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Virtuaalilentäjät r.y. Blenheim trip autumm 2001
Virtuaalilentäjät - Virtual Pilots Ry Registered Society
Blenheim Trip 19.10.2001

Virtuaalilentäjät - Virtual Pilots ry registed society of World War II online simulator hobbyists arranged 19.10.2001 the autumm trip a visit to a very special place, to see something very special.

Place: Finnish Air Force Museum.
Mission: hug Blenheim.

Blenheim bombers are one the most rare warbirds in existence. There seems to be only three in the whole world. One in in Britain, second in Australia - and third in a hangar in central Finland, locked away from the general public. The ladybird in question is "BL-200", a Blenheim Mk. IV, "Vl/3", the last Blenheim built in Finland.

The society members thought that "hugging Blenheim" would be a wonderful opportunity, and very special society happening. Very few people have seen the plane, so seeing it with Eyeballs Mk.I would be definitely something to talk about. The manager of Finnish Air Force Museum mr. Hannu Valtonen agreed to the idea, so we proceeded into planning the trip. To make the visit especially historical we also proceeded to invite World War II Blenheim veterans. The invitation was offered to Blenheim veterans in Tampere region, as the trip would have been somewhat long and tiring to gents arriving from Helsinki or elsewhere without direct transportation.

In the end two veterans from Tampere arrived: Kauko Aho, pilot and Tapani Lampimäki, radio operator 1st class / machine gunner. Society members from Oulu took with them Eino Estama, who piloted Blenheims and Ju-88s. We were joined also by Lauri Väisänen, headman of the Tampereen Ilmasilta aviation guild. A number of society members came by train from Helsinki and southern Finland, and jumped into the bus waiting at Tampere railway station. We proceeded to pick up mr. Aho and then headed towards the museum. People from Oulu travelled directly to museum with their own car.

Photographs by: Olli "Ok" Korhonen and Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen, VirtuaaliLentoLaivue Icebreakers.


Participants of the Blenheim trip minus one.

Following people participated: Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen, Janne "Netfly" Kallela, Harri "Harppa" Niemi, Sakari "Julle" Rantanen, Timo "Kynkky" Kymäläinen, Pentti "Buffalo" Kurkinen, Timo "Kossu" Niiranen, Markku "Aapo" Pörhönen, Erkki "Eni" Nieminen, Jarmo "Jartsa" Paimen, Matti "My" Yrjola, Niko "Aino" xxx, Jari "Jarru" Latomäki, Olli "Ok" Korhonen, Marko "Maqu" Salo, Reijo Pirkonen.

The honored veterans:

Kauko Aho, Blenheim pilot PLeLv 42 (Bomber Squadron 42). Suomen Lentomerkki nro. 1085 (Finnish Aviator number 1085)
Eino Estama, Blenheim/Ju-88 pilot, Suomen Lentomerkki nro. 1209 (Finnish Aviator number 1209)
Tapani Lampimäki, Radio Operator 1st Class / machine gunner, LeLv 14 and PLeLv 48 (Flying Squadron 14 and Bomber Squadron 48), Konekivääriampuja nro 34 (Machine Gunner number 34).

Other guests were Mr. Lauri Väisänen, headman of Tampereen Ilmasilta aviation guild and mr. Lampimäki's lady, who was his kind support during the trip. Lampimäki's eyes are badly damaged, and we saw very poorly. Mr. Väisänen was trained to pilot during the war, but war ended before he was posted to operational squadron.

If you're interested in more Finnish aviation history please see the Virtual Pilots Finland Warhistory archive, where we have articles about Kauko Aho and Eino Estama, and hopefully sooner or later of Tapani Lampimäki.


Ju-52 from Tampere to Jyväskylä has rolled.

Netfly, Kynkky

Driver Jarru

Kossu, Aino
Coffee break. Buffalo & Julle in rear table, guests Lauri Väisänen and Kauko Aho in front with Kynkky and Netfly
Kossu, mr. Lampimäki


Ju-52 from Tampere arrived to museum around midday. Outside we immediately stumbled into the nose of a "short nosed" Blenheim, which was immediately surrounded.

