Bristol Blenheim

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Mangrove
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Bristol Blenheim

Post by Mangrove » 16 Aug 2010 11:18

Splitted from the "Blunders of Finnish military thread
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9&t=168998
/Juha

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Vaeltaja wrote:
  • Jarl Lundqvist (Air Force Commander), and his beloved Blenheims instead of modern fighters
Blenheim was the fastest aeroplane in Finnish Air Force arsenal until Brewster came in 1940. It was more agile than Fokker and could escape Soviet fighters by diving. Any fighter bought in 1936 would have been too slow for front line use in 1940. After the Navy got their ships in 1920s/30s it was Air Force's turn to be modernized, it was not an option to wait three or fours years for new plane types.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 16 Aug 2010 11:58

Martti Kujansuu wrote:
Vaeltaja wrote:
  • Jarl Lundqvist (Air Force Commander), and his beloved Blenheims instead of modern fighters
Blenheim was the fastest aeroplane in Finnish Air Force arsenal until Brewster came in 1940. It was more agile than Fokker and could escape Soviet fighters by diving. Any fighter bought in 1936 would have been too slow for front line use in 1940. After the Navy got their ships in 1920s/30s it was Air Force's turn to be modernized, it was not an option to wait three or fours years for new plane types.
http://www.sci.fi/~fta/zimbo-01.htm
In the spring of 1938 Magnusson worked hard to get a German Heinkel He-112 to Finland for the Malmi airport opening ceremonies in late summer 1938. After that the Finnish Air Force test flew the aircraft at Utti. The Germans offered the Finns 50 Heinkels, but the commander Lt Gen Lundqvist turned the offer down.
And couple of other sections... Curtis deal, Seversky deal.. all turned down as too expensive - as money was given to new bombers - and cheapest of the lot - Fokker - was favored. Only far too late did his opinion change and new fighters were bought though only rare few made to Finland before rest were delayed or interned.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 16 Aug 2010 12:32

Vaeltaja wrote: And couple of other sections... Curtis deal, Seversky deal.. all turned down as too expensive - as money was given to new bombers - and cheapest of the lot - Fokker - was favored. Only far too late did his opinion change and new fighters were bought though only rare few made to Finland before rest were delayed or interned.
Heinkel with a Jumo in 1938 would have been a poor choice for Finnish field conditions. I believe Fokker was the only fighter to operate from all major and minor fields during the Continuation War compared to few well mainteined fields on which the Messerschmitt operated. Radial engine planes were generally more reliable than the V-engine ones so it does not matter if you've 50 Heinkels and most of them are grounded. Also the question of spare parts for them would have risen during the War.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 16 Aug 2010 14:50

Well.. AFAIK Finns ordered the Fokker even before the design had been completed. Main basis for selecting it was its low cost and possibility to get production license for it and not the ability to operate on poor quality fields. But yet again bombers won the day and instead of better performance Mercury radials which could have used with D.XXI again a cheaper Wasp was selected for the license build Fokkers. Mercuries ended up in Blenheims.

In 1938 (after the Fokkers & license had been bought and even after initial batch of Blenheims had been bought) instead of getting more fighters they chose... to buy Blenheim license in 1938.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Hanski » 16 Aug 2010 19:08

Vaeltaja wrote: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.
Aren't you just a bit unfair when suggesting that "blunders and failures of the Finnish Military" led to the Winter and Continuation Wars?

I thought there was a bloke called Yosif Stalin who did play a role...

Seriously, if you wish to explore pre-war blunders, there is a general severe one that you rightly make references to yourself: the stingy policies of defence funding, which inevitably offered no choice but led to gross neglects in defence capabilities. But that is more rightly described as a blunder of civilian politicians during the relatively prosperous 1930's than a military one.

If you wish to discuss genuinely military blunders, a more appropriate topic would be for example the inadequate measures taken by those in command who had access to the accumulating intelligence information on the impending Soviet strategic offensive in the Karelian Isthmus in June 1944.

