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
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.