What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

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CanKiwi2
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So where are we with the 1937 Medium Bomber selection?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 18 Jul 2011 15:57

So where are we with the Ilmavoimat's 1937 Medium Bomber selection?

The following aircraft were eliminated from comsideration after the first series of evaluations and test flights:

The Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley: The Ilmavoimat evaluated the Whitley MkII in early 1937. The Whitley operatred with a Crew of 5 and was powered by 2 × two-stage supercharged Tiger VIII engines with a maximum speed of 230 mph, a range of 1,650 miles and a service ceiling of 26,000 feet. Armament consisted of machinegun in the nose and one in the tail. The Bomb load consisted of up to 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of bombs in the fuselage and 14 individual cells in the wings, typically including 12 x 250lb bombs and 2 x500lb bombs. Individual bombs as heavy as 2,000lbs could be carried. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team advised that the Whitley was designed from the start as a “night” bomber, and that it also had a very distinctive nose-down flying attitude which added considerable drag and reduced performance. While it was capable of carrying a very impressive bombload of 7,000lbs, the chances of actually hitting anything intentionally with them were assessed as minimal – the bomb bay doors were kept closed by bungee cords and opened by the weight of the released bombs falling on them. Even the tiny random delay in time that it took for the doors to open led to highly inaccurate bombing performance. The Armstrong Siddeley Tiger engines were definitely unreliable and the defensive armament was poor. Performance was mediocre and it needed a considerable formed runway to take off. Flying the aircraft and performing tactical bombing missions at low altitude was assessed as being downright dangerous. Overall, the evaluation team rated the Whitley as completely unsuitable for use by the Ilmavoimat in the intended role and the aircraft was eliminated from consideration forthwith.

The Bloch MB.210: With a crew of 5, maximum speed of 200mph, a range of 1,056 miles, a service ceiling of 32,480 feet and a bombload of 3,520 lbs, the Bloch MB.210 was very much a design inspired by the Douhet doctrine of strategic bombing. The MB.210 derived from the Bloch MB.200 that the Ilmavoimat had evluated in 1935 and differed from its predecessor by its more deeply-set, cantilever wing and its retractable undercarriage. While the MB.210, was in production with the Armée de l'Air it was underpowered and the engines of production aircraft were inclined to overheating. The Ilmavoimat evaluated the MB.210 and MB.211 prototypes, but considered them no improvement on the MB.200 evaluated in 1935 – indeed, they considred them even more obsolete and ineffective than they were in 1935. The fact that the French were equipping some 12 bomber units with 250 of these already obsolete (in the opinion of the team at least) aircraft caused the Ilmavoimat evaluation team to question whether they should even look at any further French aircraft. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team also expressed considerable concern about the ability of the French aircraft industry to delivery on any order placed as even though a major rearmament program was underway, with the Plan calling for the production of up to 1,339 dedicated bombers and 756 fighters of all types. France’s aircraft production in the spring of 1937 was producing an average of forty units per month. This was five aircraft per month less than in 1936, the year the Germans overtook France in the total number of available airframes. Regardless of the suitability or not of the aircraft, the Ilmavoimat evaluation team expressed strong reservations about the ability of the French aircraft industry to deliver any aircraft ordered with any degree of certainty as to delivery timeframes. The Bloh MB.210 was eliminated from further consideration.

The CANT Z.1007 Alcione (“Kingfisher”): With a Crew of 5 (two pilots, a flight engineer, a radio operatior and a bombadier /navigator), the Cant Z.1007 was powered by three by 619 kW (830 hp) Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI.RC inline engines with a projected maximum speed of 250mph, a range of 1,115 miles and a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. The Z.1007 had a horizontal bomb bay which could carry a 1,200 kg (2,650 lb) bombload. There were also a pair of under-wing hard points which could carry up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of bombs, giving the Z.1007 a potential 2,200 kg (4,900 lb) payload (to a maximum range of 640 km/400 mi), but the norm was 1,200 kg and 1,000 km range. The Z.1007 could also carry two 454 mm (17.7 in), 800 kg (1,760 lb) torpedoes slung externally under the belly in an anti-shipping role. Visibility was good and the aircraft was almost a "three-engine fighter" with a very narrow fuselage. Like most trimotor Italian aircraft of the period the Z.1007 suffered from poor defensive armament, poor engine reliability, and poor power to weight ratio due to the low powered engines. The prototype Z.1007 flown also suffered longitudinal stability problems. The first prototype flew in March 1937 and this was the aircraft evaluated and tested by the Ilmavoimat. Handling and manoeuvrability was good but performance was markedly lower than predicted, and the test team expressed major concerns over the poor power to weight ratio due to the low powered engines. The test pilots also expressed concerns about the longitudinal stability problems that were identified. These concerns, raised by both the Italian and Ilmavoinat test teams, were sufficient for Zappata to start a major redesign of the Z.1007and for the Ilmavoimat to drop the aircraft from further consideration.

The Caproni Ca.135: With a Crew of 5-6. the prototype was powered by two 623 kW (835 hp) (at 4,000 m/13,123 ft) Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI.RC radial engines initially fitted with two bladed wooden propellers giving a speed of 226mph and a range of 990 miles with a Service Ceiling of 20,000 ft. Defensive armament consisted of three machineguns and a maximum bombload of 4,409 lbs could be carried internally. The total payload was shared between the crew, weapons, radios and other equipment, fuel, oil, oxygen and bombs and overall, all-up weight was a total of 19,240 lb, not the 16,260 lb expected. The Ilmavoimat test team considered the prototype dangerously underpowered - there was almost no chance of carrying a full load of fuel with the maximum bombload. The lack of power made take-offs when over-loaded, impossible. Indeed, even with a normal load, the test team found that take-offs were problematic. The prototype evaluated by the Ilmavoimat also yawed strongly to the right on take-off, had poor lateral stability; the engines (from comments made by the Italian pilots) were unreliable in service, and the bombers suffered a excessive number of oil and hydraulic leaks during testing. As a result, the test team made strong recommendations against this aircraft – it was not considered further.

The Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45: With a Crew of 4, the prototype evaluated by the ilmavoimat was powered by two Hispano-Suiza 14Aa 6/7 radial engines producing 1,120 hp (835 kW) each and giving a maximum speed of 300mph, with a range of 1,800 miles and a service ceiling of 29,530 feet. Maximum bombload was 3,457lbs and defensive armament consisted of 1 cannon and 2 machineguns. It was conceived as a second-generation strategic bomber for the French Air Force with the emphasis placed on a high-speed high-altitude bomber design. The Service Technique Aéronautique revised the requirements in September 1936, to account for development of 1,000 hp (746 kW)-class engines, with the cruise speed raised to 290 mph and the crew reduced to four. Overall, the Leo's bombload was a maximum of seven 200 kg bombs, or other combinations (up to a maximum of 1-2 500 kg bombs in the fuselage bomb bay, plus the two 200 kg bombs in the wings). The maximum bombload penalized fuel capacity, which was reduced to only 1,000 lts when fully loaded with bombs. Despite problems with longitudinal instability, and engine reliability and overheating, the aircraft demonstrated excellent performance, reaching 480 km/h (300 mph) at 4000 m, and attaining 624 km/h (337 knots, 388 mph) in a shallow dive. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team liked the aircraft’s speed but expressed concerns regarding longitudinal instability, the limited range with a maximum bombload as well as the engine reliability issue. As with the Bloch MB 210, the team ocumented their concern about the ability of the French aircraft industry to delivery on any order placed (a well-founded concern as it turned out). This was especially frustrating for the Finns as a large loan for purchases of military equipment had been made to Finland by the French government in 1937. However, the concerns were such that the Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45 was eliminated from further consideration.

The North American Aviation XB-21 Dragon: With a crew of 6 to 8, the XB-21 was powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2180 Twin Hornet turbosupercharged radial engines of 1,200 hp (890 kW) each, giving a maximum speed of 220 mph, a range of 1,960 miles with 2,200lb of bombs and a combat radius of 600 miles with a 10,000lb bombload. The service ceiling was 25,000 feet and defensive armament was remarkably strong, consisting of five .30-calibre machine guns, mounted in single turrets in the nose and dorsal positions, and single manually operated mounts in the waist and ventral positions. Performance and handling was good – the Ilmavoimat evaluation team considered the aircraft a “reasonable” medium bomber, albeit on the slow side. However, the primary reason for the early elimination of the XB-21 was price – at $122,000 USD per aircraft it was prohibitively expensive and this resulted in its immediate elimination from further consideration.

The Piaggio P.32: The Piaggio P.32 had a crew of 5 or 6, a maximum speed of 240mph (and then only with no bombs or defensive weapons carried), a range of 1,212 miles and a service ceiling of 23,780 feet. It was armed with a dorsal turret with two 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns, a ventral turret and a single machine gun in the nose, and it could carry a 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) bombload. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team test flew the aircraft but found it underpowered, unable to fly on only one engine, and with handling qualities that were markedly inferior to the SM.79 and BR.20. A combination of the aircrafts wing design and low power caused poor handling and manouverability. With a full load of bombs and fuel taking off ranged from problematical to impossible. The P.32 was quickly eliminated from consideration, not least because the Ilmavoimat test crews regarded the aircraft as a crash waiting to happen.

The Vickers Wellesley: With a Crew of 2, the Wellesley was powered by a single Bristol Pegasus XX radial piston engine of 925 hp (690 kW) giving a maximum speed of 228mph, a range of 1,220miles and a service ceiling of 25,500 feet. Armament consisted of 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun in right wing and 1 × .rear-facing 303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in the rear cockpit. A 2,000lb bombload could be carried. While the British officially designated the Wellesley as a medium bomber, the Ilmavoimat team considered that it carried an insufficient bombload to qualify for the medium bomber designation. They also considered the defensive armament inadequate and, given the recent experience of the Finnish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, information on which was rapidly percolating back into the Ilmavoimat, the maximum speed was inadequate. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team recommended that the Wellesley not be considered further.

And then there were the aircraft that were considered to have potential, but which were still in the early prototype stage or undergoing further development.

The Junkers Ju88: The Ilmavoimat team evaluated the prototype in early 1937, but at this stage development was being delayed by developmental problems. While being developed as a high-speed bomber (in line with the theories then current that a high speed bomber could outrun late 1930s-era fighters), the Ilmavoimat team liked the aircraft and could see its potential with its projected bombload of 6,600lb and a speed of 300mph+. However, with the problems still being worked on, a number of prototypes in development and production not yet in sight, the team recommended a “wait and see” approach with a further evaluation to be carried out in 1938.

The Vickers Wellington: the Wellington had a Crew of 6, was powered by 2 × Bristol Pegasus Mark XVIII radial engines of 1,050 hp (783 kW) each with a maximum speed of 235mph, a ramge of 2,550 miles and a service ceiling of 18,000 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 6 to 8 .303 Browning machineguns (2 x in nose turret, 2 x in tail turret and 2 x in waist positions. A bombload of 4,500lb could be carried. In the first quarter of 1937, when the Ilmavoimat evaluated the early prototype, a new prototype was being designed and built in response to revised Air Ministry Specification B29/35 which had been drawn up around the Vickers design. The new prototype was not built at this stage, and the Ilmavoimat team recommended postponing a detailed evaluation and test flight series until this had been completed and was available to test fly. The team’s assessment was that the Wellington was an excellent medium bomber and should be further assessed when the new prototype was available.

And lastly, there was the shortlist of aircraft that were considered suitable. Out of these, the selection committee would make a final decision.

The Douglas B-18 Bolo: With a crew of 6, the B-18 Bolo had a maximum speed of 217 mph, cruising speed of 167 mph, and combat range of 850 miles. The Bolo carried a 4,400lb bombload and was armed with 3 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns. One thing that was clear to the Ilmavoimat Team was that Douglas would certainly be able to fulfill any orders placed with rapidity. However, at a unit cost of $58,500 it was considerably more expensive that aircraft sourced from European manufacturers. Overall, the Ilmavoimat evaluation team considered the Bolo soundly designed and built but underpowered, carrying too small a bomb load and with limited defensive armament. The aircraft remained in consideration however.

The Fiat BR.20: With a Crew of 5, the BR.20 was powered by 2 × Fiat A.80 RC.41 18-cylinder radial engines of 746 kW (1,000 hp) each giving a maximum speed of 273mph, a range of 1,709 miles and a service ceiling of 26,250 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 3× 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns in nose, dorsal and ventral positions. A 3,530lb bombload could be carried. When it entered service in 1936 it was the first all-metal Italian bomber and in early 1937 it was regarded as one of the most modern medium bombers available anywhere. The takeoff and landing distances were quite short due to the low wing loading, 350 m (1,150 ft) and 380 m (1,250 ft) respectively. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team considered the BR.20 a remarkably good aircraft that could be improved somewhat by increased engine power and heavier armament. They reommended that consideration be given to a gunship ground attack version fitted with nose-mounted cannon, a tricycle undercarriage and armour protection for the crew – and as with the Polish PZL 37, they considered that for Ilmavoimat use, 2 crew positions could be eliminated - the ventral gunner and the bombardier / nose gunner. It was also considered that with more powerful engines fitted, an increase in speed to some 300mph would be feasible.

The Handley Page Hampden: With a Crew of 4 (Pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner), the Hampden was powered by 2 × Bristol Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder radial engines of 980 hp (730 kW) each giving a maximum speed of 265mph, a range of 1,095 miles and a service ceiling of 19,000 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 4-6 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine guns: one flexible and one fixed in the nose, one or two each in the dorsal and ventral positions. A maximum 4,000lb bombload or 1 Torpedo could be carried. The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable, "fighting bomber", with a similar layout to the all-guns-forward cockpits introduced about the same time in the Luftwaffe's medium bombers, notably the Dornier Do 17. While crewspace was cramped and there were a number of blindspots in the defense, it was fast, had a reasonable range and could carry an adequate bombload. Maneouverability at low altitude was however not considered to be as good as the PZL 37, Fiat BR.20 or the Heinkel He111.. As with other aircraft they shortlisted, the evaluation team considered that the rear lower gunner position and weapons could be eliminated, along with the nose position, where cannon could be installed.

The Heinkel He111: In 1935, when the Ilmavoimat had first evaluated the aircraft, the Heinkel was equipped with two BMW VI engines and the maximum speed was 311 km/h (193 mph). By early 1937, a number of prototypes with increasingly more powerful engines and better wing designs had been built – the Ilmavoimat at this stage tested a military bomber variant – the He111B-1. The bomb load was now 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), while there was also an increase in maximum speed and altitude to 215 mph (344 km/h) and 22,000 ft and the armament settled at three machine gun positions. Construction had begun at the Heinkel factory at Oranienburg and Heinkel assured the Finns that any order they placed could be met (mentioning also that the Turkish Air Force were negotiating to buy a number of the aircraft). With a Crew of 4 (pilot, navigator/bombardier/nose gunner, ventral gunner, dorsal gunner/radio operator), the He111-B1 had a maximum speed of 215mph, could carry a 3,300lb bombload with a range of 1,429 miles and had a service ceiling of 22,000 feet. The evaluation team rated the He111 highly.

The PZL.37 Łoś: With a crew of 4, powered by Bristol Pegasus XX radial engines of 723 kW (970 hp) each, the PZL.37B had a maximum speed of 256mph, a combat radius of 630 miles, a service ceiling of 23,000 feet and could carry up to 5,690lb of bombs. Defensive armament consisted of 3 machineguns, one in the nose, 1 in the rear upper station and 1 in the underbelly station. The Ilmavoimat evaluation team rated the PZL 37 highly. It was small and highly maneuverable, had excellent rough-field capability and could carry a significant bombload. Combat radius was somewhat limited however and defensive armament was on the light side. Maximum speed was considered acceptable. However, a number of modifications were recommended in the event a decision was made to purchase the aircraft. The most significant of these was a recommendation to replace the glazed nose with a solid nose fitted with four Hispano-Suiza 20mm cannon has had been done with the Ilmavoimats Bristol Blenheims and armour protection for the Pilot. As a result, the Commander-Bombardier position would be eliminated and the Pilot would function as Pilot, Bomb-aimer and Radio-operator combined. It was also recommended that the Radio Operator / Ventral Gunner position be eliminated and the ventral gun removed completely while the rear upper station be upgraded to two machineguns. The fitting of more powerful engines was also recommended – the Rolls Royce Merlin II (rated at 1,030-horsepower 770 kW) and with production starting in Finland. It was however expected that this engine would soon see a major increase in performance. With the Finnish Oil Refinery online, Neste had been experimenting with the production of 100 octane fuel for the Ilmavoimat and the adapatation of the Merlin engine to run on this was being trialled, with initial results indicating the result would be an increase in power to some 1,265 horsepower. With these or similarly upgraded Hispano-Suiza 12Y engines fitted, an increase in speed to some 280mph was initially projected, but this was then revised upwards to 310mph. While production in Poland was considered problematical as productuin for the Polish Air Force was only just starting and was expected to take priority. However, the Poles expressed a willingness to sell a manufacturing license for the aircraft.

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: the SM.79 had a Crew of either 5 or 6, was powered by three 590 hp Piaggio P.IX RC.40 Stella engines (a license-produced Bristol Jupiter) giving a maximum speed of 260mph with a maximum range of 1,615 miles (an endurance of 4 hr 30 min) and a ceiling of 23,400 feet. In every case, the range (not endurance) with a 1,000 kg payload was around 5-600 miles. Only 600 feet was needed to land and with full power available and flaps set for takeoff, the SM.79 could be airborne within 900 feet. Defensive armament consisted of four to five machineguns. The internal bomb bay was configured to carry bombs vertically, preventing larger bombs being accommodated internally with a maximum bombload of 2,645lbs. In addition, the SM.79's overall payload of 3,800 kg prevented it carrying 1,600-1,860 kg of bombs without a noticeable reduction of the fuel load (approximately 2,400 kg, when full). Evaluation by the Ilmavoimat was carried out in early 1937 and overall, with a speed of 260mph, a range of 1,615 miles and a bombload of 2,645lbs, the evaluation team considered the aircraft reasonably capable but on the whole considered the Fiat BR.20 the better of the two Italian medium bombers on the shortlist.

Factors involved in making a Decision:

Evaluation criteria heavily emphasize the ability to operate off rough airfields, good speed, manouverability and range, bombload (and ability to deliver this from a low level with reasonable accuracy) and of course, cost and availability (with an emphasis on certainty of delivery and ability of the supplier to complete manufacturing within a reasonable timeframe). Service Ceiling was not considered a major factor as the Ilmavoimat emphasized low-level tactical bombing. Ratings are 5 (excellent), 4(good), 3 (fair), 2 (poor), 1 (inadequate) for each category.

Ability to operate off rough airfields, length required for takeoff and landing
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 3
Fiat BR.20: 4
Handley Page Hampden: 2
Heinkel He111: 3
PZL.37 Łoś: 5
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 5

Speed
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 217mph: 1
Fiat BR.20: 273mph (potentially 300mph): 5
Handley Page Hampden: 265mph: 3
Heinkel He111: 215mph (potentially 240mph): 2
PZL.37 Łoś: 256mph (potentially 300-310mph): 5
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 260mph: 4

Combat Range
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 850 miles: 3
Fiat BR.20: 1,709 miles: 5
Handley Page Hampden: 1,095 miles: 3
Heinkel He111: 1,429 miles: 4
PZL.37 Łoś: 1,260 miles: 4
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 600 miles: 2

Maneouverabilty
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 2
Fiat BR.20: 5
Handley Page Hampden: 3
Heinkel He111: 3
PZL.37 Łoś: 5
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 4

Maximum Bombload
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 4,400lb: 4
Fiat BR.20: 3,530lb: 3
Handley Page Hampden: 4,000lb: 4
Heinkel He111: 3,300 lb: 3
PZL.37 Łoś: 5,690lb: 5
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 2,645lbs: 2

Cost
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 1
Fiat BR.20: 4
Handley Page Hampden: 2
Heinkel He111: 3
PZL.37 Łoś: 4
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 4

Availability
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 5
Fiat BR.20: 4
Handley Page Hampden: 3
Heinkel He111: 3
PZL.37 Łoś: 2
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 4

Overall Points Scored and Ranking (maxium possible = 35):
Fiat BR.20: 30
PZL.37 Łoś: 30
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79: 25
Heinkel He111: 21
Handley Page Hampden: 20
Douglas B-18 Bolo: 19

At this stage, we can see that the two leading contendors (numbered Swiss Bank Accounts aside – the Finns were notoriously uncorrupt – something which could not be said for the French, as we will see…) were the Italian Fiat BR.20 and the Polish PZL.37 Łoś .

Now, before the Ilmavoimat makes a final decision, does anybody rank these aircraft differently?
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 18 Jul 2011 17:55

Nearing the Final Decision

A decision was not reached quickly and there was considerable debate over which aircraft should be purchased. An initial and major factor mitigating against buying the P37 had been the ability of PZL (Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze - State Aviation Works) to manufacture the aircraft for the Ilmavoimat in a reasonable timeframe, given that they were heavily committed to meeting Polish Air Force orders – and experiencing delays with the supply of the Pegasus XX engines. However, the aircrafts strong rough field capability and heavy bombload were major pros. Pricing however was substantially less than even the Italians quoted – and the decision of the Finns to supply their own engines and armament also kept the cost down. As an alternative, PZL offered to sell Finland a manufacturing license. VL however, had no capacity at the time for another production line and this almost resulted in a decision to opt for the Fiat BR.20, which at this stage was ranked second.

As the Ilmavoimat and VL relooked at the PZL.37, production under license looked the only viable option – but this was problematic as the only VL production line capable was tied up with manufacturing Blenheims. Further consideration and design work indicated that the quad 20mm cannon in the nose would also add considerable weight, necessitating the incorporation of a nose wheel and further redesign work which would take time - and without any guarantee that problems would not be introduced – and the license-built Merlin’s from the Finnish State Engine Factory would also potentially prove to be a bottleneck. At this stage, consideration was given to fitting the aircraft with the Finnish-manufactured Hispano-Suiza 12Y, which, while not as powerful as the Merlin, would offer more power than the Bristol Pegasus. Consideration was also given to fitting four machineguns rather than the 20mm cannons with a considerable weight saving as a result.

At this late stage, some consideration was given to an upgraded Bristol Blenheim. This was conceived as an armoured ground attack bomber based on the original Finnish modifications but with a more powerful engine allowing the Blenheim to reach a maximum speed of 275mph with a 1,200lb bombload. Advantages of this option were that the Blenheim was already in service and the only major modification needed would be upgrading the engines. Bombload was considered to be on the light side however.

Image
Bristol Ground-attack variant (the WW2 Bristol Bisley built in the UK was based largely on the modified Ilmavoimat/VL Blenheim Mk I’s manufactured in Finland on 1937/38 as a ground attack bomber – the proposed Ilmavoimat VL Blenheim Mk II would have been identical to the earlier version but fitted with more powerful engines.

A third alternative was to wait for the Wihuri’s, but given the innovative nature of the aircraft, this was considered too high risk. The Fiat BR.20 at this stage was considered very seriously, albeit with some serious modifications which included fitting more powerful engines (American-sourced Pratt & Whitney R-2180 Twin Hornet turbosupercharged radial engines of 1,200 hp were proposed) along with with nose-mounted cannon, a tricycle undercarriage and armour protection for the crew – and as with the Polish PZL 37, they considered that for Ilmavoimat use, 2 crew positions could be eliminated - the ventral gunner and the bombardier / nose gunner. The resultant aircraft looked something like this…..

Image
Fiat BR.20 modified to Ilmavoimat specifications: Approx 300mph, Crew of 4, 3,530lb bombload and range if 1,700 miles. The Italians were prepared to make all necessaary modifications.

Through August to the end of Septemer 1937, the debate raged on......
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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The 1937 Medium Bomber - a Final Decision

Post by CanKiwi2 » 19 Jul 2011 13:16

Reaching the Final Decision

In October 1937, the Ilmavoimat was still in a quandary. While the production of an upgraded Blenheim was an easy option, the reason why a new bomber was being looked for was that the Blenheim carried too light a bombload and even with an engine upgrade, was not fast enough. Likewise, license building the PZL 37 by VL was impossible as the decision to convert the Blenheim production line over to manufacturing the Fokker G.1 Fighters later in 1938 had already been made and the construction of a new production line building with all that that entailed would be both time consuming and expensive. Consideration was then given to having the PZL 37’s license manufactured in Sweden by AB Svenska Järnvägsverkstädernas Aeroplanavdelning (Swedish Railroad Workshops' Air Plane Department, ASJA). ASJA had started as a subsidiary company of ASJ (AB Svenska Järnvägsverkstäderna, Swedish Railway Workshops Co) in the 1930s headed by Sven Blomberg, earlier designer at Svenska Aero. In 1932 ASJA had bought Svenska Aero - a company making aircraft in Linköping, Sweden - from the owner, Carl Clemens Bücker and in January 1937, following negotiations with Bofors which had started in 1936, created AB Förenade Flygverkstäder as a joint company for the design and manufacturing of aircraft.

Svenska Aero had been founded in 1921 by Carl Clemens Bücker and Ernst Heinkel, with some German assembly workers moving to Sweden to work at the new plant. Bücker, who at the time was hired as test pilot by the navy airforce at TDS (Torpeddepartementet på flottans varv i Stockholm, Swedish for "the torpedo department at the navy's wharf in Stockholm"), quit to become CEO and the only board member of the new company. During 1922 to 1923, the company moved into a former shipyard in Skärsätra on Lidingö since the company had received additional orders from the navy airforce. The parts for those aircraft was made in Sweden by Svenska Aero, but assembled by TDS. In 1928, the Swedish Navy ordered four J 4 (Heinkel HD 19) as a fighter with pontoons. That delivery came to be the last license built aircraft by Svenska Aero. In the mid 1920s, Svenska Aero created their own design department to be able to make their own aircraft models. Sven Blomberg, earlier employed by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke, was hired as head of design. In 1930, he was joined by Anders Johan Andersson from Messerschmitt. Despite that, Svenska Aero designed and made six different models on their own the manufacturing was not the success Bücker counted on. The airforce was only interested in buying prototypes and then building them themselves in their workshops, TDS and CFM. This led to financial problems for the company and, in 1932, Bücker decided to sell the company with staff to ASJA for 250,000 SEK. ASJA went on to build or assemble a number of aircraft for the Swedish Air Force.

At this stage, the Blenheim upgrade project was sidelined but kept in mind as a last resort (although the proposed Fokker G1’s could carry almost as much in the way of bombload and were also primarily a fighter). In considering the PZL 37 and the Fiat BR.20, the Fiat BR.20 was by this stage in second place – with its lighter bombload and construction methods, it was now considered not quite as modern and would require a larger crew. The decision was made to try by any means possible to purchase and build the PZL 37, with the Fiat BR20 as the fallback option. With building in Finland not an option, the Ilmavoimat looked to the Swedes. The relationship with the Swedes had warmed somewhat over the 1930s and by the late 1930’s a couple of joint military development projects were underway, largely initiated by the Finns and undertaken by the Swedes purely for commercial reasons – the Swedish Government remained ininterested in building mutual defence agreements with Finland and this would not change up until the Winter War.

The immediate Swedish company that sprang to mind was the recently formed AFF, who turned out to be more than eager to secure a large (for them) order. Negotiations were entered into in October 1937 for AFF to build PZL 37’s to a slightly modified design for the Ilmavoimat. This would involve using the more powerful Finnish-supplied Hispano-Suiza engines (which would be fitted in Finland, with the aircraft shipped to Tampere for final assembly, fitting of engines and testing). Modifications would be less intrusive than originally planned – the PZL 37 would be reduced to a two seater with the elimination of the Bombardier / Ventral Gunner positions (saving approximately 800lbs in weight overall), the dorsal gun position would be equipped with two machineguns and the glazed nose would be replaced by a solid nose fitted with four machineguns. Two 20mm Hispano-Suiza 404 cannon would also be mounted in blisters at the wing roots on either side of the cockpit – one on each side of the aircraft. Some armour would be provided for the pilots position. Estimated maximum speed was 300mph. Maximum bombload was reduced to some 5,000 lbs after the fitting of additional fuel cells into two of the wing bombbays, thus keeping the range at approximately 1,300 miles.

The contract with both PZL and ASJA was finalised in late November 1937, with an unlimited manufacturing license purchased and a construction order for 25 PZL 37-I aircraft placed. ASJA began gearing up, but progress was slow. Work began in June 1938, and the first PZL-37 was completed and delivered to Tampere only in July 1939. However, delivery was rapid from August 1939 on, with aircraft being shipped from then on at the rate of 4 to 6 per month. However, only 12 were in service at the start of the Winter War – the remaining aircraft from the order entered service progressively over December 1939 to late January 1940, with ASJA completing their work by the end of November 1939. After the outbreak of the Winter War, financial constraints were no longer a consideration and the Ilmavoimat placed a further and urgent order for 50 PZL 37-I’s with ASJA, who continued to deliver some 6 aircraft per month for the duration of the Winter War, completing the final aircraft of the order in August 1940.

The PZL 37-I performed extremely well over the course of the Winter War. At 300mph, it was almost as fast as many of the Soviet fighter aircraft, it was maneouverable and well-protected. Flying fast at low altitude, with a 5,000lb bombload and a good combination of machineguns and cannon, it was an effective medium bomber and ground attack aircraft combined. With the addition of VL-developed drop tanks, range could be extended, albeit at the cost of reducing the bombload – and this also proved useful in the later stages of the Winter War.

(Note that in 1939, as the joint arrangement between Bofors and ASJA was not working, Bofors sold out to ASJA and the company was renamed Svenska Aero (which went to to become SAAB). This did not affect the arrangements the Finns had with the company).
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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 20 Jul 2011 22:07

And before we go on to look at the rest of the 1938 Ilmavoimat Procurement Program, a quick sideways deviation into the world of Suomen Maavoimat military gliders....

Other Programs that were taking place under the aegis of the Ilmavoimat: Finnish Army Gliders and the deriviative Ilmavoimat “Assault Transport” aircraft

While it was not publicised and the initiative was kept well concealed, the Maavoimat had over the later 1930’s worked to develop an entire Paratroop Division – the ParaJaegers. This was a sizable force which grew from an initial (and experimental) Battalion sized force to a Regimental Battle Group and then to a Divisional sized force over the five years from 1935 to late 1939. We will cover this in detail when we look at the ongoing evolution of the Maavoimat through the 1930’s, but suffice it to say that, both inspired by and fearful of developments in the USSR, the Finnish military strove to emulate the military innovations of their neighbors in many ways and in doing so, often far exceeded what the USSR’s military achieved. In both the formation of paratroop units and in their use, the Finns did exactly this. However, unlike the Soviets, the Finns labored under serious and ongoing resource constraints and this led them to constantly experiment and innovate in a desire to achieve much with less.

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In 1935, as part of the Kiev maneuvers, the Soviets demonstrated to the world the air movement of a Division from Moscow to Vladivostok. The 14,000 troops and their equipment were airlanded following the seizure of the airfield by over 1,000 Airborne troops. Subsequent maneuvers, from 1935 to 1937, verified both the utility of the Airborne forces and the doctrinal concepts for their use. The Moscow exercise of 1936 involved the airdrop of over 5,000 Airborne troops to secure an airfield with the follow-on airlanding of the 84th Rifle Division.

These Soviet innovations were a constant concern to the Finns, who established the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö (Technical Research Unit of the General Staff) specifically to identify and assess Soviet progress and examine possible counters. We have seen earlier how the Finns developed the radically new ground-effect / hovercraft concept – partially in response to such Soviet developments as the “glider” boat below, and partially in an innovative attempt to use technology to gain a military “edge.” The development of the Finnish ParaJaeger units was another such reponse, and as we will see, there were more such reponses.

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A 1937 Soviet “Glider Boat” which caused serious concern within the Finnish military

The use of Gliders was another such example. In 1932 the Soviet Union demonstrated the TsK Komsula, a four-place glider, designed by GF Groschev that could also be used for cargo. By 1934, when gliding was only just starting to develop and become popular as a sport in Finland, the Soviet Union had ten gliding schools and 57,000 glider pilots had gained licences. Larger gliders were then developed culminating in an 18-seater designed and built at the military institute in Leningrad in 1935. The G63 Project started at the beginning of 1932 and in September the glider was transported to Gatchina for trials. Even disassembled, its size was 6m x 12m, creating complications and delays during transport. The trials ended with the glider crashing.

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Vladimir Konstantinovich Gribovskij: Soviet Military Pilot who built 17 gliders and 20 aircraft over the period 1925 to 1942. Practically every one of his constructions was a success, some of his gliders were built in large series. His small team included V.V. Abramov, B.K. Landyshev and a few others. The construction of his aircraft (practically 100% wood) was extremely simple, because he had no 'high-tech' production base. As a result, his aircraft were not record-setters in terms of weight and efficiency, they were very robust and undemanding for repair depots. Gribovskij's key concept was “the Flying Public”. He pushed the idea of sports aviation, available for everyone willing and interested in flying. This idea was not be shared by the Soviet leadership

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This isn't the G-63, though it is a Gribovsky: this is the G11 glider the Russians built in 1941 after seeing the Maavoimat glider assault units in action (it was initially designated the G-29 but this was changed to G-11 when it was accepted for production).

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And this is the Gribovsky G29 glider, a high-wing, all-wooden construction, plywood covered transport glider. The fuselage was rectangular in cross-section, with a single-seat pilots position at the front, with an upwards opening canopy. A transport compartment could carry 10 men. There were two doors, one on each side of the fuselage and also two small rectangular windows on each side. Troops sat on folding benches along the sides. Landing gear was fixed, but it could be folded up manually by the pilot in order to shorten the landing distamce, in which case the glider landed on a skid under the fuselage. Maximum towing speed was 173mph.

