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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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 22 Aug 2010 18:14

Vaeltaja wrote: Perhaps... I seem to have read of Fokker attack against Soviet observation aircraft which was considered to be very daring operation in some of Karhunen books (ritarilentue ?)
A single balloon was shot down at Taipaleenjoki on January 20th 1940 by vänr. Kokko and Ilveskorpi of LLv. 24.
Vaeltaja wrote: Hmm.. Not sure which are real data...
From en-wiki.. Blenheim 540 kg, Fokker C X 400 kg.
From fi-wiki.. Blenheim 526-972 kg, Fokker C X 400 - 600 kg.
These are the largest loads I could find from the original mission reports.
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=2917648 (Blenheim, 6x100 + 2x50 + 2x12,5 = 725 kg)
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=1544290 (C.X, 2x100 + 8x12,5 = 300 kg)
Vaeltaja wrote: Regardless... Values are still roughly in the same ballpark. Difference was that Fokker could deliver the amount with enough accuracy to hit individual fireplaces in the woods as was done in 1942 and that for Blenheim required target size of a city block.
They are not. A 250 kg bomb is not the same as five 50 kg bombs, since it is my understanding the destructive power of the bomb grews by the volume, that is power of three. A 100 kg bomb might not have destroyed those half a dozen tanks that were destroyed by Blenheims on July 4th 1941 at Karelian Isthmus. Fokkers usually had the same targets as Blenheims; convoys, factories, railway stations and such. To really access their success we need Soviet loss data.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 22 Aug 2010 18:55

Martti Kujansuu wrote:They are not. A 250 kg bomb is not the same as five 50 kg bombs, since it is my understanding the destructive power of the bomb grews by the volume, that is power of three. A 100 kg bomb might not have destroyed those half a dozen tanks that were destroyed by Blenheims on July 4th 1941 at Karelian Isthmus. Fokkers usually had the same targets as Blenheims; convoys, factories, railway stations and such. To really access their success we need Soviet loss data.
Umh... Yes.. the destructive power of a bomb increases relative to the volume of the bomb which on the other hand is directly related to the weight of the bomb as the bombs tended to have same uniform shape. Of course the smaller the bomb the smaller is the area effected by the blast and shrapnels from the bomb. So explosive power of five 50 kg bombs is the same as the 250 kg bomb, except it has been spread into five separate 'centers' with each having smaller 'effective radius' than what the single large would have had. However the destructive power is roughly the same, affected area depends on the dispersion of the bombs and might be smaller or larger with smaller bombs than with single large bomb.

But this is getting a bit far from the topic...

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Juha Tompuri » 22 Aug 2010 19:07

Slon, thanks for your input and interesting information.
Slon-76 wrote:Let's present, that would change, if Finland would buy instead of Blenheims, for example, 50-60 P-35. Essentially anything. Soviet Union all the same would possess domination in air as on each Finnish fighter would have 10-15. Attempt of the Finnish Air Forces to enter an open antagonism above Karelian isthmus in February 1940 anything good for them was not terminated. And neither Fiats, nor MS406s a situation essentially have not changed.

Yes, most likely losses of the Soviet bombers, flying to bomb rear objects in Finland would be much more. But as though it was reflected in a situation at the front? In any way. Probably, the Soviet command in general would refuse such bombardments. Then these bombs would start to fall on Mannerheim's Line. And Finnish fighters it should to return on a front line where them those would expect 10-15 Soviet fighters on everyone…


How about your opinion about the other option presented here , the Finns having (more) Blenheims instead of fighters (maybe still having the 10 Bulldogs)

Regards, Juha

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Hanski » 22 Aug 2010 20:43

Slon-76 wrote:And now about role Blenheims.
The Soviet command knew, that Finns have modern high-speed bombers. And it forced to reckon with them. For air defence huge forces of the Soviet aircraft which otherwise would appear at the front have been involved.
For example, 54 aviation brigade - these are 8797 starts on air defence of Leningrad and staff 7 army (i.e. it is more, than all Finnish Air Forces in general) and only 1419 on front.
About two squadrons I-153 have been involved in 9-th army on air defence of objects in rear. Strikes single Blenheims on air station Reboly 3, 4 and 12 on February are interesting. The material damage from strikes was minimal. But! The airgroup supporting 54 division has been compelled up to third of air mission to involve for patrolling above air station! For example, on February, 5 from 82 starts 80 SAP - 19 on patrolling, 10.02 – 32/8, 17.02. – 98/32. Thus, only three starts Blenheims "have cleaned" from the sky above divisions of 9-th infantry division up to 30 Soviet fighters daily. And what such 30 starts? For example on March, 8 I-16 80 SAP in 30 starts only the 20-mm of shells have spent 1375 pieces! What Finnish fighters could brag of such productivity?
Thank you, Slon-76, for making a very important point.

