Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

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Stiltzkin
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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Jul 2017 22:34

War time diary of Simo Häyhä is found, where he writes he has shot over 500 Russians.
Häyhä was not a sniper. Those 500 "claims" were never confirmed, most of them were also "achieved" with the SMG. They are most likely a product of propaganda.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 20 Jul 2017 10:27

Stiltzkin wrote:
War time diary of Simo Häyhä is found, where he writes he has shot over 500 Russians.
Häyhä was not a sniper. Those 500 "claims" were never confirmed, most of them were also "achieved" with the SMG. They are most likely a product of propaganda.
May you elaborate about these claims of yours? Häyhä was a trained sniper, acted as a sniper in Winter War and his kills with SMG were set on record separate from his sniper kills. Not being able to reliably verify kills is an a common problem when it comes to sniping - its not like a military sniper could just pick a phone, call enemy HQ and ask how many of their soldiers that he had tried shooting that day had been killed.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 20 Jul 2017 14:01

May you elaborate about these claims
It would take a long time to list the history of sniping, designated marksmanship etc., but what qualifies as a modern day sniper is a bit difficult to define (in the historical context of WW2), however such schools were not established pre 43/44 (such as in the Seetaler Alpen), at least not for the major combatants during WW2 (this does not mean that sniper units were not utilized before that time during position warfare or in the attack or most importantly during WW1).
Finland did not possess what would qualify as a specialized "sniper" programme at that time, but I guess some of them would fullfill that role if you like, in regards to the "Motti". Those were marksmen engaging targets from concealed positions from an average of 200 yards. "Sophisticated sniping" (if such a term exists) goes beyond 500 yards, so define what you consider a sniper because the shooter is what matters and will give him his designation.
Russian documents only mention a "nuisance sniper threat" (fire was laid for concealment) but do not single out any individual. Allenberger and Hetzenauer (who operated longer on the fronts) reported that "kill claims" or "reported/confirmed" kills are rarely achievable and were usually inflated. Another point to consider is the front time exposure. Häyhä was not utilized as long as other personnel making it statistically impossible to be bypassed by so many units.
The stories of Carius, Wittmann, Pavlichenko, Zaitsev et aliae fall under the same category. Zaitsevs memoirs were analyzed by modern day snipers and historians, the conlcusion was that if he truly operated in such a fashion he must have been a poor sniper.
I tracked the claims of SS tankers and can easily say that it is defined as what they claimed to have shot (at best),i.e. if you correct the figures for overinflation, subtract the number of non-tanks (non AFV targets and actually assume that this target was not a burned out wreck) over a certain period dx/dt, which then translates into 15-20 destroyed tanks and about 40 AFVs at best - which is quite frankly already a remarkable achievement.
Hannu Valtonen studied pilot kill claims on the finnish front and came to similar conclusions in regards to the VVS and LW.

I assume that Häyhäs unit claimed this ratio and possibly added their "kills" to Häyhä (for propaganda purposes).
Artillery, mortars inflicted the majority of casualties. Machinegunners could probably enjoy substantial casualty infliction potential, as well.

Now, he was probably an accomplished hunter and a skilled marksman, but these values need more research for further confirmation.

There is always a big portion of nationalism in these stories. I guess every nation needs a war hero in order to boost morale but do note that all these stories are probably as accurate as the 300 Spartan movies.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 20 Jul 2017 20:45