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Gribovsky G29 Sideview

However, unknown to the Finns, while the Soviets experimented, no gliders saw large scale production development. Luftwaffe Colonel Kurt Student visited Moscow as part of the military colloboration programme with the Sovet Union. He reported back to his superiors in Berlin details of a 1,500 man parachute drop and the large transport gliders that he had seen and this report found its way to the Ammatti-Tutkia Aggregaatti-lta Kaikinpuolinen Esikunta (Technical Research Unit of the General Staff). This 1935 report as well as the widely publicised Kiev maneuvers were partially responsible for the founding of the Suomen Maavoimat’s Experimental ParaJaeger Battalion in the same year.

As we have seen, the Ilmavoimat purchased a number of transport aircraft over the years, one of the uses for which evolved into the para-dropping of troops. Again, we will address doctrine for paratroops when we look at the Maavoimat, suffice it to say that as the ParaJaeger units grew in size, the Maavoimat anticipated that there would come a point where the number of aircraft available was insufficient to drop enough men simultaneously. Aware of the Soviet military use of Gliders, the Maavoimat began research into the subject in early 1935, working with the Ilmavoimat. In this, they were aided by the rapid development of civilian sport gliding in Finland. In an earlier Post, we looked at the development of civilian gliding in Finland in the 1930’s and saw that even by the mid-1930’s, there were a large number of trained and experienced glider pilots as well as a small factory, Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd, designing and manufacturing gliders.

In late 1935, the Maavoimat gave Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd a contract to design and build a prototype military glider capable of carrying ten to fifteen soldiers with full equipment or a total payload of about 1,200-1,500 kg. Finnish gliding clubs had strong ties with the German gliding clubs from the start – it was German Gliders and glider pilots that started the interest in gliding in Finland - and after being awarded the contract, Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd visited their gliding associates in the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS - "German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight") and asked for their help. Hans Jacob, the Head Designer at DFS, was quick to respond. In 1933, Jacob had designed what would go on to become the DFS-230 transport glider for the German military – in 1935 this design had not yet been built (OTL, the first prototype was flown in Germany in 1937) and Jacob, seeing an opportunity to use the Finns to trial the design and iron out any initial problems, made the design available and volunteered to return to Finland and assist Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd in building and testing a prototype.

Over January and February 1936 a prototype was built and then tested in the spring. The structural design was thoroughly conventional. The wing comprised a single main spar at approximately one-third chord with plywood covering forward and fabric the rest while the long-span ailerons with inset tabs were fabric covered. The wing was braced to the fuselage at quarter-span by light struts. The fuselage was rectangular with a welded steel-tube frame covered with fabric and built up on a central keel member with the impact of landing transmitted to a sprung steel skid. A large loading door was provided at the rear of the cabin in the fuselage portside, and the loading of bulky items of freight was facilitated by a detachable panel beneath the wing in the starboard side of the fuselage. For take-off a two-wheel dolly was provided, this being jettisoned once the glider was airborne. The prototype performed well, some improvements were made and a further two prototypes were built and tested progressively over the remainder of Spring and Summer 1936. Major modifications made consisted of strengthening the structure, installing dual controls and adding a parachute for assitance with braking on landing. Early trials revealed gliding angle of 1:18 in fully loaded condition.

(All photographs below taken from the personal records of Hans Jacob from DFS (as stored by the Bundesarchives) as he assisted the Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd with the design, construction and testing of their prototypes

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The second JWM-100 being tested with a parachute fitted to shorten landing run

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JWM-100 Prototype being loaded for flight-testing by Suomen Maavoimat ParaJaegers, Summer of 1936.

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Suomen Maavoimat ParaJaegers demonstrating an assault from the JWM-100 Prototype, Summer of 1936.

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View of the JWM-100 Cockpit from the rear cargo compartment

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The JWM-100 flew with a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Co-Pilot, and could carry an additional tem fully equipped troops. Length was 37 feet, Wingspan was 69ft 1in, Height was 9ft 4in and maximum speed was 100mph. Free Glide Sink Rate was 240ft/mon and best glide ration was 1:18 (all when fully loaded). Cutout shows compact size of this Assault Glider.

Initial trials were conducted using a chartered Aero Oy Ju52 as the towplane. Trials continued through the summer and autumn of 1936 and proved successful enough that a production series of some 100 JMW-100’s was ordered in January 1937 – sufficient for landing a Battalion in one drop. At the same time, trials and experimentation in combat use continued through 1937, with many lessons learnt (we will cover these when we drill into Maavoimat doctrine in a later post). But an example will show what was being achieved……

May 23, 1937: Exercise Kotka

"Releasing tow cable," the glider pilot reported. He yanked on the release handle and Kapteeni Erkki Tervamaki felt the difference immediately as the Douglas DC2 climbed away from the release point, and the Tampere-built JMW-100 took up its business of... well, not falling out of the sky. Tervamaki glanced out the window at the horizon. Though the morning was cloudy and gray, it was light enough and the weather calm enough to ensure the assault landing went smoothly.

"Everything all right?" Tervamaki asked the pilot.
"Yes," the pilot replied, tapping his spartan control board. "On time, on target, on a good bit of air."

Tervamaki nodded. Eversti (Colonel) Paavo Talvela had given him the opportunity to take his Number Three Company and "prove" to the General Staff that their money was being invested wisely. Many in the General Staff always questioned the wisdom of the ParaJaeger Battalion; Talvela had determined to show them what they could do. Of course, if Tervamaki or his men screwed up, they'd look rather idiotic in front of an imposing collective of Army brass.

"Three minutes," the glider pilot finally reported. "Beginning approach."

Tervamaki turned back to the men in the back of the glider. "All right lads, we're coming in. Check your weapons and brace yourselves for landing." Tervamaki fitted words to action and checked over his own gun, a Suomi SMG, and his Lahti pistol. The pilot signaled and brought the JMW-100's nose up for landing. The glider crashed through some bushes and then mushed down, skidding to a stop in the brush. Tervamaki jerked in the restraints as they landed – not bad, they hadn’t crashed and everyone was still in one piece, he decided - and then unstrapped.

"Everyone okay?" he demanded. "Right, let's go!"

Tervamaki was the first out the door, and went to a crouching fire-covering position, bringing the Suomi up to his shoulder. "No targets!" he announced. The rest of the squad spilled out of the glider behind him even as the trailing three JMW-100’s skidded to a halt, perfectly on target. Tervamaki and the command squad spread out and then, as all four ryhmä leaders signaled their readiness, Tervamaki waved them forward. Their target was a small farmhouse with several outbuildings, a horse paddock, and three staff cars parked by the porch. The ParaJaegers broke into a sprint as they crossed the grass, the first alarmed shouts reaching their ears. On the picket post, two sleepy MPs stumbled out of their chairs as forty well-armed parajaegers in green-brown face paint, the new para helmets and the new summer-pattern camouflage jackets overran their position. Tervamaki himself crashed through a window in a spray of broken wood and shattered glass while the three men that had been assigned to the front door charged up the front steps of the farmhouse bellowing “Hakkaa päälle!” at the top of their lungs as they burst through the door.

A dozen senior officers from GHQ were still sitting around the breakfast table when Tervamaki crashed through the window and covered them with his SMG. "Sirs!" he shouted out. "The farmhouse is mine. You are the prisoners of the Para Jaegers!"

Marshal Mannerheim, the commander of all Finland’s military forces, sitting at the opposite side of the table to Tervamaki, continued to sip at his coffee, his expression unchanged with the exception of one raised eyebrow as he looked at Eversti Paavo Talvela. “You ordered them in an hour early?" Talvela grinned. “I believe you were looking for a demonstration of the capabilities of my men and techniques? This is my demonstration, Sir. Surprise. Speed. Shock! Arrive before we're expected, with the firepower to win and the shock to clear the way! You can imagine what they could do if they actually wanted to cause damage."

"If they wanted to cause damage?" Kenraali Erik Heinrichs growled. “What about the damage to my breakfast?!" The other officers roared with laughter, and Tervamaki relaxed a little. "With the generals' permissions, I'll be seeing to my men."
"We'll be around to inspect them in a few minutes, Kapteeni," the Marski said. "Damn fine work, boy, damn fine work."

The Assault Glider Program would continue, with a new model introduced in 1938 and further developments in 1939..... the next Post will cover these....
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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Jul 2011 14:00

Other Programs - continued: Finnish Army Gliders and the deriviative Ilmavoimat “Assault Transport” aircraft

One of the early observations made as the first ParaJaeger exercises were completed, results assessed and doctrine developed was that while men could easily be dropped by parachute or landed with light gliders such as the new JMW-100, the ParaJaegers lacked the necessary heavy equipment to resist any concentrated enemy counterattack supported by armored vehicles. The recommendation that emerged towards the end of summer 1937 was that thus deficiency be corrected by developing a larger glider capable of carrying heavy loads – anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns and light artillery – and perhaps small vehicles – into combat alongside smaller man-carrying gliders and parachutists. The requirement that was expressed was for a glider cable of carrying some 20-30 fully laden troops or a Bofors 37mm anti-tank gun or the new 20mm AA Gun that was being introduced (each of which weighed in the region of 1,000lbs). Ideally, the glider should be capable of carrying the gun, the crew and a useful amount of ammunition (at 2kg per shell). In 1938, this vision of “heavy drop” capability would be turned into reality with the introduction of the JMW-200.

Once again, the small design team from Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd visited their gliding associates in the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS - "German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight") and asked for further help. They had an inkling of what was needed, but an actualisation of the concept eluded them. Once more, Hans Jacob, the lead designer of DFS, was of immense assistance. And in fact, with eth Germans now building and testing their own assault gliders based on the Finnish JMW-100, their was a real interest in what the Finnish ParaJaegers were up to. General Karl Student was brought in to the early working sessions, as was Albert Kalkert, a designer from Gotha Waggonfabrik. Within four weeks, a design had emerged and once more, a DFS designer accompanied the Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd designers back to Finland to assist with building and testing the prototpe.

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JMW-200 Design Drawings from the early design sessions

The end result was the JMW-200 series Gliders. The length was 51 feet 10 inches, wingspan was some 80 feet and height was 14 feet 5 inches. Carrying capacity was 5,600lbs or up to 21 fully equipped troops and two pilots (23 in all), with light armour fitted to the pilots seats. The Glider itself was a high wing monoplane with a simple square section box-shaped fuselage formed of steel tubing covered with doped fabric and ending in a rear loading ramp rather than the side-fitted doors that had always been used hitherto. The use of a ramp would allow cargo to be rolled on and off quickly. The rear door was 7 feet wide by 6 feet high and the cargo space was 20 feet long by 8 feet wide by 6ft 6in in height. To allow easy and quick use of the rear doors and ramp, the tail was fitted to twin booms. Maximum towing speed was 149mph and maximum gliding speed was 180mph.

Two prototypes were rapidly built in the autumn of 1938 – the experience with the JMW-100 and the now rather larger facilities and personnel numbers of the Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd facilities near Tampere allowed for fast construction – and the prototypes were tested before the snow started to fall. Flying characteristics proved to be excellent – even better than the JMW-100 and the test pilots found the glider could be flow with ease in tows or independantly. Steep turns were possible, although when fully loaded it was advised that these should be avoided.

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The two JMW-200 prototypes being towed by a single Aero Oy Ju52 in trials, autumn 1938

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The rear door and ramp of the JMW-200

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The Cockpit of a JMW-200 Glider

Following successful testing over late 1938, the Maavoimat contracted for 25 JMW-200’s in November 1938. However, as the ParaJaegers were expanded rapidly through 1938 and 1939 (to three Regimental Combat Groups combined into a Division for administrative purposes) the order was continually expanded, with Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd having to expand their facilities and hire additional workers to meet the increased demand.

The next step was taken in early 1939 as the ParaJaegers expressed a need for gliders that could more easily be returned to their bases after use. This was achieved by the simple expedient of fitting two engines to the JMW-200.

The JMW-210 Assault Transport Aircraft

The resultant prototype was designated the JMW-210 and utilised two Bristol Mercury 8100hp engines manufactured under license in Finland for the Bristol Blenheim program. The resultant aircraft had a maximum speed of 180moh and a range of 500 miles with a service ceiling of 27,000 feet (and with payload reduced by some 1,000lbs). The engines were fitted by the simple expedient of fitting them to the front of the booms with some design changes made to strengthen the wing and boom. A wheeled tricycle undercarriage was fitted, with fuel and oil carried in the booms. Again, some assistance from Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS) was asked for – and the concrete result was the incoporation of a “travelling flap” for the entire rear surface of the wing which meant that, even fully loaded, the JMW-210 could take off in as little as 656 feet. A further design modification was the addition of a row of 11 smaller wheels per side to further support the aircraft when landing on soft or rough airfields or on combat assaults into non-prepared terrain. The JMW-210 normally had a crew of 3 – Pilot, Co-pilot/Navigator and Loadmaster.

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Design drawings for the JMW-210 Assault Transport Aircraft

The first two prototypes were constructed in spring 1939 and tested over Spring and early Summer. Results were satisfactory and with tension building with the USSR, an immediate order was placed to build as many of the aircraft as possible. The Bristol Mercury engine line was still running, a stockpile of engines existed and these were fitted to a number of JMW-200’s already being built. The end result was that the Ilmavoimat had 17 of these aircraft in service by November 1939 with more being constructed as rapidly as possible. On the outbreak of the Winter War, a number of existing in-service JMW-200 Gliders were returned to the Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd plant for modification work – this resulted in some 23 further JMW-210’s being brought into service by March 1940.

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Production version of the JMW-210 with additional small wheels fitted down the sides of the fuselage. The design introduced almost all of the features now considered to be "standard" for modern transport aircraft, including a low-slung box-like fuselage, rear loading ramp, a tail design that allowed for easy access to the hold, and various features for operating from rough fields. Later production aircraft saw further strengthening to the fuselage structure to reduce damage when carrying out assault landings on rough terrain.

The 40-odd JMW-210’s together with numerous JMW-200 and JMW-100 Gliders were first used in combat by the ParaJaeger Division in the the dramatic capture of Murmansk in February 1940 when the entire Finnish ParaJaeger Division dropped in to “visit the neighbours” (the operation was, with a certain amount of dry humor, called “Naapurin Ystävät” – Neighborhood Friends) as part of an attack from the sea (where the Finnish Marines landed), from the air and overland from Petsamo, where the attacking Red Army units had been virtually annihilated. The attack itself was not covered by foreign correspondents – they were only brought in “after the fact” and when much of the evidence of an airborne landing had been cleaned up – the Maavoimat wished to keep the successful use of the ParaJaegers in the operation secret, and this they managed to do. So far as is known even today, only one photo of a Finnish Glider at Murmansk is in existence.

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Finnish ParaJaeger Division Glider – Murmansk Campaign, February 1940: as far is is known this is the only photo in existence of this almost unknown use of Gliders in a combat operation – only one of many instances where the innovative tactics and equipment of the Maavoimat led to military success in the Winter War.

They were next used in the Spring Offensive on the Karelian Isthmus in early 1940, just a little before the German Army did so in May of the same year. While the German Army’s use of gliders received widespread attention, the Finnish military’s usage did not for a combination of two reasons. The first was that by the time of the Spring Offensive on the Karelian Isthmus, the Battle of France was underway and the attention of the world press had moved way from Finland and was now focused on the dramatic events taking place in Belgium and France. The second reason was that at the time, the Finns had very strict limitations on the movements of foreign war correspondents and thus many details of the Spring Offensive were neither reported nor noted and were only documented in depth after the War had ended – and then generally only in Finnish, which somewhat limited the audience.

At this point, we will leave the Glider Development Program and move on to the Ilmavoimat’s next “Special Program.”
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A last post on Glider developments....

Post by CanKiwi2 » 25 Jul 2011 17:59

Assault Glider-Gyrocopter Project – the JMW-110

Earlier, we looked at the development and introduction of the JMW-100 Glider and subsequent developments in Finnish military gliders and assault transport aircraft. Exercises and experiements through 1937 and 1938 identified the potential uses for military gliders, particularly in assault landings where gliders achieved far greater precision and less dispersion than parachute landings (something we will address in detail in Maavoimat doctrinal developments in subsequent posts). However, the JMW 100 and the later JMW-200 series gliders all required (relatively) large landing areas. In addition, if the enemy was aware of the potential for glider landings, potential landing areas could be restricted by obstacles. One of the objectives of the ParaJaegers was the seizing of critical objectives such as bridges or the carrying out of attacks on military targets such as command posts, headquarters or supply dumps. The long shallow approach paths of the gliders exposed them to Flak and again, the relatively long landing runs required a sufficiently large open area, particularly when a number of gliders were involved. There was a clear need for a glider capable of carrying out a vertical or very steep descent and landing on an extremely small target area.

The experimental gyrocopter program (which we will cover in a subsequent Post) being conducted under the overall auspices of the highly secretive Finnish Special Operations Command led to the idea of taking a glider, removing the wings and fitting gyrocopter blades instead. The idea led to the design, and with the Gyrocopter Program already well underway, the fuselage of a JMW-100 Glider had its wings removed and replaced by a three bladed rotor mounted on a structural pylon. The prototype took only seven weeks to construct and flight testing began in April 1939. Trials confirmed that a steep or even vertical descent could be carried out successfully, with one of the immediate modifications being the installation of a strongly braced undercarriage to replace the central skid. In early tests, it was found that the prototype could land within a distance of 60 feet and could indeed successfully land from a vertical descent, although this required a lighter load and an experienced pilot. The only significant disadvantage however was that the towing speed was significantly less than the standard JMW-100 and this increased the vulnerability to attack during the slower approach to the assault zone.

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JMW-110: the prototype design drawings

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The JMW-110 Series Autogyro Assault Glider as put into production and used by the Ilmavoimat and Maavoimat. A number of these gliders were used by Finnish ParaJaeger units for precision assaults during the Spring 1940 Karelian Isthmus Campaign and again in the later stages of WW2.

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JMW-110 Trials – Prototype being towed behind an Aero Oy Ju52 – early 1939

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Another photo of the JMW-110 Trials – Prototype gliding in….. early 1939

Trials of the prototype took place over May and June 1939, at which time an order was placed with Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd for some 40 JMW-110’s. The gliders themselves were constructed rapidly, but the rotors were supplied by VL and manufacturing and delivery took some time as the priority was going to the construction of combat aircraft. However, the rotors started to trickled in from August onwards, and by Spring 1940 almost all (some 35 in total) of the JMW-110’s were completed and available. We will see the use to which they were put when we start to cover the events of the Winter War itself.

Further and Final Glider Developments - The Amphibious JMW-120

The Rannikkojääkärit (Marines) followed the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat Glider development program with interest. In mid-1938, the Rannikkojääkärit began to consider the employment of paratroop and glider borne troops to augment their amphibious doctrine. Several ideas were offered including the use of amphibious assault gliders for initial landings on enemy held beaches. This was rather ambitious given the limited Finnish military experience with gliders. Regardless, in September 1938 the Rannikkojääkärit established the Marine Glider Group and purchased 10 JMW-100 gliders from Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd for initial training and experimentation. Following experimentation with these gliders and with the beach assault role in mind, the Merivoimat issued requirements for a 10-seat and a 20-seat amphibious glider in December 1938.

Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd were now becoming rather more experienced in designing new glider types and in short order responded with a design for the 10-seater, the JMW-120, that was loosely based on the JMW-100 with some fairly major modifications. It was obvious that the steel tubing and fabric of the JMW-100 would not suffice for amphibious landings and so the glider was constructed largely of wood with a seaplane shaped hull – with much expertise for this supplied by VL and by the Finnish forestery industry who were initimately involved with the VL Wihuri program and consequently gaining substantial experience as a result. A low-set wing was used to support the Glider in the water after it had landed and the Glider also took off from the water, towed by floatplanes (of which the Maavoimat Air Arm had no shortage). The Glider could also take off from land using a wheeled dolly which was dropped after takeoff. It was also fitted with an outboard motor to permit limited movement in the water under power.

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JMW-120 Prototype – takeoff from the water under tow – Spring of 1939

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JMW-120 Prototype on wheeled dolly – Spring of 1939

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JMW-120 Prototype on the water – loading trials .... Spring of 1939

The first prototype flew, took off and landed successfully but the impact of the additional weight imposed by the use of wood in place of fabric and steel had been somewhat miscalculated and the payload was insufficient. A second and somewhat larger prototype with some further redesign work to the canopy, fuselage and wings was constructed. This was tested over May-July 1939 and proved to meet the requirements. At this stage the Rannikkojääkärit envisaged having enough Ampibious Gliders to transport a single battalion of men with their equipment. An order for 100 of the JMW-120’s was placed with Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd in August 1939. With Jämijärvi Wood and Metal Ltd now working at full capacity running 24 hours shifts to build gliders and with a large backlog of orders to meet, the requirement for a 20 seat amphibious gliders was placed on hold. As one night-shift worker in the Tampere factory wrote after the war about her work on the JMW-200 program:

On one side of the huge bricked-in room is a fan running, on the other a cascade of water to keep the air from becoming too saturated with paint. The women using the paint sprayers cover the huge wings of the glider with the winter camoflauge paint and then complete the job with that thrilling blue hakaristi enclosed in a white circle that is winging its way to victory over the hated enemy....
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The wings are first covered with a canvas fabric stretched on like wallpaper over plywood then every seam, hold, open place, closed place, and edge is taped down with the all adhesive dope that not only makes the wings airtight, but covers my hands, my overalls, my eyebrows, my hair, and my tools with a fast-drying coat that peels off like nail polish or rubs off with a thinner that burns like the fires of Hell.”

By the time the Winter War broke out, only some 25 of the JMW-120’s had been completed and with the outbreak of the War, priorities were rethought. The remainder of the order was cancelled as the emphasis was put on the Gliders for the Maavoimat. After the end of the Winter War, it was decided that glider assault was not tactically feasible against defended coastal positions and the amphibious glider program was largely scrapped. However, as we will see in later Posts on the Winter War itself, the Amphibious Gliders that were delivered saw some use by Rannikkojääkärit “Taistella-Merijalkaväki-Sukeltaja” (Combat Swimmer-Diver) units and a small number were built and used in operations against the Germans over the course of late-WW2.'s

And that's it for Gliders. Next, the Ilmavoimat's Experimental Gyrocopter Program.....
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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But before we get to Gyrocopters......

Post by CanKiwi2 » 28 Jul 2011 14:56

There were three further puchases that would be made before the Munich Crisis of late 1938 – these were for a Torpedo Bomber for the Merivoimat Air Arm, and an Observation, Artillery Control and general purpose Light Aircraft fir the Ilmavoimat, and additional fighters for the Merivoimat Air Arm.

Background to the Torpedo Bomber Purchase of 1938

The Soviet Baltic Fleet was a threat that was always in the minds of the Finnish General Staff – the existence of a strong Soviet Baltic Fleet opened up the possibility of an amphibious movement to outflank the defences of the Karelian Isthmus and hence the ever-present emphasis the Finns put on the Coastal Defence Batteries and the Coastal Defence Divisions as well as on the Marine Division and the Torpedo Boat and Fast Minelayer flotillas. Bottling up the Soviet Navy in Krondstadt was one of the primary missions of the Merivoimat and also for the nacent Merivoimat Air Arm.

At the end of 1937, the Merivoimat Air Arm’s torpedo bomber forces consisted of a small number of now-obsolete Blackburn Ripons. The existing Blackburn Ripon’s were considered to be getting long in the tooth and short of performance and a more modern aircraft was planned to be acquired – not to replace the Ripons as these could still be used for patrolling areas such as the Gulf of Bothnia - but to augment them. In 1938, the Merivoimat Budget made provision for the purchase of a Squadron of new Torpedo Bombers as well as an additional squadron of Dive Bombers. Accordingly, the Ilmavoimat Procurement Team searched for such an aircraft and, as with all their purchases, evaluated a number of types before maing a decision.

In early to mid-1938, there were a number of Torpedo Bombers already in service, but some of them were either obsolete, or nearly so. However, the procurement team went ahead and evaluated many of these on the off-chance that a good aircraft might be missed. And, as always, there was the dual question of both cost and availability to be assessed – and aircraft manufacturers, particularly those in Britain, France and Germany, were often overruled by their respective Governments when it came down to actual delivery. The following aircraft were evaluated over the first six months of 1938.

Blackburn Baffin (UK):

In the early 1930s the torpedo bomber squadrons of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm were equipped with the Blackburn Ripon. While the Ripon had only entered service in 1930, it was powered by the elderly water-cooled Napier Lion engine, and it was realised that replacing the Lion by a modern air-cooled radial engine would increase payload and simplify maintenance. In 1932 Blackburn decided to build two prototypes of radial-engined Ripons, one powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Tiger and the second by a Bristol Pegasus, as a private venture (i.e. without an order from the Air Ministry). The Pegasus-engined prototype first flew on 30 September 1932, and after testing was chosen ahead of the Tiger-powered aircraft as a short-term replacement for the Ripon. Initial orders were placed for 26 new-build aircraft and 38 conversions of Ripon airframes, production beginning in 1933. A further 26 conversions of Ripons into Baffins were ordered in 1935 because of reliability problems associated with the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger engines powering Blackburn Sharks, and the desire to expand the strength of the Fleet Air Arm.

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With a crew of 2, the Baffin was powered by a single Bristol Pegasus I.M3 9-cylinder radial engine 565 hp (421 kW) giving the aircraft a maximum speed of 136 mph. Range was 490 miles, service ceiling was 15,000 feet and armament consisted of 1 × forward firing fixed 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers gun and × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,800 lb (816 kg) 18 in (457 mm) torpedo or 1,600 lb (726 kg) of bombs.

In the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, the Baffins were seen as a short-term replacement for the Ripons and by late 1937 were being replaced by the Blackburn Shark and the Fairey Swordfish. The Merivoimat Air Arm had no intention of replacing one obsolete Torpedo Bomber with another, especially in light of other potential torpedo bombers available. After an initial evaluation, the Baffin was immediately removed from further consideration.

Blohm and Voss Ha140 (Germany):

The Blohm and Voss Ha 140 was a German multi-purpose seaplane which firest flew in 1937 and which was designed for use as a torpedo bomber or long-range reconnaissance aircraft. The Ha 140 was a developed as a twin-engine floatplane, with an all-metal structure and an inverted gull wing, similar to the larger Ha 139. The crew consisted of a pilot and radio operator, with a gunner in a revolving turret in the nose or in a second gun position to the rear. The torpedo or bomb load was accommodated in an internal bomb bay. Three prototypes were built and flew test flights in 1937.

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With a crew of 3, the Ha140 V2 was powered by 2 BMW 132K 9 cynclinder single row supercharged air coold radial engines (970hp each), had a maximum speed of 207mph, a range of 715 miles and a service ceiling of 16,400 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1× 7.9 mm MG15 machine gun in the nose and 1× MG 15 machine gun at the dorsal hatch. Bombload consisted of 1× 952 kg (2,095 lb) torpedo or 4× 250 kg (550 lb) bombs.

In Germany the design was not carried any further, as the similar Heinkel He 115 was selected for service. The Merivoimat evaluated the aircraft but the test team reported that the handling was unacceptable. It was also indicated to the Maavoimat that Blohm & Voss did not have the production capacity to meet any orders for the aircraft. A further factor was that the Luftwaffe had selected the Heinkel He115 in preference to the Ha140 and this was the final nail in the coffin as far as the evaluation was concerned. The Ha140 was removed from further consideration.

The Douglas TBD Devastator (USA):

The Douglas TBD Devastator was a United States Navy torpedo bomber, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world. Ordered on 30 June 1934, flying for the first time on 15 April 1935 and entered into a U.S. Navy competition for new bomber aircraft to operate from its aircraft carriers, the Douglas entry was one of the winners of the competition. Other than requests by test pilots to improve pilot visibility, the prototype easily passed its acceptance trials that took place from 24 April-24 November 1935 at NAS Anacostia and Norfolk bases. After successfully completing torpedo drop tests, the prototype was transferred to the Lexington for carrier certification. The extended service trials continued until 1937 with the first two production aircraft retained by the company exclusively for testing. A total of 129 of the type were purchased by the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), and starting from 1937, began to equip the carriers Saratoga, Enterprise, Lexington, Wasp, Hornet, Yorktown and Ranger.

The Devastator marked a large number of "firsts" for the U.S. Navy. It was the first widely-used carrier-based monoplane as well as the first all-metal naval aircraft, the first with a totally-enclosed cockpit, the first with power-actuated (hydraulically) folding wings; it is fair to say that the TBD was revolutionary. A semi-retractable undercarriage was fitted, with the wheels designed to protrude 10 in (250 mm) below the wings to permit a "wheels-up" landing with only minimal damage. A crew of three was normally carried beneath a large "greenhouse" canopy almost half the length of the aircraft. The pilot sat up front; a rear gunner/radio operator took the rearmost seat, while the bombardier occupied the middle seat. During a bombing run, the bombardier lay prone, sliding into position under the pilot to sight through a window in the bottom of the fuselage, using the Norden Bombsight.

The normal TBD offensive armament consisted of either a 1,200 lb (540 kg) Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 aerial torpedo or a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb. Alternatively, three 500 lb (230 kg) general-purpose bombs: one under each wing and one under the fuselage, or 12 x 100 lb (45 kg) fragmentation bombs: six under each wing, could be carried. This weapons load was often used when attacking Japanese targets on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in 1942. Defensive armament consisted of a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun for the rear gunner. Fitted in the starboard side of the cowling was either a .30 in (7.6 mm) or .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun. The powerplant was a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine of 850 hp (630 kW), an outgrowth of the prototype's Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-60/R-1830-1 of 800 hp (600 kW). Other changes from the 1935 prototype included a revised engine cowling and raising the cockpit canopy to improve visibility

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A U.S. Navy Douglas TBD-1 Devastator of Torpedo Bomber Squadron VT-6 being used by the Merivoimat Test Team to make a practice torpedo drop in February 1938. The Devastator tested by the Merivoimat required a crew of 3 (Pilot, Torpedo Officer/Navigator, Radioman/Gunner) and was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine of 900 hp (672 kW) giving a maximum speed of 206mph, a range of 535 miles with a Torpedo and 716 miles with a 1,000lb bombload. Service ceiling was 19,500 feet and defensive armament consisted of 1 × forward-firing 0.30 in (7.62 mm) or 0.50 (12.7 mm) or machine gun and 1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun in rear cockpit (later increased to two). Bombload consisted of 1 x Torpedo or 1 x 1,000lb bomb (or 2 x 500lb bombs or 12 x 100lb bombs).

Dornier D022 (Germany):

The Do 22 was an improved version of the Do C 2 floatplane, which was manufactured in 1930 and in one sample sent to Colombia. When after WWI manufacturing of aicraft in Germany was halted by the Treaty of Versailles, Dornier simply moved to the other side of Lake Constance by setting up a factory at Altenrheim in Switzerland. In 1934 the Dornier Company began work on a three-seat multi-purpose military monoplane suitable for operation with float, wheel or ski undercarriages, and intended solely for export. This was the Do C3, with two prototypes being built, with the first being flown in 1935. It was a parasol wing monoplane of fabric covered all-metal construction. Its slightly swept-back wing was attached to the fuselage by bracing struts, while its two floats were braced to both the wing and fuselage. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine driving a three-bladed propeller, and could carry a single torpedo or bombs under the fuselage, while defensive armament was one fixed forward firing machine gun, two in the rear cockpit and one in a ventral tunnel. The first production model, known as Do 22/See when fitted with floats, first flew on 15 July 1938 from Dornier's factory at Friedrichshafen, Germany, although it did incorporate parts made in Switzerland.

While the Luftwaffe was not interested in the aircraft, some 30 Do22’s were sold to Yugoslavia, Greece and Latvia. In March 1939, a prototype with conventional landing gear (Do 22L) was completed and test flown, but did not enter production

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The Do22 had a crew of 3 (Pilot, Gunner and Radio Operator) amd was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs V-12 liquid cooled inline piston engine producing 641 kW (860 hp) and giving a maximum speed of 217mph. Range was 1,428 miles and service ceiling was 29,500 feet. Armament consisted of 4 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns in nose, ventral and rear cockpit positions. Bombload consisted of 1 × 800 kg (1,764 lb) torpedo or 4 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs. The example shown in the photo above is a Yugoslav Do22.

However, four Do22’s did end up serving with the Merivoimat Air Arm over the last two months of the Winter War, seeing action once when they sank a Russian submarine attempting to enter the waters of the Gulf of Finland from Leningrad.

The Latvian Air Force had ordered four Do22’s – these had not been delivered when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia in June 1940 (which occurred despite the war with Finland not going well) and the aircraft were as a result retained by Germany. These four aircraft were subsequently sold by a German arms dealer, Josef Veltjens (of whom we will hear more now and then), to a “Swedish” company which after taking delivery, promptly “sold” the aircraft to Finland, where they were taken into service with the Maavoimat in August 1940. These aircraft were almost brand new, even though they were bought as “second hand”. The aircraft were flown by Swedes from Friedrichshafen (Germany) on 25 July to Sweden and then on to Helsinki Malmi airfield, where they landed on 1 Aug. Used for maritime patrolling, the Do 22s saw action once when they torpdeoed two Soviet submarines on the surface in late August 1940 as they were trying to breach the Finnish mine fields in front of Leningrad, sinking one. They remained in service until 18th October 1944 and scrapped in 1952.

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The four aircraft destined for Latvia (designated Do-22K1) were built in Friedrichshafen but were not delivered before the Soviet occupation. These aircraft eventually made their way to Finland instead. The above illustration is how they might have appeared if delivered to Latvia as had originally been intended.

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Merivoimat Dornier Do 22KI at Maarianhamina on 21st August 1940

The Fairey Swordfish (UK):

The Swordfish was based on a Fairey Private Venture (PV) design; a proposed solution to the Air Ministry requirements for a spotter-reconnaissance plane, spotter referring to observing the fall of a warship's gunfire. A subsequent Air Ministry Specification S.15/33, added the torpedo bomber role. The "Torpedo-Spotter-Reconnaissance" prototype TSR II (the PV was the TSR I) first flew on 17 April 1934. It was a large biplane with a metal frame covered in fabric, and utilized folding wings as a space-saving feature for aircraft carrier use. An order was placed in 1935 and the aircraft entered service in 1936 with the Fleet Air Arm (then part of the RAF), replacing the Seal in the torpedo bomber role. By 1938 the Fleet Air Arm (now under Royal Navy control) had 13 squadrons equipped with the Swordfish Mark I.
The Merivoimat eliminated the Swordfish from consideration immediately, considering it outdated and failing minimum performance requirements.

