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P-39N-0 Pokryshkin is a Soviet Air ace in Steel Division II.

Background[]

Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin was born in Novonikolayevsk (what is now known as Novosibirsk), to a poor working class family, living on the bad side of town. Demonstrating aptitude for learning at an early age and a resistance to the call of petty crime, he enrolled at the local technical college in 1930 against his father's wishes. He volunteered for the Red Army in 1932, hoping to qualify as an aviation pilot, but was assigned for training as an aircraft mechanic. After graduation in 1933, he served in the 74th Rifle Division for five years, training at the Krasnodar aeroclub in his spare time. After completing the course, he finally managed to enroll in a military flight school in 1938, graduating in 1939 as a senior lieutenant and joining the 55th Fighter Regiment.

The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union took place when Pokryshkin was stationed in Besarabia. Freshly equipped with MiG-3, his unit made a valiant stand against the invaders. Pokryshkin was shot down over enemy lines in July, but managed to return to home lines in time to be reassigned to Ukraine. He was shot down again, but managed to escape encirclement and return to his unit, contributing to the defense of Rostov and Gharkov, flying the Yak-1.

In 1942, he was reassigned to Transcaucasus, where he very nearly faced court martial for an altercation with a senior officer. However, he was restored to command and readmitted into the Communist Party in time to fly the Bell P-39 Airacobra from Lend-Lease deliveries through Iran. Over the next two years, he fought across Ukraine, the shores of the Black Sea, and Poland, performing hundreds of sorties and earning the title of Hero of the Soviet Union three times, shooting down a total of 65 aircraft in 156 fights (six of them joint victories).

After the war, he continued his military education, completing the highest war academies of the Soviet Union, earning a doctorate in military sciences in 1969, and eventually serving as a deputy commander of the Union's Air Defense Forces and achieving the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Air Force in 1972. He was a deputy to the Supreme Soviet nine times, and a member of its Presidium between 1979 and 1984. He died in 1985, buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy Cemetery - second only to the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in importance.

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