Finland’s Whirlwind Fighter Plane: A One-Off Messerschmitt Clone


For each excellent plane design that achieved fame throughout World Struggle II, there was one other that didn’t—normally a sufferer of circumstance, finest summed up with the all-too-familiar adage, “too little, too late.” Distinctive amongst these might-have-beens is the VL Pyörremyrsky, a one-of-a-kind prototype fighter whose solely victory was towards the ravages of time.

The ultimate few months of 1942 have been stuffed with ominous occasions for the Axis powers, because the tide of warfare turned towards them at locations referred to as El Alamein, Guadalcanal and Stalingrad. Within the air, a brand new technology of British, American and Soviet plane arose to problem the air arms of the Axis powers. One in all these was the Soviet Lavochkin La-5 fighter, a radial-engine growth of the LaGG-3 that was disturbingly superior in efficiency.

The looks of La-5s over the Soviet northern entrance induced specific alarm in Finland’s air power, the Suomen Ilma­voi­mat. Since Finland had resumed hostilities towards the Soviet Union on June 25, 1942, the Ilmavoimat had been holding its personal with a hodgepodge of imported fighters such because the American-built Brewster B-239 and Curtiss H-75A Hawk, the French Morane-Saulnier M.S.406, the Italian Fiat G.50, and the Dutch Fokker D.XXI. Very good coaching and motivation had helped the Finnish pilots to prevail over their extra quite a few Soviet opponents throughout that point, however the prospect of going through hordes of improved Soviet plane made it clear that the Finns would want newer plane of their very own.

An in a position fighter, the Fokker D.XXI, proven right here with a set of cumbersome skis rather than its regular mounted undercarriage, was a part of a curious assemblage of imported fighters. In late 1942 they have been no match for newer Soviet designs. (Finnish Defence Archives SV-KUA)

The Finnish authorities instructed the State Plane Manufacturing facility (Valtion Lento­konetehdas, or VL) to put most precedence on the design and building of two prototypes of a contemporary fighter. The brand new aircraft must make most use of indigenous supplies, have the ability to serve in each interception and floor assault roles, and be sturdy sufficient to function from small front-line airfields beneath probably the most extreme weather conditions.

VL was not precisely new to the sphere of plane growth. By 1939, it had developed 9 plane varieties, and it had simply begun to software up for collection manufacturing of the Myrsky (“storm”) single-seat fighter. The plane was powered by a 1,065-hp Pratt & Whitney SC3-G Twin Wasp (purchased from the Germans, who had captured a large number of the engines in the middle of their earlier conquests). The Myrsky was tormented by quite a few structural weaknesses, nevertheless, and the ultimate manufacturing mannequin, the Myrsky II, proved to be a disappointment—no match for the La-5 and different fashionable Soviet fighters. The event of a extra superior successor turned an important matter.

The duty of designing the brand new fighter, which was to be referred to as Pyörremyrsky (“whirlwind”), was entrusted to engineer Torsti R. Verkkola. A 1935 graduate of the Technical College of Finland, Verkkola had undertaken postgraduate research in Berlin earlier than becoming a member of VL in 1937. There, he had assisted within the design of a number of plane, aiding engineer Arvo Ylinen with the Pyry (“snow flurry”) superior coach, and collaborating with Ylinen and VL’s chief designer, E. Wegelius, on the Myrsky.

Creating a brand new fighter from scratch is rarely straightforward. Within the Myrsky’s preliminary type, the wing tended to bend beneath stress, and faulty bonding had resulted within the plywood pores and skin peeling off. Two deadly crashes have been finally discovered to have been the results of tailplane flutter, necessitating the redesign of each wing and horizontal tail surfaces.

However, the VL employees had realized lots from that have, not the least of which was one other adage: “Haste makes waste.” Consequently, regardless of the urgency connected to the event of the Myrsky’s successor, Verkkola and his crew exercised much more care in designing it, particularly of their analyses of stress and weight components.

Early in March 1943, Finnish pilots ferried over 16 Messerschmitt Me-109G-2s—the primary of a number of batches of German fighters (48 Me-109G-2s, 112 Me-109G-6s and two Me-109G-8s) that will finally supplant, although not totally eclipse, the older fighters. With the Messerschmitts got here shares of their engine, the 12-cylinder inverted-vee, liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB 605, which turned the logical selection for the brand new Finnish design.

