The Winter War 1939-1940

Starting position

The HQ of the LLv26 and the 1st Flight (10 Bristol Bulldogs) were in Heinjoki airbase and the 2nd and 3rd Flights (Fokker DXXI) were subordinated to the LLv24 and based in Immola airbase.

30.11.1939

The Winter War began. The Soviet artillery opened fire at the Karelia Ishtmus at 06:50 AM and the President of Finland declared war against the Soviet Union. Marchal Mannerheim was nominated as the Supreme Commander of the Finnish Army.

First air alert to Helsinki was given at 09:20 AM and first bombing attack to Malmi area started at 10:00 AM. During these two air raids 91 civilians died and over 200 were injured.

LLv26´s Bulldogs were scrambled at Heinjoki several times (22 sorties) to intercept attacking soviet bombers, but they didn´t have any contacts.


December1939

1.12.1939

Friendly AAA shot down a Fokker piloted by Sgt M.Kukkonen about 3.5 km west from the city of Vyborg. Sgt Kukkonen was died instantly.

SSgt T.Uuttu´s Bulldog (BU-64) took off at 11:25 AM from Heinjoki and was suprise attacked by three I-16 fighters. This was the Finnish Air Forces the first airkill ever.

Lt J.Räty downed one SB-2 -bomber by Fokker (FR-115) fighter near Mansikkakoski and 2ndLt Puhakka heavily damaged one. Sgt V.Porvari shot down one SB-2 -bomber by Bulldog (BU-68) over Taspernaja and the crew bailed out. Sgt O.Lilja was returning to Heinjoki when friendly AAA hit his Bulldogs (BU-63) fuel tank and he was forced to land to Lappeenranta airbase.

2.12.1939

The Ministry of Defence announced that Finland is willing to buy 30 fully equipped Hurricanes or Spitfires if the planes can use 87 octane fuel, otherwise the lastest model of the Gloster Gladiator can be accepted if planes can be delivered right away.

3.12.1939

Flight Regiment 2 order number 8: "Detachment Vuorela is ordered to move to the Lappeenranta airbase on the next day morning."

4.12.1939

The first Fiat G.50 (FA-1) was assembled at Malmö (Sweden) and had a test flight on the next day by Capt Ehrnrooth.

Three of LLv26´s pilots as a part of the Detachment Vuorela was transferred to Lappeenranta airbase: Lt U.Nieminen (FR-96), Sgt L.Aaltonen (FR-107) and Lt O.Puhakka (FR-117).

5.12.1939

The squadron was ordered to start preparations to move Bulldogs to the Mensuvaara airbase as soon as possible.

The British were willing to sell to Finland 20 Gladiators at once. Additional Brewster and Vultee fighters can be accepted also.

6.12.1939

The Independence Day of Finland. The last protective army forces retreated over the Vuoksi river at the Karelian Ishtmus.

Nine Bulldogs led by Lt P.Berg (Berg, Lautamäki, Siiriäinen, Virkkunen, Lilja, Tevä, Mildh, Tolkki and Porvari) and ground crews was ordered to move to Mensuvaara from Heinjoki airbase.

The Flight Regiment 2 plan is to use 13 Fokkers (Detachment Vuorela) from Utti and 7 Bulldogs (Detachment Heinilä) from Mensuvaara.

A new fighter squadron, LLv28, was established commanded by Maj N.Jusu.

7.12.1939

Flight Regiment 2 order number 9: "The regiments main mission is to cover railway transportations from Kouvola to Tienhaara. The HQ of the LLv26 is ordered to move to Utti airbase during the day."

On the morning the LLv24 sends 8 Fokkers to Utti to be subordinated to the LLv26. At 10.15 AM 9 Bulldogs was forced to fly into bad weather during ferry flight from Mensuvaara to Utti airbase and all the planes were forced to make in emergency landings around the area (Virkkunen, Porvari and Tolkki to Elisenvaara; Lilja to Alho; Mildh to Syvänoro; Tevä to Kuurmanpohja and Berg to Raulampi). Lt P.Siiriäinen made emergency landing near to Ojajärvi railway station (BU-75) and SgtMaj L.Lautamäki (BU-70) did a rollover during emergency landing at Ilmee airbase. Both Bulldog -fighters were repaired later.

8.12.1939

Maj J.W.R Harju-Jeanty was ordered as a commander of the LLv26. Most of the emergency landed Bulldogs flew to Raulampi airbase near Immola.

9.12.1939

Capt. E.Heinilä's 5 Bulldogs tried to fly to Mensuvaara, but due the bad weather they turned back to the Immola airbase. Their main mission was to protect railroads and patrol over the Lake Ladoga.

Finland managed to buy some Hurricane Mk I fighters in addition the 20 Gladiators that were ordered a few days before.

10.12.1939

Detachment Heinilä was established in Mensuvaara (6 Fokkers and 7 Bulldogs). The LLv24 sent a flight of Fokkers led by Lt Carlsson. The staff of LLv26 moved to Utti from Heinjoki airbase.