Stiltzkin wrote:
May you elaborate about these claims
It would take a long time to list the history of sniping, designated marksmanship etc., but what qualifies as a modern day sniper is a bit difficult to define (in the historical context of WW2), however such schools were not established pre 43/44 (such as in the Seetaler Alpen), at least not for the major combatants during WW2 (this does not mean that sniper units were not utilized before that time during position warfare or in the attack or most importantly during WW1).
Finland did not possess what would qualify as a specialized "sniper" programme at that time, but I guess some of them would fullfill that role if you like, in regards to the "Motti". Those were marksmen engaging targets from concealed positions from an average of 200 yards. "Sophisticated sniping" (if such a term exists) goes beyond 500 yards, so define what you consider a sniper because the shooter is what matters and will give him his designation.
Just because there were no "Finnish sniper schools" per se before World War 2, doesn't mean that there were no sniper training. It is true that Finnish Army did not really have a sniper training program at that time, but Finnish Civil Guard most certainly did - although it was also pretty small-scale. The scale of Civil Guard sniper program being so small is probably due to the fact that neither Civil Guard nor Army succeeded getting their sniper rifle development programs beyond field-testing stage before Winter War. What you apparently did not know or failed to grasp is that pre-war Simo Häyhä was member Civil Guard and one of the fairly small number of its guardsmen that received sniper training before the war. Also that range-based system of yours is not a standard of any sort - is it your own invention or does some army actually use such an artificial system? When it comes to Simo, it seems quite obvious that he selected (and prepared) his shooting locations at least partially due to the equipment that he was using - his personal Civil Guard issued early m/28-30 rifle with its iron sights. In pre-war era Finnish Civil Guard had spent considerable effort in developing long-range rifle marksmanship of its shooters and in 1930's Simo had become a very well known and highly successful shooter in their rifle competitions. Hence there is every reason to believe that was very well aware about the effective range from which he could hit a target of specific sight with his rifle and his ammunition of preference.
Russian documents only mention a "nuisance sniper threat" (fire was laid for concealment) but do not single out any individual. Allenberger and Hetzenauer (who operated longer on the fronts) reported that "kill claims" or "reported/confirmed" kills are rarely achievable and were usually inflated. Another point to consider is the front time exposure. Häyhä was not utilized as long as other personnel making it statistically impossible to be bypassed by so many units.
So you assume that Finns were actually Germans, or just assume that if the Germans tended to overclaim systematically, the Finns must have done the same as well? Considering that Häyhä used iron sights and in best of situations had one guy with (low-power by modern standards) binoculars confirming his kills it is quite obvious that not all of the Soviets that he shot at were killed or even hit. But there is no objective reason to think that he was intentionally overclaiming and mistakenly overclaiming for the very same reason has continued to this day - often there just are no way to know if the bullet hit or not. Hence I am pretty sure that every single account of sniper kills contains mistakenly made overclaiming - and consider that to be a part that cannot be avoided. When it comes to over-claiming in fact eye witness statements tell that apparently if anything he was modest and did not try make a fuss, a personality which to my opinition makes intentional overclaiming unlikely. For example the day when he reached record of 25 sniper kills in a single day (21st of December), he apparently just simply said "25" when entering the dug-out for rest and that was it. Unlike you claim there is no evidence of overclaiming at unit level either and what I know Finnish Army tended/tends to take intentionally making false reports (which is what it would have been) pretty damn seriously.

What is known Winter War was apparently somewhat of an exception in that sense that it was likely the last conventional war in between states in which small arms caused a considerable percentage of casualties - when it comes to casualties produced by the Finns. The main reasons behind this were Finnish shortage of field artillery, mortars and their ammunition - when there was not mortar or artillery support, small arms had to do much of the work. Admitted medium machineguns probably caused a far larger number of Soviet casualties than rifles.

Might be worth nothing that Häyhä did not become well-known until in 1990's, although he was mentioned in couple of newpaper articles during Winter War in Palolammi's book Kollaa kestää (Kollaa Holds Out) published soon after Winter War. This was likely at least partially because he was mistakenly publicly declared dead after being seriously wounded.

