Fall of Viipuri (Vyborg) 1944

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 05 Sep 2006 15:02

Battle for Vyborg - not absolutely my theme. I am interested in other fights more.

However I think to me is what to add.

Few Soviet \Russian sources write about this fight. The Finnish resistance was persistent only in some places of city. Sometimes the Finnish infantry ran in a panic (such was in all armies of the Second world).

" The red army has broken through threefold line Mannerheim
With amazing ease ", - wrote then British newspaper Daily Mail

About SPG БТ-42 I talked to Russian military historian Michael Svirin. It had a lot of dialogue about it with Esa Muikku. Svirin very strongly criticized БТ-42. Very close tower. The fighting cabin was filled with a smoke. Very low accuracy of shooting. SPG has inherited all lacks of Soviet tank BT-7.

In the book Ilya Moshchansky is an example when crew БТ-42 has got 18 shells in Soviet tank KV. КВ has shot 8 times. БТ-42 has received some damages. Possibly these data from the Finnish sources. As it is inexact crew КВ shot! As difficultly it was necessary to crew БТ-42 with such arms!

I have found in book Moshchansky data only about 5 losses Soviet tanks to Vyborg. It the infantry with helps has made a granate and Panzerfaust.


Regards!

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Viipuri etc

Post by CF Geust » 05 Sep 2006 15:11

I will apparently have to dig up Novikov´s memoirs to check his exact description (my post above was written out of memory).

Novikov did however mention "B-29" explicitely (which in my understanding only illustrates that he did not correctly remember the correct designation of the shuttle bombers, of which he was very well aware). The honoured scholar John Erickson, (whom I met in a conference in Kiev some 20 years ago) was absolutely no expert in aviation, and although we did discuss this matter, John (RIP...) apparently took Novikov´s information at face value.

In my understanding Stalin´s words "we will again fight alone..." did not refer to Finland, but to the insignificant participation of the western allies on the eastern front, ia. primarily against German forces.

BTW, two years ago there was a unique possibility to discuss shutte bombings, ADD bombings of Helsinki in Feb 1944 etc, when ADD-veteran Col.Gen. Vasily Reshetnikov (Deputy Commander of Soviet AF in the Cold war period) visited Finland, and presented lectures at the Aviation museums in Vantaa and Tikkakoski. Unfortunately Reshetnikov (who was only a young Captain in 1944) was not able to comment on Novikov´s memoirs.

Concerning Sotahistorillinen aikakauskirja: this is automatically distributed to all members; old volumes are sold at the War museum (Sotamuseo) and Tiedekirjakauppa in Helsinki.

Vol. 13 ("Torjuntavoitto 1944") is however completely sold out, but can be found in all major libraries in Finland. The Year book is also sent to some international libraries and academic institutions (all articles incorporate summaries in English).

Carl

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Novikov's comment on B-29s

Post by MikeF » 05 Sep 2006 21:10

I have a copy of "Stalin's Generals" in my personal library and this is what I found:

Quote from page 169:

"In mid-May 1944 Novikov returned to Moscow to receive not only his second Order of Suvorov but also orders to fly north and prepare air operations to drive Finland, already suing for peace, out of the war. Just before leaving Moscow Novikov met the United States Ambassador Averell Harriman whom he understood to have promised the Soviet Air Force a squadron of B-29 bombers, aircraft that Novikov very much admired and hoped to use against the Finnish defenses. But Harriman told Novikov that the 'promised' B-29s would not be forthcoming. Stalin took the news calmly enough."

The article was indeed written by John Erickson.

Cheers,
Mike :)

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 05 Sep 2006 21:12

Carl,

Heartly Welcome to the Axis History Forum.

Regards, Juha (greetings from Kymenlaakso)

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JTV
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Post by JTV » 06 Sep 2006 07:22

Alex Yeliseenko wrote:" The red army has broken through threefold line Mannerheim
With amazing ease ", - wrote then British newspaper Daily Mail

I have found in book Moshchansky data only about 5 losses Soviet tanks to Vyborg. It the infantry with helps has made a granate and Panzerfaust.


Regards!


