Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

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

Post by durb » 19 Dec 2014 22:00

Well, the book Kohtalokkaat lennot ("Fateful Flights") did not give an answer to the fate of Ripon RI-141. My guess is that it went down and crew was killed by some other cause than by enemy activity. Someone found the wreck and buried Hallakorpi - as there is no Finnish report in this until the one of 1942 when the wreck and the grave of Hallakorpi were found, then it is most probable that Soviets found the wreck first and buried Hallakorpi. There should be a Soviet report on their finding and maybe they even saw the plane going down, but maybe only the God knows where the Soviet report is hidden.

Looking the whole literature based on archive studies I can not come to any other conclusion that Finns lost only 3 Ripon planes because of enemy activity during the Winter War, although there is for some reason 5 Ripons lost because of enemy activity in total loss figures of Winter War (this represented for example in Pajari 1971). Thus the total figure of 47 planes lost in combat is not precise and the combat loss figure of Finnish Air Force during Winter War should be 45 aircraft?

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 26 Jan 2015 20:50

Two music related posts were moved here:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1924578

/Juha

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

Post by durb » 29 Jan 2015 23:40

One thing which wonders me a bit is the difference of claiming accuracy of different Soviet IAP units in Winter War. The famous 7 IAP and 68 IAP overclaimed by a ratio of approximate 8:1 (68:8-9), in general the Soviet IAP units had overclaim "average" in Winter War about 10:1 and not to be speak about the wildly exaggerated fantasies of Soviet bomber gunners.

However one Soviet unit among all the propagandistic overclaiming shines in fair and excepcional accuracy. The 49 IAP claimed 16 and they indeed destroyed 9 Finnish aircraft during Winter War (although on the minus score was shooting down 2 Soviet planes as enemies). Overclaim ratio of 49 IAP being less than 2:1 which is actually very good international standard compared to average overclaiming of other air forces during WW2. Showing that Soviets were able to keep fairly accurate claim records if they wanted to do it! Was it up to commanders of 49 IAP who demanded more accurate reports than the others? Or a nature of airwar - 49 IAP being located in areas where less intense airwar and possible combat contacts thus less than in Karelian Isthmus where the 7 and 68 IAP were operating?

Also a question about Soviet air victory system - how much of overclaiming could be explained by shared/group claims which have been converted in invidual claims in stats creating automatically multiplying of air victories and thus quite massive overclaiming? How much Soviet pilots and units were under the pressure of superiors to show "good numbers"?

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

Post by mirekw » 30 Jan 2015 19:20

i
n general the Soviet IAP units had overclaim "average" in Winter War about 10:1 and not to be speak about the wildly exaggerated fantasies of Soviet bomber gunners.
Durub, you are mixing two different overclaims: fighters and bombers. This is total wrong way, it is nonsens.

Ad. 1. Soviet fighters had claimed - 213 shot down planes (in fact they destroyed 35 FAF's planes, if I am right rember?).

Ad. 2. Bombers had claimed - 146 shot down planes (in fact 2 were destroyed by them, over wild exaggeration, but the same were dane by American B-17s, B-24s versus Me 109 or FW 190).

Ad. 3. Next 22 FAF's planse were destroyed on the gorund (in fact 2), In total 381 were claimed destroyed planes (or claimed victories). Next 5 planes were shot dwon by A/A. Next 3 lost due to unknow reason (could bye all. In total 44-47 lost planes by enemy action.

So, when you divide 213 by 35 it will never be 10 to 1. No way, but rahter 6 to 1. Overclaiming is high of course but as for Soviet standads era it is "normal" - nothing special, similar to air war over Chałchin-Goł/Nomonham.

Regards,
mw

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

Post by durb » 30 Jan 2015 21:15

Hmm, different sources (specially literature) give different numbers.
According to Finnish SIH publication "Suomen Ilmavoimien historia II - Finnish Air Force 1928 - 1940 Soviet Winter War claims were indeed 388:
- 188 claimed by Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA) fighter units
- 146 claimed by Red Army Air Force bomber units
- 54 claimed by Baltic Fleet Air Foce (to my knowledge the most underperfroming Soviet air units in Winter War - details in Red Stars 5).
In total Finnish combat losses were 47 (although 53 is also given), so overall Soviet overclaim ratio is probably quite near of 10:1 taking in account also Soviet AA / ground fire claims. Finnish aircraft combat losses were 35 to "fighters", 8 to AA, 4 to "other combat causes" (?).