BTW: The serial number given by many sources for the rifle that Simo used is wrong in a way. I have personally seen m/28-30 rifle number 60974 and it was manufactured years after Simo had already received his. What his rifle did have instead was S60974 as Civil Guard district number.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 20 Jul 2017 21:51

So you assume that Finns were actually Germans, or just assume that if the Germans tended to overclaim systematically
No, because everyone was overclaiming no matter what nationality, it has something to do with the nature of politics and warfare, they were no exception. Believe in what you want, but these "kill claims" and ratios are nothing than a product of either propaganda or misinterpretation. The notion that you have Häyhä as the "White Death", killing waves of Soviets is as historical accurate as Vikings with horns. Perhaps he killed 5, 25 or who knows maybe 50, but certainly not 500. The best way is to read literature on modern snipers, designated marksmanship and sniping. Those who served for a long time (with the technical standards which exist today), state that these accumulations make little sense. Perhaps a number of approx. 200 would seem realistic in the face of long service, perhaps in 3 to 4 years but not in a month. :lol:
This goes for all branches, from Pilots, to tank crews, to snipers. The only ones who would achieve such a casualty ratio would be artillery officers and crews.
What is known Winter War was apparently somewhat of an exception in that sense that it was likely the last conventional war in between states in which small arms caused a considerable percentage of casualties - when it comes to casualties produced by the Finns. The main reasons behind this were Finnish shortage of field artillery, mortars and their ammunition - when there was not mortar or artillery support, small arms had to do much of the work. Admitted medium machineguns probably caused a far larger number of Soviet casualties than rifles.
That may be true to some extent but that was mainly amplified by the terrain and geostrategical situation, still this number would spread on many units and not on one individual soldier who would "stand out". Some would stand out more than others but operating in such units - simply no, 500 kills on one soldier in such a short timeframe, certainly not. If he was a machine gunner or mortar operator (or if he "sniped" for the entire war including the continuation war) I would believe it, otherwise not.

Lets take Hetzenauer: He was a mountaineer (mortar operator) and later trained as a Sniper (July 44). If you sum up his claims since the beginning of his career in late August 43 to March 45 (and that is considering that he had better equipment and could rely on more substantial training than Finnish marksmen) 345 kills (so called "confirmed", unconfirmed go even higher supposedly), would yield 20 in a month and I personally think that this might be still exaggerated.

On a side note: The medical files from Soviet documents say, listed by Kriv
Among the total number of wounded who were sent from the troops of the North-Western Front to Leningrad for treatment (from 1 January to 13 March, 1940), the wounds were distributed by type in the following manner:
gunshot - 68%;
wounds from artillery shells - 31.6%;
wounds from mines - 0.3%;
from nonfiring weapons - 0.1 %.
Here the serious wounds and those of medium severity comprised 80.8%, and the light
wounds comprised 19.2%. .
Data about the nature of the wounds in a percentage-relationship are:
wounds to the head and neck - 10.2%
to the thorax - 7.4%;
to the abdomen and pelvis - 4.6%;
to the upper extremities - 45.5%;
to the lower extremities - 27.4%;
multiple wounds - 4.9%.
There is just one little problem what everyone seems to forget: The number of gunshot woundings is higher and the chance of survival in such a state is greater. Artillery however is deadlier, thus the damage on corpses should be observed. Artillery is going to be far more lethal and the cause of most battle deaths (another example of how reports can easily be misinterpreted). In the Talvisota the number would be pretty even I assume, but nonetheless, I would not say that it is a "unique" case.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Fliegende Untertasse » 21 Jul 2017 14:25

Not that I necessarily disagree with previous posters deduction, but just to explain why Häyhäs claims have ever even been considered feasible.
Stiltzkin wrote: That may be true to some extent but that was mainly amplified by the terrain and geostrategical situation, still this number would spread on many units and not on one individual soldier who would "stand out".

The thing is that the many units were not there. In January -february 1940 Kollaa sector basically a single infantry regiment was succesfully checking a continuos aggressive advance attemp by several enemy divisions. The attacker outnumbered defender roughly 10:1.
This combined with lack of heavy weapons, and even machine guns, created a very "target rich" environment for an individual rifleman.

