Fedor Arhipenko

Fedor Arhipenko

Hero of the Soviet Union
Date of Birth: 30.10.1921
Country: Belarus

  1. Biography of Fedor Arkhipenko
  2. Difficult Childhood
  3. Becoming a Pilot
  4. Heroic Actions
  5. Later Years
  6. He currently resides in Moscow.

Biography of Fedor Arkhipenko

Fedor Arkhipenko was born on October 30, 1921, in the village of Avsimovichi, Bobruisk district of the Mogilev region in Belarus, into a peasant family. His father was Fedor Semenovich Arkhipenko and his mother was Agrippina Nikolaevna Sadovskaya. He was married to Lidia Stefanovna Arkhipenko (born in 1923) and had two daughters: Natalya Fedorovna (born in 1948) and Galina Fedorovna (born in 1953). He also had a granddaughter named Svetlana and a grandson named Aldyn.

Difficult Childhood

Fedor's childhood was not easy. From the age of four, with permission from his parents, he lived with his grandfather Nikolai and grandmother Natalya. They had a strong peasant household and worked in the fields from morning until late evening. Out of their four grandchildren, they chose Fedor as their heir, and from a young age, he had to work alongside adults. He excelled in school without any help, even though his grandparents were illiterate. After finishing the rural primary school, Fedor continued his education in Bobruisk, where he had to live with his grandfather's acquaintances. At the age of 12, he not only studied but also earned his own living. He spent his summer vacations working in the collective farm, earning up to 90 workdays during the summer.

Becoming a Pilot

Fedor decided to become a pilot at the age of 6, ever since he saw an airplane that made an emergency landing 5 kilometers away from his village. It was winter, and the plane landed on skis. The two pilots in fur jumpsuits and flight helmets with goggles amazed the young boy. In Bobruisk, when he saw pilots, he admired them with fascination.

In 1937, as a 9th-grade student, Fedor Arkhipenko joined an aeroclub. He excelled in school and studied in the aeroclub. In the autumn of 1938, Major Sidorov, the chairman of the commission and the commander of the Odessa Military School aviation squadron, gave the highest rating to the flying skills of cadet Arkhipenko. He was immediately sent to aviation school. In the spring of 1939, Fedor was already flying UT-2 planes. He later switched to UTI-4 planes and began flying solo on I-16 planes, earning the rank of junior lieutenant. At the age of 18, Fedor Arkhipenko, a fighter pilot, joined the 17th fighter regiment to serve. One year before the start of the Great Patriotic War, he mastered the I-153 fighter plane and confidently flew it at high altitudes. The ominous summer was approaching...

Heroic Actions

On June 22, at 4:25 am, the ground at their airfield shook from explosions. By the end of the day, out of 160 planes, only ten remained operational. A month later, on October 15, 1941, F.F. Arkhipenko opened his score of downed enemy planes in an aerial battle near Kremenchug. Several German columns were advancing towards Sumy. Fedor Arkhipenko and his leading lieutenant, Nikolai Savin, went on a strike mission. Savin's plane was set on fire, and he made an emergency landing. The pilot jumped out of the cockpit and waved to Fedor. Fedor decided to evacuate Savin. He sat next to him, but then the landing gear of Arkhipenko's plane broke. They were both left stranded in occupied territory for ten days.

Fedor Arkhipenko faced many critical episodes on the brink of death during his career. In the summer of 1942, near Voronezh, Arkhipenko and his wingman engaged in a battle with five Messerschmitts. Fedor shot down two, and in a head-on attack, narrowly missed a third plane. A German bullet passed between his right arm and side, creating a hole about ten centimeters in diameter in the wing spar.

Once, near Stalingrad, Arkhipenko and another comrade, Alexey Voronin, went on a reconnaissance mission of a German airfield and railway station. Both knew that they didn't have enough fuel to return to their own airfield, but they followed orders. Fedor Arkhipenko was one of the first to be awarded the medal "For the Defense of Stalingrad." At the Voroshilovgrad airfield, the pilots discovered up to 70 enemy planes and up to 15 enemy trains at the station. They radioed the information and turned back. However, they didn't make it to the Don River. The propeller stopped at an altitude of 3,000 meters. The plane became silent. Arkhipenko set the plane at the optimal angle and managed to glide over the Don River at an altitude of 80-100 meters. Later, it was revealed that Voronin made a forced landing 10 kilometers away from Arkhipenko.

Later Years

In February 1943, the commander of the 3rd Tank Army, P. Rybalko, awarded Fedor Arkhipenko the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class. This was in recognition of a battle episode where the pilot managed to find tanks without ammunition and fuel in the steppe on his fourth flight.

In 1943, the personnel of the 508th Aviation Regiment, where Fedor Arkhipenko served, participated in the Battle of Kursk. The skies above Prokhorovka witnessed intense battles, while on the ground, tank armies clashed and artillery shells constantly rang out. During the battles over Prokhorovka, Arkhipenko personally shot down 12 enemy planes, although officially 10 of them were recorded as group victories. The reasoning was that other pilots ensured his success by covering him from enemy interceptor attacks.

Fedor Arkhipenko fought in the skies above Stalingrad, Kharkov, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kiev, Poltava, and participated in the liberation of Moldova, Romania, Poland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. He completed a total of 467 combat sorties, engaged in 102 aerial combats, shot down 44 enemy planes (30 personally, 4 in pairs, and 10 in groups). Eight of Fedor Arkhipenko's students became fighter aces and Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Those who witnessed Fedor Arkhipenko in combat admired his calmness, composure, clear-headedness, and coolness under pressure. However, Fedor himself gives his own evaluation: "On the ground, I often became a different person: restless and sometimes irritable. But the most important aspect of my character was that I never agreed with anyone if I felt I was right. I couldn't tolerate injustice, and I was straightforward. I didn't flatter or fawn upon anyone, and I didn't humiliate myself before anyone, which didn't please certain higher-ranking superiors. I stood tall, flew fearlessly, engaged in aerial combat, and believed that there was no need to bow or be obsequious. It's good to go with the times and fulfill your duty to the Motherland honestly..."

On June 27, 1945, a Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was issued, awarding Fedor Arkhipenko the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. He was presented with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal in Austria at the Stockerau airfield while the regiment was lined up.

In March 1947, at the Officers' House in Monino near Moscow, Fedor Arkhipenko met a girl named Lida and invited her to a dance. They have been together ever since.

After graduating from the Military Air Academy in 1951, Fedor Arkhipenko was appointed commander of the fighter regiment at the Stalingrad Aviation School.

The year 1956 was memorable for Arkhipenko when he was appointed as the chairman of the State Examination Commission at the 1st Chkalov Aviation School named after K.E. Voroshilov. It was here that he signed and awarded the diploma of graduation to Yuri Gagarin. Later, he met the first cosmonaut on multiple occasions at the Vnukovo airfield, where he worked after retiring from flying.

After being discharged from the Armed Forces, Fedor Arkhipenko graduated from the Moscow Institute of Engineering and Economics named after S. Ordzhonikidze. He worked as the deputy director of State Unitary Enterprise "Mosoblstroyprogress" until April 2004.

In addition to the Order of Lenin and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, Fedor Arkhipenko was awarded four Orders of the Red Banner, Orders of the Patriotic War 1st and 2nd Class, Order of the Red Star, Order of St. George, medals "For the Defense of Stalingrad," "For the Defense of Kiev," and many others.

He currently resides in Moscow.