Issue Date: 07 May 2021
Artist-designer: S. Uliyanovskiy
Denominations: 40 rubles
Stamp size: 50 х 37 mm
Printing Method: Offset + Security system
Perforation: Comb 12 x 11¾
Circulation: 132 000
№ 2761-2762. 100 years since the birth of the spouses-Heroes of the Soviet Union. A. F. Solomatin (1921-1943) and L. V. Litvyak (1921-1943) and S. I. Kharlamov (1921-1990) and N. V. Popov (1921-2013)
In 2021, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Heroes of the Soviet Union, the spouses A. F. Solomatin and L. V. Litvyak and S. I. Kharlamov and N. V. Popova, will be celebrated.
Alexey Frolovich Solomatin (1921-1943)-squadron commander of the 296th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 268th Fighter Aviation Division of the 8th Air Army of the Southern Front, senior lieutenant. By February 1943, A. Solomatin had made 266 sorties, conducted 108 air battles, personally shot down 12 and 15 enemy aircraft in a group. By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of May 1, 1943, Senior Lieutenant A. F. Solomatin was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his courage and bravery in the battles against the Nazi invaders.
Lydia V. Litvyak (1921-1943) — flight commander of the 3rd Squadron of the 73rd Guards Stalingrad Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 6th Guards Don Fighter Aviation Division of the 8th Air Army of the Southern Front, Guards junior lieutenant. Since August 1942, it has made 168 sorties, in 89 air battles shot down personally 11 and as part of a group of 3 enemy aircraft, destroyed 2 spotter balloons. By the decree of the President of the USSR of May 5, 1990, for the courage and heroism shown in the fight against the Nazi invaders, Guards Senior Lieutenant L. V. Litvyak was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Lydia Litvyak met Alexey Solomatin, her future husband, in the winter of 1943, when she was transferred to the 296th Aviation Regiment. They were married in March. Their family life consisted of meek meetings between combat missions and did not last long: both died while performing combat missions.
The postage stamps depict A. F. Solomatin and L. V. Litvyak; S. I. Kharlamov and N. V. Popova.
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union (Герой Советского Союза, romanized: Geroy Sovietskogo Soyuza) was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society. The award was established on April 16, 1934, by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union. The first recipients of the title originally received only the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award, along with a certificate (грамота, gramota) describing the heroic deed from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Because the Order of Lenin could be awarded for deeds not qualifying for the title of hero, and to distinguish heroes from other Order of Lenin holders, the Gold Star medal was introduced on August 1, 1939. Earlier heroes were retroactively eligible for these items.
A hero could be awarded the title again for a subsequent heroic feat with an additional Gold Star medal and certificate. An additional Order of Lenin was not given until 1973. The practice of awarding the title multiple times was abolished by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1988 during perestroika.
Forty-four foreign citizens were awarded the title.
Aleksey Frolovich Solomatin (Алексе́й Фро́лович Солома́тин; 12 February 1921 – 21 May 1943) was a squadron commander and flying ace in the Soviet Air Forces during World War II who was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
Solomatin was born on 12 February 1921, in Bunakovo-2 village, Ferikovsky District, Kaluga Oblast, in a large peasant family. He joined the Army in 1939, attending the Kacha Military Air College. When the Great Patriotic War, broke, he was serving with the 160th Reserve Aviation Regiment near Odessa, in Ukraine. Later he was transferred close to Krivoy Rog, in the 296 IAP (296th Fighter Regiment), 268th Aviation Division, 8th Army Air, Southern Front.
On 9 March 1942, he took part in a famed air combat that had large cover in Soviet medias. Boris Eryomin, commander of second squadron of 296th Regiment, led Solomatin and five more pilots, flying the Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter, to attack a large Luftwaffe formation: 12 Messerschmitt Bf 109Es carrying bombs, seven Junkers Ju 88 bombers and six more escorting Bf 109s. The Yakovlev pilots claimed seven kills for no losses. Solomatin’s Yak-1 was damaged but he managed to remain in the fight till the end and was credited with the destruction of a Bf 109. By February 1943 he had claimed 12 individuals and 15 shared kills, in 108 combats and 266 sorties. Then his unit was renamed 73 GvIAP (73rd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment) and he was promoted Kapitan (Captain). While in 73 GvIAP, he often flew with Lidya Litvyak as his wingman. On 1 May 1943, he was awarded the title and Golden Star (no. 955) of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Solomatin was killed on 21 May 1943, when his Yakovlev Yak-1 crashed in the village of Pavlovka, Rostov Oblast. He was at the time credited with 13 individual air victories and 6 to 16 shared.
Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak (Лидия Владимировна Литвяк; 18 August 1921, in Moscow – 1 August 1943, in Krasnyi Luch), also known as Lilya, was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. Historians’ estimates for her total victories range from five to twelve solo victories and two to four shared kills in her 66 combat sorties. In about two years of operations, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft, the first of two female fighter pilots who have earned the title of fighter ace and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot. She was shot down near Orel during the Battle of Kursk as she attacked a formation of German aircraft.
Lydia Litvyak was born in Moscow into a Russian family. Her mother Anna Vasilievna Litvyak was a shop assistant; her father Vladimir Leontievich Litvyak (1892–1937) worked as a railwayman, train driver and clerk. During the Great Purge, Vladimir Litvyak was arrested as an “enemy of the people” and disappeared. Lydia became interested in aviation at an early age. At 14, she enrolled in a flying club. She performed her first solo flight at 15, and later graduated from the Kherson military flying school. She became a flight instructor at Kalinin Airclub, and by the time the German–Soviet war broke out, had already trained 45 pilots.
