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VL Humu Fighter Prototype

The VL Humu was nothing more than a short-lived local Finnish development of the American Brewster F2A fighter series - only one prototype was completed.

 Updated: 5/5/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

Finnish wartime aero industry managed a few notable entries during World War 2 (1939-1945), its adversary becoming the Soviet Union. Valtion Lentokonetehdas (VL) was its primary state-run aircraft factory which began manufacturing for the Finnish Air Force in 1928. Its early products were seaplanes, owing to the fact that the facility lacked a runway, but eventually the facility graduated to more advanced types.

One of the "one-off" prototypes to emerge during the war years - which saw a Soviet invasion of Finland spark the "Winter War" and subsequent "Continuation War" - was the VL "Humu" - or "Whirlwind". It was developed along the lines of a fighter with a nose-mounted single engine installation, a single-seat cockpit, and low-set monoplane wings. The undercarriage was made retractable and the pilot fully-enclosed in his cockpit. Armament centered on 2 x 12.7mm LKK/42 fuselage-mounted heavy machine guns.

At its core, the Finnish Humu was nothing more than a local evolution of the American Brewster "F2A" which became known as the "Buffalo" in British service. Like the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Finns were also recipients of this fighter product, via export, and found the most success with the type in its fight against the Soviets. Unlike the American entry, which was constructed as an all-metal aircraft, wartime restrictions on materials like metal forced wood to be substituted in the design where possible. The result was a "wooden fighter" with steel under structure.

The Humu was conceived of due to the fact that the 40+ F2As were simply not enough to meet the demand placed by the Finnish Air Force. So an indigenous effort was put forth to recreate the American fighter using local measures. Torsti Verkkola, Arvo Ylinen, and Martti Vainio were all names associated with the Humu's design as project leads.

This gave the Finnish fighter a strong resemblance to the Brewster product. It showcased a length of 26.3 feet, a wingspan of 35 feet, and a height of 12 feet. Power was from a Shvetsov M-63 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,000 horsepower. The engines were Soviet in origin but based in the American Wright R-1820 "Cyclone" series radials which powered other aircraft - including the original F2A. The M-63 was an improvement over the earlier M-62.

Performance specs for the Humu included a maximum speed of 267 miles per hour and a service ceiling up to 26,250 feet.

An order for ninety Humu fighters was placed by the Finnish Air Force. The first completed aircraft was flown on August 8th, 1944 but this essentially marked the high point of the program for it was cancelled with just the sole example becoming available. This aircraft managed nearly 20 hours in the air but it was soon found to be heavy and lack the performance needed to contend with more modern fighters. As such, the Humu was left as-is and ended its days as a showpiece of the Central Finland Aviation Museum where it resides today.

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VL Humu Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1944
Type: Fighter Prototype
National Origin: Finland
Manufacturer(s): VL (Valtion lentokonetehdas) - Finland
Production Total: 1

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 26.35 feet (8.03 meters)
Overall Width: 35.01 feet (10.67 meters)
Overall Height: 11.98 feet (3.65 meters)

Weight (Empty): 4,299 lb (1,950 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 6,393 lb (2,900 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 1 x Shvetsov M-63 9-cylinder radial piston engine developing 1,000 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 267 mph (430 kph; 232 knots)
Maximum Range: 777 miles (1,250 km)
Service Ceiling: 26,247 feet (8,000 meters; 4.97 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,000 feet-per-minute (610 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

2 x 12.7mm LKK/42 machine guns

Global Operators / Customers

Finland (cancelled)

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

"Humu" - Base Series Name; sole example completed.