Blunders of Finnish Military

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Vaeltaja
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Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 16 Aug 2010 10:24

Thought there could be one of these threads as well... For the blunders and failures of the Finnish Military in and leading to the Winter and Continuation Wars.

Just to mention few - all IMO of course -...
  • Jarl Lundqvist (Air Force Commander), and his beloved Blenheims instead of modern fighters
  • Taavetti Laatikainen (Corps Commander), and his three days drinking binge in 1941, 1944 trench warfare mentality before Soviet attack.
  • Wallenius, the hero Lapland and the drunken fool of the Vyborg Bay.
  • Army organization change which reduced infantry division strength from three regiments to two effectively erasing any and all possible divisional reserves.
  • Constructing 2 coastal defense ships but deciding against constructing any escorts for these and instead relying on pre-independence era naval vessels for that area.
  • Decision to keep new AT weapons hidden though Germans had been using those for nearly a year that at point
There are probably are plenty more and some of these (and of the others) are bound to be controversial...

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John Hilly
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by John Hilly » 16 Aug 2010 16:48

Vaeltaja wrote:Taavetti Laatikainen (Corps Commander), and his three days drinking binge in 1941, 1944 trench warfare mentality before Soviet attack.
In 1941, while Oesch was on a sick-leave, Laatikainen was ordered to be his A.C. He didn't visit the IV AK's CP but once, so actually the re-take of Viborg was conducted by Col Valo Nihtilä, the CoS of the IV AK.

In 1944 Laatikainen had a bad habit of "Sopikaa keskenänne" attidude considering his sub-ordinates authority to each other. The worst might have been the the dispute between Pajari and Lagus in the Polvijärvi-counter attack. :(
Juha-Pekka :milwink:
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mikko H. » 16 Aug 2010 20:14

More points to consider:

- The time taken to decide the caliber of the new AT-rifle -- 15 or 20 mm -- in the late 1930s. After several years of fruitless debate, the decision to settle on 20 mm wasn't reached until early 1939, and thanks to that delay only two or three prototypes of the Lahti ATR saw action in the Winter War when it could have made a difference. IIRC the then Inspector of Infantry Major-General Erik Heinrichs has been blamed for not forcing the decision earlier.

- The counterattack tactics in late Winter War. After the Mannerheim Line was breached in February 1940, the Finnish tactic of making an immediate counterattack to force the enemy from its newly-conquered positions has been criticized of being too rigid and costly. It has been suggested that a more flexible tactic would have been more successful in the long run.

- Over-reliance on fortified defense lines. During the Winter War the Main Defense Position (aka. the Mannerheim Line) was a success, but it was still quite shallow. During the Continuation War the Supreme HQ designated the front line as the Main Defense Line, and it got the greatest share of the fortification resources. The VT-line behind it was only half-ready and the rearmost VKT-line mostly a line on a paper. In addition the Finnish defense lines tended to lack depth. German experience in the Eastern Front should have made it abundantly clear that it was better to leave the front line lightly manned and concentrate one's forces some distance to rear, where they can make more efficient counterattacks. The results, once the Soviet offensive started in June 1944, are all too well known: both the front line (the Main Defense Position) and the second line (VT-line) were both breached on the day the Red Army first attacked them.

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patrik.possi
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by patrik.possi » 16 Aug 2010 21:09

The failure of the defence of Viipuri in 1944, and all actions surrounding the operation is my vote for high time Finnish military blunder.

Hägglunds offensive during the winter war wasn't too good either. Do some say it was a good lesson for the offensive during the Continuation war.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Esa K » 16 Aug 2010 22:45

Hi..
Vaeltaja wrote:Army organization change which reduced infantry division strength from three regiments to two effectively erasing any and all possible divisional reserves
...the big failure in the army re-organization was maybe that it was not totally changd into to a/the brigade system, something that was was taken into concideration allready in 1942..


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Esa K

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Aug 2010 20:19

My choices:
Vaeltaja wrote:
  • Jarl Lundqvist (Air Force Commander)
  • Taavetti Laatikainen (Corps Commander)
  • Decision to keep new AT weapons hidden though Germans had been using those for nearly a year that at point[/list
Mikko H. wrote:- The time taken to decide the caliber of the new AT-rifle -- 15 or 20 mm -- in the late 1930s. After several years of fruitless debate, the decision to settle on 20 mm wasn't reached until early 1939, and thanks to that delay only two or three prototypes of the Lahti ATR saw action in the Winter War when it could have made a difference.
Yes, an example where either, 13- or 20mm gun, would have played a great role in the Winter War.
"The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good" matches at that case quite well.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Esa K » 18 Aug 2010 22:45

Hi

just as a further thought (not only made by me)...

