New aviation history interview: Fokker/Curtiss/Messerschmitt ace Mauno
Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä
Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä "began the flight business in
1936", as he puts it. He was one of the few who piloted the Fokker D.XXI
fighter in the Winter War sorties. Subsequently Fräntilä served in
Squadron 32 and was one of those who were assigned to the new Squadron
34 that was equipped with the new Me-109 fighters. After the war
Fräntilä continued as an Air Force pilot, working also as a flight
teacher and thus sharing his invaluable know-how to the next generation
of pilots. Fräntilä is highly appreciated by his peers, both as a person
and a pilot.
His interview has now been translated into English and can be read he
- What was it like to switch to the Curtiss? Training, learning the
tricks, joy of flying?
The only training I got was to fly from Utti to Lappeenranta and back.
That's all, half an hour. It was certainly better than the Fokker,
faster and maneuvered better. Weapons were as weak, only rat guns
(MG's). Fared well in combat against the Russians, you could even
dogfight. Not with the Chaika, but well enough against the I-16.
- Curtiss dogfighting a Chaika? It must have been amazingly agile, if it
could cope against a Chaika.
Depends on who's flying it, how much you dare and how well you know your
plane. You have to fly by the seat of your pants. It's funny, you didn't
even need the speed gauge, you could feel it in the tail. Same thing in
the dogfight, when you should never lose your speed.
- What was it like to sit in the Messerschmitt after Curtiss and Fokker?
Dunno... Felt like an airplane. It was faster.
- Fit like a glove?
Yes, fit in my hand right away. You had to be careful in take-off and
landing, though. The rudder was small, you shouldn't lift the tail right
away, but accelerate gradually and keep the direction with brake. When
you felt the rudder had effect, you had no trouble any more. And you
shouldn't let it bank at all when landing. Remember that you had a three
meter long engine in front of you, a big propellor and narrow landing
gear, if it started to roll you had to let loose.
- Did your flying and tactics change with the new plane?
No, it was basically the same. Except now we had better climb rates than
the Russians and we could split better. And of course gain surprise.
With speed, you could hit and run. And not spend much time in their sights.
The Russkies never followed to a dive. Their max dive speeds were too
low, I suppose. It was the same in the Continuation War, their La-5's
and Yak-9's turned quickly back up.
The Messerschmitt was exellent. You got always away when you pushed your
nose down, and it then rose like an elevator. You soon had upper hand
Other interesting releases lately from the Association:
Photo report of the historical tour at Karelian isthmus
Photo report of the historical tour at Karelian isthmus made by the four
virtual aviators Camo, Ok, BK and Grendel, alongside a larger group
consisting of people interested in the Finnish military history and
actual war veterans. The group toured the isthmus visiting the
battlegrounds of Winter War and Continuation War, participated at the
memorial event of Battle of Tali-Ihantala and visited old Finnish towns
located at the isthmus.
Simulated flight to history
This article was originally published in the Siivet - Wings magazine in
year 2001. The text is written mostly about the WarBirds flight
simulator, but the descriptions of online flying match what you will
find from any other flight simulators.
And older English language aviation history related articles can be
Night of the bombers
The most daring mission of Finnish bombers in WW2 - in the early months
of 1944 the bombers of Finnish Air Force flew their most daring and
unique missions during the course of World War II. The tactical attacks
on Soviet bomber airfields served a strategic purpose and succeeded
beyond all expectations. Infiltrating enemy bomber formations and
attacking their airfields while the Soviet planes were landing achieved
complete surprise, and helped to lessen the threat of enemy bombers to
the Finnish cities - as well as assisting in defence of Estonia.
In memorian: Mátyás 'Matyi' Pirity
Mátyás Pirity, a great friend of Finland and Finns, received his
transfer to the shadow squadron on May 17th, 2003. The Hungarian
military pilot was one of many foreign volunteers fighting in the Winter
War, and one of the few who were true to their word and served in the
Fiat G.50 Basic Training Program
FA Basic Training Program notes is the summary of the new pilot's
training program used by HLeLv 26 (Fighter Squadron 26) at the Finnish
Air Force, dated 12.10.40.
Flight Captain - Chief Warrant Officer Lasse Erik Aaltonen
Lasse Aaltonen was ordered to Fighter Squadron 26 at 28.2.1939. He
served in the squadron flying for example Fokker D.XXI and Fiat G.50
fighters until 1943, when he was transferred to the Messerschmitt
"The mail men were busy. The pilots and their mechanics got quite
skilled at mail sack dropping. After the work flight, they'd secretly
fly women. More fuel was spent, but they weren't caught."
Air Warfare School Guild Anniversary 2003 - Pentti Aro and Aarno Siro
The Air Warfare School Guild's annual meeting and celebration was
arranged at the Air Force Air Warfare School at Kauhava in May
24th-25th, 2003. During the occasion, we interviewed veterans and
actively discussed with Aarno Siro, who flew Fiat G.50, Hurricane and
Brewster in Fighter Squadron 26 (HLeLv 26) and Pentti Aro, Blenheim
pilot in the Bomber Squadron 42 (PLeLv 42).
"The Blenheim is damn easy to fly low, the glass nose helped. You could
go literally in treetops. "
"Hurricane was never a proper interceptor. The Fiat was an interceptor,
but it was already getting obsolete. And it had only 1h 15min operation
Curtiss And Other Nice Planes
Jarl "Kille" Arnkil joined Finnish Air Force in 1939. After the war
Kille transferred to Aero, later Finnair in 1948 and continued there
until his retirement in 1972. After that he worked as a senior inspector
of flight operations in National Board of Aviation 1973-1979. In this
lecture "Kille" tells about flying both in times of war and peace.
"The German factory pilots told us they would fly some training flights
with us. We tried to explain that we wouldn't need any training, that we
could fly and wanted to take off already. We put together a downright
air show above the airfield, did some air combat maneuvers against each
other etc. When we landed they agreed that we wouldn't have to be taught
to fly, that we could do it already."
Arvo Johannes "Jussi" Neva - Service in HLeLv 26
Neva was accepted in the Air Force on War Pilot Course #3, which began
at Kauhava in April 1940. Neva was ordered to LeLv 26 in March 1943,
where he flew until the end of the war flying Fiat, Hurricane and
Brewster fighters. This article, written by Carl-Erik Bruun, depicts
shortly his military aviator's career.
"May 2, 1943. First air combat above the Saunasaari-Miikkulainen area.
Neva was flying the FA-19 in a group of four, sent to assist a Fiat
patrol. The enemy had four I-15's and two I-153's."
Lauri Äijö ja Onni Rautava - the Blenheim and Junkers 88 pilots
The war pilots Onni Rautavaa and Lauri Äijöä were interviewed at
Rovaniemi at the annual celebration of the Lapland Air Command. Both
gentlemen served as wartime pilots, first on the Blenheim and then on
the Junkers 88. Mr Äijö was awarded the Mannerheim Cross of his
"I never heard the engine noise, even if there where two big 2000
horsepower engines one meter away, the other a bit further. I didn't
hear them until my ears opened a bit after leveling off."
Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Virtual Pilots Finland Association is an
association, which purpose is to promote World War II multiplayer
flight simulators and aviation hobby among people interested in
aviation. More information about the association is available from
. Our plan of action also includes active
research and preservation of Finnish aviation history - more about that
Virtual Pilots is member of "The Association for Military History in
Finland" and is dedicated to the Association's mission of studying and
preserving the Finnish military history.
Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen
PR and Press Officer,
History Team, Chairman
Finnish Virtual Pilots Association
Contact information: / tel. +358 40 730 0036