Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

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Seppo Koivisto
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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 05 Oct 2014 14:12

Slon-76 wrote: Why 15? According to my calculation in Ruokolahti was:

1/LLv 26 (GL-255, 259, 262, 264, 265, 268, 278)
2/LLv 26 (GL-253, 256, 261, 263, 276, 279)
1/LLv 24 (FR-83, 91, 93, 100, 109, 117)
4/LLv 24 (FR-76, 94, 103, 108, 110)

Total 24 fighters. If the fight were 15 of them, which made the rest? Or am I mistaken somewhere?
I think 4/LLv 24 was in Immola.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Slon-76 » 05 Oct 2014 14:33

durb wrote:Both Ilmari Juutilainen and Eino Luukkanen who participated in the battle mention that 15 Finnish planes took part in Ruokolahti air battle on 29.2.1940. IIRC, on that day there were in total 16 Finnish planes located at Ruokolahti on 29.2.1940. Some of the planes of LLv 26 were on that day defending Kouvola and claimed two DB 3.
These were the FIATs. All "Gladiators" on this day was in Ruokolahti.
When it comes to Finnish claims, they were officially 4 probables, but the actual Soviet losses seem to have been 2 or 3 planes. There has been a Finnish claim that after the combat wreckage of three Soviet planes (2 x I-16 + one I-153) were found.
According to the book SIH 26-27, the Finns claim:
Suikkanen - 1 I-16 shot down and one I-16 damaged.
Christensen 1 I-16 damaged.
Of these the case of 2 I-16 is confirmed also by the combat report of 68 IAP - one was combat loss and the other one accidental, but combat-related. The destroyed Chaika was credited to mechanician Saunamäki, who had distinguished as a AA gunner. The 68 IAP records denies this and mentions that one I-153 was lost in air-to-air combat on 29.2.1940 over Tainionkoski (Imatra) - very near of Ruokolahti (strangely this Chaika loss is not included in Ruokolahti Air Combat description of 68 IAP).
68 IAP was not lost on this day I-153. Soviet fighters had no in this day of losses in the area of Imatra. Found the I-153 is most likely a fighter of 7 IAP, damaged by antiaircraft fire on February 13. It landed on Finnish territory.
The one thing that puzzles me is that was GL-269 (Kosola) shot down by 68 IAP or by another Soviet unit?
3 I-16 3/68 IAP (Masich, Blinihin, Kulman). А reconnaissance flight. The victory of Blinihin.
Juutilainen claimed that he pursued and forced down one I-16 with fixed skis (tip 5?)
He damaged the Masich's aircraft (I-16 type 5), but not shot down.
On the other hand 68 IAP combat record mentions the downing of two Gladiator ("Bulldog") by the planes which were in recce mission and found Ruokolahti base - this would hint that they shot down Kosola (but made double claim).


Yes, it is a Masich's group. The first Gladiator was shot down earlier in the area of Imatra (Actually Finns losses were not).

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Slon-76 » 05 Oct 2014 14:54

Seppo Koivisto wrote: I think 4/LLv 24 was in Immola.
Yes, exactly! Three fighters from 4/LLv 24 were given 1/LLv 24. Morning all aircraft from Joutseno had to fly in Ruokolahti, but have come under attack squadron or 7 IAP. Result - flew only 4 D.XXI.
If I, of course, understood that there is written :) :
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1739467
By the way, I would be grateful for an explanation of this page.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 05 Oct 2014 22:16

The page is from the war diary of the 1. Flight (Lentue) of 24. Flying Squadron (Lentolaivue) - 1/LLv 24

It was consisted of FR-83 (Turkka), FR-85 (Kaarma), FR-91 (Vuorimaa), FR-100 (Sarvanto) and FR 109 (Kinnunen) and located at Joutseno by the dawn of 29.2.1940. On that day three pilots (Heikinaro, Heiramo, Ikonen) from 4/Llv 24 were united to 1/Llv 24.

I went through the page and a summary of its content on 29.2.1940:

At 8.25 Russian (Soviet) fighters attacked the airfield of Joutseno. Ltn. Sarvanto and major sgt. Vuorimaa took off, but Vuorimaa´s plane FR-91 was badly shot up (damaged by enemy fire) during the take off.

At 9.45 all airworthy planes flew to Ruokolahti, where the rest of the FR and GL of Llv 24 were concentrated. Sarvanto, Heikinaro, Ikonen and Kinnunen moved to Ruokolahti.

At 10.15 and 11.10 two searching flights were made, but no enemy contact.

At 12.15 all planes took off and about 50 Russian fighters were met. From 1/Llv 24 the pilots Sarvanto, Kinnunen and Heikinaro participated. In a combat of 10 minutes Kinnunen managed to shoot at two planes but in generally the stiff (or clumsy) FR did not manage to shoot down enemy fighters. From the radio came an order to disengage and retreat to north. Sgt. Kinnunen (FR-109) was saved from a difficult situation by GL plane. Landing at Ruokolahti 12.45.