Think it like an almost daily eight week Omaha Beach. There indeed was a German MG gunner who alledgedly killed 2000 enemies at Normandy. Now even if this number was exaccurated 100 fold, the real number would still be 4 times higher than Häyhäs claimed daily average.
So while Häyhäs tally may well be exaccurated or "optimistic", it does not really appear as totally inconcievable.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 21 Jul 2017 14:56

There indeed was a German MG gunner who alledgedly killed 2000 enemies at Normandy.
I think you are referring to Rachmann - also never confirmed.
Herein lies the problem: He could not have engaged (let alone killed) 2000 GIs in one single sector, 2000 KIA or even + DoW falling on one individual would have exceeded American casualties on that day, which is absurd. The story went like this: "we all left, Rachmann was the only one who remained" , which is obviously nonsense and only served as an excuse to increase their PoW privileges. :lol:
American casualties on Omaha did not exceed 3,000-4,700 total, KIA is 19-21% of total casualties which yields 600-940 killed.
roughly 10:1.
The larger the force, the higher the survivability (common law), even under a prevalent "guerilla" type situation. A unit would not engage an enemy that outnumbers you 10:1. Force concentration of the Soviets (in the Talvisota) was not particularly good, the RKKA enjoyed (on average) a 2.4-2.8 numerical advantage over the Finns (that is also very consistent with the ratio in the Nazi-Soviet war), which would result in a 4-5:1 advantage on the tactical level. The German units at Korsun were outnumbered 1:5-7 (granted they did not have such a favourable terrain comparable to the Finnish forests and the Red Army was more competent at that time, but they enjoyed significantly higher fighting power) and you can see how this went, they barely made it out alive.
No matter how you put it, these stories are... colorized.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 21 Jul 2017 17:45

Stilzkin - you are obviously entitled to your opinion, but I do not share certain parts of it. If you got any actual real evidence of Häyhä's unit or Finnish military over claiming Häyhä's sniper kills instead of "boohoo - everybody did it", feel free to provide that evidence for closer scrutiny. If you don't, then it’s just your opinion and we all know the well-known proverb about opinions.

The Soviet medical files you provided seem be suffering from basically the same problem that reminds me of an old Finnish story: "During the war Finnish Air Force decided to add some armor to one of its fighter planes. To decide what parts to armor the officer responsible first studied the aircraft that had suffered damage and draw a plan of adding armor to parts of plane that had suffered damage in enemy fire. But then his colleague interfered by reminding him that the aircraft that they had studied had been the ones that actually succeeded getting back to base after suffering combat damage - hence it would make more sense to actually concentrate adding adding armor to those parts that they had not been listed as having suffered damage, since apparently the contained the parts vital to aircraft's survival." In other words while the medical files info that you provided are interesting, they contain the info only from the wounded that actually survived the transport all the way to hospitals of Leningrad district - what are missing are the ones that either died instantly or did not make it to the hospitals before dying to their injuries.

What I remember Häyhä did most of his sniping from 300 - 400 meters. It has been established that he was truly 1st rate shooter and apparently did exceedingly well in pre-war shooting competitions, but what were his chances of hitting his (Soviet) targets from that range? Due to my hobbies I am familiar with Finnish shooting sport called perinnekivääriammunta - a reservist competitive sport for military rifles designed by year 1945 t once used by Finnish military. Majority of the rifles used in this sport are rifles m/28-30 and m/39. The two rifle models are otherwise at quite similar level with m/28-30 having a slight edge mainly due to its better rifle sling design. Also probably the most popular bullet design still used with m/28-30 rifles in these competitions is 12-gram D46 FMJBT - VPT/Lapua bullet design already issued with ammunition during World War 2 for Civil Guard rifles and may have been the exact bullet type that Simo actually used. The event of this shooting sport that provides best comparison info would be 300 meter prone with normal competitions having 2 x 15 rounds shot from prone position in that event. The main difference being that Häyhä apparently usually had either a piece of log or section of wooden board on side of his prepared fox holes and used it for support (with glove in between log/board and rifle), while the particular shooting sports is shot without any other support than shooter's left hand and rifle sling. At national match level on average the results for best shooters in 300 meter prone event tend to stay with-in 9-ring of standard Finnish military shooting targets - in which the 10 point bull's eye and 9-ring combined cover area 20-cm/8-inches in diameter and rings being 5cm/2-in wide. If we assume that Häyhä was able to about equal level of accuracy (hitting area 20 cm in diameter), it means that accuracy-wise he should have been able to do head-shots quite reliably and if allowed to shoot at centre mass he would have usually hit either hearth or lungs. That does not seem to suggest very high survival rate among "targets". :|