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The Fairey Swordfish had a Crew of 3 (pilot, observer, and radio operator/rear gunner) and was powered by a single Bristol Pegasus IIIM.3 radial engine of 690 hp (510 kW) giving a maximum speed of 139mph, a ramge of 546 miles and a service ceiling of 19,250 feet. Defensive Armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun in the engine cowling and 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis or Vickers K machine gun in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 1,500 lb (700 kg) mine under the fuselage or 1,500 lb of bombs under the fuselage and wings.

OTL Note: The primary weapon was the aerial torpedo, but the low speed of the biplane and the need for a long straight approach made it difficult to deliver against well-defended targets. Swordfish torpedo doctrine called for an approach at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) followed by a dive to torpedo release altitude of 18 ft (5.5 m). Maximum range of the early Mark XII torpedo was 1,500 yd (1400 m). The torpedo traveled 200 yd (180 m) forward from release to water impact, and required another 300 yd (270 m) to stabilise at preset depth and arm itself. Ideal release distance was 1,000 yd (900 m) from target if the Swordfish survived to that distance. Swordfish flying from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious made a very significant strike on 11 November 1940 against the Italian navy during the Battle of Taranto, Italy, sinking or disabling three Italian battleships and a cruiser lying at anchor. The planning for this strike had its origins in the audacious attack by Finnish torpedo bombers and dive bombers on the Soviet Baltic Fleet in Krondstadt in which many Soviet ships were sunk. In the aftermath, Taranto was visited by the Japanese naval attache from Berlin, who later briefed the staff who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. Swordfish also flew anti-shipping sorties from Malta.

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Swordfish Attack at Taranto, 11 November 1940

In May 1941, a Swordfish strike from HMS Ark Royal was vital in damaging the German battleship Bismarck, preventing it from escaping back to France. The low speed of the attacking aircraft may have acted in their favour, as the planes were too slow for the fire-control predictors of the German gunners, whose shells exploded so far in front of the aircraft that the threat of shrapnel damage was greatly diminished. The Swordfish also flew so low that most of the Bismarck's flak weapons were unable to depress enough to hit them. The Swordfish aircraft scored two hits, one which did little damage but another that disabled Bismarck's rudder, making the warship unmanueverable and sealing its fate. The Bismarck was destroyed less than 13 hours later.

The problems with the aircraft were starkly demonstrated in February 1942 when a strike on German battleships during the Channel Dash resulted in the loss of all attacking aircraft. With the development of new torpedo attack aircraft, the Swordfish was soon redeployed successfully in an anti-submarine role, armed with depth-charges or eight "60 lb" (27 kg) RP-3 rockets and flying from the smaller escort carriers or even Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MAC) when equipped for rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO). Its low stall speed and inherently tough design made it ideal for operation from the MAC carriers in the often severe mid Atlantic weather. Indeed, its takeoff and landing speeds were so low that it did not require the carrier to be steaming into the wind, unlike most carrier-based aircraft. On occasion, when the wind was right, Swordfish were flown from a carrier at anchor.

Swordfish-equipped units accounted for 14 U-boats destroyed. The Swordfish was meant to be replaced by the Albacore, also a biplane, but actually outlived its intended successor. It was, finally, however, succeeded by the Fairey Barracuda monoplane torpedo bomber. The last of 2,392 Swordfish aircraft was delivered in August 1944 and operational sorties continued in to January 1945 with anti-shipping operations off Norway (FAA Squadrons 835 and 813), where the Swordfish's manouvreability was essential. The last operational squadron was disbanded on 21 May 1945, after the fall of Germany; and the last training squadron was disbanded in the summer of 1946.

The Fairey Albacore (UK):

The Fairey Albacore, was conceived as a replacement for the aging Fairey Swordfish, which had entered service in 1936 and the prototypes were built to meet Specification S.41/36 for a three-seat TSR (torpedo /spotter /reconnaissance) for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm to replace the Fairey Swordfish. Like the Swordfish, the Albacore was fully capable of dive bombing: "The Albacore was designed for diving at speeds up to 215 knots(400 km/h) lAS with flaps either up or down, and it was certainly steady in a dive, recovery being easy and smooth...” and the maximum under wing bomb load was 4 x 500 lb bombs or s single torpedo. The Albacore had a more powerful engine than the Swordfish and was more aerodynamically refined. It offered the crew an enclosed and heated cockpit. The Albacore also had features such as an automatic liferaft ejection system which triggered in the event of the aircraft ditching.

At the time of the Merivoimat evaluation in early 1938, the Fairey Albacore was “design only.” The evaluation team did however review the specifications and Fairey design drawings and considered the aircraft both outdated in design and lacking in speed and defensive armament. This was expressed somewhat diplomatically to the Fairey team, who in typical British fashion shrugged of what they perceived as criticism from mere foreigners.

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The Fairey Albacore had a crew of 3 and was powered by a single Bristol Taurus II (Taurus XII) 14-cylinder radial engine of 1,065 hp (1,130 hp) / 794 kW (840 kw) giving a maximum speed of 161 mph with a range of 930 miles (with torepedo) and a service ceiling of 20,700 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in the starboard wing and 1 or 2 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine guns in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 2,000 lb (907 kg) bombs.

OTL Note: The first of two prototypes flew on 12 December 1938 and production of the first batch of 98 aircraft began in 1939 – these began entering service in March 1940. Early Albacores were fitted with the Bristol Taurus II engine and those built later received the more powerful Taurus XII. Boscombe Down testing of the Albacore and Taurus II engine, in February 1940, showed a maximum speed of 160 mph (258 km/h), at an altitude of 4,800 ft (1,463 m), at 11,570 lb (5,259 kg), which was achieved with four under-wing depth charges, while maximum speed without the depth charges was 172 mph (277 km/h). Some 800 in total were built. Initially, the Albacore suffered from reliability problems with the Taurus engine, although these were later solved, so that the failure rate was no worse than the Pegasus that equipped the Swordfish. It remained less popular than the Swordfish, however, as it was less agile, with the controls being too heavy for a pilot to take effective evasive action after dropping a torpedo.

Fieseler Fi 167 (Germany):

The Fieseler Fi 167 was a 1930s German biplane torpedo and reconnaissance bomber designed for the new aircraft carriers then being planned. In early 1937, the Riechsluftfahrtministerium or German Ministry of Aviation issued a specification for a carrier-based torpedo bomber to operate from Germany's first aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin construction of which had started at the end of 1936. The specification was issued to two aircraft producers, Fieseler and Arado, and demanded an all-metal biplane with a maximum speed of at least 300 km/h (186 mph)a range of at least 1,000 km and capable both of torpedo and dive-bombing. By the summer of 1938 the Fiesler design proved to be superior to the Arado design, the Ar 195.

After two prototypes (Fi 167 V1 & Fi 167 V2), twelve pre-production models (Fi 167 A-0) were built. These had only slight modifications from the prototypes. The aircraft exceeded by far all requirements, had excellent handling capabilities and could carry about twice the required weapons payload. Like the famous Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, the Fi 167 had surprising slow-speed capabilities; the plane would be able to land almost vertically on a moving aircraft carrier. One notable demonstration showed the types excellent low speed performance when Fiesler himself flew the Fi 167 from 9,800 ft. to 100 ft. while remaining stationary over one spot and all the time retaining full control. For emergency landings at sea the Fi 167 could jettison its landing gear, and airtight compartments in the lower wing would help the aircraft stay afloat at least long enough for the two-man crew to evacuate.

The Merivoimat evaluation team considered that the Fi 167 handling was superb.

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With a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Gunner) and powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 601B liquid cooled inverted V12, of 1,100 hp, the Fi 167 had a maximum speed of 202mph, a range of 808 miles and a service ceiling of 26,900 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 fixed forward firing 7.92 mm MG 17 machine gun and 1 rear facing MG-15 machine gun on a flexible mount. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb or 1 × 765 kg (1,685 lb) torpedo or 1 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb plus 4 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs.

OTL Note: Since the Graf Zeppelin was not expected to be completed before the end of 1940, construction of the Fi 167 had a low priority. When construction of the Graf Zeppelin was stopped in 1940, the completion of further aircraft was stopped and the completed examples were taken into Luftwaffe service in the "Erprobungsgruppe 167". When construction of the Graf Zeppelin was resumed in 1942 the Ju 87C took over the role as a reconnaissance bomber, and torpedo bombers were no longer seen to be needed. Nine of the existing Fi 167 were sent to a coastal naval squadron in the Netherlands and then returned to Germany in the summer of 1943. After that they were sold to Croatia, where their short-field and load-carrying abilities (under the right conditions, the aircraft could descend almost vertically) made it ideal for transporting ammunition and other supplies to besieged Croatian Army garrisons between their arrival in September 1944 and the end of the War. The remaining planes were used in the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt ("German Aircraft Experimental Institute") in Budweis, Czechoslovakia, for testing different landing gear configurations. The large wing area and resulting low landing speeds made the Fi 167 'too good' this task, so in order to test landings with higher wing loads, the two test aircraft had their lower wings removed just outboard of the landing gear. No examples of this aircraft survive.

Heinkel He111 (Germany):

The Ilmavoimat had looked at a prototype Heinkel He111 as early as 1935 as a potential acquisition. However at that early stage in its development, the aircraft was still in development, delivery times could not be guaranteed and the cost as compared to the Italian SM.81 aircraft was on the high side. By early 1938, the situation was somewhat different. The He 111B had gone into limited production in late 1936, followed by the He 111E-1’s in 1937 – the first of which came of the production line in February 1938, in time for a number of these aircraft to serve in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War in March 1938. The He 111F was next, being built and entering service in 1938 also and then came the He 111J – the version that the Merivoimat evaluated and tested.

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The He 111 was in production in 1938. Heinkel constructed a factory at Oranienburg and on 4 May 1936, construction began. Exactly one year later the first He 111 rolled off the production line.

The He 111J was powered by the DB600 engines and was intended from the start as a torpedo bomber. As a result, it lacked an internal bomb bay and carried two external torpedo racks. The RLM gave an order for the bomb bay to be retrofitted; this variant became known as the J-1. In all but the powerplant, it was identical to the F-4. The He 111's low-level performance attracted the interest of the Kriegsmarine. The Kriegsmarine believed the He 111 would make an excellent torpedo bomber, and as a result, the He 111J was produced. The J was capable of carrying torpedoes and mines. The Kriegsmarine eventually dropped the program as they deemed the four man crew too expensive in terms of manpower. The RLM however, had progressed too far with the development, and continued to build the He 111 J-0. Some 90 (other sources claim 60) were built in 1938 and were then sent to Küstenfliegergruppe 806. The He 111 J-0 was powered by the DB 600G without retractable radiators. It could carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload. Few of the pre-production J-0s were ever fitted with the DB 600G. Instead, the DB 600 was used and the performance of the powerplant left much to be desired.

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Heinkel He 111-J carrying two torpedoes: With a Crew of 4, the He111J had a maximum speed of 230mph, a range of 1030 miles and a service ceiling of 22,966 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 3 machine guns (Nose, Dorsal and Ventral) and the bombload consisted of two torpedoes.

The Merivoimat evaluation team advised that the He 111 possessed excellent flight characteristics. It was steady to fly, unwavering in level flight and completely predictable as well as having very good low-level manouervability and providing a very good bombing or torpedo attack platform.

Heinkel He115 (Germany):

In 1935, the German Reich Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium or RLM) produced a requirement for a twin engined general purpose floatplane, suitable both for patrol and for anti-shipping strikes with bombs and torpedoes as well as for aerial mine-laying. Proposals were received from both Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and from Blohm & Voss' aircraft subsidiary, Hamburger Flugzeugbau, and on 1 November 1935, orders were placed with both Heinkel and Hamburger Flugzeugbau for three prototypes each of their prospective designs, the He 115 and the Ha 140. The first Heinkel prototype flew in August 1937, with testing proving successful. The He 115 was selected over the Ha 140 early in 1938, resulting in an order for an additional prototype and 10 pre-production aircraft. Meanwhile, the first prototype was used to set a series of international records for floatplanes over 1,000 km (621 mi) and 2,000 km (1,243 mi) closed circuits at a speed of 328 km/h (204 mph). Four further protoypes were built between late 1937 and early 1939, introducing a glassed cockpit amd struts in place of wire. There were also variations on armament.

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With a Crew of 3, the Heinkel He 115 was powered by 2 × BMW 132K 9-cylinder radial engines of 630 kW (970 hp) each giving a maximum speed of 203 mph with a combat radius of 1,305 miles and a service ceiling of 17,100 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun and 1 × flexible 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun in dorsal and nose positions. Bombload consisted of five 550 lb (250kg) bombs, or two such bombs and one torpedo of 1,760 lb (800kg), or one 2,030 lb (920 kg) sea mine.

OTL Note: Seven He 115A-2 (Five of them He 115Ns) served in the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service against the Germans during the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940. The Norwegians signed another order of six He 115Ns in December 1939, with delivery estimated to March/April 1940. The delivery of this second order was however pre-empted by the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940. Four of the Norwegian aircraft (F.52, F.56, F.58 and F.64) made the journey to the United Kingdom after the 10 June 1940 surrender, a fifth (F.50) escaping to Finland, landing on Lake Salmijärvi in Petsamo. A sixth He 115 (F.54) also tried to make the journey to Britain, but was lost over the North Sea. The last of the Norwegian He 115s, was unserviceable at the time of the evacuation and had to be abandoned at Skattøra, later being repaired and flown by the Germans.

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He 115 Loading a Torpedo

One Norwegian aircraft (F.50) escaped to Finland, where it was interned, and later used by the Finnish Air Force's LLv.44 to ferry sissi troops. In this role, it proved valuable as it did not require a vast open space to land on, but instead could touch down on lakes. It served in this role until it crashed on enemy fire behind Soviet lines in East Karelia on 4 July 1943. Two others were leased from Germany for similar purposes in 1943-44. The Swedish Air Force operated 12 He 115A-2s. Another six aircraft were ordered, but never delivered due to the outbreak of World War II. They were sturdy and well liked by their crews, and were not taken out of use until 1952. The Swedish He 115’s were kept on duty throughout World War II and made a valuable contribution to protecting and enforcing Swedish neutrality. They replaced the outdated Heinkel HD 16s in the torpedo bomber role and also served as a regular bomber, for smoke screening and for long-range reconnaissance missions. Five of the 12 He115’s were lost in accidents during their service with the Swedish Air Force.

Junkers Ju88 (Germany):

As mentioned earlier, the Ilmavoimat had evaluated the Junkers Ju88 prototype in early 1937 and at that stage, liked the aircraft and could see its potential with its projected bombload of 6,600lb and a speed of 300mph+. However, with the problems still being worked on, a number of prototypes in development and production not yet in sight, the team had recommended a “wait and see” approach with a further evaluation to be carried out in 1938. In the event, it was the Merivoimat that again evaluated the Ju88 a year later, in early 1938, as they searched for an effective Torpedo Bomber.
In August 1935, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium submitted its requirements for an unarmed, three-seat, high-speed bomber, with a payload of 800-1,000 kg (1,760-2,200 lb). Junkers presented their initial design in June 1936, and were given clearance to build two prototypes. The aircraft's first flight was made by the prototype Ju 88 V1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on 21 December 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h (360 mph) and Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe was ecstatic. It was an aircraft that could finally fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber. The streamlined fuselage was modeled after its contemporary, the Dornier Do 17, but with fewer defensive guns because the belief still held that a high speed bomber could outrun late 1930s-era fighters. However, production was delayed drastically with developmental problems.

In October 1937 Generalluftzeugmeister Ernst Udet had ordered the development of the Ju 88 as a heavy dive bomber. This decision was influenced by the success of the Ju 87 Stuka in this role. The Junkers development center at Dessau gave priority to the study of pull-out systems, and dive brakes. The first prototype to be tested as a dive bomber was the Ju 88 V4 followed by the V5 and V6. These models became the planned prototype for the A-1 series. The V5 made its maiden flight on 13 April 1938, and the V6 on 28 June 1938 and it was these versions that the Maavoimat team evaluated and tested. Both the V5 and V6 were fitted with four-blade propellers, an extra bomb bay and a central "control system", the wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended and the number of crewmembers was increased to four. As a dive bomber, the Ju 88 was capable of pinpoint deliveries of heavy loads; however, despite all the modifications, dive bombing still proved too stressful for the airframe.With these modifications the top speed had dropped to some 280mph and work was still ongoing with further prototypes being built and no production version or manufacturing in sight.

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Junkers Ju88 as evaluated by the Maavoimat Team.

Again, the Finnish evaluation team liked the aircraft but with prototyping still ongoing and problems being identified in testing, it was a questionable decision. The performance and potential of the prototype however were excellent and the team rated that aircraft highly overall.

Latécoère 298 (France):

The Latécoère 298 (sometimes abridged to Laté 298) was a French seaplane that was designed primarily as a torpedo bomber, but served also as a dive bomber against land and naval targets (with two bombs of up to 150 kg each), and as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft (with extra 535 litre fuel tank), night reconnaissance and smokescreen laying. The design originated in a French Navy requirement for a torpedo bomber to replace the unsuccessful Laté 29 that had just entered service in the mid-1930’s. The prototype Laté 298 was completed at Latécoère's Toulouse plant in 1936 and first flew on 8 May 1936.

It was designed as a single-engined, mid-wing cantilever monoplane with an all-metal oval-section stressed-skin fuselage. The aircraft was powered by an 880 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled engine and had a crew of three accommodated under a glazed canopy. Two exceptionally large floats were attached to the fuselage by struts, each float containing a fuel tank. A ventral crutch served to accommodate different payloads, depending on the mission. It could carry one Type 1926 DA torpedo, two 150 kg bombs or depth charges. Additional armament consisted of three 7.5 mm Darne machine guns, two fixed forward firing and one rear-firing on a flexible mount at the rear of the crew canopy. It was sturdy and reliable, possessing good manoeuvrability.

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The Latécoère 298 as evaluated by the Ilmavoimat in early 1938 had a Crew of 3 and was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs liquid-cooled V-12 of 880 hp giving a maximum speed of 167mph and a range of 497 miles with maximum payload. The service ceiling was 21,325 ft and defensive armament consisted of two fixed forward firing machineguns and one rear-firing machinegun on a flexible mount. A maximum bombload of 1,500lbs, or one torpedo, could be carried.

OTL Notes: The first Laté 298s entered service in October 1938 with the Escadrilles (squadrons) of the Aéronautique Navale, the French Naval Air Force. The first naval escadrilles to equip with the type were T2 at the Saint-Raphael Naval Base and T1 at the Berre Naval Base in February and March 1939 respectively. Escadrilles HB1 and HB2 on the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste re-equipped with the Late 298B in April and July of 1939. In all some 110 Late 298 of all versions had been built by 25 June 1940 and a further 20 Late 298F (with MAC instead of Darne weapons and two additional 7.7mm machine-guns for ventral 'under-tail' defence) were built for the French Vichy regime. The Late 298B version had folding wings for shipboard stowage. The Late 298D had a fourth crew member, and the 'one-off' unsuccessful Late 298E had a ventral observation gondola.

At the outbreak of WW2 four squadrons flew with this aircraft, and by May 1940, when the German offensive in the west began, 81 aircraft equipped six squadrons. They were used at first for maritime patrol and anti-submarine duties, but did not meet any German ships. The Laté 298s first saw action during the Battle of France in 1940, being used in shallow dive-bombing attacks during the May-June 1940 'Blitzkrieg' on France and later, as the Wehrmacht drove through France, they were used to harass and interdict armoured columns. Despite not having been designed for this role, they performed reasonably well, suffering fewer losses than units equipped with other types. After the armistice of June 1940, the French Navy under the Vichy regime was allowed to retain some Laté 298 units, and several captured aircraft were used by the Luftwaffe for liason duties. Both the Vichy and Free French forces continued to operate the aircraft, mainly on reconnaissance missions.

After Operation Torch, French units in Africa sided with the Allies. In this guise, the Laté 298 was used for Coastal Command missions in North Africa, in cooperation with Royal Air Force Wellingtons. The Laté 298's final combat missions were flown during the liberation of France, where they were used to attack German shipping operating from strongholds on the Atlantic coast. A number of Late 298’s continued to operate into the post-World War II period with the French Aéronautique Navale, retiring from active service in 1946 but continuing to serve as trainers until 1950.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero ("Sparrowhawk") (Italy)

The SM.79 project began in Italy in 1934, where the aircraft was first conceived as a fast, eight-passenger transport capable of being used in air-racing (the London-Melbourne competition). Piloted by Adriano Bacula, the prototype flew for the first time on 28 September 1934. Originally planned with the 800 hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI Ri as a powerplant, the aircraft reverted to the less powerful 590 hp Piaggio P.IX RC.40 Stella (a license-produced Bristol Jupiter and the basis of many Piaggio engines). The engines were subsequently replaced by Alfa Romeo 125 RC.35s (license-produced Bristol Pegasus).

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The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero ("Sparrowhawk")

The SM.79 had three engines, with a retractable tailwheel undercarriage and featured a mixed-material construction, with a box-section rear fuselage and semi-elliptical tail. Like many Italian aircraft of the time, the fuselage of the SM.79 was made of a welded tubular steel frame and covered with duralumin forward, duralumin and plywood over the top, and fabric on all other surfaces. As with most cantilevered low-wing monoplanes, the wings were of all-wood construction, with the trailing edge flaps and leading edge slats (Handley-Page type) to offset its relatively small size. The internal structure was made of three spars, linked with cantilevers and a skin of plywood. The wing had a dihedral of 2° 15'. Ailerons were capable of rotating through +13/-26°, and were used together with the flaps in low-speed flight and in takeoff. The grouping of engines, the slim fuselage, coupled with a low and wide cockpit and the "hump" gave this aircraft an aggressive and powerful appearance. Its capabilities were significant with over 2,300 hp available and a high wing loading that gave it characteristics not dissimilar to a large fighter.

The engines fitted to the main bomber version were three 582 kW (780 hp) Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 radials, equipped with variable pitch, all-metal three-blade propellers. Speeds attained were around 260mph at 12,000 feet, with a relatively low practical ceiling of 23,400 feet m. The best cruise speed was at 60% of power. The landing was characterized by a 125 mph final approach with the slats extended, slowing to 90mph with extension of flaps, and finally the run over the field with only 600 feet needed to land. With full power available and flaps set for takeoff, the SM.79 could be airborne within 900 feet then climb to 12,000 feet in 13 minutes 2 seconds. The bomber version had ten fuel tanks (3,460 l).The endurance at full load averaging 200mph was 4 hr 30 min. In every case, the range (not endurance) with a 1,000 kg payload was around 5-600 miles.

The aircraft crew complement was either five or six in the bomber version with cockpit accommodation for two pilots, sitting side-by-side. Instrumentation in the central panel included oil and fuel gauges, altimeter for low and high altitude (1,000 m and 8,000 m), clock, airspeed and vertical speed indicator, gyroscope, compass, artificial horizon, turn and bank indicator, rev counters and throttles for all three engines. Cockpit equipment also included the flight controls, fire extinguishers, and control mechanisms for the brakes and other systems.

The SM.79's defensive armament consisted of four, and later five machineguns. Three were 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) calibre guns, two of which were in the "hump," with the forward one (with 300 cartridges) fixed with an elevation of 15°, and the other manoeuvrable with 60° pivotal movement in the horizontal, and 0-70° in the vertical planes. The amount of ammunition was 500 cartridges (in two metal boxes), as was the third 12.7 mm machine gun, located ventrally. There was also a 7.7 mm (0.303 inch) machinegun fitted laterally, with a mount that allowed a rapid change of side for the weapon. This Lewis gun was later replaced by two 7.7 mm Bredas, which were more reliable and faster firing (900 rounds/min instead of 500), even though there was only sufficient room in the fuselage for one man to operate them. Despite the low overall power (Rate of Fire and energy of the projectile) of the SM.79's machine guns, it was heavily-armed by 1930s standards (for bombers, essentially three light machine guns), the armament being more than a match for the lightly-protected fighter aircraft of the time, not usually fitted with any armour.

The internal bomb bay was configured to carry bombs vertically, preventing larger bombs being accommodated internally. The aircraft could hold two x 500 kg, five x 250 kg, 12 x 100 kg or 50 kg bombs, or hundreds of bomblets. The bombardier, with an 85° forward field of view, had a "Jozza-2" aiming system and a series of bomb-release mechanisms. The machine gun to the rear of the gondola prevented the bombardier from lying in a prone position, and as a result, the bombardier was provided with gambali, retractable structures to support his legs while being seated. Torpedoes were carried externally, as were larger bombs. This was only standardized from 1939, when two hardpoints were fitted under the inner wing. Theoretically two torpedoes could be carried, but the performance and the manoeuvrability of the aircraft were so reduced that usually only one was used in action. In addition, the SM.79's overall payload of 3,800 kg prevented it carrying 1,600-1,860 kg of bombs without a noticeable reduction of the fuel load (approximately 2,400 kg, when full).
The introduction of the aircraft in operational service was made with 12° Stormo (Wing), starting in early 1936. 12° Stormo was involved in the initial evaluation of the bomber, which continued throughout 1936. The Wing was operational on 1 May 1936 with the SM.79 successfully completing torpedo launches from 5,000 meters in August 1936. The torpedo-bomber variant was much more unstable and less easy to control than the civilian version. Its capabilities were still being explored when the Spanish Civil War broke out, and a number of SM.79s were dispatched to support the Nationalists. By 4 November 1936 there were six SM.79s with crew to fly them operating in Spain and serving with the Aviazione Legionaria, an Italian unit sent to assist Franco's Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. By the beginning of 1937 there were 15 SM.79s in total, and they went on to be used in Spain throughout the conflict, with very few losses. Around 19 of the total sent there were lost. Unofficially, the deliveries to 12 Wing and other units involved numbered at least 99 aircraft.

The first recorded interception of an SM.79 formation took place on 11 October 1937 when three aircraft were attacked by 12 Polikarpov I-16s (known as the Mosca (Fly) to the Spanish Republicans and Rata (Rat) to the Spanish Nationalists). One of the SM.79s was damaged by repeated attacks made by the slightly faster I-16s, but its defences prevented the attackers from pressing close-in attacks. All the bombers returned to base, although one had been hit by 27 bullets, many hitting the fuel tanks. A few other examples of similar interceptions occurred in this conflict, without any SM.79s being lost. Combat experiences revealed some deficiencies in the SM.79: the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, instability, vibrations experienced at speeds over 400 km/h and other problems were encountered and sometimes solved. Initially the SM.79s operated from the Balearic Islands and later from mainland Spain. Hundreds of missions were performed in a wide range of different roles against Republican targets. No Fiat CR.32s were needed to escort the SM.79s, partly because the biplane fighters were too slow.

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The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero ("Sparrowhawk") in action, WW2

OTL Note: After serving in the Spanish Civil War, the Sparviero was brought into use with 111° and 8° Stormo. By the end of 1939, there were 388 Sparvieros in service, with 11 wings that were partially or totally made up of this aircraft. They also participated in the occupation of Albania in autumn 1939. Thanks to the experience gained in Spain, the SM.79-II formed the backbone of the Italian bomber force during World War II and by the beginning of WW2 612 aircraft had been delivered, making the Sparviero the most numerous aircraft in the Regia Aereonautica. These aircraft were deployed in every theatre of war in which the Italians fought. Favorable reports of its reliability and performance during the Spanish Civil War led Yugoslavia to order 45 aircraft generally similar to the SM.79-I variant in 1938, and these Yugoslavian versions were designated the SM.79K. They were delivered to Yugoslavia in 1939, but most were destroyed in the invasion by Germany in 1941 by their crew or advancing Italian forces. Among several actions against German and Italian forces they manage to destroy enemy in Kacanicka sutjeska (Kacanik canyon). Some of aircraft also escaped into Grecce carried King Peter Karadjordjevic and his party. A few did survive, one to be pressed into service with the pro-Axis forces of the NDH, apart from four which became AX702-705 of the RAF.

Attempts were also made to gain large-scale export orders, but only three countries finalized contracts, with twin-engined versions being supplied to Brazil (three with 694 kW/930 hp Alfa Romeo 128 RC.18 engines), Iraq (four with 746 kW/1,030 hp Fiat A.80 RC.14 engines), and Romania (24 with 746 kW/1,000 hp Gnome-Rhône Mistral Major 14K engines). Romania later acquired an additional eight aircraft from Italy powered by Junkers Jumo 211Da engines, and these were designated the SM.79JR. They also built a further 72 Jumo powered variants under license.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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The Torpedo Bomber decision

Post by CanKiwi2 » 28 Jul 2011 14:58

The Results of the Torpedo Bomber Evaluation Exercise by the Ilmavoimat – mid-1938

Factors involved in making a Decision: Evaluation criteria emphasized good speed, manouverability and range, bombload / torpedo carrying ability and as always, cost and availability (with an emphasis on certainty of delivery and ability of the supplier to complete manufacturing within a reasonable timeframe). Service Ceiling was not considered a major factor as this was intended as a torpedo bomber. Ratings are 5 (excellent), 4(good), 3 (fair), 2 (poor), 1 (inadequate) for each category. Amphibious capability was not considered necessary as the primary theatre of operations would be the Gulf of Finland and the Northern Baltic – with the Aland Islands functioning as an unsinable aircraft carrier in the event of war, thus extending the range southwards considerably (but floatplanes were given a +1 bonus due to flexibility of basing). Twin-engined designs were given a positive weighting of 2 points as, with extended over-water operations there was a better margin of survivability with an engine failure.

Speed
Blackburn Baffin: 136mph: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 207mph: 2
Douglas TBD Devastator: 206mph: 2
Dornier Do 22: 217mph: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 139mph: 0
Fairey Albacore: 161mph: 1
Fieseler Fi 167: 202mph: 2
Heinkel He 111: 230mph: 3
Heinkel He 115: 203mph: 2
Junkers Ju88: 317mph: 5
Latécoère 298: 167mph: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 260mph: 4

Combat Range
Blackburn Baffin: 490 miles: 1
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 715 miles 3
Douglas TBD Devastator: 535 miles: 2
Dornier Do 22: 1,428 miles: 5
Fairey Swordfish: 546 miles: 2
Fairey Albacore: 930 miles: 4
Fieseler Fi 167: 808 miles: 3
Heinkel He 111: 1,030 miles: 4
Heinkel He 115: 1,305 miles: 5
Junkers Ju88: 1,429 miles: 5
Latécoère 298: 497 miles: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 600 miles: 2

Maneouverabilty
Blackburn Baffin: 2
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1
Douglas TBD Devastator: 2
Dornier Do 22: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 2
Fairey Albacore: 2
Fieseler Fi 167: 5
Heinkel He 111: 4
Heinkel He 115: 3
Junkers Ju88: 4
Latécoère 298: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 5

# of Torpedoes (Bombload was secondary)
Blackburn Baffin: 1 Torpedo: 3
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1 Torpedo: 3
Douglas TBD Devastator: 1 Torpedo: 3
Dornier Do 22: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fairey Albacore: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fieseler Fi 167: 1 Torpedo: 3
Heinkel He 111: 2 Torpedoes: 5
Heinkel He 115: 1 Torpedo: 3
Junkers Ju88: 2 Torpedoes: 5
Latécoère 298: 1 Torpedo: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 1 - 2 Torpedoes: 4

Single or Twin Engines (+2 bonus for twin-engined designs)
Blackburn Baffin: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 2
Douglas TBD Devastator: 0
Dornier Do 22: 0
Fairey Swordfish: 0
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 0
Heinkel He 111: +2
Heinkel He 115: +2
Junkers Ju88: +2
Latécoère 298: 0
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: +2

Floatplane or Land-Based (+1 Bonus for Floatplanes)
Blackburn Baffin: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1
Douglas TBD Devastator: 0
Dornier Do 22: 1
Fairey Swordfish: 0
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 0
Heinkel He 111: 0
Heinkel He 115: 1
Junkers Ju88: 0
Latécoère 298: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 0

Cost (Lowest Cost = Highest Ranking)
Blackburn Baffin: 2
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 4
Douglas TBD Devastator: 4
Dornier Do 22: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 2
Fairey Albacore: 3
Fieseler Fi 167: 4
Heinkel He 111: 5
Heinkel He 115: 4
Junkers Ju88: 5
Latécoère 298: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 3

Availability
Blackburn Baffin: 4
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 4
Douglas TBD Devastator: 3
Dornier Do 22: 4
Fairey Swordfish: 4
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 4
Heinkel He 111: 5
Heinkel He 115: 5
Junkers Ju88: 3
Latécoère 298: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 5

Overall Points Scored and Ranking (maxium possible = 33):
Blackburn Baffin: 12
Fairey Swordfish: 13
Fairey Albacore: 13
Latécoère 298: 13
Douglas TBD Devastator: 16
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 20
Fieseler Fi 167: 21
Dornier Do 22: 22
Heinkel He 115: 25
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 25
Heinkel He 111: 28
Junkers Ju88: 29

At this stage, with the evaluations and test flights completed and initial rankings made, a number of aircraft could immediately be eliminated. As can be seen, the performance of the British and French aircraft in terms of speed and range were so poor that they were removed from consideration. Indeed, the evaluation team (as was mentioned) raised concerns with the British that when compared to other countries aircraft and designs, their torpedo bombers were so out-dated that they would almost certainly be wiped out of the sky if faced with any serious opposition. The Douglas Devastator was briefly considered but, put simply, the German and Italian aircraft were so far in advance of the Devastator that after a brief assessment, this was also eliminated. The handling of the Bloehm abd Voss Ha 140 had been so poor in the test flighst that this aircraft also was eliminated immediately.

