Finnish Air Force

The Finnish Air Force (FAF or FiAF) (Finnish: Ilmavoimat ("Air Forces"), Swedish: Flygvapnet) ("Air Arm") is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. Its peacetime tasks are airspace surveillance, identification flights, and production of readiness formations for wartime conditions.[1] The Finnish Air Force was founded on 6 March 1918.

Finnish Air Force
Ilmavoimat
Flygvapnet
Suomen Ilmavoimien tunnus

Finnish Air Force emblem
Active6 March 1918—present
Country Finland
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size3,100 active personnel, 38,000 reserve personnel
Motto(s)Qualitas Potentia Nostra
Quality is our Strength
Equipment134 aircraft
EngagementsFinnish Civil War
Winter War
Continuation War
Lapland War
Websiteilmavoimat.fi/en/
Commanders
CommanderMajor General Sampo Eskelinen
Notable
commanders
Arne Somersalo
Jarl Lundqvist
Jarmo Lindberg
Insignia
Roundel
Finnish air force roundel
Aviator badge
Suomen lentomerkki ohjaajalle

History

The first steps in the history of Finnish aviation were taken with Russian aircraft. The Russian military had a number of early designs stationed in the country, which until the Russian Revolution of 1917 had been part of the Russian Empire. Soon after the declaration of independence the Finnish Civil War erupted, in which the Soviets/Russians sided with the Reds – the leftist rebels. Finland's White Guard, the Whites, managed to seize a few aircraft from the Russians, but were forced to rely on foreign pilots and aircraft. Sweden refused to send men and material, but individual Swedish citizens came to the aid of the Whites. The editor of the Swedish daily magazine Aftonbladet, Waldemar Langlet, bought a N.A.B. Albatros aircraft from the Nordiska Aviatik A.B. factory with funds gathered by the Finlands vänner ("Friends of Finland") organization. This aircraft, the first to arrive from Sweden, was flown via Haparanda on 25 February 1918 by Swedish pilots John-Allan Hygerth (who on March 10 became the first commander of the Finnish Air Force) and Per Svanbäck. The aircraft made a stop at Kokkola and had to make a forced landing in Jakobstad when its engine broke down. It was later given the Finnish Air Force designation F.2 ("F" coming from the Swedish word "Flygmaskin", meaning "aircraft").[2]

Finnish air force roundel 1934-1945 border
The insignia of the Finnish Air force 1918–1945.

Swedish count Eric von Rosen gave the Finnish White government its second aircraft, a Thulin Typ D.[3] Its pilot, Lieutenant Nils Kindberg, flew the aircraft to Vaasa on 6 March 1918, carrying von Rosen as a passenger. As this gift ran counter to the will of the Swedish government, and no flight permit had been given, it resulted in Kindberg receiving a fine of 100 Swedish crowns for leaving the country without permission. This aircraft is considered by some to be the first aircraft of the Finnish Air Force, since the Finnish Air Force did not officially exist during the Civil War, and it was only the Red side who flew a few aircraft with the help of some Russian pilots. The von Rosen aircraft was given the designation F.1.[2] The Finnish Air Force is one of the oldest air forces of the world – the RAF was founded as the first independent branch on 1 April 1918 and the Swedish Flygvapnet in 1925.

Von Rosen had painted his personal good luck charm on the Thulin Typ D aircraft. This charm – a blue swastika, the ancient symbol of the sun and good luck – was adopted as the insignia of the Finnish Air Force. The white circular background was created when the Finns tried to paint over the advertisement from the Thulin air academy.[4] The swastika was officially taken into use after an order by Commander-in-Chief C. G. E. Mannerheim on 18 March 1918. The FAF changed its aircraft insignia after 1944, due to an Allied Control Commission decree[5] prohibiting Fascist organizations and it resembling the Third Reich's swastika.[5] (However, it still remains in all the colours of Air Force units, pending any replacement with the current service emblem.)

