"On December 12, 1942 the German grouping" Don "of General-Field Marshal Manstein
with superior forces (the newly created German 4th Panzer Army - the 6th, 23rd and 17th Panzer Divisions, a separate battalion of heavy tanks Pz.VI Ausf H "Tiger I" and the 4th Romanian army - four infantry divisions) began the breakthrough of the outer front of the encirclement from the Kotelnikovo area in the zone of the troops of the 51st Army of General FI Tolbukhin.
The counteroffensive of Manstein's grouping began with massive strikes by German aviation against the airfields and the Red Army troops.
On the morning of December 12, 13 Bf110 under cover of 9 Bf109 dealt a rather effective bombardment strike against the Abganerovo airfield. As a result of a raid in the combined air group of the 8th IA, 4 Il-2 811th caps, 3 I-16 fighters (one of them was not subject to recovery) and one U-2 (it was not subject to recovery) were damaged.
In the air group, there were only 3 combat-ready IL-2s that, early in the morning of December 13, literally before the nose of the German "Messerschmitts" flew to Solodovka airfield - another blow of eight Luftwaffe fighter-bombers fell on an empty airfield ... Weakened during the November counterattack, Soviet troops could not to restrain the onslaught of the enemy.
The front was broken, and within three days the main forces of the Germans immediately crossed the river Aksai-Esaulovsky. December 19 in the area of the hut. The Upper-Kumsky units of the 51st Army withdrew behind the Myshkov River. Stalingrad was 40 km away. There was a real threat of connection of tank and motorized parts of Manstein with the surrounded grouping of Paulus.
Since the 226th Shad was withdrawn to the reserve for reorganization as a result of the decision of the Stavka Supreme Court of December 15, 1942, the execution of combat missions on the Kotelnikovo line fell on the shoulders of the 8th IA combined air group, which included all combat crews of the 206th Shad, 268 th above, 218th over and 272nd nbad.
On December 18, from the structure of the 206th Shad, which suffered great losses before it, a special operational assault air group was formed, headed by Lieutenant Colonel LK Chumachenko, the deputy commander of air division, which included 10 of the most trained crews from the 503rd, 686th, 811th and 945th steps. In the composition of this group, TN Khryukin also included 6 IL-2 226th shad (two aircraft from each regiment's air regiment).
Crews had to operate in conditions of poor visibility and low clouds both on routes and in target areas. Acted at low altitudes, mostly in small groups, often without cover for fighters, looking for clusters of tanks and motorized rifles of the enemy and making their way to them through tight anti-aircraft fire. "Ilyushin" suffered a sensitive loss.
On December 18, 6 Il-2 (leaded by Squadron commander M.N. Slobodnichenko), the 686th caps in a complex ground, air and meteorological situation inflicted an accurate bombardment strike on enemy tanks and vehicles that had sheltered in the beams 2 km to the south of 147.0 and in the beams of Leskina and Neklinskaya.
Unfortunately, when approaching the target, two Yak-1 fighters from the cover group, due to a malfunction of the host's car, returned to their airfield. The remaining pair of "Yaks" during the attack by "Ilami" goal lost sight of the group being hid. As a result, attack planes over the target remained without cover and at the exit from the attack were attacked by four Luftwaffe fighters (2 Bf109 and 2 Bf110).
The first attack of Messerschmitt was inaccurate. This allowed Soviet pilots to make a second call on enemy tanks. In this approach Il-2 of the host was hit, and he had to leave the battle. The "Il" and the second host lit up. The Il-2 group disintegrated. In the future, instead of organizing the defense, the remaining storm troopers began to make attempts alone to flee from German fighters on a short flight. As a result, all IL-2 were shot down. Two of them made a forced landing in the area of the hut. Verkhne-Kumsky to the location of the tankmen of the 59th Mech Brigade. Nothing is known about the fate of the others ...
On December 19, the Chumachenko group from the airfield Fruitful made two combat sorties under the cover of the 268th fighter aircraft. Both flights took place in an extremely tense situation.
In the first of them, 4 Il-2 503rd and 945th caps under the cover of 6 Yak-1 on the approach to the target at 230 ° in the Kosh area, nose to nose, met with six of the Lu87 Luftwaffe dive bombers heading toward the front. The storm troopers attacked the Junkers, upset their fighting order and one of them was shot down. After that the Il-2 group bombed a cluster of German vehicles (up to 20 tanks and 50 vehicles) in the Neklinskaya gully and ravines to the north of Klykov, as a result of which 2 tanks and 3 enemy vehicles were destroyed and damaged.
In the second departure, 5 IL-2 from the 686th and 811th convoys during the attack of the advancing enemy forces, when they came out of the attack on a collision course, crashed into the formation of six Ju87s and eight Bf109Fs covering them. In the course of the fast-paced air battle, 3 "Junkers" were shot down. Their losses "ilushin" did not have.