Hans Henrik Wind was born in Tammisaari
/ Ekenas on 30 July 1919. His father Frans Henrik Wind was a tanner and
businessman. Since his young days Hans Wind was interested in aviation. He
joined the local Air Defence Club where he built and flew model aircraft.
He also was trained into a good shooter in Home Guard.
In 1938 he was accepted for voluntary
primary pilot training and he logged his first 35 single flying hours. In
1939/40 he was trained into Reserve Officer Pilot, but there were not
enough planes for all trained pilots during the Winter War. Hans Wind had
now decided to enter into military career, and he finished training as
Lieutenant on 17 June 1941.
The war broke out again few days later,
but Wind and most of his colleagues from the same course were not
transferred to front line squadrons, because they had not enough cloud
flying experience. The summer was beautiful and the pilots had to wait for
enough clouds till August in Vaasa. And there was a war going on..
Making use of his friendship with senior
pilot officers Ilkka Torronen and Per-Erik Sovelius Lt. Wind managed to
obtain a transfer to HLeLv 24 at the end of August 1941. He was dressed in
his best blue uniform and polished shoes, but lacking the coveted Pilot's
Insignia due to lack of flying hours (only 172h) as he reported to the
Squadron Leader, Major Magnusson. The major was wearing dusty infantry
model boots , infantry grey trousers and faded ancient brown jacket. Only
the blue boat cap suggested Air Force. The squadron leader welcomed his
reinforcement with ambiguous words, and the young lieutenant decided to
show what he was capable of.
HLeLv 24 was equipped with Brewsters,
the best fighter planes of the FAF. The pilots loved it and the aircraft
type had an unique career in FAF. Wind became a pilot in his friend
Sovelius' flight. Eastern Karelia, where the squadron operated, is mostly
forest, bogs and lakes. All the missions were of "seek and destroy" type
because there was no air surveillance system worth mentioning.
It was not until 22 September, that Wind
was credited his first kill, an old I-15. The Soviet Air Force needed all
the better planes against Germans. During the next 12 months he scored
seven more victories.
He proved on 10 October 1942 that he was
a competent fighter pilot: At Poventsa 3 BWs were engaged in dogfight
against 12 MiG-3's. One of them had managed to get behind Wind's BW-377
tail and he could not shake the enemy off. He could not pull up in the
cloud not knowing how thick it was, so he descended to 300 m, the MiG
shooting at him all the time. Then, over Stalin's Canal he nose-dived and
the enemy followed. He pulled out of the dive, but the enemy did not - MiG
"stalled through" to use the Finnish pilot slang. Wind knew he could
recover the BW from dive at low altitude, and he knew that the MiG-3 could
not do the same.
Early summer 1942 he did a
reconnaissance flight to Archangelsk (650 km from his base) to locate
enemy air fields and count the planes in each. He fulfilled the task, and
upon landing the engine stopped due to fuel starvation. On 4 June 1942 he
was flying one of the four BWs escorting Adolf Hitler's FW Condor to
Immola as the Fuhrer came gate-crashing to Marshal Mannerheim's 75th
In August 1942 the squadron was
transferred to Römpötti to operate on the eastern Gulf of Finland. Wind
was now flying as the leader of a division (four fighters). Major
Magnusson organized an effective air surveillance and flight guidance
system to assist the Finnish fighter pilots. Now the Soviet Air force was
abandoning I-153s and I-16s for Hurricanes, Spitfires and Yak-1s.
Wind's score began to increase and he
was catching up with Ilmari Juutilainen. He had his BW-393's machine guns
aimed to focus their salvoes at 35 m ahead instead of the standard 150 m.
So on 14 August 1942 Wind shot down two Hurricanes. Four days later there
was the largest air battle of the FAF so far. Near Sepeleva lighthouse 16
Brewsters engaged a total of 60 Hurricanes and I-16s. BW pilots scored 16
and lost one. Wind shot down one Hurricane and two I-16s
On 10 October 1942 Wind was made the
commander of the 1st flight. Two weeks later, on 26 October he fought
alone against eight I-16s flying in circle around the Sepeleva lighthouse.
