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Estama Brothers With The Virtual Pilots - Recollections By Eino And Edvald Estama

Quick index: Introduction | Valte Estama's encounter with Mustangs | What are those awful lumps... | A speedy dive - 950 km/h! | The mechanics were the miracle workers | Violent recon and intercepts | Flying Ju-88 bomber | Dead men don't shout | Valte Estama on the armament of his Morane Saulnier fighter | Man was like a wet rag | Questions from Internet pilots | The Estamas and WarBirds | Credits


The Virtual Pilots of Oulu were spending a traditional party weekend at the place of a Icebreakers squadron member during January 2001. Two wartime pilots from Oulu were also invited, Eino and Edvald "Valte" Estama.

Eino Estama piloted the Blenheim and Junkers 88 bombers during the Continuation War. His brother Valte was a Morane Saulnier and Messerschmitt 109 pilot (MS 406, Me 109 G-2, Me 109 G-6). In addition to these two brothers their third brother, Hugo Estama, flew at least the Me 109 in the war. Väinö Pokela, among others, tells he knew Hugo well.

The brothers spent the evening watching the antics of the virtual pilots, which allegedly included plenty of cigarettes and whisky. At one stage the Junkers bomberman, Eino Estama, watched as virtual pilot Risto "Korva" Korva (Icebreakers) piloting a Junkers 88 in a simulator. According to witnesses his comment was "sure as hell I couldn't fly that thing."

All the evening the brothers, nearly 80 years old veterans (Valte turned 80 about 2 months after this meeting), were surrounded by a very sharp-eared and eager audience. The virtual pilots weren't that young themselves, being 20-50 years of age, but this was a rare chance for the active WW2 aviation simulations enthusiasts to hear stories of the real thing. The whisky did its trade and everyone had good time - except those present via Internet who got only occasional hints of what the gentlemen were up to. Afterwards the Estamas expressed their gratitude for the pleasant evening and invited the participants to a meeting of the Air Force Veterans of Oulu.

You can read Eino Estama's interview and stories by other veterans from Oulu here but in finnish only, currently.

Valte Estama

Eino Estama

Original finnish language article translated by SubLt Markku Herd, Finnish Navy. Many thanks!

Valte Estama's encounter with Mustangs

Valte Estama was flying with his wingman, when suddenly some Mustangs climbed to their side. "They rose there like ELEVATORS. First we thought they were Airacobras, but then realized they didn't really look like them... When I got to the Fighter Squadron 24 we got no briefing of the enemy planes, they just said that we'd know the enemy when we met them. That's how it was. We looked at them and they at us, then they did a barrel-roll around us and soared away. They didn't shoot, so we didn't bother to shoot either. They went away, and that was the only time I saw Mustangs flying during the war."

Estama had wondered when the plane wasn't slender like the Airacobra, but "it had that bump in the bottom, the air intake. It looked longer to me."

What are those awful lumps...

It was quite a situation once when I came out of a cloud in a Messerschmitt and there were two Russkie planes sideways right in front of me. They were in my sights and I thought to blast (actual word used was "puhaltaa", "blow / exhale". Mr. Estama used the word more than once and Jukka Kauppinen asked about it from other pilots, to who it was a strange term for shooting. Must have been Morane squadron slang) through both with cannon. And what the hell, they have no insignia. Black lumps of plane and no markings. What if they were German? After all there were Jerries there at the same time. I throttled up and went close to the side, some 20 meters away. Only there I saw the red stars covered with oil. But they saw me and dove away. I thought first to let them go, but then decided to give chase - and the fuel gauge started blinking red. Nose pointing at St Petersburg and running out of fuel, no I won't go that way anymore. Let them go.

A speedy dive - 950 km/h!

The story of Valte Estama's 109 G-6 getting shot down by a Yak-6 was also an interesting one. Their flight of nine planes was doing high-altitude CAP at 7,000 meters (23,000'). The sky was cloudy and the planes wre slightly scattered . Estama was wingman to the lead plane at rear left, when he suddenly noticed a Yak-9 rising from rear right and going after the leader. Estama engaged the Yak and fired a short burst. The Yak caught fire. He then looked what the other Yak was up to and saw it coming so far below that it shouldn't be able to climb too close to him. They usually couldn't, but apparently they had come from higher and thus had enough built-up speed. Estama made no attempt to evade since he didn't believe the Yak could get to shooting position, but so it happened that the devil fired at him. One cannon round hit his engine, spilling out oil that caught fire. Estama noticed that it wasn't fuel that leaked or burned, just oil.

