Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

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durb
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Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by durb » 30 Jul 2014 16:09

The story of of Finnish Air Force during WW2 is much a story of pilots whose skills compensated the fact that they had to fly with mediocre equipment. This refers specially to the time of so-called Continuation War. At the beginning of the conflict Finnish aircraft equipment was on the par or even better than the Soviet equipment - Brewsters, Moranes, Curtiss Hawk 75 and Fiat G 50 were all good enough to deal with Polikarpov fighters, SB 2 and DB 3 bombers in 1941.

However by the late 1942 Finnish Air Force had an assortment of outdating stuff with near-obsolence. The Finnish aircraft industry was small and its achievemnts modest - one example were the Fokker D 21 Twin Wasp fighters with lower performance than the already outdated Fokker D XXI. Much fuss has been made on the so-called Mörkö Moranes (French fighter with Soviet engine), but in reality their importance was very, very limited: only three such planes participated in Continuation War and in total they flew 8 missions. Also other achievements of Finnish aircraft industry were not impressive. A finnish prototype copy of Brewster was built and designated as "Humu" - the result was mediocre plane with lower performance figures than original Brewster. Another failure was Myrsky fighter, technically unreliable and already outdated when put in production. The most important role of smallish Finnish aircraft industry was just to maintain and keep the planes of Finnish Air Force flying.

I have been wondering a long time why they did not try to buy Bf 109´s from Germany as early as in 1942? According to Atso Haapanen (Suomen Ilmavoimien hävittäjähankinnat 1918- 1944) this was not even a considered seriously. Old French Moranes were purchased at the same time when resources were invested in failed home proyects like Humu and Myrsky. The Finnish decision makers seemed to be very conservative in their thinking of aircraft equipment. The Fokker D XXI had fared reasonably well in Winter War, so they kept building and using it in Continuation War despite the obsolence of the type in 1941. Then Brewster was a success in early Continuation War, so they decided to build a copy type although the whole idea was outdated during later Continuation War.

From other sources I have read that Finns were indeed interested to buy Bf 109´s as early as in 1942, but Germans were not willing to sell them and other modern equpiment for Finnish Air Force. Instead they liked to sell captured ex-French and ex-Soviet equipment with expensive prize. Finns had no choice in their isolated position - obsolete planes were better than no planes at all.

I wonder what is the truth in this matter? Was there really a chance to buy Bf 109 earlier for the Finnish Air Force or was it blocked by Germans until 1943? Was there any chance to equip all Finnish fighter units with Bf 109 (or even with FW 190) before the summer of 1944? How much it was a matter of money and limited financial resources? Did Finns get Bf 109 later than Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks and other German allies - Finns being the very last of the list?

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 30 Jul 2014 17:01

durb wrote:I wonder what is the truth in this matter? Was there really a chance to buy Bf 109 earlier for the Finnish Air Force or was it blocked by Germans until 1943? Was there any chance to equip all Finnish fighter units with Bf 109 (or even with FW 190) before the summer of 1944? How much it was a matter of money and limited financial resources? Did Finns get Bf 109 later than Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks and other German allies - Finns being the very last of the list?
Actually, the first Bf 109s were indirectly promised to Finland in December 1942 (delivered from March 1943 onwards). The Finnish Air Force tried to buy Daimler Benz DB 600 engines for VL Myrsky in August 1940, but no avail. They also tried to buy several Reggiane Re.2000s from Italy, but the deal suffered the same fate as the engines. 22 MiG-3s were bought from Germany in December 1942: all of them were destroyed in Allied bombings before delivery.

