For example, Pokryshkin flew more than 500 sorties. Participated in 84 dogfights. Shot down 59 aircraft. I also have 84 combat sorties. But if you translate our effectiveness into money, I wouldn't be short of him. Be sure of that. Of course, ground attack pilots' hands are covered in blood up to the elbows. But it was our duty, and I think we did a first class job. Did everything we could. Well, and God didn't pass us by with "crosses".
I too immediately dived into the clouds - almost out of fuel and no longer able to continue the fight. I reported in to an observer. Ground control told me, " No Soviet losses. Execute a 555 (return to base)." There was no way of finding my wingman. About five minutes later, breaking out from the cloud I saw a Me-109 ahead flying a parallel course. I ducked back into the clouds and when I emerged a few minutes later he had disappeared. I returned to base.
There my papers were checked and in December 1943 I was serving in a separate army front-line penal company attached to the 69th Division of General Batov's 65th Army. I don't like to remember this period,,, Later on I fought in Shturmoviks, but it was far worse in the infantry. After the war I had a recurring dream: a German was pointing his sub-machine gun at me - and about to open fire at any moment. I'd wake up with a start thinking 'Thank God I'm still alive.'
Well, what can I tell you about war? I had neither seen anything particularly heroic there nor did any such thing myself. We were just doing our various, dangerous, permanent jobs. In the beginning we retreated, and then slowly began to advance. We did not allow ourselves to think: "I wish the war was over soon!" We just worked. Before the final victory we flew very little. Everyone knew and felt that the end of the war was near. The men were happy to realize that the end of the war meant the end of suffering. When the war was finally over, everybody thought: “Now what?” We learned how to fly, how to fight. We learned how to squeeze everything we could out of the airplanes. “What’s next?” For about a month and a half we just hung around. Then we began to organize the flights
I do not know who really shot us down, but we caught fire and began to fell. Our aircraft fell down in the region of railroad station Karachev. I and the pilot Leytenant Pavel Radenko got out of the aircraft, which was standing at its nose. We asked each other about wounds and, having made sure that we were unharmed, decided to come away from the aircraft.