Hans "Hasse" Wind

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 birthday.

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 blockaded Leningrad.

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 particular Brewster.

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 down.

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 underfed.

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.'