Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Starshiy Leytenant Vilchik

In December 1939, Vilchik served in 25 IAP, which took part in the Finnish-Soviet Winter War equipped with Polikarpov I-16s.

At 11:30 on 19 December, Leytenant Vilchik and Mladshiy Leytenant O. A. Filatov claimed two shared Fokker D.XXIs over Kämära, 5 kilometres east of Viipuri
Totally, 25 IAP claimed four Fokker D.XXIs during the day; the two other were claimed by Kapitan N I. Zhuralev’s I-16 flight. It is possible that these were claimed in combat with Fokkers from LLv 24 and LLv 26, which reported combat against SBs and DB-3s during the day. LLv 24 flew 58 sorties on the Karelian Isthmus and was engaged in combat on 22 occasions between 10:50 and 15:20. The VVS lost 16 SBs, including five from 13 SBAP and eight from 44 SBAP, and one DB-3 from 1./6 DBAP. Ylikersantti Kelpo Virta (FR-84) was first in action and claimed one and one probable I-16s (possibly from 68 IAP) over Muolaanjärvi between 10:15-10:25, both crashes witnessed by ground troops but it seems that actually only one fighter pilot from 4./49 IAP was lost on this date. Luutnantti Per-Erik Sovelius (FR-92) of LLv 24 reported:

“On 19.12.39 from 0955 to 1105 on air combat patrol. I was leading the 3rd pair with kersantti Ikonen on my wing. We took off by the announcement. I flew over Antrea area when the radio informed 45 and I headed towars south-west. Somewhere near Kämärä, I observed a 7-plane SB formation and started the chase. The SBs were flying toward southwest, but turned towards south. However, we did not gain them, but we observed a bit aside three SB planes flying roughly in the same direction.
Kersantti Ikonen got well behind the plane on the starboard wing and shot it into flames from a very close range at the altitude of 2000 metres over Kipinola. I tried to get behind the port wingman, but did not have enough speed. I observed another three SB planes heading south-west, tried after them but began to loose them. The planes were throwing leaflets.
During the chase I observed again three SB planes a little below going southwards. I picked the port wingman as my target and shot first to the rear fuselage, when the dorsal gunner quitted firing. After this I aimed the fire to the port engine, which began to smke and finally caught fire. The plane fell to the starboard wing and dived towards the sea close to Seivästö about 10 kilometres from the coast.
I fired then at the starboard wingman, when its right engine started to pour smoke, but it stayed with the lead plane and kept going on.
I did the return flight at 3000 metres and while about 5 kilometres above the land I observed a-a artillery explosions. On the south coast of lake Muolaanjärvi two I-16s managed to take me by surprise coming from the sun. I woke up when bullets rustled in my plane.
I pulled instantly towards them, but noticed soon that the I-16 was more manoeuvrable than the Fokker. I tried to tighten my turns, but got only once the enemy into my sight and fired a short burst. I noticed at the same time that I had ammunition left only in one gun. Once after trying to turn as tight as possible I lost the control and slipped into a spin. I continued to make all sorts of evasive action and down at the surface I managed to shake my pursuers. I was then nearby Heinjoki.
Both I-16s attacked simultaneously and obviously in order to avoid collision did not get straight behind me and were forced to shoot with a small deflection. Judged by the tracers the I-16s seemed to fire all the time even when my plane was clearly out of their sights.
After the mission my plane had two hits. One in the tail plane and the other had gone in through the mg compression bottle hatch and out from the fuselage bottom.”
LLv 24 claimed six, one probable and two damaged SBs and one DB-3 shot down. Luutnantti Sovelius claimed two SBs at 10:30 over Seivvästö, kersantti Sakari Ikonen (FR-102) claimed one over Kipolanjärvi at 10:30, lentomestari Viktor Pyötsiä (FR-110) claim one over Muolaanjärvi and one damaged over Antrea (both at 11:20), vänrikki Pekka Kokko (FR-90) claimed one damaged over Muolaanjärvi at 11:30, kersantti Ilmari Juutilainen (FR-108) claimed one over Rautu at 11:55, kapteeni Eino Carlsson (FR-89) claimed one probable over Antrea between 12:35-13:20 and kersantti Toivo Vuorimaa (FR-83) claimed one over Sairala at 13:00. Luutnantti Jorma Karhunen (FR-112) and kersantti Martti Alho (FR-117) claimed a shared DB-3 (c/n 819 from 1./ 6 DBAP) over Oravaniemi at 15:20.
LLv 26 claimed five and one damaged SBs. Vänrikki Eero Enroth claimed one damaged over Muolaanjärvi at 10:30, vänrikki Eero Malmivuo (FR-116) claimed one over Äyräpää at 10:45, luutnantti Urho Nieminen (FR-111) claimed one over Perkjärvi at 10:50, kersantti Lasse Aaltonen (FR-114) claimed one over Muolaanjärvi at 10:50, kersantti Pentti Tilli (FR-103) claimed one over Vammelsuu at 11:30 and kersantti Paavo Mannila (FR-96) claimed one over Muolaanjärvi at 11:40.
Two Fokker D.XXIs were damaged; one from LLv 24 (Sovelius’ FR-92) and one from LLv 26 (Tilli’s FR-103).

