By Pierre Kosmidis
On June 17, 1944, a squadron of 24 P-40 fighters left Murmansk at 8:25 pm flying west toward the never-setting sun of Arctic summer. One of them wouldn’t return.
Only half an hour after taking off from Murmansk in 1944, Junior Lieutenant Ivan Georgievich Logutov’s plane was hit by ground-based flak cannons while German fighters scrambled to defend Kirkenes. He brought the plane down in Jarfjord, swam ashore and was captured by the Germans. He was just 21 years old.
He would spend the rest of the war in a German POW camp, although his stay wouldn’t be long. On October 25th, 1944, the Red Army surged across the border to liberate Kirkenes. Logutov returned home where he reentered the Army, later becoming a civilian pilot then a mathematics and physics professor. He died in 1987, but only recently has his connection to the P-40 at the bottom of Jarfjord been known.
A reporter from the Sør-Varanger Avis published the result of a long effort to learn more about the downed pilot’s life after the war. With the help of social media, reporter Yngve Grønvik and historian Rune Rautio had tracked down Logutov’s surviving relatives including his daughter, Tatyana Nikitina.