Of the remaining aircraft, the Fieseler Fi 167 was considered for a longer period – it was a highly maneouverable aircraft, superb in fact, and it remained in the running due to this. In the end though, the decision boiled down to the three aircraft with the highest speed and bomb or torpedo load / armament capacity. The superb track record of the SM 79 in the Spanish Civil War was a consideration, as also was the performance of the He 111 in the samwe conflict. At this stage the SM 79 was tentatively eliminated – its somewhat limited range being the primary factor, and the finalists then boiled down to the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju88 with the SM 79 and Fi 167 as runners up. There were major concerns about whether the Junkers Ju88 would move into production, but in the end these conerns were outweighed by the performance of the aircraft. Initial discussions with Junkers took place, and as it turned out, both Junkers and the Reichsluftfahrtministerium saw an opportunity to use the Maavoimat as guineapigs to further test the aircraft. At the time of the early negotiations, Dr. Heinrich Koppenberg (managing director of Jumo) assured the Finnish Team that the production of 300 Ju 88s per month was definitely possible and that the Finnish order would easily be filled.

The Merivoimat ordered 24 Junkers Ju88’s, modified to be able to carry torpedoes and with a longer wingspan to correct performance deficiencies that the Merivoimat evaluation team had identified in their testing. The aircraft could also be used as bombers and as dive-bombers and could carry a maximum bombload of 5,510 lbs (although in practice it was usually between 3,000 and 4,500 lbs). Again, as with some of their other bombers, the Finns specified a solid nose, in this case with provision for mounting four Finnish-manufactured 20mm Hispano Suiza cannon in the nose (After the aircraft were delivered to Finland, many of the aircraft were fitted with a further four 20mm cannon in twin blisters on either side of the fuselage. This reduced performance a little but the pilots preferred to have the additional fire power for suppression of AA fire when attacking at low level. In action, the impact of 8 streams of 20mm cannon shells on a destroyer had to be seen to be believed). As the Finnish aircraft were intended to be used almost exclusively for low-level torpedo attacks, the ventral weapon (and crew position) was removed – the Merivoimat Ju88 flew with a Crew of 3 (Pilot, Co-Pilot/Navigator and Rear Dorsal Gunner).

The decision having been made, Finland negotiated with Junkers and the Reichsluftfahrtministerium through July and August of 1938 while at the same time keeping the doors open with Heinkel and the Italians in the event that the Junkers purchase could not be finalised. However, in early September 1938 the deal was finally signed and closed, although there were some concerns over the delivery timelines. The Munich Crisis accentuated these concerns, as did the developmental problems that Junkers continued to experience which slowed production to a painfully slow pace which caused the Finns great concern, to the extent that they consider cancelling the order and buying either the Heinkel He 111 or the SM 79 instead. By January 1939, one Ju88 per week was beginning to trickle off the Junkers production line, but as problems were ironed out this began to improve and the Merivoimat took delivery of the final aircraft of the order in July 1939, shortly before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact shocked the world, and the details of the secret clauses relating to Finland and the Baltic States shocked the Finnish Government and military.

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Merivoimat Ju88’s on the Junkers production line, early 1939.

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Merivoimat Junkers Ju88 Torpedo bomber following delivery in mid-1939: this was one of the first aircraft delivered and came with the glazed nose: some of the first aircraft were delivered to the Merivoimat without the specified solid-nose modifications….In service, the Ju88 proved to have good flight performance and was highly manoueverable, with excellent cockpit visibility for the Pilot.

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Following the virtual elimination of the Soviet Baltic Fleet early in the Winter War, Merivoimat Ju88’s were used heavily in support of the Maavoimat over the Spring and Summer of 1940. They proved as effective in this role as they had as torpedo bombers. With engine upgrades, they remained in service into the 1950’s.

With a far higher maxium speed than the old Ripons, new tactics suitable for the Junkers Ju88 needed to be developed and rehearsed. The aircraft was capable of a relatively quick climb, had an excellent turn-of-speed for its time, and its rugged structure and responsiveness allowed the aircraft be flown to the maximum capabilities of its flight envelope. The best means of defence from fighters, however, was to fly in tight formations down at sea level. Utilizing flaps and slats, takeoffs and landings could be performed in short distances, making it suitable for use on rough airfields. Torpedoes could be carried on two hardpoints under the inner wings. Finnish-built torpedoes based on a German design were utilised.

The Ju88 had several advantages compared to other torpedo-bombers. In mid-1939, it had no equal as a torpedo bomber in speed. The Douglas Devastator for example, with a maxium speed of 206mph was far slower, the other contendors such as the old Fairey Swordfish even more so. While the relative efficiency of torpedo-bombers compared to dive-bombers for attacks on naval targets continued to be debated, the Merivoimat Air Arm opted for both. Dedicated torpedo-bomber squadrons equipped with heavy aircraft were expensive and specialized, but the torpedoes packed a heavy punch if they hit, certainly enough to damage a battleship. Dive-bombers on the other hand were less costly and more flexible, being able to be used against both naval and land targets, used more economic and less specialized weapons, and had a less dangerous flight profile while diving almost vertically from high altitude but the size of the bombs able to be carried meant that were probably less effective against the topsides of well-armoured battleships. It was a debate the Merivoimat resolved to some extent by opting to buy both – and in the event, with the Nunkers Ju88 they had an aircraft that could fill both roles – and it was a decision that served them well.

As the Finnish aircraft were intended to be used almost exclusively for torpedo attacks, the ventral weapon was removed. Additionally, the intended use of the Ju 88 by the Merivoimat Air Arm in low-level attacks (as a torpedo-bomber), meant that the aircraft would likely be attacked almost exclusively from the rear and above and this was one of the two main concerns – and was met up upgrading the rear gunners position to twin machineguns. The other was the equipping of the aircraft with forward-firing guns of a heavy calibre for flak suppression during torpedo attacks. To achieve this, four Hispano-Suiza 20mm cannon were mounted in the fuselage nose, with an additional four in blisters on the fuselage on each side of, and below, the cockpit.

OTL Note: The Ilmavoimat actually did have Ju88’s. In April 1943, as Finland was fighting its Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip No. 44 Sqn which had previously operated Bristol Blenheims, but these were instead transferred to No. 42 Sqn. Due to the complexity of the Ju 88, most of 1943 was used for training the crews on the aircraft, and only a handful of bombing missions were undertaken. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). In the summer of 1943, the Finns noted stress damage on the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing. Restrictions followed: the dive brakes were removed and it was only allowed to dive at a 45-degree angle (compared to 60-80 degrees previously). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear.
One of the more remarkable missions was a bombing raid on 9 March 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when the Finnish aircraft, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn, catching the Soviets unprepared and destroying many Soviet bombers and their fuel reserves, and a raid against the Aerosan base at Petsnajoki on 22 March 1944. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions per day, day and night, when the weather permitted. No. 44 Sqn was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945. After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb stores. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped over the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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The 1938 Ilmavoimat Procurement Program - continued

Post by CanKiwi2 » 02 Aug 2011 19:20

Merivoimat Air Arm Fighters – 20 additional Brewster Buffalos ordered in April 1938

The 1938 Procurement Program had made provision for a second fighter squadron for the Merivoimat Air Arm and in April 1938, an order for a further 20 Buffalos was placed. Manufacturing for the Meroivoimat order for 40 aircraft began in June 1938 and the aircraft were shipped in November 1938, arriving in Turku December 1938 and entering service between January-March 1939.

An Observation, Artillery Control and general purpose Light Aircraft for the Ilmavoimat

Through the 1920s and into the early 1930’s the Ilmavoimat had managed, unlike most other Air Forces, to preserve the knowledge and experience of the WW1 "trench strafers" institutionally. Experience had been maintained through the entire decade of the 1920s with the small number of old Junkers J1 ground attack aircraft that had been purchased in the immediate aftermath of WW1. Although these were retired in the early 1930s and progressively replaced with a number of other aircraft types in greater quantity, the history and experience of WW1 trench strafing and ground attack support for the Army had been maintained and progressively built on over the years. In the 1930s, with more and greater quantities of aircraft, more experimentation had taken place, much of it in conjunction with the Maavoimat’s Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment.

Even as close air support began during World War I, there had been pioneer attempts to direct the trench strafing by the ground troops laying out signal panels on the ground, firing flares, or lighting smoke signals. Aircrews had difficulty communicating with the ground troops; they would drop messages or use messenger pigeons. Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg, an Austro-Hungarian pilot, pioneered the use of radio for fire control; at the Battle of Gorlice he used a radio transmitter in his airplane to send changes via morse code to an artillery battery on the ground. On the US side, Colonel Billy Mitchell also equipped his Spad XVI command airplane with a radio, and the Germans experimented with radios in their Junkers J 1 – something the Ilmavoimat had carried on with. Another method of communication was for the pilot to drop messages in a weighted container, and to swoop in and pick up messages hung out by ground troops on a “clothesline” between poles. The objective was aerial reconnaissance and air attack. Using these various methods, the Ilmavoimat pilots combined the functions of both reconnaisance, artillery observation and strike aircraft in exercises and the aircraft also carried trained artillery officers as observers. These aerial observers called in artillery fire via radio.

As experience was gained, co-ordination between air and ground units was improved through the introduction of radios (something we will cover in detail in a later post), joint planning between aerial and ground units and the development of close support doctrine. With greater availability and familiarity, aircraft were also increasingly used for reconnaisance and for both observation and as radio communication was improved in the last half of the 1930’s, forward air control of Artillery – an area where direct observation from the air substantially improved the accuracy and effectiveness of artillery fire and a technique that had been first used effectively in WW1. However, there was an increasing divergence between the need for Close Air Support, which was increasingly provided by ground attack bombers and dive bombers (and later, by aircraft such as the Hawker Henley) and the Maavoimat’s need for Observation and Forward Air Control for Artillery, something which had been provided for a number of years by the smaller numbers of what were termed “Army Liaison” aircraft – the old VL Kotka’s and Fokker C.V’s and the later Fokker C.X’s.

As mentioned previously, the Ilmavoimat had never ignored the need to provide aerial support for ground operations and indeed had more or less discounted strategic bombing from the start. Thus, while most other Air Forces espoused the Douhet theory of strategic bombing, the Ilmavoimat from the very first was unique in its willingness to commit aircraft specifically to Close Air Support (CAS). The result in the early 1930’s had been the purchase of Curtiss Helldivers and later of Hawker Harts as divebombers (and later still the Hawker Henleys) and the experience of the Finnish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War supported this as well as providing valuable oractical experience which led to further developments, particularly in effective ground-air coordination, something which had been highlighted both in exercises, in the Spanish Civil War and by the Maavoimat’s Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment. One of the first comments from the Spanish Civil War (and this was with regard to Ilmavoimat volunteers flying support missions for the Finnish Volunteer Division, Pohjan Pohjat, had been "If you want it, you can't get it. If you can get it, it can't find you. If it can find you, it can't identify the target. If it can identify the target, it can't hit it. But if it does hit the target, it doesn't do a great deal of damage anyway.” Both the Maavoimat’s Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment and the Ilmavoimat had taken this comment to heart and actively studied and experimented on ways to improve the situation.

As a result, already, by early 1937 a number of air liaison detachments had been created and attached to ground units. These detachments existed at Regimental Battle Group level to pass requests from the ground to the air, and to receive and pass on air reconnaissance reports to Intelligence, but they were not at this stage trained to guide aircraft onto targets. The Maavoimat’s Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment continued to experiment and apply lessons learned from the Spanish Civil War on a trial experimental basis and by mid-1938, a number of reccomendations were made and prioritised for immediate implementation through 1939 and 1940. Among these were an increased use of air support in decisive encounters wherever possible – and improvements in the ability to coordinate Close Air Support (CAS) with rapidly moving units (and the Maavoimat was now emphasising Speed as one of a number of decisive factors in battle engagements). The Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment had identified difficulties in coordinating air support with rapid movement, this was to some extent resolved by the increasing use of the new Man-Portable Infantry Radios and also by the use of visual ground signals to mark friendly units and to indicate direction and distance to enemy emplacements as well as visual recognition symbols for ground units so as to ensure recognition by Ilmavoimat pilots and aircrew. While doctrine continued to be developed, practical steps taken through 1938 included a joint Ilmavoimat-Maavoimat CAS Unit at each Regimental Battle Group HQ, the assignment of Artillery Officers to the Ilmavoimat where they flew as Observers to call in artillery fire and the creation of small Forward Fire Support Tasking units at Battalion HQ level. All of these steps were implemented and trialed within the Finnish Volunteer units serving in Spain – a “trial by fire”, the results of which were constantly fed back to the Finnish Military Headquarters and to the Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment, along with any field-improvisations and the results thereof.

The improvised Forward Fire Support Tasking units created in Spain performed a dual role – the calling in of Artillery Fire and the placing of requests for close air support. As these teams gained experience, and as communications improved (the Maavoimat also had a “volunteer” experimental Signals unit in Spain), the Forward Fire Support Tasking Teams cut response times for air support requests to thirty minutes and response times for artillery support to less than a minute (where radio or land-line links existed). In this the Finnish Artillery General Nenonen also played no small part, as we will see when we look in detail at the Finnish Artillery Arm of the Maavoimat in a later post. It was also in the Spanish Civil War that the Ilmavoimat’s “cab rank” CAS tactic was developed. This used a series of three aircraft (or three groups of aircraft), each in turn directed by the Forward Fire Support Tasking unit by radio. One aircraft would be attacking, another in flight to the battle area, while a third was being refuelled and rearmed at its base. If the first attack failed to destroy the tactical target, the aircraft in flight would be directed to continue the attack. The first aircraft would land for its own refuelling and rearming once the third had taken off.

The year 1938 also saw the Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment working closely with the Maavoimat’s newly established 21st Panssaridivisioona (Armoured Division) under the command of Kenraalimajuri (Major-General) Ruben Lagus in developing doctrine and tactics for armored warfare as well as experiementing with CAS for Panssaridivisioona units. By the end of summer 1939, the ongoing exercises had resulted in two major innovations: the spanish-civil-war “cab rank” system being further developed to provide “panssari column cover” where on call CAS air units maintained a high-level of availability for important tank advances, allowing armor units to maintain a high tempo of exploitation even when they outran their artillery assets (this was of course dependent on at least local air superiority being maintained, another requirement that the Ilmavoimat placed a high emphasis on) and the provision of VHF aircraft radios to all armored fighting vehicles of the Panssaaridivisoona to allow them tocommunicate directly with nearby CAS aircraft (in the event, this was not achieved before the Winter War broke out, although almost all tanks were fitted with radios). However, by spring 1940 radios were fitted in almost all vehicles of the Panssaaridivisoonas and when the Spring Offensive took place on the Karelian Isthmus, all tank commanders and most supporting units were able to communicate directly with overhead CAS aircraft and Forward Fire Support Tasking aircraft. In addition, Panssaaridivisoona Forward Fire Support Tasking teams operated from Scout Cars and Tanks equipped with a wide range of radio sets for both ground to air and ground to ground communications and could quickly call in air or artillery support for any targets of opportunity or threats to the troops in their area.

One of the other issues identified in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War had been the need for Pilots and Forward Fire Support Tasking Controllers to be familiar with each other and with a perspective of the difficulties of control from the ground. In the early days, while battlefield support was becoming available and the pilots were enthusiastic, coordination was lacking and mistakes were made, leading to some heated exchanges. This lead to the assignment of CAS Pilots to the Forward Fire Support Tasking units where they both gained a practical appreciation of the limitations grounds-based controllers operated under, and to which they brought the experience of the Pilot carrying out CAS missions. The end result of this was that by the end of 1938, the Maavoimat and Ilmavoimat worked together to assign a CAS-trained Pilot to each Forward Fire Support Tasking unit – and with one such Pilot to each Infantry Battalion in the Maavoimat, this was a significant number of trained Pilots. In the event, a sufficient number of trained Pilots were not available during the Winter War and the positions were almost all filled by student Pilots who had completed their Basic CAS training and who worked alongside similarly tasked Artillery Fire Support personnel as joint teams. The officers and men of these units suffered a high casualty rate during the Winter War but despite this and their limited training, they performed a dangerous and challenging task with a high level of effectiveness.

However, in all of this neither the Ilmavoimat, the Maavoimat nor the Maavoimat’s Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment had forgotten the Army Cooperation / Liaison Aircraft and their use in this role. As Forward Fire Support Tasking units were set up and assigned to ground units, the Combined Arms Experimental and Training establishment continued to experiement with the use of aircraft for this role. With the forest terrain of much of Finland, ground troops often had difficulty in observing the enemy or in staying linked with one another and the Maavoimat Cooperation / Liaison Aircraft filled this role, providing reconnaisance, calling in Artillery Fire and coordinating CAS where ground-based observers were unable to provide sufficient information. This was an area where Spain, with its more open terrain, did not offer many lessons – but the annual exercises that took place through the 1930s served as an important field of experiment within Finland itself. As lessons from the Spanish Civil War were studied and incorporated at a rapid pace, the lessons were also applied to the Cooperation / Liaison Aircraft. While Artillery Fire could be called in by radio , observed and corrections called back, accurate targeting of CAS proved more problematical. Over 1936 and 1937, trials were conducted using 30 pound phosphorus bombs to mark targets. This proved remarkably successful, as did the coordination of CAS from the Cooperation / Liaison Aircraft – with an aircraft-based Forward Fire Support Tasking Controller proving able to direct as many as 20 CAS aircraft at a time in air strikes. With practice, CAS Pilots on exercise were able to deliver ordnance as close as 150 yards from friendly troops (while in peace time, the “friendlies” were represented by markers to reduce the possibility of accidents, in the Winter War ordnance was at times delivered even closer to “friendly troops” with remarkable accuracy and consistency). At the same time, CAS was defined as air strikes within 50 to 200 yards of friendly troops, delivered within fifteen minutes of the request being called in where CAS was on call and immediately available.

The establishment of the Maavoimat“Paarma” (Horsefly) Units

By late 1937, a decision had been made to formalise airborne Forward Fire Support Tasking Units, with the assignment of one such unit to each Regimental Battle Group. These were named “Paarma” (Horsefly) Units and were tasked with Forward Artillery Control, Forward CAS Control, Target marking (initialy using Phosphorus Bombs, later also using smoke-rockets), Reconnaissance/observation (including artillery spotting), Casualty Evacuation from forward areas and General Liaison use. The TOE for a Paarma Unit assigned to a Regimental Battle Group was set at four aircraft, with four Pilot / Forward Air Controllers, four Observation/Artillery Control Officers, a ground-based “Paarma” CO who was also a trained Forward Air Controller, and sixty NCO’s and men (including Signals). The unit was allocated its own vehicles and could move along with the ground forces it supported and be split into smaller sections if needed.

However, the old Fokker CV’s and Kotkas were even by 1937 getting outdated, the Fokker C.X’s were also a rather outdated design - and while these aircraft were initially allocated to the "Paarma" units, a more effective replacement in greater numbers was sought. The Finns were also well aware of the new Fieseler Fi 156 Storch that had been recently introduced into the largely identical role by the German Luftwaffe. They took this aircraft and the specs it had been designed to meet into account as they spelled out the requirement for an aircraft more specifically suited to the Observation and Forward Air Control for the Artillery and Close Air Support task as well as general support and liason activities for Maavoimat units. Virtually identical to the German requirement, the Finnish requirement placed an emphasis on short field performance, maximum possible all-round view for the crew members, and a wide range of speed. In late 1937, a joint Ilmavoimat and Maavoimat Team began evaluating and shortlisting aircraft for this role.
Again, a range of aircraft were looked at: the British Hawker Hector and Westland Lysander, the Heinkel He46, the Siebel Si201, the Fiesler Fi156 Storch, the Messerschmitt Bf108 and Bf163, the (US) Piper J3, the (Italian) Meridiomali Ro.63, the (Polish) Lublin R-XII and its successor - the RWD-14 Czapla as well as the LWS-3 Mewa, the (French) Potez 39, the Henschel Hs126 and the Blohm & Voss BV141. Further construction of the Fokker C.X already in service with the Ilmavoimat was also considered. In addition, designs for the Focke-Wulf Fw189 and Arado Ar198 were also looked at and in August 1938, test flight series on both aircraft were carried out. Focke-Wulf also submitted a C 30 Heuschrecke (Grasshopper) Autogyro for consideration and while it was not selected, it sparked off a separate research and development project within Finland which, as we will see in the next post, had some unexpected results.

Any other suggestions from anyone on aircraft to be considered? Must be in service or a prototype available byt mid-1937 give or take a month or two?
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Observation, Army Co-operation and Medical Evac Aircraft - 1

Post by CanKiwi2 » 05 Aug 2011 22:03

Arado Ar198 (Germany)

Development of this aircraft dated back to 1936 when the RLM issued a specification to the German aircraft industry calling for a plane specially suited to the short-range reconnaissance role. This specification was initially taken up by Arado, Blohm & Voss (Hamburger Flugzeugbau Division), Focke-Wulf, and Henschel. Each of these firms was able to base their design on previous aircraft and experience with this specific aircraft type and they were able to submit designs to the RLM within a short time. The requirement was to replace the Heinkel He 46 already in service with the Luftwaffe by an aircraft designed to make use of the most modern technology. This included on the one hand the use of a powerful engine, good characteristics over the speed range, optimal vision for the crew and, on the other hand, protective and defensive features for the crew.

After various changes to the basic design, a contract for a preproduction series AradoAr 198A-0 was finally granted in July 1937. For the Ar 198 a crew of three, consisting of pilot, gunner/radio operator, and observer, was planned. Due to the required optimal vision and high speed, a fully-enclosed crew compartment was built into the design. Tactical reconnaissance put a high emphasis on ground vision and the observer's position was positioned below the wing plane for unobstructed vision, while the pilot and rear gunner were enclosed in an extensively glazed cabin above the wing plane. In this generously laid-out crew compartment there was an accessible connection to each crew position which resulted in good communications between crew members.

The entire forward fuselage structure, inclusive of the crew compartment, was of steel tube construction with the engine bearer included in this construction. Formers, light-metal fillets and a light-metal skin allowed for an aerodynamically advantageous shape. The rear fuselage was of an all-metal monocoque construction and purely as a tail-boom with no equipment for tactical missions installed. The first flight of the Arado 198 V1 took place in March 1938 at the Arado factory airfield at Warnemünde. During the early flights a marked instability in the projected low-speed range about all axes was noticed. It was thought that this was due to the large extension of the lower fuselage and consequently the layout was markedly changed for the second and third prototypes. In order to correct the flight characteristics the wings of the Ar 198 V1 were fitted with automatic slats which resulted in noticeable improvement in flight characteristic which also demanded considerable experience of the pilot.

The joint Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL evaluation team flew this first prototype in July 1938 and generally rated it highly. Althought it demanded considerable experience to fly, performamce was excellent, as was visibility.

Image
The Arado Ar 198 had a crew of 3 and was powered by a single BRAMO 323 A-1 Fafnir 900hp engine with a maximum speed of 223mph, a ramge of 672 miles and a service ceiling of 26,250 feet. Stall speed at sea level was approx. 70mph and landing speed with fully extended flaps was 55mph with a required runway fully loaded of 600 m and for landing from of 510 m

OTL Note: The assembly process for the aircraft also proved complex, with an associated high cost of production. Arado also had insufficient production capacity and this led the RLM to put a halt to the mass-production of the Arado Ar 198. Continued evaluation of the Ar 198 however, was not cancelled by that decision. The second prototype was completed and turned over to the Luftwaffe Flight Test Center at Rechlin. Soon after some very sucessful test flights this aircraft crashed on the landing approach when the starboard automatic slat came off, damaging the wing and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing on rough ground. Damage to the airframe was such that restoration of the machine was not carried out. The Arado Ar 198 V1, however, after the elimination of a few faults, was flown for a long time with increasing enthusiasm on the part of its assigned crew. The third prototype was only 80 per cent completed and then used for static tests.

Blohm & Voss BV141 (Germany)

In 1937, the German Air Ministry - the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) - issued a specification for a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft with optimal visual observation characteristics. The preferred contractor was Arado, but the request prompted the Focke-Wulf company to work up an alternative idea - the Focke-Wulf Fw 189, a twin-boom design with two smaller engines and a central crew gondola, while the Chief Designof of Blohm & Voss, Dr. Richard Vogt, proposed something far more radical - the uniquely asymmetric BV 141. A perspex-glazed crew gondola on the starboard side strongly resembled that found on the Fw 189, and housed the pilot, observer and rear gunner, while the fuselage on the port side led smoothly from the 746 kW (1,000 hp) Bramo 123 radial engine to a tail unit. The tailplane was symmetrical in the BV 141 V1 prototype.

Image

At first glance, it would seem that the displacement of lift vs weight, and thrust vs drag, would have induced tendencies to yaw and roll requiring continual trimming to control, but the aircraft actually proved very stable and maneuverable. Indeed, Dr. Vogt had calculated that the greater weight on one side of the aircraft could be easily cancelled out by factoring in the torque of the propeller. The aircraft's design prompted a mixed response from the RLM and had no impact on their decision to build the Fw 189. Indeed, an urgent need for BMW 801 engines for use in the Fw 190 fighter aircraft further reduced any chance that the BV 141 would see production. Three further prototypes and an evaluation batch of five BV 141As were produced for the Luftwaffe, but the assessment was that they were underpowered. By the time a batch of 12 BV 141Bs were built with the more powerful BMW 801 engines, they were too late to make an impression, as production of the Fw 189 was already well along. The BV 141B had the starboard tailplane virtually removed to improve the rear gunner's field of view.

Image
The Blohm & Voss BV 141 had a crew of 3 (pilot, observer and rear-gunner) and was powered by a single BMW 801 radial piston engine of 1,560 hp. It had a maximum speed of 272mph and a range of 745 miles with a service ceiling of 32,800 ft. Defensive armament for the Luftwafee consisted of. 2 × 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns and 2 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns.

OTL Note: Several wrecked BV 141s were found by advancing Allied forces. One was recovered by British forces and returned to England for examination. None survive today.

The BV 141 prototype first flew in February 1938. The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL team evaluated this aircraft and conducted a series of test flights over April/May 1938. The performance was found to be good and the observation visibility excellent although STOL capability was lacking. Overall though, the design was rather too radical for the Finns and while it remained in consideration, it was as a “possibility” rather than up for firm consideration.

Fiesler Fi 156 Storch (Germany)

In the summer of 1935, Fiesler Chairman Gerhard Fieseler, Chief Designer Reinhold Mewes (who specialised in STOL aircraft) and Technical Director Erich Bachem (later the creator of the Ba 349 Natter VTO fighter) designed the ultimate in practical STOL aircraft, the Fieseler Fi 156. It was no mere exercise, and was seen as fulfilling numerous roles both in civil life and for the recently resurgent Luftwaffe. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) was a remarkable STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft, a three-seat, high-winged machine with the wing liberally endowed with slats and flaps and a stalky landing gear arrangement, well suited to cushioning arrivals at unprecedentedly steep angles. Fieseler's chief designer, Reinhold Mewes, decided for ease of maintenance that the airplane should be completely conventional in its construction, and so utilized a steel tubing and fabric fuselage with wooden wings. The engine was the then-common Argus As 10C inverted V-8 aircooled 240-hp model.

Aerodynamically Mewes decided to go to the other extreme and use the most advanced techniques available to produce the ultimate in slow speed performance. Accordingly, the big 46-foot wing had full-length fixed slats (projected movable slats never materialized), Fowler-type flaps that increased wing area by 18 percent, and ailerons that drooped with the flaps when they were extended past 20 degrees. The wings could be folded back along the fuselage, allowing it to be carried on a trailer or even towed slowly behind a vehicle. The long legs of the landing gear contained oil and spring shock absorbers that compressed about 450 mm (18 inches) on landing, allowing the plane to set down almost anywhere. In flight they hung down, giving the aircraft the appearance of a very long-legged, big-winged bird, hence its nickname, Storch. With its very low landing speed the Storch often landed "in place" or sometimes even backwards, if the wind was blowing strongly from directly ahead.

The first Fi 156 V1 prototype flew in the spring of 1936, a braced high-wing monoplane of mixed construction, with a conventional braced tail unit and fixed tailskid landing gear with long-stroke main units, it was powered by an 240 hp (179 kW) Argus As 10C 8-cylinder inverted-Vee air-cooled piston engine, and its extensively glazed cabin provided an excellent view for its three-man crew. As with the Fi 97, the key to the success of this aircraft was its wing incorporating the company's high-lift devices, comprising in the initial production series a fixed slot extending over the entire span of the wing leading edge, with slotted ailerons and slotted camber-changing flaps occupying the entire trailing edge. The Argus As 10C V8 engine gave the plane a top speed of only 175 km/h (109 mph), enabling the Storch to fly as slow as 50 km/h (32 mph), take off into a light wind in less than 45 m (150 ft), and land in 18 m (60 ft). In response to the prototype, in 1937 the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Reich Aviation Ministry) put out a tender for a new Luftwaffe aircraft suitable for liaison, army co-operation - today called Forward Air Control - and medical evacuation to several companies.

Designs from from Messerschmitt (the Bf 163) and Siebel (the Si 201) and an auto gyro from Focke-Wulf (the Fw 186) based on Cierva technology were submitted, but the Fieseler entry was by far and away the most advanced in terms of STOL performance, needing a take-off run of only about 200 ft (60 m) and landing in about one-third of that distance. The first Fi 156 prototype was followed up by the second V2 prototype and then the third V3 prototype, the ski-equipped V4, plus one V5 and ten Fi 156A-0 pre-production aircraft. Flight testing of the first three prototypes (Fi 156 V1, V2 and V3) showed that the capability of this aircraft more than exceeded its STOL expectations, with little more than a light breeze blowing it could take off inonly a few feet. One of these prototypes was demonstrated publicly for the first time at an international flying meeting at the end of July 1937 in Zürich, by which time the general-purpose Fi 156A-1 was in production. The Storch repeatedly demonstrated full-load take-offs after a ground run of never more than 148 ft (45 m), and a fully controllable speed range of 32-108 mph (51-174 km/h). Service tests confirmed that Germany's armed forces had acquired a superb 'go-anywhere' aircraft.

It was immediately ordered into production by the Luftwaffe with an order for 16 planes, and the first Fi 156A-1 production aircraft entered service in mid-1937. Fieseler then offered the Fi 156B, which allowed for the retraction of the leading edge slats and had a number of minor aerodynamic cleanups, boosting the speed to 208 km/h (130 mph). The Luftwaffe didn't consider such a small difference to be important, and Fieseler instead moved on to the main production version, the C. The Fi 156C was essentially a "flexible" version of the A model. A small run of C-0s were followed by the C-1 three-seater liaison version, and the C-2 two-seat observation type (which had a rear-mounted MG 15 machine gun for defense). Both models entered service in 1939. In 1941, both were replaced by the "universal cockpit" C-3, suited to any role. Last of the Cs was the C-5, a C-3 with a belly hardpoint for a camera pod or drop tank. Some were fitted with skis, rather than wheels, for operations on snow. Other versions of the Fi 156 were the C-3/Trop, which was a tropicalised version of the Fi 156C-5, and the Fi 156D which was an air ambulance version. The first two Fi 156D models were the D-0 pre-production aircraft, and the D-1 production aircraft, powered by an Argus As 10P engine. The designation Fi 156C-1 applied to a variant intended to be deployed in liaison and staff transport roles, and the Fi 156C-2 was basically a two-crew reconnaissance version carrying a single camera. Some late examples of the Fi 156C-2 were, however, euipped to carry one stretcher for casualty evacuation. The final production variant was an improved casualty evacuation aircraft with an enlarged loading/unloading hatch for a single stretcher. Ten unusual pre-production aircraft were built under the designation Fi 156E-0, intended for operation from rough terrain with the standard landing gear was replaced by main units that each incorporated two wheels in tandem, the wheels of each unit, being linked by pneumatic rubber track.

It must be admitted that the Storch was large for its job, and the US Army Piper L-4 Grasshopper, its mass-produced equivalent, did most of the same tasks on 65 hp (48 kW) instead of 240 hp (179 kW). On the other hand, it could be argued that the aircraft bought by the RAF for the same duties was the Westland Lysander which, despite the best efforts of Westland could not come anywhere near the German aircraft's STOL qualities even with nearly 1,000 hp (746 kW). The truest test is perhaps an aircraft's influence on history. Immediately, the Storch had emulators in at least 10 countries, US examples including the Ryan YO-51 Dragonfly, Vultee L-1 Vigilant and Bellanca O-50, and even a version adopted by the Soviet Union. It added up to a vehicle that could go almost anywhere and do a remarkable number of things. Tests against fighters appeared to confirm that, at around 34 mph (55 km/h), it was a very difficult target for fighters. There was almost trouble when Udet's camera-gun film showed not one picture of the elusive Storch. Another Fi 156A-0 was tested with three SC-50 (50 kg/110 lbs) bombs, with aim marks painted on the Plexiglas windows, while another did successful trials against a U-boat with inert 298 lbs (135 kg) depth charges. Less unexpected were supply-dropping tests and trials with smoke apparatus.

