Original editor’s note of
: on May 1, 1960, the Soviet Army shot down a US U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft invading Soviet airspace with a missile, but one of its own MIG aircraft was also mistakenly hit by a missile. Here are the memories of the parties concerned.
Xie Liping, then chairman of the Soviet KGB, recalled:
in the late night of April 30, 1960, I was awakened by a ringing telephone. The caller reported that a plane of unknown nationality had entered the southern border of China. I immediately called the air defense command and asked them if they knew about it. They told me it was a rumor. So I called the director of the border post who reported the matter to me to verify the situation again. After that, I woke up Khrushchev and reported the cross-border plane. He entrusted me to find Marshal Malinowski, Minister of defense, and ask the marshal to call him immediately. The defense minister severely reprimanded his subordinates after talking to Khrushchev. Khrushchev ordered the plane to be shot down with missiles.
at 6 a.m., China’s air defense missile forces, air force forces and radar forces stationed in Central Asia, Siberia, Ural and Europe sounded harsh alarms. Biruzov, commander in chief of the air defense force, Savitsky, commander of the fighter aviation force, and khazakov, commander of the air defense missile force rushed to the air defense force headquarters. Biluzov always kept in touch with the commanders of various units to understand the situation and asked to intercept the reconnaissance aircraft. Savitsky was very positive. He ordered the Air Force Commander: “all personnel on duty in the flight area of foreign aircraft should crack down on border crossings. If necessary, they can be hit by aircraft.” The atmosphere at the headquarters of
was very tense. Defense Minister Malinowski and Khrushchev himself called one after another, with the content roughly: “shame. The state has provided the defense air force with everything it needs, but you can’t even hit subsonic aircraft.” Unfortunately, the U-2 aircraft flew at an average speed of 750 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 21000 meters, which was beyond the reach of our fighters. The reason why the missile forces are helpless is that the flight route of the aircraft before ural is basically not within the range of their firepower.
in short, the combat task will have to be completed by the soldiers of the Urals. The commander of the regiment is lieutenant general evgen nikorsunov. On the day of
, the Deputy captain of MiG-19 aircraft brigade, Captain Boris aiwajiang and captain safronov, were on duty at an airport of the Urals. AVA Jiang said: “there happened to be a su-9 plane on the airport of
, which was driven here by Captain matyakov from the factory. This aircraft is more perfect than MiG-19, mainly because its actual flight altitude reaches 20000 meters, while the actual flight speed of MiG-19 is only 12000 meters. However, the su-9 aircraft does not have the conditions to participate in the war, because it is not equipped with weapons and the pilot does not have high-altitude flight clothes.
headquarters clearly know the flight altitude of cross-border aircraft, and only su-9 aircraft can fly to this altitude. Captain mantyukov received an order to intercept the U-2 plane before it flew to Sverdlovsk. I heard the dialogue between the headquarters and the pilot from the walkie talkie: “the task is to destroy the target and hit.”
I don’t know whether Savitsky or someone else gave the order in his name, but one thing is clear: the pilot will die. In the absence of high-altitude flight suits and oxygen masks, impact at such an altitude is death. At that time, it seemed that there was no other way.
the man who survived the disaster later said,
I have no other way out, so I replied, “prepare for the impact. The only request is not to forget my family and mother.” The answer was: “please rest assured that everything will be done.”
I flew in the direction of Chelyabinsk for 17 minutes, and no one contacted me. I think maybe I forgot after sending me out. This is heard from the headset: “has the fuel tank run out?” I said, “not yet.” Then I heard the command: “throw away the fuel tank and hit it.” I threw away the fuel tank. I heard the command again: “increase the throttle!” Mach 0.9, maybe I’m turning at Mach 1.2. The plane began to climb to an altitude of 20000 meters. I was told that the enemy plane began to turn. I also turned to catch up. But the speed was different. I exceeded the target and exceeded 8km. General wolfko shouted, “turn off the accelerator and slow down!” I knew that the headquarters didn’t know how to fly the su-9 plane, so I shouted at the top of my lungs, “you can’t turn it off! Otherwise you can’t maintain the altitude.” “Turn it off, it’s an order!” The general roared again. I had to obey orders. Then he received instructions: “leave there and the ground is launching missiles into that area.” I shouted, “see!” There was an explosion light in the air, one in front of me and one on the right. Missile soldiers opened fire…
retired major general panrensky recalled:
major Voronov commanded the missile battalion that day. Sergeant Fyodorov’s calculation of the launch data was accurate. With a flash of fire, the missile quickly flew to the enemy plane. Later learned that it was this missile that shot down the U-2 aircraft. At the same time, missile soldiers from another battalion commanded by serudiko are still firing at the wreckage of the aircraft. On the radar display, the target disappeared in the jamming. The captain in charge of guidance, felide Blum, believes that this is a trick played by the enemy to escape the missile. The pilot may have dropped a box with a metal belt, so there was interference on the radar. Voronov agrees.
Voronov now explained:
later learned that the radar actually showed the wreckage of the aircraft, so the interference surface was larger after the missile was launched by the seludyko battalion. We didn’t understand this until a minute later, and the wreckage had fallen to the ground. I made a report to the regiment headquarters, and the regiment headquarters made a report to the top. But it says,The enemy plane was still flying under the cover of interference. In short, it was only after the pilot Bowers who parachuted was caught that the U-2 plane was shot down. This is half an hour later.
within 30 minutes after the US reconnaissance plane was shot down, the Soviet air defense command believed that the enemy plane was still flying. So Captain ivajiang and captain safronov were ordered to fly MIG into the sky.
the battalion commanded by major shugayev mistook the two MIG aircraft for enemy aircraft and fired missiles at them. One of them shot down the plane piloted by safronov.
safronov’s plane crashed 10 kilometers away from the airport, and the pilot who opened his parachute also landed nearby. He has been killed and his rib has been seriously injured. Perhaps the catapult worked automatically, or the injured pilot opened the catapult before his death. Many investigation committees have not found out what happened. Safronov was under 30 when he died.
the Secretary of defense received a report saying:
“major general wofk, commander of the air force fighter aviation, ordered two MiG-19 to take off at 8:43. However, the headquarters did not know that there were our fighter planes in the air for as long as 10 minutes.”
“after the reconnaissance plane was shot down, the 9th radio technology independent battalion still reported to the general headquarters that the enemy plane was flying at an altitude of 19000 meters, while the MiG-19 aircraft had actually flown at an altitude of 11000 meters.”
“the fighter plane passed through the firing area of the 4th Battalion when returning to the airport. The battalion’s equipment for identifying the aircraft failed. It did not receive the news of our fighter plane in the air. It mistook MiG-19 for an enemy aircraft and launched a missile, and the aircraft piloted by safronov was hit.”
in May 1960, the state issued a commendation order to the meritorious servicemen who shot down the US reconnaissance plane. This was the first order signed by Brezhnev, who became the president of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union at that time. 21 people were rewarded, and captain safronov and major Voronov were awarded the red flag medal. (compiled from Anatoly dokuchaev Li Youguan of the Russian labor daily)