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But when they arrived the base was empty and under attack, so they soon moved to Srednaia Akhtuba.
When he was taken to stand in front of Litvyak, he thought he was being made the butt of a Soviet joke.
It was not until Litvyak described each move of the fight to him in perfect detail that he knew he had been shot down by a woman pilot.
the first air victory of a female pilot was achieved by 586° IAP's Lieutenant Valeriya Khomiakova when she shot down the Ju 88 flown by Oblt.
over about two years of missions, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first of two female fighter pilots who have earned the title of fighter ace, and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot.
She was shot down near Orel during the Battle of Kursk as she attacked a formation of German planes.
Litvyak became interested in aviation at an early age. She performed her first solo flight at 15, and later graduated at Kherson military flying school.
She became a flight instructor at Kalinin Airclub, After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit, but was turned down for lack of experience.
After deliberately exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours, she joined the all-female 586th Fighter Regiment of the Air Defense Force (586 IAP/PVO, istrebitel'naia aviatsia protivovozdushnoi oborony), Litvyak flew her first combat flights in the summer of 1942 over Saratov.
In September, she was assigned to the 437 IAP, a men's regiment fighting over Stalingrad.