The main reason why Finns received their Messerschmitts later than the Swiss, the Jugoslavian, the Romanian, the Bulgarian, the Hungarian and the Italians was because the former countries had more to offer to the Germans: high quality machinery, troops and/or natural resources. The main Finnish advantage in the negotiations, the Kolosjoki nickel mine, did not reached its full potential before late 1942.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Juha Tompuri » 30 Jul 2014 18:31

durb wrote: Much fuss has been made on the so-called Mörkö Moranes (French fighter with Soviet engine), but in reality their importance was very, very limited: only three such planes participated in Continuation War and in total they flew 8 missions.
Mörkö Morane would have been a fairly potential, low cost development, just wasn't given the priority it would have deserved.
durb wrote: Also other achievements of Finnish aircraft industry were not impressive. A finnish prototype copy of Brewster was built and designated as "Humu" - the result was mediocre plane with lower performance figures than original Brewster. Another failure was Myrsky fighter, technically unreliable and already outdated when put in production.
Both were examples of not understanding fighter development outside Finland.
Of course keeping up local production was a point, but still...
durb wrote: The most important role of smallish Finnish aircraft industry was just to maintain and keep the planes of Finnish Air Force flying.
Yep.
And actions like Lavansaari bombing kept the repair working busy - that also delaying the plane development/production.
Mangrove wrote:22 MiG-3s were bought from Germany in December 1942: all of them were destroyed in Allied bombings before delivery.
Wonder about their usefulness and was their destruction more sort of a blessing to Finnish AF.
Mangrove wrote:The main reason why Finns received their Messerschmitts later than the Swiss, the Jugoslavian, the Romanian, the Bulgarian, the Hungarian and the Italians was because the former countries had more to offer to the Germans: high quality machinery, troops and/or natural resources.
Here I don't completely agree, specially with Bulgaria.
Perhaps with a more co-operative and professional AF commander towards the Germans, the things would have went a different way.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 31 Jul 2014 16:03

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Mangrove wrote:22 MiG-3s were bought from Germany in December 1942: all of them were destroyed in Allied bombings before delivery.
Wonder about their usefulness and was their destruction more sort of a blessing to Finnish AF.
MiG-3 certainly would have been a much better fighter for intercepting Soviet Pe-2 than the Hurricane or LaGG-3. Captured (and worn) Pe-2s in Finnish service archieved maximum speed of c. 510 km/h at 5200 meters. Equally worn captured LaGG-3s archieved speed of 528 km/h at 4600 meters. It took them 420 seconds to the plane to climb to 5000 meters during the Finnish tests in 1943.

The MiG-3s from Germany were almost new, they had been flown only between 50 and 55 hours per plane. According to the German tests, MiG-3 would reach 5000 meters in c. 300 seconds, 2 minutes faster than the LaGG-3. MiG-3 also had a better armament than the LaGG-3.

If all of the 22 planes would have been received in early 1943, they would have released a flight worth of Messerschmitts from Malmi aerodrome for fighting in Kotka and the Karelian Isthmus.

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Swing » 01 Aug 2014 08:04

Mangrove wrote: 22 MiG-3s were bought from Germany in December 1942: all of them were destroyed in Allied bombings before delivery.
Could you please indicate reference or link to this story. Thanks in advance.

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 01 Aug 2014 09:58

Swing wrote: Could you please indicate reference or link to this story.
From Jukka Raunio's book "Lentäjän näkökulma II", pages 32 and 33:

Major (eng.) Harri, posted to Berlin, informed the Air Force HQ that Germany is willing to offer 22 MiG fighters (type I-61) in flying condition to Finland on 2 December 1942. The promise of the sell of a squadron of Messerschmitts was then already received. The planes were MiG-3. The Air Force HQ asked Harri to inform that the planes were of interest, if received for free of charge. The planes were not meant to be repaired but to be flown as long as possible.

Martti Terä, working for Dahlberg & Hilberg, informed that there were between 15 and 22 planes on 7 December. Each plane cost 30 000 Reichsmark. General Lundqvist demanded the planes for free of charge, but Terä repeated the cost of 30 000 RM on 14 December.