If that quote is correct is tells at least that Daily Mail wasn't exactly expert when it came to what was happening in Finnish front. :lol: There was no Mannerheim-line in 1944. The defence line to which Viipuri was part in year 1944 was VKT-line (VKT = Viipuri - Kuparsaari - Taipale). Mannerheim-line existed during Winter War and its bunkers destroyed during and after it.

I don't remember reading panzerfaust being used (what I remember reading some were delivered to Viipuri just before Soviet attack begun (19th of June?), but as nobody there knew how to use them they were not issued), but panzerschreck may have been used in very small extent in Viipuri (What I remember Niilo Lappaleinen in his "Viipuri toisessa maailmansodassa" mentions few rockets fired with panzerschreck towards Soviet tanks before the panic, but these were fired from too long distance and missed their target?).

Anyway. Attached is a drawing (from original WW2-era Finish field artillery ammunition manuals) showing what the Finnish HEAT-projectile for 114-mm howitzer looked like. Notice the unusually long and narrow top part of the projectile. It is rather obvious that the HEAT-warhead (in tip-part of the projectile) was designed for smaller calibre shell.

Jarkko
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Harri
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Post by Harri » 06 Sep 2006 09:21

Thank you for the very illustrative description on the 114 mm HEAT shell Jarkko (once again)!!

----

"...Ambassador Averell Harriman whom he understood to have promised the Soviet Air Force a squadron of B-29 bombers..."


Does this refer to Lend-Lease deliveries or "a manned bomber squadron"? Were there actually any US Air Force combat units which operated under the command of Soviets during the WW II?

After the delivery training of Soviet aircrews would have taken several weeks, so these bombers could have been used perhaps in August or September at best. At that stage Soviet operations against Finland would have been over (according to plans).

...B-29 bombers, aircraft that Novikov very much admired and hoped to use against the Finnish defenses.


So, it was only in Novikov's dreams... :lol: Are there any mentions of Viipuri in this source?

In spring and summer 1944 Viipuri was heavily bombarded and suffered much larger damages than Helsinki in winter / spring 1944. Viipuri was an important railway junction but Soviets failed to cut the rails during the early days of their attack. For example my mother was one of the refugees (9 years old) whose transport train, full of civilians was stopped in the middle of Viipuri railway station just when the Soviet bombers attacked during the early days of the Soviet operation in June 1944. There were bridges which were probably Soviet targets and trains were not allowed to cross them during the air raids. This time bombers missed and train continued towards Kouvola but memories of that incident are still very strong.

For that Soviets didn't need any larger bombers they already had. If the Soviet main target (like they self say) was only re-capturing of Viipuri I think it would have been totally foolish to level it totally down. The more suitable and probable targets in Finland would have been Helsinki, Turku and Tampere and perhaps Mikkeli as well. What would the reactions in Finland have been if B-29s had attacked Mikkeli for example?

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Novikov´s memoirs

Post by CF Geust » 06 Sep 2006 14:12

Here is the exact translation of Novikov´s memoirs:

Aleksandr Novikov: V nebe Leningrada (In the sky of Leningrad), 1970, pages 271-272

”I intended to be in Leningrad 5 June, but was delayed in Moscow for another day. The American Ambassador in USSR A.Harriman had promised us on the eve of the Vyborg operation an /aviation/ unit equipped with Boeing-29 aircraft, at that time best-known as “flying fortresses”. And B-29 was indeed a “superfortress”. Among the heavy bombers it was the fastest (600 km/h) and had the biggest load capacity (9 tonnes). Naturally in the battles on the Karelian isthmus a B-29 unit with its powerful bomb attacks would substantially assist our soldiers in breaking through the enemy defences. From the shuttle operations we knew very well the capabilities of the B-29 *, and were grateful to the American Ambassador in advance.

However Harriman did not fulfil his promises. 5 June I and some other leading officials of the high command of the Soviet Air Force were present at a reception in the American embassy. Here Harriman informed me that the American command is unable to offer us B-29s. I called Stalin and reported about the answer of the Ambassador. The Supreme Commander received this information rather quietly.

- “Thus also this time we will fight without allies” – he answered briefly and instructed me toi fly to Leningrad. When ending call he once more reminded me to appear at Marshal Zhukov before the start of the Byelorussian operation.”