The F.1 aircraft was destroyed in an accident, killing its crew, not long after it had been handed over to the Finns. On 7 September 1920, two newly purchased Savoia flying boats crashed in the Swiss Alps en route to Finland, killing all on-board (three Finns and one Italian). This day has since been the memorial day for fallen pilots.

The Finnish Air Force assigns the matriculation numbers to its aircraft by assigning each type a two-letter code following by dash and an individual aircraft number. The two-letter code usually refers to the aircraft manufacturer or model, such as HN for F/A-18 Hornet, DK for Saab 35 Draken, VN for Valmet Vinka etc.

The Finnish Civil War 1918

The air activity of the Reds

Most of the airbases that the Russians had left in Finland had been taken over by Whites after the Russian pilots had returned to Russia.

The Reds were in possession of a few airbases and a few Russian aircraft, mainly amphibious aircraft. They had 12 aircraft in all. The Reds did not have any pilots themselves, so they hired some of the Russian pilots that had stayed behind. On 24 February 1918 five aircraft arrived to Viipuri, and were quickly transferred to Riihimäki.

The Reds created air units in Helsinki, Tampere, Kouvola, and Viipuri. There were no overall headquarters, but the individual units served under the commander of the individual front line. A flight school was created in Helsinki, but no students were trained there before the fall of Helsinki.

Two of the aircraft, one reconnaissance aircraft (Nieuport 10) and one fighter aircraft (Nieuport 17) that had arrived to Riihimäki were sent to Tampere, and three to Kouvola. Four Russian pilots and six mechanics also arrived to Tampere. The first war sortie was flown on March 1, 1918 over Naistenlahti.

It seems like the Reds also operated two aircraft over the Eastern front. The Reds mainly performed reconnaissance, bombing sorties, spreading of propaganda leaflets, and artillery spotting. The Reds' air activity wasn’t particularly successful. Their air operations suffered from bad leadership, worn-out aircraft, and the un-motivated Russian pilots. Some of the aircraft were captured by the Whites, while the rest were destroyed.

The air activity of the Whites

In January 1918 the Whites did not have a single aircraft, let alone pilots, so they asked the Swedes for help. Sweden was a neutral nation and thus could not send any official help. Sweden also forbade its pilots to aid Finland.

Despite this official stance, however, one Morane-Saulnier Parasol, and three N.A.B. Albatros arrived from Sweden by the end of February 1918. Two of the Albatross aircraft were gifts from private citizens supporting the White Finnish cause, while the third was bought. It was initially meant that the aircraft would be used to support the air operations of the Whites, but the aircraft ultimately proved unsuitable.

Along with aircraft shortages, the Whites also did not have any personnel, so all the pilots and mechanics also came from Sweden. One of the Finnish Jägers, Lieutenant Bertil Månsson, had been given pilot training in Imperial Germany, but he stayed behind in Germany, trying to secure further aircraft deals for Finland.

During the Civil War the White Finnish Air Force consisted of:

  • 29 Swedes (16 pilots, two observers and 11 mechanics). Of the pilots, only 4 had been given military training, and one of them was operating as an observer.
  • 2 Danes (one pilot, one observer)
  • 7 Russians (six pilots, one observer)
  • 28 Finns (four pilots of whom two were military trained, six observers, two engineers and 16 mechanics).

The air activity consisted mainly of reconnaissance sorties. The Germans brought several of their own aircraft, but they did not contribute much to the overall outcome of the war.

The first Air Force Base of independent Finland was founded on the shore near Kolho. The base could operate three aircraft. The first aircraft was brought by rail on March 7, 1918, and on March 17, 1918 took off from the base for the first time. In 1918, the Finns took over nine Russian Stetinin M-9 aircraft that had been left behind.

The first air operation of the Whites during the war was flown over Lyly. It was a reconnaissance gathering mission as the front line moved south. As the line neared Tampere, the AFB was moved first to Orivesi and then to Kaukajärvi near Tampere as well. The contribution of the White air force during the war was almost insignificant.

