Biplane fighter pilots


Major Finn Thorsager, RAF no. N1055

1915 – August 2000

Finn Thorsager was born in 1915.

Thorsager served in Norwegian Jagevingen before the German attack in April 1940.

At dawn on 9 April 1940, the Jagevingen at Fornebu, Oslo, had seven of the ten available Gladiators serviceable, while the unit had ten officers and sergeants available to fly them, three of them under training. The serviceable Gladiators were 413, 419, 423, 425, 427, 429 and 433.

Second Lieutenant Finn Thorsager (Gladiator 433) made some claims on 9 April 1940. He had sprayed all his fire generally at the many aircraft seen, and after exhausting his ammunition landed on a small frozen lake, Lyseren, 12 miles east of Oslo, taxiing his aircraft onto firm ground. From here he was driven by car to Oslo where he rejoined Jagevingen. The Gladiator (433) was left where it stood, and while it is thought that the Germans subsequently recovered parts of it, some ten years later a local farmer told Thorsager that he still had some pieces of the aircraft. His first claim during the attack against a Heinkel may well have been the same Ju 52/3m that had been attacked by Tradin which were claimed by German sources to have been shot down by a pair of Gladiators.

After the German occupation Thorsager managed to escape from Norway to Sweden, making his way from there to Canada via Moscow, Vladivostok, Yokohama and California.

Reaching the Little Norway training camp near Toronto, he was at first retained as an instructor, but in August 1941 joined 331 Squadron in the UK, having been commissioned.

He later transferred to 332 Squadron as a Lieutenant.

On 18 March 1942, he was promoted to Captain and took command of ‘A’ Flight.

During the Dieppe landings on 19 August 1942 he claimed two Fw190s between 06:50 and 07:10.
He claimed a third Fw190 during another sortie at 15:10.

As a Major, he became squadron CO on 22 February 1943.

He was rested from operations on 1 July 1943.

On 15 September 1943 he was awarded a DFC.

Later that year he joined Ferry Command, and from the end of 1944 flew Lockheed Lodestars on the Leuchars – Stockholm route for the rest of the war.

Thorsager ended the war with one victory, this one being claimed while flying the Gloster Gladiator.

On 13 November 1946, Finn Thorsager piloted Oxford LN-LAE from Croydon, UK, bound for Copenhagen, Denmark.
At 15:43, they made an intermediate landing at Schipol. The aircraft was destined to take off again at 16:25 and at 16:15, Thorsager asked W. Kuiper for taxiing instructions over the radio but immediately after this one of the crew, John Erik Brakken, was tragically killed when he walked into one of the propellers while removing one of the wheel chocks

After the war, he joined the Board of Aviation, and then the Norwegian branch of SAS, becoming an airline captain, and ultimately the airline’s chief pilot, until his retirement.

Thorsager passed away in August 2000.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 09/04/40 1 'Heinkel' (a) Destroyed Gladiator 433 Oslo area Jagevingen
  19/08/42 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire Vb EP283 E Dieppe 332 Squadron
  19/08/42 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire Vb EP283 E Dieppe 332 Squadron
  19/08/42 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire Vb   Dieppe area 332 Squadron
  10/03/43 1 Bf 109F Damaged Spitfire IX BS508 near Knocke 332 Squadron
2 16/04/43 1 Fw190 Destroyed Spitfire IX BS507 Flushing area 332 Squadron
  17/06/43 ½ Fw190 Shared destroyed Spitfire IX BS508 Flushing area 332 Squadron
  17/06/43 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire IX BS508 Flushing area 332 Squadron
  24/06/43 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire IX BS458 St Omer area 332 Squadron
  24/06/43 1 Fw190 Damaged Spitfire IX BS458 St Omer area 332 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed alternative 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 and 1 shared destroyed alternative 1 and 2 shared destroyed, 8 damaged.
(a) Might have been Ju 52/3m (WNr. 6570) of II/KG zbV1; Feldwebel Albert Meier, his crew and 12 members of 2/FJR1 were all killed. This victory might possible be shared with Lieutenant Rolf Tradin. Totally Norwegian units claimed 19 aircraft during the day of which fighters (the rest was claimed by ground gunners) claimed six. Luftwaffe lost two Bf 110s and a Ju 52/3m in combat, six Ju 52/3ms, one Bf 110 and one He 111 being brought down by ground fire.

Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Gloster Gladiator - Alex Crawford, 2002 Mushroom Model Publications, Redbourn, ISBN 83-916327-0-9
Gloster Gladiator Home Page - Alexander Crawford.
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
Additional information kindly provided by Frits Gerdessen, Knut Larsson and Frank Olynyk.

Last modified 21 May 2007