13.12.1939

The Swedish pilots were allowed to test fly the Finnish Fiat fighters. Lt P.Siirilä received the first Fiat for the Finnish Air Force at Stockholm.

The Finnish Air Force was informed that 43 Brewster fighters was bought from the USA.

17.12.1939

A Bulldog patrol (Lt P.Berg and Sgt V.Porvari) strafed enemy troops (a 3 km long convoy) at Ägläjärvi where the Finnish Army´s Group Talvela was counter-attacking the Soviet troops. Lt Carlsson's Fokker flight (6 Fokkers) returned back to the LLv24.

On the next day the first Fiat G.50 arrived to Finland. Hitler ordered the crew of a German warship (Admiral Graf Spee) to sink their ship near Montevideo because they escaped from a battle against the British warships.

19.12.1939

Weather was very good. The city of Turku was bombed for the first time. Capt Heinilä's Bulldog flight (5 planes) was ordered to move from Mensuvaara to Käkisalmi airbase as soon as possible. They took off at 11:45 AM (Heinilä, Berg, Uuttu, Tevä and Lilja).

Enemy was very active in the air and there were lots of air combats during the day. Fokkers participated to 22 air battles during 58 sorties over the frontline. 11 enemy bombers and 2 fighters were shot down. A Soviet bomber squadron (44 SBAP) lost six bombers at once.

LLv26´s pilots shot down 5 and 1/3 enemy aircrafts during the day. 2ndLt E.Malmivuo (FR-116), Lt U.Nieminen (FR-111) and Sgt L.Aaltonen (FR-114) shot down one SB-2 bomber each and Sgt P.Tilli (FR-103) and Sgt P.Mannila (FR-96) got one DB-3 each. Linnamaa got one third of one DB-3. Sgt Tilli's Fokker was damaged when a bailing Soviet bomber crewmember was cut in pieces after hitting his Fokker´s wing.

20.12.1939

Four Fokkers (Nieminen, Linkola, Kivinen and Enroth) were suprised by I-16 fighters over Viipuri. Lt U.Nieminen escaped very low over the city and enemy chased him along the streets of the city. Nieminen managed to escape, afterwards it was found 23 bullet holes from his plane.

21.12.1939

Increased activity of the Soviet bombers and fighters continued. Nine SB-2s bombed Immola airbase without any results. At Käkisalmi enemy bombers flew at 7000 m altitude and the Bulldogs couldn´t reach them. Cause of those bombing attacks the LLv26 started continous air patrolling, but the DB-3 found too fast plane for the Bulldogs. 2ndLt K.Linnamaa (FR-114) managed to damage two SB-2 bombers.

23.12.1939

LLv24's Fokkers shot down 11 planes in 21 air battles. LLv26 pilots (5th Flight) airkills: Two I-16 (7 IAP) downed by Sgt P.Tilli (FR-103) and one I-16 (64 IAP) downed by Lt U.Nieminen (FR-96). Sgt P.Tilli and Sgt L.Aaltonen (FR-105) also took 1/6 victory of SB-2 bomber each.

A Bulldog flight met 6-7 SB-2 bombers which were bombing the city of Käkisalmi at 1700 m altide, 100 m above the clouds. Lt. P.Tevä (BU-68) shot down a bomber and Lt L.Mildh (BU-74) damaged one which went to a straight dive to low level clouds, but the victory could not be confirmed. It was noticed again that the Bulldogs can not reach enemy bombers, not even by diving after them from higher altitudes.

25.12.1939

LLv24's Fokkers destroyed 4 Soviet bombers near the city of Imatra. SSgt O.Tuominen (FR-117) shared (1/2 airkill) of one SB-2 bomber.

LLv26's Bulldogs which were moved to Käkisalmi airbase took off to intercept 40 bombers and 20 fighters, but they were not able to reach the attackers. Sgt V.Porvari (BU-68) shot one escorting I-16 fighter down and Lt Berg damaged another.

The Air Force HQ ordered the LLv26 to move a Bulldog flight near the city of Turku .

27.12.1939

LLv24 flew 24 sorties during the day and downed 3 SB-2 bombers with their Fokkers. One of the airkills was designad to Sgt M.Sillanpää (FR-81).

Lt P.Berg flew to Turku and found a place for a new airbase from the Lake Littoinen (10 km east from Turku).

The Germans did not give permission to transport the Finnish bought Fiat fighters across their territory because of the speech of Stalin. Transportation was delayed and the cargo returned later back to the Rome.

28.12.1939

At 09:50 AM five Bulldogs took off from Käkisalmi to fly to Parola airbase via Immola. Due the bad weather the planes had to stay in Immola for a few hours. The ground convoy started their way to Littoinen and arrived their destination on the next day.

30.12.1939

Bulldogs were alerted at Parola airbase without any results. On the next day they were alerted again with same results and the planes continued their flight to their new airbase at Littoinen to where they arrived at 12:20. The first alert at Littoinen was at 13:20 and the Bulldog flight engaged 9 SB-2 bombers and shot several hits to them without confirmed airkills. The interceptors was a suprise for the attackers!

