Sign in to follow this  
Rautaa

Knights of the Mannerheim Cross: Birger Ek

Should bomber pilots be allowed for Ace of the Month?  

45 members have voted

  1. 1. Are bomber pilots viable for the Ace of the Month series?

    • Yes
      44
    • No
      1


Birger Ek, sinker of submarines

 

oehv.jpg

Captain Birger Ek in October 1942 next to the tail of SB-9, the captured SB-2M he used to sink 4 enemy submarines.

 

This cheerful chap is Birger Rolf Ek, the 106th Knight of the Mannerheim Cross. He was knighted on 8.2.1943 with a fairly lengthy and detailed citation. Probably most important of his achievements was the sinking of 4 Soviet submarines and pioneering methods to hunt submarines with a bomber. Before that, a brief biography.

 

Birger Ek was born on 23.1.1911 in the village of Kymi. He graduated highschool in 1931, and during his compulsory military service, he was selected to the reserve officer's pilot school of the Air Force in 1932.

 

He was accepted into the Finnish Military Academy to become a career officer, and was promoted to 2nd lieutenant in 1935 in the Air Force.

 

Winter War and the Blenheim

 

Swastika warning: [spoiler]The blue and white swastika of the Finnish military was used by the Air Force from January 1918, when they received their first aircraft, a Thulin typ D as a gift from Swedish count Eric von Rosen. His symbol of good luck was a blue swastika on a white background, and he had it painted on the gift aircraft. The Finnish Air Force adopted the symbol as their insignia. The use of the symbol predates the National Socialist party by years, and is in no way affiliated with the Nazis.[/spoiler]

 

l8x2.jpg

Birger Ek's bomber at the start of the Winter War was BL-105, and later the BL-113. Finland acquired a total of 97 Blenheim I's and IV's in 1937-1941.

 

When the Winter War broke out in November 1939, Ek was the leader of the 3rd Flight of the 44th Squadron in Bristol Blenheim. He flew 29 combat missions during the Winter War as 1st lieutenant.

 

His Mannerheim Cross citation mentions only one action from the Winter War. On 9.12.1939, Ek used his Blenheim bomber to destroy a road bridge Soviet forces were using for retreat. After the enemy forces were immobilized by the broken bridge, Ek attacked them and was credited with the destruction of 6 tanks.

 

Captured SB-2's

 

9taj.jpg

Birger Ek's SB-9 was a captured bomber. A very similar skin already exists on the ingame, but on the wrong variant, and without the unique details.

 

When the Continuation War broke out in June 1941, Ek was a captain in the 6th Squadron, and the leader of the 2nd Flight, which was equipped with captured Tupolev SB-2 bombers. Initially he flew fuselage number VP-2, which had been captured during the Winter War, but later that summer he moved to fly the newer SB-9, which was a SB-2M 103.

 

His Mannerheim Cross citation from February 1943 mentions him and his flight performing several successful bombing and reconnaissance missions at the start of the war over the Gulf of Finland. Ek's Flight often flew low and without fighter escort. By the time of the citation, Ek had flown 171 combat missions with a combined duration of 286 hours.

 

Hunting down 4 submarines

 

sosl.jpg

Once you go full cheerful, there's no going back. Ek with his crew, gunner feldwebel Toivo Peltonen and observer lieutenant Niilo-Veikko Halla.

 

In 1942 Birger Ek became a submarine hunter. Each of the 4 sinkings is mentioned in the Mannerheim Cross citation:

 

On 24.6.1942 Ek spotted a surfaced enemy submarine in the Gulf of Finland. He initially strafed it with machine guns, and after the vessel dove, he followed with depth charges. The next night Ek returned to the same location, and spotted the same submarine immobilized on the surface. Once again Ek began strafing the submarine with machine guns, and after he vessel dove again, Ek continued with depth charges. The bow of the Submarine resurfaced, and then the vessel sank in a 45 degree angle leaving a large amount of oil and debris on the surface. Ek identified the vessel as one of the largest types of enemy submarines.

 

On 18.8.1942 Ek spotted a half-surfaced enemy submarine in the Gulf of Finland. Ek's first depth charge landed behind the tower, when the boat started to sink. He dropped a 2nd depth charge to be sure.

 

On 20.9.1942 Ek once again spotted a partially submerged submarine. His first depth charge landed right next to the vessel, which got partially blown out of the water, and started sinking after. Captain Ek dropped another charge, and radioed surface vessels to the area, which later confirmed the submarine had sunk.

 

On 22.9.1942 during a patrol mission, Ek spotted a submarine which dove before the first depth charge was dropped. However, the vessel was damaged by the first charge, as a lot of oil surfaced after the blast. During the day, Ek's Flight bombed the submarine several times, and in the evening it was confirmed sunk.