149 IAP was formed on 31 January 1940 at Pushkin based on elements from 38 IAP and was attached to VVS SZFr. Reinforcements was received from 25 IAP (16 I-16s for 1st Eskadrilya), from 51 IAP (14 I-153s for 2nd eskadrilya arrived on 14 February 1940 from Leningrad) and from the Air Force Academy (VVA) in Moscow.
It seems that Leytenant Vilchik and Mladshiy Leytenant O. A. Filatov were among the pilots transferred from 25 IAP.

On 1 February, 149 IAP moved to Vejno west of Lake Peipus (Chudskoye ozero).

At 11:45 on 19 February, eleven I-153s and I-16s from 149 IAP were escorting 36 SB-bombers. At the target area, seven “Bulldogs” were encountered. During the air combats five enemy aircraft were claimed in the Lappeenranta-Sippola area by I-153 pilots; Mayor Nikita Syusyukalov and Batal’yonniy Komissar Shalimov shared one claim, Starshiy Leytenant Vilchik made two claims, Starshiy Leytenant Pidyukov one claim and Leytenant Pavlov one claim. Four of the 149 IAP aircraft returned damaged; Mayor Syusyukalov (38 bullet holes), Leytenant Pavlov (33 bullet holes), Leytenant Vladimir Litvinenko (15 bullet holes) and Leytenant Pidyukov (6 bullet holes).
These claims can’t be verified with Finnish records.

On 26 February 1940, 149 IAP was involved in combat over Kouvola when Starshiy Leytenant Vilchik claimed a monoplane (Fiat?). Leytenant Kelin and Leytenant Salov claimed two Fokkers as shared. Leytenant Begrov and Starshiy Leytenant Pindyukov shared a fighter ”equipped with open radial engine” (this is clearly referring to a Fiat).
Urgently neede on the front, LLv 26 used only ten days in Fiat training before the baptism of fire. Luutnantti Olli Puhakka (FA-4) took his pair to combat bombers and fighters south of Kouvola. Over Pyhtää, he claimed one I-16 and his wingman vänrikki Kauko Linnamaa (FA-9) claimed one probable DB-3 (from 1 AP). Puhakka also claimed a damaged I-152 over Kotka during the same combat.

Vilchik ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 3.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  19/12/39 11:30 1/2 Fokker D.XXI (a) Shared destroyed I-16   Kämärä; 5km E Viipuri 25 IAP
  19/12/39 11:30 1/2 Fokker D.XXI (a) Shared destroyed I-16   Kämärä; 5km E Viipuri 25 IAP
1 19/02/40 11:45 1 Fokker D.XXI (b) Destroyed I-153   Lappeenranta-Sippola area 149 IAP
2 19/02/40 11:45 1 Fokker D.XXI (b) Destroyed I-153   Lappeenranta-Sippola area 149 IAP
3 26/02/40 15:00 1 Monoplane (c) Destroyed Polikarpov   Kouvola 149 IAP

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 3 and 2 shared destroyed.
(a) Possibly claimed in combat with Fokker D.XXIs from LLv 24 and 26 which suffered two damaged fighters for claims of four by 25 IAP.
(b) These claims can’t be verified with Finnish records.
(c) Claimed in combat with LLv 26, which claimed 1 I-16, 1 probable DB-3 and 1 damaged I-152 without losses. 149 IAP claimed 4 enemy fighters without losses.

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
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 Ilmavoimat part II – 1928-40 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2006, ISBN 952-99743-0-2

Last modified 23 December 2014