Summary of the December 1939

11 1/6 air victories: Bulldogs 3 SB-2 bombers and 2 I-16 fighters, Fokkers 8 1/6 SB-2 and DB-3 bombers and 3 I-16 fighters. Lost one Bulldog piloted by SSgt T.Uuttu (injured).


January 1940

1.1.1940

A new years day. LLv26 HQ was located in Utti, 1st flight (7 Bulldogs) operating from Littoinen, 2nd and 3rd flights (9 Fokkers) subordinated to the LLv24 operating from Ruokolahti and Joutseno airbases.

Bulldogs from Littoinen made several attacks against enemy bombers which were attacking the city of Turku, but the Bulldogs fighters were found to be far too slow to reach the enemy SB and DB bombers - again.

2.1.1940

2ndLt Harmaja flew the second Fiat (FA-2) to Finland from Sweden and made a rollover during landing in Turku.

Lt P.Berg and Cpl Laitinen managed to fire a group of seven SB bombers without any results.

On the next day the first 6 Gladiators (packed in boxes) started their way to Finland (to be assembled in Malmslätt Sweden) from Bergen Norway.

4.1.1940

A pair of Bulldogs piloted by Capt E.Heinilä and SSgt V.Porvari met a group of 9 SB bombers and managed to open fire from 300-400 m distance without results. The bomber group was spreaded to many directions.

5.1.1940

LLv24 flew 35 interception sorties over Karelia and shot down three bombers. 2ndLt O.Puhakka (FR-117) shot down one DB-3 (54 SBAP) and damaged three bombers. Sgt O.Paronen (FR-105) got one DB-3 and one SB-2 bomber.

6.1.1940

Lt J.Sarvanto from the LLv24 made the fighter pilots "world record" and shot down 6 SB-2 bombers of 7-ship formation in 5 minutes.

10.1.1940

A Swedish voluntary fighter unit - F19 - arrived and started their operative missions in the northern part of Finland with 12 Gladiator Mk I biplane fighters and 4 Hawker Hart biplane dive bombers.

11.1.1940

A detachment leader Capt E.Heinilä was suggested to be commander of a new fighter squadron - LLv22.

12.1.1939

The Gloster Gladiators were ordered to be the LLv26´s main fighter plane. The planes will be assembled and make combat-ready in Sweden.

One Soviet SB-2 bomber, damaged by AAA, crashlanded to Parainen. Crewmembers commited suicides except the gunner which became a POW.

The Swedish unit (F19) had their first attack mission. F19 lost two of their Hawker Harts in midair collision during the return flight and one Gladiator was shot down by a soviet fighter. The F19 got also their (and the Swedish Air Force?) first airkill, an I-15bis fighter (2ndLt Jan Jacobi).

LLv26's Fokkers were ordered to be handed over to LLv24 and the LLv26 pilots were ordered to return to the Utti airbase.

13.1.1939

The first Fiat G.50 airkill. The FA-1 piloted by a test pilot Capt Ehrnroot, shot down a SB-2 bomber near Tampere.

14.1.1940

Lt O.Lautamäki downed one SB-2 (35 LPAB) bomber by Bulldog (BU-72). He managed to lit the bomber on fire, but he was forced to disengage and turn back due the arriving darkness. The SB-2 exploded soon after the disengagement. That was the last air victory for the old Bulldogs.

Enemy bombers were forced to raise their attack altitude to 7000 m because the patrolling Bulldogs and they could not make accurate bombing missions to Turku anymore. Some kind of victory for the old Bulldogs.

16.1.1940

- 32 °C in Littoinen - no flying activity. SSgt P.Tilli (FR-103) shot down one SB-2 bomber over the Lake Ladoga when flying with LLv24's "Detachment Luukkanen".

Finland ordered additional 10 Fiat G.50 fighters from the Fiat factory, Italy.

17.1.1940

During 7 aerial combats over Karelia and the LLv24´s Fokkers downed nine 54 SBAP's SB-2 bombers. Six of the airkills were assigned to LLv26´s Fokker pilots since Sgt M.Sillanpää, 2ndLt O.Puhakka, SSgt O.Tuominen and Sgt L.Aaltonen shot down one each and Lt U.Nieminen downed two.

At Littoinen two Bulldogs (M.Linkola and V.Porvari) shot at same SB-2 bomber without results. A formation of 4 bombers turned back when they saw the Bulldogs taking off.

19.1.1940

LLv24´s Fokkers flew 44 intercept missions to the eastern part of the Karelia and shot down 4 SB-2 bombers. 2ndLt O.Puhakka (FR-117) and Lt U.Nieminen (FR-78) downed one bomber each.

The first four Gladiator biplane fighters arrived to the Utti airbase and were handed over to the LLv26´s new equipped 1st (GL-253 and -255) and 2nd flights (GL-251 and -252).

20.1.1940

Detachment Luukkanen, which operated from Värtsilä airbase, engaged eight returning 21 DBAP's SB-2 bombers. 3 SB-2's were downed and two more after long pursuit. SSgt P.Tilli and 2ndLt E.Malmivuo shot down a SB-2 bomber each over Loimola. SSgt P.Tilli was missing after six I-16 fighters attacked their Fokkers near Sääksjärvi. The wreckage of Fokker (FR-107) and the body of SSgt P.Tilli was found later during the Continuation War in January 1943 east from Pitkäranta.

