About pilot courage |
About Moranes |
About the weapons of Brewster and Morane and about firing ranges |
About the armour of the Morane, "carrier takeoffs" by Tani and MS-311 |
About the propeller and the radiator of Morane |
Morane against Pe-2 and other fast aircraft |
Morane in general |
Morane and Brewster, manouvering and performance |
Jussi Huotari about Brewster |
Planes as gun platforms |
About armour in aircraft |
Ground attack missions with Morane |
Troublesome Squadron Leader in LeLv28 |
Fighting against better enemy aircraft with Morane and Brewster |
Messerschmitt and vertical dive |
Manouvering the Messerschmitt, "both slats open" |
Visibility from the cockpit of the Messerschmitt |
Talking about Desants and destroyed documents |
Recoginizing aircraft in the air |
About confirming victories |
Takeoff and trimming |
The last mission of Nipa Katajainen |
Brewster as night fighter |
Incidents in the Morane Squadron |
About Brewster vulnerability and the Brewsters in Lapland |
Loose trim tab and more about vertical diving |
Speed race, BW, CU, FA, MS in competition |
About the performance of the planes - some fast, some not |
Experiences about flying Russian planes |
Enough targets |
"Let us shoot at fighters only, to keep our style" - Juutilainen |
A lecture by Sarvanto about evasive action |
Memorable incidents: Blenheims bombing a bog |
Escorting, Stukas, reconnaissance planes |
""Dammit, for once just as it should be" |
Lone Tin Henry, thanks to escort fighters |
We interviewed two veteran fighter pilots, Mr. Antti Tani and Mr. Jouko "Jussi" Huotari in Kouvola on the 10th July 2002. Actually we were going to meet Mr. Antti Tani only, but before we had begun he mentioned that a Brewster pilot, Jussi Huotari, also lives in Kouvola and inquired whether we would like to have a word with him too? Well, of course! Mr. Tani, an energetic man, at once darted off with his car - marked with HLeLv34 insignia - to fetch Mr. Huotari. Mr. Tani is not showing his years, he looked like a fit 50-year old.
Antti Tani and Jouko "Jussi" Huotari
Mr. Antti Tani and Mr. Jussi Huotari were interviewed on July 10th 2002 by Timo "Kossu" Niiranen, Matti "Tern" Saloranta and Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel".
Part 1: Mirja Krook
Part 2: Jari-Matti "Jasz" Taskinen
Part 3: Teemu "Teme" Perheentupa
Part 4: Mirja Krook
Proof reader: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Translation to English language: Ossi Juntunen.
Source: Suomen Ilmavoimien historia 11: Hävittäjä-ässät Kari Stenman / Kalevi Keskinen (Apali Oy).
Tani, Antti Johannes
Born Aug.3.1918 Hämeenlinna
Finnish Military Pilot's Licence no.542
Training: Reserve NCO pilot course no 5, Cadre NCO pilot course no.9 Sept 2nd 1939
13.2.1940 LeLv 28
15.4.1943 LeLv 34
Retired from service July 10, 1956
Medal of Liberty Freedom Medal 2nd Class
Medal of Liberty 1st Class
Cross of Liberty 4th Class
Cross of Liberty 3rd Class
21.5 victories, 272 missions
25.6.41 MS-311 1 SB-2bis
21.8.41 MS-311 2 I-15bis
2.9.41 MS-308 1/2 1-16
12.9.41 MS-328 1/2 DB-3
23.9.41 MS-317 1 SB-3
25.3.42 MS-619 1 Pe-2
24.2.43 MS-619 1 Pe-2
21.5.43 MT-229 1 IL-2
8.9.43 MT-223 1 IL-2
10.10.43 MT-201 1/2 Boston
14.10.43 MT-204 1 Boston
6.3.44 MT-209 1 La-5
6.3.44 MT-209 2 Pe-2
8.5.44 MT-414 1 Jak-9
16.6. MT-428 1 IL-2
20.6.44 MT-428 1 Airacobra
21.6.44 MT-435 1 Jak-9
1.7.44 MT-453 3 IL-2
11.7.44 MT-469 1 IL-2
Huotari, Jouko Armas Antero
Born Nov.23.1918 Nuijamaa
Finnish Military Pilot's Licence no.722
Training: Reserve NCO pilot course no.6 Sept 02 1939
Occupation: Engine stoker
Nov 02, 1940 LeLv24
Retired from service Nov 15, 1958
Medal of Liberty 2nd Class
Medal of Liberty 1st Class
Cross of Liberty 4th Class
Cross of Liberty 4th Class with oak leaves
Cross of Liberty 3rd Class
17 victories, 291 missions
19.7.41 BW-353 1 I-153
12.8.41 BW-353 1 I-153
23.9.41 BW-353 1 I-16
9.3.42 BW-380 1 MiG-3
28.3.42 BW-353 2 I-153
14.8.42 BW-353 1 Hurricane
16.8.42 BW-353 2 I-16
28.9.43 BW-355 1/2 LaGG-3
4.6.44 MT-247 1 La-5
6.6.44 MT-237 1 Airacobra
21.6.44 MT-440 1 Airacobra
28.6.44 MT-440 1 IL-2
28.6.44 MT-440 1 Jak-9
30.6.44 MT-440 1 DB-3f
3.7.44 MT-440 1 La-5
9.7.44 MT-441 1 La-5
Antti Tani's career as military pilot started in the Air War School in October 1939. After completed training he was posted in February 1940 in Squadron no.28 (LeLv28) that was just equipped with Morane-Saulnier 406 fighters delivered from France. Tani flew some missions during the Winter War with the Morane.
Of all Finnish Morane pilots in the Winter War and the Continuation War Tani was on the third place on the scoreboard after Staff Sgt. Lehtovaara and 2nd Lt. Inehmo.
As the Continuation War started, Sgt. Tani was serving as a cadre NCO and he flew reconnaissance and covering missions with Morane, gaining his first victory a couple of days after the start of the war. Totally Tani scored seven victories with the Morane, including two much faster Pe-2 bombers on recce mission. In April 1943 he was transferred to LeLv34 which was equipped with modern Messserschmitt Bf 109 G fighters. Having access to top class equipment Antti Tani's score began to increase at a steady pace. Operating from Kymi he flew his Messerschmitt fighter in the battles above the Gulf of Finland and in the defence of the city of Kotka. He also fought against multiple tenfold superiority as the Soviet Union launched the offensive in summer 1944. As the war ended Tani had scored 21.5 victories
After the war he served as a pilot in the Finnish Air Force until 1956, acting also as the flight controller at Utti before returning to the trade of watchmaker that he had learned as a boy.
Book references in this article point to the recently published book "Jatkosodan ässä", which tells about mr. Tani's exploits in the war skies. The book is described in the end of this interview. .
Regrettably we do not have an abstract about the career of Jussi Huotari. He joined the ranks of LeLv24 on 2nd Nov 1941 where he served during the war. His steady score nearly skyrocketed during the battles of summer 1944, as he shot down eight enemy aircraft during two months.
About pilot courage
Talking about the demands of personal courage in the conditions of war, Mr. Tani mentions Sgt.Vihinen who after all was not of the "right stuff" for a fighter pilot... Vihinen had abandoned Tani, his leader, without explanation during a mission. Tani gave the young man a lecture:
Antti Tani:If you go on doing what you just did with me, so you shall be shot down every time you encounter a Russian plane.
If you turn your back you can be assured that you will have a sorry fate.
Antti Tani: Well, he just thought that if they shoot him down so may it be. But never have him posted to Kauhava (as instructor, tr.rem.) because then he would be too ashamed to go home. And a little more than one year later he was shot down.
Uselessly, in a way.
Antti Tani: Completely uselessly, we lost a good plane. That is what I said, he just would break planes. With good luck he bailed out, without even knowing where he was. He was on the No Man's Land, and our infantry patrol rescued him.
This kind of things may happen. A pilot is shot down, but if he cannot fly missions after that, it is no good to let him break aircraft. Even if a man prefers to be shot down to being sent as instructor to Kauhava. I did not accept being posted there, even though they very seriously tried to. I did tell that Vihinen lad that they tried to send me there but I am not going as long as the war goes on. After the war I can become an instructor. If I survive, I shall have something to tell about. That is how it was, all kinds of things can come along.
(Ed.rem. Vihinen's symptoms did not disappear, he was shot down later during the war. A successful bailout landed him on the friendly side. However, Vihinen was killed near the end of the war in AAA fire. Refer to Jatkosodan ässä p. 168)
The interviewers explain about their ideas on the course of the discussion.
Jussi Huotari: The memory of this fellow has gone in such a shape that I cannot recall everything, or anything...
If you remember something you want to talk about, do not hesitate to speak up...
As we said there are numerous questions about Moranes and operating them. One was about the armament and what was done with it in Finland. As the Moranes were received, they were equipped with French 7.5mm machine guns mainly, and some of them with the 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannon, weren't they ? How many cannons were installed?
Antti Tani: I should say less than half of the number of aircraft, scarcely more. I, for one, flew a fighter equipped with small arms all through the beginning phase of the war. Then I scored enough so that the commander ordered a cannon to be given to me. It was the commander of the Flying Regiment, Col.Lorenz himself, who gave the order for the cannon installation.
As far as we know the cannon was in some respect unreliable. It is said that the trigger mechanism could jam totally, or it fired only one shell and then jammed.
Antti Tani: It is true that it was a fairly ungrateful device. The 12.7mm machine gun that was introduced later was much better. It worked. Also the ammo capacity (of the cannon) was unreasonably small, it was, let me think, 50 shells. You could spend it in a couple of seconds. One burst, missing the target by accident, and the ammunition was spent. You then had to do with the wing guns and they were what they were. At the beginning of the war you could hit something with them, because the barrels were not full of sand. But after the Moranes took off from Naarajärvi for example, there was so much dust in the air that the next one had to wait for half an hour almost - if the weather was calm, you could not see anything.
If there was wind, it pushed the dust aside enough. I remember the takeoff for the first mission of the war in 1941, as several planes took off. Myllylä got in the backwash of another fighter and somersaulted on the field. He broke his arm, or some other bone. The sand penetrated in the gun barrels and they were so worn out that you could hit anything with luck only. The barrels were so wide that a bullet dropped in the barrel went clinking down through it. The armourers were angry but what could they do? They could not do anything once the gun barrels were worn wide. The weapons that were fired wore out fairly fast.
(Ed.rem. The incident mentioned above is described in the book "Jatkosodan ässä" on pp.81-82. Sgt. Tani took off for an interception mission with the MS-311. "As seven Moranes were started and they taxied to the end of the runway a huge dust cloud was kicked up. The surface of the runway, a composite of sand, peat and mud was detrimental to visibility and the delicater systems of the aircraft. Paavo Myllylä's fighter squatted upside down in the middle of the dust cloud".
About the weapons of Brewster and Morane and about firing ranges
How were your weapons harmonized in general, how far or how near ?
Antti Tani: The wing guns were harmonized to 100m with the cannon.
Jussi Huotari: The Brewster had the two heavy 12.7mm wing guns. They were harmonized to two hundred fifty meters. Or farther maybe ?
Antti Tani: Weren't they mounted almost in the fuselage?
Jussi Huotari: As far as I can remember there was one heavy on the top of the fuselage and then one light gun for training, so to say. For target practice. The wing guns were heavy ones. They were harmonized to two hundred and fifty meters.
Was this 250 meters applied to your aircraft only or was it the standard?
Jussi Huotari: It was the standard.
So it was the standard. You, Mr. Tani, had your weapons harmonized for 100m but you had smaller caliber guns with more curved bullet trajectory.
Antti Tani: That is how it is. The wing guns used to be harmonized for a longer range but at least I had them set for 100 meters because I did not want to shoot at a long range. You had to get next to the target and shoot, because then you could see if it had any effect. Shooting from 250 m would have been like throwing peas. I had that sort of idea.
Throwing peas, yet the gun caliber was about the same as the British fighters had. Was 100m an efficient range for a small caliber machine gun?
Antti Tani: There is some effect at 200m but at a range of 100m there is much more effect. The fact is that when I fire my guns and the target aircraft in front of me has a speed of 500 kmh, the target will have moved far more than 100m before the bullet reaches the target. In fact the range is longer than it appears. If you shoot at a range of 250 m ... the bullet does fly quite fast but the range is relatively longer.
Then there is the scattering factor...
Antti Tani: Scattering and barrel vibration factors. Actually the projectile density is very low. The shorter the firing distance is, the smaller the scatter is. As the range shortens, the scattering diminishes.
There is an incident mentioned in the book , where you engaged a plane and fired it with your cannon "at a long range. Was 150m a long range for a cannon?
Antti Tani: The longest range ever was when I fired at that Pe-2 above Äanislinna (Petrozavodsk) at 500m. The deflection was so large that I did not use the gunsight but used the cockpit canopy frame for deflection. Three bursts I fired, first aiming with the edge of the gunsight, then I aimed between the gunsight and the canopy frame and finally at the frame. Then I did hit him. The pilot took a bullet through his head and that was it.
Was it the Berezina gun or the cannon ?
Antti Tani: It was the 12.7mm (Berezina). Had it been the cannon, its ammunition would have been spent with the second burst and I would have been out of ammunition. Fortunately I had the 12.7
Can you rembember which were the ranges used by Brewster pilots, or any examples ?
Jussi Huotari: Nearest in my mind is the case when I had to fire at an angle of 90 degrees. You had to apply plenty of deflection, shoot far ahead of the target. Then only one gun fired but the tracers gave me an indication how to aim. When shooting from an angle of 90 degrees you have to take a lot of deflection.