...but, how much was the purchase of modern fighters from Germany (i. e Me 109:s and maybe FW 190:s) in 1942-1943 halted by the "dream" of producing of an own fighter ac, Myrsky, and its derivates...


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Esa K

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 19 Aug 2010 09:12

Esa K wrote:Hi

just as a further thought (not only made by me)...

...but, how much was the purchase of modern fighters from Germany (i. e Me 109:s and maybe FW 190:s) in 1942-1943 halted by the "dream" of producing of an own fighter ac, Myrsky, and its derivates...


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Esa K
Yeah.. That is interesting one... I haven't really figured how VL imagined it would be able to make competitive fighters as country had essentially no aluminum whatsever and no industry to build or design modern aircraft engines. Combining the use of plywood and fabric with vintage engine designs out of 1930s was not really the answer for the need of front line fighters.

Had Finns been able - and willing as it seems -to buy for example modern (German) AC engines just before or during the war it might have been different thing. But that did not materialize.. all that did were second hand war booty engines of pretty much the same low quality scale as Finns previously had access to.

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Panssari Salama
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Panssari Salama » 19 Aug 2010 09:26

Vaeltaja wrote:
Esa K wrote:Hi

just as a further thought (not only made by me)...

...but, how much was the purchase of modern fighters from Germany (i. e Me 109:s and maybe FW 190:s) in 1942-1943 halted by the "dream" of producing of an own fighter ac, Myrsky, and its derivates...


Best regards

Esa K
Yeah.. That is interesting one... I haven't really figured how VL imagined it would be able to make competitive fighters as country had essentially no aluminum whatsever and no industry to build or design modern aircraft engines. Combining the use of plywood and fabric with vintage engine designs out of 1930s was not really the answer for the need of front line fighters.

Had Finns been able - and willing as it seems -to buy for example modern (German) AC engines just before or during the war it might have been different thing. But that did not materialize.. all that did were second hand war booty engines of pretty much the same low quality scale as Finns previously had access to.
Having just visited theTikkakoski Museum; this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VL_Py%C3%B6rremyrsky

Image


The use of wood in the construction of the aircraft was maximised due to the sparseness of metals. The goal was to create a fighter with similar flight qualities to the German Messerschmitt Bf 109G. The engine and the propeller were taken from the Bf 109G


and

The Pyörremyrsky design was considered quite successful. It could outclimb the Bf 109G-6 and it was very manoeuvrable. The only major problem with the design was found to be the low-quality glue used in the joints.

Maybe they should have named it Ikaros instead of Hurricane (pyrörremyrsky). 8O :roll: :milwink:

Sorry, no point really with my post really, seemed a relevant OT post regarding the discussion though... And it IS a beautiful construction, isn't it!
Panssari Salama - Paying homage to Avalon Hill PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader board games from those fab '70s.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Steady » 20 Aug 2010 08:00

Finnish troops were ordered into counter attacks right into the last hours of Winter War, even when the time of start of cease fire had already been announced. These attacks needlessly caused casualties.

I also read an account in "Talvisodan ääniä" by Olli Palaste about a finnish antitank gun ambushing a group of Soviet tanks. The group was lead by real giant, its tracks were the height of a medium sized man, which at that time probably meant ca. 170 cm. The tank received a penetrating hit in its tower, second hit broke a track. Its crew of 11 men tried to escape but got shot.

Only the t-35 superheavy tank had tracks this big and that much crew. In fact even t-35 had only 10 men in its crew. But russians deny that these tanks were used during Winter War. T-28 was already much smaller tank, with much smaller crew. Strange thing...

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mikko H. » 20 Aug 2010 10:26

Perhaps an SMK or T-100.