A pair of Bulldogs piloted by Lt P.Berg and Sgt Reinikainen damaged heavily a SB-2 near Littoinen, bomber started smoking and left behind the formation.

21.1.1940

Sgt O.Paronen had the first combat mission with the Gladiator. The Air Force HQ ordered 50 licence build Fokker DXXI´s from the States Aircraft Factory (VL).

Six new Fiat fighters were sent to Finland from Rome by train to Antwerpen and from there to Sweden by a ship.

24.1.1940

Capt E.Carlsson was ordered to Veitsiluoto (near Oulu) to inform the Swedish volunteers (F19) about the Soviet aircrafts characters.

The subordinated pilots from the LLv24 were ordered to return to Utti airbase and the Fokkers were given to the LLv24.

On the next day the squadron was rearranged and the pilots and ground crews were reorganized to the new flights.

29.1.1940

The Soviets bombed heavily Turku which caused lots of civil casualties (36 died). The Bulldog flight from Littoinen attacked Soviet bombers which were laying mines to the ship routes on the sea. The result was that the bombers got separated from their formation and suspended their mission. One bomber made an emergency landing to the ice of the lake Köyliö. The crew commited suicide exept one.

2ndLt O.Puhakka took off with 20mm cannons equipped Fokker (FR-76) from Tampere airbase with a test pilot as his wingman and he downed one 45BAP's DB-3 bomber over Urjala by a long distance shots.

Over Karelia Sgt T.Kaarma participated fight with 4 other Fokkers and they shot down one R-5 recon aircraft over Muolaanjärvi.

Two Gladiators were damaged in Utti airbase in ground collision. Both aircrafts repaired later.

Summary of the January 1940

17 1/4 air victories: Bulldogs 1 SB-2 bomber, Fokkers 16 SB-2 and DB-3 bombers and 1/4 airkill of R-5 recon plane. Losses one Fokker piloted by SSgt P.Tilli (KIA).


February 1940

1.2.1940

LLv26 HQ and 1st and 2nd Flights (Gladiators) in Utti. Detachment Heinilä (Bulldogs) was about to leave Littoinen and was giving away their old planes. Planes: 6 Bulldogs (BU-59, -61, -63, -65, -73 and -74) and 12 Gladiators (GL-251 and GL-253...GL-263).

13 Gloster Gladiator Mk II´s arrived during January and 17 more in February. LLv26 was still waiting for their new Fiat G.50 fighters from Italy so the LLv26 started their operations with 11 Gladiators from Utti airbase (GL-263 was still in Littoinen airbase after a ferry flight from Sweden).

A test flight over Utti airbase: Gladiator lost only 100 m to Fokker DXXI during 6 km race distance.

2.2.1940

Gladiators met their first real air combat. A Soviet I-153 Tshaika was first time seen above Turku (10-12 fighters). Lt P.Berg had his first flight with the Gladiator (GL-263). Later on the same day Lt P.Berg chased a group of I-153s with his plane and reached enemies near Bromarv. He shot one I-153 down at Bromarv and damaged another heavily. A Gladiator over Turku was a surprise for the Soviets. Ten Fokkers from LLv24 arrived to Littoinen to take care of the defence of the southwest part of Finland.

A formation of Soviet bombers were returning from the city of Kouvola when a Danish volunteer Lt J.Ulrich (GL-259) shot down one of them near Suursaari at the Finnish Gulf. SSgt O.Tuominen (GL-258) reached formation of two SB-2's and six I-16's over Elimäki. He downed two I-16 fighters near Kotka and damaged one near Suursaari.

The last Bulldogs were handed over to the T-LeR.2 (2nd Supporting Flight Regiment) for pilot training purposes.

3.2.1940

The Army found four crashed SB-2 bombers between Kouvola and the Finnish Gulf. Victories were counted to the LLv26 account without designation to any pilot because they were personally "unconfirmed kills".

5.2.1940

Detachment Kivinen (9 Gladiators) moved to Mensuvaara airbase (Uukuniemi) in order to replace LLv24's Fokkers which moved to the Karelia´s front. The Gladiators main mission was to protect the 4th Army (IV AK) and General Talvela´s Battlegroup.

7.2.1940

Detachment Kivinen moved forward to Värtsilä airbase. Main mission was to protect army troop convoys which were approaching the city of Joensuu. LLv26 had to be prepared to assign 6-8 fighters to Kajaani (Kuluntalahti airbase) within 3 days.

8.2.1940

Three new Fiats fighters were about to fly from Västerås (Sweden) to Turku. One Fiats engine did not started. The remaining two Fiats were piloted by Hungarian volunteers Lt Pirithy and 2ndLt Bekassy. After takeoff 2ndLt Bekassy was missing, last contact of his plane was above the Swedish coast near Stockholm heading east. Lt Pirithy returned to base because he lost contact to his leader.

