FMP - F19
AIR DEFENCE IN THE NORTH

WINTER WAR 1939 - 1940

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Lentorykmentti 19 (LentoR 19)
(Flying Regiment 19)
Flygflottilj 19, F19

Veitsiluoto (Kemi)

Commander
Maj. 
Hugo Beckhammar

Operational between 10.1. - 13.3.1940.
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Number of Planes 10.1.40 2.2.40 15.3.40
Gloster Gladiator I (GL) 12 11 9
Hawker Hart I (HH) 4 1 2
Raab-Katzenstein RK 26 - - 1
Waco ZQC-6 (OH-SLA) - 1 1
Junkers F 13kä (OH-SUO) 1 1 1

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Unit Name in English
Notes
Commander / Chief / Leader
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Rank Name
Staff / F19
Staff Detachment
Radio Detachment
Household Detachment
Truck Detachment
Medical Detachment

Airfield Company

Fighter Squadron (GL)

Attack / Joint Operation Flight (HH)
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Transport / Liaison Flight (mixed types)
 

Capt.
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Capt.

Lt.
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Björn Bjuggren
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Åke Söderberg

Per Sterner (-12.1.40 POW )
(afterwards without named leader)

(without named leader)

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Flying Regiment 19
(in Swedish Flygflottilj 19, abbreviation F19) was a volunteer Swedish flying unit formed officially on 10.1.1940. Although named as a regiment it was actually Fighter Squadron reinforced with light Attack / Reconnaissance / Joint Operation Flight and additional Transport / Liaison Flight. F19 operated on the northern sector of front in Salla and Kuusamo directions.

Initially F19 was subordinated to Swedish Volunteer Group (SFK) and since 28.2.1940 to Swedish Group SFr. (Lt.Gen. Ernst Linder [Swe]) which commanded SFK and Finnish Group Willamo. Finnish Lapland Group (LR) was suspended at the same time and its staff was moved to Bay of Viborg.

Flying unit was equipped with Swedish planes equipped with skiis and marked with Finnish national markings. All pilots, airfield personnel and supply came from Sweden. Pilots were teached to say "I'm a volunteer Swedish pilot" in Finnish in case they would need to bail out above friendly area.
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Air War in the North during the Winter War

Finnish Planes in the North

Finnish 3./LLv.16 was subordinated to Lapland Group (LR) on 23.12.1939 and operated from Rovaniemi between 23.12.1939 - 28.2.1940 using its obsolete and slow Junkers K 43 / W 34 (JU) planes in bombing, transport and reconnaissance duties. On 28.2.1940 flight was re-equipped with obsolescent Fokker C.VD and C.VE (FO) reconnaissance aircraft and subordinated to North Finland Group (P-SR). On 29.12.1940 flight was moved to Kuluntalahti ice airfield near Kajaani (marked with green K on the map below) for the rest of the war and operated to Suomussalmi and Kuhmo directions.

Between 9.2. - 14.2.1940 also Detachment Siiriäinen (1./LLv.26) operated for P-SR from Kuluntalahti with about ten Finnish Gloster Gladiator II (GL) fighters.
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Swedish Volunteers in Action

Initially Swedish pilots chose aggressive tactics to shock Soviets and already on 12.1.1940 they committed a combined reconnaissance and strike mission attacking heavily against a temporary Soviet airfield, troop concentrations and supply near Märkäjärvi, Salmijärvi and Salla. Three Soviet I-15 fighters were destroyed on the ground at Märkäjärvi by Hawker Hart I (HH) planes piloted by Lt. Per Sterner and 2Lt. Åke Mörne and Gloster Gladiator I (GL) fighter piloted by 2Lt. Martin Wennerström. Although the attack was a great success one HH and one GL were shot down and two HHs collided mid-air (see the table below). After that disaster more cautious tactics was needed to save planes. On 18.2.1940 2Lt. Mörne scored one more I-15 on the ground at Kairala.

Obsolescent Swedish GL fighters managed better than Hart bombers. Pilots attacked eagerly against initially unescorted Soviet bomber formations and fired supply columns and troops with MGs. Flying low was highly dangerous because GL was unarmoured. Swedes scored at least five bombers and three I-15 and/or I-15bis fighters although GLs were too slow and could not always reach faster Soviet planes. Anyway the presence of "Finnish fighters" in the north was a surprise to Soviet pilots who so far had flown freely without any danger.

