Timofey Khryukin

Timofey Timofeyevich Khryukin (Russian: Тимофе́й Тимофе́евич Хрю́кин; 21 June [O.S. 8 June] 1910, in Yeysk – 19 July 1953, in Moscow) was a Soviet aviator, Spanish Civil War volunteer, and colonel-general of the Soviet Air Force. Emerging from an impoverished working-class background, he rose to command the 8th Air Army and 1st Air Army during the Second World War, being twice decorated as a Hero of the Soviet Union before his death following a period of illness caused by a road accident.

Timofey Khryukin
Timofey Khryukin 1945.jpg
Born21 June [O.S. 8 June] 1910
Yeysk, Russian empire
Died19 July 1953(1953-07-19) (aged 43)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Air Force
Years of service1932 – 1953
RankColonel-General of Aviation
Battles/warsSpanish Civil War
Second Sino-Japanese War
Soviet-Finnish War
Great Patriotic War
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union (twice)

Early lifeEdit

Khryukin was born on 21 June [O.S. 8 June] 1910 in the southern town of Yeysk in the Kuban Oblast (present-day Krasnodar Krai) of Imperial Russia into a poverty-stricken family. Khryukin's father worked a mason; his mother assisted supporting the family as a laundrywoman working for petty wages. At the age of eight he began working for well-off cossacks, but due to abuse he eventually ran off, spending several years wandering the countryside in the years preceding the Bolshevik Revolution. His formal education did not began until at age 15 in the midst of the socialist campaigns to eradicate illiteracy; around that time he found employment in various jobs involving manual labor, including as a porter and railway depot employee.[1]

After joining the Komsomol in 1926, he made his way to regional secretary of the organization and joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1929. Following a brief stint at an agricultural school, he joined Soviet military and entered flight school in 1932.[2][3]

Military careerEdit

Having joined the military in 1932, he was sent to for training at the Voroshilovgrad Military Aviation School of Pilots in Luhansk, which lasted eight months. Khryukin went to Spain as a volunteer for the Spanish Republican Air Force in August 1936. There he participated in the Spanish Civil War as a Tupolev SB bomber pilot, remaining until March 1937 and receiving the Order of the Red Banner upon his return to the Soviet Union.[4][5][6]

The following year he went to China to lead a squadron of Soviet-piloted Tupolev SB-2 with the Chinese Air Force, sent by the Soviet Union to aid the Chinese forces in the Second Sino-Japanese War.[7] Khryukin received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on 22 February 1939.[8]

He served as the Air Forces commander of the 14th Soviet Army during the Soviet Army's Finnish campaign in 1939-1940 before being named Assistant General Inspector of the Air Force in 1940.[9][6]

In May 1940 Khryukin was promoted to division commander – becoming Major-General Khryukin of the Air Force when the classic generals' ranks, abolished following the October Revolution, were brought into the Red Army the following month.[10]

World War IIEdit

Khryukin was appointed commander of the Air Forces of the 12th Soviet Army (based in Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's Kiev Special Military District) on 27 May 1941, twenty-six days before to the German invasion of the Soviet Union.[11][12] Khryukin was placed in charge of the air units attached the Karelian Front in August 1941: these were tasked with securing the Murmansk Railway and the Kirov Railway, significant to the Soviet military and war effort as the connection between Karelia and the rest of the European territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.[13] In June 1942 he was reassigned to the Southwestern Front, just in time for the Nazi advance against Stalingrad.[14] The Air Force units of the Southwestern Front were subsequently reformed as the 8th Air Army under Khryukin, as announced by the People's Commissar for Defense on 9 June.[15]

Khryukin's Eight Army participated in the Battle of Stalingrad from the very beginning of the German assault. Stalin personally ordered General Vasily Gordov of the Stalingrad Front to instruct Khryukin to launch a massive aerial assault against the Germans to the right flank of the Soviet forces during a conversation by direct wire on 23 July 1942.[16] A less-than-desirable number of aircraft translated into insufficient resources for aerial reconnaissance, while Il-2 Shturmovik units had to fly without fighter escort.[15] Although it could not stop the German forces from advancing into the city, the 8th Air Army would continue to provide key support during the Battle of Stalingrad until the battle turned in the Soviets favor. In early October Khryukin decided to form a regiment within the 8th Air Army composed of elite fighter pilots, to be led by World War II ace Lev Shestakov, a fellow Spanish Civil War veteran; the unit became the prestigious 9th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment.[17] By the end of 1942, Khryukin increased the count of enemy aircraft pilots had to destroy in order to attain the status of ace; simultaneously, he promised a recommendation for the Hero of the Soviet Union title to each of those who could succeed in doing so.[18] On 30 December 1942 the 8th Air Army became part of the Southern Front; Khryukin’s efforts turned in the direction of Rostov and the Donbas, where major Soviet victories followed the surrender of Germany's Stalingrad forces after the success of the Soviet counterattack – Operation Little Saturn – in early 1943.[19]

With successful Soviet advances in the Donbas, Khryukin's airmen won praise from Stalin, who called for artillery salvoes to commemorate the Soviet triumph in Moscow in September 1943.[20] After supporting the Red Army on the Mius River and in the retaking of the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the 8th Air Army lent air superiority to the Soviet offensive in Crimea in April 1944.[21]

