Order of the Red Star, Type 4, Variation 1, Sub-variation 2,
#21298, awarded on 22 October 1941 to Aleksey Koshelev.
Silver, enamel; measures 47.2 mm in height, 49.3 mm in
width; weighs 31.1 grams not including the screw plate. A
very early piece with slightly curved up "Monetnyi Dvor"
mint mark; another distinguishing feature is the absence of
the circular depression around the screw post base. The
enamel is of magnificent quality, in deep cherry red tone.
Manufactured in 1940 by the Leningrad Mint. /N. Strekalov,
V. Durov, "Order of the Red Star", pp. 226, 227/.
In very fine overall condition. The enamel is retains
beautiful luster and appears practically perfect to the
naked eye. There is a tiny amount of surface flaking at the
tip and edges of the upper right arm, and some microscopic
contact mark elsewhere, but none of it can be easily found
without a magnifying glass. The center medallion has light
wear and minor dings, but its details are nicely defined.
The reverse shows even dark patina. The screw post has been
reduced in size to nearly 5 mm (measured from its base), but
its remaining length is enough to accommodate the screw
plate. The screw plate is original, an early model in
silver, and shows patina nicely matching the reverse of the
Aleksey Koshelev was born in 1907, joined the Red Army in
1929, and became a member of the Communist Party in 1930. In
1939-40, he took part in the "Winter War" against Finland
and earned his first decoration, a Medal for Valor. During
the Patriotic War, he was on the front lines from July 1942,
initially as a military commissar of a long range air
division. Although no information could be found so far in
the archives about his specific unit, it is clear that it
performed unusually well. In October 1941, its commissar
Koshelv was awarded with an Order of the Red Star #21298
(his first award of the Patriotic War) for "excellent
organization and good political work which facilitated the
completion of combat tasks". The Soviet long range bombers
by large did not suffer the fate of the tactical bombers and
fighters decimated by the Luftwaffe from the offset of the
war. In fact, twin motor Il-4s even managed to bomb Berlin
and several other cities deep in the Axis territory
literally in the first days of the war; in doing so they of
course did not achieve any significant military goals but
scored much needed propaganda points - akin to the Doolittle
Tokyo raiders in 1942. Judging by the decoration awarded to
its political commissar, it seems highly likely that
Koshelev's unit successfully conducted some of those early
During the rest of the war, Koshelev went on serve as
political commander of several aviation units and was
promoted to colonel. By the end of WW2, he had earned many
other decorations, including another Red Star, three Red
Banners, and Order of the Patriotic War 2nd cl. The
recommendation for the latter, submitted while he was
serving with the 282th Air Division, showed that on at least
one occasion during his prior service with the long range
aviation Koshelev personally flew a bombing mission deep
into the enemy rear.
After the war, Koshelev continued to serve in the air force.
He was transferred to the reserve in 1959 having the rank of
Major General, and later worked as instructor of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party and referent (senior
advisor) of the Soviet War Veterans Committee.
Research Materials: copy of the award record cards
(compiled in various years) and award commendations for the
Order of the Patriotic War and the second, 1943 issue Order
of the Red Star.