Together with Group SFr.'s anti-aircraft platoons (sections), heavy battery and a few Finnish AA units F19 protected important targets in Northern Finland which previously had been without any air raid defence. After the Winter War Swedish planes returned to back Sweden by the end of March 1940. Only their Junkers F 13kä transport plane of Transport / Liaison Flight remained in Finland. Total flying hours of F19 were about 600.
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Aerial Victories Claimed by Volunteer Swedish Pilots of Fighter Squadron / F19

Date Plane Rank Name Victim
12.1.1940 GL/F 2Lt. Ian Iacobi I-15(bis?)
17.1.1940
1.2.1940
20.2.1940
GL/F
GL/?
GL/?
2Lt.
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Per-Johan Salwén
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I-15bis
SB
SB
17.1.1940 GL/C 2Lt. Roland Martin I-15bis
21.2.1940 GL/? 2Lt. Carl-Olof Steninger 1/2 SB
1/2 DB-3
21.2.1940 GL/? 2Lt. Arne Frykholm 1/2 SB
1/2 DB-3
7.3.1940 GL/? 2Lt. Einar Theler 2x SB
10.3.1940 GL/? 2Lt. Gideon Karlsson TB-3

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Personnel and Aircraft Losses of F19 in Finland

Date Plane Rank Name Position Fate
12.1.40 HH/X 2Lt.
Sgt
Arne Jung
Matti Sundsten
Pilot
Gunner
- Mid-air collision with HH/Y, not injured, POW.
- Not injured, walked back to Finnish side.
12.1.40 HH/Y Lt.
Lt.
Per Sterner
Anders Zachau
Pilot
Observer
- Mid-air collision with HH/X, wounded, POW.
- Got killed.
12.1.40 HH/Z 2Lt.
L.Cpl
F. Färnström
Ture Hansson
Pilot
Gunner
Shot down by Soviet fighter, bailed out,
no injuries, both walked back to Finnish side.
23.1.40 GL/B 2Lt. J. Sjöqvist Pilot Shot down, KIA.
20.2.40 GL/E  - - - Plane burned during snow storm, reason unknown.
10.3.40 GL/D Lt.(Eng.) Åke Hildinger Unit Engineer
and Test pilot
Plane broke up during test flight and crashed.
Pilot was killed.

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Information on volunteer Swedish pilots in Finnish units is on page
Volunteer Foreign Pilots in Winter War. More detailed information on Swedish pilots in Finland is available on Håkan's Aviation Page (by Håkan Gustavsson, external link).
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Airfields in the North

The main airbase of F19 was an ice airfield at Veitsiluoto (in Kemi) where all overhauls and repairs were done. The other used so called "work airfields" (code names and abbreviations) were as follows:

- Oskar (O) at Olkkajärvi (near Rovaniemi)
..(in certain sources "Oscar")
- Nora (N)
at Hirvasjärvi
- Nora 2 (N2) at Kemijärvi
- Ulrik (U) at Oulu
- Ulrik 2 (U2) at Nimisjärvi (in Vaala)
- Svea (S) at Posio

The two Noras were exclusively for the bombers and Svea for additional fuel supply only. Other bases were for the fighters: Oskar for the fighters in the defence of Rovaniemi and both Ulriks for Oulu. All of them were temporary ice airfields.

Abbreviations:
SFK = Swedish Volunteer Group
LR = Lapland Group
P-SR = North Finland Group
K = Kuluntalahti ice airfield used by FAF

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Finnish Anti-Aircraft Defence in the North

At the beginning of Winter War Northern Finland was without any anti-aircraft protection because the northernmost Finnish AA unit was located at Jyväskylä in Central Finland. Finnish troops had only a few light AAMGs for close defence in the north. On 15.12.1939 Lt. N. Korpijaakko was appointed to Anti-Aircraft Commander of Lapland Group (LR) and had thereafter Air Defence Regional Centers (IPAK) at Kemi, Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi, Kuusamo and Ivalo under his command.

About the same time 52nd Light Anti-Aircraft Section (52.Kev.It.Jaos) was moved to Veitsiluoto (Kemi). Between 7.1. - 24.2.1940 it operated at Rovaniemi returning back to Kemi when the first AA units of Group SFr. arrived there. Only one light Finnish light AAMG platoon defended troops on the front. Before the war ended also Finnish 56th Heavy AAMG Platoon (56.Rask.It.KKJ) with two 20 mm guns was moved to Oulu.

Since mid-December 1939 two platoons of 4th Anti-Aircraft MG Company (4.It.KKK) operated at Hyrynsalmi and Kuhmo area (I and II/4.It.KKK) protecting Finnish troops and one platoon (III/4.It.KKK) at Kontiomäki which was an important railway crossing. On 25.12.1939 Lt. Silvo was appointed to Anti-Aircraft Commander of North Finland Group (P-SR) and had Air Defence Regional Centers (IPAK) of Nurmes, Kuhmo and later also Oulu under his command. 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery (9.Kev.It.Ptri) was moved to Kontiomäki north from Kajaani at the end of the war.