At 12.50. new search flight was made and landing at Joutseno. At 13.35 a cruising (?) flight to Ruokolahti.

At 15. Search flight and landing at Joutseno. At that time returned all planes of Joutseno from Ruokolahti. At the afternoon Russian I´s (fighters) came to visit and dropped couple of bombs. No damages to Finnish planes. The planes of Luukkanen (3/Llv 24?) went to Ruokolahti for night.

If you want a more complete and better translation, I can send a PM.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 05 Oct 2014 22:32

Like to add that FR-85 had been burned on ground on 26th and FR-83 had had engine trouble on 27th. More Fokkers probably came from 3/LLv 24.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 06 Oct 2014 15:30

The details of Ruokolahti air combat are still a bit confusing. AFAIK, Soviet sources do not mention the collision of Finnish Fokker D 21 (Huhanantti) with Soviet fighter, but Finnish eyewitness descriptions mention it and that the two planes came down crashed.

Leaving aside erroneus estimations of the number of planes involved (Finnish 15 - "27", Soviet 23 - "30-36-50"), we can find from the sources clock times and other details which differ from one sources to another.

I found out that there is even a 256 page Finnish book (Nevalainen & Saukkonen) on the subject with the title "Taivas repesi: talvisodan tuhoisin ilmataistelu Ruokolahdella." (The Sky broke down: the most destructive air combat of Winter War at Ruokolahti)

Also recent magazine article have been written - in "Suomen Ilmailuhistoriallinen lehti" (Finnish Aviation History magazine) has in its number 1/2014 an article (Raunio) about Ruokolahti air combat.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Juha Tompuri » 06 Oct 2014 15:57

durb wrote: I found out that there is even a 256 page Finnish book (Nevalainen & Saukkonen) on the subject with the title "Taivas repesi: talvisodan tuhoisin ilmataistelu Ruokolahdella." (The Sky broke down: the most destructive air combat of Winter War at Ruokolahti)
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9&t=106325
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5#p1318524

Regards, Juha

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 06 Oct 2014 23:13

My thoughts of two details of Ruokolahti air combat on 29.2.1940:

1) Huhanantti´s Fokker D 21 collided in air with Lt. Volokhovich´s I-16 - must be between them, because nothing else fits in both Finnish and Soviet combat report - my guess is that both planes were already fatally damaged when they collided - there was no "taran victory" to be claimed by either side. The other Soviet loss - sl. lt Jefimov´s "combat dive accident" does not fit in picture with the collision.

2) Soviet 68 IAP losses connected with Ruokolahti air combats on 29.2.1940 were 2 Polikarpov fighters destroyed and other planes damaged and most likely both losses were I-16. The Finnish AA claim of one I-153 has not enough confirmation, but remains a "mystery plane" and is likely connected to the wreckage of another I-153 lost over same area but in another context. Geust claims that the I-153 c/n 521 was shot down in air combat over Tainionkoski (near Imatra/Ruokolahti) - maybe it was not shot down on 29.2.1940 but was lost in another day? Red Stars Vol. 7 states at page 225 that Jefimov´s plane lost in "dive accident" was I-16 type 5 when at page 318 Jefimov´s plane is I-153 c/n 521! So what were Soviet losses in Ruokolahti air battle on 29.2.1940 - 2 x I-16 or one I-16 + one I-153?

From the Soviet 68 IAP combat report of 29.2.1940 I found interesting the Soviet evaluation of enemy planes:

"Fokker (D 21) is a good fighter, but inferior to I-16 with M-62 engine"

This raises a small question. To my knowledge I-16 with M-62 was type 18. Did older types 5 and 10 keep their M-25 engines or did they fit M-62 also in some older type 5 and 10 planes (and how we should call these "refitted types")?

"Bulldog (Gladiator) is good in horizontal maneuvers"

Well, at least there was something good in Gladiator. Although defeated over Ruokolahti, Gladiator pilots still claimed about 40 confirmed air victories in Winter War. Including the probables the tally was as high as 45 (34 by LLv 26 + 8 by F-19 + 3 by LLv 14). Although the actual air victories (verified by Soviet sources) may be somewhat less, my guess is that Gladiators inflicted more losses than they suffered in combat (14 Gladiators were lost in combat).
Last edited by durb on 07 Oct 2014 22:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Slon-76 » 07 Oct 2014 16:41

durb wrote:My thoughts of two details of Ruokolahti air combat on 29.2.1940:
1) I think, Huhanantti "taran" is a myth. Direct evidence of it, victory is not counted. Keskinen and Stenman (SIH 26) also about "taran" don't write anything. According to them he was shot down by 2Lt.Soldatov (I-153) (Why Soldatov - I can't tell)
In general, I believe Volokhovich - it is a victory of Suikainen.

