Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

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Slon-76
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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Slon-76 » 18 Jan 2015 07:50

Juha Tompuri wrote: Those four flying against 7 IAP?
This was probably Pokryshev. He was directly above the Vyborg. It-16 type 10 faster than the Fokker.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Juha Tompuri » 21 Jan 2015 20:02

Swing wrote:By the way, it would be nice to check records from ITR 2 war diaries dated 12.1939...
Thanks for the suggestion.

Have done some digging at the diaries: http://www.narc.fi:8080/VakkaWWW/Selaus ... n=319.SARK
Couldn't find anyting that completely solves the problems around the events 20th Dec-39 around Viipuri/Vyborg.
But found some pieces of information, background and those that might put some pieces of the puzzle at their correct places.
But still a lot remains unclear (at least for me). For example the times mentioned between the Soviet and the Finnish side do not match very well.
Still working with the case.
Here something that I have found by so far:

First example is how the day started according to the war diary of III Army Corps "aviation commander":
There it is mentioned about a captured (radio?, JT) message about Soviet bombing missions:
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1466544
-05.10 2nd Ltn Kuoppala reported by phone about a Russkies captured message about Soviet bombing missions.


Some reports about the traffic in the air:

Karelian Isthmus Army HQ AA Office
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1519608
-10.05 hours three Soviet Flights (=a Squadron? , JT) over Sortavala
-12.14 Enemy planes from Kaarlahti to Hiitola direction
-12.17 Elisenvaara reports: three planes to NE
-From 13.05 hours reports from Viipuri area about planes (9-10)
-13.11 Imatra reports about 8 planes heading to North
-13.22-13.25 Imatra reports about shooting at Enso region, 15 planes circling/flying circles
-13.52 Report from Penttilä: air combat over Kuurmanpohja - 2 bombers and 2 fighters
-14.02-14.05 Jääski reports: (after the events above? , JT) two planes flying south(?) other one is burning and the other one smoking (fumaa? JT)
-14.14 Report from Antrea: combat over Antrea at 4000m height
-15.14 Simola/Lappenranta reports of 9 planes circled towards Viipuri/Vyborg
-15.43 Viipuri/Vyborg informs that enemy planes have left the Viipuri/Vyborg area

Antrea area Air Defence central
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1484158
-13.12 Air warning: 9+10 enemyplanes South of Viipuri/Vyborg heading to NW
-13.32 Air alert: 6 enemy planes at North of Äyräpää
-14.00-14.20 Own fighters over Pullila-Kuparsaari
-14.20 8 unknown planes SW to Inkilä. 7 own fighters have left here to meet them at direction Sairala.
-14.35 Fighters circling E from Korpilahti
-15.10 11 Unknown planes South of Jääski
-15.14 (The above mentioned planes?, JT) Matikkala
-15.30 Air warning over


Viipuri area Air Defence central. Surveillance office:
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1485718
-Enemy operations between 12.50 - 15.15
-SB-2, I-16 and I-15 planes seen
-Several tens of bombs dropped (from 2000-2500m) and intense mg-fire) at Säiniö, heavy caliber mg-fire at Heinjoki, bombs dropped along river Vuoksi.
-Defensive actions - mainly by own fighters
- AAA ammunition usage: 29 artillery grenades (if I have understood correctly) and 90 rounds of mg ammunition



Supreme HQ, Aerial and Navy operations:
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1624103
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1624104
-Flights through the whole day 12.50-15.50, main flying direction being Seivästö- Koivisto-Heinjoki-Jääski.75% of the planes being bombers and 25% fighters, flying at 9, 12 and even 40 plane formations. Flying height being over 3000 meters. Bombing was targetted at Säiniö (no damages), Vuoksi-line (no damages), Heinjoki-Pilppula railway (slightly broken at two places)
-Shot down enemy planes: a Flight from the Flying Regiment 2 shot down two I-16 planes at Suur-Merijoki.
-Own AF: Squadron 12 carried out four recon flights to Kaukjärvi-Perkjärvi directions.
Squadron 14 carried out one recon flight to Taipaleenjoki - Metsäpirtti direction.
A plane, belonining to the Flying Regiment 2 shot down two enemy planes at Suur-Merijoki.

I Army Corps HQ AA Office:
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1573246
-Enemy used dive bombers and both mg and 20mm fire when strafing ground targets.

