First Mission: Late Summer 1941

This is Part 3 of an occasional series of recollections, excerpted from Yegorova’s memoir, posted 70 years after the events in question. In this excerpt, the young pilot flies her first liaison mission at the front in a U2 biplane:

It was a gorgeous late summer day…I was less than pleased. In a crisp, clear sky, the “kukuruznik” would be defenseless against the Fascist hawks…plywood “armor” doesn’t stop bullets. Our only defense was to dive down toward the ground and spread our wings low over the withered fields, flying so close to the earth you could hear the landing gear cutting the feather grass on the steppe.

At “tree-shaving” altitude…the earth scrolled by, dangerously close, mere feet beneath my wings…Just then, I saw two distant points in the sky, rapidly approaching. Messerschmitts, I guessed. Suddenly, they were upon me, roaring over my head, brazenly flaunting their spidery swastikas. Machine-gun fire spat at me from above…they covered me with their black shadows, but with all their speed, they couldn’t manage to shoot down the docile little U-2. They flew off, and I released my breath with relief…

– Anna Timofeyeva-YegorovaRed Sky, Black Death, A Soviet Woman Pilot’s Memoir of the Eastern Front


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