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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 220265
Last updated: 17 August 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic YAK3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Yakovlev Yak-3
Owner/operator:18 GIAP VVS
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Virbalis -   Lithuania
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
In the afternoon of 30 December 1944, two Yak-3 of 18 GIAP flown by Leytenant Vladimir Alexandrovich Balandin (an ace who had shot down a Ju 88 30 minutes earlier) and his wingman Vikenty Mihaylovich Mashkin were ordered to fly to the area Virbalis-Pilkallen on patrol. When approaching the front line they met at an altitude of 3500 meters ten Fw 190s. Balandin decided to engage the enemy. The unequal battle took place on the horizontal and vertical level. Mashkin did not lose sight of his commander. Skillfully maneuvering, Soviet pilots fought off the attacks of the enemy. Balandin managed to claim two "Focke-Wulf" shot down. Mashkin claimed another destroyed, but his fighter was hit, and he was forced to withdraw from the battlefield.

Later, the Yak-3 of Balandin was hit and caught fire. The pilot turned sharply, sliding, trying to dive to knock the flames but it did not succeed. Moreover, the plane began to react badly to rudder control and was losing altitude fast. Balandin left his burning fighter and his parachute opened, though, but too low to open fully. According to one source Balandin could not see the ground and bailed out at 250 m according to his altimeter but was above a hill and so had no time to open his chute. The pilot hit the ground with a great vertical speed near Virbalis. Balandin died 2 hours later from the injuries suffered in the severe impact with the earth, without regaining consciousness.

At the time of his death, he had flown 236 missions and claimed 18 individual victories and 1 shared. He was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on 19 April 1945.


Revision history:

28-Dec-2018 17:35 Laurent Rizzotti Added

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