1. Opening of Score
The 3rd Flight of Fighter Squdron 24 was scrambled about 08.00 on the 19th Dec.1939 at the Immola Air Base. Sgt. Juutilainen, flying the FR-108, took off after the others had gone, due to a minor problem in starting his engine. When he was at Antrea he heard a radio report: Three enemy bombers flying from Heinjoki to Antrea. The Finnish pilot looked around, and 30 seconds later he saw three DB-3 bombers with red stars on the wings and fuselage sides flying 500 m below, unescorted as they used to be in the early war.
Juutilainen was in an ideal starting position as he dived to attack. Having seen the Fokker the bombers released their bomb loads in the forest below and turned to South, further enabling the attacker to gain on them.
Juutilainen acted methodically as he had been trained to do. He opened fire at a range of 100 m, killing the gunner of the left wing bomber, then he elimininated the gunner of the leading bomber and finally the one of the right wing bomber. Now he did not have to worry about being shot at anymore.
He approached the leading bomber and fired at the left engine at a range of 20 m. The bomber's engine began to trail smoke, then he fired at the right engine of the same bomber. Next he dealt with each engine of the wing bombers.
But the three DB-3's continued flying, though with slow speed, engines trailing smoke, and Juutilainen had spent all his 2200 cartridges. He followed his targets up to front line, where the leading bomber suddenly went in nosedive and crashed. The wing bombers continued their flight, slowly losing altitude...
Juutilainen had to return, there was nothing more to be done. Thinking about the battle he did not feel anything special, except frustration that he felt seeing another bomber formation while returning to the base... Everything had been like another aerial shooting training mission.
2. Chasing, being chased...
28th Sept. 1941. The 1st Flight of Squadron 24 took off at 0800hrs from the Mantsi Temporary Air Base on the coastline of Lake Ladoga with six Brewsters. Their mission was to cover five Blenheims on their raid against the Suoju river railway bridge. The mission was uneventful until the bombers turned back after dropping their bombs.
Illu Juutilainen saw a MiG-1 approach from below, turned at the attacker and gave her a brief chase. He disengaged having seen that the Soviet fighter was faster. He began to climb to join the rest of the convoy.
Suddenly he felt that something was wrong - he looked back and there the MiG was just behind his tail! The enemy opened fire, Juutilainen dived to the treetops to shake the enemy off. But the enemy pilot was very good at low level flying, carefully avoiding every obstacle.
The engine of the BW-364 began to warn about overstrain. The pilot pulled his fighter gradually to 600m and then took a risk. He pulled a tight curve that the less manouverable MiG could not follow. When the MiG pilot saw that the BW was getting behind his tail, he panicked and committed the error of his life. Instead of using his superior speed he continued to turn.
Now the Finnish pilot had the upper hand. He was flying so close to the enemy that he could actually throttle back, making use of the "draught" of the MiG. Juutilainen checked first his instruments, all the temperatures and pressures of the Wright Cyclone were within normal. The two fighters kept circling a small village at a speed of 240 kmh at treetops. The pursuer fired but the MiG's armour admirably withstood the 0.5" projectiles.
The enemy tightened his curve until he was in the verge of stalling, then he in turn resorted to low-level flight at 400 kmh . Juutilainen followed easily, only at times the backwash of the enemy hit his wingtips, making the BW bank involuntarily. He had no chance to shoot, however, jumping trees, houses and other obstacles, twice even flying under power lines. He had his next chance to fire as they flew over the enemy base at Viitana, but again it was as if the BW's guns had been loaded with wooden bullets.
Now a water tower made of bricks was ahead. The MiG passed it, the BW pulled up. The Soviet pilot lost his pursuer from his view, but the Finnish pilot kept observing his target.
The MiG turned back to the base, banking in the curve. Juutilainen made use of his chance to fire in the cockpit of the enemy from the inside of the curve at a range of 50 m. The pilot was hit and the enemy fighter crashed in the middle of the airfield, disintegrating totally. The victorious Finnish pilot continued over the enemy base in low level flight and took a shot at the enemy personnell before departing.
It was not until he was back in the base, describing the incident to his ground crew, that Juutilainen found that his arms and legs were shaking. His victory was confirmed.
