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Nikolai Vasilyevich Sutyagin
File:Nikolai Vasilyevich Sutyagin.jpg
Native name Николай Васильевич Сутягин
Born (1923-05-05)5 May 1923
Died 12 November 1986(1986-11-12) (aged 63)
Place of birth Smagino, Buturlinsky District, Nizhny Novgorod, Russian SFSR, USSR
Place of death Kiev, Ukraine SSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Air Force
Years of service 1941–1978
Rank Major General
Unit 17th Fighter Aviation Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union

Nikolai Vasilyevich Sutyagin (Russian: Николай Васильевич Сутягин; 5 May 1923 – 12 November 1986) was a Soviet fighter pilot in the Second World War and the Korean War. He considered by most Russian sources to be the top ace of the Korean War, with 22 victories.[1]


Sutyagin was born in 1923 near Nizhniy Novgorod, then known as Gorkiy. His parents were actors, and eventually moved to the city when Nikolai was 11. Joining the Komsomol in 1939, Nikolai was then able to get into the DOSAAF program where he was exposed to flying in the Polikarpov Po-2 biplane. In March 1941 he was conscripted into the Red Army, but was then posted to the Soviet Air Force.[2]

He then went to pilot school, graduating in 1942, and was sent to the 5th Fighter Aviation Regiment in the Far East. He remained in the Far East until the end of the war, acquiring some combat experience in the war with Japan after the Soviets declared war on the Japanese Empire. After the war, Sutyagin learned to fly the American P-63 Kingcobra, also flying as an instructor in the Soviet-converted UTI P-63 two-seater.[2]

In April 1947 Sutyagin joined the 17th Fighter Aviation Regiment, part of the 190th Fighter Aviation Division (IAD) in the Far East Military District. In 1950 the 17th was moved to the new 303rd IAD, which included the 523rd Fighter Aviation Regiment and 18th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, and the entire division was equipped with the new MiG-15 jet fighter. Sutyagin completed 54 flights in the MiG-15 before the division was ordered on a "secret tour" and reassigned to the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps at Mukden in Manchuria, with its regiments forward deployed to Myaogao and Antung airfields on the Korean border, in order to counter UN airpower over Korea.

Sutyagin began combat operations in April 1951. When he left Korea in February 1952, Captain Sutyagin had been credited with shooting down 22 UN aircraft. He was the highest scoring ace in the Korean war, outscoring the top U.S ace Captain Joseph C. McConnell by 6 kills.

Sutyagin was awarded the Gold Star and the title Hero of the Soviet Union, and was soon promoted to Major. By 1970 he was a chief instructor and Major-General of Aviation (the equivalent of US rank of Brigadier general).

Sutyagin served a further combat tour as chief instructor for flight training to the Vietnamese People's Air Force and taught combat tactics in 1970-1971, flying the MiG-21PF and MiG-17. Suffering ill health, he returned to the USSR in May 1972 and was sent to GSFG in East Germany to recuperate. Due to his failing vision Sutyagin was removed from flight status and relegated to either trainers or transports.

Sutyagin retired in May 1978 at the age of 55, and spent the last years of his life with his family, dying in November 1986 at the age of 63. Over the course of his career he flew 20 types of aircraft and logged over 3,300 flight hours.

He claimed 15 F-86 Sabres, three F-84 Thunderjets, two P-80 Shooting Stars and two Gloster Meteors shot down. Sutyagin's Korean War record was 149 combat missions, 66 aerial engagements and 22 enemy aircraft shot down.



Victory claims

Sutyagin's record is generally held to be 22 solo victories, with another two shared.[4] However at least one source suggests that only five victories are verifiable.[5]

See also



  • Hobbes Nicholas Ph.D "Essential Militia" Atlantic Books, 2003 ISBN 978-0-8021-1772-4
  • Seidov, Igor (2016). Советские асы корейской войны. Moscow: Фонд содействия авиации «Русские витязи». ISBN 9785903389353. OCLC 970400945. 

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