|Born||18 Oct 1908|
|Died||11 Mar 1982|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseNikolai Petrovich Kamanin was born in Melenki, Vladimir Governorate, Russia to Pyotr Kamanin and Stefanida Danilovna. His father passed away when he was 11 years of age. He joined the Soviet Army in 1927, and then successfully requested a transfer to the Air Force in 1929. He attended the pilot training school in Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Oblast, Russia. Upon graduation, he became a member of the Lenin Air Regiment, which was the first unit of the Soviet Air Force. In 1934, the steamship Chelyuskin was crushed by Arctic ice in the Chukchi Sea near Kolyuchin Island. Flying two small R-5 biplanes, Kamanin rescued 34 out of the total of 104 survivors; the remaining survivors were rescued by other pilots. For his efforts in the rescue, the 7 pilots involved in the rescue, including Kamanin, were made the first 7 recipients of the newly created Hero of the Soviet Union. In early 1939, he completed studies at the Air Force Academy Named After Nikolay Y. Zhukovsky in Moscow, Russia.
ww2dbaseWhen the European War of WW2 began in 1939, Kamanin was serving as a staff officer, at the rank of colonel, in Central Asia. In Aug 1941, he reconnaissance missions during the British-Soviet joint invasion of Persia. In Jul 1942, he was made the commanding officer of the newly formed 292nd Air Division. The division was on the front lines by Oct, flying Il-2 and Yak-1 aircraft. He flew his first combat sortie in WW2 on 28 Dec 1942. In Mar 1943, he stepped down as the commanding officer of 292nd Air Division. Two months later, he was promoted to the rank of major general to take command of the 8th Combined Air Corps. The 8th Combined Air Corps was attached to reserve forces at the Battle of Kursk. After the Battle of Kursk, the air corps was renamed 5th Air Corps and was transferred to the 2nd Air Army, a front line unit. Kamanin remained in the corps' leadership as Soviet forces advanced across Ukraine, balancing orders from his superiors and the severe fuel shortage problem. In early 1943, his son, Arkady Kamanin, joined his corps as an aircraft mechanic at the age of 14 (Arkady Kamanin would officially become a pilot in the following year, but would tragically die young, to meningitis, in 1947). Kamanin received the Order of Suvorov award for 5th Air Corps' performance during the late 1943 Battle of Kiev. In 1944, he was awarded the Order of Kutuzov for being able to extract useful intelligence by aerial reconnaissance in the Lviv, Ukraine region. He and his 5th Air Corps continued to support ground troops through the end of the war, seeing action in Hungary and in Austria.
ww2dbaseKamanin completed his studies at the Higher Military Academy Named After Marshal Kliment Y. Voroshilov (now Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia) in Moscow, Russia in 1956. He was then given command of air forces in Central Asia. In 1960, he was transferred to the Soviet space program and was made the Deputy Chief of Combat Training for Space, which placed him in charge of cosmonaut recruitment and training. In this role, he was the man who selected Yuri Gagarin for the mission that would make Gagarin the first human to enter outer space. After several years of successes, political rivalries as well as recent achievements of the United States space program began to put his career on a decline. In Nov 1969, he was informed by Marshal Pavel Kutakhov that he was to be transferred out of his current role and to become a consultant, a move that clearly spelled out top leadership's desire for Kamanin to retire. He protested the political maneuvering, and stood firm in remaining in his position. The final space mission under his leadership was the Jun 1971 Soyuz 11 mission, which resulted in the death of the crew of 3 (Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev) during a depressurization accident during reentry. He retired at the rank of colonel general shortly after the deadly Soyuz 11 mission; he was succeeded by Vladimir Shatalov. In his retirement, he authored several articles and books, spoke in public, and served as the Communist Party committee chair for his apartment building. He passed away in 1982. His diaries were published between 1995 and 2001; they served as important primary sources of the history of the Soviet space program.
Last Major Revision: Nov 2017
Nikolai Kamanin Interactive Map
Nikolai Kamanin Timeline
|18 Oct 1908Â||Nikolai Kamanin was born in Melenki, Vladimir Governorate, Russia.|
|2 Mar 1934Â||Nikolai Kamanin boarded a ship at Vladivostok, Far Eastern Krai, Russia, sailing northward for Olyutorka, Russia.|
|1 Apr 1934Â||Nikolai Kamanin, in a R-5 biplane, completed the flight from Olyutorka, Koryak Okrug, Russia to the village of Vankarem in Chukotka Okrug, Russia.|
|14 Apr 1934Â||Nikolai Kamanin was made one of the first Heroes of the Soviet Union for his effort in the rescue of the survivors of the steamship Chelyuskin.|
|20 Jul 1942Â||Nikolai Kamanin received orders to travel to Moscow, Russia to take command of the newly formed 292nd Ground Attack Air Division.|
|25 Jul 1942Â||Nikolai Kamanin arrived at Moscow, Russia and took command of the newly formed 292nd Ground Attack Air Division.|
|28 Dec 1942Â||Nikolai Kamanin, flew his first WW2 combat sortie, over Velikiye Luki, Leningrad Oblast (now in Pskov Oblast), Russia.|
|1 Mar 1943Â||Nikolai Kamanin stepped down as the commanding officer of 292nd Air Division; he was succeeded by Filipp Agaltsov.|
|18 May 1943Â||Nikolai Kamanin was promoted to the rank of major general to take command of the 8th Combined Air Corps.|
|21 May 1943Â||Nikolai Kamanin and his 8th Combined Air Corps was relocated to Liski, Voronezh Oblast, Russia. The air corps was attached to the Steppe Front.|
|13 Apr 1947Â||Nikolai Kamanin's son Arkady Kamanin passed away from meningitis.|
|8 Apr 1961Â||Nikolai Kamanin selected Yuri Gagarin to participate in the mission that would make Gagarin the first human to enter outer space.|
|11 Apr 1961Â||Nikolai Kamanin parted with Yuri Gagarin, the latter of which would embark on the historic space flight on the following day.|
|14 Apr 1961Â||Nikolai Kamanin accompanied Yuri Gagarin in a parade in Gagarin's honor in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.|
|11 Nov 1969Â||Marshal Pavel Kutakhov, commanding officer of the Soviet Air Force, informed Nikolai Kamanin that he was to be transferred out of his current role.|
|21 May 1971Â||Nikolai Kamanin arrived at Baikonur, Kazakhstan for his last space mission launch, which was the deadly 1971 Soyuz 11 mission.|
|11 Mar 1982Â||Nikolai Kamanin passed away in Moscow, Russia.|
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