From March 10, 1918, the Finnish Air Force was led by the Swedish Lt. John-Allan Hygerth. He was however replaced on April 18, 1918, due to his unsuitability for the position and numerous accidents. His job was taken over by the German Captain Carl Seber, who commanded the air force from April 28, 1918 until December 13, 1918.

By the end of the Civil War, the Finnish Air Force had 40 aircraft, of which 20 had been captured from the Reds (the Reds did not operate this many aircraft, but some had been found abandoned on the Åland Islands). Five of the aircraft had been flown by the Allies from Russia, four had been gifts from Sweden and eight had been bought from Germany.

Winter War 1939–1940

Fokker D.XXI
Fokker D.XXI aircraft in the Finnish air force during World War II

The Winter War began on 30 November 1939, when the Soviet Air Force bombed 21 Finnish cities and municipalities. The Soviet Union is estimated to have had about 5,000 aircraft in 1939, and of these, some 700 fighters and 800 medium bombers were brought to the Finnish front to support the Red Army's operations. As with most aerial bombardment of the early stages of World War II, the damage to Finnish industry and railways was quite limited.

At the beginning of the Winter War, the Finnish Air Force was equipped with only 17 Bristol Blenheim bombers and 46 fighters (32 modern Fokker D.XXIs and 14 obsolete Bristol Bulldogs). There were also 58 liaison aircraft, but 20 of these were only used for messengers. The most modern aircraft in the Finnish arsenal were British-designed Bristol Blenheim bombers that had been built under license in Finland. The primary fighter aircraft was the Fokker D.XXI, a cheap but maneuverable design with fabric-covered fuselage and fixed landing gear. On paper, this force should have been no match for the attacking Soviet Red Air Force. However, the Finnish Air Force had already adopted the Finger-four formation in the mid-1930s,[6][7] which was to be found to be much more effective formation than the Vic formation that many other countries were still using when World War II began.

To prevent their aircraft from being destroyed on the ground, the Finns spread out their aircraft to many different airfields and hid them in the nearby forests. The Finns constructed many decoys and built shrapnel protection walls for the aircraft. Soviet air raids on Finnish airfields usually caused little or no damage as a result, and often resulted in interception of the attackers by the Finns as the bombers flew homeward.

As the war progressed, the Finns tried desperately to purchase aircraft wherever there were any to be found. This policy resulted in a very diverse aircraft inventory, which caused some major logistical problems until the inventory became more standardized. The Finnish Air Force included numerous American, British, Czechoslovakian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Soviet, and Swedish designs. Other countries, like South Africa and Denmark, sent aircraft to assist in the Finnish war effort. Many of these purchases and gifts did not arrive until the end of the hostilities, but were to see action later during the Continuation and Lapland wars.

Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV of the Finnish Air Force
Bristol Blenheim BL-129 of Finnish Air Force LeLv 44

To make up for its weaknesses (few and obsolete fighters) the FiAF mainly focused on attacking enemy bombers from directions that were disadvantageous to the enemy. Soviet fighters were usually superior in firepower, speed and agility, and were to be avoided unless the enemy was in a disadvantageous position. An example of this strategy was the surprise attack on the Immola air base in late February 1940 by some 40 Soviet fighters. The Finns were surprised during take off and lost seven planes, one Fokker D.XXI and six Gloster Gladiators.

As a result of these tactics, the Finnish Air Force managed to shoot down 218 Soviet aircraft during the Winter War while losing only 47 to enemy fire. Finnish anti-aircraft guns also had 314 confirmed downed enemy planes. 30 Soviet planes were captured – these were "kills" that landed more or less intact within Finland and were quickly repaired.

