The Presidential Library on establishing the exact date of birth of the legendary pilot Alexander Pokryshkin

19 March 2023

Some sources contain inaccurate information about the date of birth of the thrice Hero of the Soviet Union, Air Marshal Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin. The famous compatriot was born on March 19 according to the new style, 1913.

Reliable proof of this is the metric book of the Novonikolayevsk (now Novosibirsk) Church of the Protection for 1913. One will have an opportunity to see a digitized fragment of the rare document in the collection Alexander Pokryshkin, which is currently being prepared by the Presidential Library together with the Novosibirsk Regional Library in connection with the 110th anniversary of the birth of the pilot. At the end of March, the collection will be available on the library’s portal in open access. Therefore, it will be possible to view it from anywhere in the world. Currently, this and some other documents related to Alexander Pokryshkin, can be found at the exhibition Siberian Falcon, which will be held in the Presidential Library from March 6 to April 20.

According to the entry made in the metric book, Alexander Pokryshkin was born on March 6, and was baptized on March 10. As it turns out, the first date (March 6), often mentioned in the literature, is Pokryshkin’s birthday in the old style.

The collection will also feature other archival documents, photographs and previously hardly accessible materials handed over from the State Archive of Novosibirsk Region and the Novosibirsk Pokryshkin Technical College to the Presidential Library. Publications and documentaries about the childhood, studies and service of the famous pilot are already available on the library’s portal. They include a digitized film from 1945 – a historical documentary Alexander Pokryshkin, which was filmed during the fighting and preserved for us unique footage of aerial battles with the participation of the legendary pilot.

Alexander Pokryshkin grew up on the working outskirts of the city of Novonikolayevsk, his childhood and youth were spent in poverty.  “When I was ten years old, I saw a plane for the first time – it was the first agitation plane that flew to my hometown…”, he recalled. “Not only us boys, but also adults ran to the wasteland near the military camp, but is it possible to outrun us? Touching the duralumin wings, I discovered a dream in life: just to fly, to be a pilot…”

Novosibirsk locksmith, and then a pupil of the country’s oldest Kacha Aviation School of the Guard, became a Hero of the Soviet Union three times. According to the Red Army Calendar for 1945, comrades in the regiment called Alexander Pokryshkin “the master of the sky”. As noted in the same publication, “audacity and courage were combined in him with a strict calculation based on combat experience”.

Being in the active army throughout the war, Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin constantly analyzed the tactics of conducting air combat with the enemy. Comrades-in-arms often saw him with a pencil in his hands – he worked out his victory strategy, and then checked the theoretical calculations in battle. His friends called his dugout a “design bureau” – drawings and diagrams hung on the walls, a stack of manuscripts and notebooks huddled in the corner.

Using his own experience, Alexander Pokryshkin became a reformer of combat aviation tactics. Realizing the effectiveness of the new battle tactics, he trained young pilots. Documents in which new methods of air attacks were formulated were sent to the headquarters of all air armies and air corps, the book A Man from the Legend. Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin (2013) says. Its digitized copy is available on the Presidential Library’s portal.

The air battle in the Kuban, which began on April 17, 1943, became one of the largest aviation battles of the Great Patriotic War. About 2 thousand fighter planes, short-range and long-range bombers and attack aircraft took part in it on both sides. “As a result of persistent and purposeful work, Alexander Pokryshkin managed to create that critical mass of high-class air fighters who, in this decisive battle in the spring of 1943 in the Kuban sky, managed to turn the tide of the air war and for the first time took away air supremacy from the Germans. It was not possible for them to take it back before the end of the war”, the publication says.

His fighting style in the air began to be well distinguished by enemies. As soon as Pokryshkin’s fighter appeared in the air, the German aircraft radioed: "Achtung! Ace Pokryshkin in the air!". The enemies trembled, tried to get out of the fight, and on the ground they happily said: “Pokryshkin in the sky!”. He adhered to the principle of shooting at the enemy from a short distance, shooting only aiming. In August 1944, he became a Hero of the Soviet Union three times, being the first and only person during the war to do so.

The pilot has 59 personally destroyed fascist planes on his combat account. In total, during the war, Pokryshkin made more than 650 sorties and participated in 157 air battles. Pokryshkin conducted his last air battle in the sky over Prague on May 9, 1945. However, until the end of his days, Pokryshkin was most proud not of personal victories and awards, but of the fact that none of those whom he led into battle died through his fault.

After the war, he graduated from the Academy of the General Staff and received the rank of general. Later, Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin became the chairman of the DOSAAF and created a unique training system for schoolchildren for civil and military aviation.


#Presidential Library

#Heroes of Russia

#Heroes of the Great Patriotic War


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Васильева Н. И. и др. «Человек из легенды. Александр Иванович Покрышкин» (2013)

Кадер Я. М. «Красноармейский календарь» (1945)


Video films:

«64 годовщина победы советского народа в Великой Отечественной войне, 4 годовщина создания памятника маршалу авиации, трижды герою Советского Союза А. И. Покрышкину» / Некоммерч. орг., благотворит. фонд «Мемориальный комплекс маршала А. И. Покрышкина», 2009.

Патриот [Александр Покрышкин : видеозапись] / авт. Елена Лыкова, 200-.

Парень из нашего города [Александр Покрышкин : видеозапись] / Западно-сибирская киностудия, 1998.

В небе Покрышкин : [видеозапись] / Моснаучфильм, 1965

Александр Покрышкин : [видеозапись] / Центр. студия документ. фильмов, 1945.