3. Calculated Risk-taking
March 1944, date 7th , 8th or 9th , exactly not mentioned. Flt.Mstr. Juutilainen was on a recce mission in the middle of the day with his wingman Sr.Sgt. Peltola. Their task was to count the number of the enemy aircraft in the airbases of Gorskaya, Levachovo and Kasimovo plus monitor the road and railway traffic North of Leningrad. At Levachovo the enemy had put the fighters in covered bunkers. Defying the enemy AA Juutilainen flew across the base at such a low altitude that he could look inside the bunkers. The aircraft were La-5 fighters.
The two pilots were returning to the base as they heard a report: Four enemy fighters over Perkjarvi at 4500 m - that meant next door to the Suulajarvi base, deep behind Finnish lines. Peltola landed due to engine problem... Juutilainen pulled the stick and let his MT-222 climb. He was not ordered to engage the enemy, actually he should have landed to delivered the reconnaisance data. But his battle spirit, egged by the buzzing of the enemy base, was too strong.
At 5500 m, about six minutes later, he saw four La-5 fighters 500 m below. He dived to approach them from behind.
He just had the enemy leader in his gunsight as the enemy formation dispersed and each La-5 began to climb and turn to get behind the Me. So they had seen him coming all the time! The enemy fighters had white rudders, meaning they belonged to the 10. Gv.IAP, and now Juutilainen heard from his headphones that the enemy leader was Squadron Leader Medvetjev, a double Soviet Hero. - As if that piece of information had helped the lone Finnish pilot!
Now Juutilainen decided to keep the enemy engaged until some Me's would arrive to deal with them. Quckly he considered his chances: His fuel was low, down to 20 mins at cruise speed, but he was above his own base. Whatever would happen, he would not be taken prisoner.
The MT-222 still had more speed than the enemy, and she was able to out-climb the La-5's. Only now, at 6500 m, Juutilainen put on his oxygen mask, but he could only bite the rib to hold it on his face. The result was that the humidity of his breathing escaped, condensed and began to frost the cockpit canopy matt white. Meanwhile Comrade Medvetjev called for reinforcements.
The Soviet pilots knew their job. One of them was always behind the Me, and if the Finnish pilot turned to attack, another La would be in a position to shoot. Juutilainen kept dodging, soaking wet of sweat despite the cold air.
As the dogfight had climbed to 8700 m, one more La-5 arrived to the scene, shooting at an hopelessy long range. Juutilainen saw her tracers, turned and dived under the new enemy, then pulled a tight climbing curve. He scraped frantically a peephole in the frost covering the cockpit canopy to see the enemy, now only his windshield was clear.
Juutilainen had a hard time in keeping all his five enemies in sight, but he saw snow swirling about 9 km below: some Me's were just taking off. It would take them ten minutes to climb to his altitude... Now he was told that the 6th La-5 was about to arrive in the scene. The battle had lasted almost 15 minutes now.
He dodged a La-5 attacking at a high speed from above, pushing under her nose, then he dodged another and had a third nearly in his gunsight !
At the same moment his engine coughed and stopped. He was out of fuel. Tracers flew past - one of the enemies was shooting at the "glider".
With is remaining speed Juutilainen dodged and pushed the Me in vertical dive. It was the only thing to do. He hoped that the enemy would not follow him if he exceeded the 950kmh limit - neither the Me nor the La were designed to withstand higher speed. He let the MT-222 fall vertically for 6500 m. The pilot's ears were buzzing like telephone wires, the speed was over 1000 kmh at 2000m altitude. The Me flew rock-steady.
He pulled the stick, which was nearly immobile and used the trim wheel. The Me returned to level flight at the altitude of 150 m, the speed was 900 kmh. No enemies were in sight. The pilot pulled the stick and converted his speed to altitude, then proceeded to make a "normal" landing without power.
The Me had not been damaged, neither in the battle nor in the dive. The enemy retreated before the other Finnish pilots had any chance to engage them.
4. Six-Victory Morning
30 June 1944, Carelian Isthmus, Ihantala Front Section. Finnish Army was fighting a heavy defensive battle against attacking Red Army. The 1st Flight of Fighter Squadron 34 (eight Me 109 G6 led by Maj. Luukkanen) arrived over the battlefield and met an equal number of Soviet P-39 Airacobras. The fighters engaged each other at 10.15 hrs and the Soviet AA stopped firing as a "furball" developed at 3000 m.