He pushed the nose of the plane and throttled up. His feet felt hot, but the fire was extinguished and there was no more smoke. The speedometer went over the top as the speed exceeded 950 km/h. The wings began to shake and Estama feared the fighter would come apart. He pulled the throttle back, but the stick was stiff and couldn't pull the plane out of the dive. Letting the flaps out little by little gradually lifted the nose. The plane leveled at 1,000 meters (3,300'). Estama decided to bail out and opened his restraints. The canopy eject didn't work, though, so he tried to open it manually. When the canopy cracked open, air flow tore it off, and then the back armor hit Estama in the head and knocked him unconscious.

When he regained consciousness, the plane was still in the air at a few hundred of meters. Estama picked a spot for emergency landing at a meadow near a house. The restraints were still open, "cos I fool had opened them,' and the landing was rough enough to knock Estama around in the cockpit. He lost his consciousness again while the plane was still moving. In time he awoke and could walk to find a phone to call the base. The fighter had remained in surprisingly good condition.

Clarification of the escape dive: "It didn't stay (vertical) otherwise, it had to be kept with the stabilizer. I trimmed it so the plane was certainly nose down. Once I felt it didn't burn anymore and there was no black smoke in the mirror, then I began to straighten it up, and it wouldn't obey. The stick was so stiff it was useless. So a nudge at a time, (then straightening off with trims).

Then the wings came alive with the flutter effect, I was afraid it's coming apart and shut the throttle. Only then I began to level out. To a thousand meters. It was a long time - and the hard pull blacked me out."

The mechanics were the miracle workers

The mechanics received due praise of their work. Valte Estama and his wing leader had encountered four enemy fighters. He fired at one of them, and the hits tore off a huge bunch of chunks. Estama's Morane couldn't avoid that junk cloud and took severe damage. Only a small stub was left of the rudder. The mechanics of a nearby base built a replacement structure of wooden board and covered it with rags. Same thing with the half-meter long dent in the wing that almost reached the middle strut. A bit of wood over and rags onto both sides. The liquids had leaked out too and the pipes were broken, but they were replaced with new ones. The plane was flight capable in a couple of hours, to be flown elsewhere for proper repairs. "They were the miracle men, you just can't imagine what they couldn't do," Estama mused.

Concerning the above...

"It took only two cannon shots from my Morane to shatter the (enemy) plane... I didn't need to fly through the junk, I could have gone under. But I had all the time in my mind that there were four of them around and two of us, so they'll go after Jaska, and since he was the leader he had to make it to the base. And I was thinking of going to help. And it (an enemy plane) is in my sights, 300-400 meters away, I was supposed to fire at it. It was a sitting duck, but I misjudged the deflection and the shot went under...

The Morane cannon was really accurate, you could hit at 400-500 meters with half a meter accuracy."

What was it like compared to the Messerschmitt cannon?

"The Me cannon had the advantage that it worked. The Morane cannon on the other hand, sometimes you pushed the trigger for nothing." The Morane cannon, when it worked, gets the flying gentleman's praise for its accuracy. "It certainly hit." The storyteller's cannon never jammed, but another pilot of his squadron had worse luck. When the Russkies had shot down one pilot, an avenging patrol of four or five planes took off towards the Sekehe airbase. Said pilot had a Yak in his sights and "he tries to bore through with the cannon." But the round exploded in the barrel of the gun and spilled out the oil. "I was there to see that black rocket coming, it reaches the base and lands. And this pilot climbs out of the plane and yells jumping like mad, 'goddamn mechanics what did you do...'"

Violent recon and intercepts

Did you get many chances to shoot with Morane?

Certainly, since it was a couple of years... But it was mostly hunting, moose hunting (expnalation: their base was in middle of large forests, in wilderness area. At times very little of fighting or flying. Supplying these far bases was sometimes hard and the men naturally used the resources of the wilderness to supplement the regular rations. Many times when the pilots found game near the base they shot it with the fighter machine guns and reported position of the "kill" to base, which would despatch a party to get the meat.) Otherwise mostly escorting bombers and doing recon. Some intercepts too, but usually the enemy was too fast for the Morane. Even the Pe-2 could go freely, the Morane was no match. Couldn't catch them. There was just a tuft of black smoke when they throttled up and fled. They went in 7,000-8,000 meters, going after would be only waste of fuel. The recon missions were more important, the fighters were sent to do what others couldn't. Two to four planes were sent to see what was in a certain point. We were based at Hirvas and Tiiksi, the eldest brother (Hugo) was in Tiiksi.

Flying a bomber

Eino Estama did both day and night bomber missions.

"It was daytime when we went to Vuosalmi and Äyräpää, those were the biggest bombing jobs. The last defence battle. 75 Finnish bombers, all who could carry bomb load, took bombs there and there were at least 45 of fighters providing escort. All of the artillery caability in the Isthmus were concentrated in the same point."