Continuation War 1941–1944

Brewster 239 formation
Finnish Brewster Buffalos formation during the Continuation War

The Finnish Air Force was better prepared for the Continuation War. It had been considerably strengthened and consisted of some 550 aircraft, though many were considered second-rate and thus "exportable" by their countries of origin. Finland purchased a large number of aircraft during the Winter War, but few of those reached service during the short conflict. Politics also played a factor, since Hitler did not wish to antagonize the Soviet Union by allowing aircraft exports through German-controlled territory during the conflict. In addition to Fokker fighters and Bristol Blenheim bombers built under license, new aircraft types were in place by the time hostilities with Soviet Union resumed in 1941. Small numbers of Hawker Hurricanes arrived from the United Kingdom, Morane-Saulnier M.S.406s from France, Fiat G.50s from Italy, and one liaison aircraft. Numerous Brewster F2A Buffalos from the neutral USA strengthened the FiAF. A few dozen Curtiss Hawk 75s captured by the Germans in France and Norway were sold to Finland when Germany began warming up its ties with Finland. Captured Tupolev SBs, Ilyushin DB-3s, and Polikarpov I-153s were reconditioned for service.

The FiAF proved capable of holding its own in the upcoming battles with the Red Air Force. Older models, such as the Fokker D.XXI and Gloster Gladiator, had been replaced with new aircraft in front-line combat units.

The FiAF's main mission was to achieve air superiority over Finland and prevent Soviet air power from reinforcing their front lines. The fighter squadrons were very successful in the Finnish offensive of 1941. A stripped-down, more maneuverable, and significantly lightened version of the American Brewster Buffalo was the FiAF's main fighter until 1943. Results with this fighter were very good, even though the type was considered to be a failure in the US Navy and with British and Dutch Far East forces. In Finnish use, the Brewster had a victory rate of 32:1 – 459 kills to 15 losses. German Bf 109s replaced the Brewster as the primary front-line fighter of the FiAF in 1943, though the Buffalos continued in secondary roles until the end of the wars. Other types, especially the Italian Fiat G.50 and Curtiss Hawk 75, also proved capable in the hands of well-trained Finnish pilots. Various Russian designs also saw action when lightly damaged "kills" were repaired and made airworthy.

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2
Finnish Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2s during the Continuation War

Dornier Do 17s (received as a gift from Hermann Göring in 1942) and Junkers Ju 88s improved the bombing capability of the Finnish Air Force. The bomber force was also strengthened with a number of captured Soviet bombers, which had been taken in large numbers by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa. The bomber units flew assorted missions with varying results, but a large part of their time was spent in training, waiting to use their aircraft until the time required it. Thus the bomber squadrons of Flying Regiment 4 were ready for the summer battles of 1944, which included for example the Battle of Tali-Ihantala.

While the FiAF was successful in its mission, the conditions were not easy. Spare parts for the FiAF planes were scarce — parts from the US (Buffalo and Hawk), Britain (Hurricanes), and Italy (G.50) were unavailable for much of the war. Repairs took often a long time, and the State Aircraft Factory was burdened with restoration/repair of captured Soviet planes, foreign aircraft with many hours of flight time, and the development of indigenous Finnish fighter types. Also, one damaged bomber took up workshop space equalling three fighters.

Finland was required to expel or intern remaining German forces as part of its peace agreement with the Soviets in mid-1944. As a result, the final air battles were against retreating Luftwaffe units.

The Finnish Air Force did not bomb any civilian targets during either war.[8] Curiously, overflying Soviet towns and bases was also forbidden, as to avoid any unneeded provocations and to spare equipment.

The Finnish Air Force shot down 1,621 Soviet aircraft while losing 210 of its own aircraft during the Continuation War.[9]

After World War II

MiG-21bis (MG-130) Verkkokauppa 02
A MiG-21 on display near Jätkäsaari

The end of World War II, and the Paris peace talks of 1947 brought with it some limitations to the FiAF. Among these were that the Finnish Air Force were to have:

  • No more than 60 combat aircraft
  • No aircraft with internal bomb bays
  • No guided missiles or atomic weapons
  • No weaponry of German construction or using German parts
  • A maximum strength of 3,000 persons
  • No offensive weapons

These revisions followed Soviet demands closely. When Britain tried to add some of their own (fearing that the provisions were there only to augment the Soviet air-defences) they were opposed by the Soviets. The revisions were again revised in 1963 and Finland was allowed to buy guided missiles and a few bombers that were used as target-tugs. The FAF also used a loop-hole to strengthen its capabilities by purchasing large numbers of two-seater aircraft, which counted as trainer aircraft and were not included in the revisions. These aircraft could have secondary roles.[10]