Martti Kujansuu already replied to your mocking of the Blenheim acquisition, and I don't think it is justified to blame it as an entirely useless asset during our wars, considering all the operations which it participated in. Therefore, I will proudly post this photo of the restored Mk IV individual, BL-200 at the Central FInland Museum of Aviation.
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Hanski
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Hanski » 16 Aug 2010 19:21

...and the frontal starboard aspect...
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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 16 Aug 2010 19:55

I meant the header to indicate that discussion was not only limited to just war time blunders but also to failures and blunders that took place before but which were related to the conflicts of 1939 - 45. If the phrasing was bad enough for misunderstandings to happen then i sincerely apologize for it.

As for the Blenheim mocking.. Its not pointed at the aircraft itself. The Blenheim was state of the art aircraft when Finns bought it. Fast and furious at the scales of its time. What i was after was the Finnish Air Force insistence of getting more and more level bombers at the cost of leaving fighter and other acquisitions at some future date.

And Blenheim is a beautiful bird. It just had sorry fate of getting outdated rather swiftly in the WWII. Though it was outdated it certainly wasn't useless.

And also true on the point that the small size of the military budget was the source of the trouble. But still the military was supposed to do the best it could with what they got.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 16 Aug 2010 20:45

Vaeltaja wrote: What i was after was the Finnish Air Force insistence of getting more and more level bombers at the cost of leaving fighter and other acquisitions at some future date
At the end bombers were more useful to the war effort than most fighters. Blenheims mapped the terrain for attacks and striked hard to enemy pinpoints. On the other hand fighters were useless against Soviet night attacks and fast recon/bomber planes attacking Helsinki.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 16 Aug 2010 21:44

Martti Kujansuu wrote:
Vaeltaja wrote: What i was after was the Finnish Air Force insistence of getting more and more level bombers at the cost of leaving fighter and other acquisitions at some future date
At the end bombers were more useful to the war effort than most fighters. Blenheims mapped the terrain for attacks and striked hard to enemy pinpoints. On the other hand fighters were useless against Soviet night attacks and fast recon/bomber planes attacking Helsinki.
Umh... Finns already had 18 perfectly good Blenheims. More than enough for any kind of mapping effort. And the only Finnish air craft able to do pinpoint strikes in Winter War was Fokker C X. That is unless i have missed something critical the Blenheim was a pure level bomber with no ability to do pinpoint strikes.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 17 Aug 2010 07:10

Vaeltaja wrote: Umh... Finns already had 18 perfectly good Blenheims. More than enough for any kind of mapping effort. And the only Finnish air craft able to do pinpoint strikes in Winter War was Fokker C X. That is unless i have missed something critical the Blenheim was a pure level bomber with no ability to do pinpoint strikes.
Mapping and reconnaissance required three or four planes at all times. This would have left only ten or so Blenheims after damaged ones to the bomber force. The accuracy of Finnish level bombers was high compared to the other fronts. Usually all bombs fell in the target area of 200-300 meters and few roads made it unnecessary to buy large amounts of dive bombers for destroying tanks and other small targets. Much of the captured goods would have been "lost" in 1941 if the Blenheims would not have bombed the stations and tracks at the Karelian Isthmus. In that way the Air Force contributed to the rearming of the Land Force.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 17 Aug 2010 08:52

I wasn't really disagreeing with the results either. The fact however remains that when the Winter War became seen as inevitable the stance of the Air Force changed and they started frenzied effort to get any type of fighters (well.. any type of aircraft) into Finland. Given that all sources were accepted and quality of the planes was not really even considered it would imply that something in the aircraft acquisitions of 1930s had gone rather spectacularly wrong.

On a hindsight the end result wasn't as disastrous as it had seemed. But credit for that should be given to the legal trickeries in US, and German 'generosity' (if you call willingness to sell war booty as generosity).

