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10 Deadliest Snipers of World War II

// Snipers were one of the most lethal weapons in the service of armies and in particular by the Red Army.

5. Vladimir Nikolaevich Pchelintsev: 456 kills
Soviet snipers, as is evidenced on this list, dominate the statistics for kills during the Second World War. This can be ascribed not only to their skill and prowess with a rifle but also to their knowledge of the terrain in which they fought and ability to blend in with the landscape to hide themselves from the enemy (helped by the fact that the Germans were for much of the time advancing into areas with which the Soviets were more familiar). Among these skilled and savvy men, Vladimir Nikolaevich Pchelintsev was one of the elite, having dispatched 456 men during the fighting.
4. Ivan Nikolayevich Kulbertinov: 489 kills
Unlike most other countries during World War II, the Soviet Union had sniper units that could include women. In 1942, two half-year-long courses that exclusively trained females produced nearly 55,000 snipers, and in 1943, at the height of the war, it is estimated that there were 2,000 women active in this role. Of these, Lyudmila Lyudmila Pavlichenko was the foremost figure, having killed 309 soldiers during the war. Pavlichenko became a legend both in the USSR and worldwide, but some lesser-known men surpassed her exploits. Ivan Nikolayevich Kulbertinov was one such individual. While less celebrated than his female peer, he takes his place on this list by virtue of the 489 kills attributed to him.
3. Nikolay Yakovlevich Ilyin: 494 kills

A 2001 Hollywood movie called Enemy at the Gates was made about the famous Russian sniper Vasily Zaitsev. Starring Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ed Harris, the film depicts the events surrounding the Battle of Stalingrad from 1942–1943. A movie has never been made about Nikolay Yakovlevich Illyin, but his contribution to the Soviet war effort was just as, if not more, important. Killing 494 enemy soldiers (sometimes listed as 497), Ilyin was a deadly marksman and another tribute to Soviet sniping expertise.
2. Ivan Mihailovich Sidorenko: around 500 kills
Ivan Mihailovich Sidorenko, a college dropout from a peasant family, was conscripted in 1939 at the start of World War II. During the 1941 Battle of Moscow, he taught himself to snipe and became renowned as a gunman with a deadly aim. Sidorenko went on to become one of the Soviets' prime sniping weapons, and his country made good use of him both as an expert marksman and as a teacher. One of his most famous exploits saw him destroy a tank and three other vehicles using incendiary ammunition. However, following an injury sustained in Estonia, his role in subsequent years was primarily as an instructor. In 1944 Sidorenko was awarded the prestigious title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
1. Simo Häyhä: 542 kills (705 unconfirmed)
Simo Häyhä, a Finn, is the only non-Soviet soldier on this list. Nicknamed "White Death" by the troops of the Red Army — whom he tormented, dressed in his snow camouflage, during the bitterly cold Winter War of 1939-1940 — Häyhä is, according to statistics, the deadliest sniper in history. Before joining the war, he was a farmer and — in what would surely help for what was to come — a huntsman. Häyhä's family home was filled with trophies that he received for his superlative marksmanship. Incredibly, he preferred to use iron rather than telescopic sights, which ensured he presented less of a target to enemy gunmen (though even so, he did suffer a disfigurement of his face after being hit by an enemy bullet). When he was asked in 1998 (shortly before the end of his long life; he died aged 96) how he had become such a good marksman, he answered simply, "practice."
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