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Lidija Litvjak the “White Lily of Stalingrad”


Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak, Moscow, August 18, 1921 – Krasnyi Luch  August 1, 1943), also known as Lydia Litviak or Lilya Litviak   was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. With at least 12 solo victories and at least four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions, over about two years of missions, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace, and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot.  Born in Moscow, to a Jewish family Litvyak became interested in aviation at an early age. At 14 she enrolled in a flying club. She performed her first solo flight at 15, and later graduated at Kherson military flying school. She became a flight instructor at Kalinin Air Club, and by the time the German-Soviet war broke out, had already trained 45 pilots. After the German attack on the Sovet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit, but was turned down for lack of experience. After deliberately exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours, she joined the all-female 586th Fighter Regiment of the Air Defense Force which was formed by Marina Raskova. She trained there on the Yakovlev Yak-1 aircraft. Litvyak flew her first combat flights in the summer of 1942 over Saratov. In September, she was assigned to the 437 IAP, a men’s regiment fighting over Stalingrad. She was shot down, age 21, near Orel during the Battle of Kursk as she attacked a convoy of German planes.



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