What was the general range of firing ?
Jussi Huotari: For the Brewster it was about two hundred fifty
Antti Tani: Shooting from a too short range your burst passed the side of the target.
Was it not a standard practice in the Finnish Air Force that each pilot could have determined the range to which the guns were harmonized?
Jussi Huotari: Maybe you could have done that but...
But it was the 250 m for everyone then ?
Jussi Huotari: The armourers would do that
Antti Tani: There is one factor that prevented setting own harmonizing range for every one. It was the fact that the fighters were "rotated" among the pilots. Then one would have fired from too long a range, another from too short a range. A standard harmonizing distance had to be applied because the pilots would fly a different plane for each mission. Nobody could have remembered the individual range to which the guns of each plane were harmonized.
Maybe it then depended on the weapons. The .50 guns were harmonized for two and a half hundred, and the small guns for 100 to 150 ?
Antti Tani: Yes, to 150 meters
Jussi Huotari: The guns on the top of the fuselage of the Brewster did not need harmonizing, but the wing guns did.
Jussi Huotari: About the deflection I recalled something. You can shoot without deflection when you shoot heads-on. I did that two or three times, I fired the target heads-on. I do not know what happened to them but they did not shoot back. Maybe I did make a square hit at the proper range to which the guns were harmonized. The oncoming plane did not show anything indicating firing at me, they always passed me safely.
Heads-on firing was not a safe pactice after all ?
Jussi Huotari: It was not specially recommended.
Antti Tani: I was flying at a distance of 10 meters as Norola shot heads-on at an I-15bis. He did not know how to evade the enemy, so the wingtip of the Morane sliced between the wings (I-15bis was a biplane, its pair of wings) and the wings were swept to smithereens. The other wing pair remained and the plane just spun like this. The fellow piloting it survived, it has been told. He finally was promoted to Colonel-Lieutenant or even Colonel maybe. I don't remember if there is anything about him in my archive, I have all kinds of documents about the Russians, the men I shot down and others, too...
(Ed.rem. The incident took place on Aug 12 1942. Staff Sgt. Norola collided in the air with an I-15bis attempting a "taran". The starboard wingtip of the Morane hit the wing support between the starboard wing pair of the I-15bis. The upper wing was ripped up and the fighter crashed on the ground, the pilot survived. There was a 15 cm gash in the leading edge of the port wing of the MS-301. In the same battle Tani took a machine gun hit in his fighter. The incident is described in "Jatkosodan ässä" pp.113-114.
It could have been the fellow from Kotka who gave me some papers, there are their stories about the same incidents.
There has been discussion about the heads-on shooting stories by Pokela, because they are dangerous in simulators, too. The example used is always Pokela when talking about the sensibility and madeness of heads-on shooting. He said he once fired heads-on at a Tchaika and never more. A similar incident happened while Brewsters were based at Tiiksjärvi: a Brewster collided in mid-air with a Tchaika. The wings collided, the wing of the Brewster cut off the wing of the Tchaika.
Jussi Huotari: I always succeeded in evading them by pulling up. But this one did not do any evasive maneuvers. Bad experiences were made at the later stages of the war. Vilppu Perkko collided and bailed out (Vilppu Perkko, flying the BW-366 collided with a Yak-1 on Nov 10 1943 and was taken POW).
And later, as the Russians were armed with 20mm cannons, it was unwise to meet them heads-on
About the armour of the Morane, "carrier takeoffs" by Tani and MS-311
The standard armour in the French Morane was 5mm armour plate and they admitted it was insufficient. The German 7.9 mm MG bullet, and the cannon shell of course, sliced it like butter. Were the Finnish Moranes equipped with more armour or was it just the French standard?
Antti Tani: As far as I remember the planes were received without any armour at all, they were upgraded here in Finland. I used to fly the 311 up to 1942 without armour. I did not have any. That is the reason why for example in Lunkula I used to take off right from the aircraft shelter 400 meters across the runway and on the Ladoga
Right across the runway?
Antti Tani: Yes, nobody else did that trick. There was an embankment that pushed you up, once you were over it you could quickly pull in the undercarriage.
It was like taking off from an aircraft carrier?
Antti Tani: Quite so, it was like taking off from a carrier. But the ground crews used to look at me: what the devil is he going to do. When I was able to apply full power at once, the others had to taxi to the end of the runway. Then they had to take off to direction West while I was already heading for East. Thus I was the first one in many battles.
(Ed.rem. Told in "Jatkosodan ässä" pp.111-112. Tani's fighter was parked farthest from the runway so the fastest route in the air was to make use the shore embankment. "Like a ski jumper from the jumping tower lip" is the description. Tani could see when turning and climbing how the others were just planning to take off.)
Do you remember how much weight increase did the armour cause?
Antti Tani: 90 kilos
Then they must have installed a 8mm plate ?
Antti Tani:Eight or nine millimeters. The 311 was later fitted with it, but it was no more returned to us but given to an outfit based in the North. Not Segezha, it was a Russian base...
Jussi Huotari: There was a base over there
Antti Tani: Yes,up there
Jussi Huotari: Hirvas maybe?
Antti Tani: Ei Hirvas, vielä kauemmaksi sinne ylös.
Onko se Tiiksjärvi ?
Antti Tani: The fighter was handed over to LeLv14 or some such unit.
Up North, to be used by reconnaissance pilots ?
Antti Tani: Yes, there was a reconnaissance squadron based there, but the fighter was taken to some base over there, what the heck was it ? You visited it , didn't you ?
Jussi Huotari: No, I never went farther North than Karhumäki (Medvedyegorsk). We were operating from Hirvas.
Antti Tani: I, too, did fly from Hirvas.
Jussi Huotari: But it is Tiiksjärvi that was there.
Antti Tani: Was it Tiiksjärvi ?
It was Tiiksjärvi that was the farthest fighter base that Finnish Air Force had.
Antti Tani: Well yes, it must have been Tiiksjärvi.
A base in the middle of almost nothing.
Antti Tani: Once I arrived at Tampere to ferry a plane so I asked whether I could get my old fighter. "No, that one was given to Tiiksjärvi. They took it already".
Yet you could fairly long fly missions with one single plane, it was the MS-311, wasn't it?
Antti Tani: Yes it was me who flew it, it was my namesake really. Many a pilot did not dare to fly it because it did not have back armour. But it was far better in battles against the Tchaikas, far more maneuverable. If it had been equipped with the back armour, there is no telling what could have happened. Yet I did not manage in bringing down any Tchaikas. But I did get to shoot at some, damaging them, but I did not see any of them crash. Once me and Linnamaa flew to the enemy air base at Lotinannpelto (Lodeinskoye Polye) and taunted them. Three Tchaikas took off to chase us. We climbed in a cloud, then cruised in it for a while, and as the enemy had passed us it was easy to dive after them. In this case a split pin had dropped behind the bolt of my cannon and prevented the bolt from completing the cycle. I had missed two shells before that.
Was that due to too much G ?
No, the cannon jammed just by itself. After three loading operations it fired once. That was what it was like.
The book tells about pneumatic valves, and I have also personal experience about them: If a pneumatic valve gets ever so little humidity it is going to freeze either on or off. When an aircraft flies in a cloud humidity may condense in the structures and freeze pneumatic systems.
(Ed.rem. refer to "Jatkosodan ässä" p.136: in a dogfight a cannon did not fire one single shell, but when the fighter had landed and it had stood some time in the dispersal it spontaneously fired all 55 shells in one burst. The heat of the engine finally unfreezed the cannon lock system and since the pressure was on the weapon went off.)
Antti Tani: There really were all kinds of incidents...
The French had the same problem with the freezing cannons. When engaging German bomber formations their fighter pilots tried to shoot, so it was the same: One or two rounds, then the cannon jammed.
Antti Tani: The Morane had pneumatic systems everywhere. Once I ferried to Tampere one Morane, this incident may be described in the book about me, as an engineer began to interrogate me about the authority to a modification... There was a pipe, about as thick as your finger, extending about 4cm from the surface for pressure air feeding. The original configuration consisted of a flap that had to be pushed open and then reach for a heck of a depth for the connector. That was the old pressure air replenishment system.
The mechanics used to curse the system every time using it, their fingers were bleeding each time and they had all sorts of problems when they had to replenish the pneumatic system of the plane. Then they did this intelligent modification, the piece of protruding pipe did not affect the speed of the fighter. Its diameter was less than your finger is thick, maybe half of it. It was about this the man began to shout at me. I told him, "I am not the one to give orders about modifications, I am just a Staff Sergeant without any authority. There is a Major in our base, why don't you give him a call." He turned crimson.
(Ed.rem. This happened probably in Nov 1941 as Tani ferried two Moranes from Naarajärvi to the State Aircraft Factory in Tampere. Having handed over the other one the factory man receiving the plane began to interrogate Tani in the style "What have you done to the pressure air container replenishment valve? On your own authority, did you ?")
About the propeller and the radiator of Morane
The Moranes had several different propeller types, didn't they ?
Antti Tani: There were three or four different types of propellers. There was one that was adjusted with a push lever, then another with a push-button ... Some were electrically adjustable, some pneumatically...
(Ed.rem.:Four propeller types: Chauviere adjustable, Hamilton Standard, Hispano-Suiza and Ratier standard speed props. Also Escher-Wyss standard speed propeller was tested in some aircraft.)
Do you know which was the original French propeller, was it the pneumatically adjustable ?
Antti Tani: Yes, that was it.
Then there was the probably Swiss Escher-Wyss electrically adjustable propeller. According to literature it provided the best performance ?
Antti Tani: Yes, that type was the one with the best performance
Then there were two different French propeller types.
Antti Tani: That meant that every time a pilot climbed in the cockpit, the first thing to check was the type of controls, after that the rest of the check list. This was to avoid pilot error at takeoff. For example the Morane when delivered was equipped with power adjustment lever that was pulled. Later they were modified to push type.
Did the lever itself remain, just with reversed action ?
Antti Tani: Let me think? Initially the lever was pivoted from the end, pulling it increased power, then the pivoting point was modified in the middle of the lever so that pushing increased power.
Were both versions in use at the same time ?
Antti Tani: No, they were modified all at one time. But there was one incident ...there was this 2nd Lt who kept asking to fly that Brit plane, Hurricane, some of which were received after the Winter War. It was equipped with pushed power adjustment lever. He took off and then prepared to land. At approach as he should have applied more power he turned down the engine. So the plane crashed just at the perimeter of the airfield, on the edge of the railway embankment. He lost his life when he was flung out. He was leaning against a tree sitting on the ground. He looked quite normal, I felt like telling him, "get up man, what are you waiting for ?" He did look like he were alive, his eyes were open and kept staring. I happened to be the first one to get to the scene, even though our commanders shouted like wolves "Pilots, stay out of there". They thought that if we see corpses we shall become timid. They did not understand that corpses are not to be feared, they are dead.
Let us talk a little more about the Morane technology. It was equipped with retractable radiator. How long did it take to extend it, was it manual or automated ?
Antti Tani: Automated it was. But it was possible to extend it with a lever, it went down with a hiss.
Did it have any other positions between up or down ?
Antti Tani: It could be pushed all the way down or in-between or any position, there was an adjustment lever for it.
Did it affect performance if the radiator was extended?
Antti Tani: It did affect... I never had to do anything about it, the radiator was extended automatically when the coolant was hot enough. It was extended little by little. I never thought about the speed reduction. Of course I knew it slows the plane to have the radiator extended. But I cannot tell how large exactly the effect was.
It was like the Messerschmitt, the radiator was thermostat controlled ?
Antti Tani:Yes, it was regulated by thermostat.
Morane against Pe-2 and other fast aircraft
Did you have any special tactical tricks when Morane began to be slow , especially when intercepting Pe-2 and other faster aircraft. How did a Morane pilot cope ?
Antti Tani: Well, the thing to do was to climb to be able to dive to get speed if you knew that a plane was coming. There was no other trick.
You could not climb and stay in contact ?
Antti Tani: No, you absolutely were not able to follow one. I shot down the other Pe-2 at Äänislinna after it had flown over our base. I had a young wingman, with no battle experience, and he began to chase the Pe-2, abandoning me. He never caught it, the distance just kept increasing. But I had thought about tactics. I headed for South while the enemy Pe-2 headed for North. I estimated which route he would take for return: the railway line or the Lake Onega coastline. And I guessed correctly, it was the railway that he followed on his way to South. He passed me about 200 meters above, and then we were flying in parallel courses. He passed me and as soon as he was above the Latva railway station, he turned back having spotted a train at the station. Then I changed direction, I estimated that he would bank and as soon as he shall return to straight course I shall have a chance to shoot. So it happened, as he returned on level flight I pulled up to the same altitude. I was below him so that he would not be able to spot me, then pulled up on the same level and hit one engine. Then it was easy to catch him as he had one dead engine.
(Ed.rem. Date Feb 21 1943, MS-619. Described in "Jatkosodan ässä" pp.198-202)
Tani tells about chasing Pe-2. Finnish.
MP3 sound file. Finnish. Lenght 4:17 min, 500 kb.
How were the Pe-2 manned, with one or two gunners? Did the radio operator use the belly gun?
Antti Tani: The bomber used the dorsal turret and the gunner the belly turret. Well, I don't know exactly whether it was the radio operator or just a gunner using the belly gun. The dorsal gunner did hit me with one bullet, an incendiary bullet hit the undercarriage wheel site and there was a puff of smoke. I had flown next to him and signaled the fellows to turn and follow me. The fellow behind the MG just shook his head. Then I was enough of a fool to throttle back and then that devil began to shoot.
