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     Home > FEATURES > WW2 Soviet Pilots

    Order of the Red Banner, Type 4 Variation 1, #93650, with award document and a post-war photo ID, awarded to Mikhail Konovalov for flying successful bombing missions in July - September 1943, many of them during the Battle of Kursk.

    Order of the Red Banner, Type 4 Variation 1, #93650, with award document and a post-war photo ID, awarded to Mikhail Konovalov for flying successful bombing missions in July - September 1943, many of them during the Battle of Kursk.

    The order is in silver gilt and enamels; measures 45.3 mm in height (from the bottom of the wreath to the top of the eyelet); 37.6 mm in width; weighs 13.1 g not including the suspension and connecting link. This is an extremely early suspension type piece, one of the first produced by the Krasnokamsk Mint in 1943 after the change in design from screw back to suspension. If features very pronounced "contoured" reverse and the plow nearly touching the flagpole. The first word "Monetnyi" in the mint mark is in characteristically small font, and its first letter "M" is of the early style, with mid portion lowered to the bottom of the line.

    In excellent condition. The red enamel on the banner has just a few tiny contact marks that are practically unnoticeable to the naked eye, otherwise perfect and shows beautiful luster. The red star has a couple of microscopic flakes and scratches, unnoticeable without magnification. The enamel on the scroll with "CCCP" is perfect, and so is the white enamel. A good amount of original fire gilt is clearly visible in recessed areas of the wreath. There is very attractive dark patina to silver on the reverse. Comes on original steel suspension device with a recent, lightly used ribbon. The connecting link is original and has not been cut.


    Order Booklet, filled-out on 6 August 1948. The document shows no other decorations beside the Red Banner - a very unusual case: these were usually awarded to officers and more often than not, for length of service in the military. The recipients of a WW2 Red Banner almost always had more than that single decoration all of which would normally appear in the same document. Available archival records and service information in the ID card seem to confirm that this is in fact "a complete group". The order booklet shows February 1944as the starting date for special privileges, corresponding with the March 1943 date of the Red Banner award decree.

    The document is in excellent condition. The cover shows only a couple of minimal scuffs, otherwise perfect. The binding is tight, and the interior is clean and crisp, with only some faint stains to non-essential pages.

    Reserve Military Officer Photo ID, issued on 21 February 1968 by a district military commissariat in the city of Kuybyshev. The document contains basic biographical data and military service information - including specific positions occupied during WW2. The document is in excellent, near mint condition.

    Mikhail Konovalov was born in 1921 in a small town of Samara (later renamed Kuybyshev) Region of Russia. In December 1940, he enrolled in the Chelyabinsk School of Air Force Gunners and Bombardiers, graduating from it in August 1942. During the same month of August, he was assigned as a gunner / bombardier to the 54th Bomber Aviation Regiment, 301st Aviation Division, 16th Air Army. It took him almost a year however to start flying combat missions. This was probably due to the fact that his regiment was inactive during much of 1942 - early 1943 after having lost practically all of its airplanes to Luftwaffe fighters and several enemy airstrikes on its home airfields. By May 1943, the regiment had been back at the front, completely retrained and reequipped with brand new Pe-2 light bombers. Konovalov's baptism by fire took place during the early days of the Battle of Kursk, when he flew 2-3 missions a day to blunt the German armored thrust in the Orel sector. In this battle, he proved himself a courageous and skillful navigator who according to the subsequent award recommendation "knew no boundaries in achieving the assigned goal." He also proved highly skilled in the additional role of aerial photographer. He deliberately trailed his group and made additional passes over the target area to take photographic record of the battlefield damage caused by the bombs - and thus put himself in considerable danger.

    On 3 September, Konovalov took part in the bombing attack on the enemy troops in the village of Pirogovka in the Sumy Region of Ukraine, northwest of Kharkov. Immediately after the initial strike, the group attacked a crossing of the Desna River. The aftermath of the bombing run was evident from the photographs taken by Konovalov: he and his comrades set on fire 10-15 trucks loaded with ammunition and food, and killed as many as 60 enemy soldiers.

    On 21 September, Konovalov participated in an air raid on the station of Zlynka on the Bryansk - Gomel railroad. An additional overflight later on determined that the enemy had suffered heavy losses to the Soviet bombers. One train of tanker cars carrying 120 tons of fuel was completely burned down and another, loaded with German army documentation, was derailed and scattered. The Pe-2s also scored direct hits on a troop train where they killed some 50 military policemen and servicemen of Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army that had just embarked on the train to leave for Germany. The successful attack completely disrupted traffic on the railway line for three hours.

    On 22 November, Konovalov was recommended for an Order of the Red Banner by his air regiment commander. Contrary to the usual practice, the recommendation did not mention the specific number of missions had flown. Instead, it emphasized the specific results achieved in Konovalov's sorties and especially his bravery in photographing the damage inflicted on the enemy. It took until 5 January 1944 for the award to be officially bestowed by a decree of the 16th Air Army. The Red Banner apparently remained Konovalov's only decoration of the war, although he remained on active duty until May 1946. After being transferred to the reserves, he lived in the city of Kuybyshev where he graduated from the Hydro-Technical Institute in 1951.

    Research Materials: Photocopy of the award commendation and relevant page of the award decree.


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