9.2.1940

14 Swedish Air Force aircrafts tried to find 2ndLt Bekassys' plane unsuccessfully.

LLv26's 7 Gladiators led by Lt Siiriäinen moved to Kuluntalahti airbase (Kajaani).

11.2.1940

The 3rd flight (Fiat fighters) led by Lt U.Nieminen was established again and first two Fiat fighters arrived to Utti airbase (FA-10 and FA-6). LLv26 would have 14 Fiats more during the month.

Soviets major offensive began at the western part of Karelia. Three Gladiators from Detachment Kivinen had an air combat with 15 enemy fighters. SgtMaj L.Lautamäki (GL-253) shot down one I-16 at Jalovaara (not confirmed).

12.2.1940

Lt Siiriäinen's flight was relocated to Kuluntalahti airbase and they lost one Gladiator (GL-251). It collided to the ice during strafing practise and 2ndLt P.Siirilä was killed.

Heavy air battles over the Karelia frontline continued. Gladiators from Detachment Kivinen attacked against 8 SB-2 bombers. A Danish volunteer Lt C.Kalmberg (GL-261) and Cpl I.Joensuu (GL-256) shot down one bomber each. One SB-2 crashed to Kidesjärvi and an another near Loimolanjärvi. Lt Kalmbergs plane got 17 hits from the tailgunners.

Squadron handed over 4 Gladiators to the LLv12 (GL-270...GL-272) and LLv14 (GL-273).

13.2.1940

The Finnish Army was forced to leave their stations and retreat.

Detachment Kivinen was engaged many times by enemy fighter formations. Six SB-2 bombers of 9-ship formation (39SBAP) was shot down. Also one R-5 and I-15bis were downed. 2 own planes were lost. (GL-257 and -260). Lt C.Kalmberg, a Danish volunteer, was killed and his compatriot Lt J.Ulrich was injured.

SSgt O.Tuominen (GL-255) shot down three SB-2s (36SBAP), two at Jänisjärvi and one at Roikonkoski with one R-5 at Loimola. He also co-operated with SgtMaj L.Lautamaki (GL-253) downing one SB-2 (both got 1/2 air victory) at Jänisjärvi. Cpl I.Joensuu (GL-256) shot down I-15bis fighter at Havuvaara and Lt J.Ulrich (GL-257) got two I-15bis and damaged SB-2 before crashlanding to the woods near Havuvaara. Injured Lt Ulrich managed to reach friendly lines.

Lt Siiriäinen's flight (6 Gladiators) were moved to the Lappeenranta (and on the next day to Joutseno) airbase. Detachment Kivinen (7 Gladiators) moved to Mensuvaara airbase.

15.2.1940

Lt Siiriäinen's flight (6 Gladiators) moved to Joutseno airbase. After 0245 PM whole flight had an air battle with many formations of SB and DB bombers. Gladiators attacked a 9-ship DB-3 formation damaging one (by Lt Siiriäinen) and forcing an another to crashland at Suulajärvi. The airkill was designated to SSgt V.Porvari (GL-264). Elsewhere 2ndLt E.Enroth (GL-266) downed one R-5 recon plane near Valkjärvi.

While Russian bombers continued attacks to Utti airbase the Fiat fighters had to move to Haukkajärvi (airbase on ice) which located near Utti. On the same day two Fiats were damaged during landing: FA-11 after a ferry flight in Turku (MSgt K.Salminen) and FA-3 in Haukkajärvi (Lt M.Pirithy). Both aircrafts was repaired later.

Lt O.Puhakka made squadrons first combat flight with Fiat (FA-10) from Utti airbase.

Sgt O.Paronen and Sgt M.Sillanpää fetched two Morane Saulnier M.S 406s from Sweden for the LLv28.

16.2.1940

SSgt V.Porvari (GL-264) downed one I-16 fighter near Kämärä train station.

The first Brewster fighter had a test flight in Sweden.

17.2.1940

The Gladiator flight which was temporarily subordinated to the LLv24 took part to several air combats over Antrea. Fokkers managed to shot down three bombers. Lt P.Berg had an air combat with enemy fighters over Joutseno and damaged one I-153 Tshaika.

18.2.1940

Soviet tanks broke throught at the Karelia front. Over 300 planes bombed the city of Viipuri. LLv24 flew 65 intercept missions and its subgroup (Detachment Vuorela) destroyed two bombers of 40-ship bomber formation near Kouvola and at Virolahti. Both airkills were designated to Lt P.Berg (GL-279), he also damaged heavily a third SB-2 bomber.

19.2.1940

Three Gladiators from Utti were pursuiting 32-ship SB-2 bomber formation over Sippola and they were attacked by large group of OAE's I-153 fighters. Lt P.Berg downed one I-153 fighter

20.2.1940

Lt Siiriäinen's flight, which operated from Mensuvaara airbase, attacked a formation of nine DB-3 bombers. Cpl I.Joensuu (GL-256) downed one bomber at the Lake Ladoga. During the day the flight damaged heavily five bombers.