2) C-F Geust did a great job, it is not surprising that there are some errors. Efimov it is commander of the 1st squadron 68 IAP. The squadron flew I-16. Efimov's death seen many of his pilots, there's no place for any doubt.

brief summary - 2 I-16
"Fokker (D 21) is a good fighter, but inferior to I-16 with M-62 engine"
The regiment was one I-16 type 18

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 07 Oct 2014 23:02

If we take I-16 as the main Soviet fighter in Winter War, it would be interesting to know more about it. What were the differences of performance of different I-16´s employed at Winter War:

I-16 type 5 with fixed skis: max. speed at altitudes? rate of climb? manouverability?
I-16 type 10 with retractable landing gears/skis:
I-16 type 18 with retractable landing gears/skis:

Other important I-16 types in Winter War?

Numbers of different I-16 types in Winter War?

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 09 Oct 2014 20:13

Going through Geust´s Red Stars, vol. 7 it can be stated that at least following I-16 types were used by Soviet Air Forces in Winter War:

I-16 type 5, 10, 17, 18, 27.

According to wiki the very rare type 19 was also tested in Winter War. I guess that also type 24?

I-16 type 5 is often mentioned be with fixed skis, but it was not always such (26 IAP used type 5 with normal retractable landing gears).

When it comes to types 5 and 6, they are basically the same and I consider both as type 5 - I would say that the type 6 is just "later type 5" with its open cockpit. The type 5 offered to option to close the cockpit but as far as I know Soviet (and other) I-16 pilots flew with opened cockpit.

Geust mentions also I-16P - a ground attack special version (with better armor and cannon armament?)

If Soviets had problem to identify Bulldog/Gladiator (even Gloster Gamecock is mentioned in one Soviet combat report- turned out to be a I-15bis, IIRC!), the Finns had even more problem to identify different I-16 types. My guess is that type 5 and type 10 were the "basic I-16" for Finns whereas the later types became sometimes the mysterious "I-16 bis" - or was that an "innovation" of Continuation War?

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 24 Nov 2014 12:56

Going through Red Stars vol. 7 (Geust 2011) and Talvisota ilmassa (Winter War in air - Pajari 1971) I tried to find out the legitimate air victories of Soviet air units to represent a table of them. In parentesis I have put the claims confirmed by Soviet side - as is well known, one-sided confirmation does not guarantee that the claim is really legitimate = which can be verified by Finnish loss records. It does not surprise that most claiming units are also those which overclaim most while less claiming units 49 IAP and 145 IAP are much more accurate in their claims. This can be partly explained that such unit like 7 IAP operated over Karelian Isthmus, where the combat was more intense than in area north of Ladoga where 49 IAP operated and the character of air combat was different. Other explanation might be the optimism combined with imagination, which probably created the very fancy claims of bomber gunners of Soviet bomber units (usually bomber gunners overclaim more than fighter pilots - this being a usual case in all air forces).

Fighter regiments of Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA)

7 IAP - 9 air victories (68 claims)
49 IAP - 9 air victories (16 claims) - exceptionally accurate claim record, more than half of claims legitimate
68 IAP - 7 air victories (68 claims)
25 IAP - 4 air victories (45 claims)
145 IAP - 2 air victories (5 claims)
38 IAP - 1 air victory (8 claims)

The fighters of Baltic Fleet Air Force (VVS KBF) are probably to be credited 1 air victory (Ripon RI-155 shot down by Soviet fighters on 23.12.1939 during recce mission to Paldiski) - if I´m right this is the only air victory which can be verified by Finnish sources to match one of the 54 claims of Baltic Fleet Air Force.

VVS RKKA bomber units:

7 DBAP - 1 air victory - good example of the overclaim ratio of Soviet bomber gunners were the gunners of 54 SBAP who claimed 38 Finnish fighters, while the real result was 0. In total Soviet bomber gunners claimed 146 Finnish planes destroyed during Winter War.

The overclaiming has been treated more profoundly in other threads of this forum. I think that that it was more interesting to know the legitimate claims by different units of Soviet air forces - thanks to Geust´s work we know also some of the names of pilots involved with such claims and also the real results of some air combats. Risto Pajari wrote his book back in 1971 that Winter War is interesting subject of research to compare Soviet/Finnish combat reports and to find answers to questions like how many planes were shot down by both sides. The Finnish losses/Soviet claims = legitimate Soviet claims I believe is now rather clear by the above list based on books of Geust and Pajari. If it is of interest of someone, I can write a list of Soviet pilots with legitimate personal and shared air victories and who were their "victims".

