he even could see the German ace smiling. The German's smile did not last long, however. "Daddy´s" fire was completely devastating and the German plane plummeted downwards. After a few seconds, Kozachenko saw the Fw 190 explode as it crashed into the ground. The Pe-2 was damaged, but able to return to base. Having taken some very important photos, the Pe-2 crew received personal thanks from the C-in-C of the 2nd White Russian Front, Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky. After the war, German POW Captain Gabel (of the "3rd Mölders Squadron") informed the Soviet intellegence that on the same day as Kozachenko had scored this victory, the excellent German ace Beerenbrock was posted as missing."
More informations about the German ace mentioned above will be found on the page devoted to Franz-Josef Beerenbrock. Note: There are some oddities surrounding Kozachenko´s supposed downing of Franz-Josef Beerenbrock: First, Beerenbrock (who certainly belonged to JG 51 "Mölders") never flew a Fw 190, but a Bf 109. And secondly, the 2nd White Russian Front had not been up yet by the time as Beerenbrock was shot down. Either, this is due to a printing mistake in the Russian report (indeed very common in all war reports); or there remains the alternative that it was not Beerenbrock, but another ace of JG 51, that was shot down by Kozachenko.
Unfortunatelly, I have no profile or photo of Piotr Kozachenko´s aircraft. But I decided to show two very rare, colour prints of the Yak-9 D fighter. Kozachenko flew his last mission with this type of aircraft. Note for modellers - second photo shows probably brand new fighter (any tactical or unit insygnia) - it's in dark/light green camuflage and NOT in most preferred dark/light gray!!!
1998.12.29, © WW II Ace Stories.