Biplane fighter aces

Denmark

Luutnantti Poul Balzer Christensen

Poul Christensen was born on 2 May 1916.

He joined the Army before the Second Wold War.

He trained as a pilot and got his wings in 1938 (pilot's certificate 231/38).

He was appointed Sekondløjtnant on 9 October 1936.

On 9 October 1939, he was promoted to Premierløjtnant.

He joined Finnish AF on 5 February 1940.

On 15 February his detachment of LLv 26 was subordinated to detachment Luukkanen of LLv 24.

Since there were two Danish pilots among the Gladiator pilots of the detachment – Christensen and Kristensen – and both were pronounced identical, the Finnish pilots designated him to Kristensen-CH!

On 19 February, luutnantti Paavo Berg’s three-strong patrol of LLv 26 was chasing a formation of 32 SB bombers when it was engaged in combat with various I-153 fighters above Sippola at 15:25. One of the enemy fighters was shot down by Berg and another was shared between luutnantti Christensen and vänrikki Lauri Sihvo. The rest of the enemy fighters broke off and headed towards Suomenlahti.
They had been in combat with I-153s from 149 IAP, 7 VA, which reported that at 15:40, seven I-153s and four I-16s were escorting 35 SB-bombers. After bombs were dropped, five “Bulldogs” attacked, with four I-153s responding. I-153 c/n 7142 and 7158 did not return from Sippola. Starshiy Leytenant N. Yu. Iyentish and Starshiy Leytenant V. S. Osipov (CO of the 2nd eskadrilya) became POWs. Leytenant Makarov fore-landed at Kotly after lack of fuel while Leytenant Semenov returned with 47 bullet holes in his aircraft.

Berg later told about his experience with Chaikas:

“The Chaika has a back armour plate for the pilot so firing at them directly behind with Gladiators rifle-calibre guns is useless. Dogfighting them is the best chance to get a Chaika if you are good at it.”
Berg himself had flown the Bulldog for nearly 5 years before the war and thus he had become a skilful pilot and a marvellous deflection shooter.