To find out Soviet losses/Finnish claims = legitimate Finnish claims is another story. Geust´s research covers some of these in detailed list in Red Stars Vol. 7 (pp. 305 - 321), but probably not all. The total estimates vary much depending on the research. I was bit confused of the different estimates on Red Stars Vol. 7 - but reading it carefully I understood that his estimate of Soviet air forces total combat losses in Winter War is roughly 400 - 450, which is clearly less than the combined claims of Finnish Air Force + Finnish AA/ground forces (207 + 314). There has been a different estimate represented and repeated in SIH series putting the figure of verified Soviet combat losses little higher than Finnish claims. And then there have been various Soviet/Russian publications representing lower combat loss figures. Different researchers may end up to different figures depending on their interpretation of same sources.

When confronted with the actual loss records of enemy units and seeing that they do not entirely match with the claims of "our side", it may cause temptation to comments that the other side has faked their losses for fear of loss of face. I wonder why some unit commander would hane done that during war, as one wants replacements for the aircrafts and pilots lost. Propagandists may fake "official losses" or "total losses" represented in official bulletins, but at the operative unit level and in unit records there is little reason to put loss figures lower than they really are.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 25 Nov 2014 22:26

Slon-76 wrote: Why 15? According to my calculation in Ruokolahti was:

1/LLv 26 (GL-255, 259, 262, 264, 265, 268, 278)
2/LLv 26 (GL-253, 256, 261, 263, 276, 279)
1/LLv 24 (FR-83, 91, 93, 100, 109, 117)
4/LLv 24 (FR-76, 94, 103, 108, 110)
FR-87, 95, 114 underlined took not part
Total 24 fighters. If the fight were 15 of them, which made the rest? Or am I mistaken somewhere?
Suomen Ilmailuhistoriallinen Lehti (Finnish Aviation Historical Magazine) 1/2014 has a good account of the Ruokolahti air combats.
http://www.kolumbus.fi/sil/2014/2014.html

On 29 February 1940 at 10 o'clock there were 12 Fokkers and 12 Gladiators at the Ruokolahti ice air base. In the great battle after noon took part 8 Fokkers and 11 Gladiators from Finnish side, opposed by 17 Polikarpov I-16 and six I-153. Finnish losses were 6 planes destroyed, one damaged and three pilots killed. Russian losses were two I-16 (Voroshilov, Jefimov) destroyed and 7 damaged aircraft.

The article sums that one of the most decisive factor for the result of the battle was, that Finnish fighters didn't have pilot armour or self-sealing fuel tanks, which they Soviet counterparts had and could return with multiple bullet holes (Masitsh 80) in their planes.

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 26 Nov 2014 16:55

While not totally topic specific, as you have not been on the forum too long Durb I greatly suggest http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... t=brewster
Ineffective & deficent Allied equipment

It contains a lively discussion of the F2 Brewster as used by the Finnish air-force and a good bit of stats along the way, plus some of the Finnish "attitude" , that goes a good way toward hinting what the Russians faced :lol:

Chris

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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 26 Nov 2014 20:38

Thanks, I checked the thread and interesting it was.

Well, Brewsters go more to the Continuation War. IIRC, they flew couple of uneventful sorties during the last days of wintertime. Brewster was definitively better plane than its reputation among US and GB. The Dutch made some 20 air victories (IIRC) including some Zeros with Brewsters (the BW 339 was one of the better versions of plane). IIRC, Dutch lost 30 Buffalos, but not so much in air combat than destroyed on the ground.

If one wants to discuss more or less obsolete Finnish equipment in Winter War, there is some controversy with Gloster Gladiator (both Mk I and Mk II versions participated). Gladiator losses were higher than losses of any other type of Finnish Air Force during Winter War. Still the stats results were not so bad, if we look claims/losses -record. IIRC, for 14 lost Gladiators about 40-45 Soviet airplanes were shot down by Gladiators - giving 3:1 ratio in favour of Gladiator pilots. Gloster Gladiator was perhaps not the best fighter plane in 1939, but it still served its purpose in Finnish Air Force which had a urgent need of some decent equipment. Gladiator was not so obsolete as the other Finnish biplane fighter Bristol Bulldog. It is a small miracle that Finnish Bulldog pilots managed to get few air victories and only one Bulldog was lost in combat. Bulldog had in paper the top speed of 340 kph, but it estimated that the real top speed of aged Finnish Bulldogs was about 300 kph! Only if it managed in advance to climb higher than Soviet bombers, it had some possibilities to catch enemy by diving - but such a situation needed a combination of pilot skill and good luck.

And then there were these museum planes: Ripon II, Junkers K-43 and Fokker C.V. - it is also a miracle that their combat losses were not so high as "they should have been" in Winter War: 2 Ripons + 1 Junkers K-43. There were some more damaged and "nearly lost" planes of course, but losses and written offs of these obsolete planes were moderate in Winter War. They were better than to have no planes at all.

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