On the 14th of February 1944, all frontline squadrons received a prefix denoting the duty they had. For example, Lentolaivue 24 became Hävittäjälentolaivue 24 (Fighter Aviation Squadron). At this time, the unit had just 17 Brewster’s remaining operational. The successful Brewster 239, with a 30:1 victory ratio was replaced with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6. The unit was fully re-equipped by May 1944 and operated 14 Bf 109Gs when the Soviet Great Offensive started.
The Soviet Great Offensive
The Soviet land, air and naval forces launched a coordinated attack on Finland on June 9, 1944. More than 1,500 Soviet aircraft were concentrated against the Finns in the immediate area. The Soviet strategic bomber command, ADD, also supported the operations. The Finnish Air Force could muster 16 Bf-109s in No. 34 Squadron, 18 Brewster’s in No. 26 Squadron and 14 Bf-109s in No. 24 Squadron. Number 24 Squadron was based at Suulajärvi on the Southern Karelian Isthmus.
Number 24 Squadron was tasked with Fighter-Reconnaissance, trying to find out how far the Soviet forces had advanced into Finnish territory. The largest combat action took place on June the 14th 1944, during the battles of Siiranmäki and Kuuterselkä. The enemy gathered some 1,700 aircraft for the battle. On June 15, No. 24 Squadron was moved further northwest, to the airport at Lappeenranta. On June the 17th, Lieutenant Nissanen (32.5 victories) and Lieutenant Sarjamo (12.5 victories), two of the Squadron’s most experienced pilots were killed in action. Finland began receiving help from Germany towards the end of June 1944, when new Messerschmitt fighters arrived to replace combat losses and the German jabo unit Geschwader Kuhlmey arrived to assist Finnish Forces in the Offensive.
Results of the war
No. 24 Squadron had 763 confirmed kills and lost 30 aircraft (26 to enemy fighters, four due to accidents). This gave a kill-ratio of 29.3 downed enemy aircraft for every Finnish aircraft lost. Four pilots of No. 24 Squadron were awarded with the Mannerheim Cross; two of them received it twice. The unit was renamed Hävittäjälentolaivue 31 (No. 31 Fighter Squadron) on December 4, 1944.
- Major Richard Lorenz, July 15, 1933 – November 21, 1938
- Lieutenant Colonel Gustav Erik Magnusson, November 21, 1938 – December 4, 1944
- Major Jorma Karhunen, December 4, 1944.
After the War
The Moscow Armistice was signed between Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other side on September 19, 1944, ending the Continuation War. The Armistice restored the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940, with a number of modifications.
According to the truce, the Finnish Armed Forces were to be de-mobilized. The Reserves were disbanded by 20th of November 1944. On the 4th of December 1944, a number of Fighter Squadrons were disbanded, re-organized and re-numbered.
Two Squadrons remained with Lentorykmentti 3 (Flying Regiment 3 or Fighter Wing 3), consisting of Squadrons Hävittäjälentolaivue 31 and Hävittäjälentolaivue 33. The Regiment Headquarters and both Squadrons were based at Utti. Both units kept their Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 fighters, of which 76 were serviceable on the 1st of January 1945.
The Finnish Parliament ratified the Paris Peace Treaty on the 15th of September 1947. According to it, Finland was to have no more than 60 combat aircraft, which came into being within one year. As a result, a quota of only 20 Messerschmitt Bf 109s was left to each of the three flying regiments.
During the renewal of the Finnish Air Force on the 1st of December 1952, the Flying Regiments were disbanded and Air Commands introduced. Lentorykmentti 3 became the 3rd Air Command, which flew Messerschmitt’s until the spring of 1954. The Finnish Air Force entered the jet age when they received six De Havilland FB.52 Vampires in 1953; the model was nicknamed “Vamppi” in Finnish service. An additional nine twin-seat T.55s were purchased in 1955. The aircraft were assigned to 2nd Wing at Pori, but were transferred to 1st Wing at Tikkakoski at the end of the 1950s. The last Finnish Vampire was decommissioned in 1965. From the beginning of 1957, the 3rd Air Command became the present day Karelian Air Command. Hävittäjälentolaivue 31, is now equipped with modern and recently upgraded McDonnell F-18 Hornets for the 21st Century.
Airfix 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6
Kit: A02029 Airfix 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6
Price: £7.99 available from Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Fleet Street, Swindon
Decals: 3 Options
Notes: Eduard EDCX247 Canopy Mask (designed to be used for Airfix kits), used. Available from Hannants UK, £2.80.