Mr. Lampimäki and Aho seen through the cockpit glass.

Our Blenheim guide with Kossu and Buffalo.

Mr. Aho with My and Julle.


Mr. Lampimäki brought a old photo to "prove I did something in the Blenheims as well". Here he is with his crew and mechanics in 1944. Lampimäki is first from right. In total he flew in 107 combat sorties.


Mr. Estama and Lampimäki meet in the museum.

Kauko Aho meets Eino Estama. The gents were soon in wild discussion, checking if they knew same people and whether they served in same bases.

Lauri Väisänen, headman of the Tampereen Ilmasilta air guild. He was trained to pilot in the wartime but missed the war.

Mr. Lampimäki, his guide (Lampimäki sees very poorly and needed a helping hand) and Grendel.

Happy people. Jartsa, Jarru, Netfly and Kossu.

Photographing the Me 109.

Strolling around the Messerchmitt.

Strolling around the Messerchmitt.

Jarru and Timo from Moosefly. Timo came directly from work - thats why he is dressed to those fighter pilot clothes.

Aino, Mr. Lampimäki and Grendel with the Vampire jet fighter.

"That is an engine, isn't it?"


And then it was time to step into the magic wonderland. Our kind museum person, who is one of the museum's experts on aircraft restoration, led us to the hangar, unlocked the door and people went wild with amazement.
Enter the Aladdin's cave

The gents in front of the old lady.
From left to right: Tapani Lampimäki, Eino Estama and Kauko Aho.

Kauho Aho touched the Blenheim and said: "I haven't seen a Blenheim since 1945. Well, this is a long nose Blenheim and I didn't have one, I always flew with short nose Blenheim - but it is Blenheim neverthless.". A most touching moment.

The Blenheim was told to be in good condition, and it could be shown as it is in the museum right away - if they just had space for it. Unfortunately the museum is completely full already. As you can see from the photos they have many more aircraft and wrecks they could show, if the planes could be put somewhere. Being a small budgeted museum they can't afford to build another hangar for these hidden treasures.

Many, many photos about the Blenheim:

More Blenheim photos

The museum storage hangar was a land of many secrets. For example this here: that is a Messerchmitt 109 E. We first thought it was 109 F-4, but closer checking proved it was not. Yet, who could have imagined that remains of a new Messerchmitt would be hiding in central Finland?

And here are some photos of a IL-2 Sturmovik ground attack plane. Many people still seem to think that the IL-2 was a "flying tank" and thoroughly armored. Well, wrong. This plane was shot down 11.09.1944 at Navuska - check these pics:

Inside the wing of IL-2.

Not much of a tank built of steel - that is thin aluminium.

IL-2s were easy to shoot down if you shot to correct spot: either wing root or fuselage. Fuel tank protected with plywood.

Other stuff in the hangar:

DC-2 "Hanssin Jukka", which was donated to Finland by Swedish count Von Rosen in 1939. Same person donated Finland our country's first airplane, and his family's good omens sign was adopted to the emblem of our Air Force.

Me 109 drop tanks for a small air force.

German Pak 36 Stielgranate 41.

Pembroke (PR-2)

"Keine bomben" - drop tank, like fresh from the factory.

Me 109 E wing - beware of the cannon.

Remains of a SB-2 bomber. Notice the bullet holes!

Click here for more photos from the storage hangar.
Lots of pictures of the Blenheim in and out, details and other stuff.


Gourdou-Leseurre B.3

This is the only remaining example in the world.

So give it a second look too.

Mr. Lampimäki and MiG-21F.


Tumanski power!

More Tumanski power and MiG-21 UTI

Il-28 R. A beauty, huh?!

Il-28 R

MiG-15 UTI

MiG-15 UTI

Crankshaft from Ju88 engine.

The first jet fighter of Finnish Air Force. Folland Gnat F.Mk.1

Named after the honorable count Von Rosen.

