Eino Ilmari “Illu” Juutilainen was the highest scoring Finnish flying ace of the WWII-era. In fact, he was the top-scoring non-German ace of all time. With 94 confirmed victories and 34 more claimed, he left behind fighter pilots of all other countries fighting on Germany’s side, as well as all Allied aces. During his 437 sorties Juutilainen was never shot down by an enemy—friendly fire is another thing—and never lost a wingman in combat.
The Fokker period
By the time the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union broke out 1939, Juutilainen had graduated from the Air Force Academy at Kauhava and served with the Finnish Air Force for about three years. He was thus already a seasoned pilot, although lacking combat experience. During that conflict he flew a Dutch-designed Fokker D.XXI. Some three weeks into the war, on December 19, Juutilainen scored his first kill by shooting down an unescorted Ilyushin DB-3 bomber.
He also seriously damaged two other DB-3s but could not finish them off as he ran out of ammunition. Later that month Juutilainen picked up a fight with a Polikarpov I-16 fighter. That was a much harder fight, but he managed to emerge victorious from it as well. Thus, before the war ended in March 1940, Illu had scored two individual victories and a couple of shared ones.
The Brewster period
When the so-called Continuation War started, in the course of which Finland again fought against the Soviets, this time siding with Germany in its aggression against the USSR, Juutilainen went into action in an American Brewster B-239 Buffalo, becoming a flying ace within a month. While the United States would remove this rather obsolescent fighter type from frontline service within following months, Finnish pilots went on using it for much longer and with much greater success.
Juutilainen achieved a whopping 34 aerial victories flying this unpretentious plane, in some cases bringing down two and even three enemy aircraft in a single mission. At the time his opponents in the skies over the Karelian Isthmus and the Gulf of Finland were Tupolev SB bombers and Polikarpov I-16 and I-153 Chaika and MiG-3 fighters.
The Messerschmitt period
In 1943, Juutilainen was transferred to another unit which used German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 aircraft. The Soviets by this time were also using much more advanced machines, such as Lavochkin La-5FN fighters. Flying the Bf 109G-2, Juutilainen destroyed at least 58 more enemy aircraft. On one occasion Illu took down six Soviet airplanes, becoming an ace in a day.
These included two Bell P-39 Airacobras, two Yakovlev Yak-9s, one Lavochkin La-5 and an Ilyushin Il-2. It was also during this period that he had to land after receiving fire from friendly flak. Juutilainen registered his last, the 94th, victory (at least if we count only the confirmed ones) when he shot down a Lisunov Li-2 transport plane, a license-produced Soviet variant of Douglas C-47 Skytrain.