Dead men don't shout

It was apparently the last stages of the war, when the "psycho" test was done to the pilots. They took off somewhere in the latitudes of Jyväskylä in a Junkers, destination was the Malmi base, if I recall correctly. Sergeant Eino Estama had been piloting on the way there, Ilmari Juutilainen (the ace of aces, information here) sat beside him and others were in the back. (According to Eino, their nickname for Mr Juutilainen was "Pillu Illu" (Pussy-Illu), wonder why..)

When the tests were done Illu suggested to Eino, that he'd get a bottle of booze and some soda from a pharmacist he knew. So Eino did so. (At this point Eino mentioned that Illu wasn't so greedy for alcohol, usually none of the pilots were during the war, their job couldn't be done when drunk). On the way back Ilmari (Chief Warrant Officer) was the pilot and Eino sat on the co-pilot seat. They sipped the drinks. Somewhere over the calm lake Päijänne Ilmari gets the idea, "let's make some tracks on such a handsome surface." The sergeant couldn't oppose, so Ilmari pushed the nose steeply down.

Those in the back got startled and the cockpit door opened, "What are you playing boys, you are going to kill us!" But Illu just said, "Close the hatch Eino, dead men don't shout." Eino pulled the door closed. And so they went for a while, landing gear surfing on the lake surface. On approach to Jyväskylä, the engine coughed and eventually stopped. Again the door opened, "Goddamn you don't believe, you're going to kill us all!" someone barked. Ilmari stated again, "Close the hatch, dead men don't shout." Ilmari and Eino could only wonder why the engines stopped, and look for a place for emergency landing. They found a suitable field, and there Ilmari directed the gliding Junkers.

Ilmari then said, "Throw out the bottle, it's not good if it's found in the cockpit when we crash." So Eino opened the window and threw it out before touch-down. Snow and hay billowed around as the plane landed. Eino noticed, "there's a fence at that barn and for sure a ditch too, there we'll roll over if not before." Ilmari guided the plane past the barn and crashed on the fence, there was no ditch afterall. The plane stayed upright. Ilmari said, "you didn't hit a rock with the bottle, did you?" How could Eino know... They reported to base that they committed an emergency landing on the field without losses, come and pick up. The car came to get them got stuck in mud and they had to push it out.

The commander, a Colonel, came to meet them at the barracks, and Ilmari gave his report. The Colonel congratulated him of successful landing and told them to "go to the Officers' Mess and order cognacs, he'll pay." Ilmari answered, "How about two drinks for each?" The Colonel chuckled and agreed. Later they found out the fuel feed had been clogged. Evidently the plane was a Junkers F13.

Valte Estama on the armament of his Morane Saulnier fighter

Valte Estama told about the Morane Saulnier fighters.

Originally the planes were equipped with the 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS 404 cannon. Compared to stories from simulator pilots Estama told quite some tales, and the tricks of real life are quite different from their computerized counterparts. According to Estama the rounds of the cannon were so sensitive they exploded when fired at cardboard. And so quickly that the shrapnel shredded the cardboard. Imagine - a 20mm cannon round so sensitive that a thin cardboard is enough to set it off. And remember the above story of a round going off in the barrel.

Additionally the cannon was very unreliable, and it was later switched to a Russian heavy machine gun. Ordinarily a switch from a 20mm cannon to a 12.7mm mg (in addition to two 2.75mm mg's) wouldn't sound like improvement. Estama praised the mg when it worked - but it rarely did. So the Russian weapon was in turn switched to a light Browning mg, which was lighter but at least functioned properly. "And the rate of fire was awesome."

Man was like a wet rag

(According to Modo/VLeLv Icebreakers)

The gentleman that later worked as bank manager was flying a Brewster, and father of a friend of mine was the mechanic. Said friend told a story, when his father had been waiting for the plane to return from mission. A long wait, no sight of the plane. Finally he sees a spot far in the sky and sound of an engine starts to sound. The plane flies wobbly, he wasn't sure if it could stay in the air until landing. Plane makes rough landing and taxi's. The mechanic runs after, jumps on wing and pulls the canopy open - and sees the pilot sleeping. He had been flying so long he couldn't stay awake any more. The mechanic nudges the pilot, "get out of there so I can fix the plane, you gotta go soon." The pilot replies, "I'm too tired, I can't fly." "You must, there's nobody else," came the order and the pilot had no choice. It was such a stage of war that there could be no rest, the men had to fly all the time.

Valte Estama: "that's true, it doesn't take many hours flying when you tire. You're like a wet rag, sweaty all over. And all straps are tight. You feel like you can do absolutely nothing." He guessed the pilot of the story was a man called Perämaa.