With good luck he managed to disengage in the confusion created after he
shot down one I-16 on the doorstep of the lighthouse.
At the end of 1942 his score stood at 14
1/2. Wind lost his command to Capt. Sarvanto early in 1943 as the number
of flights was cut from four to three due to lack of aircraft. The theater
of the war was still eastern Gulf of Finland, and the task of the squadron
was to prevent and disturb the attacks of Soviet planes operating from the
On 5 April 1943 Wind shot down three
Il-2Ms, shooting at 90 degree angle to pierce the enemy planes' heavy
armour, after slipping through the Soviet escort fighters. Nine days
later, on 14 April, his flight fought against 18 Spitfires, of which Wind
got 2. The enemy shot off his right aileron and with great trouble he
managed to balance the BW-393 and take the course to the base. He was
concentrated in nursing his fighter as a Yak-1 appeared on his wing, five
meters away. The Soviet pilot counted the 18 victory stripes on the BW
vertical stabilizer, saluted and turned away. Wind blessed his good luck.
Either the Yak was out of ammo or the guns were jammed...
Hans Wind in front of his Brewster B-239 numbered BW-393
belonging to 3./LLv 24. Wind shot down 26 1/2 Soviet aircraft in this
A week later, on 21 April, 19 BWs fought
against 35 enemies at Seiskari Island. The enemy lost 10 Yak-1, 5 LaGG-3
and 4 La-5. Two Finnish pilots were lost, both friends of Lt. Wind: he
scored two Yak-1s and shared one with Sgt. Kinnunen before this pilot was
shot down and killed. On 2 May 1943 Wind lost another friend, Capt.
Törrönen in a fight of 18 BWs against 30 enemies - 4 LaGG-3s were shot
In end of May (on 29 May 1943) Squadron
24 celebrated the 500th victory. The reasons for this success against
increasingly better enemy fighters (now no more I-16 or Hurricanes) were
good experienced pilots and efficient ground control combined with enemy
radio traffic monitoring.
In summer 1943 Wind was again placed to
command the 3rd flight. The squadron continued active flying against
materially ever more superior enemy. The new Squadron 34 was equipped with
Bf 109 G fighters, and they often flew together with BWs. The BW pilots
were envious.. Lt. Wind was granted Mannerheim Cross no. 116 on 30 July
1943. He had 33 1/2 victories at that date. In October he was promoted in
the rank of Captain at the age of 24 years.
Hasse Wind and BW-393
His superiors considered him a typical
war-time officer and fighter pilot: he had little interest in the
administrative work of the Flight Commander. Major Karhunen compared him
with René Fonck of the WW1. Among his men, friends and colleagues he was
very popular: He was generous and always willing to help, in flight and on
the ground. The bonus money granted with the Mannerheim Cross, amounting
to annual pay in one lump sum, vanished through his fingers in a matter of
months, although he was a teetotaller.
From Brewsters to Messerschmitts
In August 1943 Squadron 24 began to
receive Bf 109's, used planes from Squadron 34. It was the last possible
moment. The BWs were by now helpless against 100 to 150 km/h faster Yak-7
and La-5 enemies, no amount of pilot skill could change that. Capt. Wind
was commanded to train new pilots and share his experience in
February-March 1944. The manual he wrote for the course was used by FAF
the next 30 years.
On 8 April 1944 his score was 44. It was
27 May 1944, when he scored his first victory with Messerschmitt: he shot
down 2 La-5's with MT-201, that was his plane until 15 June 1944.