In other words: the effect of the small Blenheim bomber force was very analogous to that of the Long Range Patrols of the infantry during the Continuation War. Their number was small, and the probability of them appearing anywhere behind the lines in Soviet-controlled air space at any given time was low, but still not completely nonexistent - and they occasionally did appear, and they did cause damage enough to remind about themselves.

This necessitated tying up Soviet resources in the defensive, just like Slon described, which then could not be used offensively to apply pressure on the Finnish ground forces. Just like units of Soviet infantry in great numbers had to be deployed on guard duty deep in the rear areas, ready to chase Finnish Long Range Patrols if they do appear (and then not attacking Finns on the front), otherwise those patrols would have used without hesitation their opportunities to wreak havoc by attacking at will depots, traffic connections and any other significant unprotected targets.

The conclusion is: a versatile air arm with capacities for both the offensive and the defensive is more flexible and more effective than the same investment being allocated for the purely defensive role only, as the offensive capability then cannot be totally ignored and requires countermeasures tying up a multiple force.

Perhaps General of the Artillery Giulio Douhet was not entirely wrong in his Il dominio dell'aria!

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 22 Aug 2010 22:12

Douhets idea was to terror bomb the enemy, incinerate enemy cities with incendiaries, kill civilians with poison gas...

And yes, a balanced force would have been required. Finns did no have such at 1939. There were no front line fighters at all thanks to decisions of FAF and board of acquisitions.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Hanski » 23 Aug 2010 16:11

Vaeltaja wrote:And yes, a balanced force would have been required. Finns did no have such at 1939. There were no front line fighters at all thanks to decisions of FAF and board of acquisitions.
Again, you unduly blame the Air Force for the negligence of building up a strong enough fighter force.

Col. Veli Pernaa's text explains the history of the decision-making process quite accurately, please refer back to page 2.

The lack of front line fighters was due to the stingy political climate regarding defence spending, which insisted on getting the cheapest available short-term solution. Because it was believed that domestic production will become cheaper, and the civilian politicians refused to grant funding for the Seversky fighter with the familiar "too expensive" argument, no better alternative was left on the eve of WWII than producing the Fokker D.XXI within the limits that time and resources allowed.

"The Council of Defence discussed fighter procurement again in the spring of 1937. The Commander of the Air Force proposed more Fokkers with unlimited license and domestic production. The outcome was a decision on purchase of the license rights and an order on 21 aircraft from the Aircraft Factory. The license production of Blenheim bombers commenced respectively in 1938 and went on till the war years."

Valtion Lentokonetehdas (State Aircraft Factory) had limited production capacity, and once the production line started working on the Blenheims, reversing it back to producing Fokkers would have only created chaos, plus increased the number of an obsolescent fighter that in many respect was no match for the best fighters of the time, which the Air Force knew quite well.

The outcome, i.e., the produced number of Fokkers and that of Blenheims, plus whatever could in addition be hastily purchased from abroad (Fiats, Moranes, Hurricanes, Brewsters), was simply the best available compromise after civilian politicians had blundered, wasting the time and opportunities to build up an affordable and effective fighter force early enough to gain operative readiness before WWII.

Pernaa's text does not mention it, but I believe at one stage Marshal Mannerheim threatened to resign from his Chairmanship of the Council of Defence, just because the politicians repetedly turned down his pleas for funding.

The question of the right or wrong balance between fighters and bombers is just splitting hairs on matters that no one could know for certain, as there really was no combat experience on the aircraft of the 1930's other than the Spanish Civil War to look for evidence, and those results might not have applied in the event of a Russo-Finnish war, so the question of fine-tuning the balance is less relevant than the question of adequate and affordable funding for the whole branch of defense.

----------

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...

