Steady, Finnish aviation historian Carl-Fredrik Geust has something to say about this subject:
This is really a controversial issue, and if you really want to make yourself impopular then you should raise it at veterans' meetings (I speak of experience...).
Seriously, I believe that in the winter War the claims are rather accurate (as most air fights took place over Finnish territory, and the wrecks were located; furthermore summer 1941 a number of wrecks of damaged aircraft or "probables" which did not make it back to their bases in East Karelia were found).
Also the claims in summer 1944 are surprisingly accurate (I have been working rather extensively in the Russian Military archives, and in particular tried to collect loss info concerning Russian aircraft, which I hope to be able to publish sometime).
The real problem lies the air combat summer 1942 and 1943 over Gulf of Finland (region Suursaari-Lavansaari-Tytärsaari-Oranienbaum-Kronstadt), when a handful of Finnish fighters fought repeatedly against 50-60 Soviet aircraft, shooting down 20-30 for no, or extremely limited, one or two own aircraft) losses(see Joppe Karhunen's "fables")...
1) the Baltic Fleet did never have that number of aircraft available in this period, from where certain absolute conclusions can be made,
2) if an aircraft falls into the sea, there are no wrecks to be located,
3) thus "certification" must be done by participants of the combat themselves, which easily leads to "cross-certification" or multiplying of the claims.
I have been told that at this period (= 1942-43) the Finnish AF radio intelligence was already on sufficiently high level to really keep track of the real losses of VVS KBF, but they were ordered to keep quiet for many reasons:
1) their real information and sources of information were the biggest secret of the Finnish armed forces, and this secret was to remain secret by all means,
2) there were obvious "propaganda" and combat morale reasons to accept boosted claim numbers during the war (same for all combattants),
3) when one overclaim was made public, and repeated sufficiently, it became soon "accepted truth". To break this circle means to make a big number of people to loose their faces, which was absolutely unacceptable during the war...
I agree that it is high time to speak openly and unbiasedly about this sensitive issue - without unnecessary affections; on the other hand I do absolutely not want to make any problems for anyone of the respected veterans of any of the combatting sides,
For more facts about individual "claimants", see Kari Stenman's articles about the Finnish aces in Suomen Ilmailuhistoriallinen Lehti, where I have tried to make analysis of the victory (or claims) lists.
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