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 21 Jul 2017 19:29

I was not necessarily argueing about skill, I was argueing about ridiculous, absurd claims. Do note that today's sport shooters are much more capable than the average rifleman (they have much more resources/ammo/money and time to spare) in the 40s, though Häyhäs natural habitat allowed him (and hunters in general) to be highly proficient, but if you do not have specialized sniper training nor the gear for it, you are not a sniper, you are merely a marksman who could be selected for sniper training. The majority of his shots were from a shorter distance, comparable to all those Soviet "snipers" engagement ranges during the battle of Stalingrad. You are not going to suggest that effective shots from 1500m were possible with iron sights during the Winter War?
He did not even possess specialized ammunition for sniping. So what was Häyhä? A skilled marksman during the Talvisota. Did he kill 200 Soviets in under a month? Unlikely.
Here is an analogy: How much faster is Usain Bolt compared to his competitors? +- 0.3s.
"boohoo - everybody did it"
Here is another question, can you prove his claims (two people need to "witness" it in a battalion, very reliable)? You cannot. You like to believe in it because it is fuel for nationalism, chauvinism and ethnocentrism. People are raised with myths and heroic figures, the reality looks different.
Also, judging by this statement it is obvious that you simply dismiss the evidence that was provided. If every nation and unit inflated its ratios (not even mentioning the human and statistical errors that are made during such a process) and even the staffs mistrusted them, how can you believe that it would not be the case with the Finnish Army. It is obviously a common law. This has something to do with politics.
So why is there no research available? Well, first there is less focus on the Talvisota compared to the Nazi-Soviet war. The other thing is that sources/data are scarce and probably only available in Finland, which would then mean that this particular researcher who would conduct such a study would be accused of being anti finnish or unpatriotic.
I have experienced the same reactions when speaking about the high K/D ratios of SS tank crews or LW Pilots. There is some meaning behind the numbers, but it does not mean that one individual destroyed 200-300 tanks or planes.
The real problem here is that people have a fundamental problem of understanding how warfare was conducted.
Last edited by Stiltzkin on 22 Jul 2017 00:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 21 Jul 2017 21:48

As mentioned I do not take your unsubstantiated claim. The thing about historical theories is that he who makes a new theory always also has the burden proof. Hence feel free to provide actual evidence. The thing is I am not really claiming anything new - most that I have written is common knowledge among military history afficianados in here and the rest is my personal observations based on personal experience.

While sport shooting in general has certainly developed since World War, due to its rules the particular shooting sport (perinnekivääri) seems to be an exception to this. As I mentioned the rifles used for perinnekivääri are the same, the bullets used are with m/28-30 are mostly the same and made by the same manufacturer since 1930's. Newly manufactured Finnish military rifle ammo was also match-grade already back then, although it is also possible that Simo like most serious competitive shooters back then and now, made his own ammo from components available. Another thing is the methods, equipment etc that perinnekivääri shooters use nowadays are very much the ones already developed by Civil Guard in 1920's and 1930's. They did just a good job, that there is little point in trying to re-invent the wheel.

