Gavriil Didenko

Gavriil Didenko

Fighter pilot
Date of Birth: 12.06.1908
Country: Ukraine

  1. Biography of Gavriil Didenko
  2. Gavriil Didenko - Among the Soviet Aces

Biography of Gavriil Didenko

Gavriil Vlasovich Didenko, a fighter pilot, was born on June 12, 1908, in the town of Gorlovka, now part of the Donetsk region, in a working-class family. He graduated from an agricultural technical school in Rostov-on-Don. Didenko joined the Red Army in 1930 and graduated from the Engels Military Aviation School for Pilots in 1933. He participated in the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-1940 and achieved three aerial victories, including two personal and one in a group.

When the Great Patriotic War began, Didenko fought on the frontlines, defending the skies of Leningrad and Stalingrad and participating in battles in Crimea and the Kursk Bulge. By February 1945, he had become the commander of the 482nd Fighter Aviation Regiment. During his service, Didenko completed 365 combat sorties, engaged in 80 aerial battles, and personally shot down 22 enemy aircraft and another 37 in group combat. In recognition of his courage and valor in battle, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on April 10, 1945.

After the war, Didenko retired from active duty in 1946 and lived and worked in Leningrad. He was decorated with the Order of Lenin twice, the Order of the Red Banner twice, and various medals. He passed away on January 25, 1970.

Gavriil Didenko - Among the Soviet Aces

Among the older generation of Soviet aces, those who reached the age of around 35 by the end of the war, Gavriil Vlasovich Didenko had the highest number of victories. Half of the planes he shot down were heavy bombers.

Didenko was born in 1908 in the mining town of Gorlovka. In 1929, he graduated from an agricultural technical school, and in 1933, he completed his training at the Engels Military Aviation School for Pilots. He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for his achievements in the Soviet-Finnish War. He actively participated in the Great Patriotic War from its first day. On June 28, 1941, flying a MiG-3, he shot down two German Me-109 fighters while escorting Pe-2 bombers in a battle over Finnish territory.

On May 5, 1942, during the battles for Crimea, Didenko, flying a Yak-1, successfully defended the railway station of Sem Kolodezey, the only station supplying the front at that time. In a 20-minute battle against a numerically superior enemy, Didenko managed to destroy three enemy aircraft. However, he himself was shot down and wounded, but he managed to parachute to safety. In September 1942, he led a special Yak-1 fighter group on the Stalingrad front. He distinguished himself in one of the battles in November, attacking a group of 12 Ju-88 bombers and personally shooting down three of them, while his wingman destroyed another.

During the winter and spring of 1943, Didenko defended the oil pipelines in the Astrakhan-Kizlyar region. In his first battle in this new area, he personally shot down two Ju-88 bombers, and his group of pilots destroyed four more Ju-88 bombers that day, one of them through a ramming attack, significantly reducing the activity of the German bomber aviation.

From April to September 1943, Didenko commanded the 907th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Air Defense Forces on the Central Front.

His finest hour came on July 2, 1943, when his regiment, under his command, shot down 31 enemy aircraft, including 21 bombers, while defending against enemy air raids on Kursk. Didenko himself conducted six sorties that day, personally shooting down four enemy aircraft and another nine as part of group combat.

By November 1943, Didenko had destroyed 17 enemy aircraft personally and 37 as part of a group, earning recognition in an article published in the newspaper "Za Otechestvo." In May 1944, he was appointed deputy commander of the 2nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment. He personally tested and evaluated the pilots' flying skills. In October 1944, Major G.V. Didenko became the commander of the 482nd Fighter Aviation Regiment. Under his command, the pilots of the regiment shot down 91 enemy aircraft, while suffering the loss of six pilots and 11 aircraft.

Command often restrained Didenko's combat zeal, frequently forbidding him from participating in combat sorties. However, by the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945, he managed to engage in only three aerial battles, but in one of them, he achieved a "hat trick" by shooting down three FW-190 aircraft over the Bobyer River while flying a La-5. In the spring of 1945, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for personally shooting down 22 enemy aircraft and another 37 as part of group combat.

Didenko scored his last victory on May 1, 1945. On that day, leading a formation of two La-5FN fighters, he encountered four enemy FW-190 aircraft over the center of Berlin. In a fierce battle, Major G.V. Didenko and Captain M.I. Gorskov each shot down one enemy aircraft. The surviving enemy fighters quickly retreated from the area, evading further attacks over the rooftops.

By the end of the war, Gavriil Vlasovich Didenko had completed more than 400 successful combat sorties. He participated in 90 aerial battles and increased his personal tally of enemy aircraft shot down to 25, including six Ju-88, four He-111, two Do-215, one Hs-126, eight FW-190, and four Me-109. During this time, he mastered the use of the MiG-3, Yak-1, and La-5 fighters.

After the war, G.V. Didenko retired from military service. He lived and worked in Leningrad until his death on January 25, 1970.