Nelson Stepanyan, born on March 28, 1913, in Shushi, was a distinguished Soviet storm fighter pilot who became a symbol of Soviet air power during World War II. A two-time Hero of the Soviet Union and Lieutenant Colonel of the Guards, his exceptional combat record reflects his immense dedication, skill, and bravery.
Throughout his military career, Stepanyan completed an astonishing 259 combat flights. His personal achievements include sinking 13 enemy ships, while also contributing to the destruction of several others in group operations. He played a significant role in destroying 80 tanks, 600 cars, and 27 aircraft – two of which were Ju-88 bombers in air combat, and 25 being various types of aircraft targeted at airfields.
Stepanyan’s relentless pursuit of the enemy extended beyond direct combat. He was responsible for demolishing 100 enemy field and anti-aircraft weapons, 130 machine gun points, and 4 crossings. Additionally, he destroyed 40 railway cars, eliminated up to 5,000 soldiers, created 80 explosions, and set 70 focal points of fire.
Despite his extraordinary contributions to the Soviet Union’s war effort, the legacy of Nelson Georgievich Stepanyan has not been without controversy. In 2020, a monument erected in his honor in his homeland of Shushi was demolished by Azerbaijan during the occupation of the city. This act of destruction stands in stark contrast to Stepanyan’s enduring impact on the history of Soviet military aviation and serves as a reminder of the complex nature of war and its aftermath.