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL Team evaluated the aircraft and carried out a series of flight tests early in 1938. As expected, the Fi 156 rated highly, with the STOL performance in particular impressing the the test team. Excerpts from the Flight Test reports written at the time reveal some of the impressions that aircraft made on the Test Pilots:

“…..nothing could possibly convey its general ungainliness. It stands so high off the ground that an average man can barely see in the side windows…”

“…..once in the cockpit, the nose didn't even begin to block my vision because I was sitting so high above it. The cockpit area is huge, big enough to stand up in, and it's cluttered with cranks, wheels and levers, all labeled in German. The stick and rudder are where they should be, but the rudders are big cast-aluminum footprints with safety straps of their own and the stick resembles a telephone pole. The flaps are lowered by a crank, not a dainty little crank, but a man-sized Model "T" Ford type crank that sticks out of the left wall. By winding in the Aus direction, wing-size boards flop out of the trailing edges and the ailerons race to catch up. In the spar carry-through structure over the pilot's head is a pointer that indicates how much flap is hanging out, and in this airplane, any flap at all is a lot……”

“….. I must have made at least 15 takeoffs and landings, all of them incredibly short and none of them where I wanted them to be. On takeoff, I found that even with the correct trim, I couldn't pull back hard enough to come even close to stalling it. As soon as I had a minimum of 35 knots, I could pull back all I wanted and do nothing but climb. I had absolutely no head-wind component and my initial climb angle was nearly 45 degrees. This airplane really will leap off the ground. Taking off three-point in a headwind, I doubt that it would need more than 20 feet to get off, although I was using close to 100 most of the time……”

“……To make short-field landings on a chosen spot, you usually like to get the airplane slow enough so you have to use power to drag it in. I was constantly frustrated in the Storch, because I never got it slow enough to need power. Almost every landing was power-off, and eventually I was so exasperated that I was approaching at 25 knots indicated. At that speed, I needed power to soften the touchdown, but it still wasn't slow enough to hang on the prop. …… the really hot-shot German Pilot that instructed us in the Fi 156 would come creeping in over the trees at practically zero airspeed, letting it fall on command and catching it at the last moment with a burst of power….."

“….. I tried to stall it while at altitude and found that it not only refuses to stall, but as long as I had the slightest amount of power in to give it elevator effectiveness, I could easily fly the airplane where I wanted while holding the stick all the way back. Once you master that kind of approach, you could land backwards on an outhouse roof…..”

“……I had a lot of silly things happen while flying this airplane but the silliest was when I tried slipping it. I was high, per usual, so I figured I’d just use a max deflection slip. It works on other airplanes, why not? As I leaned the aileron into it and got on the opposite rudder everything was going just fine until I got about half rudder. At that point, the rudder pressure disappeared and the rudder pedal sank to the floor with no effort from me and stayed there. So, there I was, coming down final sideways with a rudder that was stuck to the floor of its own accord. That scared the living hell out of me! I had to practically stand on the other rudder to get things straighted out. I guess the aerodynamic balance on the rudder is so big that when enough of it catches the wind, it overpowers the surface and yanks it to full deflection……”

“….Maneuvering in the Storch is a real physical workout. The controls feel the way the airplane looks—gawky and loose. The stick forces are anything but light and to keep it completely coordinated, your feet have to thrash in and out as if you were working a treadle sewing machine….”


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The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) was a small two to five-seat mixed-structure high-winged army liaison aircraft with a fixed undercarriage. Photo taken of the V2 Prototype at the IV Internationales Flugmeeting, Zurich, 1937

OTL Note: The Storch could be found on every front throughout the European and North African theaters of operation in World War II. It will probably always be most famous for its role in Operation Eiche, the rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a boulder-strewn mountain top near the Gran Sasso, surrounded by Italian troops. German commando Otto Skorzeny dropped with 90 paratroopers onto the peak and quickly captured it, but the problem remained of how to get back off. A Focke Achgelis Fa 223 helicopter was sent, but it broke down en route. Instead, pilot Walter Gerlach flew in a Storch, landed in 30 m (100 ft), took aboard Mussolini and Skorzeny, and took off again in under 80 m (250 ft), even though the plane was overloaded.

A total of about 2,900 Fi 156s, mostly Cs, were produced from 1937 to 1945. When the main Fieseler plant switched to building Bf 109s in 1943, Storch production was shifted to the Mráz factory in Choceň, Czechoslovakia. A large number were also built at the captured Morane-Saulnier factory in France, starting in April 1942, as the M.S.500 Criquet. Both factories continued to produce the planes after the war for local civilian markets (in Czechoslovakia it was made as K-65 Čáp, 138 were made by 1949). Licenced production was also started in Romainia in 1943 at the ICAR (Īntreprinderea de construcţii aeronautice româneşti) factory in Bucharest. Only 10 were built by the time Romania switched sides, with a further 70 aircraft being built by the Romanians before production ended in 1946. During the war at least 60 Storchs were captured by the Allies, one becoming the personal aircraft of Field Marshal Montgomery.

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OTL Note: the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch in Finland: The Finnish Ministry of Defense ordered two Fieseler Fi 156 Storchs from Germany on 31 Dec, 1938. Those were delivered by sea in May 1939 and remained in service until 1960.

Focke-Wulf Fw189 (Germany)

The Focke-Wulf Fw 189 was designed in response to the German Air Ministry specification issued in February 1937. This called for an aircraft with a crew of three and better performance than the Hs 126, then about to enter service as the standard reconnaissance aircraft. Arado, Blohm und Voss and Focke Wulf each produced a design in response to this specification. The Arado Ar 198 was the most conventional - a shoulder-winged single-engined aircraft with a bulged, glazed belly - but with poor performance. Blohm und Voss designed the Bv 141, an asymmetrical aircraft with the crew in a glazed pod to the right of the engine. This offered a good view and acceptable performance but was rather too radical a design for the German Air Ministry.

Focke-Wulf's design was not as radical as it at first looks. The Fw 189 was a standard twin-bombed two engined monoplane. Its unusual looks were due to the heavily glazed central pod which contained the crew section, although it was originally designed to be used with a number of different centre sections, allowing use as a ground attack or as a training aircraft. At first the German Air Ministry was rather sceptical about the Fw 189. However, in April 1937 Focke-Wulf received a contract to produce a single prototype, which made its maiden flight in July 1938 and it was this prototype that was evaluated by the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL team in August of the same year.

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With a Crew of 3, the Focke Wulf Fw 189 was powered by two Argus As 410A-1 air cooled inline engines of 465hp each. Maximum Speed was 217 mph, Range was 416 miles and the service ceiling was 23,950 feet. Defensive armament consisted of four 7.92mm machine guns.

OTL Note: This unarmed prototype was followed by two further prototypes in the initial batch: the V2, which was the first armed prototype, with two machine guns in the wing roots and three 7.92mm MG 17s in the crew pod - one in front of the cabin, one in the conical rear gunner's position and one above the cabin; and the V3, which had automatic variable pitch propellers and the production versions of the Argus As 410 engines. The success of the first three prototypes was rewarded with an order for a second series of four prototypes. V4 was the prototype for the A series, with a modified engine cowling, semi-cowled main wheels, a larger main wheels and only two machine guns. The wing root guns remained, as did the upper and rear pod guns, although the front gun was removed. The V4 was used for tests with smoke-screen equipment and with equipment for using poisoned gas and chemical weapons. V5 was the prototype for the B series of training aircraft. V6 was the prototype for the planned series of heavily armoured ground attack aircraft and V7 was to be built as a prototype of a twin-float version of the aircraft, although it was completed as one of three B-0 trainers.

In the spring of 1940 Focke-Wulfe received an order for ten pre-production A-0s and twenty A-1s. The A-1 was armed with two fixed forward firing MG 17s and two flexibly mounted MG 15s. The first of these was carried in a circular glass turret on the roof of the cockpit, while the second was mounted in the conical rear cone of the pod, which could rotate through 360 degrees. The A-1 could also carry four 154lb/ 75kg bombs and an RB 20/30 camera as standard, with a wide range of other cameras available. Large scale production didn't get under way until late in 1940. Until the campaign in the west in 1940 the Luftwaffe believed that the Hs 126 was capable of carrying out the short range reconnaissance role, but it soon became clear that it lacked the performance required to operate effectively.

The Fw 189 was given a high production priority and was produced at several factories across Europe, with new production lines being established in Prague and around Bordeaux although production began at Focke-Wulf's own factory at Bremen. The type became the main German tactical reconnaissance aircraft from 1942 until the summer of 1944. Thirty eight aircraft were delivered by the end of 1940, sixty-one in 1941, fifty seven in 1942 and eleven in 1943. By this point production was being concentrated around Bordeaux, while the Bremen factory was focusing on the Fw 190. The second production line was in the Aero-Avia factory at Prague. This factory produced 151 aircraft in 1940-41, 183 in 1942 and three in 1943, for a total of 337. The final production line was set up around Bordeaux. At first the French factories assembled aircraft from German-built sub-assemblies, completing 87 aircraft in 1942. In 1943 the French factories were responsible for most remaining aircraft, before production of the Fw 189 was cancelled early in 1944. Eventually 864 Fw 189s were completed, 337 at Prague, between 250 and 300 in France (sources differ, and sub-totals often don't add up), and the rest at Bremen. Production reached its peak in 1942.

At the start of the war German short range reconnaissance was carried out by squadrons designated as Aufklärungsstaffeln (Heer), abbreviated to Aufkl.(H) or (H). Thirty six such squadrons existed in August 1939, and were under army control. Each squadron was self-supporting and fully mobile and could move from location to location under its own steam. The first few Fw 189s reached experimental sections of the Luftwaffe in the spring of 1940. At about the same time some aircraft reached the reconnaissance squadrons for service trials, but large-scale deliveries didn't really begin until the end of 1942. On 22 July 1941, at the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the number of reconnaissance squadrons had risen to 54, most of which were still using the Hs 126. Production of the Fw 189 increased in pace during the year, but even at the end of 1942 the Hs 126 still made up a significant proportion of the available aircraft. In the winter of 1941-42 the squadrons were organised into short-range reconnaissance groups, each of which was meant to contain three squadrons. On the southern sector there were nine groups with sixteen squadrons, of which six were still using the Hs 126. In the middle sector things were worse, with six groups and thirteen squadrons, of which nine still had the Hs 126. Finally both squadrons operating in the north were still using the older aircraft. Of a total of 31 short-range reconnaissance squadrons, 17, or just over half, were still using the older aircraft.

The Fw 189 was one of a long series of aircraft that owed their success to the air superiority won by fighter aircraft. This was brutally obvious in 1940, when the Fairey Battle and Westland Lysander suffered very heavy losses while the essentially similar Ju 87 Stuka and Fieseler Storch operated with great success. When the Fw 189 did appear in strength in the East it performed well. The air-cooled inline engines were more reliable in extreme cold weather than liquid cooled engines, while the aircraft itself proved to be very rugged. The heyday of the Fw 189 was probably 1942, which saw it operate in comparatively large numbers against weak opposition. After that things became increasingly difficult. The Germans found themselves on the opposite side of the situation – in the West, Allied control of the skies forced the Fw 189 to operate at night, while slow Allied army liaison and observation aircraft were able to operate in the skies above France with relative impunity while in the East, ever stronger Soviet fighter defences and ever-improving Soviet fighter aircraft made the skies increasingly dangerous for the Fw 189. Reconnaissance missions either needed an increasing number of fighter escorts, or took place at night. By the summer of 1944 the Fw 189 had been forced out of the daytime skies, and the surviving aircraft were forced to operate at night, or as training and liaison.

Focke-Wulf Fw 186 Autogyro

German helicopter development began with Focke Wulf’s acquisition of the rights to manufacture Cierva autogyros during the 1920’s. Over 30 Cierva C.19 and C.30 autogyros were built during the late twenties and early thirties, and from this experience, Heinrich Focke, the engineering half of the Focke Wulf organization, decided to develop an original autogyro design to compete in the Luftwaffe’s contest to provide a utility-liaison aircraft. The Focke-Wulf Fw 186 was a one-man autogyro built by Focke-Wulf in 1937 with backing from the RLM (ReichsLuftfahrtMinisterium - Reich Aviation Ministry).

The FW-186 was essentially a FW-56 “Stosser” parasol wing advanced trainer, with the wings removed, tail unit and landing gear redesigned and configured for two seats in tandem. The engine remained unchanged, with a clutch arrangement installed to start the blades rotating for takeoff. An autogyro uses the main powerplant for forward thrust while the rotors freewheel in flight. The aircraft could take off and land in very short distances, but it could not hover or take off and land vertically. Although the FW-186 was successfully flown it was beaten out by the Fieseler Fi-156 Storch for the Luftwaffe contract. Only one prototype of the aircraft was constructed, and the project was abandoned when the RLM preferred the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch over the Fw 186.

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The Fockewulf F2 186 Autogyro was powered by a single Argus As 10C 8 cylinder air cooled 90º inverted Vee piston engine producing up to 240 hp with a maximum speed of 112mph.

The ilmavoimat / Maavoimat team did evaluate the Fw-186 very early in 1938, and while it was considered not suitable for the intended role and was removed from consideration, one of the Maavoimat Officers on the evaluation team (who was also familiar with the Glider Program underway) considered the gyrocopter interesting enough to recommend further discussions with the FockeWulf company to his own immediate Command, with rather interesting results....

Fokker C.X Biplane Scout and Light Bomber (Netherlands / Finland)
The Fokker C.X was already in service in Finland with the Ilmavoimat - four C.X’s had been purchased as “pattern” aircraft in 1934 along with a manufacturing license and the Ilmavoimat had ordered a further 20 from VL, who built the C.X aircraft over the last half of 1934 through to mid-1935. A further 20 were built through 1935 and early 1936 but with the move of VL to Tampere and the startup of Fokker D.XXI and Bristol Blenheim manufacturing, production was discontinued as the emphasis was placed on the construction of more modern aircraft. In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat briefly considered resurrecting the C.X for the Army Co-operation role.

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The Ilmavoimat Fokker C.X had a maximum speed of 211mph, a range of 522 miles and a service ceiling of 27,230 feet. Armament consisted of 2x 7.9mm machine guns fixed on top of the front fuselage and a third manually aimed from rear cockpit. Underwing racks for two 385lb (175kg) or four 221lb (100kg) bombs were fitted.

However, the C.X had no real STOL capability and was not suitable for the intended multiple roles of casualty evacuation and army liaison. After an initial review, the aircraft was not considered further.

Hawker Hector (UK)

The Hawker Hector first flew in February 1936 and was intended by the RAF as a replacement for the Hawker Audax Army co-operation aircraft. At the time of the Finnish evaluation, the Hector equipped seven RAF army co-operation squadrons, although the Finns were also advised that it was intended to start replacing the Hectors in RAF service in 1938. The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL Team expressed considerable disbelief among themselves that in early 1938 the RAF was still flying an aircraft reminiscent of the first World War, particularly in light of the German aircraft designs they were also looking at. Their initial conclusion was that the aircraft was unreliable, obsolete and would be ineffective in its intended role. The Hector was eliminated from the evaluation with no further consideration.

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The Hawker Hector had a Crew of 2 and was powered by a single Napier Dagger III 24-cylinder air-cooled H-block engine of 805 hp, giving a maximum speed of 187mph with a ramge of 300 miles and a service ceiling of 24,000 feet. Armament consisted of one forward firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun Mk.V and one rear-firing 303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun mounted in the rear cockpit.

OTL Note: One prototype and 178 production aircraft were built. After the Lysanders started entering service, the Hectors were transferred to RAF Auxiliary Air Force squadrons; 613 Squadron used theirs to attack German troops advancing through northern France in May 1940. Two aircraft were lost in combat over Calais, before the squadron was evacuated. Hectors were used by the RAF from 1940 as target-towers, and for towing the General Aircraft Hotspur training gliders. The type was deeply unpopular with ground crews due to the complicated nature of the engine, which had 24 cylinders, with 24 spark plugs and 48 valves, all of which required frequent maintenance.

Britain sold the Irish Free State 13 of the Hectors after the Dunkirk Evacuation. In general they were in poor condition. They were sold by the British War Office to the Irish Free State upon requests for aircraft. The Irish military were wholly unprepared for major warfare, but still relied almost totally on military supplies from Britain. The defence of Ireland was also in the British interest, but with the Battle of Britain raging in the skies, could afford to sell the Irish Government nothing better than the Hector.

RWD-14 Czapla (Poland)

The RWD-14 Czapla was a Polish observation, close reconnaissance and liaison aircraft, designed in the mid-1930s by the RWD team, and produced in the LWS factory from 1938. The aircraft was designed in response to a Polish Air Force requirement of 1933 for a new army cooperation plane, a successor of the Lublin R-XIII. The RWD team of the DWL workshops (Doświadczalne Warsztaty Lotnicze) initially proposed the RWD-12 project, based on the RWD-8 trainer. It was however considered as not as good as the R-XIII, and another aircraft, the RWD-14 was designed by Stanislaw Rogalski and Jerzy Drzewiecki. Designer Tadeusz Chyliński prepared its technical documentation. The aircraft was a mixed construction monoplane with a braced parasol high-wing. The fuselage was a metal and wooden frame, covered with canvas. Wooden two-spar wings were covered with canvas and plywood and fitted with slats and the stabilizers were also of wooden construction. The wings folded rearwards. The fixed landing gear was of conventional design with a rear tailwheel. The Crew of two sat in tandem open cockpits, with twin controls and individual windshields. The observer had a 7.7 mm Vickers K machine gun, the pilot had a fixed 7.92 mm wz.33 machine gun with interrupter gear. 9 cylinder air-cooled radial engine PZL G-1620B Mors-II with 430 hp (320 kW) nominal power and 470 hp (350 kW) take-off power and a two-blade wooden propeller. Two fuel tanks with total capacity of 315 litres (265 liter in the fuselage, 50 liter in the central wing). The aircraft could be fitted with a radio and camera.

The first prototype was flown in late 1935. It won the contest over the Lublin R-XXI project and the Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów factory project, but factory trials showed that its performance was still not satisfactory. Between 1936 and 1937 two modified prototypes were built, designated RWD-14a, but both crashed during trials due to steering mechanism faults (the pilots survived). Finally, in early 1938 the fourth prototype, designated RWD-14b, was built. It was ordered by the Polish Air Force, receiving the name Czapla (Heron), but due to the long development process, it was regarded as only an interim model, to replace the R-XIII until the advent of the more modern LWS-3 Mewa. In return for refunding the development costs, DWL gave the rights to produce the RWD-14b to the state factory LWS (Lubelska Wytwórnia Samolotów - Lublin Aircraft Works, a successor of the Plage i Laśkiewicz).

The fourth prototype was tested by the Ilmavoimat evaluation team but the only feature that rated highly was the short take-off (140 m) and landing (120 m) distances which enabled it to operate from fields and meadows.

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The RWD-14 Czapla had a crew of two (Pilot and Observer) and was powered by a single PZL G-1620B Mors-II air-cooled 9-cylinder radial engine of 470 hp with a maximum speed of 153 mph, a range of 421 miles and a service ceiling of 16,728 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing 7.92 mm wz.33 machine gun and 1 × flexible, rearward-firing 7.7 mm Vickers K machine gun for the observer.

OTL Note: LWS built a series of 65 RWD-14b Czapla’s by February 28, 1939. The Czaplas entered service in the Polish Air Force in the spring of 1939, equipping a number of observation squadrons (eskadra obserwacyjna). Due to its long development, it was not a modern aircraft, only a little better than the Lublin R-XIII. Its advantage was its short take-off (140 m) and landing (120 m), enabling it to operate from fields and meadows. Its modern successor, the LWS-3 Mewa, did not manage to enter operational units due to the war. In the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Polish Air Force had 35 Czaplas in five observation squadrons (out of 12): No.'s 13, 23, 33, 53 and 63. Each squadron had seven aircraft. Squadrons were distributed among the field Armies.

The remaining 30 Czaplas were in reserve (probably only four supplemented combat units during the campaign). Like the R-XIII, the Czapla was no match for any Luftwaffe fighter, bomber, or even reconnaissance aircraft encountered, being much slower, and armed with only two machine guns. In spite of this, they were actively used for close reconnaissance and liaison tasks. Most RWD-14b’s were destroyed during the campaign. About ten were withdrawn to Romania (there are quoted numbers from 10 to 16) and one probably to Hungary. They were taken over by the Romanian Air Force and used for auxiliary duties. No RWD-14b has survived.

ATL Note: Ten Polish Air Force Czaplas escaped from Poland to Sweden as the Polish resistance to the German and Soviet invasions collapsed. On arrival in Sweden after flying across German-held territory and then a wavetop flight across the Baltic, they were quickly refueled and flew on to Finland, eventually landing at Turku. These aircraft were incorporated into the Ilmavoimat.

Siebel Si201 (Germany)

The Siebel Si-201 was designed and built by Siebel in response to the German Air Ministry specification issued in February 1937 for an air observation / army co-op aircraft that had superlative Short Take-off/Landing (STOL) capabilities, excellent slow-flight performance and all-round visibility. Three aircraft were designed and built to meet this particular specification – the Fiesler Fi-156 (already being tested before the specifications were released), the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke designed and built Bf-163 and the Siebel Si-201, these latter two flying in 1938. While the Bf-163 was more like the Fi-156, the Si-201 was a rather unorthodox design with its Argus As10 V-8 air-cooled engine mounted above the wing as a pusher, driving a four-bladed fixed-pitch airscrew which rotated above a slim, circular-section tailboom. It had a boxy, fully glazed forward fuselage with room for a pilot and observer in tandem and was a high-wing braced monoplane with a tail-wheel landing gear.

This design allowed superlative vision from the forward cockpit and so the pilot was seated towards the rear of the cockpit. The aircraft had high lift devices such as full span automatic leading edge slots and four section Fowler-type flaps with the outermost flaps also acting as ailerons and which occupied almost the entire trailing edges, the outboard sections serving as ailerons. The fuselage was of welded steel-tube construction with metal skinning and the plywood-covered wing was of wood. The pilot and observer were seated in tandem in the extensively-glazed forward fuselage, the observer being positioned ahead of the pilot with his seat offset to starboard. The first of two prototypes of the Si-201 flew during the early summer of 1938, revealed excellent short take-off and landing characteristics, and was found to possess acceptable slow-flying characteristics closely comparable with those of the Storch, but at the upper end of the speed scale tail flutter proved troublesome. Considerable effort was expended in damping out oscillation in the tailboom which developed under certain flight conditions, and the second prototype, which featured some simplification of the high-lift devices, was flown with a somewhat sturdier tailboom. The most serious shortcoming of the Si-201 proved to be the extremely limited cg travel permitted by its configuration, and when Siebel was ordered to abandon further development of the aircraft the problem of tail flutter remained largely unsolved.

The Si-201 was evaluated against the Fieseler Fi 156 and Messerschmitt Bf 163 but did not compare well to these aircraft. The Si-201 was also flown by General Ernst Udet, then head of the Reich Air Ministry's technical department. He was unimpressed with its ground handling and landing characteristics, essential elements in the success of the Storch. The Si 201 would also have been more costly to construct than the Fi 156 Storch. The Si-201 had a higher top speed than the Storch, but speed wasn't an important consideration for its expected roles, and work on the Si 201 stopped after two prototypes had been built.

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The Siebel Si 201 was an unconventional looking aircraft with a Crew of two (Pilot and Observer) powered by a single Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted-vee air-cooled piston engine of 179 kW (240 hp) in a “pusher” configuration giving a maximum speed of 115mph with a range of 280 miles and a service ceiling of 18,000 feet.

The Ilmavoimat evaluation team test-flew the aircraft and experienced the same issues at the upper end of the speed scale with tail flutter. While this was a concern, the aircraft remained under consideration until the decision by the Reich’s Air Ministry not to order the aircraft into production put a halt to further consideration.

Westland Lysander (UK)

In 1934, the British Air Ministry issued Specification A.39/34 for an army co-operation aircraft to replace the Hawker Hector. Initially, Hawker Aircraft, Avro and Bristol were invited to submit designs, but after some debate within the Ministry, a submission from Westland was invited as well. The Westland design, internally designated P.8, was the work of Arthur Davenport under the direction of W.E.W. (Teddy) Petter. It was Petter's second aircraft design and he spent considerable time interviewing Royal Air Force pilots to find out what they wanted from such an aircraft. There was no clear idea of what the new aircraft needed to be able to do, and so in 1935 Petter spent some time with the army co-operation squadrons. Even there he found no consensus, but most pilots agreed that the most important requirements for the new aircraft were to be able to operate from small spaces, be able to fly at low speeds without stalling or losing control and that the pilot needed a clear forward view. Davenport and Petter worked to design an aircraft around these features: the result was unconventional and looked, by its 15 June 1936 maiden flight, rather antiquated. However, it was also the first custom-designed army cooperation aircraft to be built for the RAF since the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas of the late 1920s. The army cooperation aircraft was a rather unclear category. Its roles included artillery spotting, reconnaissance, message pickup (using a hock to scoop message bags off the ground) and some limited bombing. Specification A.39/34 called for an aircraft capable of performing all of these duties and with a short take off and landing capability.

The Lysander was a two seater, powered by a Bristol Mercury air-cooled radial engine, metal structured with top mounted wings and a fixed undercarriage inside large, streamlined spats. In appearance it was similar to the Polish LWS-3 Mewa. The wings had an unusual reverse taper towards the root, which gave the impression of a gull wing, although in fact the spars were perfectly straight. The wings were supported by V struts that linked to the undercarriage and had a girder type construction with a light wood frame around that to give the aerodynamic shape. The forward part was duralumin tube joined with brackets and plates,and the after part welded stainless steel tubes. Plates and brackets were cut from channel extrusions rather than forming from sheet steel. The front spar and lift struts were extrusions. The wing itself was fabric covered. The wheels were contained within streamlined spats, which also contained the forward firing guns. The spats also had mountings for small, removable stub wings that could be used to carry light bombs or supply canisters.

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The Lysander’s small, removable stub wings that could be used to carry light bombs or supply canisters. This picture shows the landing light at the front of the spat and the winglet bomb rack, which in this photo has a food container attached, designed to drop supplies to isolated troops.

Despite its appearance, the Lysander was aerodynamically advanced; it was equipped with automatic wing slats, slotted flaps and a variable incidence tailplane. These refinements gave the Lysander a stalling speed of only 65 mph (104 km/h, 56.5 knots). It also featured the largest Elektron alloy extrusion made at the time: a single piece inside the spats supporting the wheels. The Air Ministry requested two prototypes of the P.8. The first prototype made its first taxiing test on 10 June 1936 and its first flight five days later at Boscombe Down. The Air Ministry preferred the Lysander to the competing Bristol Type 148, quickly selecting the Westland aircraft for production, issuing a contract in September 1936. On 11 December 1936 Westland received a first order for 169 Lysanders. The first production aircraft appeared in March 1938, and were delivered to No. 16 squadron, at Old Sarum. This base was also the home of the School of Army Cooperation, another early recipient of the aircraft. Early aircraft were also sent to No. 5 Squadron in India for tropical trials. Like other British army air co-operation aircraft, it was given the name of a military leader; in this case, the Spartan General, Lysander.

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With a Crew of two (Pilot and Observer), the Lysander was powered by a single Bristol Mercury XX radial engine, 870 hp (649 kW). Maximum speed was 212 mph, Combat radius was 300 miles (range of 600 miles) and the Service ceiling was 21,500 feet. Armament consisted of two forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in the wheel fairings and two .303 Lewis guns for the observer. The Lysander could also carry four 20 lb (9 kg) bombs under the rear fuselage and 500 lb (227 kg) of bombs on the stub wings if these were fitted.

OTL Note: The Lysander was a total failure in its primary role. The skies over France and Belgium in May and June 1940 were simply too dangerous for the large and slow army cooperation aircraft (the very similar Henschel Hs 126 would suffer in a very similar way). Four Lysander squadrons moved to France during the phoney war period (Nos. 2, 4, 13 and 26). When the Germans attacked in May 1940, their armies were supported by swarms of Bf 109s. Allied fighters were overwhelmed. While the Fairey Battle was the most famous victim of this period, the four Lysander squadrons suffered very nearly as badly. Of 174 Lysanders sent to France, 88 were lost in aerial combat and 30 were destroyed on the ground. 120 crewmen were lost. Only 50 aircraft survived to return to Britain. The concept of the army cooperation aircraft, capable of reconnaissance, artillery spotting and a bit of light bombing was quickly abandoned. Artillery spotting and tactical reconnaissance would later be performed by much smaller aircraft (mainly the British Taylorcraft Auster Series), while the ground attack role would be take over by high performance fighter aircraft (the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk soon reequipped army cooperation squadrons). They made very easy targets for the Luftwaffe unless escorted by Hurricanes.

The majority of Lysander squadrons were actually formed after the fall of France, performing vital air-sea rescue duties. Its low speed allowed it to drop dinghies and supplies close to downed aircrew. The Lysander was also used for radar calibration and as target tugs. Of the (probably) 1,670 aircraft built, some 964 were Mk III aircraft, which first appeared in August 1940. The Lysander is most famous for its work with the Special Operations Executive. Two squadrons were formed to support the SOE, first No. 138 (Special Duties) squadron in August 1941 and then No. 161 (SD) squadron. These squadrons were given a mix of aircraft, including Hudsons, Whitleys and Halifaxes as well as the Lysander. The larger aircraft were used for parachute drops, either of agents or supplies. The aircraft's exceptional short-field performance made possible clandestine missions behind enemy lines that placed or recovered agents, particularly in occupied France. For this role, the Mk IIIs were fitted with a fixed entry/exit ladder over the port side to hasten access to the rear cockpit and a large drop tank under the belly. In order to slip in unobtrusively, the Lysanders were painted matt black, and operations were often planned for moonless nights. Flying without any navigation equipment other than a map and compass, Lysanders would land on short strips of land, such as fields, marked out by four or five torches. They were only designed to carry one passenger in the rear cockpit, but in case of urgent necessity, two could be carried in extreme discomfort. The Lysander proved to be a success in this role and continued to undertake such duties until the liberation of France. Between August 1941, when No. 138 squadron began Lysander operations, and the end of 1944 when the fighting had moved out of France, the Lysanders made at least 400 sorties. No. 161 squadron along took 293 people into France and retrieved 500.

ATL Note: After the outbreak of the Winter War, 17 Lysander aircraft were ordered from England on 8 Jan, 1940. The first 9 were shipped to Gothenburg, Sweden, on 24 Feb. 1940. These were assembled at the Götaverken factory in Torslanda and were flown to Finland between 21 March and 3 May. The rest of the order were flown directly from England to Finland, with 2 arriving on 8 March. One of these was damaged near Stavanger, Norway.

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A destroyed Ilmavoimat Westland Lysander LY-124 on the island of Buoy, close to Stavanger, Norway

The remaining Lysanders from the order left England in early March and arrived in Finland on the 15th of the same month. The Lysanders that entered service remained in use until 1945, although some were lost in action.

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Ilmavoimat Westland Lysander in service in the Winter War

Still to come......

Heinkel He 46 (Germany)
Henschel Hs 126 (Germany)
Lublin R-XII (Poland)
LWS-3 Mewa (Poland)
Meridiomali Ro.37(Italy)
Messerschmitt Bf108 (Germany)
Messerschmitt Bf163 (Germany)
Piper J3 (USA)
Potez 39 (France)
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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Observation Aircraft for the Ilmavoimat - 1938 - continued

Post by CanKiwi2 » 09 Aug 2011 15:33

Heinkel He 46 (Germany)

During the early 1930s, the German military was beginning to build up in strength - the RLM (German Air Ministry) wanted aircraft that could be rapidly built and would be able to swell the Luftwaffe's inventory with large numbers of aircraft for training. Ernst Heinkel designed many of these early aircraft, with the He 46 being created to fill this short-range reconnaissance and army co-operation role for the Luftwaffe. The Heinkel He 46 was designed in 1931 for the close reconnaissance and army co-operation roles. The first prototype, the He 46a, was an unequal-span (sesquiplane) two-seat biplane with a small lower wing. It was otherwise a conventional biplane, with a mixed construction consisting of metal framework and fabric covering, and a slightly swept back (10°) upper wing, powered by a 450hp Siemens-built Bristol Jupiter radial engine. The tailplane was mounted high and braced by struts. The undercarriage was fixed, and the tail was fitted with a skid rather than a wheel. The aircraft and made its first flight in late 1931.

The aircraft handled well, but the small lower wing restricted the downward view, a major handicap in a reconnaissance aircraft, and so it was decided to change the aircraft into a parasol monoplane. A second prototype, the He46b, had the lower wing removed, and the upper wing increased in length by 8ft 2 ½ in (overall the upper wing area was increased by 22%), and braced to the fuselage with strut-braces. It was also given a more powerful engine, the 660hp Siemens SAM 22B (later Bramo 322B) nine-cylinder radial. The He46b first flew in early 1932. A third prototype followed later in 1932, the He 46c, with the more powerful Seimens engine, the monoplane parasol-wing configuration, normal operational equipment and a single 7.9mm MG 15 machine gun mounted in the rear cockpit.

Production began with the He 46C-1 in 1933. This was similar to the 46c, but with the ability to carry either a camera or 440lb of small bombs under the rear cockpit. This was followed by six pre-production He 46D-0s, with a number of minor changes, and by the He 46E-1, which introduced a NACA engine cowling that increased maximum speed by 16mph but that made maintenance rather more difficult and was often removed. A small number of He 46Fs were built, powered by the 560hp Armstrong Siddeley Panther, and were used by training units. Production continued until 1936, with a total of 478 He46’s having been built, 200 by Heinkel, 83 by MIAG, 24 by Gotha and 12 by Fieseler. By the time production finished in 1936 the He 46 was the main equipment of the Luftwaffe's Auflärungsstaffeln (H), but early in 1938, at the time of the Ilmavoimat’s evaluation, it had begun to be replaced by the Henschel Hs 126A-1. As such, the aircraft was cheap and readily available and there had already been export sales to Bulgaria and Hungary (eighteen He 46C-2s (C-1s but with engine cowling) were sold to Bulgaria, while Hungary purchased a number of He 47E-2s.

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The Heinkel He 46 had a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Observer/Gunner), was powered by a single Bramo SAM 22B (later called 322B) radial piston engine, 493 kW (660 hp). Maximum speed was 155mph, range was 621 miles and the service ceiling was 19,680 feet. Armament consisted of 1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 15 machine gun for the rear seat position and up to 20 × 10 kg (22 lb) bombs carried internally.

At the time the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluation team looked at the He 46, it was already largely phased out of front-line service with the Luftwaffe. The aircraft were offered for sale “as is” at an attractive per-unit cost far below any of the newer aircraft on the market and available. Serious consideration was in fact given to this offer, particularly as delivery was immediate.