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 23 Aug 2010 18:51

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.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Slon-76 » 24 Aug 2010 19:18

Vaeltaja wrote:As said before.. Blenheims were good recon and harassment planes. For which the initial batch of planes would have been more than enough. FAF command however insisted on getting more of Blenheims at the cost of ignoring fighters. Problem was not that FAF bought Blenheims. Problem was that they didn't buy much else.
I believe, you seriously are mistaken. During Winter war through the Finnish Air Forces has passed 17+12+12 Blenheims. And nevertheless, by March, 13, 1940 in an efficient condition was only twelve planes. I.e., if England would not sell to Finns still planes of this type, the Finnish Air Forces would remain without the unique plane, capable to operate in the afternoon in good weather! I believe, its value consist not in bombing loading, namely in ability to operate in the afternoon. С.Х from this point of view has been accomplished it is useless. What sense in Diving bomber, not capable to fly in the afternoon?
If to speak about equation of the Finnish Air Forces then it is necessary to speak and about what the Finnish commanders saw the future war. On the account of the enemy of doubts, I think, was not.
Lundquist, I think, understood, that Finland cannot struggle for domination in air from the USSR. Then for what new fighters in plenties if war in air will initially pass at the superiority of the opponent are necessary for him. If he in the middle of 30th years had opportunity to buy Bf109G he probably would reflect.:) But a fighter essentially the best, than I-16 it was not simple then. Hence, the Air Forces were necessary not any concrete fighter, and the plane, capable to operate (to conduct investigation and to strike blows on the enemy) in conditions of domination of the opponent in air. For that moment it was only a high-speed bomber.
Vaeltaja wrote: And Soviet air dominance over the front lines was so total that some 50 or 60 odd fighters wouldn't have done a thing on it. However having 50 or 60 faster real fighters - instead of CAS planes designed for attacking restless natives in Indonesia - would have allowed Finns to make life rather miserable for the arty observation planes as well as for the bombers penetrating deeper into Finland.
It would lead to to the big and senseless losses of the Finnish fighters. I shall once again be repeated, that the Finnish Air Forces could not buy something in 1936-38, that it would be essentially better I-16/I-153. If and to speak, due to that it is possible to increase number of fighters, for the account really useless С.Х. Instead of for the account of the most effective Finnish planes of the period of Winter war.
If to be objective and to leave consideration of personal accounts of the Finnish pilots - fighters for the benefit of more global sizes the situation turns out such. The Finnish fighters operated basically on protection of rear objects. Agree? But the Soviet Air Forces for impacts on these objects made only 5-7 % from total of flight. I.e. the Finnish fighters were a problem for 5-7 % of the Soviet crews (by the way, the Finnish antiaircraft artillery was considered as more serious opponent). And about what problems were delivered with the fact of presence at Finnish Air Forces Blenheims I already spoke.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Slon-76 » 24 Aug 2010 19:36

Juha Tompuri wrote:How about your opinion about the other option presented here , the Finns having (more) Blenheims instead of fighters (maybe still having the 10 Bulldogs)
Hi!
It is interesting and a complicated question. Here it is necessary to think over variants. Though I basically think, that the Finnish Air Forces on the beginning of " winter war " had one " a sick tooth " - army aircraft, LeR-1. Here it really was too big and the most useless.

Regards,

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 24 Aug 2010 20:16

Well... I wouldn't consider Blenheim to be unique in any aspect by the 1939. It was fast bomber in the mid 1930s but by the end of the 1930s Blenheim was turned from a fast bomber into a light bomber. Comparing to Soviet SB-2 for starters.. SB-2 was faster, could carry roughly equal bomb load, could fly higher, hell.. it could even fly further than Blenheim. DB-3 with M-86s was only marginally slower but could carry three or four times the bomb load, and again fly further and faster than Blenheim, with M-87s is was even faster than Blenheim. That is just by comparing it against Soviet bombers of the Winter War. In short by late 1930s Blenheims were no longer fast bombers by any standards - only light and poorly armed. What is really a odd thing is why didn't the I-16s manage to intercept them being ~ 100 km/h faster than Blenheims.

I-15s and the lot probably would have been unable to catch Blenheim but I-16 should have had no trouble what so ever.

I think Lundqvist had read too closely the fairly common fairy tale of the era written by Douhet and thought that time of the fighters was over. Common view shared by many air force commanders.