A nasty man.
Antti Tani: Such a nasty man. Stupid enough to start shooting at a friendly man, I was in a way inviting them to visit us. He started shooting and with live ammunition, moreover. Fortunately the tyre was not punctured but the damage was contained. I smelt the smoke and then I knew that devil hit me. Then I climbed higher and gave him one burst. He went into a spinning dive and hit the forest. All three men of the crew survived.
They were really lucky.
Antti Tani: Yes they had good chance. But as our infantrymen surrounded their plane, they fired their guns as long as they had ammunition and then each fired the last bullet through his brain. Only the bomber survived. By accident he had fired his pistol empty and he did not have anything to kill himself with and he was captured. Me and Alitalo decided to go and talk with him, we found out that he would be sent to Finland in a train. We arrived at the station just to see the last carriage as the train had just departed. We had missed our chance.
You used to carry fragmentation bombs when on patrol ?
Antti Tani: Yes, they were 12.5 kg bombs. I carried them almost every time. There were some scrambles when I did not have any time to have them loaded on. I dropped them here and there, and once I dropped them and received 12 holes. It was a close shave. Luckily the engine was not hit. The wings were full of holes and two exhaust pipes had been ripped off. A splinter had swept the side of the engine, cutting them. I turned around and flew homeward for five minutes, all the time waiting for the oil temperature to go up. But during the five minutes the oil temperature did not change, I turned back and caught up with the rest of the formation.
Did you carry bonbs after that ?
Antti Tani: I did, every time. When there was a mission I always had bombs with me. It was interesting to drop them, for instance there was a village farther beyond Lake Onega where there were cows. Before bombing I saw there were women among the cattle. I dived and fired a brief burst to the side. As the women had ran away I dropped the bombs on the cows. I had warned the women to get out of the way, and they would have beef to eat.
Morane in general
That is what our foreign friends wanted to know about the Morane. In general it was a pleasant plane to fly and the engine was reliable, I believe. But the armament had something to hope for ?
Antti Tani: I do not think anybody found any blame with the engines. I know of only one accident due to engine malfunction, yet they were flown quite a lot. I never heard anybody blaming the engines, they were fairly reliable.
Talking with Hemmo Leino he had an opinion about this Berezina machine gun. Everyone has been praisin it, yet it has been said to get jammed, the ammo belts had been broken and other problems had been found. Leino thought that the armourers had fiddled too much with them, doing whatever they did, loading too much ammunition and so on.
Antti Tani: That could be true. Actually, I do not think I ever fired the Berezina in battle. Once I tested it when ferrying a plane from Tampere. I tested in on a lake, and as I landed I was asked "what did you shoot at over there". I saw a black something in the middle of a large lake I was flying over
Could it have been an ice angler ?
Antti Tani: It wasn't an angler, but I wanted to test a new weapon, the Berezin, that I never had had before. I did test it and immediately I was asked "what did you shoot at".
Which 12.7 gun did you have installed, was it the Colt ?
Antti Tani: The Colt it was, there were one or two of them. Our flight had only one I think. It was mounted in the 407 if I am not wrong. But the one chance I had to have a good shot at some Tchaikas the gun refused to work. When the Tchaikas had disengaged I managed to made it work having fiddled the switches for a long time. I had to turn switches and dials this way and that, and suddenly it fired all right.
How were the weapons selected, different triggers or a selector for weapons ?
Antti Tani: There was a trigger for the cannon and a finger trigger for the rat guns.
In the same manner as in the Messerschmitt ?
Antti Tani: Yes, in the same manner. Oh yes, there was this brake switch, now I forget what it was for..
I have been told there was a switch. Reading your book I remember there it was told there was a selector switch: wing guns, engine gun or all of them.
(The cockpit diagram of the Morane is produced for reference)
Yes indeed, there on the right side are the keys that had to be pushed down. Brake button is the one there. Usually all those keys were depressed to select all guns...
And there was just the finger trigger on the stick ?
Antti Tani: Yes, that is how it was. That one is the brake, you did not dare to push it very much because the brakes were at once blocked. You had to kick the rudder pedals and the side which you pushed would brake. If you pushed the button just a little too much the wheels locked.
So there were no brake pedals, but brakes were connected to the rudder pedlas?
Antti Tani: Yes, you had to use the pedals .
You pushed down the brake button and then kicked the rudder pedals?
Antti Tani: Yes, the brake was engaged when you kicked the pedal to the bottom, else no effect.
Both wheels were engaged simultaneously when braking.?
Antti Tani: Yes, both wheels were very easily engaged. I had to brake suddenly a couple of times and at once I had the feeling that the wheels are locked.
Morane and Brewster, manouvering and performance
What about the maneuverability of the Morane, it was pleasant to fly, obviously?
Antti Tani:At least I think so. It was pleasant to fly, it was not as heavy to manouver as for example the Messerschmitt was. The speed was different, however. The, let us say, 100 kmh more speed had quite a lot of effect. The Messerschmitt was far stiffer and I think the same applies to the Brewster.
Jussi Huotari: The Brewster was quite nice and pleasant to fly. Everyone usually praised it,it was a gentleman's aircraft. Wide cockpit for instance.
The BW did have a large cockpit,didn't it?
Antti Tani:There was room indeed. All I can tell is that I once sat in the cockpit but I just sat and looked.
Jussi Huotari: The fuselage had room for many men if they just wanted to go. Once there were one man, a big suitcase and a dog.
Antti Tani: I have heard that one, too.
Jussi Huotari:He landed but overshot.
Antti Tani: Did he not nose over ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot remember whether he nosed over on top of it all but after that no one was transported in the "boot".
Pokela also told that a mechanic had joined a mission as a stowaway. The pilot had wondered: someone grabbed his ankle. "What the hell...?" "Please do not rock the plane, I am getting sick".
Jussi Huotari: This kind of thing happened at least once when we were operating over the Gulf of Finland.
He told that he did not even know there was a passenger. It was interesting for him to look through the belly window which ahd not yet been painted over. The man had been sitting and watching there without informing the pilot. He was discovered not until on the second or third mission. "You are never ever more coming along."
Pokela was asked about the bottom window overpainting. What do you think, was it painted over or was it covered by oil and other dirt ?
Jussi Huotari: I think they painted them, though I am not sure. Could be the window was painted over during some maintenance when the plane was painted in any case.
There are some photographs on a Brewster, it seems that there is no belly window, it must be painted over ?
Jussi Huotari: It was good for nothing actually. You could not see anything through it.
Antti Tani: Yes, it was useless for seeing anything.
It was designed for aircraft carrier service, I think.
Antti Tani: I think so too
Jussi Huotari: Can't tell what it might have been for...
About the Morane, it was one for dogfights ?
Antti Tani: Yes, we had mostly dogfights. During the peace 1940-1941 we used to train for dogfight by dropping a small weighted parachute and then attacked it and banked around it.
There are several French reports stating that the MS406 was much faster and had a better rate of climb than FAF test results prove. Were our planes of worse quality or is the French data pulled out of hat ? Maybe the planes were too difficult to maintain properly ? The first lot of Moranes were brand new from France when received, weren't they ?
Antti Tani: As far as I know they were. I was over there once, ferrying them home, well, I could not tell how many hours they had logged, not having seen the documents. Yet I think they were quite new ones.
As the war dragged on, did the performance of the aircraft deteriorate significantly, or did they remain constant ?
Antti Tani: No, in my opinion the engine of the Morane was fairly good. It was jolly reliable in the respect that they did not stop spontaneously but just once during the 1940-1941 peace. I don't remember his name, but something happened to him during takeoff at Naarajärvi. He tried to land on a field and reached it, but he touched down in a ditch. And there was a helluva stone in the ditch and the plane hit it. He lost his life in the crash. Actually he landed on the field but there was a birch that nudged him enough to make him go in that ditch. Yes, damn bad luck he had.
Jussi Huotari about Brewster
Let us now talk about the Brewster armament, its functioning and reliability, having dealt with the Morane armament.
Jussi Huotari: Usually the guns worked somehow, it was just this single case of heads-on shooting as there was only one working gun. Usually most of them worked, I really cannot complain about them.
The Brewster was powered by a radial engine and it was a fairly loud plane. Was it the propeller or the engine ?
Jussi Huotari: It was probably the propeller when in low pitch that must have made the noise.
The propeller was fairly large, was it the prop blade tips hitting the speed of sound or anything ?
Jussi Huotari: The prop did produce acceleration when in low pitch. On high pitch takeoff was impossible.
Was the Cyclone a reliable engine ?
Jussi Huotari: It was in general reliable. One cannot blame it, unlike the Vihuri then later (in the 50's). One had to be careful with it and be prepared for emergency landing.
Antti Tani: So you had to do an emergency landing with the Vihuri ?
Jussi Huotari: I had to belly land on some lake.
Antti Tani: I came to see the plane on the lake then. I was the flight controller as he did the emergency landing. You were lucky to be able to land on the ice of that lake.
Jussi Huotari: I was on a low altitude flight and when heading for the base I banked at Kausala and observed some symptoms. One bolt was working loose in the engine. If you applied some more speed, or power, the noise increased. I preferred to land on the ice of the lake because it was such a good place.
Antti Tani: And there was a good manor over there.
Jussi Huotari: Yes, and the church of Iitti was near, it was a good landmark for the rescue team. You could even drive a truck on the ice and get easy transport.
Planes as gun platforms
How steady were the Brewster and the Morane as gun platforms, compared with the Messerschmitt for example? There are stories about Morane being a bit unstable with its short fuselage?
Antti Tani: The Morane was far more unstable than the Messerschmitt. It was far more stable in flight. Whether you were going fast or slow, she was steadier.
Jussi Huotari: At some time there were wing cannons (in the Messerschmitt) but it was considered they were unfeasible, three-cannon Messerschmitts. So the wing cannons were stripped off.
Kössi Karhila was the only one to love the three cannon Messerschmitt.
Antti Tani: The single time I got to shoot with the three cannon Messerschmitt, I did not like her, even though I shot down three IL-2. I fired one brief burst and at the second burst she began to veer as one of the wing cannons did not fire. Then I had to get as close to the target as ever possible and then take deflection in the wrong direction...
Was the other wing cannon jammed all the time in that mission ?
Antti Tani: Yes, it did not work, not a single shot did it fire. I had to kick down one pedal just as I fired to make the plane go straight for an instant during firing. I managed to shoot a brief burst when next to the target, pretty close.
But it was remarkable that those Il-2s must have been short of machine gunners. The wing planes of the formation had gunners, at least in two of them, but there was no gunner in the third ,at least nobody fired. And in the fourth plane, as far as I saw, there was no gunner.
But the gun turret was there ?
Antti Tani: Yes, the equipment was there.
There is a mention in a book about the gunner ducking behind the armour plate ? The crew of the Il-2 sat in an armoured "tub". A gunner, when facing oncoming bullets, may have preferred ducking his head to survive.
Antti Tani: Yes, they may have been hiding. It could be that the gunners abandoned their machine guns and hid themselves.
The wing cannon recoil was tremendous, wasn't it ?
Antti Tani: Yes, just huge.
But the rate of fire, on the other hand, was rather fast, wasn't it?
Antti Tani: Yes it was quite good... but I cannot recall how many round per minute it was.
Antti Tani's cannonboot Messerchmitt, MT-453, modeled for WarBirds III and dedicated to mr. Tani. More information about the "skin" here.
Comparing the armament of the Brewster with that of the Messerschmitt, that is .50 caliber compared with 20mm, which one was more efficient in your opinion?
Jussi Huotari: Since the cannon of the Messerschmitt was placed in the middle of the plane, it did not make the plane veer in any direction. All the guns were placed on the nose of the plane.
In your experience, which was the better weapon: four machine guns or one cannon ?
Jussi Huotari: I think the cannon of the Messerschmitt was about better, more powerful. And the weapons were concentrated in one group...
Antti Tani: The machine guns were next to the cannon, the distance was no more than this.
Jussi Huotari: Yes, the cannon was situated between the machine guns. If the cannon was working it was destructive.
Do you remember how the armourers loaded them, what type of ammunition was used ? High explosive,armour piercing, incendiary ? How were the ammunition belts loaded for machine guns and for the cannon ?
Antti Tani:I cannot recall anything about this. As long as I had the cannon in my Morane I loaded the drums myself.
What did you put in them ?
Antti Tani: I took every third round, opened the tip of the fuze and removed the striker, then replaced the tip. Because the shells exploded too soon. If a shell hit the cloth cover of an enemy plane, it exploded without piercing anything. Now when every third shell was a dud, it always pierced something
It means you created armour piercing shells ?
Antti Tani: Yes I did and it was totally forbidden.
Two fragmentation shells and one dud.
Antti Tani: Yes, one dud among the others regularly.
So the standard ammunition for the Hispano cannon was all high explosive ?
Antti Tani: Yes, all the shells were HE.
There was no delay action in the fuze then ? As soon as it touched something it exploded?
Antti Tani: Yes, the shell exploded at once. If the fired shell hit something stronger than newsprint it went bang. It was so sensitive...I cannot say if it was much of use. I created those dud shells and others flew missions and fired them. Although we had made an agreement with the armourers they did not always have the time to modify the fuzes. It was just picking out one part, which could be replaced if necessary.
It was me and Linnamaa who did that until strict orders forbid that. It happened so that they began to do the same in a depot and the first one at it, a Sergeant, lost his fingers. He must have been careless. He did not know that during war weapons and ammunition must be manipulated carefully.
What about the ammo belt of the Messerschmitt cannon, what was in it ?
