Biplane fighter aces


Luutnantti Håkan Strömberg

1 October 1917 – 7 April 1943

Luutnantti Håkan Strömberg at Kontupohja on 22 June 1942.
Source SA-Kuva.

Håkan Strömberg was born in Kirkkonummi on 1 October 1917.

After that he had joined the Finnish Air Force flying training in 1939-40 at IRUK and received the SLM (FAF Pilot Wings) no 606.

He was demobilized on 6 December 1940.

On 18 June 1941, he was mobilized again as a vänrikki and posted to LLv 16.

The Continuation War started on 25 June 1941.

The whole LLv 16 moved to Solomanni near Äänislinna (Perrozavodsk) on 9 October 1941 with operations directed mainly towards the north.

On 5 December, a Gladiator pair of 1/LLv 16 reconnoitred in front of the Finnish advance:

Planes GL-271 kapteeni Pursiainen and GL-255 vänrikki Håkan Strömberg. Take-off 13:20 and return 13:55 hours. Route Viiksjärvi-Karhumäki-Poventsa-Viiksjärvi. 13:00 Karhumäki 2,000m. The NE end of the road bridge appeared blown up. South of the bridge 3 trucks, SE of the bridge 5 trucks and 5 horses. 13:35 road Karhumäki-Lumbusi 2,000m. 20 trucks to east, a couple to Karhumäki. 40-45 horse vehicles on the road heading east. 13:35 road Lumbusi-Pindisi-Brjuhova 2,000m. 3 trucks coming from north. 10 horses on the road. On the main road 15 trucks and 15 horses. Road Lumbusi village-Poventsa 4 trucks heading north, 20-30 horse vehicles heading east, 5 horse vehicles heading north. About 30 men on the road in small groups. 13:40 road Karhumäki-Poventsa. 5 trucks to Poventsa, 4 trucks to Karhumäki and 10 horse vehicles to both directions. On the streets of Poventsa about 50 men, 5 trucks and 5 horses. 13:40 road from Poventsa to Voljärvi for 5km. No traffic. 13:40 road from Poventsa to east for 2km. No traffic. A few men on the road.”

On 19 January 1942, the aerial reconnaissance of 1/LLv 16 was finding out the Russian movements on the Maaselkä isthmus. Vänrikki Strömberg reported:

”GL-255, vänrikki Strömberg, altitude 500m. … At 14:20 in the southern road junction of Meri-Maaselkä village 40 truck parked, snow on the vehicles. In the village 15 trucks and every yard full of men. Between Meri-Maaselkä-Parakki 28-35 trucks towards SW, 120 loaded horse-drawn vehicles to SW. Two columns of about 200 men SW. About 30 empty trucks NE. South of Parakki 28 village 30 trucks nearby the two houses. In the village itself 8 trucks and 16 horse-drawn vehicles and about 120-150 men. At 14:30 at Parakki 28-21 twelve horse-drawn vehicles and 30 men westward. Between Parakki 21-Hiisjärvi 50 loaded horse-drawn vehicles to south. 1km north of Hizozero a camp in a depression. The camp area in east-west direction from the road to point 90. In the yards of the building between the railway and Raz 14 5-6 trucks and 30-40 men. At 14:40 at Raz 6 in small columns 35 men to south. Between Karbozero and Raz 6 two about 200 men groups and horse-drawn vehicles to south. At 14:45 at Karbozero 60-70 men and 20 horse-drawn vehicles in the yards. At Karbozero-Aitalampi junctions two groups of about 200 men to east, with 25-30 horse-drawn vehicles, 10-15 trucks to east. At 14:50 between Aitalampi junctions and Aitalampi 15 horse-drawn vehicles and about 100 men south. In Aitalampi village about 50 men and 12 horse-drawn vehicles. Between Aitalampi and Nopsa 15 trucks and 3 buses to east, 5-6 trucks to west and two groups of about 200 men east. At Nopsa 8 wagons on side rails. Between Banbozero and Suurlahti 3 trucks, 8-10 horse-drawn vehicles and 20 men east and 5-6 horse-drawn vehicles west. The road to Suurlahti goes vio point 12, a camp there.”

He was promoted to luutnantti on 30 March 1942.

On 3 May 1942 there was a reorganisation of the Finnish Air Force and at the same time there was a redesign of the names of the units and thus LLv 16 became LeLv 16.
LeLv 16 was made subordinate to Lentorykmentti 2 (2 Flying Regiment).