As already noted Simo was in fact a Civil Guard trained sniper - do we really need to get back in this? :milsmile:

Also - there were really no purpose-built sniper rifles yet during World War 2. What each army generally was using as sniper rifles were simply their own service rifles equipped with rifle scopes or in some cases (like Norway) diopter sights. As for other equipment for example first ghillie suits were first introduced to military use by the British during World War 2 and would have been little use for Simo in snow-covered forests. In snow-covered terrain simple Finnish snow camo (from the photos Simo's seem to have used what was likely m/27 snow camo suit jacket) was pretty good assuming one stick into shadows and did not move too much. Simo was also smart enough in beforehand to turn the shooting sector in front of his rifle barrel into ice by adding water into snow in subzero temperatures - this removed the effects that pressure wave from tip of rifle barrel would have otherwise caused in snow.

As I mentioned earlier my (highly educated) guess is that Simo picked out locations for his sniping locations with effective range of his iron-sight only equipped rifle in mind. He knew what the rifle and ammunition used in it could do and was aware from which distance he could expect to hit his mark. Sniping in urban conditions is quite different ball-game - and this is not really a place for that discussion. But it might be worth noting that the Soviets issued more scoped sniper rifles than all other countries taking part in World War 2 combined - hence their snipers did not really need to use iron sights. The whole thing must have been major embarrassment for the Soviets. They did not only have huge number of scoped rifles to issue, but they had Voroshilov's marksmen already before the war and in their propaganda basically developed a cult-like following for their most successful snipers during World War 2. And who becomes known as the most successful sniper ever - a Finn fighting against them with a rifle that only has iron sights.

As for 1.500 meter shots with 7.62 x 53R equipped with iron sights even as good as the ones in m/28-30, the whole idea is such nonsense that I leave it completely to you. The maximum effective range of modern Finnish sniper rifle M/2000 (TRG-42 in .338 Lapua Magnum) is around 1.000 - 1.200 meters in best of conditions. Even with best rifles equipped with best of scopes and best bullet designs 7.62 x 53R round is less than 900 meter round - I would say with most bullet designs and scopes 600 - 700 meters is maximum effective range.

Yes - Simo was probably an anomaly when it comes to snipers, but do anomalies happen - the answer to that is yes. And he was not an only one. Ever heard of Viljam Pylkäs - in a battle fought at Perkjärvi in August of 1942 he personally shot 83 Soviets with Suomi m/31 in a single firefight (in case you are wondering the bodies were counted on the battlefield later on). I also have somewhere on hard drive (found it from SA-kuva photo archive) a photo of Finnish SMG-gunner who in summer of 1941 killed 12 Soviets who were apparently trying to do bayonet charge on him with a single (probably from 71-round drum) long burst (presumably with niittotuli-method).

Also as Fliegende Undertasse already told the Kollaa front was a really target-rich environment in 1939 - 1940. Just to give some idea the Palolammi's book (Kollaa Kestää) mentions also for example in page 44 Vääpeli Pössi who early on shot 41 Soviets with a rifle during a single firefight. He apparently spent 44 rounds for doing it.
So why is there no research available? Well, first there is less focus on the Talvisota compared to the Nazi-German war. The other thing is that sources/data are scarce and probably only available in Finland, which would then mean that this particular researcher who would conduct such a study would be accused of being anti finnish or unpatriotic.
Nazi-German war - when did the Nazis and Germans go to war against another? Must have been some recent event. :lol:

So what are trying to claim is the whole thing is massive Finnish conspiracy and the Finns are scared of speaking their mind or writing about it. Paranoid much? :roll: This year Finland only ranks as number 3 in a world for freedom of press, but has also been ranked as number 1 in some recent years:
https://rsf.org/en/ranking
The real problem here is that people have a fundamental problem of understanding how warfare was conducted.
That I can agree on and the basic reason why they don't understand is that nowadays most people do not have military experience. But Finland being one of the few countries which still maintains universal conscription for male population the situation is bit different in here.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 22 Jul 2017 00:24

As mentioned I do not take your unsubstantiated claim.
Okay lets go:

There are a few problems with this, namely that there is such a thing as combat pace/intensity, the casualties were not linear, but fluctuated, nevertheless this should work if we divide Häyhäs claims over the the entire period (daily to monthly). It does not have to be overly precise in order to show how absurd these claims are.