OTL Note: A few were still in use in September 1939 two units were still equipped with the He 46 at this stage), and saw service in Poland. By the time Germany invaded France in 1940, all He 46 aircraft had been withdrawn from operational service, although they did continue service in training units. A final period of front-line service came in 1943, when a shortage of more suitable aircraft meant that the Luftwaffe was forced to take the aircraft from the training units and used a number of He 46s on night harassment missions on the Eastern Front. The He 46 saw service in Spain, twenty He 46C-1s given to the Spanish Nationalists in September 1938. The Hungarian aircraft took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, equipping the 1st Short-Range Reconnaissance Squadron, and with the 3/2 Short-Range Reconnaissance Squadron in 1942. The Hungarian aircraft were also used as bombers, before being replaced with the Focke-Wulfe 189 during 1943.

Henschel Hs 126 (Germany)

The Henschel Hs 126 was a German two-seat reconnaissance and observation aircraft derived from the Henschel Hs 122. The pilot was seated in a protected cockpit under the parasol wing and the gunner in an open rear cockpit. The prototype aircraft frame was that of a Hs 122A fitted with a Junkers engine. The aircraft was of all-metal construction, the wing was a high lift parasol wing was designed by Friedrich Nicolaus and this allowed the Hs 126 to use short and rough landing strips. The wheels had long struts which gave it a nose high appearance on the ground. To reduce drag, spats were sometimes fitted. Cockpit access was via a ladder on the side and the rear of the cockpit was open to the elements. The gunner/observer had a handheld camera and also operated a Zeiss Rb topographic camera that was located in a bay behind him. The canopy had deflector panels to shield the gunner's gun from the slipstream. The Hs 126 was well received for its good short takeoff and low-speed characteristics which were needed at the time. It was put into service for a few years, but was soon superseded by the general-purpose, STOL Fieseler Fi 156 Storch and the medium-range Focke-Wulf Fw 189 "flying eye".

The first prototype was not entirely up to Luftwaffe standards; it was followed by two more development planes equipped with different engines. Following the third prototype, ten pre-production planes were built in 1937. The Hs 126 entered service in 1938 after operational evaluation with the Legion Kondor contingent to the Spanish Civil War (in 1938 six were delivered to the Condor Legion and served in Aufklarungsgruppe 88. Five of these survived to be turned over to Spain at the end of the Civil War).

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With a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Observer/Gunner), the Henschel He 126 was powered by a single Bramo 323 9-cylinder radial engine, 634 kW (850 hp) giving a maximum speed of 221mph, a range of 1240 miles and a service ceiling of 28,000 feet. Armament consisted of 1 × forward-firing 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun, 1 × flexible rear-facinng 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun for the observer/gunner and up to 150 kg (330 lb) of bombs (10 x 22lb/10kg bombs in the fuselage bay and one 110lb bomb under the port wing strut).

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluation team considered the Henschel Hs 126 and rated it highly, with excellent STOL capability and good overall performance. It was also in production and Henschel and the German government advised that, if ordered by the Ilmavoimat, the aircraft could be delivered in a short timeframe.

OTL Note: By the time the Hs 126A-1 joined the Luftwaffe, the re-equipping of reconnaissance formations was already well advanced, and by the start of World War II in September 1939, Germany already had several good short range observation and long range recon aircraft. Some 13 squadrons were equipped with the He 126 in the invasion of Poland, where it was able to operate as a bomber and ground attack aircraft, as well as in its normal army co-operation, reconnaissance and artillery spotter roles. Once the fighting was over in Poland the reconnaissance groups began to move west. The Hs 126 began to be seen over the Maginot Line, and it was present in large numbers during the Allies campaign in the west in May 1940. For the first time the Hs 126 came up against large numbers of modern fighters, and was found to be vulnerable - twenty were lost between 10-21 May. It was decided to put the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 into production, but that aircraft wouldn't appear in large numbers until 1942.

By June 1941, there were 48 squadrons of the aircraft in service - in the aftermath of the campaign in France one squadron, 2.(H)/14 took the Hs 126 to North Africa, where it remained in service until August 1942. This left forty-seven squadrons equipped with the Hs 126 for the invasion of the Soviet Unit. The aircraft was still vulnerable, and began to suffer heavy losses. In the spring of 1942 the Fw 189 began to replace it, and by the end of the year it had gone from use in the front line. From 1942 on, most of the surviving Hs 126s were used as training aircraft but some were used as a glider tug and for night-fighting units (Nachtschlachtgruppen) in specialized close-support and ground attack roles. The Hs 126 was used by NSGr 7 in the Balkans, 3./NSGr 11 in Estonia and 2./NSGr 12 in Latvia. It remained in use in the Balkans until April 1945 and the German collapse. Production of the Hs 126 ended in 1941 and the type was retired from the front line in 1942. Some 800 in total were produced.

Lublin R-XIII (Poland)

The Lublin R-XIII was the main Polish army-cooperation plane (observation and liaison plane) of the Polish Air Force, designed in the early-1930s in the Plage i Laśkiewicz factory in Lublin. In 1927, the Polish aviation authorities announced a contest for an army-cooperation plane (in Polish: samolot towarzyszący, literally: "acompanying plane"). In Polish doctrine it was a close reconnaissance, observation and liaison aircraft, operating from casual airfields, providing big Army land units with information about the enemy. The PZL state factory proposed the PZL Ł-2, built in a series of 25 aircraft, while private factory Plage i Laśkiewicz in Lublin proposed the Lublin R-X, designed by Jerzy Rudlicki. It was flown on February 1, 1929. Five aircraft were built for the Air Force as R-Xa, and one was built as a long-distance sports plane. The third competitor was the PWS-5t2.

The contest was won by the R-Xa, having the shortest take-off and landing, and good performance, but the factory was ordered to develop design further. At that time, Rudlicki was working upon an unarmed trainer aircraft R-XIV and an observation aircraft R-XV. Both were new designs, basing upon the R-X construction. Number XIII was initially omitted in designations as "unlucky". In February 1930, the Polish Air Force ordered 15 of R-XIV. The first serial plane was built in June 1930, without an earlier prototype, and all were delivered by July 1931. The R-XIV was a two-seater, parasol wing aircraft, with a 220 hp radial engine and fixed landing gear. The crewman sat in open cockpits in tandem. The R-XV was not ordered, but the Air Force demanded instead, that two R-XIV should be armed with an observer's machine gun, for testing. Thus armed, the R-XIV, fitted also with other minor modifications, most notably a changed shape of a tail fin, became the first prototype of the army-cooperation plane and was designated the Lublin R-XIII.

The aircraft was of mixed construction (steel and wood) and a monoplane, conventional in layout, with braced high wings, canvas and plywood covered (the front part of the fuselage was metal covered). A conventional fixed landing gear, with a tailskid was fitted. The Crew of two sat in tandem in an open cockpit, with twin controls. The observer had a 7.7 mm Vickers K or Lewis machine gun on a ring mounting (rarely, 2 machine guns). The aircraft could be fitted with racks for small bombs of 12–25 kg. A 9 cylinder air-cooled Wright Whirlwind J-5 radial engine (produced in Poland) with 162 kW (220 hp) nominal power and 176 kW (240 hp) take-off power (on 22 aircraft R-XIIIF, 250 kW (340 hp) engine Skoda G-1620A Mors-I wad fitted). A Two-blade wooden or metal propeller was also fitted. A 200 liter Fuel tank in the fuselage could be dropped in case of fire emergency (R-XIV - 135 liter tank).

On July 21, 1931, 50 aircraft R-XIII were ordered. The first series of 30 were designated R-XIIIA, the next 20 were R-XIIIB. Both variants differed mostly in a type of a machine gun ring mounting. The first serial R-XIII was built on June 7, 1932. By March 11, 1933, all were given to the Air Force. In 1932, next 170 aircraft were ordered. 48 were built in R-XIIIC variant with minor modifications, then 95 were built in a most numerous R-XIIID variant. It introduced visible changes, like a Townend ring on a radial engine, and a new engine cowling. It also had new type of a machine gun ring mounting. The first R-XIIID was tested in February, 1933. All aircraft were given to the Air Force by March 2, 1935. During repairs, older models A, B and C were modified to R-XIIID standard as well.

In 1933, Jerzy Rudlicki proposed a new design R-XXI, for a new contest for R-XIII successor, but it was not accepted (the contest was won by the RWD-14 Czapla). However, some of the R-XXI features, like the higher and rounded in cross-section fuselage and a changed tail fin shape, were found in later R-XIII variants. A single prototype of the R-XIIIE was built in 1934, fitted with a more powerful 360 hp engine Gnome-Rhone 7K Titan engine, but it was not produced. Another variant, the R-XIII-F introduced new, Polish-designed 340 hp engine Skoda G-1620A Mors-I engine. It had no Townend ring on cylinders of the radial engine. After one prototype (no. 56.101), a series of 50 R-XIII-F’s were ordered in 1934. After seven aircraft had been delivered, the Polish aviation authorities refused to buy a further 18 nearly-completed aircraft, as they were planning to completely nationalize the aviation industry in Poland. As a result, the Plage i Laśkiewicz factory went bankrupt in late 1935, and it was next nationalized under the name LWS (Lubelska Wytwórnia Samolotów - Lublin Aircraft Works). The 18 R-XIIIF, were them bought at scrap price, were completed, and the next series of 32 was built. All R-XIII-F’s were delivered to the Polish Air Force by 1938. However, only 26 of them were completed with Mors engines (and these were mostly used for training or staff liaison), while 32 had standard 220 hp Wright engines, lowering their performance to R-XIII-D level.

In the early 1930s the R-XIII was quite a successful plane for its purpose. It had a very short take-off (68 m for R-XIIIA) and landing, enabling it to operate from rough fields and meadows. However, only some of R-XIIIs were equipped with a radio and a camera, which lowered their usefulness. In 1932-1936 they were used in three-aircraft liaison platoons, being the basic Polish army-cooperation plane. In 1937 they were formed into army-cooperation escadres (eskadra towarzysząca), in 1939 reformed into observation escadres (eskadra obserwacyjna). In 1939 some of the R-XIII’s were replaced by the RWD-14b Czapla, which was not much more modern. A planned replacement was a modern LWS-3 Mewa, but it was not introduced prior to the outbreak of war.

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With a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Observer), the Lublin R-XIII was powered by a single Wright Whirlwind J-5 9-cylinder radial engine, 162 kW (220 hp) giving a maximum speed of 115mph, a range of 450 miles and a service ceiling of 13,000 feet.
The aircraft was tested by the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluation team but the only feature that rated highly was the short take-off and landing distances which enabled it to operate from fields and meadows, and the rough field capability. Otherwise, the aircraft was rated as more or less obsolete, being intended to be replaced even in Polish Air Force service.


OTL Note: On the eve of the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Polish Air Force had about 150 R-XIII. Of these, 49 were in combat units, 30 in reserve, about 30 in training units and about 40 in repair workshops. In combat units, the R-XIII’s were used in 7 observation escadres (out of 12), with each escadre having 7 aircraft. The 16th Escadre was the C-in-C reserve, while the others were distributed among the Field Armies. The R-XIII was no match for any of the Luftwaffe fighters, bombers or even reconnaissance aircraft, being much slower, and armed with only one machine gun, but despite this they were actively used for close reconnaissance and liaison tasks. About 40 R-XIII from combat units were destroyed during the campaign, but only some of these were shot down by the German aircraft or flak. During the campaign, 9 aircraft were given to observation escadres as replenishment. Some planes were also used in wartime improvised units from different air bases. About 10 combat aircraft and 7 from other units were withdrawn to Romania. A number of aircraft were bombed by the Germans in air bases or burned by withdrawing Poles. None have survived to today.

LWS-3 Mewa (“Seagull”) (Poland)

The LWS-3 Mewa ("Seagull") was a Polish observation and close reconnaissance aircraft, designed in the late-1930s by the LWS factory as the successor to the now-obsolete Lublin R-XIII army cooperation aircraft. The first sketches were drawn up in 1936 by Zbysław Ciołkosz, the chief designer of the LWS factory (Lubelska Wytwórnia Samolotów). It was similar to the earlier light ambulance plane LWS-2, which itself was inspired by the RW-9 STOL aircraft wing design. After Ciołkosz left LWS in 1937, the project, named LWS-3 Mewa, was modified and further developed at the LWS bureau. In the same year, the Polish Air Force ordered three prototypes. The first prototype, the LWS-3/I was flown in November 1937. It revealed some handling deficiencies, but otherwise had good performance. Following tests, the design of the aircraft was improved. In 1938, the second prototype LWS-3/II was flown. It had a crank mechanism to lower the tailfin and rudder in order to increase the angle of rear machine gun fire, but as it proved impractical, the next prototype LWS-3/III which flew in autumn 1938 again had a classic tailfin design. The third prototype, with some further changes, among others to the engine cover and canopy, was the pattern for serial production. The first prototype was exhibited at the 16th International Paris Aviation Salon in November 1938 (as "PZL Mewa"), where it met with considerable interest.

The aircraft was a mixed construction (steel and wood) monoplane, conventional in layout, with canvas and plywood covered braced high wings. The wings folded rearwards. Conventional fixed landing gear, with a tailwheel. The crew of two sat in tandem in a glassed-in enclosed cockpit, with large transparent canopy surfaces. The crew had dual controls. Prototypes were armed with two forward-firing 7.92 mm machine guns fixed on the undercarriage covers, but it appeared, that their accuracy was low due to vibration, and (according to J. Cynk) production aircraft were intended to have twin machine guns fitted on the fuselage sides. The observer had a 7.92 mm wz.37 machine gun in a rear station, covered by an opening canopy. The engine was a Gnome-Rhône 14M01 14 cylinder air-cooled radial engine (prototypes) or 14M05 (serial) with 660 hp (490 kW) nominal power and 730 hp (540 kW) maximum power. Three-blade metal propeller (planned) or two-blade wooden propeller (installed on some aircraft). Fuel capacity about 380 liters in wing fuel tanks. The aircraft was fitted with a radio and cameras.

Contrary to its direct predecessor, RWD-14 Czapla, the Mewa was a modern close reconnaissance plane, comparable with leading foreign aircraft of that period, like Henschel Hs 126 or Westland Lysander. Its advantages were quite short take-off and landing, which enabled it to operate from fields. Official tests were satisfactory, and in 1938 the Polish Air Force ordered 200 aircraft of the production variant LWS-3A Mewa (or "Mewa A"). Production started in early 1939, and first aircraft were to be ready in the summer. In August 1939, about 30 aircraft were almost completed (10 ready, but lacking propellers, 7 in painting and 10 in final assembly). At the time the LWS-3B Mewa variant powered with a Fiat R74 860 hp (640 kW) engine was being developed for sale to Bulgaria, as was a floatplane LWS-3H (hydro) variant for Polish naval aviation. None were produced due to the outbreak of war.

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluation team performed an extensive series of test flights with the the second Mewa prototype LWS-3/II in early 1938. The aircraft rated comparatively higher and remained in consideration up to the final decision being made. Speed and STOL performance were both excellent and the aircraft itself was rugged and well-constructed.

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The LWS-3 Mewa had a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Observer) and was powered by a single Gnome-Rhône 14M05 air cooled radial engine with a three-blade metal variable pitch propeller (planned) or two-blade wooden fixed pitch propeller (installed on some aircraft) rated at 492 kW (660 hp). Maximum speed was 224mph, range was 436 miles and the service ceiling was 27,880 feet. Armament consisted of 2× fixed, forward-firing 7.92 mm PWU wz.36 machine guns, 1× rearward-firing 7.92 mm PWU karabin maszynowy obserwatora wz.37 for the observer.

OTL Note: None of the aircraft entered service in the Polish Air Force before the outbreak of the World War II on September 1, 1939. The problem was with propellers, which had to be delivered from France. The first two aircraft were ready for delivery on September 2, but one of them was damaged on the factory airfield in Lublin by German bombers. The fate of the other one is not clear. Following that, some of the almost finished aircraft were hidden in Lublin park and in a forest nearby. A couple were modified to use wooden propellers with a fixed pitch. Two such aircraft were evacuated to an airfield near Lwów, and given over to the 26th Observation Escadre on September 12. One of them crashed during a night landing on Medyka airfield near Przemyśl on the same day, the other was burned on September 17, when it could not be evacuated. According to some sources, two other Mewas were assigned to the 23rd Observation Escadre on September 11, but this has not been confirmed. It is not clear whether any of these aircraft were armed. One of the aircraft was also seen during evacuation to Pinsk in mid-September. The rest of the uncompleted aircraft were seized by Germans and scrapped.

Further OTL Note: In 1939, the LWS-7 Mewa II was being designed at LWS as a further development of the LWS-3 Mewa. Complete technical drawings were apparantly prepared in summer 1939 and the first prototype was planned to be built in autumn 1939. The development schedule planned for a first flight in Spring or Summer 1940 and the start of production in Autumn/Winter 1940. The first production LWS-7 Mewa II was to be handed over to Polish Air Force in early 1941. The LWS-7 utilised new wings and a semi-monocoque fuselage with less drag and was also to be fitted with a more powerful 916 hp (683 kW) PZL Pegaz XX engine (Bristol Pegasus XX) or a planned 1000 hp (750 kW) PZL Waran. A maximum speed of 400–420 km/h (248-260mph) was estimated from tests performed by the Aerodynamic Institute of the Warsaw University of Technology. Before the war, only a wooden model for aerodynamics testing had been completed. Drawings of the LWS-7 were evacuated in September 1939 to the Polish embassy in Romania by the LWS director Aleksander Sipowicz. Many publications claim that they were handed over to the Bulgarians, but it is not clear whether or not this is correct (possibly, plans for the LWS-3B may have been turned over as the Bulgarian-built KB-11 Fazan reconnaissance plane bore more than a passing resemblance to the Mewa).

Meridionali Ro.37 (Italy)

Meridionali, then named Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali, first became involved in the Italian aircraft industry in 1923, beginning manufacturing activities two years later through the licence-construction of Fokker designs. In 1934 the Societa Anonima Industrie Aeronautiche Romeo was formed to takeover the aeronautical activities of the Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali (Aeroplani Romeo). In 1936, the Societa Anonima Industrie Aeronautiche Romeo absorbed all the industrial activities of the Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali and changed its name to Industrie Meccaniche e Aeronautiche Meridionali (IMAM).

In the early 1930’s, the Regia Aeronautica put out a requirement for a light reconnaissance aircraft and also a heavier reconnaissance aeroplane. The first should have a 350 km/h (190 knots/220 mph) maximum speed, five hours endurance, three machine-guns and a bomblets dispenser, armour, and the capability to operate from improvised airfields. The heavier one should have a 325 km/h maximum speed, at least 1,300 km (800 miles) endurance, 7,000 m (22,750 feet) ceiling, climb to 5,000m (16,000) in 19 minutes, three crew, five weapons, high wing and other details. IMAM proposed the IMAM Ro.30, an improved Ro.1 (the Ro.1 was actually a Fokker C.V built under license in Italy) with a defensive turret and better engine. Limited numbers were built but a larger order was rejected by the Regio Esercito and the aircraft was not chosen for mass production, being only capable of 200 km/h (110 knots), five hours endurance, a climb rate of 4,000 m (13,000 feet) in 20 minutes, and had three weapons.

IMAM did not give up and designed a new aircraft, the Romeo Ro.37, which first flew in 1933. The aircraft was an unequal-span single-bay biplane of mixed wood and metal construction. Its design included fixed tailwheel landing gear, all three wheels being provided with spats; a braced tail unit incorporating a variable-incidence tailplane; and accommodation for two in tandem enclosed cockpits, Power was provided by a 522kW Fiat A.30RA Vee engine of 560hp. It reached 300 km/h (162 knots) and perhaps even more with this engine, the same as that used by the Fiat CR.32. An improved Ro.37bis was developed subsequently, and this introduced an optional radial powerplant comprising either the Piaggio P. IX or P.X supercharged engine. The better reliability of this engine was considered more desirable and so this was the main version produced. The Ro.37 was generally liked by pilots, and the only complaint was that aircraft was prone to damage to the undercarriage, and had some engine faults.

It was similar in many ways to the Hawker Hind, rather than a light army co-operation aircraft, and its performance was similar to the later Westland Lysander, but the contemporary British design was the Hawker Hector. Both models proved popular for their day, with production of the Ro.37 and Ro.37bis exceeding 160 and 475 respectively. Ro.37 were also quite widely exported (ten to Uruguay, sixteen to Afghanistan, fourteen to Hungary, eight to Austria, and one to Ecuador) and around 280 were in service with the Regia Aeronautica in 1940 in thirty squadrons.

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The Ro.37 had a Crew of 2, was powered by a single Piaggio P.IX RC.40, 9-cylinder, air-cooled, radial, piston engine of 560 hp (418 kW) with a maximum speed of 205mph, a range of 696 miles and a service ceiling of 23,620 feet. Defensive armament consisted of three machine guns (two in the nose and one flexible mount machine gun in the rear cockpit) and very good agility. Bombload consisted of 397 lb (180kg) of bombs (twelve x 15 kg bombs) on underfuselage racks.

IMAM also built a successor to the Ro.37, the Ro.45. This was an enhanced Ro.37 that first flew as a prototype on 10 December 1935. The 820 hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI.RC40 engine boosted maximum speed slightly to 217mph, increased the ceiling to 26,200 feet, and endurance to 1,398 miles. Destined for long-range reconnaissance and light bombing, it remained a single prototype for unknown reasons: perhaps it was rated too costly or the improvements over the Ro.37 were not enough. At any rate, the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluated both the Ro.37 and the single Ro.45 prototype but, as with the British Hawker Hector, considered the design unsuitable for their overall requirement.

OTL Note: Ro.37 and Ro.37bis aircraft were involved in the Spanish Civil War from October 1936, when the first 10 arrived. Another 26 (possibly 58) went to this theatre and were used for many missions and tasks. They were used as assault aircraft, even though they were unarmoured. The results were satisfactory and some were even converted to a single-seat machine for use as attack fighters. The two-seat versions were used as heavy fighters, providing protection for S.81 bombers from Republican I-15s. It is not known if there were any air-to-air victories. They were also used extensively by the Regia Aeronautica during Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia between October 1935 and May 1936 and during the Italian occupation of that country until 1941. Some 275 Ro.37bis aircraft were in service with the Regia Aeronautica when Italy became involved in World War II, and these saw first-line service in the East and North African campaigns and in the Balkans. Some were in service up to 1943 and perhaps even later. They were very vulnerable, but in the war Italy did not have sufficient resources to produce a better observation aircraft, not even the Ro.63, a superior aircraft, similar to the Storch, but with more endurance. After withdrawal from first-line service they found a variety of uses, but all had been retired before Italy's armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943. The aircraft was produced until 1939 with a total of 569 (237 + 332bis) produced.

And a completely off-topic FYI for if you’re really interested in older aircraft: The remnants of the Ro.37’s sold to Afghanisatan were found northeast of Kabul by the Italian Army’s 132nd Artillery Regiment "Ariete". The link if you want to read more is http://www.paginedidifesa.it/2006/pdd_060331.html Of the 16 Ro.37bis sold to Afghanistan in 1938, 6 relics were recovered by an Italian / US team to the North East of Kabul and one of them is exhibited at Vigna di Valle Museum waiting to be completely restored. Tom Martin, LTC (Ret) of the US Army, recently sent the following interesting pictures of the recovery of the Ro.37 with the following explaination: “I was the garrison commander at the Kabul Military Training Center and “neighbor” to the Italian garrison at Camp Invicta. Their garrison commander, LTC Mauro D’ Ubaldi, and I became friends through mutual security needs and engineer projects. He approached me and asked if I would help his team come onto our site and remove from the boneyard the flight of planes where this plane came from (another photo shows how it was in the boneyard and a detail of a data plate).
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We also recovered wings and there were scraps of material with paint on some of the parts which showed the material and colors.”

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Messerschmitt Bf108 (Germany)

The Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun was a German single-engine sports and touring aircraft developed by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraft Works). The Bf 108 was of all-metal construction. Originally designated the M 37, the aircraft was designed as a four-seat sports/recreation aircraft for competition in the 4th Challenge de Tourisme Internationale (1934). The M 37 prototype flew first in spring 1934 powered by a 250 PS (247 hp, 184 kW) Hirth HM 8U inverted-V engine, which drove a three-blade propeller. Although it was outperformed by several other aircraft in the competition, the M 37's overall performance marked it as a popular choice for record flights. Particular among these traits was its extremely low fuel consumption rate, good handling, and superb takeoff and landing characteristics. One of the first major changes made to the production variants was to adapt the fuselage for a four-seat configuration.
The Bf 108A first flew in 1934, followed by the Bf 108B in 1935. The Bf 108B used the Argus As 10 air-cooled inverted V8 engine. The nickname Taifun (German for "typhoon") was given to her own aircraft by Elly Beinhorn, a well known German pilot, and was generally adopted. The Bf 108 was adopted into Luftwaffe service during World War II, where it was primarily used as a personnel transport and liaison aircraft. It was exported as a civilian aircraft or as a military passenger-carrying variant to a number of countries prior to WW2.

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With a Crew of 1 and seating for 3 Passengers, the Bf108 was powered by a single Argus As 10C air-cooled inverted V-8, 240 PS (174 kW) with a maximum speed of 190mph, a range of 620 miles and a service ceiling of 20,300 feet (with 4 people and luggage).

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluated both the Bf108 but considered the design unsuitable for their overall requirement, correctly assessing the aircraft as a light passenger aircraft unsuitable for combat reconnaisance and without any real STOL capability.

Messerschmitt Bf163 (Germany)

During the autumn of 1935, the considerable potential of the Fieseler Fi 156 project for the tasks of short range reconnaissance and aerial observation had prompted the RLM to draw up a requirement for an army co-operation and observation aircraft with its performance parameters. The requirement stipulated the use of the Argus As 10 or the Hirth HM 508 engine and placed emphasis on short field performance, maximum possible all-round view for the two crew members, and a wide range of speed. It was intended that the resultant aircraft, which the Siebel Si 201 was also designed to compete for, would be evaluated in competition with the Fi 156. The Bf 163 followed closely the formula established by the Fi 156 in being a high-wing braced monoplane with a metal structure, automatic leading edge wing slots, double slotted flaps, and an exceptionally tall undercarriage. The aircraft's most interesting feature was the provision for varying the incidence of the entire wing which swivelled on its mainspar, the bracing struts being attached to the fuselage by ball joints and changing their angle with movement of the wing. Construction of the sole prototype was entrusted to Weserflug, though it retained the RLM prefix for BFW (Bf).

First flown on 19 February 1938 and powered by the Argus As 10C, the Bf 163 V1 proved to have similar performance characteristics to those of the Fi 156 but was more complex and expensive. Although some components for a second prototype were manufactured, the Bf 163 V2 was not completed and further work on the Bf 163 was terminated in favor of the Fieseler Fi 156. In a very rare decision, the RLM issued the airframe designation number 8-163 for the Me 163 Komet rocket-propelled interceptor, after having used the number for the Bf 163. The two aircraft are distinguished by the abbreviation: the earlier Bf 163, and the later Me 163. The new "Me" prefix was adopted for all new designs of Messerschmitt aircraft, after the company's official name of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) was changed to Messerschmitt AG in July of 1938.

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Couldn’t track down a photo online of the Bf 163 – closest I could find was a model….

With a Crew of 2, the Messerschmidt Bf 163 was powered by a single Argus As 10C 8-cylinder inverted-vee air cooled engine, 179 kW (240 hp) and had a maximum speed of 112mph. Performance characteristics overall were very similar to the Fi 156.


The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluated the Bf 163 but considered that as the Germans had already ordered the Fi 156 Storch into production, while the Bf 163 was a good aircraft it was so similar in performance and capabilities to the Fi 156 that it probably wasn’t going anywhere. It remained under consideration but as an unlikely fallback option, given that Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) was unlikely to produce the aircraft only to meet a small Finnish order. License production was however contemplated.

Piper J3 (USA)

The Piper J3 had its origins in 1927 when two barnstorming brothers, C. Gilbert and Gordon Taylor, formed the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Company to produce and market a small, high-wing, two-seat monoplane named the “Chummy,” designed a year earlier by Gilbert. In September 1930, Taylor embarked on the production of a two-seat tandem low-powered aircraft, designated the Taylor E-2. The E-2 featured a design with wings mounted high on the fuselage, an open cockpit, fabric-covered tubular steel fuselage and wooden wings. It was powered by a 20-horsepower (15-kilowatt) Brownbach "Tiger Kitten" engine. The “Tiger Kitten” roared but the little engine was not strong enough to power the E-2. On September 12, 1930, a test flight of the Taylor E-2 ended abruptly when the aircraft ran out of runway—the underpowered engine was unable to lift the monoplane higher than five feet (1.5 meters) above the ground. Later that year, Taylor Brothers Aircraft Company went bankrupt.

The so-called “Lindbergh Boom” in general aviation following the landmark 1927 solo flight from New York to Paris inspired oilman William T. Piper to purchase the assets of the Taylor Aircraft Corporation for $761 as it emerged from bankruptcy protection in 1931. Piper effectively took control of the firm when he assumed the position of corporate secretary-treasurer, although he retained Gilbert Taylor in the role of president. Piper, often called the “Henry Ford of Aviation,” believed that a simple-to-operate low-cost private airplane would flourish, even in the darkest depths of the Great Depression. Shortly after Piper assumed control of the company, Taylor Aircraft introduced an improved E-2 airframe, powered by the newly developed Continental Motors Corporation 37-horsepower (28-kilowatt) A-4O engine. The new Taylor E-2, now known as the “Cub,” was meant to be an affordable aircraft that would encourage interest in aviation and was awarded its type certificate on July 11, 1931 and licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce for manufacture. Twenty-two Taylor E-2 Cubs were sold during 1931, retailing for $1,325; by 1935, sales had increased to more than 200 E-2 Cubs.

In 1936, an earlier Cub was altered by an employee, 19-year-old aircraft designer Walter Jamouneau. The revamping included rounded angles and other major changes, and the aircraft was reintroduced in 1936 as the Taylor J-2 Cub – the ‘J' standing for Jamouneau. When he saw the redesign, Taylor was so incensed that he fired Jamouneau. Piper, however, had encouraged Jamouneau's changes, and hired him back. But the changes to the fundamental Cub design were unacceptable to company founder Gilbert Taylor, who soon parted ways with William Piper —though only after Piper bought out his remaining interest in the company. Taylor went on to establish the new Taylorcraft Aviation Company of Alliance, Ohio. Although sales were initially slow, about 1,200 J-2s were produced before a fire in the Piper factory ended its production in 1938. William Piper relocated his manufacturing operation and several hundred employees to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and the Piper Aircraft Corporation was born. By year's end, it had built 687 Piper airplanes. The following year, the upgraded Piper J-3 Cub was unveiled, featuring further changes by Jamouneau and powered by a 40-horsepower (30-kilowatt) engine built by Continental, Lycoming, or Franklin and selling for $1,300. Piper soon introduced a uniform color scheme for the Cubs—bright yellow trimmed in black. Engine horsepower continued to increase, first to 50 horsepower (37 kilowatts), then to 65 horsepower (48 kilowatts) by 1940.

In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat test team evaluated the Piper J-2. The J-2 had excellent STOL capability, able to take off in less than 300 feet by firewalling the throttle, lifting the tail immediately, pulling full flaps at 45 knots and levering the stick back into the pilots lap. The J-3 was near stallproof, with a stall speed of 34 knots, and short field approaches were easy with full flaps.

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The Piper J-3 could carry a Pilot and on passenger, was powered by a single Continental A-65-8 air-cooled flat four, 65 hp (48 kW) at 2,350 rpm and had a maximum speed of 87mph. Range was 220 miles and the service ceiling was 11,500 feet.

OTL Note: With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, there was a growing realization that the United States might soon be drawn into World War II, resulted in the formation of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). The Piper J-3 Cub would play an integral role in the success of the CPTP, achieving legendary status; A number of different engines, air-cooled flat-four engine configuration and a very few "J3P"-designated examples equipped with Lenape Papoose 3-cylinder radial engines were used to power J-3 Cubs, and resulted in differing model designations for each type: the J3C model used the Continental A-65, the J3F used the Franklin 4AC engine, and the J3L used the Lycoming O-145. The Piper J-3 Cub became the primary trainer aircraft of the CPTP — 75 percent of all new pilots in the CPTP (from a total of 435,165 graduates) were trained in Cubs. By war's end, 80 percent of all United States military pilots received their initial flight training in Piper Cubs. The need for new pilots created an insatiable appetite for the Cub. In 1940, the year before the United States' entry into the war, 3,016 Cubs were built; soon, wartime demands would increase that production rate to one Piper J-3 Cub being built every 20 minutes.

The Piper Cub quickly became a familiar sight. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took a flight in a J-3 Cub, posing for a series of publicity photos to help promote the CPTP. Newsreels and newspapers of the era often featured images of wartime leaders, such as Generals Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and George Marshall, flying around European battlefields in Piper Cubs. Civilian-owned Cubs joined the war effort as part of the newly formed Civil Air Patrol (CAP), patrolling the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast in a constant search for German U-boats and survivors of U-boat attacks. Piper developed a military variant ("All we had to do," Bill Jr. is quoted as saying, "was paint the Cub olive drab to produce a military airplane"), variously designated as the O-59 (1941), L-4 (after April 1942), and NE (U.S. Navy). The variety of models, as well as similar, tandem-cockpit accommodation aircraft from Aeronca and Taylorcraft, were collectively nicknamed “Grasshoppers” and used extensively in World War II for reconnaissance, transporting supplies and medical evacuation.

L-4s were also sometimes equipped with lashed-on infantry bazookas for ground attack. These proved to be most useful during Operation Overlord, in the hedgerowed bocage country south of the invasion beaches, for spotting hidden German tanks waiting in ambush for American and British tanks of the invasion forces. Since the L-4 Grasshoppers were mechanically identical to the J-3 civilian version, the military versions were distinguished by the presence of rearwards-entended Plexiglas windows going over the top of the wing and behind the rear-seat passenger, somewhat aft of the wing's trailing edge. Nearly 5,700 L-4s were produced for the U.S. Army and 250 for the U.S. Navy as "elementary trainers".

