Sergei Georgiyevich Kurzenkov was a Soviet pilot who fought during World War II. In his career as a pilot, Kurzenkov managed to complete 225 total missions with twelve air kills before being badly injured in a failed parachute incident. He was given the Order of Lenin, Hero of the Soviet Union, and the American Navy Cross.[1]


Early Life

Sergei Georgiyevich Kurzenkov was born on July 7, 1911 in Omsk, Russia. His brother, Alexander G. Kurzenkov would also go on to become a Soviet air ace, except in his case with the Yak-9. In 1929, Sergei graduated from trade school before entering into a position as an apprentice weaver at a textile factory from 1929 to 1930 and then moving up to head of industrial trade and training schools from 1932 to 1933.[2] After his career in the textile industry, he joined the armed forces in late 1933 and graduated the Yeisk Military Aviation School in 1935. From 1939 to 1941 he held a flight instructor position at a naval aviation school in the Ukraine. When Operation Barbarossa commenced, Kurzenkov was put as commander of the 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment of the 78th IAP

World War II

Kurzenkov's first duties as part of his new regiment were to protect Allied arctic convoys. As such, he participated in the Soviet defense of Murmansk. His first combat encounter with the Luftwaffe would prove disastrous when his Lend-Lease Hawker Hurricane was heavily damaged by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. While wounded and damaged, Kurzenkov managed to down a 109 before being forced to crash land into friendly lines.[3] Kurzenkov would spend two months in the hospital recovering before returning to the frontlines and on March 24, 1942, claiming his second kill, a Junkers Ju 88. This was subsequently followed by Ju 87 on April 15, and another Bf 109 just two days after that. On May 10, Kurzenkov was involved in heavy fighting with several Messerschmitt Bf 109s and Bf 110s leading to loss of five out of nine Hawker Hurricanes sent on the sortie and with Kurzenkov being forced to land in enemy territory and make his way back to friendly lines. 

Treated for a head injury, Kurzenkov would once again stay in the hospital, this time until July. On February 28, 1943, Kurzenkov managed to strafe a Junkers Ju 88 on the runway but was badly damaged himself by flak, with shell fragments piercing his right leg. Bailing out of his aircraft some distance away from a friendly airfield, some of the straps of his parachute ripped and prevented the chute from being completely deployed. From a height of 700 meters, he fell into the ground, barely surviving. Instead of staying at the hospital for a short time however, Kurzenkov was deemed unfit to continue flying and was retired. During his career flying the Polikarpov I-16, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and Hawker Hurricane, Kurzenkov flew some 225 sorties and had a total of twelve air kills. On July 24, 1943, he was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union and Order of Lenin medals for bravery.

Later Life

In 1946, Kurzenkov joined up as the head of the office department for combat training for the Naval Air Force. In 1956, he graduated from the Moscow Literary Institute and became a member of the Writer's Union of Soviet Union. 


  3. Mellinger, George. Soviet Lend-Lease Fighter Aces of World War 2. Osprey Publishing (2006), Page 12