Lydia “Lilya” Litvyak was the first female pilot to make ace. She is generally credited with twelve individual and three shared victories, plus an observation balloon. She was wounded twice. She was shot down and killed during the Battle of Kursk, her body was not recovered. Due to fears that she might have been captured alive by the Germans, she was not awarded Hero of the Soviet Union until 1990. Despite reports that a body was exhumed and verified to be Litvyak, her fate remains controversial.
Yellow 44 was Litvyak’s assigned aircraft during the spring of 1943 when she flew with the 296 IAP and 73 GIAP.