Khryukin took charge of the 1st Air Army from Colonel-General Mikhail Gromov's command in July 1944, following his promotion to colonel-general in May. Its performance under the freshly transferred Khryukin during Operation Bagration in Belarus was noted as "excellent" by Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasilevsky, an eyewitness, in his memoirs, The Matter of My Whole Life (1973).[22] Khryukin commanded the 1st Air Army for the remainder of the war, leading it for the remainder of the war and commanding it during the key Battle of Königsberg in the last stages of the war (6–9 April 1945).[23][24] His second Hero of the Soviet Union title was awarded on 19 April 1945, ten days following the Soviet victory in the offensive.[5]


Khryukin remained in command of the 1st Air Army until July 1946 before appointed as deputy commander of training of the Soviet Air Force from 1946 to 1947; after that he commanded the 7th Air Army. In 1950 he graduated from the Voroshilov Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR.[25] His health was seriously undermined by a car accident after the war, although his life was saved by a successful surgery.[26] He died of progressive nephritis on 19 July 1953 and was buried in Novodevichy Cemetery.[6][25][27]

Awards and honorsEdit



  1. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 408-409.
  2. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 409-410.
  3. ^ Medvedev, Konstantin Nikolaevich; Petrikin, Anatoly Ivanovich (1985). Штурм Кенигсберга (in Russian). Kaliningrad: Kaliningradskoe knizhnoe izd-vo. p. 186. OCLC 14359918.
  4. ^ "Хрюкин Тимофей Тимофеевич" ("Khryukin, Timofey Timofeyevich"). Our Victory Project. MVK International Exhibition Company. 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009. (in Russian)
  5. ^ a b Boyne, Walter J. (2002). Air Warfare: an International Encyclopedia: M-Z. ABC-CLIO. p. 351. ISBN 9781576073452. OCLC 49225204.
  6. ^ a b c Великая Отечественная. Командармы. Военный биографический словарь (The Great Patriotic War: Army Commanders: A Military Biographical Dictionary). Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole, 2005. ISBN 5-86090-113-5. p. 393-394. (in Russian)
  7. ^ Boyd, Alexander. The Soviet Air Force Since 1918. London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1977. P. 85.
  8. ^ "Указ Президиума Верховного Совета СССР о присвоении звания Героя Советского Союза командирам Рабоче-Крестянской Красной Армии" ("Order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Regarding Awarding the Title Hero of the Soviet Union to Commanders of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army"). Komsomolskaya Pravda. 23 February 1939. P. 1. (in Russian)
  9. ^ "Хрюкин Тимофей Тимофеевич" ("Khryukin, Timofey Timofeyevich"). Город Шахты: История в Деталях (City of Shakhty: History in Detail). Shakht.ru Information Portal of Shakhty. 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2009. (in Russian)
  10. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 413.
  11. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 414.
  12. ^ Великая Отечественная. Командармы. Военный биографический словарь (in Russian). Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole. 2005. pp. 393–394. ISBN 5860901135. OCLC 61120035.
  13. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 416.
  14. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 421-422.
  15. ^ a b Rastrenin, Oleg (2008). Il-2 Shturmovik Guards units of World War 2. Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing. pp. 31–32. ISBN 9781846032967. OCLC 232712185.
  16. ^ "Запись переговоров по прямому проводу И. В. Сталина и командованием сталинградского фронта 23 иуля 1942 г." ("Record of Talks by Direct Wire Between J. V. Stalin and Commanders of the Stalingrad Front"). Stalingradskaya Bitva. Khronika, Fakty, Lyudi, Volume 1. Ed. V. A. Zhilin. Moscow: OLMA-Press, 2002. ISBN 5-224-03719-0, ISBN 978-5-224-03719-3. (in Russian)
  17. ^ Mellinger, George (2005). Yakovlev Aces of World War 2. Osprey Publishing. p. 24. ISBN 9781782005537. OCLC 881163714.
  18. ^ Morgan, Hugh. Soviet Aces of World War II. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 15. ISBN 1-85532-632-9, ISBN 978-1-85532-632-3. Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1997. P. 7.
  19. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 432-434.
  20. ^ Stalin, J. V. "Order of the Day: September 8, 1943". Collected Works, Volume 15. London: Red Star Press Ltd., 1984. Marxists Internet Archive. 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
  21. ^ Boyd, Alexander. The Soviet Air Force Since 1918. London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1977. P. 179.
  22. ^ Vasilevsky, Aleksandr (2002). Дело всей жизни (in Russian). Moscow: Olma-Press. p. 415. ISBN 9785948500454. OCLC 749773466.
  23. ^ "Хрюкин Тимофей Тимофеевич" Archived 2010-01-28 at the Wayback Machine ("Khryukin, Timofey Timofeyevich"). Chkalovsky Vestnik 7 (Special Issue), April 2006. Retrieved 22 July 2009. (in Russian)
  24. ^ "1-я воздушная армия" Archived 2011-07-22 at the Wayback Machine ("The 1st Air Army"). (60 Years Since the Great Victory: A Supplement to the Official Site of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation). Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Retrieved 22 July 2009. (in Russian)
  25. ^ a b c Simonov & Bodrikhin 2017, p. 364.
  26. ^ Ivankin, A.V.; Loginov, I.M. (1983). В небе Сталинграда (in Russian). Нижне-Волжское книжное изд-во. p. 223. OCLC 185464637.
  27. ^ Kiselyov 1971, p. 444-446.