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Lev Lvovich Shestakov ( ; December 28, 1915 - March 13, 1944) was a Soviet military aviator and the Red Air Force's leading ace in the Spanish Civil War.



Upon graduating from military college in 1936 he applied for combat in Spainmarker, joining a fighter squadron in 1937. Flying Polikarpov I-16s he claimed eight solo victories and 31 collaborative. At the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Unionmarker in June 1941, Shestakov led a fighter regiment on the Odessa front. Over the next three years he held other commands in various regions, including Stalingradmarker. As a colonel, on 13 March 1944 (other sources state 12 March), he intercepted German bombers but was never seen again (he was probably shot down by Hans-Ulrich Rudel). His 26 victories in the Great Patriotic War raised his career total to 65 with 42 shared.

His decorations included Hero of the Soviet Union, Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, and Order of the Patriotic War.

According to research by Tomas Polak and Christopher Shores, Shestakov rates as Russia's all-time second-ranking fighter pilot, ahead of Ivan Kozhedub (62) and behind V.M. Neydenko (99).

References

  • Tomas Polak and Christopher Shores (1999). Stalin's Falcons: The Aces of the Red Star. Grub Street, London.


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