A Soviet military leader, air fighter and commander, an officer selflessly devoted to his work, Kozhedub is one of the most talented Soviet fighter pilots. Air Marshal, Three times Hero of the Soviet Union, he was awarded 2 Orders of Lenin, 7 Orders of the Red Banner and other orders and medals, both in Russia and other countries.
Three times a hero of the Soviet Union, he has 64 victories in his track record. He flew on La-5, La-5FN, La-7, Il-2, MiG-3 aircraft. Kozhedub fought his first air battle on La-5 in March 1943. Paired with the leader, he was supposed to protect the airfield, but after taking off, the pilot lost sight of the second plane, received damage from the enemy, and then also came under his own anti-aircraft artillery. Kozhedub hardly landed the plane, in which more than 50 holes were counted.
In Primorye, the wreckage of the crashed IL-2 was raised from the bottom of the lake
After an unsuccessful battle, they wanted to transfer the pilot to ground service. However, he firmly decided to return to the sky: he flew as a messenger, studied the experience of the famous fighter Pokryshkin, from whom he adopted the battle formula: “Altitude – speed – maneuver – fire.” In his first battle, Kozhedub lost precious seconds to recognize the plane that attacked him, so he spent a lot of time memorizing the silhouettes of aircraft.
Having been appointed deputy squadron commander, Kozhedub took part in air battles on the Kursk Bulge. In the summer of 1943, he received his first Order of the Red Banner of War. By February 1944, the number of aircraft shot down by Kozhedub exceeded three dozen. The pilot was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
They say that Kozhedub was very fond of his planes, considered them “alive”. And never once during the entire war did he leave his car, even when it was on fire. In May 1944, he was given a special La-5 FN aircraft. Vasily Viktorovich Konev, a beekeeper from the Bolshevik agricultural artel of the Budarinsky district of the Stalingrad region, transferred his personal savings to the Defense Fund and asked them to build an aircraft named after his deceased nephew, fighter pilot, hero of the Soviet Union Georgy Konev. On one side of the plane they wrote: “In the name of Lieutenant Colonel Konev”, on the second – “From the collective farmer Konev Vasily Viktorovich.” The beekeeper asked to transfer the aircraft to the best pilot. It turned out to be Kozhedub.
In February 1945, the ace shot down a German Me-262 jet fighter, and attacked the last enemy aircraft in April. In total, Kozhedub made 330 sorties and conducted 120 air battles.