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Lampi's Buffalo The Brewsters on their way to Murmansk. Lampi's #6 in the foreground.

First combat in a Brewster fighter (part 2)

continued from part 1

  I turn my plane into a gentle dive to the extreme left alongside the flying SB.  I still want to be absolutely sure that there is no mistake.  The long rattling series coming out of the SB double machine guns towards me is a clear enough answer.  I press the control stick and outflank a little downwards to get away from the spray of machine guns.

  “That’s just fine”, I say to myself, “ the neighbor shot first, the possibilities have been fulfilled. The game in my opinion can begin.”

  When I outflank, I arrive behind the right wing of the formation about one hundred meters from the last plane.  The distance is still too great – at least according to the training I received on my flight course -, but since I do not have any experience with my fighter’s shooting characteristics, I decide at once to shoot a test round.

  Soon my light ring sight is aimed at the end of the left engine of the SB, I pull up a bit steeper and press the electric button of the control stick.  A roaring boom of four 12 millimeters rattles the cockpit and the bitter gun smoke from the machine gun invades my nose.  The fight has begun.  I see how the tracer spray hits straight towards me and a black smoke cloud gushes out of the engine with small red flashing flames.  I stop the shooting for a moment and take a 50 meter distance from the sight of the plane’s right engine.  After the short round of firing, even it starts to burn. 

At the same time, I notice that a SB machinegunner is firing at me from such a short distance that I can get his weapon from him. I step on the pedal with my right foot and the plane does what is known to flight students as a ”cow’s turn”; then I let my machine gun give a farewell caress to the body of the SB aircraft.  The plane takes a nose dive and is soon one with the enormous sea of fire.  I look on in fascination until the bright flare and firing statue fluttering high prove having discovered the end of their journey.  I have achieved my first air victory.

  Now there is no time to remain contemplating the scene since, on account of my attack, the bomber formation that has retreated even more tightly continues to thunder on ahead.  The small city of Heinola looms ahead unaware of what will happen and the formation has apparently been commanded to bombard the city in which many people working at their daily business – about 30, will soon discover – that they are living the last minutes of their lives.

  An idea flashes into my mind: I must force as many planes as possible to drop their bombs into the forest before the formation reaches the city.  I attack the right wing of the formation once again, but now there is no time for accuracy work.  I shoot cartridges saving a short round for the first left engine of the SB.  The already familiar smoke cloud comes out as a part of the series.  The plane drops its bomb, gets out of the formation through a gentle dive curve and turns the plane back by flying with one engine.  Its fate ended on its return flight with Lieutenant Jorma Sarvanno’s shooting it down in a shower of machine guns. 

  I attack the formation once again.  The next plane drops its bomb immediately as my machine gun tracer aims at it.  The tracer may have hit the machine gunner because the firing stops right there and the barrels of the weapons point towards the sky.  The next plane gets a round in its engine and begins to pump out black smoke into the sky.  The bombs continue to drop to the ground, the plane separates from the formation and circles back.  – Even its destiny was marked with the troublesome return flight back. – Already two planes attempt to pursue my machine gun shower, bombs drop, but there are no signs of damage to my plane.

  Now I start feeling a bit hot, as from both sides I feel the wind on my neck from the double machine guns a short distance and can just guess what kind of a nickel sheet is whistling near me.  I push the throttle lever down to the floor, outflank and wrench myself up into a rising curve to the right side of the formation’s ”box seat”.

  I wipe the sweat off my face, open the hood of the cockpit a crack to get a bit of fresh air and look at the new side of the formation where I had attacked.  At the same time I notice another Brewster to the left wing of the attacked formation, whose tail number I recognize as being the plane of Sergeant Eero Kinnunen.  Ruthlessly it sinks into the close distance and I barely have the time to even realize what is happening when two SBs crash down burning. There the old air fighter showed a prime example of an attack.

  But now what?  In the midst of the attack, Kinnunen’s plane swings sharply, its nose turns straight towards the ground and dives downwards.  Afterwards I look into the depths astounded and even see a lower plane straightening out and taking the direction of our home field. – Coming back from the flight, I heard that the SB

machine gun fire had hit the cockpit of Kinnunen’s plane and Kinnunen’s hand had been mildly wounded.

  Now I could see Heinola straight under me and I realize that I do not have any other possibilities to prevent the bombarding.  I look at the new attack sight.  The formation is led by a three-ship squadron and I decide that the flight leader of the formation is sitting in the leading plane.   Then I make a quick but firm decision: I will shoot the leading plane down, whatever the price!

  Just as I had made my decision, I had already started to put it into practice.  I storm down the engine of the formation with full gas, at the same time I change my flight direction and am soon diagonally backwards below the back of the leading plane.  I pull up the towards the leading plane and lean in closer to my target in order to make sure the leading plane “sits” in the nose of my target.

continued in part 3

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