Safonov was the first great Soviet  fighter pilot of the War even having a regiment named after him. Safonov was one of the key Soviet pilots to liaise with British personnel during the handover of the first Hurricanes to the Soviets in 1941. He joined the Soviet Air Force at the age of 18 in 1933. By 1941 he had become a squadron leader and had claimed his first victories during the opening days of Operation Barbarossa. By the 15th of September 1941 his score had risen to 13. During the Autumn of 1941 3000 lease - lend Hurricanes were delivered to the Soviets, Safonov was duly chosen as one of four senior officers to be taught to fly them. In turn Safonov would teach his fellow Soviets to fly the Hurricane. Compared to the Soviet fighter of that time the I-16 the Hurricane would prove to be a lethal gun platform in the hands of a skilled fighter pilot such as Safonov. His score continued to grow and even on his last sortie he destroyed three JU 88s before his p-40 was hit by return fire. Safonov was forced to ditch into the sea and was never seen again. Safonov finished the War with 25 victories.