* (footnote of Novikov): The Americans performed bombing missions to Germany with B-29s from bases in England. After dropping their bombs, the B-29s continued to us and landed in Ukraine. Here they were filled up with fuel and bombs, and departed to a new mission. The B-29 operations, reminded the shuttle of a weaving machine moving forth and back, and were thus called “shuttle” bombings.

---

My comments:
1. It is clear that this extract from Novikov´s memoirs has been the source of John Erickson, who unfortunately has taken all his wordings at face value, without critical appraisal.

2. Novikov (or his editor) has clearly mixed up the main heavy Boeing bombers; ia. B-17 and B-29. The latter (B-29) became operational only in summer 1945, and was never used on the European theatre of WW II. B-29 was used against Japan, and dropped the two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. After bombing of Japan several B-29s force-landed in the Soviet Far East, becoming pattern aircraft for the Tupolev Tu-4 identical copy, with which Novikov was naturally very familiar.

3. The Russians had already in summer 1941 tried to get 4-engine bombers as lend-lease deliveries from USA. In August 1941 a group of experienced Soviet heavy aircraft pilots (including test pilots, polar aviators etc) travelled to USA, with the intention of flying home with B-17s (only five B-25 Mitchells were delivered as result of this trip; these aircraft were sent by ship to Murmansk)! The Soviet appeals for B-17s (and B-24s) were continually repeated during the GPW, but the Americans never approved delivery of such aircraft (except one American courier B-24 which was left behind in Siberia because of technical malfunctions; this single aircraft was officially included in the lend-lease accounts).

4. In late 1943-early 1944 negotiations concerning the shuttle bombing operation were initiated. At first Stalin bluntly refused – he wanted four-engine bombers (to be flown by Soviet crews), NOT American pilots (and ABSOLUTELY NOT American ground-personnel strolling around) in USSR, However, Stalin ultimately gave in, and the three US bases (Poltava, Piryatin and Mirgorod) were constructed in Ukraine. The first US aircraft to land in Poltava was a Lockheed F-5 photo-recce Lightning which arrived 24 May 1944 from Bari, Italy.

5. Only on June 2 the first Frantic mission was flown from Italy to USSR, with bombing industrial targets in Debrecen area, Hungary. This mission consisted of 128 B-17 bombers (from 5 BW, 15th AF) and 64 P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning (325 FG) escort fighters. These bombers flew their next mission from Poltava only on 6 June, so on 5 June Novikov can only have received got positive confirmation in Moscow that the bombers had arrived in Poltava, without any critical analysis of the efficiency of the attack whatsoever.

6. When writing his memoirs, Novikov must have had the long tedious and difficult shuttle bombing negotiations in mind (he had apparently no access to archive documents). His memoirs are however one of the extremely few cold-war period references to the shuttle bombings, which for political reasons were wiped out from virtually every Soviet book. Apparently bombing of Viipuri was on the table – like targets in Romania, Hungary etc. - when planning the shuttle missions. However, Viipuri and Finland are not mentioned in any American accounts of the shuttle bombings. After the last shuttle mission was performed in late autumn 1944, the Soviets silently repaired and took into use some 50 (FIFTY!) B-17 and B-24, left behind because of technical malfunctions in the Ukrainian bases, or force-landed in Soviet held territory.

'7. Novikov´s remark can also be seen as a needle-stick towards his Soviet rival, ADD-Commander Air Marshal Golovanov. Here I must point out that ADD was never subordinated to Novikov, but formed a separate arm (!), directly subordinated to Stavka as “Stalin´s fist”. ADD had performed the Helsinki bombings in February 1944, after which Golovanov reported to Stalin that Helsinki was destroyed, and Finland was begging for peace (after the second round of ADD-bombings Minister Paasikivi went to Stockholm for meeting with Soviet Ambassador Mrs. Kollontai, and after the third round Paasikivi went secretly to Moscow in March 1944). However, the Finnish government and parliament did not accept Stalin´s terms… Meanwhile ADD was directed to Central Russia, to be prepared for the Byelorussian operation in late June-1944. However, ADD was suddenly dispatched to the Karelian isthmus on the night 9/10 June 1944. Several hundred aircraft had already taken off towards Finland when they encountered an extremely heavy thunderstorm in the Novgorod-Pskov area, and were forced to turn back. Thus only Novikov´s forces (primarily 13th Air Army, practically without heavy bombers!) participated in the Viipuri operation (except the bombing of Viipuri railway station by ADD in the night 14/15 June with rather moderate forces, compared to the interrupted attack 9/10 June). As a result the Finnish army was able to regroup its forces from East Karelia, Olonets and River Svir practically without interference from Soviet air forces, which can be considered one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the Red Army in summer 1944.