During the Cold War years, Finland tried to balance its purchases between east, west and domestic producers. This led to a diverse inventory of Soviet, British, Swedish, French and Finnish aircraft. After leading Finnish politicians held unofficial talks with their Swedish counterparts, Sweden began storing surplus Saab 35 Drakens, which were to be transferred to Finland in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. These were kept until the 1980s.[11]

On 22 September 1990, a week before the unification of Germany, Finland declared that the limiting treaties were no longer active and that all the provisions of the Paris Peace Treaties were nullified.[12] The signatory states abstained from diplomatic notes regarding the declaration, which thus confirmed the nullification.

In the 1990s, with the Cold War over, the Finnish Air Force ended its policy of purchasing Soviet/Russian aircraft and replaced the Saab Draken and MiG-21s in its fighter wing with US F/A-18C/D Hornets.[13][14][15][16]

Today, the FAF is organized into three Air Commands, each assigned to one of the three air defence areas into which Finland is divided. The main Wing bases are at Rovaniemi, Tampere and Kuopio-Rissala, each with a front-line squadron. Pilot training is undertaken at the Air Force Academy in Tikkakoski, with advanced conversion performed at squadron level.

Aircraft

Current inventory

F18 Hornet - RIAT 2018 (30226236978)
A Finnish F/A-18
Pilatus PC-12 (PI-03) (cropped)
A Finnish PC-12NG in flight
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Boeing F/A-18 United States multirole F/A-18C 55[17][18]
Electronic Warfare
CASA C-295 Spain electronic warfare C-295M 1[17]
Transport
Learjet 35 United States transport 35-A/S 3[19]
CASA C-295 Spain transport C-295M 2[20]
Pilatus PC-12 Switzerland liaison PC-12 NG 6[21]
Trainer Aircraft
Boeing F/A-18 United States conversion trainer F/A-18D 7[17]
BAE Hawk United Kingdom jet trainer Hawk 51 / 51A / 66 8 / 7 / 16[22]
L-70 Vinka Finland primary trainer 26[23]
Grob G 115E Germany primary trainer 28[24]

Organization

Finish Air Force bases 2018
Red pog.svg F-18C/D Blue 0080ff pog.svg Hawk Green pog.svg Other bases
CASA C-295 (code CC-3) of the Finnish Air Force departs RIAT Fairford 17July2017 arp
CASA C-295 of the Finnish Air Force
Hawk 51 (HW-352) of the Finnish Air Force arrives RIAT Fairford 13July2017 arp
A BAe Hawk 51 of the Finnish Midnight Hawks

The Air Force is organised into three air commands, each of which operates a fighter squadron. In addition, the Air Force includes a number of other units:

War Time Strength

  • 2x F-18C squadrons
  • 1x Hawk squadron
  • 1x Air Operations Support squadron
  • 4x Stand-by bases
  • 4x Communication flights

Total strength is 38,000.

Commanders

Rank Name From To
Captain Carl Seber April 28, 1918 December 13, 1918
Lieutenant Colonel Torsten Aminoff December 14, 1918 January 9, 1919
Colonel Sixtus Hjelmmann January 10, 1919 October 25, 1920
Major Arne Somersalo October 26, 1920 February 2, 1926
Colonel Väinö Vuori February 2, 1926 September 7, 1932
Lieutenant General Jarl Lundqvist September 8, 1932 June 29, 1945
Lieutenant General Frans Helminen June 30, 1945 November 30, 1952
Lieutenant General Reino Artola December 1, 1952 December 5, 1958
Major General Fjalar Seeve December 6, 1958 September 12, 1964
Lieutenant General Reino Turkki September 13, 1964 December 4, 1968
Lieutenant General Eero Salmela February 7, 1969 April 21, 1975
Lieutenant General Rauno Meriö April 22, 1975 January 31, 1987
Lieutenant General Pertti Jokinen February 1, 1987 January 31, 1991
Lieutenant General Heikki Nikunen February 1, 1991 April 30, 1995
Major General Matti Ahola May 1, 1995 August 31, 1998
Lieutenant General Jouni Pystynen September 1, 1998 December 31, 2004
Lieutenant General Heikki Lyytinen January 1, 2005 July 31, 2008
Lieutenant General Jarmo Lindberg August 1, 2008 February 29, 2012
Major General Lauri Puranen March 1, 2012 March 31, 2014
Major General Kim Jäämeri April 1, 2014 May 31, 2017
Major General Sampo Eskelinen June 1, 2017