Stationary 56th Heavy AA Battery (Viipuri)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1563703
-13.10 Alert for defence. At East and at South enemy I-15 and SB-2 formations at distance of nearly 20km
-14.50 4 I-15 planes over Säiniö circling and diving for mg-strafing
-15.08 9 I-15 planes from West towards the battery at 3300m height.After battery opened fire the formation was splitted into two, the planes passing the battery from South and North, flying towards East.
-15.40 The alert for defence over. Ammunition spent: 13 grenades.


Stationary 55th Heavy AA Battery, observation group (Viipuri)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1563613
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1563614
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1563615
-10.57 a message: A Finnish Fokker C.X to be flown 11.15-12.50 route Nuijamaa-Juustila-Tali, back on same route.
-11.30 A Fokker C.X flying to direction 10-00 (flying to East?)
-13.10 Defence alert
-13.13 9 Soviet I-16 fighters direction 15-00 turned to East and disappeared to 15-00.
-13.30 8 I-16 planes circling at direction 15.00, flying to East(?)and disappeared to a cloud, direction 16.00.
-13.50 9 single engined sesquiplane Soviet fighters of I-5 type divebombed at direction 15-00 The planes flew SE side of the air surveillance tower at distance of 3-10km to NE and SW directions, disappearing finally to South 13.59
-14.08 three two-engined monoplane bombers (SB-2?) at about 5000m height over the air surveillance tower heading to East
-14.15 Five planes over Viipuri/Vyborg "drawing" smoke trails (perhaps spraying poison gas). The planes are at so high (5000-6000m) that identification even with binoculars is impossible.
-14.17 A Fokker C.X from direction 13-00 flying to NW. Disaapeared to direction 5-00 14.21 at hours
-14.35 12 planes at direction 22-00 flying to North. Planes so high that they can''t be identificated.
-14.40 12 Soviet I-16 fighters at direction 18-00, unclear flying direction.
-14.46 6 I-5 fighters flying at direction 16-00 flying to North. Circling to different directions. At 14.50 hours making dives at direction 15-00. At 14.52 hours disappered to direction 23-00.
-15.00 7 I-16 fighters at direction 15-00 making dives and shooting with mg's. 15.05 one I-16 chased an own Fokker D.21 near radio station. Own plane flying to NW
-15.06 6 I-5 planes at direction 48-00, flying to East. Planes were shot at from somwhere with rapid fire (automatic?) cannon, using tracers. No hits. The planes disaapeared to direction 15-00 at 15.08 hours.
-15.36 Defence alert over.


52th AA-mg Company (Viipuri railyard, JT)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1488044
-Defence alert from 13.12 to 15.30 hours.
-15.05 an own fighter came from SE, and flew along railway passing the railway station. A AA-Maxim mg stationed on the top of the railyard depot water tower fired against the above mentioned own oncoming plane. 90 rounds of ammunition was used.

2nd Light AA-Battery (at Säiniö, JT)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1528513
-13.10 9 bombers followed by 16 fighters ( a start to continious flow of planes, ending 15.00, JT)
-Battery fired 9 shots

25th Heavy AA-mg platoon (at Jääski, JT)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1562174
-12.12 Air warning(? JT)
-12.26 First information received about enemy aircraft
-13.32 Air warning over (seems that no planes were seen, JT)
-13.49 Air combat over Jääski
-13.53 Air alert
-13.53 Air combat over Kuurmanpohja, two fighters and two bombers
-14.02 two planes over Rouhiala
Aerial activity continuing to air alert over at 15.00 and air warning over at 15.20.

Regards, Juha (slight flu - hope the names, dates and places are about correct)
Last edited by Juha Tompuri on 22 Jan 2015 16:20, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: typo correcting

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 22 Jan 2015 11:23

Just about the above reports - to my understanding they are referring 20.12.1939, not surely Dec. 1940?

The mention of Polikarpov I-5´s divebombing in the reports of Stationary 55th Heavy AA Battery, observation group (Viipuri) are interesting - to my knowledge the old Polikarpov I-5 were relegated to training duties during Winter War and they were thrown in combat only in summer 1941 when everything flyable was needed to fight against Germans. But most likely just a misidentification of enemy planes - like the Yaks identified often as "Spitfires" and "Mustangs" during the Continuation War.