Detachment Vuorela´s Gladiators attacked 30 enemy bombers. Lt P.Berg (GL-280) shot down one SB-2 at Virolahti and damaged an another, but he had to bail out because his plane set on fire. He survived badly injured (face burned).

2ndLt M.Linkola was test flying a Morane (MS-316) and shot down one SB-2. Victory was counted for the LLv26.

Detachment Kivinen was subordinated to LLv24 and moved from Mensuvaara to Ruokolahti airbase.

21.2.1940

In the morning 14 enemy fighters attacked Utti airbase without any results.

Six Gladiators arrived to Ruokolahti airbase. Base commander was Lt E.Luukkanen. Later arrived also Lt E.Kivinen with the 7th Gladiator. A detachment from LLv12 led by Lt Uotinen arrived also to Ruokolahti to be introduced and trained for the Gladiator fighters.

On the next day an Italian volunteer SSgt Diego Manzocchi was transferred to the LLv26.

25.2.1940

Two Gladiators from Joutseno (V.Porvari and T.Bergman) participated air battle with Detachment Vuorela (Sihvo, Saarni and Suominen) against I-16 fighters. One I-16 was damaged by 2ndLt L.Sihvo. Cpl T.Bergman had hits to his Gladiator´s engine (GL-266) and had to make a forced landing near Ristseppälä. The plane was forced to abandon because the closure of enemy ground troops.

Lt Siiriäinen's flight (6 Gladiators) were sent to intercept R-5 recon and artillery observation planes to Muolaanjärvi area. In a fight against nine R-5 (4LBAP) and escorting six I-153 fighters (13OIAP) Gladiators managed to shoot down four R-5s. Two Gladiators were lost (GL-254 and -258) and two were heavily damaged. Cpl M.Sukanen downed one R-5 and damaged one, but he was wounded and his plane was damaged in a crash landing behind enemy lines. Cpl Sukanen drifted 6 hours behind the enemy lines before he managed to reach friendly troops. Cpl I.Joensuu downed one R-5 and damaged three planes. Lt P.Tevä shot down two R-5s, but his plane was seen in deep dive from 3000 m altitude ending to the ground, propably the escorting fighters killed him in the cockpit.

Later on the same day one Gladiator (GL-265, Tirkkonen) made an emergency landing to Ruokolahti with damaged engine. The 2nd flight of LLv26 moved to Immola with LLv24's first and fourth flight (Fokkers).

26.2.1940

Fiat fighters from Utti met their first real air combat: Lt U.Nieminen's flights patrol (5 Fiats) met three DB-3s and shot down one (2ndLt K.Linnamaa, FA-9). Lt O.Puhakka (FA-4) shot down one I-16 and damaged one I-15bis fighter. Lt U.Nieminen damaged a I-16 fighter and 2ndLt K.Linnamaa and 2ndLt L.Sihvo a DB-3 bomber each. In the same area there was an air battle between a lone Gladiator (Lt E.Halme) and two I-16's, a I-16 was damaged heavily. SgtMaj L.Lautamäki (GL-253) downed one I-16 near Heinjoki.

27.2.1940

A Fiat (FA-12) piloted by 2ndLt E.Malmivuo had an air battle against enemy fighters above the clouds near Utti airbase. His plane was seen in a flat spin which ended to the ground, the pilot was killed.

29.2.1940 - The darkest day in the Finnish Air Force history

Thursday, The Finnish Government decided to start negotiations with the Soviet counterparts. Heavy Soviet air attacks against LLv24's and LLv26's airbases and the city of Kouvola began firstly in the morning.

In he morning few Fiat fighters from Utti airbase were in combat: Sgt L.Aaltonen (FA-4) and Sgt O.Paronen (FA-5) downed one DB-3 bomber each, both aircrafts crashed to the Finnish Gulf. Lt U.Nieminen with 2ndLt O.Puhakka damaged heavily one SB-2.

At Ruokolahti the weather was clear. Incoming Soviet formations alarmed the base at 0800 AM and 7 Gladiators took off for intercept mission. Gladiators were planned to be as a top cover for the Fokker fighters. During return flight one Gladiator (GL-269), piloted by Cpl P.Kosola, was suprised and shot down near Ukonsalmi. Cpl Kosola bailed, but the altitude was too low (less than 50 m) and he was killed on the ice. Cpl P.Kosola damaged two I-16s before he was shot down.

At 1000 AM there was an alert in Ruokolahti again without any results.

At 1130 AM air surveillance unit alerted the base again. Due the disinformation it was believed that approaching enemy formation from Immola direction (30+ planes) were only bombers. Total of 36 I-153s and I-16s from 68 IAP made their way straight to Ruokolahti airbase.

At 1140 AM Fokkers took off and their mission was quickly aborted when the commanders realized that approaching aircrafts were enemy fighters. None told that information to the Gladiator flights that were about to take off while the sky was full off attacking enemy I-16 and I-153 fighters.