After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit, but was turned down because of lack of experience. After deliberately exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours, she joined the all-female 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Air Defense Force, which was formed by Marina Raskova. She trained there on the Yakovlev Yak-1 aircraft.
Two German pilots are believed to have shot down Litvyak: Iron Cross holder and 30-kill experte Fw. Hans-Jörg Merkle of 1./JG.52, Knight’s Cross holder and future 99-kill experte Lt, or Hans Schleef, of 7./JG 3. Merkle is the only pilot that claimed a Yak-1 near Dmitryevka on 1 August 1943, his 30th victory. (Dmitrijewka is where she was last seen and was – reportedly – buried.) This occurred before being rammed and killed by his own victim (Luftwaffe combat report of collision: 3 km east of Dmitrievka). Schleef claimed a LaGG-3 (often confused in combat with Yak-1s by German pilots) kill on the same day, in the South-Ukraine area where Litvyak’s aircraft was at last found.
In an attempt to prove that Litvyak had not been taken captive, Pasportnikova embarked on a 36-year search for the Yakovlev Yak-1 crash site assisted by the public and the media. For three years, she was joined by relatives, who together combed the most likely areas with a metal detector. In 1979, after uncovering more than 90 other crash sites, 30 aircraft and many lost pilots killed in action, “the searchers discovered that an unidentified woman pilot had been buried in the village of Dmitrievka… in Shakhterski district.” It was then assumed that it was Litvyak and that she had been killed in action after sustaining a mortal head wound. Pasportnikova said that a special commission was formed to inspect the exhumed body, and it concluded the remains were those of Litvyak.
On 6 May 1990, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev posthumously awarded her the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Her final rank was senior lieutenant, as was documented in all Moscow newspapers of that date.
Nadezhda Vasilyevna Popova (Russian: Наде́жда Васи́льевна Попо́ва, Ukrainian: Надія Василівна Попова; 17 December 1921 – 8 July 2013) was a squadron commander in the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Regiment during the Second World War who achieved significant domestic publicity after completing 18 bombing sorties in one night with navigator Yekaterina Ryabova. Awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 23 February 1945 for completing 737 sorties, she was featured in Ogonyok magazine and many other major Soviet publications during the war.
Popova was born in Shabanovka on 17 December 1921. Daughter of a railwayman, she grew up near the Donetsk coal fields in Ukraine. As an adolescent, she loved music, song, and dance, taking part in amateur plays and musicals, and considered becoming an actress or doctor before entering aviation. The Economist reported that she was a “wild spirit, easily bored; she loved to tango, foxtrot, sing along to jazz. It made her feel free.” When a small aircraft landed near her village, she became enamored with aviation, enrolling in a gliding school at the age of 15 without telling her parents. “Walking towards a plane, every time, she would get a knot in her stomach; every time she took off, she was thrilled all over again.”
In 1937, she made both her first parachute jump and her first solo flight at the age of sixteen. Despite her parents’ opposition, she pursued her new passion and obtained her flying license.
She was initially rejected as a student by a pilot school, but after Polina Osipenko, the Inspector for Aviation in the Moscow Military District, recommended her, she was allowed to enroll in the Kherson flight school, graduating at the age of eighteen and becoming a flight instructor.
Popova volunteered to be a military pilot, but the government initially barred women from combat and turned her away. But in October 1941, Joseph Stalin caved in to pressure from Marina Raskova and permitted the creation of three women’s aviation regiments.
Popova, whose brother Leonid had been killed at the front in 1941 and whose home had been taken by invading German troops, was sent by Marina Raskova to Engels to join other women being trained to become military pilots. She then joined a night bombing regiment, and rose to command the 2nd Women’s Regiment (1941–45), flying the Polikarpov Po-2, a bi-plane used as a crop duster before the war. The Women’s Regiment flew exclusively at night; their planes, which were not equipped with guns, radios, radar, or parachutes, would catch fire easily if hit by tracer-bullets (though they were usually actually better protected against splinters then more modern variants).
On 10 March 1942, during a training mission, Popova was leading a formation when two aircraft got lost in a heavy blizzard and crashed, killing their all-female crews. These were the first casualties sustained by her unit. After training, she was sent to fight in her childhood home region of the Donetsk coal fields. The regiment was called “Nachthexen” (Night Witches) by the Germans “because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick.”
Popova was shot down several times in the three years she spent fighting, but was never badly wounded. On 2 August 1942, she was on a day reconnaissance mission when she was attacked by Luftwaffe fighters and forced to make an emergency landing near Cherkessk. Trying to return to her unit, she joined a motorized column, and among the wounded met her future husband, fighter pilot Semyon Kharlamov, who was reading And Quiet Flows the Don.
She later flew a relief mission through enemy fire over Novorossiysk, dropping food, water and medical supplies to the forces trapped in Malaya Zemlya, nearly not making it. After returning, she found her aircraft riddled with bullet holes, right down to her map and helmet.
As the Axis forces began their retreat, Popova’s unit followed the front through Belarus and Poland and eventually entered Germany. It was in Poland that she reached her personal record of 18 sorties in one night. In total, Popova completed 852 sorties in the war.
The 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment was dissolved in October 1945, and Popova returned to her town to a hero’s welcome, complete with marching band and flowers thrown over her car. She was driven to the theatre, where 2,000 people were waiting for her, among them one of the marines she had helped in Malaya Zemlya.
She married soon after the war – her husband went on to attain the rank of colonel general in the Soviet Air Force, and her son Aleksandr is a graduate of the Air Academy – and she worked as a flight instructor for almost two decades. Popova was widowed in 1990.
Popova died on 8 July 2013 in at the age of 91.