Focke-Wulf FW 44 J Stieglitz

Harppa and Eni were having really hard time dogfighting here.


Click here for more photos about the P-39.


7 1/2 kills here.





Eino Estama

Eino Estama

Tapani Lampimäki

After the war mr. Estama converted to the 109 fighter, and flew something nearing 200 hours on the type. He was therefore granted the change to visit the cockpit, which mr. Estama did without hesitation. His rapid entrance to the 109 showed the signs of real expert, and gave our technical expert Buffalo a blinding sensation. "So THAT is why the canopy has those two metal crossbars on top of the front frame - they are used for support when getting in and out!" Truly, you should have seen Buffalo's face. "You learn something new every day" he admitted. Yup, you always learn new things from the men who've done the deed.

Mr. Aho definitely managed to surprise everyone. He saw mr. Estama visit the 109 cockpit first, and then other people were moving around the 109, checking details and talking with the hosting museum staff. He then climbed the ladder, stepped onto the aircraft wing and took a good look into the cockpit.

Witnesses tell that a grin appeared on his face and mr. Aho quickly jumped into the cockpit! And there the old gentleman was - happy like a small animal. Sitting in a 109.

But that wasn't enough. With swift movement he started closing the canopy! And only hearing a loud "THUMP" when the canopy closed the museum staff noticed something is wrong, turned around - and froze seeing the canopy closed. "Don't lock the canopy, don't lock it. Do you know how to open the lock from inside" he quickly asked from mr. Aho. Aho replied "no, no idea. I'm a bomber pilot, I have never been in a 109 before." Museum fellow explained that if you don't know how to open the canopy lock from inside they must force it open from outside, and that will take a long time - and only the museum chief Hannu Valtonen knows how to do that.

So mr. Aho promised not to lock the canopy. Museum staff was watching it nervously, old fellow inside the plane, canopy closed. So mr. Aho took the opportunity, played with the stick and instruments - and was grinning so happily all the time.

After finally coming out of the plane Aho confessed that "I have never been in a fighter. I was in the bombers and they never let us into the fighters", still smiling happily after being able to grab the opportunity.

Please take notice that it is not allowed to enter the cockpits of the museum planes. Only in very very special situation a permission may be sought, and most likely it will not be granted.

Look at that smile :-)

Netfly posing with the warbird.
Click here to see cockpit photos from the 109 G-6.


After spending time in the museum we turned our cars towards the Air Force base right next to the museum location, and went to visit the Air Force. The Support Squadron flight commander, who just happens to be a virtual pilot fellow -timo- from Moosefly squadron, had arranged us some programme there. So we went in, listened a short lecture and took a good look to the squadron's Hawk jets. As the group's junior Netfly was given the absolutely unholy task of dressing into fighter pilots flightgear and sit inside the Hawk cockpit. Canopy closed. Must have been horrible. Some smile he had when climbing out ;-).

The same airfield had been a familiar base to the bomber veterans too during the war years. For example Eino Estama recalled clearly how he had been using the same airplane hall during the war. His Junkers 88 bombers had been stored and maintained in the very same space which these days Hawk jets occupy.


Before leaving we stopped at Tikkakoski Air Force Base war memorial, and payed respects to the personnel of the base fallen during the three wars 1939-1945.

Hungry people lining for dinner before beginning the journey home.

Buffalo, Kynkky, ?, Netfly, Harppa, Eni, Jartsa.

Eni, Jartsa, Ok, My, Jarru

So that was the Virtuaalilentäjät - Virtual Pilots ry autumm trip. Mission successul - Blenheim hugged.

Many thanks to all who participated - and of course very special Salutes to the guests, who helped to make the trip unforgettable.

Our deepest gratitude to the personnel of Finnish Air Force Museum who permitted us to see their hidden treasures, and gave us some of their valuable time. Yours, Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen.
VirtuaaliLentoLaivue Icebreakers - Virtual Pilots Finland.

Viimeksi muokattu: 2008-08-04 08:20