Or just a 'war story'.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Tommy R » 20 Aug 2010 13:39

Sounds a bit like the SMK prototype, from http://www.battlefield.ru/content/view/54/48/lang,en/ :
On December 19, the SMK and the T-100 were assigned the mission to support our units that were penetrating into the depths of Finnish fortifications in the Khottinen area. Both vehicles moved forward, accompanied by five T-28 tanks. These tanks were already deep into the enemy's defenses when a powerful explosion occurred under the leading SMK. The T-100 and one T-28 halted near the damaged tank and the remaining four vehicles, seeking cover, moved forward. The SMK crew attempted to recover their tank by rejoining its damaged tracks, but they were unable to restart the engine. Countless attempts to tow the damaged SMK with the T-100 did not bring success. Because of the icy conditions, the tracks of the T-100 could not get traction and the T-100 could not move the SMK. The tanks had fought in the depth of Finnish positions for approximately five hours. Sergeant Mogilchenko was seriously wounded and the driver Ignatev was lightly wounded. Having expended all of their ammunition, the crew of the SMK moved over to the T-100. The overloaded T-100 (with 15 crewmen!), accompanied by a T-28 tank, returned to the location of 20th Tank Brigade. The vehicles' crews were awarded orders and medals for this combat.
Image

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Steady » 20 Aug 2010 16:36

Here's the story from the book (yes it is completely possible that this is only a "fishermans story", as we say in Finland, eg. a "little" bit exagerrated, :) )

" Guard rushed into the shelter to announce that enemy tanks were on top the shelter.

We ran out and the sight was agonizingly horrible. A gigantic tank was in front of our gun, driving towards it about 50 meters away. Behind it came three more tanks. Murtojärvi, Vaasala and I ran to the gun, but others did not have enough courage. We shot at the approaching ugliness. First shot was a miss. Second shot cut a track. The tank rotated, thus our third shot penetrated its tower. The tank started to go around us driving in a wide arc and the three other tanks followed it. After a moment the lead tank drove into a hole made by an aeroplane bomb and fell in it. Other tanks continued towards our troops positions behind us. We tried to move our gun to completely destroy the lead tank, but the ground was so difficult that we could not move the gun there and we did not have enough strength to carry it over the obstacles.

Other three tanks now turned back, and their return trip turned out to be their final fate. We shot every one to fire. And there rarely was a day in Summa without fireworks or bonfires, usually provided by the gun company.

We told infantry about the tank in the bomb hole. During the night a demolition squad arrived. But before that the tank crew had escaped through the bottom hatch in order to move to their own lines. But it so happened that a guard saw the escapees on the barbed wire fence and opened fire with a submachine gun. The result was ten fallen enemies. Only one man survived to tell the story. So it could be surmised that the tank had a crew of 11 men. This amount of men tells that this tank was not the size of an ordinary tank. It was so large that Kalle Murtojärvi, who was a man of average size, could only reach the top of the tank track by standing on his toes."

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Steady » 23 Aug 2010 19:54

Hanski wrote: To jump into another blunder in 1930's defence expenditure is the shelving of the Suomi submachine gun production, after the initial production batches had successfully come out from the Tikkakoski factory.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suomi_KP/-31

Just think of the impact that this weapon could have made in the Winter War, if instead of the coastal defence ships Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_co ... %C3%B6inen) the same amount of budget money had been spent on producing Suomi-kp's by the thousands.

But this is all just wisdom in hindsight, always so easy...
Army planners had misunderstood the role of the submachine gun in a firefight. They thought it would be used as a squad support weapon, in the same role as the light machine gun. Thus infantry platoons were given equal amounts of SMG's and light machine guns. Finnish army had enough submachine guns for that role. Only when the weapons were put to real use was it realized where the real potential of the Suomi lay.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Steady » 23 Aug 2010 19:57

Vaeltaja wrote:On the blundering politicians we do agree.

As for the coastal defense ships... There are some claims that (personal information) not all of the Navy were thrilled of those ships. As it lead to not having much else there either. Some claims were that the ships were the sort of a boasting effort (pullistelua) towards Sweden and the new Swedish coastal defense ships - that is if Swedes had some of those then Finns (government) felt they needed 'better' and therefore allowed the financing of coastal defense ships (& subs) even when other parts of the military budged were being minimized. Not sure how credible that claim is however.
Had it been a summer war, coastal defense ships would have been invaluable in defending Ahvenanmaa from a seaborne assault. Had Soviets taken Ahvenanmaa, Finland's lifelines to the Europe would have been largely cut.

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