Some people blame Leonid Khrushchev for high treason and others say he died as a hero
The Kosmopoisk (Space Search) association searched the woods near the Russian city of Kaluga for meteorites and suddenly came across components of a YaK-76 Soviet fighter. It is rather frequent that Soviet technique is discovered in the region. However, the recent find was a real sensation. The search association studied the archives and arrived to a conclusion that those might be remains of a fighter of Leonid Khrushchev, the son of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. There are still lots of unsolved mysteries about the life and the death of Leonid Khrushchev. If the find proves to be true, it will unveil a secret from the remote past.
It was only after eight attempts that the search group managed to discover the fighter. First, Kosmopoisk leader Vadim Chernobrov stumbled against a long curved piece of iron which in fact was a piece of duralumin that turned black because of the many years that it remained in the ground. Later, a schoolboy stumbled against the same piece of iron; further more and more findings followed. Then the search group studied the crater in the forest near which the piece of iron was discovered. The crater was of about 6 meters in diameter. As was seen from broken tops of the old trees, a plane dug to the ground from the north at the angle of 45-50 degrees. The plane burst and was on fire after it dropped; this is seen by the fused duralumin pieces scattered about. The landing gear and the wheel rims without rubber are in a good condition. There are traces of bullets on the fighter engine which means that it was downed; the traces prove that the plane was fired point-blank. When the engine fell out because of the firing the pilot might be still alive.
Later, when the searching group studied the archives, they suddenly came across at the answer who was the possible pilot of the discovered fighter. The woods near Kaluga were the region where on March 11, 1943 the elder son of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Senior Lieutenant Leonid Khrushchev disappeared. He piloted a YaK fighter. As for his last battle, people said that he landed with a parachute and surrendered to Germans; it was also said that he wasn't downed at all but landed at some inimical aerodrome.
After this last combat commanders of Leonid Khrushchev sent a letter to Nikita Khrushchev to describe the battlecraft of the pilot saying that Leonid was "a brave hero and chased an inimical plane."
But in fact, the morals of Khrushchev's son were not that good. It was even rumored that he left for the front to avoid punishment for a row and an accidental killing. Other people wouldn't believe such saying. In any case, the son of a high-ranking governmental official didn't hide himself at the rear but left for the front; this trait actually deserves respect. Before that, Leonid was in the bomber force, but after an injury he had to learn again to pilot a fighter. He joined the aviation regiment several days before the last tragic combat. The commander of the regiment appointed Leonid Khrushchev the second wingman to ace Zamorin. Leonid Khrushchev had three combats on one day.
It is impossible to reproduce his last combat. It is highly likely that it was a fighting of two German aces against the two Soviet pilots.
Zamorin remained alone very quickly and was fighting against the two German planes; he drove one plane into the ground and the second one escaped. The Soviet ace returned to the aerodrome alone, without his second wingman.
As later the regiment commander told the Soviet leadership, during the last combat Khrushchev's fighter spun, but it wasn't shot down; the pilot could use a parachute or land at a territory occupied by the enemy.
Zamorin, the fellow pilot of Khrushchev wrote three explanatory notes on the tragic combat; all of them were different. In the first note, Zamorin said that Leonid Khrushchev drove his fighter directly against the fire of an inimical plane with a view to save Zamorin. The second note said that Khrushchev lost the control over the fighter and couldn't stop the machine from swooping. The third note said that in the heat of the combat Zamorin didn't notice he lost his second wingman.
After the death of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Zamorin sent a remorseful letter to the Soviet Communist Party Central Political Bureau and admitted that he had had to make a false confession. He wrote: "The regiment command was interested to take my version at its face value (it is not clear however which version of his three ones he meant). Indeed, the command shared the responsibility for the death of the son of a man from the Central Political Bureau. I acted as a coward and falsified the actual facts. I concealed the fact that an inimical FV-190 attacked my fighter from under my right wing. Leonid Khrushchev wanted to save me and rushed cutting the fire of the FV-190. Soon I saw Khrushchev’s fighter fell to pieces. This is the reason why there were almost no traces of the tragedy on the ground. It should be mentioned here that the command ordered to look for remains of Khrushchev's fighter not immediately as the combat took place over the territory occupied by Germans."
When Kosmopoisk group leader Vadim Chernobrov examined what he had managed to find, he understood that if he actually came across the fighter of Leonid Khrushchev, the version suggested by Zamorin was not true. It was obvious that the YaK-76 was downed purposefully; nothing of that kind would happen if the pilot exposed his fighter to the fire meant for the other plane. Why did Zamorin tell wrong information? The traces discovered on the remains that the search group came across reveal that the fighter reached the surface intact and burst only when it dropped. Who is actually right in the whole of the story?
Vadim Chernobrov tells that he asked old men from the nearby region about what actually happened during that tragic combat. Pavel Ubryatov from the Lyudinovsky district tells that he saw a German fighter reached a Soviet one from the rear and downed it with two bursts of fire. None jumped out of the plane; the fighter crashed to the ground. When local boys rushed to the accident site they found three fingers of the pilot and some documents; they had no opportunity to dig in the debris as Germans immediately came to the site and kept them off. Pavel Ubryatov says that the fingers were buried in his garden and the documents were hidden into a pantry in his house. When the place was released from the German occupation and Soviet officers got the documents, they at first praised the boys. But later when they saw the name in the documents, they told the boys to keep the tragedy secret. Pavel Ubryatov is absolutely sure the perished pilot was Khrushchev's son, otherwise there wouldn't be such high secrecy about the tragedy. The territory where the fighter dropped was further ploughed out.
When the search group wanted to find the boys who saw how the fighter had dropped, it turned out that at least one remained alive. Indeed, Pyotr Kondrashov, one of the boys, lived in Moscow most part of his life but came to the settlement of Kuzminki to spend his old age (the settlement is in his native region near Kaluga). He told that together with other boys he was skating on the river when they heard a plane flying toward the city of Bryansk at the height of three kilometers. Then they saw a German plane emerging from a cloud and firing two volleys against the Soviet plane. The Soviet fighter fell down, but none jumped out of it. When the boys rushed to the crash site, they saw a huge crater; then they found three fingers and saw a part of the skull covered with fair hair. The scene was terrible.
The story sounds rather probable. But why didn't Pyotr Kondrashov see the plane of Zamorin? Why did it happen so that the boy's attention was focused on the burning fighter that was supposedly piloted by Khrushchev's son? When the search group once again examined the accident site, it became clear that the crater was ploughed out indeed, but not because it was necessary to conceal the truth about the tragedy but because it was important to revive the agriculture after the war.
To tell the truth, it would be good to set up an obelisk at the end of the field where the tragedy occurred.
Thus, the searching expedition discovered remains of a plane. It is probable, but not for sure, that Nikita Khrushchev's son tragically died in that area. It is very difficult to find out what actually happened there during WWII. One thing is for sure: there is no reason to suspect Leonid Khrushchev of high treason. He tragically died as a hero.
Material prepared by Natalia Leskova, Trud