The other quite common misidenfitication was to identify I-15bis as a I-15 - they were actually two different planes with clear differences (which is often forgotten - I-15 was "Chaika" with gullwing like I-153 but I-15 bis or "I-152" had strutted wings). The most strange bird was "I-16 bis" or "long-nosed I-16" which never actually existed although was quite often mentioned in Finnish combat reports.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Juha Tompuri » 22 Jan 2015 16:19

durb wrote: to my understanding they are referring 20.12.1939
Yes, my typo.
durb wrote: But most likely just a misidentification of enemy planes
Yes, most probably.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Slon-76 » 22 Jan 2015 18:27

Thanks, Juha. Very interesting.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 27 Jan 2015 19:30

Well, after seein all the different number varying of Finnish Air Force air victories between 190 (minimum) - 281 (maximum with all probables), I guess that we should take as "officially confirmed Finnish number" the 207 claims which is repeatedly featured in SIH series. Maybe not officially endorsed by the Finnish Air Force (if there is such thing that official "last word" Finnish Air Force official number recognized by all researchers), but so much repeated in authoritative literature that it can be considered "official Finnish number".

However how these 207 air victories were actually distributed by different Finnish air units? The SIH book 17 (LeR 2) of Keskinen & Stenman and F 19 references gives following info :
Flight Squadron 24 (Llv 24) credited with 122 air victories
Flight Squdron 26 (Llv 26) credited with 34 air victories
Flight Squadron 28 (Llv 28) credited with 14 air victories
The fighter detachement of Swedish volunteer unit F 19 credited with 8 air victories
Making together 178 air victories. How were the rest 29 air victories divided by other units? (like "Koelentue", all confirmed claims by the gunners of bomber and recce units)

By fighter type the book Fokker D XXI Aces of World War 2 (Stenman) gives following info:
Fokker D XXI pilots credited with 120 air victories
Gloster Gladiator pilots credited with 37 air victories
Morane 406 pilots credited with 14 air victories
Fiat G 50 pilots credited with 11 air victories

Making in total 182 air victories. Even if we would take as granted the max. number of Bulldog pilot claims (6, but seems to have been actually less), it will make 188 air victories. So to make it up to 207 it would mean the that the gunners of Finnish bomber and recce planes were credited with 19 air victories?

When it comes to Finnish "air victory" definition, my understanding is that the enemy planes destroyed on the ground were not counted in the tally. Also all the numbers are based to my understanding of "complete air victories" of units, not having too many confusing shared/group air victories. To my understanding group/shared "kills" are the richest source of air victory inflation. Shared kills becoming often "full kills" in "official stats" of airwar. Like a group of three pilots shooting down one plane, which is credited to them all each having 1/3 air victory, but for some reason these become later in official unit stats 3 "full kills" creating directly 3:1 overclaiming at unit or air force stats level.

For example I found couple of Soviet pilots of Spanish Civil War being credited in Spanish websites as the very top guns of Spanish Republican Air Force with more than 30 air victories - however almost all of those claims were "shared/group kills", when it is very difficult to tell if they actually shot enemy planes down or played some decisive part in the events or even claimed it.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Gamle Lode » 27 Jan 2015 20:00

The Ilmasodan pikkujättiläinen cautiously says that the combined amount of both air defense and air force victories is more than 300 during the winter war. It is an inconclusive conclusion.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 27 Jan 2015 23:10

Well, I looked the official website of Finnish Defence Force / Air Force (see http://www.puolustusvoimat.fi and "ilmavoimien historiikki" or in English "History of the Finnish Air Force since 1918"). What it had to say about the confirmed Finnish air victories of Winter War? The latest update or the website as it is now (28.1.2015) gives 200 confirmed air victories and 85 probable air victories for Finnish Air Forces during the Winter War. However the "200" is probably a rough estimate, only to give an idea of approximate scale of confirmed air victories. So in this respect it seems to me that the proper Finnish Air Force is cautious to give "the official exact number" on their website. Is some historical work or book like SIH series on this theme endorsed by the Finnish Air Force as their "official history"?

So there is some room for different interpretations of historians in what numbers they come up by studying archive sources. Same sources but different interpretation may give different numbers. And this makes it turn difficult to figure out the excat numbers of air victories by unit level. As the 207 is the official "SIH number", I think that it could be taken as a basis of studies at the unit level. This is what I´m interested about - the SIH number 207 divided by unit level (inlcluding F 19) as exactly as possible.

