Finlands “Hasse” Wind joined other pilots from his small but gallant country in forging an unforgettable chapter in aviation history. During the Continuation War–one of two conflicts with Russia between 1939 and 1944–he achieved 75 victories to officially become his nations top ranking ace. At age 21, he completed pilot training and was assigned to fly the Brewster Buffalo with No. 24 Flying Squadron when the Continuation War broke out in the summer of 1941. Lieutenant Wind first scored in September with a shared victory, and by July of 1942 he had 5.5 aircraft to his credit. In mid-August 1942, Wind led a flight of six Brewsters into combat against 60 Russian aircraft in the biggest air battle thus far.
In this fierce encounter the Russians lost 13 fighters and two bombers, while only one Brewster was shot down. Of the 15 enemy aircraft destroyed, Wind accounted for three, boosting his score to 14.5. He continued his string of successes, and by September of 1943, the halfway point of the war, he had shot down 38 aircraft. Furthermore, Winds accomplishments in the defenses of the homeland earned him the Mannerheim Cross–his nations highest award for valor. Six months later he took command of his squadron and transitioned into the Messerschmitt 109G. By June he had reached the 50-victory mark, 11 while flying the Me-109. Wind’s most concentrated combat came during the massive Soviet offensive of June 1944, during which he scored 25 victories in just 10 days.
On 28 June he led 11 Messerschmitts against 40 Soviet bombers and their 40 fighter escorts; the Russians soon lost 11 aircraft to the Finnish airmen. Only one Finnish Messerschmitt was damaged! Wind shot down five aircraft that day, but was seriously wounded on his fifth mission. With his final tally at 75 victories, he would spend the rest of the war in a hospital. Captain Wind received a second Mannerheim Cross for his gallantry–becoming the only Finnish Air Force officer so decorated. Retired in October 1945, he frequently lectures to Finnish fighter pilot groups.