 

Leadership

 

93z4.jpg

Ek and his crew celebrate the 1000th combat mission of the 2nd Flight. The Flight claimed the 10 submarine kills painted on the banner.

 

The citation also mentions Captain Ek as an officer with a strong sense of duty and as a good instructor. His example, enthusiasm, and skill is said to have passed onto his men on their missions. His Flight was credited with the sinking of 8 submarines, and with critically damaging 2 others.

 

The citation also points out, that his flight used obsolete and unreliable captured aircraft, which increases the value of their accomplishments.

 

Later life and about bomber aces

 

jldz.jpg

Birger Ek, cheerful as ever in his official Knight portrait.

 

In 1944 Ek was promoted to major, and after the war he worked as a military attaché in Sweden and in Great Britain, resigning from the Air Force in 1951. After issues with the tax administration in the 1960's, Ek moved to voluntary exile in the Canary Islands. He worked in the travel industry and ran an art gallery. He only returned to Finland before his death in 1990 at the age of 79.

 

In my opinion, Birger Ek is what a notable bomber ace should be (even though he only sunk 4 submarines and not the 5 required for aviation acehood). While bomber pilots are often a controversial topic, Ek is remembered for attacking military targets instead of civilians.

 

So what do you guys think, should the game make note of bomber aces as well? I really had no idea where to place this post, but here seemed good enough for me. =)

 

Books by Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman used as a vital source, images from their books and often originally from SA-kuva and the armed forces.

  • Upvote 18

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do agree that bomber pilots should be recognized in the Ace of the Month series, their contributions were, without a doubt, critical to the war effort regardless of what side they flew for. I also suggest there be a new title for these pilots instead of Ace of the Month, Bomber of the Month maybe? With recognition for the whole crew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do agree that bomber pilots should be recognized in the Ace of the Month series, their contributions were, without a doubt, critical to the war effort regardless of what side they flew for. I also suggest there be a new title for these pilots instead of Ace of the Month, Bomber of the Month maybe? With recognition for the whole crew.

 

One problem with bomber pilots is the controversial nature of some of their missions. Allied heavy bomber pilots can be pretty much ruled out by the impact of carpet bombings on civilians. However, there were bombers that engaged exclusively military targets (and with reasonable proof of that). If any good examples of that come to mind, I'd love to read about them.

 

Personifying also has advantages: among the Knights of the Mannerheim Cross, there is also a couple of bombers/observers, who received the medal for actions beyond the call of duty. For example, Rolf Winqvist was a bomber/observer who not only performed his combat missions in an exemplary fashion, also pulled out his pilot from a burning wreck after a crash into a forest before the bombs detonated, and regardless of his own injuries.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

was a nice read, well writen ;D never really knew something like a submarine hunter existed, didn't even knew the soviets had submarines at that time o.0

 

Believe it or not the soviets had one of the largest submarine fleets going into the war - many more then that the Germans had. The soviets considered them to be the primary form of naval strike, though against warships this failed horribly.

 

Fun fact, the Soviet submarine force was responsible for the top 2 worst maritime disasters during wartime in history.

medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not the soviets had one of the largest submarine fleets going into the war - many more then that the Germans had. The soviets considered them to be the primary form of naval strike, though against warships this failed horribly.

 

Fun fact, the Soviet submarine force was responsible for the top 2 worst maritime disasters during wartime in history.

Kursk sub? Or?

medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd have no problem with "ace of the month" featuring bomber captains/crews as long as they only engaged military targets.  However, when I think of famous bomber pilots like that, the most obvious one to come to mind is Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the only person to ever receive the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, but I doubt a Russian game dev would want to be perceived as 'honoring' an aviator who was a proud Nazi until the end of his life, regardless of whether he was involved in any war crimes.

Edited by DogFoodLid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd have no problem with "ace of the month" featuring bomber captains/crews as long as they only engaged military targets.  However, when I think of famous bomber pilots like that, the most obvious one to come to mind is Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the only person to ever receive the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, but I doubt a Russian game dev would want to be perceived as 'honoring' an aviator who was a proud Nazi until the end of his life, regardless of whether he was involved in any war crimes.

 

I don't think Rudel is a controversial figure just in Russia...

 

I'm fine with the exclusion of Nazis from the series, and of the tank one that is likely to follow. Rudel is a textbook example of the kind of person who does not need to be honored despite his achievements as a military aviator.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think Rudel is a controversial figure just in Russia...

 

I'm fine with the exclusion of Nazis from the series, and of the tank one that is likely to follow. Rudel is a textbook example of the kind of person who does not need to be honored despite his achievements as a military aviator.

Well, technically he'd deserve credit for what he did as a pilot...but his life kind of negates him that right. 

 

* "Kind of".

medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great topic idd, really interesting reading. Bomber aces should be included too. Even the 6 tanks he destroyed after he destroyed the bridge was just amazing!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.