Zaitsev, Vasilii

Zaitsev, Vasilii Aleksandrovich


Born Dec. 28, 1910 (Jan. 10, 1911), in the village of Semibratskoe, now Kolomna Raion, Moscow Oblast; died May 19, 1961, in Kolomna. Twice Hero of the Soviet Union (May 5, 1942, and Aug. 24, 1943); colonel (1946). Member of the CPSU from 1932.

Zaitsev was a worker and son of a peasant. He joined the Soviet Army in 1932, graduating from the Lugansk Military Aviation School for Pilots in 1933 and from the Borisoglebsk Military Aviation School in 1936. In the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), he commanded a squadron, was navigator and deputy commander of a fighter aviation regiment, commanded the 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment from 1942 to 1944, and was deputy commander of an aviation division from 1944 to 1945. Participating in fighting near Moscow and Stalingrad, in the liberation of the Ukraine, and on German territory, he made over 400 sorties, conducted 163 air battles, and shot down by himself 34 enemy aircraft and 19 in a group with other pilots. He forced two enemy fighter planes to land in a Soviet airfield. He retired in September 1946 for health reasons. Zaitsev was awarded the Order of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Patriotic War First Class, the Order of Bogdan Khmel’nitskii Second Class, and various medals.