In the early morning on 29 February, Mladshii Leitenant Viktor Grigoryevich Masich of 68 IAP led a three-aircraft group making a reconnaissance mission to the Antrea area. Here they detected the well-camouflaged ice base at Ruokolahti. Over the Finnish air base, Masich claimed one Gladiator and he was able to return with some 80 holes in his fighter. The Gladiator lost was GL-269 of LLv 26, subordinate to LLv 24 (detachment Luukkanen), which was lost due to enemy fighter fire when it returned to Ruokolahti base after a morning alarm mission. The Gladiators had been on an abortive mission together with detachment Luukkanen’s Fokkers and were following in the wake of the Fokkers when a lone Russian I-153 appeared like a wraith and shot down the Gladiator in flames, and was gone as suddenly as it had arrived. The pilot alikersantti Pentti Kosola died of wounds.
At 12:00, the detachment received a message that 21 enemy bombers were heading towards Antrea from the south at an altitude of 16,500 feet. The detachments leader kapteeni Eino Luukkanen was prevented to take off due to a loose starboard ski on his Fokker D.XXI and command was given by him to luutnantti Tatu Huhanantti (6 victories). However it seems that they have been giving wrong information from the control centre or been referring to an entirely different formation for when the 14 Fokkers and Gladiators of LLv 24 and LLv 26 were climbing out of Ruokolahti field they were trapped in a most unfavourable position when they were attacked by an estimated 40 I-153 and I-16 fighters.
In fact, they were 17 I-16s and six I-153s from 68 IAP, which were returning after the morning’s reconnaissance mission. Twelve fighters were led by Mayor Gil (I-16) while the remaining eleven fighters were led by Starshii Leitenant D. P. Yefimov (CO of 1 Eskadrilya). In the vicious battle that followed three Gladiators were shot down immediately on take-off. In the low-level combat that followed, the Russians destroyed two more Gladiators and one Fokker. The battle lasted only some fifteen minutes before the Russians withdrew.
Alikersantti Sulo Suikkanen (GL-256) succeeded in shooting down one I-16 over Kaukopää at 12:20. Suikkanen also claimed a second I-16 damaged over Imatra at the same time. A third reportedly I-16 hit the trees and crashed. Seven more Soviet fighters were damaged. During the combat luutnantti Tatu Huhanantti (Fokker D.XXI FR-94) was killed together with luutnanttis Aimo Halme (GL-262) and Carl Kristensen (GL-259). Luutnantti Christensen (GL-261) and vääpeli Olavi Lilja (GL-268) parachuted to safety but both were injured and Christensen was burnt in his face and hospitalized for the rest of the Winter War. Vääpeli Jussi Tolkki (GL-263) had a remarkable escape by falling into a snow bank when his fighter disintegrated just above the trees.
The returning Soviet pilots claimed eleven “Bulldogs” and eight Fokker D.XXIs (one additional claim for an enemy fighter with an unknown pilot). Mayor Gil claimed one Fokker in a head on attack. The enemy fighter caught fire, overturned and came down. Gil’s second claim was a Bulldog, which got on the tail of Leitenant Polushkin. This Bulldog also caught fire and went to the ground. Starshii Leitenant Plotnikov attacked a Bulldog, which got on Mayor Gil’s tail. The Bulldog began to smoke, lost control and crashed to the ground. Starshii Leitenant Ivanov attacked and shot down one Bulldog, which got on Starshii Leitenant Plotnikov’s tail. The Bulldog smoked heavily and went to the ground. Leitenants Sorokin and Nikitin (I-16) attacked a Fokker, which caught fire and fell out of control from an altitude of 3200 metres. Starshii Leitenant Dmitriy Pavlovich Yefimov, Leitenant Shishov, Leitenant Terpugov, Leitenant Orlov and Leitenant Sapozhnikov together claimed a Bulldog, which caught fire and crashed to the ground from an altitude of 70-100 metres. Leitenant Shishov then saw one Bulldog flying at 100 metres altitude, attacked it at high speed, overtook it, then turned back and attacked it again. The Bulldog began to smoke and crashed to the ground. Leitenant Orlov dived on the tail of a Bulldog that flew just over the ground and with fire forced it to crash to the ground. Leitenant Polushkin (Polukhin?) and Mladshii Leitenant Mazurenko saw a Fokker, which attempted to attack their flight. With a swift turn they got onto the enemy’s tail and shot it down with an attack from two sides. The enemy caught fire and crashed to the ground. Mladshii Leitenant Mazurenko then saw a Fokker got behind his tail. With a heavy slideslip, he turned his aircraft 45-50 degrees and the Fokker overtook him. Mazurenko turned back and with a long burst downed the enemy. The Fokker caught fire and crashed to the ground. Mazurenko’s aircraft returned with 36 bullet holes. Leitenant Alexander Platonov pursued one Bulldog and with an attack from behind, he forced it to dive. Platonov followed it and continued to fire until the Bulldog got into a spin and crashed into the ground. After the attack of the airfield, Leitenant Popov was climbing for altitude when he saw a Bulldog chased by I-16s and I-153s. With a spilt-S, the Bulldog evaded their attack but Popov attacked it when it was recovering from its dive. Popov fired on it and it caught fire. Leitenant Mayev (I-16), while climbing for altitude, saw a Fokker, which got behind an I-16 and began to fire. Mayev attacked the Fokker from behind and set on fire. The Fokker crashed to ground out of control. Mladshii Leitenant Soldatov dropped bombs on the enemy aircraft parked on the frozen lake. After that he was attacked by two Fokkers, bus using the manoeuvrability and climbing performance of his I-153, he evaded the attack and climbed to the Soviet group. He saw that one Fokker was pursuing an I-16 and decided to attack it. The enemy decided to outrun him, but Soldatov manoeuvred behind it and fired several long bursts. The enemy aircraft went into a dive. Soldatov followed it and observed that the Fokker crashed into the forest. Leitenant Konyukhov shot down one Fokker in a head on attack. For some reason the enemy aircraft didn’t return fire. The Fokker began to smoke and hit the ground out of control. Leitenant Nikitin twice attacked a Bulldog and shot it down. It fell into the forest and caught fire. Having approached the target, Leitenant Fyodorov (Fedorov), saw one Bulldog at 2200 meters altitude. Fyodorov got behind it and with two bursts shot it down. The Bulldog dived vertically and fell north of Salvisaari Island. After that, Fyodorov dropped the bombs on one Fokker, which was taxiing on the lake. Just after taking off, this Fokker caught fire and hit the ice.
68 IAP lost one I-16 flown by Starshii Leitenant Yefimov (CO of 1 Eskadrilya), who was killed when his I-16 didn’t level out from a steep dive to evade chasing enemy Finnish fighters, but crashed to the ground and one I-153 (c/n 521) were the pilot, Mladshii Leitenant Mikhail Ivanovich Volosevich (2 Eskadrilya, parachuted at Tainiokoski to become a PoW.
This combat was the biggest single aerial defeat suffered by the Finns during the whole course of the Second World War.

Christensen ended the war with one shared victory, claimed while flying Gloster Gladiator.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
  19/02/40 15:25 1/2 I-153 (a) Shared destroyed Gladiator II GL-261 Sippola LLv 26

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with I-153s from 149 IAP, 7 VA. The Finnish Gladiators claimed two aircraft and Leytenant Iyentish and Leytenant Osipov were shot down and taken POWs while a third I-153 was damaged.

Sources:
Danish WW2 Pilots
Englantilaiset Hävittäjät - Keskinen, Stenman, Niska
Fighter over Finland - Eino Luukkanen, 1963
Finnish Aces of World War 2 - Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinen, 1998 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-85532-783-X
Hurricane & Gladiator - Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2005, ISBN 952-99432-0-2
Ilmavoitot, osa 1 - Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, ISBN 952-99432-8-8
Ilmavoitot, osa 2 - Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, ISBN 952-99432-8-8
Kohtalokkaat lennot 1939-1944 - Jaakko Hyvönen
Ilmavoimat talvisodassa - Keskinen, Stenman
Red Stars 7 - Talvisota Ilmassa - The Winter War In the Air - Carl-Fredrik Geust, 2011 Apali Oy, Tampere, ISBN 978-952-5877-04-5
Suomen Ilmailuhistoriallinen Lehti nr. 1/1996
Suomen Ilmavoimat part II – 1928-40 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2006, ISBN 952-99743-0-2
Additional information kindly provided by Alexey Andreev, Carl-Fredrik Geust, Tuomo Lukkari and Mirek Wawrzynski .




Last modified 21 April 2016