Tuesday, 3 July 2012

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IL-2 Sturmovik Recovered from a Lake in Murmansk, Russia

Freshly retrieved from 'Crooked Lake' near the town of Severomorsk in the Murmansk region of Russia is the IL-2 Sturmovik wreck pictured below. The wreck was lifted on 21st June 2012 by a team named 'Icarus' from the city of Zaozersk


This particular IL-2 served with 46th Air Assault Regiment of the Northern Fleet and made an emergency landing on the ice covered 'Crooked Lake' on November 25th 1943. It was part of a group of 16 IL-2s that were part of a raid on a German airfield at Luostari. 25 Me-109's rose to intercept them and the resulting engagement cost the Russians 11 planes and the Germans 23.



This was only the third sortie for the pilot, Valentine Skopintsev, and the second for his gunner, Vladimir Humenny. During the battle Skopintsev destroyed two planes on the ground and his gunner knocked out an Me-109 that was tailing them.

Pilot Valentine Skopintsev (right) and his gunner Vladimir Humenny (left)

With the tail shredded by machine-gun fire and the engine stalled, the pilot opted to ditch the aircraft on the ice-covered lake. The crew were both wounded, with Skopintsev having to drag the unconsious Vladimir Humenny from the rear gunner's position. Thankfully they managed to escape to safety in time, as the ice under the plane soon gave way under the 4-ton weight and she sank to the bottom of the lake, where she would remain for nearly 70 years.







Both crew returned to duty and flew together as pilot and gunner until the end of the war. For his service Skopintsev was awarded the Order of the Red Banner three times, in addition to the Order of Nakhimov 2nd Class. He was retired from military service in 1947 and died in 1996. I do not know what became of Humenny but if anyone has any further information please get in touch.

Now that the aircraft has been recovered, it will be taken to Novosibirsk for restoration, with the intent of getting it back into flying condition.

Via blogger51 and kp.ru.

Pictures taken by Alex Bakumenko and Alex Mkrtchyan.