Osprey Aviation Elite No.4: Lentolaivue 24 – Book Review

LeLv 4 Pages

Authors: Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen.

Lentolavue 24 (No.24 Squadron), arguably the most effective Finnish fighter outfit of World War II, first saw action during the bloody Winter War of 1939-40, when the Soviet Red Army launched a surprise attack on the small Scandinavian country.

Flying obsolescent Fokker D.XXIs, the Squadron enjoyed great success against numerically superior opposition. LeLv 24, re-equipped with the much maligned Brewster Model 239 Buffalo during the temporary ceasefire between the Winter War and the Continuation War.

The Squadron achieved astonishing success with its Brewster Model 239s, using them throughout the Continuation War from its outbreak in June 1941 to its end in September 1944. The unit re-equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G in 1943-44, fully integrating the fighter into the Squadron in April 1944.

Lentolaivue 24s pilots enjoyed further success against the Soviets with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G during the final Soviet summer offensive of 1944. When the armistice was signed in September 1944, LeLv 24 had claimed 877 victories during five years of war.

The book contains 128 pages, 143 black and white wartime photos, 40 color aircraft side profiles, 4 color squadron insignias, one color wartime photo (on the back cover), a map of the air bases in Finland during the war, 4 pages of appendices, and an index.

The colour profiles are of: 4 Bristol Mercury-engine Fokker D.XXIs, 16 Brewster Model 239s, 6 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2s, 10 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6s, the Gloster Gamecock II, de Havilland 60X Moth, VL Viima II, VL Pyry and a page depicting ‘Unit Heraldry’.

LeLv 4 Colour Plates

Each colour profile is numbered and contains a detailed description of each aircraft towards the back of the book.

The front cover depicts a pair of LeLv 24 Brewster Model 239’s in combat with a Polikarpov I-16, the lead Brewster B-239 is flown by flown by Capt. Jorma Savanto, shooting down a Polikarpov I-16 east of Leningrad on January 24th, 1943. This painting is by aviation artist Jim Laurier.

LeLv 24 Cover

This edition contains five chapters; 1 Humble Beginnings, 2 Winter War, 3 Finnish Offensive, 4 Stationary War and 5 Soviet Offensive.

This is a concise combat history of a unique elite unit, their aircraft and the pilots that flew them. Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinen are recognised experts in the field of the Suomen Ilmavoimat/Finnish Air Force from its inception to the present day.

This volume comes highly recommended to anybody wishing to gain an authoritative insight into Lentolaivue 24 and the Finnish Air Force during World War II.


Richard Reynolds.

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