Please, meet Master Sergeant bombardier GUBIN Nikolaj Denisovich 1922. His remarkable and dramatic story, although with a happy ending, is a fascinating facet of the WW2 history. GUBIN served in the Polar region in the 668 night tactical bomber aviation regiment, 258 all purpose aviation division, Karelian front. He was a bombardier in a 2 men crew flying R-5 aircraft (the ground assault version R-5CCC). The pilot occupied the forward cockpit. Bombardier sat behind him in the second cockpit. The second cockpit was wired for aircraft control, but to a limited degree (f.ex. fuel tanks could only be controlled by the pilot).
In September 1942, GUBIN was bestowed with a “RED BANNER”order for a night air strike mission against the airfield in Luostari, which seems to had been utilised by the Jagdgeschwader 5 unit of the Luftwaffe.
Now, see that happened during the mission…
Citation: On the night of 28.09.1942, comrade GUBIN (in the crew with the pilot Lt. BASHKIROV) flew a mission against the enemy airfield in Luostari. In the hurricane of the enemy AA fire, the crew went into the bomb run and released the bomb load precisely. At the moment of the bomb release, comrade GUBIN was wounded by a large shrapnel fragment of an AA shell. The pilot Lt. BASHKIROV was hit in the head and killed. The uncontrollable aircraft fell into a spin dive and was about to crash on the enemy airfield. Master Sergeant GUBIN quickly realised the situation and assumed aircraft control from his cockpit. He managed to recover the aircraft from the spin dive at 300 meters altitude and utilising evasive manoeuvres diverted from the target. Now, comrade GUBIN – a freshman bombardier, who had no piloting, nor landing training – had to singlehandedly take the aircraft in the difficult night conditions along 150km route to the home base and land it. Master Sergeant GUBIN exercised his strength of character and heroism. He excellently managed and achieved, impossible for him, task. After successfully arriving to his home airfield, he made three landing attempts and finally successfully landed the aircraft. Despite the fact, that the avionic controls were jammed by the body of the killed pilot, comrade GUBIN managed to land such, that the aircraft only received some insignificant damages, which were easily reparable in the field conditions by the local regiment technical team. During the course of his combat service since 15.01.1942, comrade GUBIN has made 44 successful night combat missions with confirmed results on a R-5 aircraft (total flying time 70h 20min). He executes all his missions perfectly and is eager to go to combat missions. He is an exemplary serviceman in his area of expertise.
For excellent execution of the combat missions assigned by the command with the aim of destroying the enemy ground forces, for heroism exhibited on 28 September 1944 during a combat mission and saving his life and aircraft, for bringing home the body of his heroically fallen commander, Master Sergeant GUBIN deserves state award – order “LENIN”.
Signed by the commander of 668 night tactical bomber aviation regiment Major ARKHIPENKO. 30 September 1942
For this feat GUBIN was promoted to Jr.Lieutenant, bestowed with Red Banner order, and sent to a pilot school.
BASHKIROV’s and GUBIN’s mission was specifically mentioned in the dispatch №0153 on 12.10.1942:
DECREE №0153 , Karelian front.
RESUME: On the landing of R-5 aircraft in difficult conditions by the pilot-observer M.Sgt. GUBIN.
On the night of 27-28.09.1942, the aircraft crew (pilot Lt. BASHKIROV, pilot-observer M.Sgt. GUBIN) of 668 night tactical bomber aviation regiment was on a night bomb mission against the enemy airfield in Luostari and was subjected to AA fire. As the result of the enemy fire during the bomb run, the pilot Lt. BASHKIROV was killed instantly in the head by a shell fragment.
The aircraft fell into a spin dive. Quickly accessing the situation, the pilot-observer GUBIN acted resourcefully and switched the controls to the second cockpit. He went around for the second bomb run, released the two remaining bombs at the target, and flew the aircraft back to the regiment home base. This was accomplished, even though GUBIN had no pilot training, neither during the day nor the night conditions. During the night landing, the aircraft was damaged insignificantly. Comrade GUBIN is unharmed.
