The Pfalz Dr.I was yet one more attempt to develop an aircraft capable of a fast climb to intercept Allied aircraft. Although possessed of an amazing climb, the Dr.I was saddled with the unproven Siemens-Halske Sh.III rotary and less then a dozen entered front-line service. That seen here was test-flown by Manfred von Richthofen at the Adlershof fighter competition in January 1918.
Lilya Litvyak was born in Moscow on August 18, 1921. Lilya was her nickname, as her birth name was Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak.. She began her air service with the all-woman 586 IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment), where she flew mostly defensive missions from January to August 1942. In August she was posted to an all-male squadron because of her merits. The first was the 286 IAD (Fighter Aviation Division), then to the 437 IAP, which had recently been equipped with the new Lavochkin La-5. With this unit she recorded her first three air victories in September 1942.
At the end of January 1943, Lilya was transferred to the 296 IAP along with two other skilled women pilots. In February she was awarded Order of the Red Banner and promoted to Junior Lieutenant. Soon afterwards she received her Senior Lieutenant rating. With the 296 she was to fly the "Yellow 44" Yak-1. Overall, she was to score six victories in "Yellow 44" before the plane was hit by escorting Me-109s on the Ides of March 1943. Lilya managed to make her home base and crash-landed. She remained in the hospital until May 1943.
When she returned, 296 IAP had been renamed 73 GvIAP (Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment) for their exploits in combat. On her return, 73 GvIAP was given a fleet of improved Yak-1b aircraft; Lilya's aircraft was "White 23". She was repeatedly successful on escort missions and scored four more victories before being shot down and killed by eight Me-109s while escorting a unit of Il-2 "Shturmovik"s returning from an attack on August 1, 1943. Her body and aircraft were never found during the war, but a marble monument with 12 gold stars was erected in her memory in the Donetsk region of Krasny Luch. Lilya had completed 168 combat missions and had twelve personal victories and three shared victories. She was 22 years old when she died.
In 1979 her remains were found near the village of Dmitriyevka, buried under the wing of her fallen Yak-1b. Ten years later her remains were recovered for an official burial and on May 5, 1990 she was posthumously conferred the title "Hero of the Soviet Union" by President Mikhail Gorbachov.
This month we feature a look at theMcDonnell F-101 Voodoo. Some of the most colourful examples of this classic interceptor served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (later Canadian Air Force). Click on the link for over twenty years of magic in the skies over Canada.