Antti Tani: I do not know what was loaded in them. Did you ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot remember either.
Antti Tani: I cannot remember ever being told...I did see how the belts were loaded in the fighter but I did not know the type of the ammunition
Jussi Huotari: As to the Brewster I remember that there were tracer bullets.
Every third or every fifth?
Jussi Huotari: It could have been every fifth. I am not sure, however.
About armour in aircraft
One item being discussed has been armour and the effect of projectiles. When an I-153 was fired at with a small caliber MG the bullets just ricocheted. Some claim that the projectiles ricochet off the armour without causing structural damage. Is that true ?
Jussi Huotari: Well, how should I comment that...
Antti Tani: Of course hits damage the aircraft, its fuselage in any case
The fuselage is not armoured. For example the IL-2, the fuselage could be holed. But its armour could not be pierced easily. It could not be shot down by shooting at the fuselage with a cannon, I never did succeed in that. I used my ammunition once so that I fired at the radiators of the IL-2 and having got drops in my windscreen I knew they were holed. Then I fired the rest of the ammunition in the fuselage. It was to no effect. If you fired from the rear in the fuselage, you could see if you hit him. If the target continues straight flight, the pilot must be dead, but if evading, then he must be...
This one belly landed on a field, but he created new field for another 150m.
Jussi Huotari: I mean, if the enemy pilot does not evade, he must be dead.
Antti Tani:Yes, then you know that the man is dead. But the Il-2 for example was so well armoured that the pilot was behind three armour plates and often ignored being fired upon
Jussi Huotari: They did not do much of evasive action...
Antti Tani: He did not evade anything, he flew straight on. As he knew the game was up, his engine began to smoke and he had to belly-land, he saw a field and decided to land on it. Land he did but with too much speed, he ended up in the forest. He cut a swath of 150m before he stopped, there was just some steam rising.
Ground attack missions with Morane
You used Moranes to hunt Russian trains, didn't you ? Was the outfit based at Tiiksjärvi was one to do that? At least Valte Estama has told our friends in Oulu about hunting trains with Morane.
Antti Tani:They did do that. We also, but the Tiiksjärvi men often checked the railway line and took shots at the engines. I also stopped many a train by shooting up the engine. The engine must be approached from side and you can shoot at a long range. The engines were not armoured, although of metal, it can be pierced by bullets. A shot-up engine began to emit steam; there was a job for the Russian depot crews in fixing up the engine.
Jussi Huotari: We had been forbidden to shoot anything on the ground. Once I was ground strafing, but then it was cars that we shot at, Karhunen led us. In general it was forbidden.
Antti Tani: I did ground strafing pretty often, shooting at motor vehicles, horses, men. Once I strafed Russian trenches when our troops were going to attack. Even though our artillery was shooting there, we just dived there and ta-ta-ta!
Why were ground attacks forbidden for you ?
Jussi Huotari: To spare our planes. Magnusson forbade us totally to take such risks in vain.
Antti Tani: That was the reason. It was pretty risky.
Moranes did not matter so much, the Brewsters were more valuable, being the first line equipment.
Jussi Huotari: They were reserved for aerial battles, which is understandable.
Antti Tani: During the offensive stage of the war we continuously ground strafed. Also when we were based in Äänislinna (Petrozavodsk) and the offensive stage was over. We used to fly along every road and observe. A town called Puudoz was about 40km East and at least I cleaned my guns on its streets every time I was flying there.
Who was your commander ?
Antti Tani:I did not have much to do with (Maj.) Siren because we had bad relations with each other. I never talked with him about anything.
When serving in a front line Squadron you could do what you wanted to do ?
Antti Tani: No, but in the Flights. Of course I reported to my Flight commander about every mission and wrote the battle reports.
Troublesome Squadron Leader in LeLv28
Was Siren the same man who served at Kauhava after the war ? He was leading the last pilot course of the war. It could have been Pilot Course no.8 which had been interrupted, and the lads later came back to complete it. As far as I remember it was this Siren who was the leader of the course, and the lads had very hard time in getting to fly. Siren had not changed for better. The trainees suggested that they should make training flight clandestinely or with some kind of permission of the Allied Control Commission, but Siren did not agree. The lads complained to the Commander of the Air Force using their own channels about not being allowed to fly. Soon Siren shouted the trainees in a loud voice, asking who had dared to make a complaint... Then they were allowed to fly. You also had to bypass Siren if you wanted something, didn't you?
Antti Tani: Yes, that was what I had to do to get enlisted in the Squadron. He did not want to take me seriously. Then I addressed directly the Personnel Commander, Maj. Oskar Haaki in Turku in (June1940, ed.rem.) and I got the vacancy. Two other men, Yrjö Pulliainen and Martti Laitinen, were also enlisted at the same time. Siren gave me a hard time, he did. Twice he tore up my application for a vacancy and dumped them. It was because I had an ear problem and the doc at Kauhava told I would never be fit to be a pilot. Just because a small boil in the ear plagued me. The docs, too, are able to give quite some verdicts.
You did become an useful pilot, no matter what the doc said.
Antti Tani: Yes, I had to visit the Tilkka (Central military hospital) twice because of that problem. Our doc could not do anything about it. He just wrote recipes, maybe the thing he knew how to do. I asked him, could the boil not be cut open ? "No, no, you would lose hearing in that ear". As the boil began to trouble me the second time, he at once lanced it.
I was accompanied by a paramedic, a Corporal. The boil burst by itself in the train, and the doc examining me asked "why did you come here, the boil is open, don't need to do anything about it". I asked if I could return at once."No, you shall stay here for a week". It was the time of mobilization, men were summoned, yet he kept me there for a week. Then I was sent out, I was in Kauhava for a week and after a week I again had to visit the doc. Without grumbling he cut the boil open and I had to stay in bed for another week. Our course was doing exams and I could not attend . No wonder that I ranked as the last man of the course. The worst trainee, as it is said.
Fighting against better enemy aircraft with Morane and Brewster
What did you do as the enemy upgraded from I-15, I153 and I-16? The Morane was pleasant to fly but how did you cope against the Hurricane and other modern types ?
Antti Tani: I never encountered with Morane any faster fighter than the I-153 was. I never saw any other types except the Tchaika and I-15. Of course the Pe-2, I chased them in 6 or 7 cases and got to shoot at some of them. But not being able to chase them, I had to try to do make the best of each situation.
What about you, mr. Huotari, to which date you flew the Brewster ?
Jussi Huotari: Up to early 1944.
What we would like to know is how could the Brewster pilots fight against the new enemy fighter types?
Jussi Huotari: It was rather tough to fight against these, what were they, Lagg-3's.
Antti Tani: That was the first modern type
Jussi Huotari:Yes, these came first and with the Brewster you could fight against them so-and-so. But the following fighter models were superior in comparison. Then it was tough even though we had the Messerschmitts.
Antti Tani: Yes, there was the Yak-9.
Jussi Huotari: You were in trouble with the Yak-9s.
Messerschmitt and vertical dive
According to the statistics you have at least one Yak-9 on your account. Is it true that the Messerschmitt was able to shake off the best Russian fighters using climb or climbing turn ?
Jussi Huotari: Well, my idea about the relative performance of the Messerschmitt is different. Once I tried but I could not disengage but resorting to vertical dive.
So the vertical dive was how to disengage.
Jussi Huotari: That was the remedy.
Antti Tani: That is how I survived when attacking two of them and losing the first round. They had more speed because I was coming from a lower altitude.
It was nothing special, the (Yak-9) planes were climbing and began to turn back. I had planned to get to shoot at them as they have lost their speed in the turn. But I was not in the right position. I turned at them and pulled the nose up - and I lost my speed, I had to turn below them. I had to push the stick to get behind them, and as they dived at me I dived right down. I turned with ailerons a couple of times, and had full power on.
Then I started recovery from the dive, of course in the direction of home, then checked the dials, the reading was eight hundred plus kmh. Then I started pulling the stick, pulled harder as hard as ever: never in my life did I pull so hard. I pulled with right hand and tried to trim the horizontal rudder with my left hand. But it did not budge, as if it had been set in concrete. But by the by the nose began to rise, but terribly slowly. As my angle was about 45 I heard over the radio as Onni Paronen said, "hey lads, look, a Messerschmitt is going in the sea!" I wanted to answer back but I could not afford to do anything put pull with two hands. As soon as I had returned to level flight and had been able to breath normally for a while, I in a way regained consciousness. I pushed the transmitter key and said "not quite". It was a close shave.
Tani dives and tells about chasing IL-2.
MP3 sound file. Finnish. Lenght 6:15 min, 918 kb.
It was so hard that you almost blacked out?
Antti Tani: I felt I was on the edge, pulling as hard as I ever could.
(Tr.rem. date Sept 4 1943, MT-223, interception mission to Suursaari, pilots Luukkanen, Tani. Paronen, Alakoski)
Manouvering the Messerschmitt, "both slats open"
Did you ever black out in a battle when flying the Messerschmitt ?
Antti Tani: Me never
Jussi Huotari: I never pulled so hard as to black out but sometimes I did pull the stick so hard that I felt I was about to.
In a battle, which was the case: did the pilot endure more than the Messerschmitt could do or vice versa?
Antti Tani:The fact is that when you pulled hard enough the wing leading edge slats slammed open. After that the pilot could not tighten the turn. The plane would have stalled. I don't know, I never tried to find out what the plane would do after that. I never heard anybody else saying that he would have banked so hard that the slats came out. I did that a few times, for example once over the Isthmus I tried to turn after an enemy, banking so hard that both slats came out, but I had to give up.
How did the slats behave in such a situation, did they go in and out ?
Antti Tani:It depended on speed, if you pulled more,they came out, then back in
The slats came out completely, never half-way?
Antti Tani: I never came to watch them so intensely. You just knew they had come out, you could see them and feel that the lift increased pretty much.
The plane warned that now you are on the edge?
Antti Tani: Yes, you knew the plane is about to spin. The one I was chasing that time, he was lucky. He escaped in a cloud. I emerged from the cloud, and ended up behind him, distance five meters. I spotted some IL-2s when flying above a cloud, or a cloud layer came between me and them. I decided to fly through the cloud and engage the Ils. When I came ouf of the cloud there was a plane ahead of me, less than ten meters away. I could as well have collided with him, but fortunately there was this margin of ten meters. But I could not recognishe him, no national insignia, no symbol of any kind. I had to pull aside, the damn pilot saw me and applied full power, pushed his nose down and banked very hard. It was not unti then I saw the Russki stars. Well, he was out of my reach by then. I should have squeezed the trigger as soon as I had seen him. It would have been a single burst affair, but I missed the chance.
When I managed to turn enough to see I noticed the black exhaust trace he was emitting. I looked at the black trace and fired at his direction. By that time he already was in the cloud, I could not see him, I was a little below him when shooting. The cloud layer was not very thick, two hundred meters or less. There he hid and escaped.
In conclusion, do you both think that sooner a plane is lacking performance in a turn than the pilot is out of endurance ?
Antti Tani: The fact is that banking a pilot can black himself out. If you just pull hard enough and you have enough speed, you are bound to lose your consciousness. If there is speed enough, the plane is gong to spin or something. What would happen, I never pulled a Messerschmitt so that she would have spun. Yet I did pull so hard that the slats came out. I do not know how much more I could have pulled, but the result would have been a vertical dive. What is the use if you pull hard and your plane spins, your target is gone, there is no way to catch it.
Did you ever have to do anything like that with an enemy behind your tail?
Antti Tani: Seldom behind my tail. Once I had a LaGG-3 behind but someone shot him down before he could hit me. It happened over the Gulf of Finland
Visibility from the cockpit of the Messerschmitt
How well did you see out of the cockpit of a Messerschmitt ?
Antti Tani: As we got the Galland canopies they were a little better, wasn't it? (To Jussi Huotari:) You got the G-2s with the hard canopy ? (discussing canopies) The frames were darn wide. The lighter canopy was much better, you could see much better from there. The G-2 canopy was a problem. I remember once we had been scrambled over the Gulf of Finland, we were flying around Seiskari island and there was a lot of planes in the air. The first leg of the flight went well, but then I got more and more oil on the windscreen. I sprayed it clean with petrol, but as soon as the petrol had evaporated there was oil blocking my view. I had to do it time and again, I saw many times a Messerschmitt and the enemy he was shooting at. Then the windscreen was again blocked. I sprayed, banked, saw nothing, then three or four planes, spray, again nothing visible. I was turning about for a while, then thought, "hell no, this is no good. It is useless to stay here". I flew to the base and the mechanics worked hard to eliminate the leak.
(Studying a photo of the Messerschmitt cockpit )
The petrol spray switch was somewhere there on the right side ?
Antti Tani: That is the problem, to remember that. Wherever was it?
Looking at the movement you did with your right hand (Mr. Tani had by instinct moved his right hand when telling about the matter)
Antti Tani: Yes, it must have been someplace on the right side. This happens, my hands and fingers remember this sort of things better than my head. There is a fuel line, it must have been there someplace.
There on the tip of the control column is the gun trigger and a safety cover on top of it, isn't it ? What is the push button on the left side ?
Antti Tani: It is the radio. Was it not the radio (transmitter) key ?
Jussi Huotari: The radio was on the right side, wasn't it ?
The radio (transmitter) key of the Messerschmitt was placed on the power lever, wasn't it ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot remember. It can be on the power lever.
(Thinking about the bomb release switch placement)
Antti Tani: I wish I could remember which button I pushed. We did bomb with the Messerschmitt an islet in the Gulf of Finland. A rock, well, it is an islet in a way. The first one was short of the target but two following ones were hits. I did hit the island, it was not very large, a little more than ten meters long and as wide, such an islet.
