In a series of recent world events, when every day, looking at the TV screen or computer monitor, we are waiting for the next news about the war in Ukraine, the next imposition of sanctions against Russia by the United States and its "hangers-on" from the EU, the next world financial crisis, etc. etc., etc., it happens that we forget about the birthdays of Soviet front-line actors, especially if they are not very well known.
Today I would like to remember Vladimir Gulyaev. His birthday was October 30, 2014 (he would have turned exactly 90 years old). Honored Artist of the RSFSR left us on November 3, 1997. But it's never too late to remember …
He was never an actor in the first plan, and we remember him precisely for his "secondary" roles in the cinema, although there were more than a dozen of these roles, but I would like to tell you a little about something else: this modest man in the cinema was also a combat pilot in his life -stormtrooper who took part in the Great Patriotic War.
Vladimir Leonidovich Gulyaev was born on October 30, 1924 in the city of Sverdlovsk. From an early age he dreamed of the sky and after graduating from school he was going to become a pilot. He was not even seventeen when the Great Patriotic War broke out. Together with other teenagers, Vladimir besieged military enlistment offices with the requirement to send him as a volunteer to the front. But he was not taken because of his age, and Vladimir went to work as a mechanic in an aviation workshop in Perm.
He worked as a fitter in aviation workshops in Perm (1941-1942).
In 1942, at the age of 17, Vladimir was admitted to the Perm Aviation School, which produced bomber pilots. By the fall of 1942, Gulyaev, having completed the training program, had already begun independent flights. In a month and a half, he was to receive the rank of sergeant and go to the unit, to the front. However, I had to finish my studies as an attack pilot.
Gulyaev retrained well - he graduated from the aviation school as a junior lieutenant. After graduating from college, the graduates spent a week at the gathering point for flight and technical personnel, and then went to the front - on November 6, 1943, directly from Red Square. The 18-year-old "junior" first got into the 639th Regiment of the 211st Attack Aviation Division, then the regiment was transferred to the newly formed 335th Attack Aviation Division. Later V. L. Gulyaev fought in the skies of East Prussia, making several combat missions every day.
In May 1944, the 335th assault division, consisting of the 826th and 683rd assault air regiments, secretly relocated to an airfield near Gorodok in the Vitebsk region. Gulyaev's first sorties were to attack the Lovsha, Obol, Goryany railway stations on the Vitebsk-Polotsk road. Especially the Fritz suffered from Vladimir's blows in Oboli. He flew to this station on May 20, June 6, 13 and 23. The regimental documents for June 13 say: Flying to attack the Obol railway station in a group of six Il-2 He fired at the enemy's manpower with smoke, cannon and machine-gun fire. He did the job perfectly. To this it should be added that the station itself was covered by four anti-aircraft batteries and two more on the way to it. This is a whole sea of anti-aircraft fire! Gulyaev, neglecting the mortal danger, dived into this sea three times. And not only survived, but also damaged the German train. The army newspaper Sovetsky Sokol even wrote about this sniper attack. Gulyaev then proudly carried the clipping with the article in his flight pad for a long time.
During Operation Bagration, the 826th Assault Regiment struck at enemy personnel and equipment moving along the Dobrino - Verbali - Shumilino - Beshenkovichi, Lovsha - Bogushevskoye - Senno and Lovsha - Klimovo roads. As part of the six attack aircraft, the wingman of the commander of the 1st squadron, Captain Popov, took off and Junior Lieutenant Gulyaev with his air gunner, Sergeant Vasily Vinichenko. Their target was a German convoy on the Lovsha-Polotsk road. But from the air, they suddenly saw that at Obol station they were standing under the pairs of as many as 5 enemy echelons! Only Popov and Gulyaev broke through the dense palisade of anti-aircraft fire. But Popov was still shot down, shot down over the station itself. Together with him, his gunner, Petty Officer Animalless, died. Only Gulyaev was able to drop bombs on trains and return to his airfield safe and sound. At the Obol station, then for two whole days a fire raged and ammunition exploded. True, the sniper strike of Vladimir Gulyaev from the authorities did not receive a worthy assessment. They just didn't believe it. There were no living witnesses, and for Gulyaev it was only the eighth combat mission. Of course, the fact that the division on that day suffered such heavy losses for the first time also affected: 7 aircraft and 4 crew. There was no time for victorious reports to the higher command.
