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|Nickname(s)||"Pikku-Jätti" (Little Giant)|
|Born||27 October 1917
|Died||5 January 1949 (aged 31)
|Service/branch||Finnish Air Force|
|Years of service||1937–1946|
|Unit||LeLv 26, LeLv 28, LeLv 34|
|Other work||Cinema owner|
Urho Sakari Lehtovaara was born on 27 October 1917 in Pyhäjärvi, northern Finland and died on 15 January 1949. He was to become one of the top scoring Finnish Air Force aces and he was awarded the Mannerheim Cross on 9 July 1944.
Resident in Salo by 1934, Lehtovaara became a member of the local aero club. Lehtovaara volunteered for military service with the Air Force in 1937. He remained in service as an NCO with LeLv 26 flying Bristol Bulldog biplanes.
LeLv 26 re-equipped with the Morane-Saulnier MS-406 fighter in late January 1940 and a new squadron, LeLv 28 was created, Sgt. Lehtovaara transferred to the new unit, and based on Lake Pyhäjärvi near Turku. On 2 March 1940 Lehtovaara intercepted and shot down a SB-2 bomber, his first victory, and his only claim during the Winter War. He was promoted to Sergeant on 23 March 1940. He intercepted three DB-3's on 3 July 1941 near Ilomantsi, and shot down two and damaged the third. On 9 July he shot down two more SB-2's and a MiG-1.
LeLv 28 was transferred to Eastern Carelia in late 1941. During 1942 there were few encounters with Soviet aircraft and Lehtovaara claimed one victory during the year (a DB-3). He flew numerous "train-busting" attacks on the Soviet supply trains using the Murmansk railway.
Sergeant Major Lehtovaara was transferred to the newly formed LeLv 34 in April 1943, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2. On 26 April 1944 he was promoted to the rank of Air Master Sergeant -the highest NCO rank. He was awarded the Mannerheim Cross on 9 July 1944.
Lehtovaara died in very sinister conditions. He had been arrested by Valpo and interrogated of the Weapons Cache Case. He attacked one of his interrogators, grabbed his pistol and committed suicide so that his interrogators would get no information of him.
|Messerschmitt Bf 109G||29.5|
- Keskinen 1978, p. 16-19.
- Keskinen, Kalevi; Stenman, Kari and Niska, Klaus. Hävittäjä-ässät (Finnish Fighter Aces) (in Finnish). Espoo, Finland: Tietoteos, 1978. ISBN 951-9035-37-0.
- Stenman, Kari and Keskinen, Kalevi. Finnish Aces of World War 2 (Aircraft of the Aces 23). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-85532-783-X.