Jussi Huotari: A blotch.
Antti Tani: A blotch yes and we bombed that.
(Ed.rem. Fighter-bomber practice end of May 1944 in Kymi, 10 pilots practiced with 50 kg concrete bombs.)
If you do not know what that button was for, could it have been for the methanol?
Antti Tani: It could be, but it is on the power lever.
If it is for use in the MW-50 water-methanol injection system, which the Finnish planes did not have, it is in a funny place down there. The pilot would have had to use his hand to operate it.
Antti Tani: That is true. I have a recollection of the switch being here on the right side.
Jussi Huotari: On the left side there was nothing else but the power adjustment lever. And undercarriage, stabilizer and trims.
And next to them the flaps.
Jussi Huotari: All flight controls were on the right side. And on the left also all sorts of things. Radios and related equipment.
Antti Tani: Do you remember ? We had throat microphones, we did not have to push any keys, just talk?
Jussi Huotari: Yes but you had to push a key if you wanted to talk with another plane.
Antti Tani: This matter is all dark for me.
Jussi Huotari: If you wanted to contact someone you had to push a key.
So the flight control heard you all the time, but for communication between the aircraft the (transmitter) key had to be pushed?
Jussi Huotari: The flight control had to be heard using the same buttons when talking with the other planes. The transmitter key must be there, there could not have been many switches.
Antti Tani: I cannot remember any more where the buttons were...
Jussi Huotari : The oxygen feed and things like that are here on the right.
Antti Tani: That is right.
Jussi Huotari: It is such a long time ago, I have problems in remembering. And my memory is pretty vague anyway.
Talking about Desants and destroyed documents
(Tr.rem. Desant is a Russian word, meaning among other things a parachute trooper. The word was used by Finns to describe Russian diversants or commandos parachuted deep in Finland for spionage and sabotage)
Antti Tani: Two enemy fighters belly landed on a field a little South of Kymi. The enemy pilots were searched for by so called soldier boys. They were over fifteen years in age but not yet old enough for the army. (Members of the Civil Guard, with some military training, tr.rem) They found both pilots. But there were desants who were not captured, some were, for example two near Utti, one near the present-day cemetery and the other one at the far end of the airfield.
For example in Orimattila two desants were captured, I do not know what they were doing. They were operating all over Finland. My parents were living in Ylistaro. One desant was caught there. The enemy had attempted to drop him near the Lapua Cartridge Factory but he parachuted in a wrong place, several dozens of km off. Troops from Vaasa came, old men, to hunt them and they were caught.
(Talking about Finns harbouring desants and communists (The communist party was illegal up to 1944, tr.rem.) And then we digress talking about attics)
Antti Tani: Jussi, were you there when the HQ attic was cleared after the war ?
Jussi Huotari : No
Antti Tani: If you were not, I was. Documents that should never have been destroyed was dumped. Just like the aircraft were destroyed. My gosh, I cannot but wonder. Three or four of us were ordered there, leaf through the documents and decice which to save, which to destroy. We said that how can we know what to save and what not. I cannot remember which of our commanders was there, we kept arguing for a while. Someone said: "Just go and go through the documents, put everything unnecessary aside and we shall burn them up." We had been clearing the documents for a while as a lorry arrived and we were told "carry everything on that lorry". They took them on a dump and set them to fire. Just insane action.
Brewsters were destroyed in the same manner.
Antti Tani: Yes, the Brewsters went, the Messerschmitts went to oblivion. Sixty pennies a kilo, I think?
All our bomber aircraft had the same fate.
Antti Tani: If I had had money back then, I would have bought a Messerschmitt. I would be a rich man now.
For example the last surviving Brewster: It was placed in a park for a toy for children. Being in bad condition it was dumped below the basement of the Näsinneula tower by the City of Tampere...
Recoginizing aircraft in the air
How did you identify aircraft? If there were no visible national insignia for example?
Antti Tani: It you could see the nose or the fuselage, you would look for yellow colour. There were also German planes without that. At one time Germans were flying in the same airspace as we did. I remember how once someone shouted over the radio "Don't shoot him, hell, he is German" We were on the Carelian Isthmus. Who was he, he used to be in your (Huotari's ) squadron (24). He wanted to shoot down a Stuka taking it for an Ilyushin, because he did not have yellow stripes. The German Crosses were there but he did not see them, coming from right behind.
Interesting that Germans should not have had the East Front marking ?
Jussi Huotari:Tchaikas were used by Finnish Air Force
Antti Tani: Yes, that is true. Were they I-15s?
Jussi Huotari: No they were I-153s, taken as war booty. One flight operated them at the Eastern end of the Gulf of Finland.
Antti Tani: Yes, on the coast, which place was it ?
Jussi Huotari: Makslahti.
Antti Tani: Makslahti it was. I ferried one I-15 there once, from Kymi.
Jussi Huotari:The base was called Römpötti.
Antti Tani: It was next to Koivisto, on the mainland
About the Germans in the Kuhlmey strike force, they were the Stuka Gruppe 3. Those Stukas may have been without East Front markings, they were dark green planes. To inform the AAA there were yellow under surfaces of wingtips and a partial band below the fuselage. Nothing yellow on the top surfaces. The FW:s belonged to JG54. They painted their aircraft just as they pleased. There were green ones, khaki coloured ones, there were Russian colours and all possible colours but no yellow band on the nose. The Germans had complete markings at the start of the war, but seeing that the Russians often omitted even the red stars on the wings. They did not want to make their aircraft too easy to spot.
Antti Tani: I agree about the Russian insignia. In this case it was on the fuselage sides only. I saw the wings from above, they were blank, I thought he could be a German. I approached to check and he escaped.
Valte Estema also told that he saw a straggler, recognizing it as a Russian. He attacked from a good position and was about to fire as he became a doubt ; "If the bastard is a German ?" He throttled back and approached on the wing. At first he saw no insignia, the aircraft was dark with dirt, just as he was next to it he saw a red star under oil and soot, but he spotted Estama and escaped.
Antti Tani: That is true, all kind of misidentification happened. A similar case was when I shot up a Finnish car on the ice of Lake Onega. I was assured many times over that there is no one of ours over there. Yet I saw a lorry full of men, running around and gesticulating to one direction. Well, I turned where they pointed and saw a man on a sleigh pulled by a horse and a car almost next to it driving in a high speed. I thought he was about to escape, because there was just a short distance to the shore. I decided: If I start with shooting at the man and the horse, the car is going to get in the cover of the enemy AAA in the meanwhile. Better to shoot up the car, then the horseman. I approached close enough and pushed the trigger, four or five rounds per gun went out before I realized: dammit, if it is ours? The car had turned 90 degrees, and one door opened. A man with a rifle came out. Then I knew he was ours. The rifleman took a kneeling position on the ice, aimed and fired, the Russian fell from the sled.
The story as told by mr. Tani.
MP3 sound file. Finnish. Lenght 5:06 min, 750 kb.
There was nothing I could do about it, I thought I better cover the fellows so that they can get out of the ice. On the enemy side there was a motor sled, its engine was running, it was in a splinter shelter but I could see him from above. They were just waiting for the Finnish plane to go away, then they would start. The horse was wise enough to make an about turn and and return to Finland. He did run fast for a while. The men in the car tried to come back, too, but after five meters black smoke puffed out from the rear end of the car. Two men came out, they began to chase the horse. I don't know how they stopped him, by shouting orders or something, but he did stop and the men climbed on the sled and waved their hands at me. I covered them, for one hour, more than one hour, I circled about until the men got next to the lorry, then I left for base.
When I had landed I told what had happened, shoud I refuel and go shoot up the enemy shelter and the motor sled? Our Flight Commander did not allow that, neither did Alitalo (Aarno Alitalo, SLM 71). That is allright, let us drop this matter, since they assured us no one of ours would be there. I told them, we cannot forget this, find out how many men I killed. Finally, after lengthy enquiries, they found out that one man was left dead in the car. Twelve 7.5 mm bullets had gone through the head. Did I not feel pissed off, dammit! I did also see the death notice of the man in a paper. I cannot remember his name. Someone got that newspaper to me.
Jussi Huotari: You could not help it, especially as you were told that anything moving would be enemy.
The Russians battle reports on the aerial battles at Kotka tell about encountering Finnish Focke-Wulffs, Finnish Macchis, Finnish Capprichis, Italian planes of any number
(About planes encountered by Mr. Tani)
Antti Tani: Some of them were Yaks, and I could just tell that there is a Russian plane. I could identify the LaGG-3, as soon as I saw one flying. That one was so slow, you see. But the latter types, they were going so damn fast that you could not tell, I for one could not tell with certainty which type it was. It was just a suggestion when seeing a plane going very fast. It is damn hard to identify correctly. In our records there must be lots of confused and multiple reports, and not just mine.
About confirming victories
Something quite exiting came up when I was talking with Mr. Hemmo Leino. He told me that Mr. Car-Erik Geust, who has managed to get to research Russian archives, has checked his score from the Russian point of view. His confirmed score is 11 and a half, Russian archives credit him with 22 - so far.
Mr. Geust has compared probable victories and damaged aircraft reported by Leino with Russian archive data. He found a recorded 22 aircraft shot down - more than confirmed to Leino. Those with the Allied point of view claim that Finns and Germans and every one else is exaggerating and only their records are reliable. The Russians should have shot down four thousand Finnish aircraft, for example. And the American bomber gunners claim to have shot down such a number of Germans that the figure is six to seven times the total German aircraft production in the Second World War.
Antti Tani: Well, this is another of those stories...
How well did you have to prove a victory ? Did someone have to witness ?
Antti Tani: You had to have a witness...
Or find the wreck?
Antti Tani: Yes, to find it.
Jussi Huotari: A witness was needed
Antti Tani: A ground based witness was also approved, for example our observation post at Someri in the Gulf of Finland. For example I remember very well one case over the Gulf of Finland as I was flying next to Kuijje Lahtela - although I did not know who he was while the battle was on. I was scrambled from Utti and saw two aircraft (over the sea). They were fired upon by AAA. At first I thought there were three, but it wasn't. It was just the German AAA projectile explosions between them. I went for the other one and began to shoot at him, at the radiators. At that time I did not know that I could have fired at the engine and the root of the wing, it would have had more effect. They were two IL-2. As soon as I came they turned back. Their intention had been to bomb, but I do not know what. They jettisoned their bombs in the water, they exploded and they turned, heading for East. Well, I kept giving bursts at one of them. Then I suddenly noticed: another Messerschmitt came and engaged the other one. Having fired at him the MT he pulled up above the target, like this ( showing with hands how the MT attacked the IL and pulled up in front of it) so the IL pulled his nose up and gave a broadside, Fortunately he did not hit, I shouted over the radio: "Hell, don't fly in the front sector, he' ll shoot you down!"
I cannot tell whether Kuijje (Capt. Kullervo Lahtela) heard me, and for some reason I never asked him later about it. Well, then the other (IL) belly landed in the water and sunk, it was the first one that I had been shooting at. Then we took turns in shooting at the other one. It descended so low that we could not shoot at him from below to hit the radiator. Again it happened that he pulled up his nose and shot after Kuijje. I thought, damn it, why can't he understand that an unhappy end was likely.
Again I shouted at him over the radio, and then Kuijje disappeared. I followed the enemy plane, escorting it until we were very near to Lavansaari. He was flying straight, then I fired him in the spot over the wing and behind the engine. I hit him and he begin to trace a little smoke and descend slowly, until he was on the wavetops. We approached the island and the AAA began to shoot at me. I thought "I am not going any further, he is bound to come down" and pulled aside. I looked and saw how the enemy belly landed near the coastline. He was a skillful pilot as he knew to switch the engine off at the right moment. He approached so close to the coastline that there could not be more than 10 meters as the plane stopped and started to sink slowly. I am sure the crew could get out on their own.
Jussi Huotari: I got in a dogfight against a Yak-9. I was the underdog, quite close to the water. The Yak-9 had bounced me from behind somewhere and the turning started. I pulled the stick, clenching my teeth, and he followed me. We completed four circles about, but then he disengaged and headed for East, for home. We had been on wavetops, altitude no more than 50m. I arrived at the base. I looked for holes but found only one, in the right wing.
G-2 or G-6 ?
Jussi Huotari: It was a G-6 at that time.
When doing the simulator you are bound to lose if you start turning against a Yak-9 at 50m. The Messerschmitts are configured so that you do not curve against Yaks, the only way to counter them is to climb high enough...
Jussi Huotari: Up, makes sense...
Up there the Yak loses enough power so that you can engage him. Or then you spiral turn until the Yak loses momentum. Quite a few old Messerschmitt pilots have told that you could have a dogfight with a La-5. But in the simulator the Russian planes are a little superior. Then a simulator pilot starts to think, how the **** could you veteran pilots survive and yet score so well.
(talking about the Finland-Soviet Union "games" flown in the WarBirds and the scenario on the battle of Kursk)
Antti Tani: Your simulations, that you are gaming with, are so much better than the originals. I was visiting my oldest son-in-law and he had the computer setup. You begin the game by taking off from an airfield. I started from the base and managed to be airborne without mishap. Then I started curving. But it was nothing like turning with an aircraft, it was such a jerky business... At times, even if you tilted and pulled, nothing happened. Then it was time to land, and I nearly could not make it. If you think about it, there were all the controls of an aircraft, pedals and everything, yet they did not function the way the aircraft controls work in reality. It was very difficult for me, and I told Jove, if this were a real plane, I could fly her. But this being this sort of apparatus, it won't work for me, Jove said he had been practicing for a long time.