Having flown to the Beshenkovichi airfield, the 826th regiment, after the destruction of the enemy in the Lepel-Chashniki region, took part in the Polotsk offensive operation. Vladimir Gulyaev and his comrades are storming German columns and positions in the area of Glubokoye, Dunilovichi, Borovukha, Disna, Bigosovo. On June 28, 1944, he became a participant in the notorious defense of the Beshenkovichi airfield from the Germans breaking through from the encirclement - a rare case for the war, when the Ilys fired at the enemy while standing on the ground. In the heat of the moment, attack aircraft shot all the available regimental ammunition, and the next day, June 29, they did not make any combat missions - there was simply nothing to do with it.
On July 3, our hero smashes the enemy on the northwestern outskirts of Polotsk, and on July 4, on the day of the liberation of the city, he participates in the defeat of the German column on the Drissa (Verkhnedvinsk) - Druya road. As a result of this crushing blow, the Germans lost 535 (!) Cars and a river barge. Despite the fact that the enemy suffered such monstrous losses and retreated, flights for our attack aircraft were by no means a hunting trip. The sky was literally torn to shreds by German anti-aircraft guns, and "Fokkers" and "Messers" were constantly scouring the clouds. And every time one of the division's pilots was not destined to return to their home airfield. The crews were shot down: Akimov - Kurkulev, Fedorov - Tsukanov, Osipov - Kananadze, Kuroyedov - Kudryavtsev, Mavrin - Vdovchenko, Matrosov - Katkov, Shkarpetov - Korgin … The crew of Gulyaev - Vinichenko, thank God, was lucky.
But in the Rezekne region, luck turned away from Gulyaev. During the attack of the artillery positions, his plane was severely damaged, and the "Ilyukh" had to be planted with the engine stopped directly on the forest. The old Il-2 with metal wings took a terrible blow against the trees, softened it as best he could and, dying, still saved the crew from certain death. Vladimir Gulyaev, unconscious, was urgently taken on a passing Li-2 to the Central Aviation Hospital in Moscow. He returned to his regiment only three and a half months later. The scars on the bridge of the nose and chin and the disappointing conclusion of the doctors, which made it possible to hope for flights only in light aircraft, reminded of the serious injury. And this, alas, is a wooden-linen "corn maker" Po-2. These were in the 335th division only at the headquarters command level. Here, reluctantly, he continued his service as a Po-2 pilot. So he would fly on this "sewing machine" until the very victory, but not even a month had passed when his assault soul yearned for the "Ilyuha" cockpit that had become his own. He began to write report after report and in the end achieved a second medical examination, and in March 1945 he again lifted his beloved Il-2 into the air.
In total, during the Great Patriotic War, Vladimir Leonidovich flew 60 combat missions to the Il-2. And to put a victory point in the war, Lieutenant Vladimir Gulyaev was destined to … Red Square in Moscow: June 24, 1945 at the Victory Parade as part of the combined company of pilots of the 3rd Air Army, to which only one hundred most deserved lucky ones were selected, he with three orders for chest proudly and solemnly marched along the legendary paving stones at the Lenin mausoleum. In front of the column is the glorious Battle Banner of the 335th Vitebsk Order of Lenin of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov of the Assault Air Division.
Having lived the bright life of an attack pilot during the Second World War, he did not manage to repeat it on the screen, although each of his roles, albeit not the first plan, bore the imprint of a young and reckless pilot Volodya Gulyaev.
And even if now many people are not up to it, but we remember you and I!