As for the fighters not being a major problem for Soviets. Absolutely true. Fokkers - being the best of the lot - were too slow and too unmaneuverable to engage any Soviet fighters for prolonged periods. Shoot and scoot by diving was the only way to survive. As for bombers... Fokkers had whopping 30 km/h - if even that - advantage over Soviet bombers. Which means that if Soviet bombers chose to run there was very, very little the Fokkers could do to stop them. Not to mention that air warning/ground control network was absolutely horrible. Which left there the flak as the main opponent.
Steady wrote: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.
Had Soviets been seriously bent on landing on Ahvenanmaa then two slow and thinly armored coastal defense ships with ten inch guns would not have prevented them. There are quite good comparisons in "Meidän Panssarilaivamme" ("Our Armoured Ships") by Tauno Niklander where it is nicely represented that assuming rough parity in accuracy and without amazing flukes like with Bismark when firing at Hood both coastal defense ships would have been sunk in an encounter with heavy element (they did have two battleships) of the Soviet Baltic Fleet which would have suffered only minor to moderate damage - though it wouldn't certainly have been a free ride without risks.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 24 Aug 2010 21:46

Vaeltaja wrote:Comparing to Soviet SB-2 for starters.. SB-2 was faster, could carry roughly equal bomb load, could fly higher, hell.. it could even fly further than Blenheim. DB-3 with M-86s was only marginally slower but could carry three or four times the bomb load, and again fly further and faster than Blenheim, with M-87s is was even faster than Blenheim.
Source? "Tietoja Neuvostoliiton lentokoneista" (1944) rates the planes as following:
SB = c. 420 km/h. Range 1000-2300 km. 600-800 kg of bombs.
DB = 437 km/h at 4.700 m. Ceiling 8.000 m. Range 2.800 km. 500-2.700 kg of bombs.
IL-4 = 445 km/h at 6.800 m. Ceiling 8.500-10.000 m. Range 1.200-3.300 km. 1.000-3.000 kg of bombs.
--------------
Conclusions: Blenheim is the fastest of all and has equal bomb load and range as SB.
Comparing DB-3 with Blenheim is pointless since the empty weight of Ilyushin was over 1000 kg more than Blenheim's. Also SB was over 500 kg heavier and thus both types suffered many more takeoff-related accidents in Finnish service than Blenheim, even from excellent aerodromes like Malmi. Differences in ceilings are also useless since flying at 7500 meters or higher proved to be devastating (cracking windows, mechanical failures etc. due of the low temperature) to the devices, not even mentioning bombing accuracy from that height.
Vaeltaja wrote:I-15s and the lot probably would have been unable to catch Blenheim but I-16 should have had no trouble what so ever.
Blenheims could regularly evade even "I-18s" or MiG-3s by using the dive tactic.
Vaeltaja wrote:Not to mention that air warning/ground control network was absolutely horrible.
Source? According to O. Seeve, who worked at the operational side of the Finnish Air Force HQ during the Winter War, "the experiences were mostly positive":
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=1618448
Erikoisia puutteellisuuksia valvonnan ja torjunnan välillä ei ollut havaittavissa. Yhteistoiminta sujui tässä suhteessa suunnitellulla tavalla tuloksia antavasti. [...] Lentojoukot: [...] Erinäisiä hankauksia syntyi, mutta ylipäänsä valvontaverkosto täytti tehtävänsä, [...] Kokemukset ilmavalvonnasta olivat yleensä positiiviset. [...]

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 24 Aug 2010 22:46

Martti Kujansuu wrote: Source? "Tietoja Neuvostoliiton lentokoneista" (1944) rates the planes as following:
SB = c. 420 km/h. Range 1000-2300 km. 600-800 kg of bombs.
DB = 437 km/h at 4.700 m. Ceiling 8.000 m. Range 2.800 km. 500-2.700 kg of bombs.
IL-4 = 445 km/h at 6.800 m. Ceiling 8.500-10.000 m. Range 1.200-3.300 km. 1.000-3.000 kg of bombs.
I have read that SB 2 with Klimov's M-103s engines had top speed c. 450 km/h.
Also wiki lists for Blenheim's top speed as 435 - 430 km/h making it slowest of the lot. The fabled top speeds of 300 or 295 mph are often mentioned as unattainable fables.