Takeoff and trimming
Jussi Huotari: It felt dangerous when we were flying the introductory flights in the Messerschmitt. It was winter and the runway in Suulajärvi was just a narrow strip ploughed in the snow. Then we set about it. It was an insecure feeling, can I stay on the strip.
Did you change from BW to MT directly or was there an interim type ?
Jussi Huotari: No interim type.
In fact, someone stood on the wing and explained the instruments and ...?
Antti Tani: Quite. I was in the same situation, switching Morane to Messerschmitt without any interim type. There were three interim types in Utti that I should have flown. But all of them were being repaired, so Capt. Puhakka said, "no, let us leave them alone, have you done your homework about her ? (the Messerschmitt, tr.rem.) "Yes I have" I told. Go ahead, he said, "just remember that a Morane veers to the right and this one veers to the left, be prepared for that". I said, all right, and taxied off.
The prop of the Morane was rotating in the other direction.
Antti Tani: Yes, the prop rotating direction was opposite.
Jussi Huotari: You just had to remember to keep her in contact with the ground long enough, you did not try to use too little speed. Then you could control her.
Antti Tani: At my first takeoff (with a MT) it was about ten degrees that I veered to the left. I had planned to fly over the hangar no. 1 but ended up flying between the hangars no. 3 and 1. That much difference there was.
(Ed.rem. Tani was transferred to LeLv34 on Apr19 1943. The squadron leader of the Morane squadron would not have let his best pilot to another unit, but he yielded as Tani badly wanted to get to fly the Messerschmitt. Later Maunula was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross)
When I was over here in June, Mr. Tani told that he did not have to adjust the trim of a Messerschmitt after takeoff, what about the Brewster?
Jussi Huotari: You had to turn it pretty much, if your speed varied. You had to adjust according to your speed.
But the Messerschmitt needed less adjustment, did it ?
Jussi Huotari. Flying a Messerschmitt you did not have to trim very much
How much rudder did a Messerschmitt pilot have to apply, or was the rudder trim so adjusted that on a defined speed the plane stayed on straight course ?
Antti Tani: I think usually she went right on when doing 400 kmh. During takeoff you had to push the pedal. You got so used to it that you no more paid any attention to it. Although the first starts were often risky for many pilots. Many of them went in the forest, there was a "Messerschmitt corner " at Utti.
Jussi Huotari: If they allowed the plane to lose ground contact at underspeed, she was gone.
Antti Tani: Yes, you could no more control her.
So you had to keep the tailwheel on the ground long enough ?
Jussi Huotari: The wheels had to be kept in contact with the ground.
Antti Tani: Even if you did that she tried to (veer off). First you kept the tail on the ground, then picked up some speed and after the tail lifted you kept her straight with pedal.
Jussi Huotari: And you had to keep the ground contact until the rudder responded, you had to take enough speed to be able to control her. She kept veering to the left. There is the Messerschmitt corner in Utti.
Antti Tani: Yes, I wonder how many planes crashed there? Must have been five or six at least.
Could they not have cleared the trees ?
Jussi Huotari: Yes, they shold have cut the forest off so that takeoff could have been possible. Quite a many planes were lost there.
Antti Tani: At Suulajärvi there was one pilot in introductory training. There was a bump on the runway, it lifted the plane up - and she was uncontrollable. His flight commander gave him another plane as he had been pulled out - nothing worse had happened to him. "Do another takeoff" and he hit the very same bump again. After that his commander did not recommend any more. Then he was transferred, he got posted in a bomber squadron where he broke one more plane. Could he have been Nipa Katajainen ?
The last mission of Nipa Katajainen
Antti Tani: Nipa Katajainen, he did break at least three planes.
Jussi Huotari: Yes, one he flew at the wall of that house.
Antti Tani: It was the fourth one
Jussi Huotari: Yes, that is true, Nipa's war ended there.
Was it the Messerschmitt that hit the wall ?
Jussi Huotari: Yes, that was in Lappeenranta.
Antti Tani: The story goes that he was coming from the front line someplace. I was on the same mission, flying around, with a plane still with German insignia and without radio. She had just been delivered to Finland from Germany. I saw on the horizon a single Russian plane heading for home. Our base was Lappeenranta at that time. A gray smoke trace was spotted and I began to chase a Russian plane. I could not do nothing else, not having a working radio. I was pretty far from him when turning after him, I cannot tell if he saw me or not, anyway he pulled around and headed for home. I also turned back, on the opposite course. And when I landed there Nipa was, next to the wall. The engine was touching the wall, the plane at some distance and Nipa was sitting next to her.
The Messerschmitt was very sensitive if you forgot to lock the tailwheel, wasn't she ?
Jussi Huotari: That is true, she would turn very quickly.
It was Pokela who emphasixed that he told his trainees always to lock the tailwheel
Hemmo Leino described the turning characteristics of the Messerschmitt in an excellent manner: German (Bf109) night fighters were based at Malmi (in March 1944). When the Germans landed at night on the runway cleared from snow, they landed very nicely right on the strip. But, he said, there was a 10 by 10 meter spot where they in the daytime would crash their Messerschmitts. It was another Messerschmitt Corner, at Malmi. They flew like angels in the night, they flew missions over Estonia and where ever, then landed in the light of some torches, beautifully. Yet the same pilots regularly crashed (in daytime). Obviously they had to trust the instruments in the night and fly extra carefully.
Jussi Huotari: About Nipa Katajainen I would like to add that he must have been dazed by petrol fumes. He was fully intoxicated as the Russian shot at him. There was just more smoke, then the enemy broke off.
Antti Tani : I was in the base as he came. And when Hasse Wind landed (at his last mission) I was there, lifting him out of the plane.
Jussi Huotari: His arm was...
Antti Tani: Yes, as a shell had exploded next to him. It was me who lifted him out, Hasse did remember afterwards who had lifted him out. Was it the same day ? Could it have been the same mission ?
Jussi Huotari: No.
Antti Tani, No, it must have been another day. We were based in Taipalsaari. I was on another mission with Illu Juutilainen. Our petrol was so low that we had to land at Lappeenranta. We were refueling as Hasse landed. When he was evacuated he was at first transported in a wrong place, and finally they had to take him to Mikkeli to be patched up. The hospitals of Lappeenranta had virtually been evacuated away.
Jussi Huotari: That was such a case. Russians did shoot down a lot of Brewsters. Did you ever hear the one about Illu Juutilainen talking with a Russian general? The general told they had shot down four hundred Brewsters!
Out of 44 !
Jussi Huotari: Forty-four! Tall stories, aren't they?
Brewster as night fighter
I would like to ask any number of questions about the Brewster, but I did not know you would be here. So I do not have my Brewster notes with me.
Jussi Huotari: Well, is there anything special to speak about it?
It was a very special aircraft and special feats were carried out with it...
Jussi Huotari: Yes, we did fly a lot with it.
Here are some questions. Someone found in the War Archive a mention about some pilots being trained in 1944 to fly night interception missions with the Brewster. Does this sound familiar?
Jussi Huotari: Night interception missions with the Brewster? Sounds familiar to the extent that I was on that course, too. There were about ten of us in Immola.
Could you tell us about it ?
Jussi Huotari: Well, first we did night flights with the Viima. Then we trained more with the Viima. We used her as the target and sought her with the Brewster. We kept doing that kind of practice, about for a month. Nothing special about it. There were some lectures about the theory. Our commander was a Major, who was he, he was a good runner...He never stayed in one place and moved by running. Major Karu he was.
You flew in the night or at nightfall ?
Jussi Huotari: We used to fly up to midnight, sometimes later. But once, one night the Major was test flying a Brewster. One aircraft approached from the South heading for North. Major Karu was airborne for a test flight. He enquired if such a plane had been reported to fly. The flight leader had no idea and Karu went and shot it down. Then it was found it was German. It was transporting parachutists in Russia and Karu goes and shoots it down.
It was one of the things he did to become a Knight of the Mannerheim Cross. Another time he would shoot stone piers in flames in the Gulf of Finland. He did things like that and he was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross.
Antti Tani: Surely a Mannerheim Cross would have better been deserved by Kössi Karhila than Karu. And even better to him than to the Leader of our Morane squadron. The man who crashed in Lake Pälläjärvi.
Jussi Huotari: Who was he again...
Antti Tani: His sons became airmen later...
Jussi Huotari: Anyway, this night fighter course was completed in due time and we returned to our units.
The training was never applied then...
Jussi Huotari: As to me at least, no. I flew just two missions. Once I flew from Immola to the valley of Vuoksi river as tests were carried out, poles with lights projecting upwards. They were placed around the factories, the entire area was but a sea of light. I was ordered to report what I was able to see. But there was the smoke emitted from the chimneys. I saw nothing, everything was light, but there was the smoke from every chimney. I was ordered to fly at 2000m and and check if I could see the projectors and whether they would blind me. But if you looked just a little bit aside it did not bother you.
Then another time, a couple of weeks before the Russian offensive, I was ordered to reconnoitre what activities were going on near St. Petersburg. It was at midnight, about twelve to one or eleven to twelve. I went and peeked around. There were tents on the roadsides, campfires and the AAA fired at me as much as they could, but they did not hit me. This was the second case that I applied my night fighter training.
So you never flew actual night interceptin missions ? Were you ever in alert readiness?
Jussi Huotari: Never as night fighters. These were the only cases where some night flying skills were needed.
There is one case mentioned that the Brewsters were in action on the night of 19 March 1944 as Finnish bombers joined the stream of Russian bombers returning from Tallinn and raided their bases. On that night one unconfirmed kill is reported, most likely a Li-2, the copy of the Dakota, but I forget the name of the pilot, Turkka maybe.
Jussi Huotari: Turkka is a familiar name, but I do not know about this case...
Were the Brewsters modified in any way for this sort of action?
Jussi Huotari: No, just the standard aircraft. They were never actually deployed as night fighters but they were used for this kind of special missions.
Long range and good visibility from the cockpit maybe ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot tell, really... But since we had been on the course, it may have had some effect...
Antti Tani: Finnish pilots were in Germany on a night fighter course. Pokela was one of them, was he ?
No, not Pokela, but for example Olli Sarantola from Tampere.
Jussi Huotari: I don't know who were there but I have heard they were using the Messerschmitt (109).
One Finnish pilot was shot down by a Mosquito.
Antti Tani: Yes, I can't remember his name but he was a short fellow.
(Ed.rem. Bengt Ringbom, case 361 in "Kohtalokkaat lennot", shot down by a British night fighter on Aug17 1944 in Germany. After Staff Sgt. Tani had flown his last Morane mission his MS-619 was flown by Sgt. Ringbom.)
Incidents in the Morane Squadron
(Continuing from previous chapter)
Antti Tani: Our Moth had to make a forced landing as the pilot was fetching home one Captain of our squadron. He had made a forced landing and I was sent to take the plane home. One of the engine intake valves was split and the plane did not stay in the air, I, too had to make a forced landing. My weight was then 57 kg and the weight of this other pilot was 55 kg. Our commander (Capt. Sirén) was such a clever man that he deduced the other man could fly the Moth home because I could not. Thrice I tried but she did not take off.
I don't think the other pilot was able to fly her home ?
Antti Tani: He didn't. The plane had to be stripped and loaded in a train. I did tell our commander that our difference in weight is so smaa lthat it will not have any effect. He told me that "I know, he is a lighter man, I'll send him". I thought, yes, a couple of kilos. I better get out of there. He was an obstinate man, he certainly was. In every matter he was the wiser one although he did not understand what he was doing. Yet he had been fairly popular before. Before the war he had been involved in aviation activities but what had made him to do things like that. I know of many cases which the Squadron Leader should have taken care of and fast, yet he delayed his decision until tomorrow.
Jussi Huotari: He maybe wanted time for thinking...
Or he was unwilling to take the responsibility for anything...
Annti Tani: Or then... I remember when we were based in Lunkula, some pilots told that there was a Russian plane on the coast of Lake Onega, probably refueling. It had just landed, but our pilots had to return due to running low in fuel, they did not have a chance to shoot at him. The Commander was immediately informed and it was suggested that two planes could go and knock him out. "Well, we shall look at him tomorrow"- as if he would have been there tomorrow. Dammit, I thought, what a blockhead.
Did he fly any missions?
Antti Tani: Maybe the only case was as the entire Squadron joined him. We were about 25 planes I think. We followed him and we were supposed to fly to the Russian air base of Segezha to challenge them. When we had Segezha in our view and we were 10 km away as the Commander made a turn back and we all followed him. Our Flight was the last one. Our Division was led by Sec.Lt. Inehmo who then was shot down. AAA got him. Inehmo said over the radio, let us go and get that engine, we saw the smoke of a steam engine. The train was parked between two rocks. We four had a go at it, we had to attack in the direction of the railway line, we shot up the engine. Then we pulled up and suddenly Inehmo wasn't there any more. The AAA had hit him, he had to belly land on the ice of a lake. And he shot himself there. I thought what a thing to do, he did not think about it at all. He knew Russian pretty good. He would have had a cozy time over there.
(ed.rem. Date Dec25, 1941 Martti Inehmo, MS-618, Tani MS-619)
He could have cheated the Russians and humoured them.
Antti Tani: Yes, one of your Brewster pilots had been captured at Segezha, who was it ? Do you remember?
Jussi Huotari: Ahti Laitinen ?
Antti Tani: Laitinen was there (as POW)
Jussi Huotari: In spring 1944 he was.
Antti Tani: No, but earlier, in 1942.