Capt. C.-A. Ehrnrooth became Finnish Anti-Aircraft Liaison Officer in Swedish Group SFr. in February 1940.
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Swedish Anti-Aircraft Defence in the North

Anti-Aircraft Company

When the Swedish volunteers began to arrive in Finland during January 1940 air raid defence improved a lot in the north. Volunteer motorized Anti-Aircraft Company / SFK led by Lt. Per Frumerie was formed for the regional air defence and rear area of SFK. Only about half of the company personnel had anti-aircraft training which was initially given also to untrained men. For the close defence volunteer Swedish troops had light 8 mm twin AAMGs.

Independent AA platoons had their own signals and supply units. There were a total of six light AA gun sections (called platoons) but two of them were subordinated to the Swedish Volunteer Group (SFK):

  • HQ / Anti-Aircraft Company (Lt. Per Frumerie)
    Arrived in Kemi in January 1940. Moved later to Kemijärvi.

  • 1st Platoon (2Lt. Gerhard Dyrssen) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Arrived in Kemi in January 1940, protected Kemi railway station, bridge over River Kemi and ice airfield at Veitsiluoto. On 19.2.1940 was moved to Kemijärvi.

  • 2nd Platoon (2Lt. Uno Engström) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Arrived in Kemi in January 1940, protected Kemi railway station, bridge over River Kemi and ice airfield at Veitsiluoto. At the end of February was moved through Rovaniemi to Nautsi where was subordinated to Detachment Pennanen (Os.P).

  • 3rd Platoon (2Lt. Tore Norrevang) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Arrived in Kemi in January 1940, protected Kemi railway station, bridge over River Kemi and ice airfield at Veitsiluoto, at the beginning of February protected the march of the I Group / SFK after which protected field artillery positions of SFK. Platoon was subordinated to the commander of 5th Platoon in March.

  • 4th Platoon (2Lt. Bertil Hallenberg) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Arrived in Kemi on 2.1.1940, protected Kemi railway station and ice airfield at Veitsiluoto, in mid January was moved north from Rovaniemi to protect ice airfield Oskar and about about a week later to protect ice airfield Nora at Hirvasjärvi but was soon moved to Kemijärvi.

  • 5th Platoon (Lt. Gillis Röing) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Arrived in Tornio on 29.12.1939, protected railway bridge over River Tornio, in mid February 1940 was moved to protect brigde over River Kemi at Rovaniemi and about a week later was moved to Savukoski. At the beginning of March was moved to protect supply establishments of SFK at Salmijärvi under the direct command of SFK. 3rd Platoon was subordinated to the Leader of 5th Platoon in March.

  • 6th Platoon (2Lt. John Lindner) [2 - 40 mm Bofors]
    Formed in February 1940. Arrived in Kemijärvi on 11.3.1940 and replaced another platoon there.

  • Transport Column

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Anti-Aircraft Company shot down one heavy and two medium Soviet bombers as well as five fighters and damaged at least ten planes although extreme coldness of even more than -40 degrees Celsius made all activity very difficult. Two sections were still under training when the war ended. Company stayed in Finland until the end of the March 1940 after which its personnel returned to Sweden.
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Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery

By the end of the Winter War also motorized movable Heavy Anti-Aircaft Battery (4 - 75 mm Bofors m/30, m/36 central computer, 8 mm twin AAMG) led by Lt. Ture Mark arrived in Finland. Strength of the battery was about 160 men.

After two weeks training period battery was ordered to be moved to the positions east from the town of Rovaniemi on 20.2.1940. During the last weeks of the war battery protected Rovaniemi but couldn't shoot down any planes. Heavy anti-aircraft protection although forced all Soviet planes to fly much higher and prevented all further air raids against the protected city. When Kemijärvi was now on bombed instead battery was moved to Kemijärvi on 13.3.1940.

After the end of the Winter War on 13.3.1940 volunteers helped in evaquating of Salla region which was ceded to USSR. Volunteers left Finland at the beginning of April 1940 leaving their equipment to Finnish personnel.
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Sources: FALGR, PALPE1, TALHI, ANTOS3, KESTE12, KESTE13, KESTE15, KESTE30, PAJRI1,
PESAA1, SAAAH2,
Håkan's aviation page by Håkan Gustavsson
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© 2002 - 8.7.2005 Harri Anttonen