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Stories of Soviet Warriors: Lieutenant Shibanov
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Pilots! We continue our Stories of Soviet Warriors series by Artyom Drabkin. Today we would like to introduce the story of  Lieutenant Viktor Shibanov.

From January 20th 13:00 GMT (5:00 PST) to

January 21st 13:00 GMT (5:00 PST)

+30% RP gain for Pe-2 (all versions)

Hero of the Soviet Union, Lieutenant Viktor Shibanov

Pilot in the 709th (25th Guards) Night Bomber Regiment

    What kind of missions did they give us?  Let's say they tell us to bomb a railroad. They divide up the regiment over the 100 kilometer segment. Every crew is given a station. And so the whole regiment attacks at the same time along the whole length of the line. We return to our base. Bombs are reloaded, the fuel tanks are filled, and we take off again. One night, we were assigned to Zeleniy Ghai station. We never made it there. We were passing Polohy near Melitopl which was about 110 kilometers from the front. My navigator said to me, “You see that?” - “I see it.” The whole station was packed with trains. - “What should we do?” - “Petka or Kostka will probably take care of it.” No one told us who had been assigned to which station. You just got your assignment and took off. “Come on, we have more than enough ammunition. It is a big station, we will drop just a few bombs to light it up and make it easier for the others. Plus it will make it easier to fly.” “Ok, let's do it.” Our altitude was 1500 meters and we were 6-8 kilometers away from the station. The lower I flew to the ground, the more fuel I burned; I reduced my altitude. The engine was at low power, and because of the muffler the rod and piston block just hissed with no visible flames. I was calculating. My altitude was around 600 meters. He said, “Ok....ok.....hold it....clear!” I immediately accelerated and turned into a climb. I made a lap and then watched – it was a good hit, debris was flying at the plane. He told me, “Come around again.” So we made another pass. I immediately sped up.

The explosions shook the plane.  Apparently, the train was carrying fuel and ammunition; there was a roar and billowing smoke. Our altitude was 600 meters. He told me to correct it. We bombed another spot. Then, we went for both bottlenecks out of the yard so not a single train could escape. We bombed it six times. My navigator told me, “Bank into a turn, I am going to whip those Germans.” He fired more than 2,000 rounds at them. “Done. You can give the green light, the route is clear.” Not a single shot was fired at us! We got back, and the commander yelled, “Shibanov! You are being disobedient again! You didn't bomb your target.” “It was on my way.” “What were you thinking? Don’t you want to fly anymore?” “It just happened.” “It is not your job to decide who flies and where. You are suspended from flying, and I am referring your case to a tribunal.” Turning to his chief of staff, “ Did you send the paperwork for the Order of the Red Banner?” “I sent it yesterday.” “Call up division. Cancel the award.” A day passed, and we kept flying. Three days, five days. Was he going to suspend me? And who could replace me? We were an experienced crew! I was already a flight commander! November came. The weather was bad so we didn't fly. On the fifth or seventh the regiment has been gathered for an announcement, “Lieutenant Shibanov, step forward. I stepped forward. The chief of staff read the citation, “For successful performance in combat missions, Lieutenant Shibanov is hereby awarded the order Hero of the Soviet Union!” I was expecting a court martial, but they gave me an award...then they told me that a week after our raid on Polohy a war council was held at the front. The front commander Tolbukhin asked, “Who bombed Polohy?” “The 25th Moscow Guards Regiment.” “And who specifically?” “Lieutenant Shibanov.” “He should be held up as an example! One plane, in a single sortie destroyed 120 railroad cars and 7 locomotives! A Pe-2 flew over the area in daylight and photographed the results. The entire division did not accomplish as much in a week as he did!” “He was hospitalized for a while near Stalingrad.” “Ah! He seems to be experienced! Has he been awarded the Hero?” “No” “Give it to him.” After the meeting, the division commander asked, “What do I do with him?” “Write it up. A warrior was injured, now it needs to be recorded” For what did they give me a medal? For disobedience!

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About the author:

Artyom Drabkin ( born 25.07.1971) — Russian public figure, leader of internet project  «I remember»,  author of collections of memoirs of soviet veterans of World War II,  series of veterans interviews «Soldiers' Diaries» and «Trench Truth».  Script writer of documentary movie series.

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