However there are different numbers around. According to Maslov´s book on Polikarpov fighter aces (Osprey 2010) the Soviet Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA) fighter units alone claimed in air combats of Winter War 362 Finnish planes destroyed. Add to this the claims of VVS RKKA bomber gunners and the claims of Baltic Fleet Air Force units, and you will get an overclaim well over 10:1. And not to speak of Soviet AA / ground fire claims. Plus "probables"...

The overall scale of Soviet overclaiming ratio regarding destroyed Finnish aircraft is in every case pretty near of 10:1. The overall overclaim ratio of Soviet bomber gunners in Winter War was more than the 8th USAAF gunners claimed in WW2 - there were differences in American overclaiming depending on combat sorties, but "at best" they made 51:1 during a combat sortie against Lille in October 1942. This is to my knowlegde the US "top record" of overclaiming during the WW2. Less exaggerated than the Soviet bomber gunners claimed in Winter War (73:1 or 146:1 - only 2 are indeed accounted in Finnish records as caused by return fire of Soviet bombers, but in one case there is some uncertainty if Finnish fighter was shot down by bomber gunner or Soviet fighter escort).

The exaggerated claims of Soviet bomber gunners may have caused some Soviet commanders to think that their bombers were able to defend themselves more succesfully than actually happened. The same probably happened to Americans ("highly succesfull" Lille raid) and the heavy price of this error was later paid by their bombercrews. Overclaiming was not just harmless statistic errors and propaganda.

During the course of WW2 it actually became more and more difficult to German units to get good results against US bombers (fighter escorts with P-47 and P-51 played a part) - during an air raid against Praga on 12.5.1944 US lost 46 bombers, but Germans had to admit the loss of 65 fighters in air combats related to this combat sortie.

Something equal happened also in Winter War - when Soviets started to employ more fighter escorts and equip their fighters with drop tanks, the Finnish claims against Soviet bombers dropped clearly. One can just ask afterward why Soviet commanders sent so many small unescorted bomber formations over Finnish territory and made their aircrews to take so much punishment for it? - maybe they were small losses for big Soviet air forces, but in every downed bomber there was also an aircrew lost and men killed in a scale that could have been diminished with better tactics. Finnish top ace Jorma Sarvanto would most probably not have shot down 6 Soviet bombers down in few minutes in 6.1.1940, if there had been some I-16 or I-153 escort around.

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

Post by mirekw » 31 Jan 2015 10:53

Dear Durub - less write. more think?
The most know for me figure of Soviet claims is 427. There are of course other Soviet era figures, based on official military statistic/reports.
VVS KBF had claimed - 65 (54 in the air - all fighter plus bombers, plus next 11 on the ground)

The huge overclaiming rate is among bombers' crews 146 to 2. Fighters had also high rate of overclaiming but not 10 to 1 as you have wrtiiten, which I underline.

Moslow has never done his own researches, he always using datas form other sources, like Siergiej Abrasov, Michaił Bykow or other real reseraches.

In fact only two person: Carl-Fredrik Geust and Oleg Kisielev, had done very deep study about this particular subject - real losses/victories and claims (Soviet side of course, FAF it is other thing).

Others datas are based on Soviet official statistics. You may use them but you have to remeber, that there are not cross-checked as done personaly by Geust and Kisielv.

Frankly , when your reading other "sources" mostly you are wasting your time. Of course other books are interesting too but mostly are not real reserches, it is second-hand work.


Regards,
mirekw

BTW you have to know, that most Soviet fighters (almost all) were planes with 2 or 4 mg 7,62 mm (a few were with 20 mm SzWAK cannon - I 16 typ 17, in fact a few, used against train - assoult role). The impact of such fire was not so big as one 20,00 mm canon.

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

Post by mirekw » 31 Jan 2015 17:41

Finnish top ace Jorma Sarvanto would most probably not have shot down 6 Soviet bombers down in few minutes in 6.1.1940, if there had been some I-16 or I-153 escort around.
It was his very, very lucky day. Right: time, place, training, tactics, person.
One can just ask afterward why Soviet commanders sent so many small unescorted bomber formations over Finnish territory and made their aircrews to take so much punishment for it?
The answer is simple , it was such air doctrine, tactics, regulation. Based on strong belive, that defence fire power of bombers is enought to defends themselves versus enemy fighter. RAF had the same doctrine, what did Wellingtons' bombers do over German Bay/Wilhelmshaven (over Heligoland Bight ) and RAf very high losses.