8. Novikov apparently visited Helsinki in autumn 1944, and saw immediately that the Finnish capital was far from destroyed (which had been reported by Golovanov)... Stalin was immediately informed, and got furious because of the faklse reporting. – As Golovanov´s ADD was still needed to crush the German defence lines, the Soviet dictator punished him in a very sublime way: ADD ceased to be a separate arm, and was degraded to 18th Air Army, and Golovanov became subordinated to his rival Novikov! This solution created a very unpleasant situation for both Soviet Air Marshals, and took place on 6 December 1944 – Finland´s Independence Day – Stalin may have chosen this date on purpose!

Sources: My book Red Stars Vol.4 (Lend-lease aircraft in Russia), Apali 2002,
Sotahistoriallinen aikakauskirja Vol.24 (2004) about interrupted ADD-attack against Viipuri 9/10 June 1944, and Vol.15 (1997) about Novikov-Golovanov relations in late 1944. Memoirs of ADD-veteran Vasiliy Reshetnikov, personal discussions with Reshetnikov, who confirmed my conclusions in above mentioned articles.

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Post by JariL » 06 Sep 2006 14:50

Hi Carl,

I have always been under the impression that B-29 was operational already in summer 1944. B-17's, B-24's etc. were used against Germany instead of B-29 because the latter had a long range that was needed in the Pacific to reach Japan where as B-17's and B-24's were sufficient in Europe. When B-29 production increased it was already clear that Germany was going under and thus B-29's never fought in the European theatre.

But Novikov could not have been promised B-29's because their first mission (60 planes) against Japan was flown on June 14, 1944. Unless americans were ready to try them against Finns first.

I believe that the whole plan was deviced in order to isolate Finland. Had US bombers attacked Finland that would have manifested to Stalin that US had no interest in the future fate of Finland. When they did not Stalin could not be quite certain. Both Stalin and Molotov later said that with regards to Finland they both put too much weight to US public opinion.

Regards,

Jari

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Re: Novikov´s memoirs

Post by Hanski » 06 Sep 2006 19:45

Carl, thank you for your brilliant and detailed summary!

CF Geust wrote: ADD had performed the Helsinki bombings in February 1944, after which Golovanov reported to Stalin that Helsinki was destroyed


I have a vague memory of reading about a Soviet deserter or double agent (or a Finnish communist collaborator?), who after being captured contributed to building up the misconception about the destruction of Helsinki by transmitting false reports on the bomb damage. Would anyone know about this?

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Re: Novikov´s memoirs

Post by Juha Tompuri » 06 Sep 2006 19:54

Hanski wrote:Carl, thank you for your brilliant and detailed summary!
I'll echo that.

CF Geust wrote: ADD had performed the Helsinki bombings in February 1944, after which Golovanov reported to Stalin that Helsinki was destroyed


I have a vague memory of reading about a Soviet deserter or double agent (or a Finnish communist collaborator?), who after being captured contributed to building up the misconception about the destruction of Helsinki by transmitting false reports on the bomb damage. Would anyone know about this?
At least Jukka L. Mäkelä writes about that at his book Salaista Palapeliä (Secret puzzle).
Don't know about the credibility.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Novikov´s memoirs

Post by JTV » 07 Sep 2006 06:44

Juha Tompuri wrote:
At least Jukka L. Mäkelä writes about that at his book Salaista Palapeliä (Secret puzzle).
Don't know about the credibility.

Regards, Juha


What I remember the case was mentioned also in "Tuli-iskuja taivaalle" ("Barrages to Sky") by Aake Pesonen.

Jarkko

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Harri
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Re: Novikov´s memoirs

Post by Harri » 07 Sep 2006 07:51

Carl's prompt resume answered to really many unclear questions. The "rivalry" between Soviet Air Marshals is an interesting detail, like is the date (6.12.) when Novikov became Golovanov's superior. I think that is more than a clear "message".

