Detachment Kuhlmey


Kurt Kuhlmey





Detachment Kuhlmey’s actions in Finland during 16 June and 21 July 1944 was hugely influential in the final outcome of the offensive and of the Continuation War. Together Finnish Air Force units and Detachment Kuhlmey made 1,020 bombing sorties against the Soviet troops and armour. The Soviets lost some 300 tanks, 120-280 aircraft and over 20,000 troops. As a result the Soviet advance stalled, and ensuing peace talks led to a cease-fire between the Soviet Union and Finland on 4 September.

Detachment Kuhlmey (Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey) was a temporary unit of the German Luftwaffe during World War II. The unit was commanded by Oberstleutnant Kurt Kuhlmey and the detachment was built around the unit Schlachtgeschwader 3, which also was commanded by Kuhlmey.

The unit participated in large battles of summer 1944, during the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War. When the Soviet Red Army launched its fourth strategic offensive on 9 June 1944 C. G. E. Mannerheim asked Germany for help. Among the help that arrived was a Luftwaffe unit that arrived to Finland on 12 June. The aircraft landed at the Immola Airfield on 17 June. The unit used the whole airfield from there on. The unit flew some 2,700 missions against the enemy and dropped 770 tonnes of bombs on the enemy. It destroyed over 150 Soviet aircraft, about 200 tanks, dozens of bridges and transport vessels. 23 of the pilots died and 24 were wounded in battle. The unit lost 41 of its aircraft.

The detachment consisted of some 70 airworthy aircraft to support the 200 strong Finnish force, but its operational strength varied due to losses, additions and troop movements. The unclear structure is partly explained by the Luftwaffe replacement programs, where obsolete Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka” dive bombers were replaced by Focke-Wulf Fw 190 jabo’s (fighter-bombers).

According to this, II./SG 3 was training at Jēkabpils, I./SG 5 in Pori, and III and IV./JG 54 in Illesheim, and they could not participate in the fighting on the Karelian Isthmus. I./SG 3, which was in Finland, received new Fw 190 aircraft as soon as they left Finland for Tartu.

The following units and aircraft in Finland belonged to Detachment Kuhlmey:

I./SG 3: 33 Junkers Ju 87 D-5 Stuka dive bombers

II./JG 54: 29–62 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6 fighters

I./SG 5: 16 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-3 and F-8 jabos at Alakurtti.

I./NaGr 5: 1–8 Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-8 reconnaissance aircraft

The transport squadron TGr.10 also belonged to the unit, and it consisted of 35 Savoia Marchetti SM.81/AR transport aircraft and a number of transport, liaison and reconnaissance aircraft.

The majority of the aircraft of the unit left Finland on 23 July, but I/SG 5 who stayed until 13 August. A memorial was raised at the Immola Airfield on 23 July 1994 in memory of the unit.

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