Flight Master "Illu" Juutilainen's MT-457 slipped behind a pair of P-39's, which immediately tried to escape by a steep dive. Juutilainen followed and fired in dive at the enemy leader. The taill control surfaces of the P-39 were ripped off and almost hit the Me. The P-39 crashed in the marketplace of Viipuri. The wingman tried to escape towards his base with the MT-457 in hot pursuit. As the Soviet pilot saw that he was in the shooting range of the gray Me behind his tail, he tried to make a tight turn. But Juutilainen's very first salvo turned the enemy plane into a flaming torch which crashed at Sainio.
Juutilainen took altitude and watched how his wingman Sgt. Frantila shot down another P-39, then he saw in the eastern sky something like a black cloud. It was not a cloud but an enemy formation of 100 Pe-2 bombers escorted by at least 100 La-5 and Yak-9. Juutilainen sent a radio message to the combat control center and asked for reinforcements, promising ample targets for everyone.
Five Me's regrouped and began to climb. At 6000 m they were attacked by Yak-9s which prevented them from getting at the bombers. Soviet aircraft could be seen in great numbers in every altitude.
Juutilainen and Frantila engaged the nearest 2 Yaks. The enemies turned toward the Me's, then dived. The Finnish pilots followed 50 m behind the enemy tails. They dived at a speed of 800 kmh, consequently Juutilainen did not fire for fear of colliding with eventual debris. As the Yaks began to pull out of the dive, exposing the vulnerable fuel tank, engine and cockpit, was the ideal moment to shoot. Juutilainen fired at the leader. The Yak-9 took hits and under the strain of the G force her right wing broke off. The enemy dived in a wild spin and crashed at Juustila. His wingman escaped.
The two Me's were climbing to rejoin the battle as a burning Yak passed them in her last dive, then they were attacked by four Yak-9. Due to their lower speed the Me pilots easily manouvered themselves behind the enemy. Again the enemy tried to break off by diving, and the same thing happened as some minutes before. Juutilainen fired at his target as it was pulling out of dive, this time the Yak caught fire before crashing near the previous victim.
Again the MT-457 climbed, this time alone. The Soviet bombers had released their loads at the Finnish positions, nothing could be done about it anymore. The air battle was over for now, but the pilots of the 1st flight saw 12 FAF Ju-88 bombers arrive, escorted by a Messerschmitt flight. The bombers penetrated the AA fire and dive-bombed the Red Army troop and material concentration with 1000 and 500 kg bombs. No Soviet fighters were there to stop the Junkerses, which retreated unpunished. This raid also illustrated the difference of the resources of the two adversaries... But the Soviet Air Force was not able to control the airspace totally.
The smoke and dust of the dual bombardment was still hanging in the air as another hundred -plane Soviet formation arrived over the battlefield. This time the enemies were Pe-2's and IL-2m's escorted by La-5's.
Juutilainen was flying at 5000 m as he saw 5 Pe-2 below. He dived at them, but a La-5 approached him at high speed . firing wildly. Juutilainen pulled a steep climbing curve, the enemy fighter swished past and disappeared. The bombers had escaped, but there was now an escadrille of 9 IL-2M below, busy strafing the Juustila-Tali road with guns and rockets.
Juutilainen attacked the enemy from side and fired at the nearest Il-2 , hitting the cockpit area. The Stormovik crashed in the forest. Again a La-5 attacked the Me. The Finnish pilot evaded the enemy fire by pulling into a tight climbing left-hand turn, well knowing that his MT-457 would out-climb the La-5. The enemy fighter followed, trying to get enough deflection to hit the Me. But the best the Soviet pilot could achieve was to make the nose of his fighter point at the Me. He fired anyway, and saw the Finnish pilot wave his hand. "You missed!"
The two fighters continued climbing, the Me gaining steadily. About four minutes later at 4000 m Juutilainen found himself 100m above the La-5. He half-rolled, flying upside down above the La-5. The Soviet pilot panicked and turned his fighter to a vertical dive to retreat. The Me followed less than 100m behind. After diving 2000 m the enemy pulled up so hard that Juutilainen did not get any chance to aim, then he blacked out. As he regained vision, he found his fighter in a vertical climb behind the La-5 which immediately half-rolled and dived again.