I agree with Jari that B-29s started bombing Japan already in the summer 1944. The first B-29 unit was although formed in 1943.

http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/AERO/BOEINGB-29.htm
The B-29 was originally intended for use as a strategic bomber against Germany. But by the time it became operational, the Allies had already landed in Normandy, and the availability of air bases on the continent removed the need for the long-range B-29 in Europe. Instead the advanced new bomber was deployed in the Pacific theater.


Perhaps Soviets (and Novikov) knew something about this initial plan?

Here is some more information on the B-29 (also the date of its initial use is mentioned):
http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/specs/boeing/b-29.htm

-----

JTV wrote:
Juha Tompuri wrote:At least Jukka L. Mäkelä writes about that at his book Salaista Palapeliä (Secret puzzle).
Don't know about the credibility.

What I remember the case was mentioned also in "Tuli-iskuja taivaalle" ("Barrages to Sky") by Aake Pesonen.


I think the source for both is the same. Well, Mäkelä's books are really interesting reading but it has been revealed later that some of his information has not been quite "accurate". Anyway, it would be great if someone could one day find out from the Soviet archives how the "destruction of Helsinki" was confirmed in USSR. Maybe Carl or Jari have information on this too?

I think even a single photo reconnaissance aircraft could have easily checked how the bombers had succeeded. I doubt Soviets wouldn't know the true situation because there has been more than one Soviet spies in Helsinki in 1944 and Soviet recon aircraft (usually Pe-2s) were met or seen nearly daily over Finland. If the "destruction of Helsinki" for some reason really was not confirmed properly (and some double agent was trusted alone like Mäkelä suggests) that was a great class blunder.

----

In addition to strategic bombers (ADD) Soviets had lots of tactical bomber units (usually equipped with Pe-2) and ground-attack units (Il-2) which operated against Finnish rear targets like railways (trains, bridges, stations) and airfields. Despite of the great number of units they were relatively passive and ineffective during the period of 9. - 14.6.1944. The active use of these units could have caused much bigger losses to Finns and delay the arrival of new Finnish troops from the East Karelia.

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Novikov etc

Post by CF Geust » 07 Sep 2006 08:23

I admit that B-29 came into use already in summer 1944 - I should have checked my references... However, Novikov has clearly mixed up B-29 and B-17!

According to Reshetnikov (both written and personal info) the false report (concerning destruction of Helsinki) to Stalin emerged from Golovanov´s political deputy (the highest political officer of ADD). Golovanov carelessly signed this report without checking! Reshetnikov naturally knew nothing of any turned-around agent´s reporting.

Unfortunately here the only source seems to be Mäkelä´s book which has no references (usually Mäkelä as a former intelligence officer knows what he speaks about, although in some cases he has clearly "improved" the story, mixed up some cases, gives whong dates, and also draws wrong conclusions etc.)

In spring 1944 Stalin and Molotov assumed that Paasikivi arrived in Moscow begging for peace (here Madame Kollontai and possibly also Swedish diplomats are guilty of false and wishful reporting). When the "generous Soviet peace offer" was turned down in March-April 1944 Stalin realized that Finland can not be forced out of the war by "air power" (despite Golovanov´s promises), and turned to General Govorov...

Reshetnikov makes it also very clear that Col.Gen. Zhdanov (Chairman of the Allied Control Commision) expected to arrive in a city of ruins... It is also significant that Golovanov (as the ONLY wartime marshal) never got the Golden star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. His name was many times on the list, but every time stricken out by Stalin personally!

Carl
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Harri
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Post by Harri » 07 Sep 2006 09:18

Thank you for the answer Carl! Many details really seem to indicate that everything didn't go like was planned and Stalin showed it clearly to the "guilty" ones.

It is also interesting that Stalin continuously wanted "military solution" in Finland although the happenings elsewhere in Europe would have soon (by autumn 1944) led to the political solution. He should have known Finns better... :D

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Post by kari lumppio » 07 Sep 2006 13:44

Tere!

At Sota-arkisto there is four files for Jukka L Mäkelä in the "pikkukokoelma" collection (pk 1231 (1966-67), pk 1271 (1968-74), pk 1307 (1972-74) and pk 1293 (1969) . They should contain his source material for his books. Unfortunately they all have some usage restrictions/or need permisison from the manager of the Sota-arkisto.

Cheers,
Kari

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