I COMMAND :
1. On behalf of the Supreme Soviet USSR, GUBIN is to be bestowed with order “RED BANNER” for excellent execution of the combat mission, for exhibited determination and cool conduct in a difficult air mission, for landing safely in night time the R-5 aircraft at his regiment home base.
2. Master Sergeant GUBIN is to be promoted to the rank “Junior Lieutenant” and sent to a pilot school.
3. This dispatch is to be announced to all the personnel.
Commander of the Karelian front Lt.Gen. FROLOV
Three month after his mission, on 20 December 1942, an article written by the renowned Soviet writer K.SIMONOV was published in the “Red Star” newspaper – “In the Polar night”. The article illuminates on some other details of GUBIN faithful mission. Apart from describing how the strange the situation looked like from the ground during GUBIN’s landing (3 attempts), it also mentions, that the aircraft nosed over came to a halt standing tail up. It also mentions, that GUBIN “had” pilot training. Well, his pilot BASHKIROV encouraged him and allowed him to steer the R-5 during straight level flights. Those witty lessons proved to be indispensable for GUBIN on 28.09.1942.
Having finished his pilot training in 1944, GUBIN returned to the front line as a Lend-Lease Mitchell B-25 pilot in the 890 heavy bomber aviation regiment, 45 long range bomber aviation division, 18 Airforce. Among other missions, the 890th regiment supported the Berlin offensive with the targets around Tiergarten. GUBIN survived the war, having made 111 combat missions by March 1945. Plus an unknown additional number of missions in the remaining war time.
In the post war era, he had a fruitful career as a test pilot. 1945-1955, he served in the unit stationed in the city Kazan. 1955-1961, he was a test pilot attached to the military quality control commission at the Kazan aircraft plant №22. 1961 – 1972, GUBIN is the senior test pilot of of the same quality commission. He participated in the test of the aircrafts: Tu-16, Tu-104, Tu-22, IL-62. In 1971, the test pilot 1 class GUBIN was discharged to the reserve and began his civil carrier still linked to aviation. During 1972 – 1979, GUBIN is the senior flight operation controller at the Kazan aircraft plant №22. During 1979 – 1981, he works as a radio engineer at the flight test centre. 1981 – 1988, he is an electro-mechanic of the landing lights signalling systems. 1988 – 1990, he is an electro-mechanic of the in flight lights signalling systems. GUBIN retired in September 1990 and lived in Kazan city.
GUBIN is mentioned several times in the interview by test pilot NIKONOV printed in the May 2020 issue of “Aviation and Cosmonautics” magazine.
GUBIN passed away in May 1991 and buried in Kazan city.
There is another remarkable feat in the course of the WW2, which is very appropriate to mention here: RAF Aircraftman 1st Class later Sergeant A.A. MEADOWS, who “assumed control of the aircraft, and showing great determination and ability flew it to Sidi Barrani and landed it safely.“
The recommendation for Meadows’ award was officially detailed in an RAF Middle East Command letter of 8th July 1940:
“On the return of an aircraft of No.113 Squadron from a bombing attack on M.T. concentration south of Bardia at 1820 hours on 5th July 1940, the aircraft piloted by Flight Lieutenant A.M. Bentley, and in which 612422 A.C.1. MEADOWS, A.A., was air gunner, passed over the north end of the Bardia defences and received a burst of machine gun fire which killed the observer and wound the pilot in the arm, rendering him inoperative. A.C.1. MEADOWS, the air gunner, came forward in the machine and applied a tourniquet to the pilot’s arm. Although the aircraft was damaged and A.C.1. Meadows had not been trained as a pilot, he assumed control of the aircraft, and showing great determination and ability flew it to Sidi Barrani and landed it safely. By his cool and gallant conduct he undoubtedly saved the machine.“