Soviet air commmanders were stupid and RAF air commanders were smart? it is nonsens. Wrong doctrine and among Soviet side they demand long lesson time.

Stalin did not expected, that Finland could stop his invasion army for so long. Later, since February 1940 they had changed doctrine of war (excort flight) and had began their land and air big attacks. Finns did have in this time any small possibilites to stop them, it was overheling power: air, land, see. The war was over, Finland had lost it - military, but survived politicaly. In Soviet military command changes took too long time, but when there were introduced, they worked well for victory, and reduce own losses. Very big military machine, which need much more time for learning directly from expirience.

mw

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

Post by durb » 01 Feb 2015 21:33

Claims and losses when using the books (second hand info for aficionados) as a source instead of orginal archive data (professional work of researchers):

It depends how writers cite or quote their sources and average reader of their books is left to depend on that. Both Geust and Maslov are referring a 1988 published Soviet history book (Vozdushnaja ja mosih rodiny) which gives the 362 claims of destroyed Finnish aircraft by Soviet Red Army Air Force units during Winter War (and lets not forget the Baltic Fleet Air Force with its 54 claims - details on Red Stars 5). Geust says simply that in this Soviet book of "official nature" 362 were claimed by Red Army Air Force units (= fighter + other), but Maslov talks about "fighter units" of VVS RKKA when it comes to these same claims. Same source for both writers but they in turn give somewhat different info for their own readers. Both authors of course know Russian, but still have adopted different interpretation of same words of same source. If I were able to read Russian, I would read the original book myself to make my own conclusion on what is written in it. Maslov´s Osprey book I have found to be inaccurate in some details (when compared to other books and sources), so I guess that Geust has been more careful.

Whatever the researchers may come up later, the official Soviet claim figures are those stated in Soviet-era official documents. When it comes to losess, it seems to me that different documents give different numbers according to use (if it is public communication info for "outsiders" or confidential unit records for "insiders" - the latter being more truthful).

Official numbers are official numbers even if they are incorrect. For example if the pilot X of Y IAP is credited in official Soviet records with 5 air victories during Winter War and got a HSU title for that achievement, it is his official record and stays that way even if it is found later that in reality he could have got only 1 air victory.

The numbers vary in literature which leaves the average reader somewhat confused. The officially admitted Soviet aircraft combat losses are mentioned to be 261 in the above mentioned Soviet history book (Vozdushnaja ja mosih rodiny) of 1988, but this number includes only VVS RKKA losses. Geust mentions Russian historian researchers/writers Aptekar, Kiselev coming to conclusion that 232 VVS RKKA planes were lost in combat, 92 planes were MIA and 124 were damaged. To this to be added are the known 42 combat losses and 55 accident losses of VVS KBF. Anyway from the Russian researchers cited by Geust the combined Soviet combat losses seem to be somewhere around 274 - 300. And 92 planes that went missing according to Aptekar/Kiselev - how many of them were lost due to combat cause, how many due to weather etc.? - we may never know although a comparison with Finnish claim records could be a possible continuation of a work based on Aptekar/Kiselev.

The authors Keskinen & Stenman of Finnish SIH series repeatedly put the combined Soviet (both Red Army and Baltic Fleet) aircraft losses in Winter War as 579 which according to them is based on the study of Soviet archives during the early 2000´s (in prefaces of their books they give thanks to Geust, Bykov, Kiselev and Mikhailov). However I have not been able to read if Keskinen & Stenman mean combat losses or total losses of Soviet air forces during Winter War. Geust gives higher figures in Red Stars Vol. 7 when it comes to total losses, but I found it little difficult to understand what is in his opinion really the most correct figure: "at least" 640 or "at least" 980 or something between (like roughly 870 = 770 Red Army Air Force + 97 VVS KBF) - details are in Geust´s Red Stars, Vol. 7, p. 293-294.

For an average reader it would be helpful if the author would clearly give an estimation which according to him/her is the most correct and on what basis. If I have read correctly, Geust makes a reference of his own studies of Soviet archives to conclude that Soviets lost as many as 980 planes in Winter War and according to him about half of these are direct combat causes giving an rough estimate of about 490 Soviet aircraft destroyed in air combats and other combat situations. Maybe little more or little less, but the scale is not far from the combined official Finnish Air Force + Finnish AA/ground fire claims of 521 destroyed enemy planes.