Claims: 542 Kills (505 confirmed, 37 unconfirmed) in 100 days. Approx. 5 kills a day.

According to Soviet OOB if I recall correctly (correct me if I am wrong), the JR 34 attached to either the 12th or 13th Div of IV AC faced 8th Army, engaging the elements of the 56th, 168th and 128th mot Div. near the Kollaa river.

Duration of possible exposure: 30 November to 12 February 1940, then up to the 13th March.

8th Armies losses for that period, from Grif Sekretnosti Sniat:
average monthly strength: 153,710, forces committed, approx. 70,000
44,887 casualties of which 13,071 irrecoverable
8,100 KIA, 654 commanders, 1,274 NCOs, 6,173 Soldiers (some would be not distributed to categories of service men), the casualties would fall on NCO's and regulars but lets still rely on the total figure.

This means (for a duration of 70-100 days, the other 30 days being fought by parts of the replacement army, the 14th, but the overall daily casualties would not change drastically): This translates into about 80-120 Soviets daily killed respectively and about 2500-3000 killed per month.
If Häyhä shot and killed more than 150-200 soldiers a month, this would mean that one man would have been responsible for 8% of all monthly Soviet KIA of an entire Army, the rest would fall on 29,999 men :thumbsup: and this in view of the fact that artillery formed more than 50% of an armies firepower in the Talvisota (more than 80% in the Nazi-Soviet war), leaving only 1800-2000 KIA to all other weapon types (if you include MGs this figure drops even further, meaning that Häyhä must have been responsible for 17% of all KIA and killed 1% of an entire Army 8O ).

also:
he is reported as having killed 505 men during the 1939–40 Winter War, the highest recorded number of confirmed sniper kills in any major war.[2][3] However, Antti Rantama (Häyhä's unit military chaplain), credited 259 confirmed sniper kills were made by Simo Häyhä during the Winter War.[4] Häyhä wrote in his diary, found in 2017, that he killed over 500 Soviet soldiers.[5]
This leaves his diary as the only "evidence" in this story. There are two explanations: Either the 259 are the actual figure distributed over the entire war (rifle and SMG included, 80 kills per month which is already very optimistic) or his entire unit added their "claims" on top of his value.
his year Finland only ranks as number 3 in a world for freedom of press, but has also been ranked as number 1 in some recent years:
Germany ranks way too high for the "freedom" it actually claims to have, which is quite meaningless in the face of Nazi German aggression more than 70 years ago.
In times of war every country is administered in a similar fashion. The military is not the press.
Nazi-German war - when did the Nazis and Germans go to war against another? Must have been some recent event
Focusing on a posters typos is a sign of one's own insecurity.
leave it completely to you.
Hetzenauer:
His longest confirmed kill was reported at 1,100 meters (1,200 yards).
Another example of a "trustworthy" claim, but by your definition it is considered a fact.
most that I have written is common knowledge among military history afficianados in here and the rest is my personal observations based on personal experience
So you participated in the Winter War, interesting.
You accept those as facts, without questioning any written word? For you information, military studies reveal how every single unit operated and how much casualties each individual or weapon type could have inflicted. There are patterns and common laws. I rather have the feeling that you want to believe it, in the face of the evidence above his story seems very "modified" to say the least. It is the internet which is filled with those romaticized stories, otherwise feel free to elaborate.
made his own ammo from components available.
Yes that must have been overly accurate. Compare: During the Nazi-Soviet war German snipers used 198g FMJBT sS, schweres Spitzgeschoss with a G1 ballistic coefficient of .594, Vo= 760 m/s, to my understanding Nagant-long rifles used a 147 gr Full metal jacket with a coefficient of .405.
They relied on Zeiss/Dialytan/Hensoldt scopes, argon purged and coated, I doubt Finland could afford such equipment, there seems to be a flexible definition of marksmanship and sniping I guess.
example in page 44 Vääpeli Pössi who early on shot 41 Soviets with a rifle during a single firefight. He apparently spent 44 rounds for doing it.
Yes, in a stressful situation. In which movie was that? Anecdotal evidence.
So what are trying to claim is the whole thing is massive Finnish conspiracy and the Finns are scared of speaking their mind or writing about it. Paranoid much
Motivation and Inspiration can be hell of a weapon. Emperor Constantine used the cross as a morale booster during the battle of the Milvian bridge.
Zaitsev, Pavlichenko, Allenberger, Wittmann - Spartans. This falls under the same category.