With officially confirmed air victories I mean the air victories confirmed by official Finnish Air Force sources, not to go to more complicated issue of how many of them were actually accurate taking in account also what Soviet loss records have to say. Confirming air victories also by enemy´s loss records is not as easy and straightforward as one might first think, but leaves lots of room for speculation and interpretation.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Gamle Lode » 28 Jan 2015 13:05

Yes, this goes back to the very historical method itself. We have the sources of the variable qualities, and somewhere beyond them is the actual historical (physical & psychological) reality. Rhetorically speaking, which are more important, questions or answers?

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 28 Jan 2015 15:22

Right questions are needed first. What we are interested in? Like:

- the very definition of "air victory"? - is it a same as a "kill" = enemy plane destroyed or damaged beyond repair? One sometimes accepted definition is that the enemy plane is forced to disengage from combat and to make force-landing - this would raise the tallies of both Finnish and Soviet pilots above the simple number of destroyed planes.
- how were the air victories confirmed usually? (combat report of fellow pilot, ground observers or someone else confirming it, wreck finding)
- why did the Finnish HQ confirm some air victories only by pilot´s report not demanding witness verificiation or wreck finding as usually?
- why there are some many different numbers regarding the total number of confirmed Finnish air victories in Winter War (190, 195, 200, 207, 218) and are all these different numbers based on the study of same sources?
- the interpretations of different historians - what are their basic principles and arguments to intrepretate combat reports in the way the do it?

Enemy´s combat loss records:
- on many cases it is difficult to tell if the loss was caused by air combat or AA as the planes may have been targeted by both during the combat sortie
- planes MIA - plane was lost in combat sortie, but was it lost in combat?
- planes damaged by enemy - how many were written offs and how many were put again to the combat?
- if the enemy information does not match with "our information", why not?

There are also problems with (more or less justified) prejudices. Soviet claims went so over the top during the Winter War that it casted a shadow of serious doubt on all of their documentation being propagandistic. Also the combat report claims of many Soviet units have been found to be rather inaccurate. The published official Soviet loss numbers during the wartime seem to have minimzed systematically their losses. However this does not necessarily need to be the case of Soviet loss records in confidential unit document level - I guess that they show much more realistic picture of combat losses than the official Soviet PR info of wartime. If language skills and chance, Soviet loss records should be studied without prejudices.

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by John Hilly » 28 Jan 2015 18:17

durb wrote:- planes damaged by enemy - how many were written offs and how many were put again to the combat?
- if the enemy information does not match with "our information", why not?
If I have understood correctly, if a damaged plane crash landed on some Soviet air field and was a total write off, the Soviets didn't count the plane lost in combat. Maybe this explains some differents between Finnish vs. Soviet statistics?

With best, J-P :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by Juha Tompuri » 28 Jan 2015 19:04

durb wrote: Is some historical work or book like SIH series on this theme endorsed by the Finnish Air Force as their "official history"?
I think this, already earlier mentioned work, was/is official:
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1622861
John Hilly wrote:If I have understood correctly, if a damaged plane crash landed on some Soviet air field and was a total write off, the Soviets didn't count the plane lost in combat.
I too remember reading that type thing somewhere.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 28 Jan 2015 20:52

Thanks for Juha - I found from the digitized archive (mentioned in previous post) the SPK 758 (war diaries of Finnish Air Force) and from there the appendix 112 of Ilmapuolustus 1939 - 1940 (Air Defence 1939 - 1940) which can be located from "digitoidut jaksot" nr. 602 and thus the official Finnish Air Force info on air victories of Winter War should be this:

196 confirmed air victories + 85 probables (unconfirmed)

Dividing confirmed 196 air victories by unit records:

LeR 1
Llv 12 - 1 air victory
Llv 14 - 3 air victories

LeR 2
Llv 24 - 95 air victories (including one observation balloon)
Llv 26 - 61 air victories
Llv 28 - 12 air victories
+ one air victory credited to LeR 2 but not spesified by pilot or squadron (probably various claims on same enemy plane)

LeR 4
Llv 42 - 3 air victories
Llv 46 - 2 air victories

Koelentue
9 air victories

F 19 (Swedish volunteer unit)
9 air victories

Now it would be interesting to know how SIH number 207 and other interpretations have been built - Soviet archive findings matching with some Finnish "probable" claims?

