Gastello, Nikolai Frantsevich
Born Apr. 23 (May 6), 1907, in Moscow; died June 26, 1941. Soviet pilot; Hero of the Soviet Union (July 26, 1941, posthumously); captain. Member of the CPSU from 1928. Born into the family of a worker.
After graduating from a military pilot school, Gastello took part in fighting on the Khalkin-Gol River and in the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-40. Early in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, Gastello commanded a squadron of the 207th Air Regiment of the 42nd Bomber Air Division. On June 26, 1941, during the bombing of an enemy tank column on the Radoshkovichi-Molodechno road, the gasoline tank of Gastello’s airplane was pierced, and a fire broke out. The crew (Lieutenants A. A. Budeniuk and G. N. Skorobogatov and Sergeant First Class A. A. Kalinin), headed by Gastello, did not parachute from the plane; instead, Gastello directed the burning plane at a concentration of tanks, motor vehicles, and gasoline tank trucks, which exploded together with the plane. He was awarded the Order of Lenin.