The MiGs were ordered on 22 December 1942 as a part of the credit agreement 1189 for a total price of 660 000 RM (13 million Finnish marks). Nothing was heard after this from Germany for two months. Lundqvist asked Harri to find out if the MiGs are delivered or not on 18 February 1943. The question was repeated on 11 March 1943. The Finns demanded to see and test fly the planes.

It was discovered that the planes were almost new and had only flown for between 50 and 55 hours each. They were without armament and radios. The planes had been put into crates and some of them had been damaged during shipments. Lundqvist changed the agreement to cover only the costs of shipment. After inspection around 20 March, the Finns were ready to receive and fetch the MiGs. Captain P-E. Sovelius was departing to test fly the planes when Harri informed on 13 May 1943, that the planes were apparently destroyed in aerial bombings and the agreement had been dissolved.
Berliiniin komennettu insinöörimajuri Harri ilmoitti Ilmavoimien Esikuntaan 2.12.1942, että Saksa tarjoaa Suomelle 22 lentokuntoista MiG-hävittäjää tyyppimerkinnältään "I-61". Lupaus ensimmäisen Messerschmitt-laivueen myynnistä oli tuolloin jo saatu. Kyseessä oli erä MiG-3 -hävittäjiä. Ilmavoimien Esikunta pyysi Harria ilmoittamaan, että koneet kiinnostavat, jos ne saadaan ilmaiseksi. Niitä ei ollut tarkoitus ryhtyä korjaamaan, vaan lentää niin kauan kuin "kalusto sallii". Dahlberg & Hilbertin palveluksessa ollut Martti Terä ilmoitti 7.12., että koneita on 15-22 kpl ja niiden hinta on 30 000 RM (Reichsmark) per kappale. Kenraali Lundqvist vaati koneita ilmaiseksi, mutta Terä toisti 14.12. hintapyynnön 30 000 RM.

MiG:t tilattiin 22.12.1942 luottosopimukseen 1189 yhteishintaan 660 000 RM (13 milj.Smk). Tämän jälkeen Saksasta ei kuulunut kahteen kuukauteen mitään, ja Lundqvist pyysi Harria 18.2.1943 selvittämään saadaanko MIG:it vai ei. Kysymys toistettiin 11.3. Suomalaiset vaativat päästä näkemään ja koelentämään koneet. Paljastui, että ne olivat uudehkoja, vain 50-55 h lentäneitä, mutta ilman aseita ja radioita. Koneet oli pakattu laatikoihin, ja osa oli ruhjoutunut kuljetuksissa. Lundqvist muutti tilauksen kattamaan vain rahtikulut. Maaliskuun 20. päivän aikoihin tehdyn tarkastuksen jälkeen suomalaiset valmistautuivat vastaanottamaan ja noutamaan MiG:ejä. Kapteeni P-E. Sovelius oli jo lähdössä koelentämään koneita, kun 13.5.1943 Harri ilmoitti Suomeen, että MiG:it olivat tiettävästi tuhoutuneet ilmapommituksessa ja asia oli rauennut.
Below is the page for MiG-3 from a Finnish identification manual printed in 1943. Notice that another Finnish guide dated 17 March 1943 gives the performance of the MiG-3 at 6500 meters as 628 km/h and climb time from 0 to 5000 as 5.7 minutes (~340 seconds).
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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Swing » 02 Aug 2014 15:39

Thank you, Mangrove. Sorry for sideroad,what about price of Pe-2, DB-3 and Ju-88 (purchased in 1942-1943)?

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 02 Aug 2014 16:28

Swing wrote:What about price of Pe-2, DB-3 and Ju-88 (purchased in 1942-1943)?
Apart from the Junkers, the following plane types were bought or built in 1941. The prices are presented in Finnish markka, but I have converted the price paid for the Junkers in 1943 to corresponding 1941 value. Apart from the Blenheim and Junkers, the price presented corresponds to a plane in average condition and shipping included. Prices according to Jukka Raunio:

SB 2 = 1 200 000 FIM
PE 2 = 2 500 000 FIM
IL 4 = 2 900 000 FIM
Blenheim Mk. I (V-series) = 3 300 000 FIM
DB 3 = 3 600 000 FIM
JU 88 = c. 7 100 000 FIM (9 500 000 FIM in 1943)

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Swing » 04 Aug 2014 17:22

A lot of thanks, Mangrove for interesting information. Last question in this thread: price of Bf-109 for Finnish AF?

