Certificate for the Marshal Star and the Rank of Supreme
Marshal of Air Force, with original case of issue
Awarded in 1984 to Aleksandr Koldunov, the eighth highest
scoring Soviet fighter ace of WW2, twice Hero of the Soviet
Union, and supreme commander of the Soviet Air Defense in
the late 70s through late 80s.
Although a highly skilled and illustrious fighter pilot,
Koldunov's claims to fame in the West centered around
friendly fire incidents and failure to prevent Mathias Rust,
a West German, from landing a Cessna airplane on Moscow's
Red Square. This humiliation to the entire Soviet armed
forces led to Koldunov's immediate dismissal.
Koldunov's fortunes rose during WW2 as a Yak pilot when he
became a specialist in the hit-and-run diving attack,
aggressively firing at close quarters and breaking away to
attack again. Many of his air victories were scored against
Luftwaffe fighter craft in the Southern sector. Koldunov's
WW2 service included one of aviation history's most unlikely
dogfights-- against USAAF Lightnings of the 15th AF in a
case of mistaken identity. Koldunov who reportedly shot
down 3 American aircraft in the melee put an end to the
friendly fire incident by bravely closing alongside the
Lightnings to establish his flight's identity as "friendly"
While his postwar career began with great promise, the
spectre of friendly fire seemed to plague Koldunov, and his
career ultimately ended in a humiliation of historic
In 1968 Koldunov was Deputy Commander of the Baku Air
Defense District. One year later he was moved to the
Ministry of Defense for a brief tour of duty, and in 1970 he
succeeded Colonel-General Vasilii V. Okunev as CINC of the
ultra important Moscow Air Defense District.
Koldunov's career continued to rise. In 1978 he was
promoted to Marshal of the Air Force in charge of PVO (Anti
Air) defenses for the Motherland. It was at this post that
his career began to unravel. In 1978, a missile was fired
at a commercial airliner with the loss of 2 people. On 1
September 1983, a commerical 747 airliner, Korean Air Flight
007 strayed off course and was shot down with the needless
death of 269 civilians. But it wasn't until 1987 that his
career came to an end at the hands of 19 year old student
Mathias Rust who penetrated air defences under Koldunov's
authority, to land his Cessna in Red Square.
The event hit the Soviet Union like a bombshell, as it
became evident that the much-touted "impenetrable" air
defense system was a hollow shell created by the Communist
propaganda machine, like so much else that was the Soviet
Union. Koldunov was forced to retire from his post, a
humiliation that perhaps contributed to his death of a heart
attack in 1992. Although Koldunov was made a scapegoat for
this failure, the truth was fast becoming clear to the
Soviet population. Events like the the Rust's flight and the
Chernobyl nuclear accident a year earlier created a very
real sense that the Communist Regime was tetering on the
brink of collapse.
This historic document is bound in padded deep red/brown
leather with embossed State Seal and gold leaf inscription.
The interior is elegantly lined in white satin. The
internal document is printed on heavy parchment and crisply
inscribed in black and gold. Open document measures 18" x
Issued on 31 October 1984. Hand-signed by Konstantin
Chernenko, Soviet Premier at the time, and Menteshashvili,
Secretary of the Presidium. The condition is excellent,
with only light traces of wear.
The case is bound in matching leather. The liner, of
highest quality padded red satin, to match the importance of
the document contained therein. Case measures 13" x 9.5" x
2". Condition is excellent, clean, with very light shelf
Rare & significant memento of a historic figure who embodied
the Soviet Union's heroic struggle and ironic tribulations.