Starshii Politruk M. A. Kochmala
Starshii Politruk M. A. Kochmala took part in the Soviet-Finish Winter War where he served in 49 IAP.
Detachment Kivinen encountered various enemy formations north of Ladoga on 13 February. One of the formations they encountered during the day was I-16s from 49 IAP, 8 VA (neither side sustained any losses).
In the afternoon on 13 February, lentomestari Lauri Lautamäki (GL-253) and ylikersantti Oiva Tuominen (GL-255) were first scrambled at 14:00 and sent to Matkaselkä. After this there was an alarm - a large Russian bomber formation was approaching! Luutnantti Knut Kalmberg (GL-260) and Kivinen took off first as they were in readiness with running engines. Five others followed so all nine Gladiators of Kivinen's unit were airborne. They met nine I-15bis fighters and engaged them. Six Russians tried to form a "Spanish ring"-defensive circle. Kalmberg attacked these Russians, but as he started shooting, three other Russians attacked him and hit his Gladiator. He tried to disengage by diving, but his plane went into a spin and dived into the ground at Havuvaara, killing him. Meanwhile, Kivinen’s Gladiator was hit in the engine. He disengaged with a steep dive and landed at Värtsilä. The rest of the Gladiators were now dogfighting with the Russians. In the dogfight Jörn Ulrich was hit and wounded. He made a forced landing with the last of his strength between Kuhilasvaara and Havuvaara. His Gladiator GL-257 was badly damaged and not repaired anymore. In this fight, Ilmari Joensuu (GL-256) claimed one I-15bis at 14:40 while Ulrich was credited for the destruction of two between 14:15 and 15:05. Other Finnish pilots in this engagement were Pentti Tevä and lentomestari Niilo ‘Arpinaama’ Artola. Artola was not a pilot of LLv 26 but a Blackburn Ripon pilot of LLv 16. He was on a familiarization flight with a Gladiator when the Soviet fighters appeared. He joined the battle although he was not sure how to operate the guns! However, he managed to fire a bust on an I-15 chasing a Finnish Gladiator. It seems that the I-15bis fighters were from 49 IAP, which lost Starshii Politruk Kochmala (I-15bis), who was KIA after claiming two Gladiators. 49 IAP also claimed a Fokker during the day when Leitenant Yakov Filippovity Mikhin of Aviagruppa Tkachenko claimed one in a ”taran” ramming attack at Värtsilä. Mikhin managed to return to his airfield with his damaged I-16.
As Lautamäki and Tuominen were returning from their uneventful flight, they met nine enemy bombers from 39 SBAP, 8 VA, which had taken off from Lotinanpelto (at River Svir) at 13.00, with the task of bombing fortifications north of Pyhäjärvi (hill 108,8) and dropping leaflets. In the ensuing dogfight Tuominen claimed 3 and 1 shared SBs in seven minutes and 1 I-152 while Lautamäki claimed the second half in the shared SB (this aircraft was claimed at Jänisjärvi). Ylikersantti Tuominen reported:
“When I was patrolling with lentomestari Lautamäki in Jänisjärvi station area, I noticed nine SBs arriving east of Suojärvi and heading west. I signalled lentomestari Lautamäki and turned towards the enemy planes. The enemy formation banked to east and east of Soanjoki I caught them and shot the port wing aircraft into fire. It crashed in the woods. So did the next one after a minute. And the third crashed into a small pond.39 SBAP lost three SBs, all of them from the 5th eskadrilya. They had taken off at 13:00 from Lodejnoye pole to bomb hill 108,8 east of Pyhäjärvi and to drop leflets when they become involved in air combat over Suistamo. The first lost was c/n 14/217, which crashed at Jänisjärvi with crew-members Mladshii Leitenant N. M. Parshikov, Kapitan S. N. Pitek and Starshina A. A. Baranov killed. The second was c/n 16/115, which crashed at Kivijärvi with crew-members Leitenant I. A Tarasenko, Starshii Leitenant N. V. Begichev and Starshina I. Ye. Dunayev killed. The third was c/n 11/219, which crashed at Roikonkoski after having been hit in both fuel tanks and catching fire with crew-members Leitenant A. G. Lazarykov, Starshina V.Grudinin and Starshina Sibirkulin killed while Leitenant I. S. Kramtsov parachuted at 14:50 (Moscow time) and was taken POW the following day. This was the second operational mission by the 5th eskadrilya; the first one was made the day before.
Then nine more bombers arrived from Loimola direction joining the others. At first I thought they were fighters as the distance grew a little, but I caught them over Kivijärvi and shot at the starboard wing aircraft. When I fired a second burst, it crashed in flames to the north bank of Kivijärvi Lake.
At the same time an I-15 took off from the ice, I shot it immediately down at the edge of the forest, where it crashed in fire. My fighter had two bullet holes in the wings fired from the ground.
Own aircraft GL-255.”
At the time of his death, Kochmala was credited with two biplane victories. These being claimed while flying the Polikarpov I-15bis.
Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from LeLv 26, which lost 2 Gladiators (a third damaged) while claiming 3 and 1 probable I-15bis. 49 IAP claimed 2 Gladiators while losing 1 I-15bis.
Red Stars 7 - Talvisota Ilmassa - The Winter War In the Air - Carl-Fredrik Geust, 2011 Apali Oy, Tampere, ISBN 978-952-5877-04-5