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 04 Aug 2014 18:22

Swing wrote:Last question in this thread: price of Bf-109 for Finnish AF?
The cost of some of the main fighters types converted to 1941 markka, as per Jukka Raunio:

Fokker D.XXI (Wasp, IV-series) = 640 000 FIM
Bf 109 G-2 (new) = 3 400 000 FIM (4 000 000 FIM in December 1942)
Bf 109 G-2 (refurbished) = 3 000 000 FIM (3 600 000 FIM in December 1942)
Fiat G.50 (including spare parts) = 5 280 000 FIM (3 760 000 FIM in October 1939)
Brewster B.239 (including spare parts) = 5 350 000 FIM (3 810 000 FIM in December 1939)

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Swing » 04 Aug 2014 19:27

Great! I'll have to buy Raunio's book. I guess that it consists of many discoveries for me. Thank you, Mangrove

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Gamle Lode » 09 Aug 2014 19:36

Jorma Karhunen says in his book Talvisodan taistelulentäjät that the He-112 fighter was being evaluated in the air force during pre-Winter War era, and Karhunen comments about it "we've had done miracles with this plane". The government refused to buy the plane though, but it had been the "first Messerscmitt" as it was not really inferior to the early Bf-109's.

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Juha » 10 Aug 2014 00:56

Gamle Lode wrote:Jorma Karhunen says in his book Talvisodan taistelulentäjät that the He-112 fighter was being evaluated in the air force during pre-Winter War era, and Karhunen comments about it "we've had done miracles with this plane". The government refused to buy the plane though, but it had been the "first Messerscmitt" as it was not really inferior to the early Bf-109's.
Some of Karhunen's stories are rubbish, and this He-112 story is one of them. Jumo equipped the He-112 was an expensive and not so good fighter as the Romanians discovered in the summer of 1941. And Bf 109s prior to the E-version were not the best in the world, the French Air Force Curtiss H-75A Hawks, which Finns also got in the summer of 1941 and could have got in 1939 if our political leaders had been more far-sighted, badly mauled the Luftwaffe Bf 109 Ds before May 1940. The DB 601A powered Bf 109E on the other hand was a top-class fighter in 1940.

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Gamle Lode » 10 Aug 2014 17:12

Compare it with the D.XXI, and then tell Karhunen it's rubbish. Fokker did the main business in the Winter War, and it was slower than Db-3 and SB-2. If LeLv.24 had had a plane to catch the Soviet Bombers, the days of VVS had been way gloomier.

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Re: Technical handicap of Finnish Air Force?

Post by Mangrove » 10 Aug 2014 18:10

Gamle Lode wrote:Fokker did the main business in the Winter War, and it was slower than Db-3 and SB-2. If LeLv.24 had had a plane to catch the Soviet Bombers, the days of VVS had been way gloomier.
Earlier what-if discussion regarding the differences between Fokker D.XXI and He-112 if used during the Winter War. For short, buying several He-112 in 1938 was quite impossible for a number of reasons. First of all, Bristol Mercury was chosen as the main engine of the Finnish Air Force (used later by 8 different aeroplane types until the 1950s) in 1934 and thus it was supply wise quite hard and expensive to introduce a new, non-radial engine, during the peacetime.

Secondly, He-112 was not offered with skis, so it did not fulfill the demands of the Finnish Air Force. Thirdly, the Finnish Air Force did not have any additional funds in 1938 to by new aeroplanes (the 1937 funds were used to buy Fokker D.XXIs).

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