The familiar Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine was a logical choice to power the Finnish fighter. (Central Finland Aviation Museum, Tikkakoski)
The acquainted Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine was a logical option to energy the Finnish fighter. (Central Finland Aviation Museum, Tikkakoski)

After the Ilmavoimat had thought of 5 completely different proposals, the VL design crew started to construct an exceptionally clear, compact prototype across the DB 605 and a VDM three-bladed, metallic constant-speed propeller. Not too surprisingly, the Pyörre­myrsky’s nostril bore a hanging similarity to that of an Me-109G-2, however the resemblance ended there. The ahead a part of the Pyörremyrsky’s fuselage consisted of a chrome-molybdenum steel-tube body coated by removable metallic panels, whereas the rear, which included the vertical stabilizer, was a wood monocoque construction of pine and plywood. The ailerons, elevators and rudder have been metal-framed and fabric-covered. The wings have been constructed over single wood spars and skinned in plywood, with electrically operated, light-alloy flaps. The higher surfaces of the wings’ inboard sections had a number of levels of anhedral, giving the entire meeting a refined inverted-gull look.

The comparatively spacious cockpit, just like the Myrsky’s, was enclosed by an aft-sliding cover. Aft safety was supplied by a 10mm armor bulkhead instantly behind the seat. Most instrumentation was of Finnish manufacture, however the radio was a German FuG VIIa. A self-sealing tank behind the armored bulkhead held about 101 gallons of gasoline, which may very well be supplemented by two 33-gallon drop tanks beneath the wing. Armament was to have been an engine-mounted 20mm MG 151 cannon and two 12.7mm LKK-42 machine weapons within the higher decking of the fuselage nostril, though they have been by no means fitted. For the close-support function, provision was made for 2 441-pound bombs beneath the wing.

A very good wanting fighter, the VL Myrsky regarded the half however proved to be a disappointment sending Finnish designers again to the drafting board. (HistoryNet Archives)

The Pyörremyrsky order had been lowered from two to solely the one by 1944—and work on the present prototype was continuing slowly. No matter Finland’s want for the brand new fighter, the overworked State Plane Manufacturing facility merely had too many different issues to do. Within the first eight months of 1944, VL was additionally busily engaged in getting the Myrsky II into full manufacturing whereas changing Morane-Saulnier M.S.406s into Mörkö-Moranes (“Ghost Moranes”) with captured Soviet 1,100-hp Klimov VK-105P engines.

The manufacturing facility additionally needed to overhaul and restore Finland’s current front-line plane amid determined preventing that reached its peak over the Karelian Isthmus in the course of the summer season of 1944. On September 4, 1944, the Finnish authorities was compelled to simply accept Soviet armistice phrases, at which level work on the Pyörremyrsky prototype, which had been languishing for a number of months, got here to a whole halt.

After serving to to drive out German forces from Finland in accordance with the armistice phrases, most Ilmavoimat items returned to their peacetime bases on January 20, 1945. Quickly after that, VL, considerably surprisingly, resumed work on the Pyörremyrsky. A DB 605 AC engine, faraway from an Me-109G and overhauled, was put in within the prototype airframe and was rated at 1,475 hp for takeoff and 1,355 hp at 18,700 ft. Empty weight was 5,774 kilos, whereas regular loaded weight would have been 7,297 kilos. Its wingspan was 34 ft 2⁄3 inches, wing space 204.514 sq. ft, size 32 ft 33⁄4 inches, and top 12 ft 91⁄4 inches.

Preliminary taxiing trials befell at Tampere, and the prototype, bearing the serial quantity PM-1, flew for the primary time on November 21, 1945, with VL’s chief take a look at pilot, Captain Esko Halme, within the cockpit. Regardless of the care that had gone into the aircraft’s design, its maiden flight was nearly its final, as elements of the cowling fell off and exhaust fumes crammed the cockpit. Halme nearly misplaced consciousness earlier than he was in a position to make use of his oxygen gear.

With its wider-track touchdown gear, the Pyörremyrsky’s taxiing and takeoff traits have been markedly superior to the Me-109’s. As soon as within the air, Halme reported that its controls have been too gentle and “caught” at greater speeds, whereas the rudder was too heavy and the middle of gravity was too far aft. These issues apart, nevertheless, his normal opinion was optimistic. He rated total maneuverability as superior to that of the Me-109G-6. Throughout pace and climb trials, Halme recorded a most pace of 324 mph at sea stage and 385 mph at 21,000 ft. The Pyörremyrsky might attain an altitude of 16,400 ft in 5 minutes 30 seconds, and its calculated service ceiling was 39,910 ft. The conventional flight endurance of 1 hour 50 minutes may very well be prolonged to about 21⁄2 hours utilizing the auxiliary drop tanks.