http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft ... aft_id=293
http://www.squidoo.com/BristolBlenheim
http://users.cyberone.com.au/clardo/bri ... eim_i.html
Blenheims could regularly evade even "I-18s" or MiG-3s by using the dive tactic.
Yes. I do know this. That does not change the fact that Finns were able to attack bombers flying with equal top speeds while flying fighters with much lower top speed.
Vaeltaja wrote:Not to mention that air warning/ground control network was absolutely horrible.
Source? According to O. Seeve, who worked at the operational side of the Finnish Air Force HQ during the Winter War, "the experiences were mostly positive":
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=1618448
Erikoisia puutteellisuuksia valvonnan ja torjunnan välillä ei ollut havaittavissa. Yhteistoiminta sujui tässä suhteessa suunnitellulla tavalla tuloksia antavasti. [...] Lentojoukot: [...] Erinäisiä hankauksia syntyi, mutta ylipäänsä valvontaverkosto täytti tehtävänsä, [...] Kokemukset ilmavalvonnasta olivat yleensä positiiviset. [...]
Hmmm... Books of Luukkanen, Karhunen describe how during the winter war Finnish fighters were often able to 'intercept' Soviet bombers only after they had delivered their bombloads. Also location of the bombers was said to be quite often found by following the bomb clouds. Not to mention successful Soviet fighter raids on Finnish airfields. All which indicates that ground control was not able to direct the interceptions at time leaving fighters only able to revenge the bombings.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 24 Aug 2010 23:10

Vaeltaja wrote: I have read that SB 2 with Klimov's M-103s engines had top speed c. 450 km/h.
Also wiki lists for Blenheim's top speed as 435 - 430 km/h making it slowest of the lot. The fabled top speeds of 300 or 295 mph are often mentioned as unattainable fables.
As I wrote on page two, Blenheim Mk. I "BL-121" archived 435 km/h at 4.000 meters and Mk. IVs generally c. 450 km/h. "Tietoja Neuvostoliiton lentokoneista" is based mostly on Finnish and German test flights and I regard it more reliable than some mysterious internet article without proper sources mentioned. The 420 km/h reading for SB was with M-103s.
Vaeltaja wrote: Hmmm... Books of Luukkanen, Karhunen describe how during the winter war Finnish fighters were often able to 'intercept' Soviet bombers only after they had delivered their bombloads.
There were no observation posts over the Gulf of Finland or in Estonia...

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Vaeltaja » 25 Aug 2010 05:23

Be that as it may - SB-2 has been listed as having that 450 km/h for example here http://www.airwar.ru/bomberww2.html - there is zero credibility to the claim that Blenheim would have been a fast bomber at that time. Sure it was not a slow one, but it was certainly not a fast one either.

There were observation posts overlooking to the Gulf of Finland. Also as a minor detail.. not all of the bombers came from Estonian bases nor did all the bombers bomb only the coastal targets.

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Re: Blunders of Finnish Military

Post by Mangrove » 25 Aug 2010 06:57

Vaeltaja wrote:- there is zero credibility to the claim that Blenheim would have been a fast bomber at that time. Sure it was not a slow one, but it was certainly not a fast one either.
Surely fastest of its class and better construction than Tupolev SB. It had three hundred horsepowers more per engine and still was slower and less maneuverable than Blenheim.
Vaeltaja wrote: There were observation posts overlooking to the Gulf of Finland. Also as a minor detail.. not all of the bombers came from Estonian bases nor did all the bombers bomb only the coastal targets.
Posts at the target are only useful on fair weather, not in typical Winter War weathers when the bombers were spotted five minutes before the bombs were dropped. There were no fighters in the whole world in 1939 which could intercept these bombers in that time. According to post-war study, made by A. Lassila of HLe.Lv.31, it took between one and a half and two minutes for a Bf 109 to takeoff in winter condinitions. Add three, four minutes for a typical fighter to climb to 3000 meters and the bombs are gone!

I do not have numbers for the flights, but those can be found from Geust's Red Stars Vol. 5. However majority of the planes that bombed southern Finland were from bases at Estonia. Most of the most bombed targets were fairly close to the coast or the front line; Helsinki, Turku, Hanko, Viipuri, Riihimäki.

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