See also

References

  1. ^ "Finnish Air Force today". Finnish Air Force. Archived from the original (Web article) on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  2. ^ a b Keskinen, Partonen, Stenman 2005.
  3. ^ A photograph of this plane can be found in the book by Shores 1969, p. 4.
  4. ^ Heinonen 1992.
  5. ^ a b "Armistice Agreement". Heninen.net. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  6. ^ "Finnish Air Force". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Finnish Air Force History". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Continuation War Aviation in Review". virtualpilots.fi. 2005-09-19. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  9. ^ Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman. Aerial Victories 1, Aerial Victories 2 (2006)
  10. ^ Arter, David: Scandinavian politics today, Manchester University Press (1999), ISBN 0-7190-5133-9, p.254
  11. ^ "Avslöjande: Sverige lagrade jaktplan för finska piloter" (in Swedish). Hbl.fi. Archived from the original on 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  12. ^ http://www.nato.int/docu/review/1993/9301-3.htm
  13. ^ Finland MiG-21 Aviata.net Retrieved February 22, 2017
  14. ^ Jeziorski, Andrzej F-18 costs delay Finnish support requirements November 15, 1995 Flight Global Retrieved February 22, 2017
  15. ^ F/A-18 Hornet Global Security Retrieved February 22, 2017
  16. ^ The Finnish Air Force Archived 2017-02-22 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved February 22, 2017
  17. ^ a b c "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Boeing F/A-18C and F/A-18D Hornet" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Gates Learjet 35A/S" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Airbus Military C295M" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Pilatus PC-12 NG" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: BAE Systems Hawk" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Valmet L-70 Vinka" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Finnish Air Force Aircraft Fact Sheet: Grob G 115E" (PDF). Finnish Air Force. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  25. ^ "Puolustusvoimat". Archived from the original on 14 November 2006. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  26. ^ "Puolustusvoimat" (in Finnish). Ilmavoimat.fi. 2014-02-14. Archived from the original on 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  27. ^ Satakunnan lennoston organisaatio. Satakunta Air Command. Retrieved 2008-12-22. (in Finnish)
  28. ^ "Puolustusvoimat" (in Finnish). Ilmavoimat.fi. 2014-02-14. Archived from the original on 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  • Shores, Christopher (1969). Finnish Air Force, 1918–1968. Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-0668021210.

External links

Air Force Academy, Finnish Air Force

The Air Force Academy (Finnish: Ilmasotakoulu, abbr. IlmaSK; Swedish: Luftkrigsskolan) is located at Tikkakoski in Jyväskylä, Finland. It is a Finnish Air Force pilot training school, which gives initial pilot training for conscripts of the Finnish Air Force. The pilots fly Vinka aircraft and training is provided by the Patria Aviation company. Upon completing initial training, some pilots are transferred to the Training Air Wing in Kauhava, where they begin jet training with Hawk aircraft.

Initial pilot training was formerly given in the Air Force Academy in Kauhava, but basic training was branched off as a separate unit and moved to Tikkakoski in 2005. At the same time, the Kauhava unit change its name into Training Air Wing and the new unit in Tikkakoski retained the name Air Force Academy.

