Commander of the 24th squadron Major Karhunen received orders to reconnoitre the target with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G fighters of his squadron. The phone rang in the pilot's hut of the 1st flight at Lappeenranta air base. Commander of the flight, 25-year old Captain Hans Wind picked up the handset, answered, listened, then said flatly: "Two, roger" and rang off.
His pilots looked at him questioningly. Wind paced round the room, then explained: he had received orders to reconnoitre with two planes east and south of Viipuri. He needed say nothing more. Every one of the pilots understood that it was an insane order, a true suicide mission. Probably Major Karhunen knew it, too, because he had ordered only two planes to the task - to minimise the likely loss. The enemy fighters constantly patrolled the airspace of the target and could summon reinforcements in a few minutes. The enemy most likely also had radar.
Capt. Wind felt as an officer that it was his duty to fulfill the order, however idiotic. He continued pacing, then turned to his wingman and friend, sergeant-major Nils Katajainen with a question: "Nipa, would you join me ?". Katajainen agreed, saying that he could go since he already had had his breakfast and he did not expect to get any in enemy hands.
The two pilots donned their gear. To date Capt Wind had scored 72 victories and Sgt.maj. Katajainen 30. Then they studied the map and agreed on tactics: no radio traffic because the enemy would intercept the messages. Wind would do the reconnaisance and Katajainen would cover him. Then they climbed in their Bf 109 G-6 fighters - Wind was flying "MT-439", Katajainen "MT-476" - and the mechanics started the engines by hand-cranking. The two Messer's took off at 10:25 a.m.
Approaching the target area at 5000 m the two pilots saw seven enemy Yak-9 fighters at low altitude. To the surprise of wingman Katajainen, his leader half-rolled and dived at the enemy: on reconnaisance mission battle must be avoided if only possible. (It is this author's guess that Wind wanted to abort the suicide mission gracefully - being drawn into battle against superior enemy is a honourable way to return with mission unaccomplished). But Katajainen had to follow his leader. At the very same moment he saw that they had been ambushed: 20 more Soviet fighters, Airacobras and Yak-9's were diving at them, and the enemy leader was calling for reinforcements.
A desperate air battle started at 4000 m. Captain Wind shot down one Yak-9 that happened to fly in his sights, Katajainen tried to follow, but then they were separated and both pilots had to fight alone. There were far too many enemies for Wind to dodge them all. His Messerschmitt was hit, but in turn he shot down two more Yaks in quick succession. Looking back, Wind saw the huge muzzle flashes of the Airacobra's 37 mm fuselage cannon.
He had just managed to damage one of the Airacobras as a 37 mm shell fired by another one exploded in his seat armour. Another shell pierced the armour glass behind his left shoulder, exploding in the instrument panel. Wind's left arm was badly wounded. Burning kerosene from the smashed liquid compass filled the cockpit with dark smoke. Wind put the smoking Messer in nosedive.
The enemy pilots considered the Bf 109 a confirmed victory and disengaged. At very low altitude Wind recovered his damaged fighter from dive and took the course to Lappeenranta. But he never knew what happened after that before he for a while recovered consciousness on the operation table of a hospital, as he was being prepared for emergency operation.
The witnesses can tell that Capt. Wind sent a radio message: "Been hit, send for ambulance." - but he did not respond to any calls, just hallucinated in the radio to pilots flying too close on his wing - men who had been killed in action. The enemy shell had not only destroyed his instruments but also cut off the power adjustment lever - the Messerchmitt engine was stuck on full power and automatic prop pitch control. Wind was flying by instinct provided by training and experience. Approaching the base the wounded pilot was able to extend the undercarriage, but he had to land without the use of landing flaps with an initial speed of 500 kmh.
The ground crews and other pilots of the base watched in horror what would happen: the Bf 109 was notoriously difficult to land even when not battle-damaged and flown by a pilot in normal condition. Capt. Wind adjusted the engine power by switching ignition off and on, and "MT-439" made a bouncing landing at 11:00 hours, staying on the gravel runway until at the end the fighter drifted to the left side.
Capt. Wind opened the cockpit canopy and tried to get out, but did not have any more strength to do it. He saw men running to help, and said to the first one: "Nipa got it" then collapsed back in the cockpit. His last flight had ended, and he had scored his last victories, making a total ot 75.
He was given first aid - he had lost a lot of blood and had splinters in his left arm, hand and back - and then flown to a central hospital in Mikkeli with a Ju 52.
But Nipa had not got it. Somehow he managed to escape a little farther and he saw three fighters fall, believing that Wind's Messer was the last of them. As the enemy fighters reorganised for return to base, he approached them from below with revenge in mind. At a short range Katajainen aimed at the last Airacobra of the formation and fired a burst. The enemy fighter puffed out thick smoke and nosedived. Katajainen half-rolled, dived and turned his course to the base in a somber mood.
Approaching the front line Katajainen by chance came across an enemy observation balloon - he flew through the AA barrage and shot the "sausage" in flames. Then he crossed the front line. On the Finnish territory he happened to see nine Il-2M ground attack planes on return from mission - he attacked them and managed to shoot down two before the escort fighters had time to disturb him. "MT-476" landed at Lappeenranta at 11:05 hrs. Katajainen's first words to his ground crew were: "Hasse got it".
The same day Capt. Wind had been granted the Mannerheim cross for the second time.
When Capt Wind returned to full consciousness about one week later, the first words he heard in his hospital bed were: - Hasse, how are you? The voice was familiar - Yes, it was Nipa Katajainen, his wingman, lying in the next bed. On the 3rd July enemy AA had got a bad hit in his machine, which had disintegrated in landing at Lappeenranta and left the pilot with fractured arms and legs.
Wind's "MT-439" was repaired at the base with parts scavenged from other Bf's damaged beyond repair. It flew again some days later until it was shot down in July.
After dramatic combat on 28 June 1944, Wind didn't return to front duty, he was hospitalized for the rest of the war. Totally he finished 302 combat sorties, scoring 75 kills. He is ranked on second position on WWII FAF top aces list. FAF service he left on 10 October 1945 in rank of captain. "Hasse" Wind died on 24 July 1995 in Tampere.
More details of his biography please check in another story: Hans "Hasse" Wind - Rene Fonck of WW 2.