The Soviet Offensive in the Karelian
Isthmus started on 9 June 1944, together with the Allied invasion in
Normandy. It was a surprise for the highest command of the Finnish Army
but not for the pilots who had observed the preparations for months. The
Soviet Union concentrated gigantic forces on the front. The enemy flew in
formations of up to 100 aircraft and did in average 1000 missions a day,
weather allowing. On 9 June there were six Bf 109's to intercept this
massive air attack. Of course all available MTs were concentrated in the
Isthmus: it was not much, Squadron 24 had 14 airworthy Messerschmitts, and
Squadron 34 was not much better off. Although the pilots flew 6 to 7
missions a day, engaging the enemy during each one, the Soviet Air Force
controlled the air. Both pilots and ground crews were overworked and often
Early in the morning on 13 June 1944
Wind led six MTs to reconnoitre the results of FAF bombing raid on a
Soviet "tank park" the night before. The mission turned into an
interception fight as the Finnish pilots detected a formation of Pe-2
bombers. Their escort fighters were not up to their task. Capt. Wind shot
down four bombers in quick succession, the other pilots downed four more.
Then the Finnish Messerschmitts escaped. In the afternoon Wind was leading
four MEs in another reconnaissance mission and they were returning home
with task accomplished, flying at treetops. At Halila Wind saw six Pe-2s
at 1500 m escorted by 16 "Airacobras" at 3000m flying north, to bomb
Finnish positions. Wind decided to attack, again defying the orders to
avoid combat. He ordered each pilot to pick a target, then they began to
approach unnoticed under the bombers. When in range, Wind commanded fire.
Four Petlyakovs were destroyed, the two surviving escaped and the Finnish
fighters disengaged before the enemy fighters intervened. Wind was
reprimanded for endangering the reconnaissance results twice the same day,
but consoled himself by thinking what the Soviet commander of the escort
fighters could explain to the politruk..
After destroying of 5 Pe-2 s on 13 June
1944, the incredible series of Wind's kills was continued in following
days: 15 June - 1 P-39 + 1 IL-2M; 16 June - 2 Pe-2 + 1 La-5; 19 June - 2
P-39 + 1 La-5 (flown by a Hero of Soviet Union, major A.V. Zhirkov). Now
Wind was flying a brand new G-6, "MT-439". The plane was still under
German insignia because there was no time to painting work.
20 June 1944 there was the toughest day of
the war in the air. FAF Messerschmitts (30 aircraft) flew 126 missions,
were engaged in 13 air battles in which 49 victories were scored, without
losses. This day "Hasse" add to his scoreboard 2 La-5s + 2 Yak-9s + 1
Pe-2. Two days later (on 22 June) he got 2 Spitfires + 1 La-5; next day -
2 La-5s + 2 DB-3Fs; on 25 June - 3 Yak-9s + 2 Yak-7s.
That makes 30 victories in 12 days. Wind
took off fast after alert and attacked the enemy ruthlessly, without
planning or hesitation. When in shooting position he fired accurately at
close range. But Wind was very bitter not being able to help the Finnish
infantry, being terrorized by Shtormoviks. On 26 June 1944 he test flew
the MT-439 after repair and shot down 3 Yak-9s. His last flight was on 28
June 1944. He shot down 3 Yak-9s and returned to base badly wounded -
After the war
Wind's final score was 75, making him the
No. 2 ace in FAF. He recovered from his wounds, but a lot of small
splinters were left in his body, causing pain in his last years. He was
married on 26 August, then began his studies in Helsinki School of
Business having resigned from Air Force service on 10 May 1945.
Hans Wind was working in managerial duties
up to retirement age. For 30 years veterans of the war were an
embarrassment for the foreign politics of the country, and it was not
until in late seventies that the commander of the FAF, gen. Meriö
contacted Wind and the other aces to introduce them to young FAF pilots.
In 1985 he was invited to participate in the "Gathering of the Eagles" in
USA, along with several of the most famous pilots of the world (Johnny
Johnson , Chuck Yeager..).
Hans Wind became better known for the
general public as his biography was published in 1990 (Hasse Wind,
hävittäjälentäjä by Börje Sjögren). The politicians and civil servants,
too, admitted the value of the veteran's battles in the war.
Hans Wind, captain in reserve and Double
Knight of Mannerheim Cross, died on 24 July 1995. He was survived by his
wife and five children.
Hans Wind and his ground crew in 1943, in front of his
Brewster fighter. Wind has written on the photo: 'With thanks for the good
co-operation and comradeship, captain Hasse Wind.'