Flying Regiment 19, Finnish Air Force

The Flight Regiment 19 (Swedish: Flygflottilj 19, Finnish: Lentorykmentti 19 or LentoR 19), also known as the Swedish Voluntary Air Force or F 19 was a Finnish Air Force unit, manned by Swedish volunteers, which operated from Kemi in northern Finland for the last 62 days of the Winter War. The aircraft also came from the Swedish Air Force inventory. Its designation number was taken from the Swedish Air Force which had 18 flying regiments at the time. The designation F 19 has not been used in Sweden. When new regiments were formed they were named F 20, F 21 and F 22.

The unit made a significant contribution to the defense of Finnish Lapland, from January 7, 1940, with 12 Gloster Gladiator II fighters, five Hawker Hart bombers, and eight other planes. In total, the unit destroyed twelve Soviet aircraft (eight in the air, four on the ground), and lost a total of six planes; two to enemy action and four to accidents. Three of its pilots were killed and two more were captured by Soviet forces. The captives were returned to Sweden five months after the end of the war.

List of World War II flying aces

This is a list of World War II flying aces. Fighter aces in World War II had tremendously varying kill scores, affected as they were by many factors: the pilot's skill level, the performance of the airplane he flew and those he flew against, how long he served, his opportunity to meet the enemy in the air (Allied to Axis disproportion), and the standards his air service brought to the awarding of victory credits.

Towards the end of the war, the Axis powers had largely exhausted their supply of skilled pilots and the replacements did not have as much opportunity to gain enough experience to be successful. Additionally, national policies differed; German, Italian, and Japanese pilots tended to return to the cockpit over and over again until they were killed.It is not clear what impact each nation's rules for score crediting have on the counts listed below. Germans credited a shared victory to only one pilot, while the French credited full victory to all participants. British, Finnish and US air forces credited fractional shares of aerial victories, resulting in fractions, such as 11½, which might be for example 10 aircraft and three shares with the second pilot. Some U.S. commands also credited aircraft destroyed on the ground. The Soviets counted only solo kills, while group kills were counted separately, as did the Japanese. The Italian Air Force did not officially credited victories to individual pilots, but to their unit as a whole. Probable kills are usually left out of the list.

It is necessary to emphasize, that the question of assessing and comparing the success rate of fighters by number of victories is one of the more problematic, there are disputes about what is "shot down" and what is "air victory", but the most problematic seems to be credibility of reports and reliability of its confirmation, which was substantially different in particular air forces. As the most reliable is considered the confirmation of the victories in RAF, using comparison of testimonials of participants and—if possible—film material.

List of military aircraft of Finland

The following is a list of military aircraft of Finland, both historical and currently in use by the Finnish Defence Forces.

Midnight Hawks

Midnight Hawks is a Finnish aerobatics team. The team is organised by the Finnish Air Force.

The aircraft used is the BAe Hawk advanced jet trainer

No. 12 Squadron (Finland)

No. 12 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 12 or LLv.12, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.12), renamed No. 12 Reconnaissance Squadron (Finnish: Tiedustelulentolaivue 12 or TLe.Lv.12 on 14 February 1944) was a reconnaissance squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 1.

No. 16 Squadron (Finland)

No. 16 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 16 or LLv.16, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.16), renamed No. 16 Reconnaissance Squadron (Finnish: Tiedustelulentolaivue 16 or TLe.Lv.16 on 14 February 1944) was a reconnaissance squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 1 during the Winter War and Flying Regiment 2 during the Continuation War.

No. 21 Squadron (Finland)

Fighter Squadron 21 (Hävittäjälentolaivue 21, HävLLv 21) was a Finnish fighter squadron located in Pirkkala, near Tampere. It was the operational part of the Satakunta Air Command. The squadron was disbanded in June 2014, with the fighters being split between Karelian Air Command and Lapland Air Command.

No. 24 Squadron (Finland)

No. 24 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 24 or LLv.24, from 3 May 1942 Le. Lv.24), renamed No. 24 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 24 or HLe.Lv.24 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 2.

During the Winter War, all Fokker D.XXIs - Finland's only modern fighter - were concentrated into the No. 24 Sqn, making it the only frontline fighter force.

