I don't normally read pilot memoirs but I was drawn to this after reading an account of fighting on the WW2 Eastern front. The author was an Il2 pilot from early 1942 until late 1944, and describes his experiences and his memories of the people he flew with. This is no literary work, the translation is workmanlike but far from polished and yet I found myself gripped and moved by the simple power of the narrative. The story vividly shows how tough life as an Il2 pilot was, especially in the early days when the Il2 was a single seater and fighter cover was rare. It offers a rare insight into life in the 7th Guards Regiment, the pilots knew their survival chances were low but they had a job to do, often flying three and sometimes four missions a day. This is really a narrative about the pilots Emelianenko flew with and the life he shared with them between missions. He describes his own mission experiences but also covers the early days of the regiments history in 1941 and makes it clear that these were the toughest times of all. This book is an old mans unvarnished stories written with a simple desire to memorialise his many comrades who did not survive. I think he has succeeded.
Excellent account of the Russian / German WW2 conflict from a front line ace pilot who went right through the war and survived against all odds. I have read a lot about other WW2 theatres from D-day on both sides, to Coastal Command, convoys and submarines and of course the Battle of Britain, but none felt as real as this matter-of-fact autobiography of the eastern front Russian pilots. I thoroughly recommend it whatever your interest in the subject, it works on all levels and leaves you with a sense of respect for the sheer bravery and skill every mission demanded. Highly recommended.
It's refreshing to read an account of the air war from the view of a Soviet pilot. The book was a pleasure to read and gives you a taste of the stoic nature of the men who fought on the Eastern Front. Most of the characters in the book wind up dead and on a couple of occasions I found it quite moving. The book is written in an honest and simple, matter of fact manner that keeps you reading on, hoping against hope that some of Emelianenko's friends will survive. Most don't. The interpreter has also added a bit of unintentional feel that some people might find a bit off-putting. It didn't bother me.
The book tells the tale of the author who flew Shturmovik ground attack aircraft against terrible odds and was shot down three times. He saw all but a couple of his comrades lose their lives, but continued to fight on regardless of the somewhat shabby equipment. There are some lovely little side stories and the whole thing is fascinating and fresh to someone who has never read anything about the eastern front. I did find all the Soviet names a bit confusing, but that's my problem. The epilogue, which is quite sad, pretty much sums the whole book up. A very good read.