The kit is supplied in a ‘top-opening’ style box and comprises 3 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic and one clear sprue with two one-piece canopies, one ‘standard’ canopy and one ‘Erla haube’.
First impressions are good. The recessed panel lines are perhaps a little heavy for a kit of this scale but the outline is good and the mouldings are crisp with no sink marks or blemishes. My only reservation is that the MG 131 cowling covers are moulded in one piece, in comparison the Hasegawa kit (detailed below), which supplies the covers separately, giveing the aircraft a more accurate appearance.
The instruction booklet is an 8 page, A-4 booklet, containing 11 easy to follow stages in ‘exploded view’ format with three A-4 full-colour, 3-view painting guides on pages 6 to 8.
This kit is an easy build. The interior is sparse, consisting of just the pilot’s seat. In all honesty, there is little to see once the one-piece canopy is in place. The parts were washed in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release, dried and each sprue was sprayed with grey auto-primer from a rattle can. The Interior was airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 67 dark grey, once dry, the fuselage halves were joined with the spinner mount.
The 3-piece wings were glued and taped, with the inside of the lower wing airbrushed with Humbrol 240 (RLM 02). The unit was then fitted to the fuselage along with the horizontal tail surfaces. During the next stage the ‘peripheral’ parts were prepared. The undercarriage legs and doors are a one-piece unit, which was airbrushed with Humbrol 240 (RLM 02), the undercarriage legs were picked out with Humbrol 67, dark grey.
The spinner was prepared next. This was airbrushed with Humbrol matt white, left to dry, masked with Tamiya tape before the lower half was airbrushed with Humbrol 33 black. The one-piece propeller was airbrushed with Humbrol matt 241 schwartzgrun and the tail-unit was given a matt 67 hub and a 33 black tyre. The main wheel tyre hubs were painted with Humbrol matt 67 dark grey, once dry, these were masked with the wheel masks supplied by Eduard, the tyres were then painted Humbrol 33 black.
The tape was removed from the wings and the under-wing cannon were glued in place. Next, the fuel tank was glued and fixed into position and the join lines were rubbed down using a squadron medium sanding stick. The fuselage spine, underside and leading edges of the wings were additionally sanded down with the medium sanding stick. Finally, the air-intake was glued on and the canopy was masked, glued into place using Humbrol Clearfix. Once dry, the entire airframe was sprayed with grey primer from a rattle-can.
Camouflage and Markings
3 choices are available in this kit. One Luftwaffe Bf 109G-6, 1943, one Regia Aeronautica example from August 1943 and the aircraft that I chose; Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, ‘MT-422’ flown by SSgt. Bjore Hielm of 2/HleLv 31, Suomen Ilmavoimat, 1948.
I decided to model two post-war examples of the Finnish Air Force Bf 109G-6 to add interest to my collection which consists mainly of ‘Winter War’ and ‘Continuation War’ aircraft (A Lapland War Ju-88 is my current project). The Airfix kit is a Bf 109G6/R6 ‘Early’, which denotes a ‘short-tailed’ aircraft with a standard canopy.
The undersides, sides of the fuselage and undercarriage doors were airbrushed using Humbrol matt 247 hellblau. Once this was dry, the airframe was masked of in preparation for airbrushing. The top-side was painted in VL Green (VL = Valtion lentokonetehdas – State Aircraft Factory). The upper-surfaces were then masked and airbrushed with thinned Humbrol 33 Black. The whole airframe was then given two coats of Johnson’s Klear in preparation for the decalling. HLeLv 31 sports a ‘Bat and Moon’ emblem on both fuselage sides, a shark mouth and eyes. The decals were in good register and went on well with the use of Micro-sol and Micro-set decal setting solutions. After the decals had settled, the panel lines were picked out with heavily thinned Windsor & Newton Ivory Black and finally, the aircraft was given another coat of Johnson’s Klear.
The sub-assemblies were glued into place, these included; the undercarriage, tail wheel, mass-balances, aerial, pitot tube, propeller and black and white hub. The final addition was the aerial wire.
This kit went together without any problems. It required no filler, was easy to construct and was pleasing to build. The Airfix 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 comes highly recommended.