The first four Gladiators managed to take off. While left takeoff bank enemy attacked them. MSgt O.Lilja turned against attackers and opened fire while one turned behind him and shot his Gladiator which caught on fire. MSgt Lilja bailed out badly burned. Sgt S.Suikkanen had good shot at one I-16 which was chasing one Gladiator, I-16 caught into fire and pilot bailed out. After that Sgt Suikkanen shot one enemy I-16 fighter that was also chasing a Gladiator, that I-16 got heavy damages, disengaged and returned home - propably crashed after. Sgt Suikkanen and his wingman Sgt Saarni chased that I-16, but it managed to escape.

On the second wave of Gladiators Lt P.Christensen (GL-261) reached combat at altitude of 500 m and managed to damage one I-16 before two enemy fighters attacked him from rear. His plane caught on fire and he bailed out. Lt E.Halme (GL-262) got bullet hit to his head and his plane crashed straight after takeoff near local factory. Lt C.Kristensen (GL-259) got many hits at takeoff, his plane caught on fire and crashed through the ice. MSgt J.Tolkki (GL-263) shot against enemy fighters just after takeoff and damaged them, but his machine guns jammed and he tried to crashland on the ice. Three enemy fighters attacked him while landing and he tried to take off again, but his Gladiator caught on fire and he crashed on the ice. MSgt J.Tolkki survived and two I-16s left home with smoking engines.

Lt T.Huhanantti (FR-94) did not obey the disengage order given by the Fokker flight leader and stayed in the battle. He collided with one I-16 and crashed.

After the battle one I-153 was found crashed near Mäntyniemi, so enemy lost only three fighters. LLv26 lost three Gladiators just after the takeoff (GL-268 MSgt O.Lilja, GL -263 MSgt J.Tolkki and GL-261 Lt P.Christensen) and two more Gladiators were lost in air battle over the base (GL-259 Lt C.Kristensen and GL-262 Lt E.Halme) and one LLv24´s Fokker (FR-94 Lt T.Huhanantti) which stayed at the base perimeter. During the hard day LLv26 lost three pilots (Kosola, Halme, Kristensen) and six Gladiators.

Summary of the February 1940

Total of 38 1/2 air victories. Gladiators 16 SB-2 and DB-3 bombers, 12 1/2 fighters (3 I-15, 6 1/2 I-16, 3 I-153) fighters and 6 R-5 recon planes. Fiats 2 DB-3 bombers and 1 I-16 fighter and one SB-2 bomber with Morane.

Losses: One Fiat piloted by 2ndLt E.Malmivuo (KIA) and 12 Gladiators (5 pilots KIA and 1 killed in accident and 6 wounded).


March 1940

1.3.1940

LLv26 HQ and the 3rd flight (Fiats) were in Utti. The 1st and 2nd flights were leaving Ruokolahti and moving to the Utti airbase. LLv26 got 15 Fiats and 3 Gladiators flyable. During the last month the squadron lost 12 Gladiators and one Fiat.

LLv26 start delivering the old Gladiators to recon squadrons from the middle of the February. The remaining 7 Gladiators were delivered in the end of the month and Fiat fighters were the main gear for the squadron now on. Total of 26 Fiats were received until the end of the Winter War.

At 0430 AM enemy bombed Utti airbase without any results. At 0718 AM enemy fighters strafed the base and managed to have some hits to some Fiats. At 1207 PM 21 I-16 fighters attacked the base again without any remarkable results. At 0230 PM 8 I-16s attacked the base, but the Fiats managed to escape now at very low level flight. One hangar was destroyed. It was noticed that some I-16s were equipped with cannons. At 0736 PM bombers attacked, but dropped their bombs to the woods.

The rest 6 flyable Fiats moved to Hollola airbase until the situation calmed down.

2.3.1940

Enemy bombed the city of Tampere with 100 bombers. Heavy battles at the Karelia front continued. the Soviets started ground attacks over the ice at Viipurinlahti. A Fiat patrol from Haukkajärvi had an air battle with five I-153 fighters which were escorting a

Four new Fiats (FA-20, -21, -23 and -25) arrived from Sweden and landed to Säkylä.

3.3.1940

Enemy managed to reach the Finnish coast at Vilajoki (Viipurinlahti). LLv24 continued strafing enemy troops on the ice.

Utti needs more AA guns due the continuing air attacks. LLv26 AA guns shot down one SB-2 from an attacking 9-ship formation.

5.3.1940

Squadron was looking for a new airbase at Kivijärvi. LLv26 got few confirmed air victories from the Army. 2 SB-2s collided near Kymi, 3 crewmembers bailed and were destroyed after a fight. Two I-153 were crashlanded near Neuvoton and the Army was chasing the escaping pilots. One probably I-153 near Kymi was under confimation.

LLv24 had heavy battles against enemy troops at Ristniemi-Tuppura area.

LLv22, which was established in the middle of February, got first three Brewsters to their base in Hollola. They received two Brewsters more before the end of the Winter War, but they didn't participate any war missions.

6.3.1940

The peace negotations starts, the Prime Minister Risto Ryti travelled to Moscow via Stockholm.

9.3.1940

Weather was calm and cloudy. Cloud base at 500 m and shallow snowing. Fighter squadrons combined air attacks against incoming Soviet troops continued.

