Popkov, Vitaly Ivanovich.

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Popkov, Vitaly Ivanovich, born 01-05-1922 in Moscow, joined the  in 1940 and graduated from the Chuguevskaya military-aviation school of pilots in 1941. After graduation from the Chuguev military aviation school in May 1941, he remained to become an instructor with the rank of sergeant. He was soon transferred to a school at Bataisk. Soon after the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Popkov was posted to a fighter regiment supporting Soviet forces on the Kalinin Front, northwest of Moscow.

In March 1942 during the Soviet winter counter offensive, Popkov made his first aerial victory near Lake Ilmen. In his first three months at the front he flew over 100 combat missions and shot down four enemy aircraft. In late 1942 Popkov’s unit participated in the defence of Stalingrad. He was wounded three times and shot down twice. He claimed a further five Junkers Ju-52 transports and six Bf. 109 fighters.

In August 1943 Popkov took command of a fighter squadron in the 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 295th Fighter Air Division. Flying the Lavochkin La-5,  he continued to add to his victory tally, shooting down three Messerschmitts near Kharkov, and three more near Kiev.

During service over the Crimea, Leningrad and at the battle of Kursk Popkov flew 478 combat missions and took part in 117 air combats, from which he personally claimed 41 enemy aircraft shot down (1 by ramming) and 1 victory shared. He eventually became commander of 5th GIAP Guards Fighter Regiment, 207th Fighter Aviation Division, 3rd Mixed Aviation Corps (17th Air Army) on the South-Western Front, mainly flying the Lavochkin LaGG-3, La-5, La-5FN, and La-7.

  Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. Pilots of the Soviet Air Force 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, above,  pose for a group photo on an aerodrome of the city recently liberated from German forces by the Red Army in the Second World War: A. Masloboinikov, A. Kalugin, Vitaly Ibanovich Popkov, I. Artamonov, A. Marchenko, A.Pchyolkin (L-R).

He was also squadron commander of 5 GIAP, 11th Fighter Aviation Division, 2nd Guards Assault Aviation Corps (2nd Air Army) on the 1st Ukrainian Front.

Post war he graduated from the Red Banner Air Force Academy in 1951, and then served with the General Staff Academy to 1964, being promoted to Lieutenant General of Aviation in 1968. He flew 25 types of aircraft and helicopters during service with the Ministry of Defense, USSR.

Death and burial ground of Popkov, Vitaly Ivanovich.

Right to left background Russian President Vladimir Putin presented the Order of Honor to Vitaly Popkov member of the guardian He was also a two-time Hero of the Soviet Union.

He then taught at the Military Engineering Academy until 1980. Popkov, Vitaly Ivanovich died on 02-06-2010, aged 88, in Moscow, Russian Federation and is buried on the Novodevichy Cemetery, Section 11, Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia. Radek Hroch my friend visited the Novodevichy Cemetery and sent my all the gravephot’s there.

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