Also... I haven't really heard of Blenheims being operating in Karelian isthmus with any good results. That is bomber's estimates of their own results tend to be rather optimistic. But that is probably something better reserved for discussing in some other thread.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 17 Aug 2010 10:47

Vaeltaja wrote:The fact however remains that when the Winter War became seen as inevitable the stance of the Air Force changed and they started frenzied effort to get any type of fighters (well.. any type of aircraft) into Finland.
All kind of items were bought during the Winter War. Does that mean the things we had before them were more useless or antiqued? War tends to speed up buying any war material available. Finnish tactical use of fighters was defence-based much of the Winter War, so it would not have matter much if we had twenty or thirty percent more fighters concentrated to the Isthmus fighting over air superiority. Bulk of the air defence was carried out by the Anti-Aircraft units. Continuation War was different as we had time and money to buy those surplus fighters from Germany and Italy.
Vaeltaja wrote: Also... I haven't really heard of Blenheims being operating in Karelian isthmus with any good results. That is bomber's estimates of their own results tend to be rather optimistic. But that is probably something better reserved for discussing in some other thread.
If we compare results claimed by the Air Force and the results verified by the ground forces at the Karelian Isthmus or Ladoga Karelia in 1941 I think we have pretty good compatibility between them. Eight Blenheims from Le.Lv.42 hit Suojärvi railway station on July 14th 1941. According to the aerial photos taken the reports made by the pilots were quite accurate on the damage caused by the bombs. Probably due of this and other Blenheim bombings Finns were able to capture two armored trains, eight locomobiles, a hundred or so railway cars etc.

http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=2721876 (List of spoils of war from the Suojärvi direction as of August 28th 1941)

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 17 Aug 2010 12:50

No it does not make then useless or antique. But it was known before the WW that Fokker D XXI was a second rate fighter (it had been such all the way from the design board). And the need to get more modern fighters was growing - but ignored by Air Force Command.

I find it rather hard to believe that any intact or easily repairable war booty Finns were able to collect at Suojärvi well over a month after bombing would have been result of the bombings.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 17 Aug 2010 13:33

Vaeltaja wrote:But it was known before the WW that Fokker D XXI was a second rate fighter (it had been such all the way from the design board). And the need to get more modern fighters was growing - but ignored by Air Force Command.
As I said before; speed is not the only thing fighter needs to possess to be successful design. Fokker was simple enough to be manufactured and operated in Finnish conditions. Same can not be said on some the modern types.
Vaeltaja wrote: I find it rather hard to believe that any intact or easily repairable war booty Finns were able to collect at Suojärvi well over a month after bombing would have been result of the bombings.
Any railway equipment caught east of Jänisjärvi could be only evacuated through Suojärvi station. I do not have Finnish railway officer's report (on the status of the station upon captured) in my hands right now, but it's quite possible the captured trains were trapped somewhere in Loimola area for a month.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 17 Aug 2010 14:14

Yes (and you could get 2 or 3 at price of front line fighter), and as a result of that policy Finns had no fighters which would have been able to intercept anything. If bombers dropped their load Finnish Fokkers could only slowly gain on them. Fokker was also less maneuverable than any of the Soviet fighters. It was also slower than of the Soviet fighters with even slower rate of climbing than Soviet fighters had. Only thing it could do better than Soviets was diving. And while the design was sturdy it was unarmored and lacked self sealing tanks. Even something like Fiat G50 - or even Jumo powered He 100 - would have made world of difference. In the end - thanks to bombers first policy - Finns had fighters that couldn't properly do interception and which couldn't really dogfight with the enemy either.

No wonder Finnish fighters were unable to truly intercept anything when flying Fokkers. And even greater wonder that FAF pilots managed to do as well as they did with the Fokkers.

As for the Suojärvi... It seems far more likely that Finnish ground pounders manage to cut the Suojärvi - Jessoila rail sooner than Soviets were able to evacuate the Suojärvi area by rail. Not saying that Blenheims wouldn't have had any effect though.

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