No. 24 Squadron was the most successful fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II, claiming 877 aerial victories for a loss of 55 aircraft. The unit produced seven Mannerheim Cross winners, including Ilmari Juutilainen and Hans Wind, the two top-scoring aces.

After the re-organization of the Finnish Air Force after World War II, HLeLv 24 was renamed into HLeLv 31. Today it is part of the Karelian Wing, flying F-18 Hornets and still sporting the "Supersonic Lynx" as its emblem.

No. 26 Squadron (Finland)

No. 26 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 26 or LLv.26, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.26), renamed No. 26 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 26 or HLe.Lv.26 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 2 during the Winter War and Flying Regiment 3 during the Continuation War.

The unit was mainly equipped with Fiat G.50 fighters and obtained 52 aerial victories and suffered two losses.

No. 28 Squadron (Finland)

No. 28 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 28 or LLv.28, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.28), renamed No. 28 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 28 or HLe.Lv.28 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 2.

No. 30 Squadron (Finland)

No. 30 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 30 or LLv.30, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.30), renamed No. 30 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 30 or HLe.Lv.30 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II, which had been formed from the disbanded No. 10 Squadron. The No. 30 Sqn was part of Flying Regiment 5.

No. 30 Sqn achieved 39 aerial victories, sank 14 vessels and damaged a further 8 vessels. Ten pilots were lost in air combat and one to anti-aircraft fire (9 aircraft were lost in air combat, and a further 16 in accidents). On November 6, 1942, Captain Veikko Karu, commander of the 3rd Flight, was awarded the Mannerheim Cross for his 7 air victories and for his participation in the sinking of 13 vessels.

No. 32 Squadron (Finland)

No. 32 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 32 or LLv.32, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.32), renamed No. 32 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 32 or HLe.Lv.32 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 1. The squadron was formed from the disbanded No. 22 Squadron.

No. 34 Squadron (Finland)

No. 34 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 34 or Le.Lv.34), renamed No. 34 Fighter Squadron (Finnish: Hävittäjälentolaivue 34 or HLe.Lv.34 on 14 February 1944) was a fighter squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 3.

The pilots of the No. 34 Squadron achieved 345 confirmed kills, all with Bf 109Gs. The unit lost 30 aircraft (13 in air combat, 5 to anti-aircraft fire, 7 in accidents and 5 due to technical faults). 12 pilots were listed as dead or missing, one was captured. Three pilots of the No. 34 Squadron was awarded the Mannerheim Cross.

In December 1944 No. 34 Squadron became No. 33 Squadron.

No. 42 Squadron (Finland)

No. 42 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 42 or LLv.42, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.42), renamed No. 42 Bomber Squadron (Finnish: Pommituslentolaivue 42 or PLe.Lv.42 on 14 February 1944) was a bomber squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 4.

No. 44 Squadron (Finland)

No. 44 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 44 or LLv.44, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.44), renamed No. 44 Bomber Squadron (Finnish: Pommituslentolaivue 44 or PLe.Lv.44 on 14 February 1944) was a bomber squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 4.

No. 46 Squadron (Finland)

No. 46 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 46 or LLv.46, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.46), renamed No. 46 Bomber Squadron (Finnish: Pommituslentolaivue 46 or PLe.Lv.46 on 14 February 1944) was a bomber squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 4.

No. 48 Squadron (Finland)

No. 48 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 48 or Le.Lv.48), renamed No. 48 Bomber Squadron (Finnish: Pommituslentolaivue 48 or PLe.Lv.48 on 14 February 1944) was a bomber squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 4.

No. 6 Squadron (Finland)

No. 6 Squadron (Finnish: Lentolaivue 6 or LLv.6, from 3 May 1942 Le.Lv.6), renamed No. 6 Bomber Squadron (Finnish: Pommituslentolaivue 6 or PLe.Lv.6 on 14 February 1944) was a maritime bomber squadron of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The squadron was part of Flying Regiment 5.

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