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Ivan Kozhedub was born 93 years ago
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Ivan Kozhedub, born on 8 June 1920 in the village of Obrazhiyivka, near the city of Shostka in western part of the USSR. He became a Soviet military aviator, a three-time Hero of the Soviet Union and one of the hardiest fighter aces of WWII. He was never shot down.


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In 1939 Kozhedub made his first flight and then in 1939 he qualified as a military pilot in a Polikarpov U-2 Training Aircraft. In 1940 Kozhedub entered military service in the Red Army. In 1941 he was admitted to the Military Pilots’ Aviation School in Chuguev. He was one of the best students and graduated as an aviation instructor.
In 1941, following the start of the Great Patriotic War, the aviation school together with Kozhedub, was evacuated to the Asian part of the country. Kozhedub was desperate to take part in military action and asked to be sent to the frontline. But he was not allowed to participate in the war until November 1942.
 
His first aggressive fight almost turned into a disaster, his La-5 was heavily damaged by Bf-109 and while returning he was attacked by Soviet AA, 2 shots hitting his aircraft. During the battle of Kursk he managed to destroy his first enemy, a Ju-87, next day he shot down another one. On 9 July, Kozhedub destroyed two Bf-109 fighters in one sortie. On the 4th February 1944 Kozhedub was awarded with Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, having 146 patrols and 20 confirmed kills.
By mid-1944 Guard Captain Ivan Kozhedub had performed up to 256 combat missions and shot down up to 48 enemy planes. On 19 August 1944 he was awarded a second medal, another Gold Star. 
During the war Kozhedub made 330 successful fighting starts and 120 dog fights  and personally brought down 62 enemy planes. On 18 August 1945 he was again awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for his military skills and personal courage.
 
After world war II,  Kozhedub continued to serve in the Air Force. During the Korean War (1950 – 1953) he commanded the 324th Aviation Division, which gained 239 victories and brought down 12 Boeing B-29’s.  Kozhedub was officially discouraged from engageing in fighting personally, but survivors of those events later said that sometimes Ivan Kozhedub took to the skies regardless.
In 1956 he became part of the Joint Staff of the Military Academy. From 1971 he served in the Central Office of the Air Forces and from 1978 in the group of general inspection of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. He was made an Aviation Marshal in 1985.
Ivan Kozhedub died on 8 August 1991

 

    

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