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

Post by korup » 02 Feb 2015 09:26

durb wrote:Claims and losses when using the books (second hand info for aficionados) as a source instead of orginal archive data (professional work of researchers):
Official numbers are official numbers even if they are incorrect. For example if the pilot X of Y IAP is credited in official Soviet records with 5 air victories during Winter War and got a HSU title for that achievement, it is his official record and stays that way even if it is found later that in reality he could have got only 1 air victory.
Do you mean Savushkin or Zhuravliov? There is even better example: SB-2's crew of 31 SBAP Stolnikov/Chudyaov/Guslyev. They were downed on 27th January or 17th February 1939 (sources give different dates, but it also means something) after bombing Samala railroad station and were secured by Soviet planes later on. All of them received Heros titles and stars plus Lenin Ordens for this. Also, all of them were credited by three victories, though the only active gunner was Gusliev. Stolnikov was a pilot and shooting wasn't his particular concern. So there is 9 victories according to official Soviet releases in total, though it's doubtful was Gusliev able to destroy at least one plane. Especially that Finninsh sources confirm nothing in this issue.
I'm deeply sceptical as for Soviet achievments as most of them were of politic background and facts were of lesser importance than actual score. For the same reasons I'm convinced the Soviet losses were much higher than officially announced.
Cheers,
Pawel
Cheers,
Pawel

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

Post by durb » 02 Feb 2015 14:56

korup wrote: There is even better example: SB-2's crew of 31 SBAP Stolnikov/Chudyaov/Guslyev. They were downed on 27th January or 17th February 1939 (sources give different dates, but it also means something) after bombing Samala railroad station and were secured by Soviet planes later on. All of them received Heros titles and stars plus Lenin Ordens for this. Also, all of them were credited by three victories, though the only active gunner was Gusliev. Stolnikov was a pilot and shooting wasn't his particular concern. So there is 9 victories according to official Soviet releases in total...
Pawel
Very good example of what happens when air victory claims are counted as shared/group achievements. Lets say that if a group of 6 fighter pilots takes part in air combat in which one enemy plane is shot down it is more accurate to find out the individual pilot claim which corresponds best on that one enemy loss than to give the whole group 6 shared kills which go to further statistics as 6 air victories because each of six pilots is credited with one (shared) air victory. Even the unit record which should be accurate gets inaccurate with lots of shared/group kills. Soviet/Japanese/Italians used shared/group kills -system and overclaimed more than Germans, British and Finns who had an air victory account based more on the individual claims.

When it comes to Soviet fighter pilots, as far as I remember none made it an ace with 5 confirmed air victories during Winter War with individual claims, although with shared claims it was possible. Mikhail Maslov went in his Polikarpov fighter aces book to declare Aleksander Bulaev as a leading Soviet ace of Winter War having "shot down at least nine enemy aircraft". Well, that is not in accordance even with official Soviet records and Bulaev´s claims were shared/group air victories. From those shared/group air victories - how are we supposed to know if he played any decisive part in downing enemy planes in combat or was just taking part in combat achieving actually nothing?

Finnish loss records are very reliable and Soviet official claims and combat reports are what they are - usually not reliable when compared to actual happenings, but nevertheless official Soviet version.

However, some Soviet unit records like 49 IAP seem to have been more accurate than others.

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

Post by Slon-76 » 03 Feb 2015 14:36

korup wrote:So there is 9 victories according to official Soviet releases in total, though it's doubtful was Gusliev able to destroy at least one plane. Especially that Finninsh sources confirm nothing in this issue.
Soviet pilots have no such "official" results. The biggest - 4 personal victories.