Jussi Huotari: Paavo Mellin was there too
Antti Tani: Yes, Mellin. Paavo Mellin. He was taken to the air base in Segezha where his shot down plane was shown to him by the Russians. He told about it as he was exchanged (after the war). Inehmo would have survived as well, and he had good skill of the Russian language, yet he went and...
Jussi Huotari: Did Mellin not hint that he had a hard time over there
Antti Tani: It was he who had a hard time. That is what I want to tell, you see, he coud not know the language. But one with the language would find it easier to cope..
Jussi Huotari: The fact is that there was no food.
Antti Tani: There was no food, yes. But you see, he could have been employed as interpreter and things like that. The Russians might have fed him better. I thought that skill of languages is a benefit in that kind of situation.
I made my son study Russian, just in case. He is now working in the HQ of the Finnish Air Force. He got the job as soon as he graduated. Actually he was employed while he still studied. I had told him that there are reasons to know the Russian language, you must know it enough well to cope with it, to be able to listen to things that matter and correctly.
About Brewster vulnerability and the Brewsters in Lapland
So the Brewster was pleasant to fly and a nice aircraft. How well did it withstand damage and enemy fire?
Jussi Huotari: Well, she was vulnerable to enemy fire because of the fuel tanks in the wings. That made her vulnerable, just one hit and flames would be seen.
They were not initially equipped with self-sealing tanks?
Jussi Huotari: They weren't. Usually they were rubber lined but I think we didn't have them because they would burst in flames so easily. The fuel tank rubber lining would plug a leak in a moment but still there would be a fire
The engine, I believe, was reliable ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot find any other fault in the Brewster except it was sensitive in catching fire. Else, they were good planes. Excellent planes.
For a long time fast enough and maneuverable enough, weren't they?
Jussi Huotari: They had a long operating range...
You mainly employed pendulum tactics in combat?
Jussi Huotari: Well, that depended on the enemy planes and their position, whether we engaged them from above or below...
Antti Tani: According to circumstances.
Jussi Huotari: Yes. And as to the engine, I never heard anyone blaming it, I believe there were no forced landings due to the engine.
If that would not have been so, the BW would not have been used for recce missions in the Lapland War, up to the Arctic Ocean.
Jussi Huotari: I cannot say much about the Lapland War. Our Squadron was not there,the Brewsters were flown by HleLv 26, I believe. We handed over our planes to them, and it was they who took part in the Lapland war.
The 26, they were initially equipped with the Fiat (G.50)?
Jussi Huotari: Fiat squadron. The Brewsters were handed over to them. Then they got the Messerschmitt 109 G2s as the 34 received the G6 model?
Antti Tani: That is right. Actually they were first given to the 24 and from there on to other units. I wonder how many were left.
Jussi Huotari: That was not our worry. It was just the flying that was our duty, if you did that well there was nothing else to care about....
Antti Tani. The same in our unit. When in Taipalsaari at some time we had so much planes that we did not have enough pilots to flyl tem all. But soon we received more men. At one time the Germans delivered us more planes and some of them were still with German markings There was no time for painting.
Jussi Huotari: There were some, I once flew one
Antti Tani: I also flew one with German markings.
Loose trim tab and more about vertical diving
What about the Lapland War, how were the pilots flying there selected? Were they just ordered there?
Jussi Huotari: I think it depended on the Squadron they were serving in.
Antti Tani: Probably it was HleLv26 and TLeLv14 that flew there
Our Squadron had also received orders to participate with the Messerschmitts. We were based on Selänpää and all set to go. Then the final order was received unexpectedly, I and Lehtovaara were in Jyväskylä, I missed the train but Lehtovaara made it. I had to wait for the next train. Also Capt. Ami Euramo had been late. There were only two planes left, all the others had been flown to Utti. But I did not know about anything about thant. If the Captain would not have arrived and told me to follow him, I would have flown to Kauhava, then to Kemi. But he headed for Utti. I wondered why he is heading for Utti, but I had my orders to follow him. Then, half way to Utti, my plane began to squirm like this, the rudder trim tab had become loose from the top hinge, only the bottom hinge held. Dammit, my feet were shaken from the pedals. Such damn shaking it was. I thought, "what is it that has worked loose in the tail". I contacted the Captain over the radio and asked him to have a look at my tail, I could not keep my feet on the pedals and the rudder was working this way and that. He told me he saw nothing...
Was your plane equipped with the high tail?
Antti Tani, Well, I cannot remember that. You see, I had decided to bail out, but as I decreased speed I found that the shaking became less violent. Flying at minimal power I was able to control the shaking. I thought that I shall be able to land, the shaking will be tolerable due to low speed. I landed at Utti and it was successful, and the damage found was that the top end of the trim tab was loose. It shook so hard that I was not able to keep my feet on the pedals.
It was not a large piece, was it ?
Antti Tani: It wasn't, this high and this wide (showing with hands). But it was flapping in two ways. The repair was not a big operation, the mechanics just re-fastened it and it was all right.
The rudder must have been very strong to withstand the shaking.
Antti Tani: It had to be strong, both the rudder and the pedals, they withstood the damn shaking without any further damage.
Jussi Huotari: The Messerschmitt was a very tough aircraft. You could do vertical dives and the tailplane hang along...
Antti Tani: But Mäittälä, what happened to him, he lost the tailplane? Mäittälä dived like that, and being a strong man he was able to pull harder than I did. And so the tailplane was ripped off
The day before a similar dive and recovery had happened to the same plane. Two steep dives in succession and a strong pilot pulling the stick each time, so...
Antti Tani: It certainly was a risky job. I do remember Mäittälä, do you ?
Jussi Huotari: I cannot recall...
Antti Tani: He was in your unit.
Jussi Huotari: In the 24?
Antti Tani:I wonder how his name came to my mind, I usually forget names.
Jussi Huotari: I do not remember him at all
Antti Tani: He was one of your unit, but I was in another unit, yet I remember him. You see, it must be that I remember him because I did a dive like that and remembered his tailplane had been ripped off. I, too pulled as hard as I could, because I thought that I am going to die if I don't.
When you had enough speed flying a Messerschmitt it became stiff. How was the Brewster affected?
Jussi Huotari: She was affected by speed also...
Antti Tani: Every type is affected.
Which was the optimal speed for the Brewster, with the best handling qualities?
Jussi Huotari: Well, it was the normal cruising speed, it must have been three hundred twenty. We tried to keep her at that and it was the ideal speed.
Speed race, BW, CU, FA, MS in competition
Antti Tani: Do you remember when a BW, a CU, a FA and a MS had a race? They took off at the same time from Joroinen and landed at Naarajärvi. The BW arrived first, the Curtiss, The Fiat and finally the Morane. We were watching as they arrived with brief intervals, the Brewster was the fastest one.
Tani and Huotari think back about the fighter race.
MP3 sound file. Finnish. Lenght 6:11 min, 817 kb.
Jussi Huotari:I wonder how did they clock them ?
Antti Tani: You see, they started all at the same time. As they passed over the base they just recorded their order. The Morane was the worst one.
Jussi Huotari: Did they not manage to clock a time for the fastest one ?
Antti Tani: Well, the Brewster was the fastest one
Jussi Huotari: Did they fly with full power on ?
Antti Tani: Full power on, they had orders to use maximum power, and they did that
Was it a competition among the squadrons ?
Antti Tani: No, the commanders wanted to know. All instrument readings were recorded, I believe, although I was not involved. I was just watchng and thought, "must I fly such a bad plane?" The Morane lost the race...
When did this take place?
Antti Tani: During the Interim Peace. We were in Naarajärvi, the Fiats in Joroinen, and I do not know where the Curtiss and the Brewster were flown from.
I never heard about this speed race yet. Do you know of any other plane versus plane tests? Mr. Karhila told me that they had a captured LaGG-3 and they compared her against the Curtiss?
Antti Tani: Yes, they did do that kind of trials, it is a sensible thing to do. I for one never did a test like that. The one was the only test with four planes. And the result was clear.
About the performance of the planes - some fast, some not
Did the Moranes differ from each other as to the performance?
Antti Tani:They did somewhat. That is, the difference in speed must have been more than ten kmh. It depended on the propeller. The Hamilton was about the best, it was the fastest type. Usually we flew at two-eighty as cruising speed. The Brewster cruised at three-twenty. The Messerschmitt went four hundred kmh.
Jussi Huotari: 420, was that the cruising speed?
Antti Tani: The G-6 did less than that, the G-2 was faster. It must have been due the bulges and heavier weapons. You could notice the difference between the G-2 and G-6. The G-2 climbed better, too.
What speed did the fastest Morane do? What was the maximal speed?
Antti Tani: I never took note of that, it did go faster than four hundred indicated by the air speed meter. I think it was about 400 that the meter showed
The French sources claim speeds up to 485 to 520. I never heard of a FAF Morane doing 450 at any time.
Jussi Huotari: I find that hard to believe, too.
Antti Tani: I do not know...The speed depends on the altitude and other factors...
Do you remember how fast you dived with a Morane?
Antti Tani: No, but I know that someone dived at such a speed that the wing skin was creased. He managed to recover from the dive, he was just this 2nd Lieutenant who was killed..
But do you know what speed he had ?
Antti Tani: No. There was some speculation about that. I think that the figure of seven hundred would have been mentioned. He should have dived at that speed and as he recovered the wing skin was creased. The bottom skin had separated from the fuselage skin, some of it was bulged in and the tailplane was also a little creased, bulged in. It must have been a close shave. The wings had withstood the strain, but the fuselage... And the tailplane was damaged, too.
Here are some results of the Morane test flights, the diagrams of the results. Sea level speed 350 kmh, a little more, and the maximum at 4000 to 5000 was 400 kmh.
Antti Tani: Well, yes.
French sources claim about 520 at 5000 m and 400 at sea level
Antti Tani: Well, the speed is different in different altitudes
The result is quoted in the factory manual, which means advertising material
Antti Tani: And here are the facts...
The highlighted area is the average of several test flown aircraft. The fastest ones did some 440 to 450 and the slowest ones 400. This confirms what the French pilots say, the Morane was not as fast as she was promised to be. It was not a fast one, employing the technology of mid-30's. At that time it was a fairlyl modern plane.
Antti Tani: If it had not been so they would not have sold it to us. They sold them to us, because they had better types at that time. I was drooling when looking at them, I cannot remember the type. But the very appearance, when we were ferrying the Moranes, made us think that we would love to have those.
It was a French plane
Antti Tani: They were supposed to use them to defend themselves against the British but I do not think anything happened.
Could it have been the Dewoitine 520? The Germans gave some to their allies Italians and Yugoslavs. The Luftwaffe also used some. And the French had a chance to fight against the Americans with them.
Antti Tani: They did not let us even have a look at them. I tried to, but they beckoned to me to stay put...
You understood the French signals enough...
Antti Tani: I understood enough French to nod "yes" as they did this with their arms. It would have been dangerous to have a look at a better plane, we just had to be satisfied with the wrecks.
Experiences about flying Russian planes
You did fly the I-153, did you fly any other Russian types?
Jussi Huotari: Only the I-153.
What did it feel like?
Jussi Huotari: Flying the Brewster, it was many a time we had to fight the Tchaikas.
I meant, did you ever fly one yourself?
Jussi Huotari: Never did that...
Antti Tani: I flew an I-15 but it was a ferrying mission. I took off from Kymi, did some turns and loops, then headed for the destination. I wondered that when we fought against them, why did they not bank harder? Why on earth did they fly straight? If my Morane had been equipped with a cannon or other decent guns... Once as I got into their "Spanish ring" I could have shot down every one of them. But my rat guns were not working, only two of them did, I think, and I fired at each one of the four and thought that there is no way I can get any of them. I left the ring and they fired after me. It was a careless thing to do for me, I could have continued the fight. But having but the small guns I thought it was useless, nothing would come out of it. Had I had a decent weapon, I could have accomplished something.
Jussi Huotari: Once I had enough targets. I was straggling after a battle, flying a Messerschmitt as suddenly the sky became darker. I looked and saw maybe one hundred Russian bombers. Well, there were at least 50 and and fighters escorting them were flying behind them. I never before saw so much planes at one time. I thought, I can get one before the fighters come. I took one in my gunsight and approached to a good range, then fired, One engine caught fire, but then the escort fighters approached and I considered it to be wiser to hide in a cloud. That one bomber was the only one I got to shoot at during the entire war. One encountered them very seldom.
Antti Tani: Me, too, I never saw bombers over the Carelian Isthmus during the "rush hour" (in summer 1944). IL-2s only. Like the one time as Illu Juutilainen and I shot down five. They kept coming, eight to nine planes abreast and these formations extended as far as you were able to see. We began to shoot at the leading formation. I did think many times that now our entire squadron should be here, we would have really scored. This is described in my biography, I forget the date.
(ed.rem. Date Jul01 1944, mission to cover Ju-88s raiding ships at the Northern tip of Koivisto. After that recce to Terijoki. Pilots Luukkanen/Pokela, Juutilainen/Tani. Tani Mt-453, Juutilainen MT-457)
And as the Ils had been forced to retire, what happened years later:
Antti Tani: Paavo Laherto, you know him.
Jussi Huotari: I do.
Antti Tani: Paavo Laherto came to me as we were singing in a monthly meeting of war veterans. He came and embraced me, saying: "Antti, by G*d, you saved our unit!"
" You don't say so, where would I have been fighting?"
" In the Isthmus, of course"
" Please do not shout, man, people are going to hear us"
He had been reading his own diary where he had recorded this incidence. He told me, "I have been reading your book, it was you who flew there just at the same time as this happened, it was you who was one of the four flying there". "You were there and saved us, you shot at the Ils and they ran away". Their unit was in the middle of an open place and the Ils were just diving at them as we came. They turned away at once, releasing their bombs almost on their side of the front line. They disappeared but more were coming, yet they turned back. Of course they saw us and how we shot down two of them, then some more.