Potez 39 (France)

The Potez 39 was designed to a 1928 requirement for an aircraft to replace the Potez 25 and Breguet 19 machines then in service with the French Air Force in the A2 (Artillerie Biplace - two seat observation aircraft) role. The aircraft was a parasol monoplane of all-metal construction, the first all metal Potez aircraft, with a tailwheel undercarriage. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12H engine of 580 bhp (433 kW) as required by the specification. The crew of two sat in open, tandem cockpits, with the observer being armed with two Lewis guns on a ring mounting, and the pilot being armed with a single synchronised Darne machine gun, while light bombs could be carried in a small internal bomb-bay and on external racks. A fixed camera was fitted, operating through a hatch in the fuselage floor. The prototype flew in January 1930. Although the Breguet 27 was selected as the winner of the competition, both it and the Potez, which was runner-up, were chosen for production. Compared to the Potez 25, of which over 2000 were ordered, production of the Potez 39 series was on a small scale, 100 Potez 390 aircraft being built for France and 12 Potez 391 variants, powered by a Lorraine-Dietrich 12H engine of 700 bhp, for the Peruvian Air Force. A number of prototype and development aircraft, including a floatplane, were tested but no further orders were received.

The first production aircraft were delivered in 1934 but shortly afterwards, the Potez 39 began to be replaced by ANF Les Mureaux 117, Amiot 143 and Potez 540 aircraft ( in 1936). At the outbreak of the Second World War the Potez 39 remained in service with seven observation squadrons of the French Air Force, but these, along with the Breguet 27-equipped units, were withdrawn from the front in October 1939. The Potez 39 continued to serve in training units until the armistice of June 1940, at which time 41 remained in Metropolitan France. These aircraft were scrapped soon afterwards.

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The Potez 39 had a Crew of 2 and was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 12H 12-cylinder liquid-cooled V12 engine, 580 hp (433 kW) with a maximum speed of 149mph, a range of 497 miles and a service ceiling of 23,000 feet. Armament consisted of 1 x fixed 7.7 mm machine-gun firing forward and 2 x 7.7 mm machine-guns in a flexible mount in the observer's position. Up to 120kg of bombs could be carried.

In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat test team evaluated the Potez 39. Given that the aircraft was already being replaced in service in France, the evaluation was cursory and simply confirmed that the aircraft was obsolete and should not be considered further.

Potez 540 (France)

This two-engine aircraft was built by the French Potez company to fulfill a 1932 specification for a new reconnaissance bomber. Built as a private venture, this aircraft, designated the Potez 54, flew for the first time on 14 November 1933. Designed by Louis Coroller, it was intended as a four-seat aircraft capable of performing duties such as bomber, transport and long-range reconnaissance. The Potez 54 was a high-wing monoplane, of mixed wood and metal covering over a steel tube frame. The prototype had twin fins and rudders, and was powered by two 515 kW (690 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs V-12 engines in streamlined nacelles, which were connected to the fuselage by stub wings. The main landing gear units retracted into the nacelles, and auxiliary bomb racks were mounted beneath the stub wings. There were manually-operated turrets at the nose and dorsal positions, as well as a semi-retractable dustbin-style ventral turret. During development, the original tailplane was replaced by a single fin and rudder, and in this form, the type was re-designated the Potez 540 and delivered to the Armee de I'Air on 25 November 1934. A total of 192 Potez 540s were built.

Their first combat was in the Spanish Civil War, where they were employed by the Spanish Republicans. In the late 1930s, these aircraft were becoming obsolete so they were withdrawn from reconnaissance and bombing duties and were relegated to French transport units. They were also employed as paratrooper training and transport aircraft. By September 1939 and the beginning of World War II, they had been largely transferred to the French colonies in North Africa, where they continued to function in transport and paratrooper service. Their role in even these secondary assignments was problematic given their poor defensive armament and vulnerability to modern enemy fighters. Following the French capitulation to Germany in June 1940, those Potez 540s still flying served the Vichy French Air Force mainly in the French overseas colonies. Most of these machines were retired or destroyed by late 1943

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The Potez 54- had a crew of between 4 and 7 and was designed as a reconnaissance bomber. Powered by 2 Hispano-Suiza HS 12 Xirs/Xjrs V-12 liquid-cooled piston engines of 515 kW (690 hp) each, it had a maximum speed of 193 mph, a range of 777 miles and a service ceiling of 32,810 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 3 to 5× 7.5 mm (0.295 in) MAC 1934 machine guns in flexible nose, dorsal, and ventral positions. Bombload consisted of 4 × 225 kg (496 lb) bombs on external racks or 10 × 55 kg (110 lb) bombs in bomb bay when operated as a bomber.

In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat test team evaluated the Potez 540. Given the role that the aircraft was expected to fill, the evaluation was cursory and simply confirmed that the aircraft was completely unsuited to the intended role and should not be considered further. In point of fact, the evaluation team were highly annoyed that the French would even put the aircraft forward for consideration given the obvious unsuitability when evaluated against the requirements the Ilmavoimat had provided.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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...continued

Post by CanKiwi2 » 09 Aug 2011 15:34

Potez 637 (France)

The original Potez 630 was built to meet the requirements of a 1934 heavy fighter specification which also resulted in the successful Breguet 690 series of attack aircraft. The prototype first flew in 1936 and proved to have excellent handling qualities. The Potez 630 was a twin engine, monoplane, fully metallic three-seater with efficient aerodynamic lines and twin tailplanes. The long glasshouse hosted the pilot, an observer or commander who was only aboard if the mission required it, and a rear gunner who manned a single flexible light machine gun. Only very minor changes were required and an order for 80 was placed in 1937. Simultaneously 80 Potez 631 C3 fighters were ordered, these having Gnome-Rhône 14M radial engines rather than the Hispano-Suiza 14AB10/11 of the Potez 630. Fifty additional Potez 631s were ordered in 1938 of which 20 were diverted to Finland (OTL, these aircraft did not arrive in Finland). A typical feature of the 630 and 631 was the frontal armament, which originally consisted of two 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannons in gondolas under the fuselage, though sometimes one of the cannons was replaced by a MAC 1934. Later in their career, 631s received four similar light machine guns in gondolas under the outer wings, though it was theoretically possible to fit six.

Dissatisfied with its strategic reconnaissance aircraft such as the troublesome Bloch MB.131, the Armée de l'Air ordered the development of a derivative of the Potez 631 heavy fighter for this role. The observer was to be housed in a gondola under the fuselage. While particularly uncomfortable, this arrangement resulted in a Potez 637 that retained most of the qualities of the 631. 60 examples were ordered in August 1938 and delivered. Unlike many contemporary French aircraft, production of the Potez aircraft was reasonably prompt and the first deliveries were effected before the end of 1938. The 63 had been designed with mass production in mind and as a result, one Potez 630 was cheaper and faster to manufacture than one Morane-Saulnier M.S.406. As production tempo increased, a number of derivatives and experimental models were also developed and produced with exceptional rapidity.

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluation team looked at a number of diferent variants of the Potez 630 in early 1938. There report indicated that all members of the family (possibly except the Potez 63.11) shared pleasant flying characteristics. They were well designed for easy maintenance and could be fitted with a heavy armament for the time (up to 12 light machine guns for the Potez 63.11 design that was being worked on). They were also quite attractive aircraft. Although not heavily built they seemed capable of absorbing considerable battle damage. Unfortunately the Potez 63 family, like many French aircraft of the time, simply did not have sufficiently powerful engines to endow them with an adequate performance. However, while the aircraft was considered reasonably good, it by no stretch met the STOL Observation / Medical Evac requirements of the aircraft that was being looked for.

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The Potez 637 had a Crew of 3 and was powered by two Gnome-Rhône 14M radial engines giving a maximum speed of 264 mph with a range of 932 miles and a service ceiling of 27,885 feet. Armament consisted of 1x fixed, forward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun, 1x fixed, rearward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun and 1x flexible, rearward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun with 4x 50 kg (110 lb) bombs.

OTL Note: At the same time, the Armée de l'Air was desperate to re-equip its army cooperation units which had particularly antiquated equipment, but since the development of the Potez 637, had completely changed its mind about how the observer position should be arranged. Potez was therefore required to develop a variant that, while retaining the wings, engines and tail surfaces of the 631, hosted the observer in a more conventional nose glasshouse. Because the pilot needed to be seated above the observer, the Potez 63.11's fuselage was taller, which resulted in top speed degradation and reduced manoeuvrability. As a result the Potez 63.11 proved very vulnerable, despite being protected with some armour and a basic self-sealing coating over the fuel tanks.

As a secondary light bomber capability was part of the requirements (though it was rarely if ever used), the fuselage accommodated a tiny bomb bay, carrying up to eight 10kg-class bombs. This bomb bay was replaced by an additional fuel tank on late examples. Additionally, two 50kg-class bombs could be carried on hardpoints under the inner wings. Frontal armament was originally one, then three MAC 1934s under the nose, and many 63.11s were equipped with additional MAC 1934 guns in wing gondolas as the 631s. The first Potez 63.11 No.1 and second No.2 prototypes first flew in December 1938, and no less than 1,365 examples were on order in September 1939, of which 730 were delivered.

ATL Note: After the outbreak of the Winter War, 20 Potez 631s were ordered diverted to Finland. These aircraft arrived in mid-April 1940, having been flown to the UK where they were picked up by Ilmavoimat Ferry Pilots and flown via Norway and Sweden to Finland. In Ilmavoimat service, they were found to be underpowered and slower than many of the Soviet bombers, as well as undergunned. A rush project was undertaken to replace the engines with the Finnish-built and more powerful Hispano-Suiza 12Y’s, and every one of the aircraft was fitted with two nose-mounted 20mm cannon and four machineguns under the wings. In addition, the internal bomb bay was replaced with an additional fuel tank to extend the range. The aircraft finally entered service in August 1940, by which time the war was almost over. The Ilmavoimat went on to use them in the night-fighter role that the French had intended them for. They were not particularly successful in this role and were retired from active service and used as trainers from 1941.

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Ilmavoimat Potez 631’s undergoing modifications and Curtiss Hawks being repaired at the Veljekset Karhumäki factory at Tampere, May 1940.

ANF Les Mureaux 117 (France)

The ANF Les Mureaux 110 originated with a French air ministry requirement for an aircraft to replace the Breguet 19 in Armeé de l'Air service in the "R2" reconnaissance role. Two slightly different variants, the 110 and 111 were presented to the air force for evaluation, and were soon ordered into production. The first mass-production version was the 113 in 1933, of which 49 examples were purchased. This was supplanted in produ ction by the 115 in 1935 and the 117 later than year. Both these series were given light bombing capability as well. By the outbreak of World War II, the ANF Les Mureaux 117 equipped nine Groupes Aériens d'Observation.

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The ANF Les Mureaux 117 had a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Observer) and was powered by a single 634-kW (850-hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Yers piston engine. Maximum speed was 210mph, range was 620 miles and the service ceiling was 32,800 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.9 cannon firing through propeller hub, 2 × fixed, forward firing 7.5 mm MAC 34 machine guns and 2 × flexible 7.5 mm MAC 34 machine guns for observer. Bombload consisted of 200 kg (440 lb) of bombs. The major difference between the 117 and the earlier 115 was that the 117 had improved aerodynamics.

In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat test team evaluated the ANF Les Mureaux 117. It was assessed as a rugged but somewhat dated aircraft similar to the Fokker C.X the Ilmavoimat already had in service and without any real multi-role or STOL capability.

Bloch MB.131 (France)

The Bloch MB.130 and its derivatives were a series of French monoplane reconnaissance bombers developed during the 1930s. The MB.130 was developed in response to the August 1933 French Aviation Ministry request for a reconnaissance and tactical bomber. It was an all-metal, twin-engine, low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear, and armed with three flexible machine guns, one each in the nose, dorsal turret, and ventral gondola. It first flew on 29 June 1934, and despite very ordinary performance, soon entered production, 40 machines being ordered in October 1935. An improved version, the MB.131 was first flown on 16 August 1936, but still needed more work to overcome its deficiencies. The radically revised second prototype which flew on 5 May 1937 eventually formed the basis for series production, with aircraft being manufactured by SNCASO, the nationalised company that had absorbed Bloch and Blériot. Total production (including prototypes) was 143. As with the Potez 540, given the role that the aircraft was expected to fill, the evaluation was cursory and simply confirmed that the aircraft was completely unsuited to the intended role and should not be considered further.

Entering service in June 1938, the MB.131 went on to equip seven reconnaissance Groupes, six in metropolitan France and one in North Africa. Upon the outbreak of the war, the metropolitan Groupes suffered heavy losses in attempts at daylight reconnaissance of Germany's western borders. They were subsequently restricted to flying night missions, though they still suffered heavy losses even then. By May 1940, all metropolitan units had been converted to Potez 63.11 aircraft, with only the African groupe retaining them for front-line duty.

Image
The Bloch MB.131 had a Crew of 4, was powered by 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14N-10/11 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines of 708 kW (950 hp) each and had a maximum speed of 217 mph with a range of 808 miles and a service ceiling of 23,785 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 3 × 7.5 mm (.295 in) MAC 1934 machine guns in flexible mounts in the nose, dorsal turret, and ventral gondola. Bombload consisted of 4 × 200 kg (440 lb) or 6 × 100 kg (220 lb) or 8 × 50 kg (110 lb) or 64 × 10 kg (22 lb) bombs.

OTL Note: After the Battle of France, the planes left in Vichy possession were relegated to target towing duty. 21 planes were reported captured by the Luftwaffe in inoperable condition, but photographic evidence suggests at least a few flew for the Nazis.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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The Decision on Observation Aircraft

Post by CanKiwi2 » 09 Aug 2011 19:38

The Decision on Observation, Artillery Control and general purpose Light Aircraft for the Ilmavoimat

As we covered earlier, in late 1937 the decision had been made to create the “Paarma” (Horsefly) Units and these units were tasked with Forward Artillery Control, Forward CAS Control, Target marking (initialy using Phosphorus Bombs, later also using smoke-rockets), Reconnaissance/observation (including artillery spotting), Casualty Evacuation from forward areas and General Liaison use. It was a wide-reaching role and one that the Joint Evaluation Team kept to the fore throughout what was an exhaustive series of evaluations and test-flights.

Some aircraft were eliminated early on as completely unstitable for the role. Into this category fell the Arado Ar198, the Blohm and Voss Bv 141 (too radical a design), the FockeWulf fw 186 Autogyro (also rather too radical and experimental), the Fokker C.X (this was what we’re replacing!), the Hawker Hector (obsolete), the Lublin R-XIII (obsolete), the Meriodionali Ro37 (obsolete), the Messerschmidt Bf 108 (not suitable), the Messerschmidt Bf 163 (the Luftwaffe aren’t going to buy this one…), The Potez 39 (obsolete), the Potez 540 (unsuitable) and the Potez 637 (our Fokker G1 is waaaay better than this dog), the ANF Les Mureaux 117 (why are the French wasting our time…), the Bloch MB.131 (that’s it, no more French aircraft…), the RWB Czapla (obsolete even for the Poles) and the Siebel Si 201 (the Luftwaffe have already told us they aren’t going to buy this one…).

Left in consideration after the obvious eliminations were the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, the Focke Wulf Fw 189, the Heinkel He 46 (second hand but they’ll sell us all we’ll want and they’ll sell it to us cheap…), the Henschel Hs 126, the LWSIII-Mewa, the Piper J-3 (did you see the price of that one….) and finally, the Westland Lysander. With some 23 aircraft to evaluate overall, and a final 7 to re-evaluate and test fly, the program was not completed until September 1938. However, at this stage a decision was very quickly reached. Two aircraft stood out as superlative in the role the Ilmavoimat and Maavoimat were looking to fill. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch had by far and away the best STOL performance as well as excellent visibility and the decision was almost a no-brainer – although serious consideration was given to the Piper J-3. But the Fi 156 was just …. better!

Despite this decision, a second order was also placed, this time for the Focke Wulf Fw 189. This aircraft had rated very highly in the evaluations and twenty were ordered at the same time as the Fiesler Fi 156’s. The aircraft was just entering production and the Ilmavoimat got the first twenty aircraft of the German production lines, perhaps unfortunately as Focke Wulf used these to iron out production line problems. Despite this, the Ilmavoimat found the Fw 189’s to be a superb front line reconnaissance aircraft, tough and durable, able to take a lot of damage and maneuverable enough to stay out of trouble even if caught on it’s own.

The Ilmavoimat Fi 156 production variant was a two crew (Pilot and Observer / Controller) with an enlarged loading/unloading hatch for a single stretcher so as to allow for casualty evacuation. A more powerful engine was fitted and the aircraft could carry up to three passengers in addition to the crew of two. Given that the aircraft was expected to operate from rough terrain, the standard landing gear was replaced by main units that each incorporated two wheels in tandem. For Forward Air and Artillery Control, provision was made for additional Finnish-supplied radio equipment to be installed to allow for simultaneous communication with ground units, artillery and aircraft. Mountings for 30lb phosphorus “marker” bombs were also installed and a single machinegun was fitted. Sufficient aircraft were intended to be bought to allow for each Regimental Combat Group (in essence a very strong Brigade) to be equipped with a Paarma flight.

The TOE for a Paarma Unit assigned to a Regimental Battle Group was set at four aircraft, with four Pilot / Forward Air Controllers, four Observation/Artillery Control Officers, a ground-based “Paarma” CO who was also a trained Forward Air Controller, and sixty NCO’s and men (including Signals). The unit was allocated its own vehicles and could move along with the ground forces it supported and be split into smaller sections if needed. With the steady growth of the Maavoimat through the 1930’s, in late 1937 the formal establishment was at some 48 Regimental Battle Groups (with the older formations, the equivalent of 16 Divisions) and a further 12 Regimental Battle Groups were planned to be added over the period 1938-1940. With some sixty Regimental Battle Groups, 240 of the aircraft would be required to meet the TOE. Given the low cost of the Fieseler Fi 156 (especially when compared to the cost of fighters or bombers), this was a feasible proposition and in August 1938, the Ilmavoimat announced the decision.

Twenty Fi 156’s were to be bought direct from Fiesler – delivery was rapid and these aircraft were shipped and arrived before the end of the year. Additionally, a manufacturing license was bought from Fiesler and the Finnish company Veljekset Karhumäki was awarded a contract to build an initial 100 aircraft (Veljekset Karhumäki were also advised that further orders would be placed, with the objective being to ensure that all Regimental Battle Groups were fully equipped). This was a large expansion in business for Veljekset Karhumäki and two additional factory buildings were acquired, one to construct the Argus engines and one to construct the aircraft. Setup moved as rapidly as possible with production starting towards the end of 1938 and the first Finnish-manufactured Fi 156 rolling out the doors in early February 1939. Delivery averaged six Fi 156’s per month through the first half of 1939, increasing to 2 per week from July on and in the event, some 70 Fiesler Fi 156’s had been delivered by Veljekset Karhumäki by the time the Winter War broke out for a total of 90 in service.

At the same time, the Maavoimat began an intensive program of training Artillery Officers to act as Observers and Forward Artillery and Air Controllers, a program which paid off in spades in the Winter War itself, although at the time it was seen simplay as one of many steps being taken to strengthen Finland’s defenses. When the Winter War broke out, it was obvious that despite the intensive manufacturing effort over the previous six months there were nowhere near enough of the aircraft to meet the TOE, even with the older aircraft being utilised. Increasingly desperate attempts were made to procure additional observation aircraft, with some limited success (the Lysanders from the UK being one example we have mentioned earlier – others will be covered in later posts covering the periods concerned). Suffice it to say that despite limited numbers of observation aircraft being bought abroad and continuous production from Veljekset Karhumäki (some 10 per month by January 1940), demand for the aircraft always exceeded the supply available throughout the Winter War.

In the Winter War itself, it soon became apparent that air strikes could be used even beyond the range of marking artillery, that better target marking methods were needed and that tactics needed to be adjusted in the light of combat experience. CAS and bomber squadrons were instructed that Paarma missions had priority in targeting. The Paarma aircraft generally operated at an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, ranging above small arms fire, roving up to 20 miles inside Soviet lines, and marking targets with phosphorous or smoke bombs. To aid the strike pilots in seeing the tiny liaison craft, the upper wing surfaces were painted with one of four bright colors. Call signs were keyed to these colors: Paarma Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue.

The light and slow Paarma aircraft were obviously susceptible to enemy air attack and ground fire and were generally only effective where the Ilmavoimat maintained air superiority. Fortunately, as it turned out, the Ilmavoimat found they could maintain local air superiority where they chose too, and this enabled the Paarma aircraft to carry out their missions freely. Where Soviet fighters intervened, the Ilmavoimat fighter cover generally intercepted the enemy while the Paarma aircraft dropped to treetop level and generally aimed to stay out of trouble until things were clear. Very few Paarma aircraft were shot down over the course of the Winter War – rather more were lost to ground fire through the commitment of their Pilots to ensuring the Maavoimat units they worked with got the fire support they needed and consequently flying too low.

There was no real civilian or foreign news reporter awareness of these aircraft outside of the Finnish military during the Winter War, and the military tried to keep it that way. This was sucessful up until the now little-known but at the time widely-publicised “Paarma Green Leader” radio exchange with a Lufthansa Junkers Ju52 passenger aircraft attempting to land at Tallinn Airport in January 1940. At that time, before the outright Soviet invasion of Estonia, Soviet forces were based at a number of locations and the Soviet Air Force was utilising Tallinn air field for strikes across the Gulf of Finland. The Ilmavoimat had decided to “correct” this situation with a massive strike against Soviet forces based in Estonia involving the Ilmavoimat, the Merivoimat, elements of the the Rannikkojääkäri and the Parajääkäri.
The Paarma Green Leader raid was not the most significant Finnish raid strategically, but it was by far the most heavily publicised, within Finland and internationally. One of the factors provoking the Paarma Green Leader raid was the shooting down of a civilian Aero Oy Ju52, “Kaleva” which had been flying regular passenger flights between Tallinn and Helsinki despite the war. Usually escorted by Finnish fighter aircraft, on this occasion Kaleva was flying out of Tallinn air field (which was ostensibly neutral despite Soviet aircraft being based their and using Tallinn to launch air attacks against Finland. Despite this, Finland continued to respect Estonia’s neutrality) and was followed closely by two Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 bombers who closed with Kaleva, shot her down and returned to Tallinn before Ilmavoimat fighter aircraft could intervene. Kaleva crashed into the water a few kilometers northeast of Keri lighthouse. All nine passengers and crew members on board were killed. The Finnish leadership determined that this action could not go unpunished and the Paarma Green Leader raid was the result.

The raid began with an airstrike on Soviet aircraft based at Tallinn air field, along with simultaneous airstrikes against Red Army units based outside of Tallinn (the positions of whom were well known due to information supplied by Estonian Intelligence and pre-positioned Finnish “Special Operations” troops), after which Rannikkojääkäri and the Parajääkäri moved in supported by both continuous air strikes and naval gunfire from Merivoimat destroyers. After the first bombs fell came the Ilmavoimat’s propaganda masterstroke. Climbing away after the initial Ilmavoimat airstrikes had wiped out all Soviet aircraft on the ground at Tallinn airfield (carefully avoiding Estonian Air Force aircraft), the commander of the raid – Paarma Green Leader – contacted the Tallinn control tower. The recording made of their conversation was broadcast on radio stations throughout the world within days and provided an incredible boost to Finnish morale.
“Tallinn Tower, Tallinn Tower, this is Paarma Green Leader. This is a message for the station commander at Tallinn from the Ilmavoimat. We are attacking Red Air Force and Red Army bases outside Tallinn at this time. This attack is against Soviet Forces and not against Estonia. Finland has no quarrel, repeat, no quarrel, with Estonia or her security forces. We therefore ask you not to intervene or oppose our attack. However, we are orbiting your airfield at this time and are under orders to shoot down any Estonian Air Force aircraft which does not comply with this request and attempts to take off. Did you copy all that?”

Tallinn tower replies that they have understood, and ask whether civil aircraft are still cleared to land, advising Paarma Green Leader that an inbound Lufthansa aircraft is expected shortly. Paarma Green Leader asks them to wait half an hour or so. The impression given is very much that the Ilmavoimat is totally in control of the situation. And when Tallinn tower was asked by the incoming Lufthansa Ju52 passenger aircraft who had priority, Tallinn tower simply replied "I think the Ilmavoimat does".

The recording that was played by radio stations across the world (in Finnish and then in translation) had the translated versions somewhat sanitized. The Finnish translation of the subsequent few minutes goes like this. Paarma Green Leader is controlling air strike after air strike on Red Army possitions: Steady Charlie One. Steady Charlie One. NOW. BOMBS GONE. THEY’RE RUNNING! Charlie Two. Steady Charlie Two. NOW. BOMBS GONE. Charlie Three. Charlie Three come right. Steady Charlie Three. NOW……..BEAUTIFUL…. Perkele! You want to see all those fuckers. Those fucking bombs were beautiful. What the fuck is Echo One doing down so close? Echo One, move higher, you’re too low. Echo One Steady. Echo One go left. Echo One go left. Echo One steady. NOW! BOMBS GONE.”

Constant explosions can be heard in the background, along with other radio traffic, and it is obvious that Paarma Green Leader is an extremely busy man, controlling air strike after air strike and then, simultaneously, coordinating artillery and talking to ground forces who are moving in whilst also occassionally talking to the Tallinn Control Tower. Edited as it was, it was a brilliant piece of professional propaganda which boosted support for Finland around the world and raised so many questions about who Paarma Green Leader was and what was his job that the Ilmavoimat found it hard to maintain the level of secrecy they wanted.

The effectiveness of the Paarma aircraft in combat far outweighed their disadvantages. They became an integral part of the Maavoimat throughout the Winter War, and then into the Second World War as Finland fought the Germans. While there had never been enough of the aircraft during the Winter War, through the Interim Peace the aircraft continued to be manufactured under license by the Karhumäki Brothers in their Tampere factory. By the time Finland re-entered WW2, every Regimental Battle Group was fully equipped with a Paarma Unit and in the fighting against Germany, they proved in combination with the Ilmavoimat’s increases in CAS aircraft and Artillery strength to be an even more devastating weapon than in the Winter War. As the Maavoimat fought their way into Germany, considerable precautions had to be taken with the use of these aircraft as the German designs and the blue Haakaristi made them a target for Allied and Soviet aircraft that strayed into the Finnish zone, as they often did in the later days of the war.

Despite this, the Ilmavoimat refused outright to change the Haakaristi to a roundel that was less easy to confuse. Ilmavoimat pilots also had no objections to shooting down Soviet aircraft that failed to distinguish the difference between the Haakaristi and the Swastika and indeed, there were a number of three-way dogfights at times, in most of which the Ilmavoimat emerged the victors. Soviet pilots soon learned to give the Finnish zone a wide berth. US and British pilots were a little quicker on the uptake, and it helped that the RAF and the US Air Force were rather more capable of educating their pilots. The Ilmavoimat pilots were also rather less ready to shoot down British and American aircraft although there was the odd occasion when tempers frayed a little……

The Paarma Units and aircraft saw action until the end of the European war, with the last combat missions being flown over Berlin in April 1945 as the Maavoimat halted on the outskirts of the city while the Red Army fought their way in.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Modified my previous post and reposted it

Post by CanKiwi2 » 10 Aug 2011 21:07

The Decision on Observation, Artillery Control and general purpose Light Aircraft for the Ilmavoimat

As we covered earlier, in late 1937 the decision had been made to create the “Paarma” (Horsefly) Units and these units were tasked with Forward Artillery Control, Forward CAS Control, Target marking (initialy using Phosphorus Bombs, later also using smoke-rockets), Reconnaissance/observation (including artillery spotting), Casualty Evacuation from forward areas and General Liaison use. It was a wide-reaching role and one that the Joint Evaluation Team kept to the fore throughout what was an exhaustive series of evaluations and test-flights.

Some aircraft were eliminated early on as completely unstitable for the role. Into this category fell the Arado Ar198, the Blohm and Voss Bv 141 (too radical a design), the FockeWulf fw 186 Autogyro (also rather too radical and experimental), the Fokker C.X (this was what we’re replacing!), the Hawker Hector (obsolete), the Lublin R-XIII (obsolete), the Meriodionali Ro37 (obsolete), the Messerschmidt Bf 108 (not suitable), the Messerschmidt Bf 163 (the Luftwaffe aren’t going to buy this one…), The Potez 39 (obsolete), the Potez 540 (unsuitable) and the Potez 637 (our Fokker G1 is waaaay better than this dog), the ANF Les Mureaux 117 (why are the French wasting our time…), the Bloch MB.131 (that’s it, no more French aircraft…), the RWB Czapla (obsolete even for the Poles) and the Siebel Si 201 (the Luftwaffe have already told us they aren’t going to buy this one…).

Left in consideration after the obvious eliminations were the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, the Focke Wulf Fw 189, the Heinkel He 46 (second hand but they’ll sell us all we’ll want and they’ll sell it to us cheap…), the Henschel Hs 126, the LWSIII-Mewa, the Piper J-3 (did you see the price of that one….) and finally, the Westland Lysander. With some 23 aircraft to evaluate overall, and a final 7 to re-evealuate and test fly, the program was not completed until September 1938. However, at this stage a decision was very quickly reached. Two aircraft stood out as superlative in the role the Ilmavoimat and Maavoimat were looking to fill. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch had by far and away the best STOL performance as well as excellent visibility and the decision was almost a no-brainer – although serious consideration was given to the Piper J-3. But the Fi 156 was just …. better!

The TOE for a Paarma Unit assigned to a Regimental Battle Group was set at four aircraft, with four Pilot / Forward Air Controllers, four Observation/Artillery Control Officers, a ground-based “Paarma” CO who was also a trained Forward Air Controller, and sixty NCO’s and men (including Signals). The unit was allocated its own vehicles and could move along with the ground forces it supported and be split into smaller sections if needed. With the steady growth of the Maavoimat through the 1930’s, in late 1937 the formal establishment was at some 48 Regimental Battle Groups (with the older formations, the equivalent of 16 Divisions) and a further 12 Regimental Battle Groups were planned to be added over the period 1938-1940. With some sixty Regimental Battle Groups, 240 of the aircraft would be required to meet the TOE. Given the low cost of the Fieseler Fi 156 (especially when compared to the cost of fighters or bombers), this was a feasible proposition and in August 1938, the Ilmavoimat announced the decision.

Twenty Fi 156’s were to be bought direct from Fiesler – delivery was rapid and these aircraft were shipped and arrived before the end of the year. Additionally, a manufacturing license was bought from Fiesler and the Finnish company Veljekset Karhumäki was awarded a contract to build an initial 100 aircraft (Veljekset Karhumäki were also advised that further orders would be placed, with the objective being to ensure that all Regimental Battle Groups were fully equipped). This was a large expansion in business for Veljekset Karhumäki and two additional factory buildings were acquired, one to construct the Argus engines and one to construct the aircraft. Setup moved as rapidly as possible with production starting towards the end of 1938 and the first Finnish-manufactured Fi 156 rolling out the doors in early February 1939. Delivery averaged six Fi 156’s per month through the first half of 1939, increasing to 2 per week from July on and in the event, some 70 Fiesler Fi 156’s had been delivered by Veljekset Karhumäki by the time the Winter War broke out for a total of 90 in service.

In addition, an order for a second aircraft type was also placed, this time for the Focke Wulf Fw 189. While the Fi 156 was envisaged as a STOL aircraft capable of carrying out multiple roles, the Fw 189 was viewed as a rugged and simple aircraft to be used solely for short-range tactical reconnaissance and coordinating close air support and artillery strikes with forward ground operations. The intention was to operate the aircraft from rough forward air bases and for the aircraft to have a higher maximum speed than the Fi 156. It was also intended that the aircraft be used for front-line low-level reconnaissance and aerial photography. This aircraft had rated very highly in the evaluations, with excellent all-round visibility, good stability and responsiveness and able to maintain steady flight on one engine as well as being exceptionally agile and strongly constructed. The layout and positioning of navigational equipment and radios was carefully thought out, cockpit heating was efficient and it was easy to put the aircraft on target when laying down marker bombs.

The Ilmavoimat ordered twenty of the Focke Wulf Fw 189’s. There were some design modifications specified. The pilot and observer/controller were to sit side by side, making communications easy. Armour was added under the fuselage and engines and self-sealing fuel tanks were specified. Armament consisted of two machine guns on a flexible mount in a dorsal position and four fixed machine guns in the wing roots, firing forwards. After delivery, two Hispano-Suiza 404 20mm cannon were fitted in a blister beneath the fuselage. The rear gunner position of the German-version was eliminated to reduce weight and rather than 4 hardpoints for 50kg bombs, 8 hardpoints for 30kg phosphorus marker bombs were fitted. The aircraft was just entering production in Germany and with ther German eager for hard currency, the Ilmavoimat got the first twenty aircraft of the German production lines, perhaps unfortunately as Focke Wulf used these to iron out some of their initial production line problems. Despite this, the Ilmavoimat found the Fw 189’s to be a superb front line reconnaissance aircraft, tough and durable, able to take a lot of damage and maneuverable enough to stay out of trouble even if caught on it’s own.

The Ilmavoimat’s Fw 189’s were delivered in February 1939, much to the relief of the High Command, who were unsure which orders that had been placed would actually be fulfilled up until the moment that the aircraft actually arrived in Finland. To this end, after the Munich Crisis, and as part of Finland’s emergenmcy measures, it was specified that wherever possible, Finnish military equipment purchases would be carried on Finnish cargo ships wherever feasible, even if this meant additional shipping costs. After the Munich Crisis, as Finland experienced what would in later years be called “The Great Awakening,” a wide range of emergency measures were put in place and additional emergency funding for military equipment was provided. Among this funding was provision for a further twenty Fw 189’s. These were ordered in December 1939 and to the relief of the Ilmavoimat, actually delivered in May 1939. With tensions increasing with the Soviet Union, a further order was placed for forty Fw 189’s in July 1939, but this was cancelled by the German government on the 19th of August 1939, shortly after Molotov Ribbentrop Pact was signed.

