Chronicle of war:

Boris Safonov
Boris Safonov26. 8. 1915 - 30. 5. 1942

Boris Safonov was a fighter pilot of the Air Force of the Northern Fleet.

He was born on 13 (26) August 1915 in Sinyavino, now Plavsk district of the Tula region in a peasant family. Russian. After completing 7 years at school in late 20s he entered a railroad trade factory apprenticeship in Tula. During the training, since 1931 he began to study in the Tula aero club, and a year later he was enlisted as a cadet pilot. His instructor was V. Grizodubova.

Joined the Red Army in 1933 and was sent to the first flying school named after A. Myasnikov which he graduated from in November 1934, with the highest marks for pilot technique, air firing and material part. A member of the CPSU (B) since 1939.

From 1934 to 1940, a private pilot, parachute instructor, assistant squadron commissar of the Komsomol, B. Safonov served in the 106th squadron of the 40th Aviation Brigade of the Belarusian Military District, where the goal-oriented pilot immediately was noticed not only by detachment commander I. Yakubovich, but also brigade commander and later chief of the Red Army Air Force, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Y. Smushkevich. Safonov's colleagues were surprised with his exceptional perseverance, commitment to thoroughness in everything: all his leisure time he devoted to self-education. His interests included special air disciplines and general education - physics, history and literature. All noted his oratorical talent - the ability to clearly, vividly and beautifully transmit his thoughts to others ...

In 1940, on the personal report B. Safonov was sent to disposal of the Northern Fleet as Air Regiment commander.

When the Great Patriotic War started B. Safonov was a squadron commander of the 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment of the Northern Fleet, in which no combat mission was performed without the direct involvement of the commander. The pilots began on the obsolete I-16 (flying on these machines Safonov made 109 sorties and shot down 17 enemy planes). On the left side of the fuselage (tail number 11), B. Safonov brought in large letters “For Stalin!” and on the right “Death to Fascists.”

On the first day of the war, June 22, 1941 Safonov and fighter pilot Volovikov came to intercept the enemy bomber at Rybachy peninsula. Despite the fact that enemy aircraft had a direct hit and began fuming, but still managed to come off from the pursuit, and went into home territory...;

On June 24, 1941 Lieutenant B. Safonov was the first pilot to win in the air - he shot down the Heinkel-111 which participated in the raid on the naval base at Polyarny and Vaenga (now Severomorsk). During the first attack Safonov damaged the enemy aircraft. It went to the sea, pursued by Safonov to Zelentsy bay, where the Heinkel hit the water and broke ... The Soviet boat approached the crash site and managed to pick up only a rubber boat, navigation bombs, parachutes, and guns ...

By the end of summer 1941 B. Safonov awarded by the Order of Red Banner on July 14, 1941 made 130 sorties, carried out 32 air battles and shot down 11 enemy planes. Only for 5 days in August, he won five individual victories.

On September 15, 1941 seven fighters under his command, entered the fray with the superior in almost 8 times force of the enemy and destroyed 13 enemy planes without losing any of their own. Safonov shot down 3 planes.

By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on September 16, 1941, for his heroism, courage and bravery shown in battles against the Nazi invaders, squadron commander of the 72nd consolidated regiment of the Northern Fleet, Captain Boris Safonov was awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal (№ 533).

By the time of publication of this decree, the squadron had already had 50 air victories, 16 of them – commander’s.

From October 1941 B. Safonov commanded the 78th Fighter Aviation Regiment, was promoted to Major. He downed more enemy planes, and for one month – from December 22, 1942 to January 22, 1942 he was awarded the second and third Orders of the Red Banner.

In late-March 1942 Lieutenant Colonel B. Safonov was appointed commander of the 2nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment. He began flying less, devoting much time to guiding the activities of military units, organizational and economic affairs.

At the end of March 1942, he spent one of the few air battles in the area of Tulomsk hydropower and won another victory - he personally shot down two enemy fighters.

His last – the 224th combat sortie – Lt. Col. B. Safonov made on May 30, 1942, to cover the PQ-16 Allied convoy flying to Murmansk.

Three Pilots, led by Safonov on the British P-40 found on the approach to convoy six enemy bombers, and they promptly attacked. Safonov shot down two planes, injured the third one, but was killed in this battle. For unclear reason - either battle damage, or failure - the engine of his P-40 cut out and he collapsed into the sea.

By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on June 14, 1942 Lieutenant Colonel Boris Safonov was awarded the second Gold Star medal.

He was the first to be twice named a Hero of the Soviet Union for the exploits of the Great Patriotic War. To this honorary title the brave fighter pilot was presented by the People’s Commissar of the Navy N. Kuznetsov not posthumously, but while alive, on May 27, 1942 - three days before his last combat mission.

He was the first Soviet pilot to have in May 1942 already thirty enemy planes destroyed personally and three more in group battles.

Safonov’s Military Merits embodied not only in destroyed enemy aircraft. Under his leadership in the Northern Fleet dozens of air fighters, who subsequently became Heroes of the Soviet Union grew and gained considerable combat experience.

He was awarded the Order of Lenin (09/16/1941), three Orders of the Red Banner (07/14/1941, 12/22/1942, 01/22/1942), and the highest aviation award of the UK - the DFC Order – “The large silver cross” (03/019/1942).

Twice Hero of the Soviet Union Boris Safonov was ever enrolled in the lists of the 2nd Guards Red Banner Northern Fleet Air Force Regiment, which bore his name (unfortunately, in early-March 2002 “Safonov’s Regiment”, stationed in Murmansk region - was disbanded...).

One of the planes he flew on is stored in the Central Naval Museum (St. Petersburg).

An urban-type settlement in Murmansk region, which is part of a closed administrative-territorial formation of Severomorsk was named after Safonov. On September 16th, 1961 at the entrance to Safonovo village a copy of his bust performed by L. Kerbel was installed. The original bust was set on August 19, 1945 in Vaenga (now Severomorsk, Gvardeiskaya Street). Also in Severomorsk, in 1967 another bust was set on the square that bears his name. A bronze bust of twice Hero of the Soviet Union B. Safonov was installed in Plavsk, Tula region. One of the most beautiful streets in Severomorsk was named after him, and on the house number 10 in the street, where he lived, a memorial plaque was set.

Medal and Prize of B. Safonov were established by the International public organization of former soldiers “Mars - Mercury.” In coordination with the command of Naval aviation of the Russian Navy, every year the best pilot in the Navy is awarded by the Medal and Prize. On March 4, 2002 Hero of Russia, Major-General P. Apakidze was first awarded (Posthumously).

In December 2005, by presidential decree a single in Russia’s Fleet fighter aviation regiment of the Red Banner Northern Fleet, was named after Boris Safonov.
 



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