Valte Estama continues: "The planes flew continuously from the Lappeenranta base during the toughest battles at Vuosalmi and Vuoksi. You got out of the plane only to piss. Food was brought to the plane. You were rearmed and refueled, and off you took again. Three days without sleep. You took a nap while refueling and the mechanics woke you up when they were done."

Questions from Internet pilots

Valte Estama spent a while at the WarBirds simulator, when people asked questions live via the comms system and he answered with microphone. Here are some of the questions:

Which Messerschmitts did you fly?
I began with G-2 and flew the G-6 more, but mostly Morane.

Someone asked of the top speed of the Me. Mr Väinö Pokela told earlier it's 720 km/h, when I interviewed him.
Normally we flew the Me at 500 km/h, but at a tough spot we could go some 600 km/h. But the absolute speed limit is found in dive. I had to do some over 900 km/h dives. The speedometer scale ends at 900, and at that you feel the flutter effect in the wings. Guess it was very near the top speed, when the plane felt like falling apart.

Which Russian plane did you fear most, and why?
The one that attacked, whatever the type. They were all bad. There in Eastern Carelia there were more beginner pilots, but at the Isthmus, I think the worst was the Yak-Niner. At least one shot me down there. Isn't the worst the one that shoots at you?

Someone here asks which one of the Russians planes worried you the least?
It was the U-2 recon plane, you didn't need to fear it. Weird plane. Five cylinder engine, could rattle in the sky for 4-5 hours. It was unarmed, you had to fear it only when it came over the base and they threw hand grenades, little bombs, at you. Otherwise it was a nice little friend. We didn't even care to shoot them. The R-5 was an improved model, it had guns. U-2 had no gun, and not even any gauges in the cockpit. I flew one, it was like it had the motor of a sewing machine. Once I had to pick up a radio from inland. I strayed to Russian side in snowstorm, and even the Russians didn't do anything to us.

In what part of Finland did you fly? Finland?
Where in Finland? No, I flew in Carelia, East Carelia and the Isthmus. Both were Russian territory. We didn't need to fly in Finland during the war, only in Russia.

Did you fight the Germans?
No, but we fought with the Germans. There was the German flight group of Kuhlmey, with their Stukas and Focke-Wulfs. A couple of times we were side by side with them in the battles at the Isthmus. The Stuka pilots were tough boys, I can't think of Finns doing their job.

It was in Vuosalmi when they (Russians) tried to come over, a Stuka man told he had been all over the East Front and had never seen so intense AA as there was in Vuosalmi-Äyräpää.

And sometimes I wondered in the air, how you can get such confusion despite orders... Once there was a terrible lot of Russians in overcast sky, at least 100-200 Russians, 40-50 Finns and same amount of Germans. And how can it be that they're all speaking on the same radio frequency. Then somewhere among the chatter you hear Joppe Karhula's order, "let's go home boys, we can't do shit here." So we came home. We could but wonder how the frequencies could all be so confused. They were so close to each other that some inversion layer reflected the radiowaves back. You could hear the Russians babble, Finns yell, Germans chatter. Radio was just crazy. Normally the waves stayed separate just fine.

The Estamas and WarBirds

Valte Estama checked out the WarBirds simulator. A virtual pilot had a P-39 Airacobra in his sights. "Didn't the Russkies have those? Right, I thought that's how they looked. That one, down there..." Estama recognized his wartime foe. That's a praise to the makers of the simulator.

Eino Estama in turn watched the flight of a simulated Junkers 88 bomber, and noticed it didn't fly right. "Because it flew like a plow." But the bomber in the simulator had just settled to level flight, and when it sped up to cruising speed, it also set into 'plowing' position, and looked right.

Valte Estama commented his visit afterwards: It was a surprise for me, I wondered what this is you're doing since I had never heard of it. It felt real, the planes were real, the Mustangs and all I saw going there. Otherwise it was realistic, but lacked the seat-of-pants feeling.


This page is a summary if discussions during the visit of Eino and Valtemar Estama, written according to notes and compared memories. Members of VLeLv Icebreakers and the Virtual Pilots of Oulu met Eino and Valtemar Estama on January 2001. © VirtuaaliLentoLaivue Icebreakers 2001.

Material in this article has been written by Markus "Modo" Aalto, Risto "Korva" Korva, Pekka "Neck" Koski ja Olli "Ok" Korhonen, VirtuaaliLentoLaivue Icebreakers. Article put together and edited by Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen. English translation by SubLt Markku Herd, Finnish Navy.



Viimeksi muokattu: 2002-05-25 01:13