This manouver was repeated several times. Finally Juutilainen took a risk and at the final phase of a pull-up nearly stalled his fighter to shoot at the La-5. His 20mm shells must have hit the enemy fuel tank, because the Soviet fighter dived in flames, trailing black smoke, soon crashing on the coastline N of Viipuri.
The low fuel warning light of the MT-457 was blinking. Juutilainen again took the initiative and called the other pilots of the flight reminding them of the impending fuel shortage. Fortunately seven Me's of the Squadron 24 led by Lt. Karhila just arrived, enabling the 1st flight to disengage the enemy. It was about 11.00 hours.
It was only now that Juutilainen realised he had gained six victories. He landed at Taipalsaari with empty fuel tank and ammunition magazine. He had spent in average about 22 pcs of 20mm shells at each of his victims. He could prove each kill.
In this battle the Finnish pilots scored 17 victories without losses. (Maj.Luukkanen shot down one P-39 and one La-5, so he was busy and not neglecting his duties.)
5. Good shots
31st August 1943. Three Me's of the 1st Flight of Squadron 34 had been alerted to Koivisto to support the Brewsters of Squadron 24 in an air battle. By the time Lt. Pekuri, Ft.Mstr. Juutilainen and Sr.Sgt. Lehto arrived on the scene, the battle was over. Only oil slicks were seen on the surface of the Gulf of Finland.
The enemy sent two speedboats to search for survivors. Juutilainen suggested that they should take altitude and check whether the boats had any air cover. The Me's turned South and began to climb.
Indeed, at 4500 m the Finnish pilots spotted two La-5 below. Pekuri and Lehto attacked, Juutilainen covered them. But Lehto hesitated a second before diving. Pekuri bounced the enemy leader and shot up his engine, then pulled up. Now the enemy wingman got behind his tail. Juutilainen had dived immediately having realised the situation, but due to his high speed he could not shoot the La-5 threatening Pekuri, 50 m behind his tail and gaining. "Illu" pulled a tight curve to decelerate, then approached the enemy again. The Soviet pilot saw the threatening-looking "Messer" as she was 100 m away. Immediately the La-5 pulled up and rolled into a steep dive, in a very quick manouver.
Juutilainen fired a brief burst "off the hip" at the very same moment. The first tracer passed ahead of the spinner of the La-5 but the rest of the projectiles were hits. The enemy continued his dive and crashed in the sea. Pekuri's victim had belly landed in the sea, and the Finnish pilots saw how one of the speedboats picked up the pilot.
Back in the base the armourers found six pieces 20mm cases and 23 pieces 7,9mm cases in the spent case container of the MT-207. It was not worthwhile to reload the magazines...
4th November 1943. Three Me's intercepted a formation of three IL-2m escorted by five La-5 on a Southeastern course over the Gulf of Finland between Seiskari Island and Sepeleva Lighthouse. Juutilainen told the other pilots - Lt. Valli and Sr.Sgt. Lonnfors - to attack the Stormoviks while he would tie the escort fighters.
As Juutilainen approached in climb the five enemy fighters, they retreated by a steep dive. He looked down - the two Finnish pilots had not attacked. They wanted to see whether "Illu" would need help against the La-5's. Illu dived after the Stormoviks, passing his friends in a high speed. The enemy was about to get within the cover of the Soviet AA guns.
Juutilainen approached the three Il-2 from the side at a speed of 600 kmh, which was too much for accurate shooting. He passed them, then pulled a 180 degree turn at wavetops and then began to close in for a firing run. The Finnish pilot approached his targets at a 90 degree angle. He aimed at the wing plane, the range was less than 100m. He also had to bank hard to keep the enemy in his gunsight, and as he pulled the stick for deflection, the engine of his fighter blocked his line of sight to the target completely. Yet he fired.
Valli and Lonnfors saw how the Il-2 dived and crashed on the shoreline, catching fire. With the target out of sight, " Illu" had estimated correctly the deflection and the moment of shooting - the Me109G did not have a gyroscopic gunsight. Moreover, he had hit the vulnerable spot of the IL-2M , which was two square meters in size seen from above. He had spent 10 pcs of his 20mm ammunition.
The Fokker D.XXI fighter of 3./LLv 24, flown by Sgt. Juutilainen in March of 1940.
1999.02.20, © WW II Ace Stories.