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The Soviet pilot went to the air ram four times. And every time he stayed alive. This was not repeated by any pilot. The name of Kovzan has become a legend.
Brave Heart of Kovzan
Life turned out so that during the First World War, Ivan Grigorievich Kovzan left his native Belarus and moved to the city of Shakhty in the Rostov region. Here he met the Don Cossack Matryona Vasilyevna, and soon he married her. And on April 7, 1922, a replenishment appeared in the family - a son, Boris, was born.
In 1935, the Kovzans moved to Bobruisk, Mogilev region. In the mid-1930s, the Soviet Union was hit by a powerful wave of popularization of aviation. And there were good reasons for that: the whole country enthusiastically discussed the exploits of the pilots who participated in the rescue of the Chelyuskinites. And then Chkalov and other famous pilots appeared. Boys and girls had no choice - they all dreamed of the sky and airplanes.
Boris Kovzan was no exception. He was engaged in aeromodelling at a technical station and dreamed of one day seeing his city from a bird's eye view. During the May Day demonstration, young model airplanes walked through the streets, proudly squeezing made airplanes in their hands, which, after the festive procession, would have to fight for the title of the best. In the competition, during which the participants launched their models into the sky, Boris managed to take second place. The prize was a flight. So Boris's dream came true. The young man with enthusiasm and admiration looked at his city from a height, at the same time he realized that his hobby had grown into something much more.
Boris could not even imagine that there would be no more heaven in his life. And soon Kovzan began training at a local flying club. He studied airplanes and mastered the technique of parachute jumping. After the first competition, he received a parachutist badge. Kovzan was not afraid of the sky, on the contrary, at the height he felt much more comfortable than on the ground. His brave heart beat faster only when the plane confidently climbed.
In 1939, another significant event took place in the life of Kovzan. Representatives of the Odessa Military Flight School arrived in Bobruisk. They gathered all the graduates of the flying club, held a conversation with them, checked the quality of the knowledge they received. And the best ones were offered to continue their studies in Odessa. Boris was also among the chosen ones.
At the flight school, Boris Ivanovich quickly became one of the best students, and he was transferred to the graduation group. In 1940, he graduated with the rank of junior lieutenant, and was assigned to the 162nd Fighter Regiment, based in Kozelsk.
Aerial ram: survive against all odds
Peaceful life ended abruptly - the Great Patriotic War began. And already on July 12, 1941, Boris Ivanovich received his first combat mission - to conduct reconnaissance in the Bobruisk region. The pilot knew that the city of his youth was badly damaged during the battles with the Nazis, but what Kovzan saw stunned him. Bobruisk lay in ruins.
Subsequently, the pilot recalled that then it seemed to him that the air over the city was saturated with the smell of burning. But emotions are bad helpers in war. Pulling himself together, Kovzan continued to carry out the task. He directed his winged car towards the nearby village of Shchatkovo and soon spotted a German tank column crawling lazily towards the Berezina River. Having collected the necessary information, Boris Ivanovich went to the base.
Air battles were not long in coming. And on October 29, 1941, Kovzan made his first ram. Usually they go for it in extreme cases, when there are simply no other options to destroy the enemy. This is what happened to Kovzan. He clashed with the German "Messerschmitt-110" on a Yak-1 fighter in the skies over Zaraisk during the battle for Moscow. The ammunition ran out, and Kovzan simply could not try to escape from the enemy.And then he decided to go to the ram, knowing full well that he would die. Boris Ivanovich's plane crashed into Messerschmitt. The YAK propeller chopped off the tail unit of the enemy vehicle.
The Messer pilot lost control and crashed. Kovzan managed to level the plane and land safely near the village of Titovo. With the help of local residents, Kovzan repaired the propeller and returned to the base.
At the end of February 1942, Boris Ivanovich rammed the German Junkers-88 in the Yak-1 in the sky over the Valdai-Vyshny Volochek section. The enemy car crashed, and the Soviet pilot was able to land at Torzhok. For this battle, Kovzan received the Order of Lenin.
The third ram took place in July 1942 in the sky over Veliky Novgorod. The German drove the Messerschmitt-109, Kovzan piloted the MiG-3. After the collision, the "Messer" flew down like a stone, the engine of the Soviet car stalled. But Boris Ivanovich, thanks to his skill, managed to land an aircraft and cheat death for the third time.
But the fourth ram almost ended fatally for the brave pilot. On August 13, 1942, while at the helm of an LA-5 fighter, Kovzan came across a group of German bombers covered by fighters. He had no chance of success, but the Soviet pilot began to fight. In the battle, the LA-5 was severely damaged, and Kovzan several wounds. Realizing that he could not leave alive, Boris Ivanovich directed the burning plane to the enemy bomber. The blow was so strong that the Soviet pilot was thrown out of the cockpit at an altitude of about 6 thousand meters.
The parachute failed and did not fully open, but Kovzan was lucky to land in a swamp, where the partisans found him and took him to the hospital. The treatment took about 10 months. In that battle, Kovzan lost an eye. Despite this, after the hospital, Boris Ivanovich returned to the front. In total, he flew 360 sorties, conducted over a hundred air battles and destroyed 28 German aircraft. And nobody could repeat his four battering rams.
Boris Ivanovich rose to the rank of colonel, became a Hero of the Soviet Union and received many awards. After the war, he lived for some time in Ryazan, and then moved to Minsk. Here he died in 1985. The Hero was buried at the Minsk Northern cemetery.