The Pyörremyrsky fighter confirmed promise however the single plane prototype proved too little, too late. (HistoryNet Archives)

After the PM-1’s first flight, VL devoted 2,300 design hours and 6,400 workshop hours to ironing out its shortcomings. Engine mounting bolts had fractured, the touchdown gear had malfunctioned and the electrical system was troublesome. Consequently, the touchdown gear and flap electrical motors have been changed—the latter with these of the Bell P-39 Airacobra. The internal touchdown gear doorways have been eliminated totally. The tailplane trim mechanism was redesigned.

Seven different take a look at pilots put the Pyörre­myrsky by means of a complete of 42 flights and 27 hours of flight time. Throughout that point, the prototype’s issues have been largely eradicated, however by then the entire take a look at program was not more than a tutorial train. The postwar Ilmavoimat’s fighter element had been drastically lowered. So far as the substitute of its Me-109Gs was involved, one thing apart from the now not obtainable Daimler-Benz DB 605 was wanted, and within the case of the Pyörre­myrsky, that will require expensive redesign.

Thus, the Pyörremyrsky program was terminated in 1947, with solely take a look at pilot Halme to testify to its potential. “It was undoubtedly probably the most nice and environment friendly piston-engined plane I’ve ever piloted,” he commented years later. “If solely it had been obtainable in amount in the summertime of 1944!”

The Pyörremyrsky remained intact till April 1, 1953, when an official resolution led to its dismantlement. Its extra helpful parts, corresponding to devices, have been auctioned off on the Finnish air power depot at Tampere. The DB 605 engine was packed in a case, whereas the airframe was positioned in chilly storage at Kuorevesi. The plane’s stays have been later neglected within the open, however then have been put again in chilly storage at Tampere.

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In 1970, a small contingent of employees on the Air Drive Depot started to specific the need to revive a number of the historic plane. They finally obtained the federal government’s blessing to make use of sure amenities for the mission—supplied that the work be performed solely of their free time. The advert hoc committee that launched into the mission included two depot inspectors, a storekeeper, a mechanic and a employees sergeant. The primary object of their consideration was the Pyörremyrsky, even if its airframe had by then vastly deteriorated.

The Pyörremyrsky’s wood wings have been moved from the storage hut to a hangar on the finish of April. Pictures and shade samples have been taken to supply correct reference as soon as the fighter was repainted and its markings reapplied. Your entire plane was then disassembled and all elements cleaned and repaired, whereas a listing of lacking gadgets was compiled and a search was begun for replacements. Captain Halme provided assist and recommendation to the crew, and numerous Finnish corporations assisted.

The unique DB 605 AC engine was discovered, although its exhaust manifolds have been lacking. Thankfully, a search of Me-109Gs in scrapyards throughout northern Finland yielded the required replacements. Throughout last meeting of the plane, the restorers discovered, to their dismay, that they may not connect the engine cowlings as a result of the suitable locking fittings have been lacking. They have been finally found beneath an previous automobile in a junkyard in Jamsa.

Today, at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, the carefully restored fighter is tucked neatly next to its cousin, the museum's Messerschmitt Me-109G-6. (Central Finland Aviation Museum, Tikkakoski))
At present, on the Central Finland Aviation Museum, the rigorously restored fighter is tucked neatly subsequent to its cousin, the museum’s Messerschmitt Me-109G-6. (Central Finland Aviation Museum, Tikkakoski)

In all, the devoted crew spent some 1,240 hours restoring the Pyörremyrsky, which was accomplished in October 1972. On August 19, 1980, a Mil Mi-8 helicopter transported it to the Central Finland Aviation Museum at Tikkakoski, close to Jyväskylä, the place it may be seen immediately.

Too late to see fight, the Pyörremyrsky nonetheless represented an ideal aeronautical achievement for a small, over­labored plane producer studying its enterprise amid unimaginable wartime duress. The surviving prototype stands to equal diploma as a monument to the dedication of a crew of fanatics who devoted as a lot care to resurrecting it because the design crew had dedicated to creating it. As such, the VL Pyörremyrsky is a novel airplane properly price preserving.

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