Hasegawa Messerschmitt Bf 109G-14 ‘Post War’
Kit: 00707 Hasegawa 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-14 ‘Post War’
Price: £10.99 available from Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Fleet Street, Swindon
Decals: 2 Options
Notes: Eduard canopy mask Mask (designed to be used for Airfix kits), used. Available from Hannants UK, £2.80.
This kit first appeared in 1993, modellers interested in the Finnish Air Force will notice the obvious mistake. The Suomen Ilmavoimat did not operate the Bf 109G-14. In fact, the Bf 109G-14 is externally identical to the Bf 109G-6 ‘Late’, which had the ‘tall’ wooden tail and the ‘Erla Haube’ canopy. Therefore, this kit is absolutely fine to make as a Finnish Bf 109G-6/R6 ‘Late’. Incidentally, Hasegawa corrected this mistake in 1994 by re-releasing the same kit in a Bf 109G-6 Boxing.
The kit is supplied in a ‘top-opening’ style box and comprises 4 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic and one clear sprue with two one-piece canopies, one ‘standard’ canopy (Blanked off as ‘Not for use’) and one ‘Erla haube’.
As one would expect from a Hasegawa kit, the moulds are excellent, the recessed panels lines are consistent to the scale, the parts are well engineered (the fuselage halves fitted perfectly) and the proportions of the aircraft are accurate.
The kit is supplied in a ‘top-opening’ style box, the instructions are in 8 stages in the now familiar ‘exploded-view’ format. The decals, despite the kit’s age, look good, are comprehensive and in register.
The parts were washed in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release, dried and each sprue was sprayed with grey auto-primer from a rattle can. The Hasegawa kit contains a moulded cockpit tub, control column and instrument panel with decal. This sets it apart from the Airfix kit but is probably fairly reflected in the price. The cockpit and interior was airbrushed with Humbrol matt 67 dark grey, once dry, the fuselage halves were glued together and taped. The ‘Tall-tail’ is a separate unit, this was similarly glued and the 4-piece fuselage air-filter was put together.
Once dry, the tail was glued to the rear fuselage and the horizontal tail-surfaces added. The upper-cowling is a separate unit which was fitted along with the MG 131 covers which are separate parts on the Hasegawa kit, which gives the kit a more accurate look.
The upper wings were airbrushed on the inside with Humbrol 240 (RLM 02) as were the inside of the undercarriage doors. These, unlike the Airfix kit are separate units as are the undercarriage legs, exhaust stubs and covers. These sub-assemblies were primed and painted as was the propeller and spinner which were airbrushed with Humbrol 241 schwartzgrun.
The wheel hubs were painted with Humbrol 67 dark grey and the tyres painted Humbrol 33 black. The tail wheel was similarly painted.
The next stage involved the auxiliary fuel tank assembly, once complete, this was set to one side and the wings were then joined to the fuselage. The fit was perfect and required no filler and was set to one side to dry. The ‘Erla Haube’ canopy was masked with the Eduard mask and the Pilot’s head armour was added to the cockpit before the canopy was fixed down with Humbrol clearfix. After the airframe had dried overnight, the join-lines were sanded using a medium sanding stick and the entire aircraft was primed using grey auto-primer from a rattlecan.
Camouflage and Markings
I elected to model Messerschmitt Bf 109G6/R6 ‘MT-449’ of HLeLv 31, 1949. The undersides were airbrushed with Humbrol matt 247 hellblau, once dry, the lower-surfaces were masked and the upper-surfaces were airbrushed in VL Green (6 parts Humbrol 116, 6 parts Humbrol 117, 1 part Humbrol 163). Finally, the panel lines were picked out with heavily thinned Windsor & Newton Ivory Black. The decals went on with no difficulty, despite being over 20 years old. This aircraft carried a two-tone scheme, I chose this to provide contrast with the Airfix kit. The airframe was given 2 coats of Johnson’s Klear before the final assembly.
The sub-assemblies were glued into place, these included; the undercarriage, tail wheel, mass-balances, aerial, pitot tube, propeller and hub. The final addition was the aerial wire.
Despite the age of this kit, it was a joy to build. There can be no direct comparison with the Airfix kit as both are from different eras. Having said that, the Hasegawa kit is probably the more accurate of the two.
- Stenman, Kari. Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, Sotamaalaus, Warpaint. 2003.
- Stenman, Kari. Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 24, LeR 5. 2004.
- Stenman, Kari. Osprey Aviation Elite 4, Lentolaivue 24. 2001.
- Stenman, Kari. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 23, Finnish Aces of World War 2. 5th impression 2008.