At 1100 AM LLv28 sent eight Moranes and LLv26 two Fiats against enemy. Lt Pirithy did not participate mission, because his landing gears did not retract. An Italian volunteer SSgt Manzocchi had the same landing gear problem (FA-22), but he continued mission as a wingman to Lt O.Puhakka (FA-20).

At 0400 PM LLv28 sent nine Moranes and LLv26 one Fiat against enemy troops and transport columns. Six trucks were destroyed. Detachment engaged three I-153s and downed two of them. 2ndLt K.Linnamaa (FA-20) took one victory when he shot down one Tshaika which was chasing LLv28's Morane piloted by Fensboe.

10 new Hurricanes arrived to the Säkylä airbase. The Hurricanes were meant to be designated to the new LLv22, but they didn´t participate any war missions during the Winter War.

10.3.1940

At 0350-0440 PM three Fiats (Puhakka, Aaltonen and Linnamaa) strafed enemy troops again. Several vehicles and troops were destroyed.

11.3.1940

Soviet offensive at Vuosalmi was launched. The Finnish Army suffered heavy losses, but still the Soviet troops were stopped in every segment of the front.

Lt O.Puhakka and SSgt D.Manzocchi started to interception mission to Kouvola area. They met five DB-3 bombers, which they chased over Elimäki. Lt O.Puhakka shot down one DB-3 and damaged another. His wingman, an Italian volunteer SSgt Diego Manzocchi got bullet to his chest and he made a forced landing on the ice of Ikolanjärvi. SSgt Manzocchi landed with his landing gears extracted and his Fiat rolled over in the deep snow. Heavily wounded SSgt D.Manzocchi died after being hanging 6 hours head downwards before the rescuers managed to cut him loose. SSgt Manzocchi

One DB-3 was found crashed near Loviisa. The victory dedicated to the LLv26. Sgt L.Aaltonen had head to head fight against a I-153 and managed to damage it. 2ndLt M.Linkola (LLv26 pilot flying with LLv28) shot down a DB-3 bomber over Koria - it was the last airkill of the LLv26 in the Winter War.

12.3.1940

A heavy snowstorm in the south and the middle parts of Finland. Before the storm started, the Fiats made an interception flight over the city of Kouvola without any results. Sgt M.Sillanpää crashed during landing to Säkylä, but survived without any serious injuries.

An lone AA gunner, positioned on the roof of the water tower of the city of Utti, had an extraordinary duel against a strafing Soviet I-16. He (name unknown) fighted to the far end and I-16 was finally shot down. It was noticed that some I-16s were equipped with skiis.

13.3.1940

The last day of the Winter War. LLv12 flew two recon flights. Bombing squadrons 42, 44 and 46 flew 11 bombing missions to Vuosalmi and Koivisto area. Soviet planes made one bombing flight to Iso Kalastajasaarento island.

The Winter War was over on the 13th of March 1940 at 1100 AM.

14.3.1940

General blackout regulations were revoked. On the next day 10 flyable Fiats moved to Vuohijärvi airbase and one (FA-2) was damaged at rollover.

Summary of the March 1940

Total of 9 air victories. Fiats 4 SB-2 and DB-3 bombers and 4 I-153 fighters and one DB-3 bomber with Morane.

Losses: One Fiat piloted by SSgt D.Manzocchi (KIA).


Summary of the Winter War

1152 intercept flights - 914 hours 20 minutes of operations. 126 air battles, 8 recon flights and 10 ground attack missions within 84 flying days.

Total air victories: Total plane losses:
December 1939 16 1/6 Bristol Bulldog 1 (BU-64)
January 1940 17 1/4 Fokker DXXI 2 (FR-111 and -107)
February 1940 38 1/2 Fiat G.50 3 (FA-7, -8 and -12)
March 1940 9 (+2 by the Squadrons AAA unit) Gladiator 12 (GL-251, -254, -257...-262, -266, -268, -269 and -280)
Total 80 11/12 (+2 by AAA) aircraft Total 18  

 

Pilots killed   Pilots wounded
W.Bekassy (HUN) Missing 8,2,1940   J.Ulrich (DEN) Wounded
E.Malmivuo KIA 27.2.1940   P.Berg Wounded
D.Manzocchi (ITA) KIA 11.3.1940   M.Sukanen Wounded
P.Kosola KIA 29.2.1940   P.Christensen (DEN) Wounded
E.Halme KIA 29.2.1940   V.Lilja Wounded
C.Kristensen (DEN) KIA 29.2.1940   J.Tolkki Wounded
P.Siirilä Killed 12.2.1940   T.Uuttu Wounded
P.Tilli KIA 20.1.1940   T.Kaarma Injured
C.Kalmberg (DEN) KIA 13.2.1940   A.Wallenius Injured
P.Tevä KIA 20.2.1940   U.Nieminen Wounded
      A.Pöysti Injured
      E.Brunila Injured
      U.Grönberg Injured
Total 10, 8 during missions and 2 in accidents/lost  

Total 13, 8 during missions and 5 in accidents