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

Post by Slon-76 » 03 Feb 2015 15:22

durb wrote: It depends how writers cite or quote their sources and average reader of their books is left to depend on that. Both Geust and Maslov are referring a 1988 published Soviet history book (Vozdushnaja ja mosih rodiny) which gives the 362 claims of destroyed Finnish aircraft by Soviet Red Army Air Force units during Winter War (and lets not forget the Baltic Fleet Air Force with its 54 claims - details on Red Stars 5). Geust says simply that in this Soviet book of "official nature" 362 were claimed by Red Army Air Force units (= fighter + other), but Maslov talks about "fighter units" of VVS RKKA when it comes to these same claims.
According to official data (Report on the fighting, prepared by the staff of the air force of the red army in the spring of 1940) fighters shot down 211 enemy planes (+22 on the ground), bombers - 146. (excluding victories VVS KBF)

Comparison with Finnish data gives a figure of 38 real victories of Soviet fighters, i.e. overclaim 1 to 5.5. The bombers the situation is much worse, of course.

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

Post by durb » 03 Feb 2015 18:28

So Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA) was credited in total with 357 destroyed Finnish planes and if we add to this the 54 claims of Baltic Fleet Air Force (VVS KBF) we end up with 411 destroyed Finnish planes by Soviet air forces in total during the Winter War. Of the Baltic Fleet Air Force´s claims I do not remember how many of them were by VVS KBF fighter units and how many by VVS KBF bomber gunners? My guess is that the fighter pilots of Baltic Fleet Air Force overclaimed more than Red Army Air Force units. The impression that I got from Red Stars Vol. 5 was that Baltic Fleet Air Force was heavily underperforming and heavily overclaiming air force which probably undeservedly was awarded with many HSU titles and other decorations.

The Soviet claims/actual Finnish losses 411:38 makes the Soviet overclaiming be in air combats of Winter War still to be little more than 10:1 in Winter War. The fighter units claims being of course somewhat more accurate than bomber gunners claims but still quite over the real achievements. The 1960 German-translated version of the history of Great Patriotic war explained Finnish ability to take heavy losses by the claims that Finns imported some 500 planes and many pilots from Britain, France, Italy and Sweden during Winter War. It was the only way to make official Soviet claims looking legitimate.

The overclaims of Soviet fighter pilots can be explained partly by the nature of intense air combats and probably by the confusing group/shared -kills system. But the overclaims of Soviet bomber gunners are more difficult to explain. Did they deliberately lie in their combat reports in order to make the high losses of some bomber units more "acceptable"? Was it easier to admit the loss of 6 bombers when gunners claimed to have shot down 10 or 18 Finnish fighters - this is just example. I guess that it will not be difficult to find examples of this pattern of overclaims of Soviet bomber gunners (for examply by reading Red Stars Vol. 7.)

Those Soviet bomber commanders who really took responsibility of things probably skipped the claims of gunners as irrelevant and concentrated more in the own losses and how to prevent them.

Bomber commanders with different attitude may have taken losses acceptable in view of how much damage their gunners were making to Finnish Air Force - literally wiping it out of sky - so no need to change tactics and serious study the causes of own losses. It may have looked even a good thing in official unit records that Finnish fighters came often to a deadly firing distance of the gunners during a combat and so many gunners could be rewarded/appraised for their achievements.

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

Post by korup » 03 Feb 2015 21:19

Slon-76 wrote:Soviet pilots have no such "official" results. The biggest - 4 personal victories.
3 airman x 3 air victories = 9 victories. I didn't say each of them had 9. Please read with understanding.
P.
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Pawel

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

Post by Slon-76 » 03 Feb 2015 23:17

durb wrote:But the overclaims of Soviet bomber gunners are more difficult to explain.
This is a joke?
Overclaims for bomber's shooters bombers are the norm actually. For almost all. Bomber gunners in 99% of cases just can't trace the fate of the plane on which he was shot. For him the fact that an enemy aircraft had stopped the attack and went down often enough.

For example.

29.11.40 2 Gladiators (80 sqn) attacked 28 Italian bombers Z.1007bis (47 Stormo) over Greece. Italian crews said about 9 kills English fighters. Although the loss had not one of the parties. Why are they "lied"?
Such examples are a few of the hundreds not really bothering to search. Just, I guess, the same event on different looks, if you look at it through a book in the library or through the sight of a gun in the cockpit of the bomber. Let's be careful in their versions.

The Soviet command was not much concerned with the question, how many Finnish aircraft were shot down, in this You are right. So the question more Interesting was the question of reducing their own losses. Look at the statistics of victories Finnish fighters - it is obvious that the measures were quite effective. If in December and January meeting squadron DB-3 or SB even with 2-3 Finnish fighters could end fatally, in February of the same squadron yourself repelled the attacks and larger groups.

Sorry for my terribe english... :D

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