Twice Hero of the Soviet Union. personally shot down 57 enemy aircraft and four aircraft – in the group. He flew on Yak-1, Il-2, La-5, La-7, P-39, Aerocobra aircraft.
At the beginning of the war, Gulaev was assigned to the air defense of one of the industrial centers located far from the front line. But in March 1942, he, among the ten best pilots, was sent to the defense of Borisoglebsk. On August 3, Gulaev took the first battle: he took off without an order, at night, shot down a German Heinkel bomber. The command announced a penalty to the pilot and immediately presented him with an award.
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In February 1943, Gulaev was sent to the 27th Fighter Aviation Regiment, in which he shot down more than 50 enemy aircraft in a year. He was extremely productive: he shot down up to five aircraft a day. Among them were twin-engine bombers 5 He-111 and 4 Ju-88; FW-189 spotters, Ju-87 dive bombers. The other pilots of front-line aviation had mostly downed fighters in their service records.
On the Kursk Bulge, in the Belgorod region, Gulaev distinguished himself especially. In his first battle, on May 14, 1943, the pilot single-handedly entered into battle with three Ju-87 bombers, which were covered by four Me-109s. At a low altitude, Gulaev made a “hill” and shot down from the first stage, first the leader, and then another bomber. The pilot tried to attack the third plane, but he ran out of ammunition. And then Gulaev decided to go to the ram. The left wing of the Yak-1, on which he flew, hit the plane of the Ju-87. The German plane crashed. The Yak-1, having lost control, went into a tailspin, but Gulaev was able to straighten it out and land it. The infantrymen of the 52nd Rifle Division, who carried the wounded, as they thought, pilot, from the cockpit in their arms, were witnesses of the feat. However, Gulaev did not receive a scratch. He did not tell the regiment anything – what he had done became known several hours later, after the report of the infantrymen. After the pilot complained that he was left “horseless”, he was given a new plane. And later awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
Gulaev made his last sortie from the Polish airfield Turbya on August 14, 1944. Three days in a row the day before, he shot down one plane at a time. In September, the ace was forcibly sent to study at the Air Force Academy. He served in aviation until 1979, until he retired.
In total, Gulaev made 250 sorties and 49 air battles. His performance was considered a record.
Twice Hero of the Soviet Union pilot Nikolai Gulaev. Photo: RIA Novosti www.ria.ru
by the way
Soviet aces made up about three percent of the total number of pilots. They destroyed a third of the enemy aircraft. 27 pilots were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union twice and thrice. During the war, they scored from 22 to 62 victories and shot down a total of 1044 aircraft.