Image
Visibility from the Cockpit of the Fw 189 was excellent

Regardless, Finland entered the Winter War with some forty Fw 189 aircraft in service, in addition to the ninety odd Fieseler Fi 156 Storch’s. And at the same time the initial orders for these aircraft were placed, the Maavoimat began an intensive program of training Artillery Officers to act as Observers and Forward Artillery and Air Controllers, a program which paid off in spades in the Winter War itself, although at the time it was seen simplay as one of many steps being taken to strengthen Finland’s defenses. When the Winter War broke out, it was obvious that despite the intensive manufacturing effort over the previous six months there were nowhere near enough of the aircraft to meet the TOE, even with the older aircraft being utilised. Increasingly desperate attempts were made to procure additional observation aircraft, with some limited success (the Lysanders from the UK being one example we have mentioned earlier – others will be covered in later posts covering the periods concerned). Suffice it to say that despite limited numbers of observation aircraft being bought abroad and continuous production from Veljekset Karhumäki (some 10 per month by January 1940), demand for the aircraft always exceeded the supply available throughout the Winter War.

The Ilmavoimat Fi 156 production variant was a two crew (Pilot and Observer / Controller) with an enlarged loading/unloading hatch for a single stretcher so as to allow for casualty evacuation. A more powerful engine was fitted and the aircraft could carry up to three passengers in addition to the crew of two. Given that the aircraft was expected to operate from rough terrain, the standard landing gear was replaced by main units that each incorporated two wheels in tandem. For Forward Air and Artillery Control, provision was made for additional Finnish-supplied radio equipment to be installed to allow for simultaneous communication with ground units, artillery and aircraft. Mountings for 30lb phosphorus “marker” bombs were also installed and a single machinegun was fitted. Sufficient aircraft were intended to be bought to allow for each Regimental Combat Group (in essence a very strong Brigade) to be equipped with a Paarma flight.

In the Winter War itself, it soon became apparent that air strikes could be used even beyond the range of marking artillery, that better target marking methods were needed and that tactics needed to be adjusted in the light of combat experience. CAS and bomber squadrons were instructed that Paarma missions had priority in targeting. The Paarma aircraft generally operated at an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, ranging above small arms fire, roving up to 20 miles inside Soviet lines, and marking targets with phosphorous or smoke bombs. To aid the strike pilots in seeing the tiny liaison craft, the upper wing surfaces were painted with one of four bright colors. Call signs were keyed to these colors: Paarma Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue.

The light and slow Paarma aircraft were obviously susceptible to enemy air attack and ground fire and were generally only effective where the Ilmavoimat maintained air superiority. Fortunately, as it turned out, the Ilmavoimat found they could maintain local air superiority where they chose too, and this enabled the Paarma aircraft to carry out their missions freely. Where Soviet fighters intervened, the Ilmavoimat fighter cover generally intercepted the enemy while the Paarma aircraft dropped to treetop level and generally aimed to stay out of trouble until things were clear. Very few Paarma aircraft were shot down over the course of the Winter War – rather more were lost to ground fire through the commitment of their Pilots to ensuring the Maavoimat units they worked with got the fire support they needed and consequently flying too low.

There was no real civilian or foreign news reporter awareness of these aircraft outside of the Finnish military during the Winter War, and the military tried to keep it that way. This was sucessful up until the now little-known but at the time widely-publicised “Paarma Green Leader” radio exchange with a Lufthansa Junkers Ju52 passenger aircraft attempting to land at Tallinn Airport in January 1940. At that time, before the outright Soviet invasion of Estonia, Soviet forces were based at a number of locations and the Soviet Air Force was utilising Tallinn air field for strikes across the Gulf of Finland. The Ilmavoimat had decided to “correct” this situation with a massive strike against Soviet forces based in Estonia involving the Ilmavoimat, the Merivoimat, elements of the the Rannikkojääkäri and the Parajääkäri.

The Paarma Green Leader raid was not the most significant Finnish raid strategically, but it was by far the most heavily publicised, within Finland and internationally. One of the factors provoking the Paarma Green Leader raid was the shooting down of a civilian Aero Oy Ju52, “Kaleva” which had been flying regular passenger flights between Tallinn and Helsinki despite the war. Usually escorted by Finnish fighter aircraft, on this occasion Kaleva was flying out of Tallinn air field (which was ostensibly neutral despite Soviet aircraft being based their and using Tallinn to launch air attacks against Finland. Despite this, Finland continued to respect Estonia’s neutrality) and was followed closely by two Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 bombers who closed with Kaleva, shot her down and returned to Tallinn before Ilmavoimat fighter aircraft could intervene. Kaleva crashed into the water a few kilometers northeast of Keri lighthouse. All nine passengers and crew members on board were killed. The Finnish leadership determined that this action could not go unpunished and the Paarma Green Leader raid was the result.

The raid began with an airstrike on Soviet aircraft based at Tallinn air field, along with simultaneous airstrikes against Red Army units based outside of Tallinn (the positions of whom were well known due to information supplied by Estonian Intelligence and pre-positioned Finnish “Special Operations” troops), after which Rannikkojääkäri and the Parajääkäri moved in supported by both continuous air strikes and naval gunfire from Merivoimat destroyers. After the first bombs fell came the Ilmavoimat’s propaganda masterstroke. Climbing away after the initial Ilmavoimat airstrikes had wiped out all Soviet aircraft on the ground at Tallinn airfield (carefully avoiding Estonian Air Force aircraft), the commander of the raid – Paarma Green Leader – contacted the Tallinn control tower. The recording made of their conversation was broadcast on radio stations throughout the world within days and provided an incredible boost to Finnish morale.

Image
Paarma Vihreä Johtaja over Estonia

“Tallinn Tower, Tallinn Tower, this is Paarma Green Leader. This is a message for the station commander at Tallinn from the Ilmavoimat. We are attacking Red Air Force and Red Army bases outside Tallinn at this time. This attack is against Soviet Forces and not against Estonia. Finland has no quarrel, repeat, no quarrel, with Estonia or her security forces. We therefore ask you not to intervene or oppose our attack. However, we are orbiting your airfield at this time and are under orders to shoot down any Estonian Air Force aircraft which does not comply with this request and attempts to take off. Did you copy all that?”

Tallinn tower replies that they have understood, and ask whether civil aircraft are still cleared to land, advising Paarma Green Leader that an inbound Lufthansa aircraft is expected shortly. Paarma Green Leader asks them to wait half an hour or so. The impression given is very much that the Ilmavoimat is totally in control of the situation. And when Tallinn tower was asked by the incoming Lufthansa Ju52 passenger aircraft who had priority, Tallinn tower simply replied "I think the Ilmavoimat does".

The recording that was played by radio stations across the world (in Finnish and then in translation) had the translated versions somewhat sanitized. The Finnish translation of the subsequent few minutes goes like this. Paarma Green Leader is controlling air strike after air strike on Red Army possitions: Steady Charlie One. Steady Charlie One. NOW. BOMBS GONE. THEY’RE RUNNING! Charlie Two. Steady Charlie Two. NOW. BOMBS GONE. Charlie Three. Charlie Three come right. Steady Charlie Three. NOW……..BEAUTIFUL…. Perkele! You want to see all those fuckers. Those fucking bombs were beautiful. What the fuck is Echo One doing down so close? Echo One, move higher, you’re too low. Echo One Steady. Echo One go left. Echo One go left. Echo One steady. NOW! BOMBS GONE.”

Constant explosions can be heard in the background, along with other radio traffic, and it is obvious that Paarma Green Leader is an extremely busy man, controlling air strike after air strike and then, simultaneously, coordinating artillery and talking to ground forces who are moving in whilst also occassionally talking to the Tallinn Control Tower. Edited as it was, it was a brilliant piece of professional propaganda which boosted support for Finland around the world and raised so many questions about who Paarma Green Leader was and what was his job that the Ilmavoimat found it hard to maintain the level of secrecy they wanted.

The effectiveness of the Paarma aircraft in combat far outweighed their disadvantages. They became an integral part of the Maavoimat throughout the Winter War, and then into the Second World War as Finland fought the Germans. While there had never been enough of the aircraft during the Winter War, through the Interim Peace the aircraft continued to be manufactured under license by the Karhumäki Brothers in their Tampere factory. By the time Finland re-entered WW2, every Regimental Battle Group was fully equipped with a Paarma Unit and in the fighting against Germany, they proved in combination with the Ilmavoimat’s increases in CAS aircraft and Artillery strength to be an even more devastating weapon than in the Winter War. As the Maavoimat fought their way into Germany, considerable precautions had to be taken with the use of these aircraft as the German designs and the blue Hakaristi made them a target for Allied and Soviet aircraft that strayed into the Finnish zone, as they often did in the later days of the war.

Despite this, the Ilmavoimat refused outright to change the Hakaristi to a roundel that was less easy to confuse. Ilmavoimat pilots also had no objections to shooting down Soviet aircraft that failed to distinguish the difference between the Hakaristi and the Swastika and indeed, there were a number of three-way dogfights at times, in most of which the Ilmavoimat emerged the victors. Soviet pilots soon learned to give the Finnish zone a wide berth. US and British pilots were a little quicker on the uptake, and it helped that the RAF and the US Air Force were rather more capable of educating their pilots. The Ilmavoimat pilots were also rather less ready to shoot down British and American aircraft although there was the odd occasion when tempers frayed a little……

The Paarma Units and aircraft saw action until the end of the European war, with the last combat missions being flown over Berlin in April 1945 as the Maavoimat halted on the outskirts of the city while the Red Army fought their way in.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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The use of aircraft in fighting Forest Fires - Part I

Post by CanKiwi2 » 15 Aug 2011 19:42

And now, a slight deviation into Civilian Aircraft again – the use of aircraft in spotting and fighting Forest Fires in Finland prior to the Winter War and some interesting aspects of Forest Management as they impacted on the military

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Throughout the centuries, Finns have utilized the forest for all kinds of purposes. It has provided an important source of material goods but also a solid foundation for the entire Finnish culture. In a sparsely populated country, Finns used to live in the middle of or close to the forest. The environment gave the Finnish people almost everything they needed and in the 1920’s and 1930’s this connection was far closer than it is today. Most Finns came from a rural background and they were familiar with and lived as part of a heavily forested environment. However, this was also a time of transition, as we have seen in ealier posts, this was a period which saw the rapid urbanization of Finland’s population and which also saw the increasingly rapid industrialization of forestry. The economics of forestry were becoming of greater importance. As we covered in some of the very early posts in this thread, forests covered vast areras of Finland – and Finland is a large country, the sixth largest in Europe – larger in area than Poland or Italy and almost 50% larger than the UK. Forestry was a major industry in Finland, a hugely valuable export commodity and a source of jobs and income for a large percentage of the Finnish population as well as for the Finnish government.

The Land Reform programs of the 1920’s, where the large estates were split up into smaller farms along with the purchase of large areas of privately owned forests from foreigners had led to increased incomes from forestry at all levels of society. These included the owners of the large forestry-based industries and companies, the farmers who relied on woodlots for part of their income, the workers in sawmills and papermills, the loggers who worked the large forests and finally to the Government which levied taxation on the income and exports generated by the industry. As forestry became larger and larger in scale, concerns over deforestation grew, and there was an increasing emphasis on the scientific management of forests and on sustainability. Forest Research and educational activities related to forest management started early in Finland, as early in fact as the 18th century and the notion of managing forests to achieve a sustained yield of timber came to the fore.

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Shifting cultivation in Finland in 1860 (left) and 1913 (right) by Heikinheimo (1913). (Dark = high proportion of forested area)

Over the course of the 19th century, large areas of forest were cleared as a result of both slash and burn (which was still in existence as recently as then) and arable field cultivation. Shifting cultivation was a land-extensive form of subsistence farming, while a more dense population required more land-intensive forms of agriculture. The population increased in Finland from one to two and a half million from 1800 to 1900. More people demanded for more wood for fuel and construction and for more cattle and increasing grazing in forests. All these changes increased the scarcity of forests nearby more densely inhabited areas. The Senate became worried about the forestry situation and ordered the first national assessment of forests to be carried out and the wide-spread deforestation that had occurred resulted in a series of new forestry reforms.

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Shifting cultivation in 1893 by a family in Lapinlahti, Central Finland. Painting entitled “Kaski / Raatajat Rahanalaiset” (“Under the Yoke of Money / Burning the Brushwood”) painted on the spot at Koli by Eero Järnefelt, one of the foremost Finnish painters of the time (Finnish National Gallery). The years 1892-93 were years of crop failure in Finland, when the grain harvest has failed in many places. The result was food shortage and famine, particularly in poor rural areas. This meant it was even harder to work for food than in more normal times. Land clearing by burning the forest, was a common method of Northern Savo, where Järnefelt painted this work. The work has a central figure in the foreground, a girl with a startlingly direct and penetrating gaze, with the state of famine not forgotten and evidenced by the girls swollen stomach - "pettuleipävatsa" as it was called. Järnefelt has painted the smoke around her as a halo, so that she appears more like an angel than a poor child in the backwoods wilderness.

(Eastern Finland was one of the last relict areas where the slash-and-burn agriculture was kept alive in Europe. In Koli National Park, there are still many deciduous mixed forests and slash-and-burn meadows (in Finnish: aho) which are standing on previously burned sites. In addition, there are stone constructions related to slash-and-burn culture still visible in the old slash-and-burn sites). But while 1892-1893 were years of shortage and famine, ven they did not compare to the great famine of 1866-1868, the the last major naturally caused famine in Europe. In Finland the famine is known as "the great hunger years", or suuret nälkävuodet. About 15% of the entire population died; in the hardest-hit areas up to 20%. The total death toll was 270,000 in three years, about 150,000 in excess of normal mortality. The worst-hit areas were Satakunta, Tavastia, Ostrobothnia, and North Karelia and by 1867, people were dying by the thousands.

The Finnish people in general saw the famine as an act of God. Few would have expected the crown to be able to do much more, and blame was directed mainly at local officials. No significant working class political movement had developed yet that could have capitalized politically on the crisis. The urban population was small, and for the people of the countryside, the first priority was to resume normal lives. In short, the famine did not threaten the social order, but its memory cast a long shadow. It was during this time that thousands of Finns migrated to the United States and Canada to escape the crushing poverty and famine years. A majority of them settled in three areas. Massachusetts was a prime settlement area for unskilled laborers, as many young workers found employment in factories. In the upper Midwest, there is a region known as the "Finn-Loop” which includes the areas of Northeastern Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin, and the upper Peninsula of Michigan surrounding Lake Superior. Many people found work in mining, farming, forestry, shipping, and other trades commonly seen in Finland. Finns that emigrated to Canada worked on canal and railroad construction sites and later in the mines and lumber camps. By the 1890s Finnish communities were established in British Columbia, the prairie provinces, and Northern Ontario where the pioneers cleared homesteads, fished, trapped, and hunted. Coming from a country of similar geography and climate Finns were well equipped to tame the Canadian wilderness. Finnish women were in high demand as maids, boarding house keepers, and lumber camp cooks, particularly in the areas around Thunder Bay, which boasts the largest Finnish population outside of Scandinavia. These North American Finns would go on to make a significant contribition to Finland in the Winter War, as we will also see...


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Photograph of Joahanna Kokkenen - Eero Järnefelt

Eero Erik Nikolai Järnefelt [/b](8 November 1863 - 15 November 1937) was a Finnish realist painter. He was born in Viipuri, Finland. His father August Aleksander Järnefelt was an officer in the Imperial Russian Army and his mother was St Petersburg-born Elisabeth Järnefelt (née Clodt von Jürgensburg). Eero Järnefelt's sisters and brothers were Kasper, Arvid, Aino Ellida, Ellen, Armas, Hilja and Sigrid – his sister Aino married composer Jean Sibelius in 1892. On his mother’s side, his Uncle Mikhail Clodt von Jürgensburg was a well-known landscape painter in Russia. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who went on to study art in paris, Eero studied at the St. Petersburg Art Academy between 1883 and 1885. Eero went to study in Paris in 1886, where he became friends with Akseli Gallen-Kallela (a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala), Emil Wikström (a Finnish sculptor, among whose best known works are the statues outside the Helsinki Central Railway Station and the memorials of Elias Lönnrot and Johan Vilhelm Snellman) and Louis Sparre. Järnefelt was inspired by the plein-air and naturalistic paintings of Jules Bastien-Lepage. On a trip to Keuruu in 1889, he met actress Saimi Swan. They were married in 1890.

In Russia in the late 1800’s, the prevailing trend in art was to depict the poor, beggars, the sick and the hard life of the working poor. The aim was to awaken viewers to human inequality and the contradictions between rich and poor. In Eero Järnefelt’s art can be found many of these features of Russian art from the period, with the most famous painting being “Under the Yoke of Money (aka The Wage Slaves)” sometimes known as “Burning the Brushwood” (Raatajat Rahanalaiset or Kaski, from 1893), depicting slash-and-burn agriculture and the misery of the rural population. The same time painting combines the two faces of rural Finland - the poor, badly dressed people and the harsh conditions of their life and on the other hand the beautiful landscape of Eastern Finland. Although Järnefelt painted the injustices of society in some of his paintings, most of his works are of idyllic rural beauty and Järnefelt was an excellent interpreter of the rural Finnish landscape. Eero Järnefelt was especially inspired by nature in the Koli area, nowadays Koli National Park. Together with A.W. Finch and Ilmari Aalto, he painted a large scene of Koli in 1911. It can be seen in the restaurant of the Helsinki Railway Station.


Slash-and-burn agriculture has been practised in Finland from prehistoric times, with slash-and-burn cultivation in coniferous forest being the technical and economic foundation for many of the old farming settlements in Finland (according to pollen analysis, slash-and-burn agriculture started in eastern Finland about 2000 years ago. About 4,000,000 hectares of forest land have been estimated to be affected by the slash-and-burn agriculture by the end of 20th century). The most evident signs of past slash-and-burn activity are stone piles left from when patches were cleared, green leafed forests, which have grown in once burnt areas and holes dug in the ground where turnips have been stored. “Huuhtakaski” is mainly applied in pristine spruce woods and after this in a short rotation comes ‘rieskakaski’ – where theyoung shrub-like deciduous forest is burnt off. During the 19th century (actual slash-and-burn time) the slash-and-burn sites were selected according to their distance to the dwellings and their capacity to produce crops. In addition, it was important to consider the properties of the forest, which affected to the workload needed for the slash-and-burn activities.

Areas that were to be burnt in the near future had the trees girdled and then allowed to die standing. Girdling is the process of removing much of the bark around a tree's outer circumference thus causing them to die. These trees were usually then felled in April and left to dry, while other slash-and-burn forest was felled in July. The patch was then burnt the next year at the end of May or the beginning of June. Short rotation ‘rieskakaski’ is when the burn-off takes place in the same year the trees are felled. The patch being burnt was set alight along its whole width. When the fire had burnt the ground to a depth of around 2 cm the burning earth is shifted forward with special tools to the next spot that needs to be burnt. Earth is then shifted like this until the whole area is burnt. Burning the land binds the minerals from the soil and trees to the field so they aid crops to grow. After being farmed for 1-2 years, the area was usually abandoned and grass, hay and forest were left to grow. The area would be grazed with cattle and burned again after 20-30 years depending on the site fertility and the availability of land and forest in the area. In earlier days, the forests were considered to be under joint ownership, whereby the farm owners marked the trees surrounding the area they had reserved to be slashed and burned. The Finnish saying “My land strawberry, your land blueberry” tells about the usual practice where the person who slashed and burned a field had the right to use it as long as woodland strawberries (Fragaria vesca) grew there. When blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) reappeared in the slash-and-burn field, another farmer was allowed to take over the area.

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Slash-and-Burn Continues even today at Telkkämäki

Crops grown on slash-and-burn land included turnips, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats and flax. When turnips were grown, they were sown during the week before the Mid-Summer celebration in late June. The old way to sow turnip seeds was by putting them in the mouth and spitting them out onto the ground. The area is raked before and after sowing. Burnt-land rye was traditionally sowed on August 10th. At that time the land was first ploughed and then raked before the actual sowing. The turnip crop was harvested in the autumn just before the weather turned freezing. Winter rye was mowed in the next autumn. It was then hung to dry and then threshed. For hay cutting, the whole community usually worked together.

Slash-and-burn cultivation peaked in the 18th century, at which time “industrial” forestry began to supercede slash-and-burn. In the 1860s, the peak era in tar production, the annual exports of tar amounted to nearly 30 million litres. This consumed over 10 million cubic metres of wood, the equivalent of approximately a fifth of Finland’s current total harvest and natural mortality combined. Tar distillation meant the taping of pineries in the prime of their development; consequently, spruce began to take over nutrient-poor sites previously dominated by pine. The amount of wood consumed in heating was even higher than used in tar distillation. In the year 1818 exports of firewood from Finland had risen to 60-70 percent of total exports of wood products. By the 1850’s, Finland was a country with hardly any standing forests - The Government’s concern over the future of Finland’s forests grew, and the Senate invited a German forestry expert, Edmund von Berg, the director of the Forest Academy of Tharandt , to prepare a statement on the state of Finland’s forests. In 1858 he made month’s tour of the country starting from Helsinki, going up to Ronvaniemi by way of Oulu and then returning back to Helsinki by the eastern border region. The following is one of the observations his report contains: "For a start, forest management in the scientific sense of the word is nonexistent in Finland. Wheresoever forest is felled, this is done solely with profit in mind, with no regard being afforded to renewal or to safeguarding of already emerged new growths."

Shifting “slash and burn” cultivation in Finland was terminated during the first decades of the 20th century – perhaps the latest in any European country. Numerous government laws, decrees and orders had been passed through three centuries in order to control shifting cultivation but with little effect. This time it was finally brought to a halt by a market driven process, although the Great Land Reform of the 1870’s and the establishment of the State Forest Service also played key roles. The number of independent farms with forest lots grew from 30,000 to more than 100,000 during the Great Land Reform of the 1870’s. In addition, some 50,000 new tenant farms were established.

The evolution of Forestry Administration in Finland since 1639.
– 1639/Queen Kristina: Jägerkorps/regulating of big game hunting
– 1851: Provincial foresters/surveyers
– 1858: Forester education & state foresters regulating state forests
– 1886: Police force regulating private forestry
– 1917: Provincial state foresters regulating private forestry
– 1928: Semi-public forestry boards for private forestry

The 1886 law declared simply that deforestation was not allowed. It was preceded by some important laws and acts, such as the Grand Land Reform (Isojako) of 1757, State Forest Service in 1851 and 1859, the College of Forestry in 1858, and two NGOs: The Economic Society of Finland in 1797 (Hushållnings-föreningen i Finland) and the Finnish Society of Forestry (Finska Forstsällskapet) in 1877. However, the 1886 law for the first time explicitly expressed the basic condition for sustainability: to stop deforestation with specific regulations. The 1886 law did not, however, ban forest degradation. Rather soon it was realized that the police corps under the leadership of the governors were not able to implement effectively the forestry law of 1886. Three successive committees were set up to redress this law. However, under the prevailing political circumstances it was not before 1917 that a new act and its implementation for the administration of state foresters to regulate private forestry were created. This act covered both prevention of deforestation and forest degradation in the form of allowing the cut of young coniferous forests only by appropriate thinning and not by clear felling. Interesting enough this act and the establishment of the Forest Research Institute took place just before 6 December 1917, when Finland declared her independance.

The forestry law of 1886 in Finland.
– ”Forest should not be cleared and devastated” (Reforestation by natural or artificial regeneration required, if the site not cleared for agriculture or construction)
– Implementation by provincial governers and police
– Sanctions: fines temporarily by governer and finally by court
– Effectiveness poor due to unclear definition of ‘forest devastation’ and weak implementation

The Private Forestry Act of 1917 in Finland.
– ”Forest shall not be logged in such a way that natural regeneration would be risked.”
– ”Young coniferous forest should not be logged in conflict with rational thinning.”
– Implementation by provincial forester, provincial and municipal forestry boards, subordinated to the state forest service.
– Obligatory reporting to a municipal forestry board about coming commercial logging.
– Sanctions by provincial forestry boards: logging ban; the value of illegally logged timber lost, if the ban is violated.

The 1917 Forestry Act was a landmark among the numerous forestry acts passed up until that time, because the implementation of the law became effective. If the act was violated according to the judgement of the provincial state forester supervising the implementation, the forester could negotiate a voluntary banning of future logging for a certain period with the forest owner. If this did not work, the case was taken to a court. The effectiveness of the implementation of the 1917 act is supported by the fact that already in the first year of its implementation in 1919 logging was banned over 6,000 ha, in 1920–1924 from 15,000 to 27,000 ha, and in 1929 on 73,000 ha of forests. Another requirement in the case of banning was a compulsory planting or sowing of the deforested site. However, only minor implementations on this front took place due to the scarcity of the staff. The nursery stock was increasing in the 1920s, not due to increasing planting but because the cutting was lower than planting going on.

In 1918, as a consequence of the civil war, the new “white” government of Finland carried out a radical land reform to “liberate” the tenant farmers. As a rule they were given the land that they farmed and also a woodlot. This advanced the privatization of forests because a part of the tenants had been farming in the state-owned forests. Another major land reform, Lex Kallio, was launched in 1922. Jointly as a consequence of these two reforms about 150,000 new independent farms with their own forest-lots were created by 1935. According to the paradigm of industrial forestry, rational forestry management required such a long time perspective that the state and forest industry corporations as large-scale forest owners were the best owners. Farmers were not viewed as having the capability for rational forestry management. The farmers were not in a position to hire professional foresters and their time perspective was too short. In Finland this view was shared by the most influential professors of forestry - A. K. Cajander (1918), Eino Saari (1929) and later Viljo Holopainen (1968). Most foresters adopted this view. They did not pay attention to the favorable income distribution impacts, to the ample labour supply for logging and floating and to the increase of democratization by this small-scale farmer forest ownership pattern typical to all the Scandinavian countries.

The government also sacked the director of the Forest Service, Mr P. J. Hannikainen, and nominated Dr A. K. Cajander, Professor of Silviculture, as his deputy (Hannikainen had not stopped his daily work in his office as the rest of the staff had done during the period of the “red government”in Helsinki). Cajander was later nominated three times as the Prime Minister of Finland. Consequently, he became a most influential forest politician and a key person to promote forestry and forest sciences. In 1928 the “white” government nationalized two major privately owned forest industry companies, Ab H. Gutzeit & Co and Ab Tornator, which had been under Norwegian ownership. The nationalization was partially influenced by pressure from Germany, which was afraid that these strategic resources would easily be transferred to British ownership. At this time Germany was still at war against Britain on the western front. Germany had made a pact in April of 1918 with the “white” government of Finland in order to supply a military intervention to southern Finland in support of the “white” army. The pact included the control of Finnish foreign trade and access to Finnish forest and other natural resources. This nationalization was not mentioned in the pact but was in line with its contents.

In 1928 four new forestry laws were, however, launched by the Social Democratic government of Dr Väinö Tanner, who was a big forest owner himself. Mauno Pekkala, a forester, as the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the Parliament, was another key politician facilitating radical reforms of forest legislation. Among them were the new private forestry law, another law defining its administration, a law on state subsidies for drainage and reforestation, and a radical law to improve the low-standard housing conditions for the loggers and timber floaters in remote logging camps.

Prior to WW2, even with the rapid industralisation of Finland and the introduction of new technology, logging continued to be a highly manual and labour intensive industry. The following series of photos illustrate some of the manual work and the living conditions that were still prevalent even into the 1930’s.

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Loggers floating timber down a Finnish river

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Extraction of logs by horse and sledge. Snow and frost lowered the costs of extraction but it was hard manual work in freezing cold. There was a long tradition of using ice roads in Winter, and the Finnish military would apply this knowledge during the Winter War to great effect…

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A horse pulls a load of logs through deep snow

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/8277/lres12612.jpg
Logs being pulled down a trail in Winter

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Miehet kankeavat paksua tukkia hevosen vetämään tukkirekeen / Loading the Logs onto the Sleighs was hard work….

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Savottalaiset tekevät tukkikuormaa hevosvetoiseen tukkirekeen. Kaksi miestä vetää köysillä tukkia kuorman päälle ja yksi on työntämässä puunrunkoa puisen kangin avulla kuorman toisella puolella. Kuormaan on lastattu neljä paksua tukkia, joiden päihin on tehty merkintöjä. Ympärillä karsittuja havupuiden oksia ja latvuksia / Loggers loading logs onto the sleigh. Tow men with ropes pull the load onto the sleigh and one is using a pole to lever the log up. The load is made up of four thick logs, the ends of which have been trimmed.

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Logging Camp – Liisa, the wife of the Camp Manager, cooks food for the Loggers

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Kuolajärvi Logging Cabin staff: Matti Karppinen, Erkki Vänskä, Lumbering Manager (name forgotten) and the Camp Boss, "Nykyri, Murmansk Legion Lieutenant, later moved to Russia.”

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Kaksipuoleinen maja eli laavu Paastojärven rannalla Korpiselän Tolvajoella / Two-sided hut or lean-to facing Lake Korpi, back of Tolvajoella

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Felling a tree using a two-man manual saw (used for larger trees) in the early 20th century. Most logging took place during winter.

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1930: Building a temporary dame on a small river prior to running the logs downstream in Spring

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1931 - Logging workers:

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Old-style summer accommodation – a Lean-to in the Woods

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1935: Improved winter accommodation for Loggers

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Miehet pitävät taukoa nuotion ympärillä metsässä / Loggers take a break around a campfire in the Forest

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Savottalainen lämmittää sisäänlämpiävää hirsikämppäänsä Kuhmossa. Savu poistuu oviaukon kautta. Oven edessä mäystimelliset sukset sauvoineen. Kämpän nurkalla seisoo hevonen kuivaa heinää edessään. Metsä kämpän ympärillä on luminen / Lumbering kind of warm rarefied hirsikämppäänsä Kuhmo. / The smoke exits through the doorway. In front of the door can be seen skis. At the corner of the hut stands a horse with hay in front of him. The forest cabin is surrounded by snow….

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Savottalainen sahaa puunrunkoa poikki pokasahalla / Cutting Logs using a Frame Saw

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Savottalaiset kuorivat tukkeja petkeleellä lumisessa metsässä / Peeling the bark of Logs

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A Raft with a hut for the men to live in

The contents of the 1917 forestry act were maintained nearly the same in the new private forestry law, but the enforcement organization was changed from a pure state one to a semi-public one on a provincial participatory principle, and also forestry extension was included among the tasks of the administration along with law enforcement. Sixteen Provincial Forestry Boards and one Central Forestry Association (Tapio) for the Finnish speaking parts of the country and two Provincial Boards and one Central Forestry Association (Skogskultur) for the Swedish speaking parts of Finland were established. Their activities were subordinated to the State Forest Service and the Minister of Agriculture. The new Boards employed 50 foresters and 180 local forest rangers by the end of the 1930s.

This staff used most of its time in various forestry extension activities and only one third in the supervision of the private forestry law of 1928. Still the staff for the enforcement of the law was numerous in comparison with the staff implementing the 1917 act. As a result, the areas where logging was banned increased considerably from the 1920s, with approximately 0.4 million ha of forests annually banned from 1930 on. Also in 1928 a new kind of policy instrument was activated: state subsidies for forestry investments on a cost-sharing basis for private and state forest owners for increasing wood production. State funding was allocated for forest drainage and planting of spruce only. A parallel organization of 14 districts was created under the supervision of the two Central Forestry Associations. A number of foresters and forest rangers were also recruited by this new organization, which can be regarded as an instrument to support progressive forestry.

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Metsähallituksen Länsi-Suomen piirikunnan metsänhoidollisen retkeilyn osanottajia tutustumassa Metsähallituksen Jämsän hoitoalueeseen / Forest Service managers and workers in a Western Finland county hiking in to explore the forest management area of the Board of Jämsä

The extension work by the provincial Forestry Boards was carried out jointly with the local Forestry Management Associations. Their number increased from 86 to 310 during 1929–1939 partly due to the simultaneous state subsidies. These local associations were important policy instruments to extend rational methods in marking trees for sale and for silviculture and in that way to support sustained yield of timber by preventing further forest degradation. During 1898–1928 forestry extension had already been promoted on a small scale by local Agricultural Associations with minor state subsidies.

Overall, through the 1920s and into the 1930s, forestry increased dramatically in economic importance and the industrial management of forests took on ever greater importance. With state-owned and controlled forestry companies now directly owning and managing large tracts of the northern forests and actively encouraging the management of privately owned woodlots for sustained yield, there were continuing improvements in silviculture overall and the growth of the forestry-based industrial activities that we have previously looked at in relation to Finland’s startling economic growth through the 1920s and 1930s.

With large areas of forest now being actively managed for sustained yield, the control and management of forest fires began to be activelt addressed. As we have seen, Finland had a long tradition of slash-and-burn agriculture, and primitive methods of controlling forest fires and burning of land were well understood. Large forest fires however, werer generally uncontrollable and were left to burn out naturally as little else could be done about them and where these fires burned in remote areas, they were generally unreachable in any case. However, with the increasing economic importance of forestry, the expansion of the forestry industry into ever more remote regions, improvements in transportation that meant that these remote areas were becoming slowly more accessible and an ever-increasing ability to use technology to bring fires under control, there was both a desire and the ability to improve forest fire fighting methods – more especially as forest fires, which are a not uncommon occurrence in large forested areas, impose an economic cost proportional to the size of the fire.

In the nineteenth century, there was very little that could be done to control large forest fires – primitive backburning, manual firefighting using “Hosa” - a long greenwood brush that you cut from a young tree and dip in water to fight forest fires, buckets and spades and primitive firebreaks. And also given that in the nineteenth century, some slash and burn agriculture was still practiced in remote areas near the borders with the USSR, small fires could easily go out of control and very little could be done.

All this would change through the 1920s and 1930’s. In the next post we will examine these changes, the technology involved and the initially unintentional ramifications on Finland’s military preparedness over these two decades.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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