He said, "you saved my life".
They were sure that they would be in a bad trouble
"Let us shoot at fighters only, to keep our style" .- Juutilainen
Jussi Huotari: It would have been always easier to shoot at bombers, but Illu Juutilainen said that let us shoot at fighters only, to keep our style. Let us shoot at fighters only.
Illu Juutilainen was a kind of artist, wasn't he?
Antti Tani: He was a kind of artist really.
Jussi Huotari: We used to fly in pair with Illu for a couple of years. Then he was posted in the 34.
He wanted to fight against fighters only?
Jussi Huotari: Yes
Bombers were too easy for him ?
Jussi Huotari: Bombers were too easy.
Antti Tani: A bomber would fly straight. You just had to dive after them and open fire. Engaging a fighter you had to do something else than flying straight.
Jussi Huotari: Once I saw when we were on a patrol, our 3rd Flight. We were flying at ease as four bombers appeared, flying in the same direction. It was not long before each of them had one of us behind the tail and the bombers were in the forest. It was a rapid action, I never saw better in TV fiction.
Were you flying Messerschmitts?
Jussi Huotari: No, Brewsters. Those bombers were on a platter, each of the fighter pilots just picked his own.
Were they SBs or some other type ?
Jussi Huotari: Some in that style, I do not know for sure.
Wild stories are told about Juutilainen. Someone said he had an almost scientific approach. Juutilainen had been discussing fighter tactics and explained that having a La-5 behind your tail just carefully pull the stick just this much. Then when the La-5 shoots at you the projectiles are going to pass 30cm below the Messerschmitt. In a climb he cannot pull tighter than that.
Jussi Huotari: Illu said that ?
Yes, he knew it so exactly, sounds almost impossible but yet...
A lecture by Sarvanto about evasive action
As Hemmo Leino said, there was nothing else to do but keep pulling the stick and keep full power, and keep spiraling so much that he cannot hit you. No more than that, when looking back, straining your neck, and when you believe he has enough deflection, pull a little more to prevent him from hitting you. Illu may have known that from that angle the enemy would shoot 30cm below you.
Antti Tani: After the war I had an incident with Sarvanto. He was lecturing the pilots about evasive action and he drew a diagram ... were you there ?
Jussi Huotari: Where was it?
Antti Tani: In one of the Utti hangars
Jussi Huotari: Utti? No, I wasn't there.
Antti Tani: Anyway, he was lecturing and he had drawn on a blackboard a diagram with two aircraft. He explained that one of you is flying the first one, the target. And here comes another.on level flight and approaching within firing range. How to evade and what would be the best evasive manouver? He asked us what to do. Nobody put up a hand, Sarvanto beckoned me to answer. I told I would push the stick as hard as I could, the nose down without any thinking. If the attacker is within range, he would be prepared for the target to pull up and takes deflection. But if I dive, he shall be unprepared for that. After diving enough you can pull up and get to shoot after him. "NO - NO...or does anybody agree with Tani?"
Alapuro said: "I agree with Tani. That is what I would do"
"All right, NCOs will you kindly get out. Officers stay here."
After that we did not have to attend lectures. It was Sarvanto's snub...
Did you ever find out what was the doctrinally correct answer ?
Antti Tani: No, but he wanted to hear that we should pull up. Alapuro had to suffer from ít afterwards, he was but a Captain as the Major was lecturing. The lads in the NCO school told me later that you got away with it lightly. It was a clever thing to do, you did not have to attend any more...
Alapuro was expected to tell that no one agrees with Tani, that would have been what was expected. One dissiding person, it is something negative. Maybe because I often was the one with opposite opinion, everything did not always go as planned.
Jussi Huotari: Was Sarvanto in the same squadron as you were?
Antti Tani: No, his was another squadron but both squadrons were in the same base and the pilots were pooled. It was the lecturing room of the 3rd hangar. Everyone failed that exam.
The lesson with only one correct answer
Memorable incidents: Blenheims bombing a bog
Do you have any exceptional, funny incidents in you memory from your missions?
Antti Tani: Well, it is difficult to comment on that. Sometimes you just remember something. Like incidents described in the book. Although we were talking for hours with the fellow who wrote it , everything does not come in your mind. However you try, you cannot think of anything. Then suddenly something just pops up from your memory
Here is one that did not make it in the book: We were on a mission escorting bombers. Four or six Blenheims, cannot remember how many exactly. They were going to raid a place North of Äänislinna (Petrozavodsk).. What was it, your unit was based there, a little North from Äanislinna?
Jussi Huotari: Hirvasjärvi?
Antti Tani:No, too far north, there is a place where Brewsters were based for a while
Jussi Huotari: In the summer it was Hirvas and in the winter an ice base in Kontupohja (Kondopohga)
Antti Tani: It was an ice base...anyway there was a railway station North of Äänislinna. Our troops were about to capture the place and the bombers were ordered to raid the railway station. The yard was full of wagons as we came above the place. And the bombers, they approached the yard from SW, at direct angle against the rail line. One short train left the yard, as if to escape. There was a large bog next to the railway yard. They dropped all their bombs in the bog and the yard was spared, dammit.
Jussi Huotari: Sounds like Russian style that one.
Antti Tani: Why did they have to do it like that? Why could they not approach the target in the direction of the line, if the bombs had overshot they would at least have hit the rails over there? But the idea to approach from the side, oh my. As the bomb release was delayed the bombs went wide over the target and there were just geysers in the bog. I was so angry that I dived at the train and spent all my ammo at the engine and the wagons.
I would have been unable to defend the bombers, not having one single cartridge.
Later as we had landed the lads asked me , "Why did you strafe?" I said that something had to be done: such a gaggle of planes and nothing happens except some mud flies. Probably the bomber crews were pissed off, when their bombs went wide over. I don't think a single bomb hit the yard, every one went wide over
They were just a little bit late. If someone ordered over the radio "now" then it was late by that now word. Bombing from a line crossing a railway you have to release your bombs right on the spot. They should have seen that the yard was long and narrow and there were several trains on it. A nice result would it have produced if they had hit the right spot.
The only decent bombing raid I witnessed was when we were escorting a single Blenheim with four of our Moranes, before Äänislinna was taken. There was a transport column on this road and as this single Tin Henry dropped her load the road was cut with a puff. The first lorry drove right in the bomb crater. He could not stop in time or avoid the hole, he just fell in there. He had been 50m away as the bombs went off but he did not brake, the pressure of the bombs may have had an effect.
The next day I flew over the very same place and saw that someone had destroyed a tank just next to the bomb hole. The tank had a big gun, a real heavy one. The sides of the tank were black, our infantry must have bombed it with Molotov cocktails and it had burned up.
Escorting, Stukas, reconnaissance planes
Do you remember escorting recce planes in summer 1944 over the Carelian Isthmus
Antti Tani: I don't think I did any escort mission of that kind.
(Ed.rem. His log book includes on July7th an escort mission to cover a Pe-2)
Jussi Huotari: I was not actually escorting, but covering those Stukas...
Jussi Huotari: They were bombing at Vuosalmi and once our flight was escorting, or covering them
Antti Tani: When they were bombing, I, too, was covering them many times.
What kind of a mission was it when covering the Stukas?
Jussi Huotari: The idea was to keep the area free from Russians. But the AAA fired tremendously.
Antti Tani: Yes, the AAA kept firing all the time.
The Stukas used to approach the target in principle from the opposite direction so that they should not drop their loads on the Finnish infantry. They flew over the frontline and dived from there.
Antti Tani: That was an area where it was great fun to cruise, because there were about one million elevated barrels shooting right at your face.
Jussi Huotari: The Stukas did not dodge, they dived right on, however heavy the AAA fire would be.
Antti Tani: It was, as you said, in a way very exhilarating place, I mean Ihantala. I saw how the Russians had parked their tanks crowded on a small area. First the Stukas bombed them, then the Blenheims came and bombed the same traffic jam. It was a huge bonfire as the bombers left. It was a stupid thing for the enemy to concentrate their tanks in one place
"Dammit, for once just as it should be"
It was Kude's (Kullervo "Kude" Virtanen, reconnaisscance pilot) men who had reconnoitred that target. At first they flew Blenheims, then Pe-2s and again Blenheims as their Pe-2s were destroyed in bombing at Lappeenranta. They, too flew tough missions, they had to use the best equipment they had. The Pe-2 had some kind of chance to survive. At least four fighters were needed to cover a photo plane when she was photographing the enemy rear and attack concentrations. When they were out of the Pe-2s they had to go photographing with the Blenheim, a far slower plane.
More about Kullervo Virtanen and the recon planes at WW2 Ace Stories: Kullervo "Kude" Virtanen - The Recce Pilot written by Ossi Juntunen.
Antti Tani: A far slower plane she was, yes. I remember one mission, you must have been there, too, as we attacked South of Koivisto when the Russian Navy was coming up. I wonder if you were on that mission?
Jussi Huotari: I can't remember...
Antti Tani: Anyway, all fighters were on that mission, or were supposed to be. And there were also all kinds of bombers, war booty planes and all types of the Blenheim.
Jussi Huotari: Did the escort fighters take off from Kymi?
Antti Tani:Let me think...I believe we took off from Lappeenranta or Taipalsaari.
Anyway the enemy fleet included quite a lot of torpedo boats. But there was a huge transport ship that was moving quite slowly. Torpedo boats were circling her. Then the Ju-88s, two or three of them, went into a dive. The enemy had no smokescreen up yet. The bombers dived and hit the ship squarely in midship. It was a grand thing to see as I was next to the leading bombers. I was flying on the wing of a Blenheim. I could see how the released bombs fell and I saw, *****, that now they for once hit as they should. As the bombs exploded, first a lot of rubbish was blown up then began to rain down. There were also men, kicking their legs when flying through the air.
Then the torpedo boats began to develop smoke, they spread a smokescreen on the sea. The entire area was so thick with smoke that nothing else could be seen.
Then the Blenheims arrived over the target and dropped bombs, but now just in the smoke, they did not have anything to aim at, just the area. They dropped their loads, turned around and left.
Lone Tin Henry, thanks to escort fighters
Antti Tani: My pair was Oskari Länsivaara. We turned back as the bomber queue was gone. We had been the first ones on the target and the last ones to leave it. And lo and behold, there was a long-nose Tin Henry (Blenheim Mk.IV) coming heads on. I guessed at once what it was. It was the photo recce plane to photograph (the target). I thought, dammit...You see, Russian fighters were cruising about, there was a large number of La-5s and other types, too. But I wondered why did they not climb up to our altitude? They must have believed that there were so many of our fighters up there that they would not have a chance with us. Yet the Tin Henry came alone. I signaled with my hand to my wingman, let us turn around. We were flying on each side of the Tin Henry, actually a little higher to have some room for manouvering if necessary. We flew undisturbed, the photo plane flew three or four runs over the target area, covering it entirely, then she turned around and we followed her. We flew at perfect ease and left her as we were North of Viipuri. She went her way and we ours. It was really amusing.
Sang-froid as they say.
Antti Tani: What else was there to do, when you think that a single Tin Henry was sent to face such a number of enemy fighters. I did not believe for a moment we would ever come back alive. I thought every enemy would attack her, yet no one came. The enemy did not believe anybody would be foolish enough to come any more.
Jussi Huotari: They saw the two of you so...
The enemy was scared...
Antti Tani: I do not believe that. They would have shot down all of us if they just had climbed high enough. It was just good luck, nothing else.
An old Junkers 88 pilot, Martti Uotinen gave a lecture in Ilmasilta in Tampere. He expressed his gratitude to the fighter pilots for keeping them sound and safe. He told an example about a raid to Tali. A Ju-88 had bombed and was heading for home. The rear gunner shouts. "Airacobra coming", the pilot glances back and catches a glimpse of an Airacobra "throwing pieces of burning firewood" at them. The observer rushes from his place in the nose to man the second dorsal machine gun. When grabbing the gun and looking, he sees the Airacobra already falling down and a Messerschmitt pulling up.
Antti Tani: Things like that used to happen.
Jussi Huotari: All kinds of things used to happen.
Antti Tani's aerial victories
The book referred to, "Jatkosodan ässä" aka "Ace of the Continuation War", is written by Jukka Piipponen, publisher Koala-Kustannus 2001. In Finnish, with photographs.
Cover painting: Antti Salminen Aviation Art
Mr.Antti Tani and Mr. Jussi Huotari were interviewed at Mr.Tani in Kouvola on Jul 10,2002.
Mr.Antti Tani and Mr. Jussi Huotari checked the transcript in Jan 2003
Interview by: Timo "Kossu" Niiranen, Matti "Tern" Saloranta ja Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel".
Proof reader: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Part 1: Mirja Krook
Part 2: Jari-Matti "Jasz" Taskinen
Part 3: Teemu "Teme" Perheentupa
Part 4: Mirja Krook
Translation to English language: Ossi Juntunen.
Photos: Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel"
Tables: O. Lehtinen, Jerry Andersen.
personal and statistical data, Suomen Ilmavoimien historia 11 Hävittäjä-ässät, Apali Oy (Keskinen/Stenman/Niska)
"Jatkosodan ässä" - Jukka Piipponen, Koala Kustannus.
Copyright VLeLv Icebreakers / Virtuaalilentäjät r.y. / Finnish Virtual Pilots Association 2003-2005
Last modified: 2005-10-02 18:02