When the aerial reconnaissance had discovered that several barges had passed the winter at the mouths of Vodla and Andoma Rivers running into Lake Onega, the task to destroy these was given to LeR 4 and LeR 2in addition to the saw mill at Vodla River.
The target for LeR 2 became the barges at the mouth of Vodla River and it commenced the operation on 9 May, five minutes before the Blenheims of LeR 4. Four Fokker C.Xs of 3/LeLv 16 bombed the village and the barges at the mouth of the river. Right after this, six Gladiators of 1/LeLv 16 strafed the target area. LeLv 16 based at Äänislinna repeated the attack with the same units being the last over the target. The mission report from 3/LeLv 16 reported:

“FK-78 kapteeni Saxell and kersantti Koski, FK-94 lentomestari Rantala and luutnantti Kahla, FK-109 kersantti Sarin and kersantti Määttänen and FK-85 kersantti Komonen and vänrikki Astala. At 11:30 altitude 700m bombed 7x100kg, 16x15kg incendiaries and 14x12.5kg.
Hits: West end of target N:o 4, one 100kg one meter from a motor barge and another 100kg about 30m from third barge counting from the west end. All other bombs hit the village of Ustjenkylä. One house in the caught fire. The motor barge at the village shore was sunk due to the previous bombardment.”
The mission report of 1/LeLv 16 reported:
“GL-276 luutnantti Strömberg, GL-253 vänrikki Malmberg, GL-264 vänrikki Maunula, GL-265 vänrikki Timonen, GL-252 vänrikki Paakkanen and GL-275 lentomestari Törhönen. At 11:50 altitude 300-100m. Ustjenkylä village strafed, also the board yard and buildings. At the saw mill about 20 men were strafed. Also on north shore of Vodla River a group of men in the forest. After the bombing 31 intact barges upstream the mouth of Vodla River.”

The 2nd Flight received three Gladiators on 8 June and moved to Hirvas under the command of luutnantti M. Somppi.

On 9 July 1942 luutnantti Håkan Strömberg’s Gladiator GL-264 of 2/LeLv 16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire 6 km south-west of Särkijärvi. The aircraft was hit in the oil-tank and Strömberg had to rescue himself by parachute.

On 17 August 1942 Strömberg took command over LeLv 16's 2nd Flight after kapteeni Härmälä.

Between 19:00-20:00 on 15 February, a Gladiator pair of 2/LeLv 16 led by luutnantti Strömberg (GL-273) flew a routine reconnaissance on the Maaselkä isthmus on the Kumsjärvi-Vojatsu-Sekehe-Kärkijärvi-Kumsjärvi route counting traffic on the Murmansk railway and roads joining it. At the end of the flight, the Finns arrived from north to Kärkijärvi airfield at 20:05. A single R-5 took off from the base and Strömberg sent it down into the forest with his second burst.
This claim was claimed into the wing’s account.

In the morning on 7 April, 2/LeLv 16 lost its flight leader luutnantti Strömberg on a reconnaissance mission to the enemy side:

“Planes and pilots: GL-273 luutnantti Strömberg and GL-276 kersantti Kuuluvainen.
At 09:20-10:30 hours.
Route Kumsa-Suurlahti-Käsrkijärvi-Urosjärvi-Pinemolahti-Kumsa.
Kärkijärvi at 09:40 (1,500m), no traffic on airfield and no planes in shelters. Rail Kärkijärvi-Urosjärvi no traffic. Kärkijärvi airfield at 09:50 (1,500m), when GL-273 piloted by luutnantti Strömberg dived from 1,500m to 500m the plane went to pieces in an inverted dive. The wingman kersantti Kuuluvainen did not observe any flak before the dive or during it. NE bay at 09:55 (1,000m), camp area, plenty of motion about 50 men. Rifle and aut. Gun fire. Road Kärkijärvi-NE bay motor sleigh base (500m) 5 horse vehicles to east and 3 to west, of which 3 were strafed. Shore of Seesjärvi at NE bay, fortification works, log barracks and on the shore 2 horse vehicles to NW. Rifle and automatic gun fire. Oinemolahti (500m), rifle fire. 40mm enemy flak about 500m NW from the NW tip of Kärkijärvi airfield.”

At the time of his death, Strömberg had claimed one victory, this one being claimed while flying Gloster Gladiator.
During his career, he was decorated with the German Eisernes Kreutz 1st and 2nd Class and the Vapauden Risti 3rd and 4th Class.

In September 2020, parts of GL-273 was found near Kärkijärvi together with remains of Strömberg.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 15/02/43 20:05 1 R-5 (a) Destroyed Gladiator GL-273 Kärkijärvi LeLv 16

Biplane victories:1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Claimed into wing’s account.

Englantilaiset Hävittäjät - Keskinen, Stenman, Niska
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
LeR 2 - Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2001, ISBN 951-98751-0-7
Suomen Ilmavoimat part III – 1941 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-1-3
Suomen Ilmavoimat part V – 1943 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-3-7
Information kindly provided via Göran Bruun, Lars Larsson, Kari Lumppio, Jukka Nisula and Pentti Perttula

Last modified 03 February 2021