When it comes to probables, Joppe Karhunen in his memoirs suggested that Finnish Air Force pilots/gunners may have destroyed or damaged beyond repair as many as 240 Soviet planes during the Winter War, but this is of course speculative as it is always with "probables".

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 29 Jan 2015 22:56

Looking the above Finnish Air Defence archive data (SPK 758) and comparing it directly to SIH publication 17 (LeR 2) we note following differences in the counting of Finnish Winter War air victories - first number is SPK 758 and second SIH:

Llv 24 - 95 air victories (SPK 758) / 122 air victories (SIH 17)
Llv 26 - 61 air victories / 34 air victories

This is easily explained. In SPK the air victories are counted to belonging to unit in all cases - also when LLv 26 pilot were commanded to Llv 24 and flew Fokker D XXI´s belonging to Llv 24.
In SIH the air victories of Llv 26 are counted only when they were serving in their "own unit" - thus flying only Bulldogs and Gladiators belonging to Llv 26. Actually more logical - a Llv 26 pilot commanded to serve in Llv 24 actually belonged to the LLv 24 when he was posted there (being under command of Llv 24). The total number of confirmed air victories of Llv 24/26 is anyway the same 156 in both cases.

However slight but clear difference in Llv 28 - SPK 758 gives 12 whereas SIH gives two more making it to 14. From which source did the two more came from?

One small question - to my understanding LLv 24 flew exclusively with Fokker D XXI but Stenman credites in later Osprey book the Fokker D XXI pilots with 120 confirmed air victories whereas SIH 17 (LeR 2) credits LLv 24 with 122 air victories. So two Llv 24 air victories were recorded with other type of fighter than Fokker D XXI? Or a typo?

And then total number of confirmed air victories of Winter War being different in SPK 758 (196) vs. SIH publications (207) - both of these numbers include also all confirmed air victories of "Koelentue" and F 19 + confirmed gunner claims of bomber/recce units. Of course this is question which one should probably ask directly from the authors of SIH series or does someone else know something about the difference of 11 confirmed air victories in SPK 758 and SIH series? Those 11 confirmed air victories more in SIH are certainly based on solid research? Were some Winter War air victories confirmed in Finnish Air Force documents which would be of later date than the material presented in SPK 758?

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Re: Finnish Air Force claims and losses (fighter squadrons)

Post by durb » 06 Feb 2015 11:38

Does someone know the original source of this info given in "Suomen Ilmavoimien hävittäjähankinnat" (The fighter purchases of Finnish Air Force in 1919-1945) by Atso Haapanen 2002, page 135-136:

"According to official Finnish air victory statistics our air corps shot down in total 218 Russian planes, of which 7 were shot down by Swedish volunteer group F 19. Of the planes 165 were bombers, 42 fighters and 11 light recce and bomber planes. By the more exact type air victories were:
103 SB, 50 DB-3, 1 TB 3; 22 I-16, 13 I-153, 7 I-15 bis; 11 R-5.
Counted by the (SB, DB and TB) type bombers are just 154 planes - 11 less than was officially reported. The amounts of other aircraft types are correct. Maybe the missing planes were found after the war and then added to official air victory records. During the Continuation War several wrecks of enemy planes were found which were not included in the official records during Winter War".

So the source above - "official Finnish air victory statistics" - is the one which gives 218 or 207 (by type counting) as the official air victory account of Finnish Air Force of Winter War. If so,the official document/stats referred above is compiled later than the digitized SPK 758 data (dated 17.1.1941) in which only 196 air victories were confirmed.

The above explains both SIH number 207 and FAF wiki number 218, but what is the official FAF document with these numbers and from which date it is? The name and archive diary number of the document and from where it is to be found? Accessible for public or open only for researchers who have authorised permission to look upon it? If accessible for public, is it available in the web as digitized document like SPK 758?

Also does anyone know about the origins of SIH claim of 53 aircraft losses in combat during Winter War? The "usual number" of FAF combat losses in Winter War is 47 aircraft (of the total of 62). From same source that gives the "corrected" figures of Finnish air victories of Winter War?

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