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JTV
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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 22 Jul 2017 09:08

Stiltzkin wrote: According to Soviet OOB if I recall correctly (correct me if I am wrong), the JR 34 attached to either the 12th or 13th Div of IV AC faced 8th Army, engaging the elements of the 56th, 168th and 128th mot Div. near the Kollaa river.
Ok - I correct you. Infantry Regiment 34 (JR 34) belonged to 12th Division. Early on JR 34, 1st Artillery Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 12 and Armored Train 1 were the only Finnish units in Kollaa. First facing them was only Soviet 56th Division, but after its attacks failed in 7th - 9th of December also 184th Division was transferred to the area. By end of the war what remained of Finnish JR 34 had been reformed as Combat Group Räiskä (later renamed as Combat Group Hai), also Infantry Regiment 35 was there and Infantry Regiment 69 (from 23rd Division - rest of which went to Carelian Isthmus) had been transferred to Kollaa in February. At the same period the Soviets had gathered no less than six divisions in Kollaa (orders about this issued by STAVKA in 12th of February) and had brought in replacements that replaced all manpower losses in existing units (in some units the replacements reached to level above the actual official strength of such units - with for example 56th Division ending up for a moment having manpower strength of 17,202 men), these units were 56th Division, 75th Division, 87th Division, 164th Division, 24th Motorized Cavalry Division (originally brought in for 2nd stage of offensive that started 2nd of March) and 128th Motorized Division (belonging to 14th Army Corps it was supposed to attack village of Loimola that was right behind Kollaa front from the south-east/south). All six Soviet divisions took part in combat by end of the war. With them the Soviets launched offensives in February and March, widening the front and trying to get into Finnish flanks but failed to make any real progress.

Finnish artillery units in Kollaa were:
- 1st Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 12 (6 x 76 K/02 field gun + 3 x 122 H/10 howitzer)
- 3rd Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 12 (minus its 3rd artillery battery, the unit arrived to Kollaa 17th of December) (6 x 76 K/02 field gun)
- 6th Artillery Battery of Field Artillery Regiment 13 (3 x 122 H/09 howitzer)
- two old 90 K/77 guns brought to Kollaa in March, partly due to the fact that those artillery units listed above had basically run out of ammo already by February and mortar ammunition situation was not really much better either.
For comparison in 1st of March the Soviet units in Kollaa front had in their disposal 806 guns. Educated guess - Finnish artillery fire may have caused maybe 10% of Soviet losses at Kollaa.

Simo served in 6th company (part of 2nd Battalion) of JR 34.

Also how much of Soviet irrevocable losses were actually MIA lost in snow-covered forests? It seems you need to go back to the drawing board for your calculations...
Focusing on a posters typos is a sign of one's own insecurity.
Why so serious? Cannot take a joke?
You accept those as facts, without questioning any written word? For you information, military studies reveal how every single unit operated and how much casualties each individual or weapon type could have inflicted. There are patterns and common laws. I rather have the feeling that you want to believe it, in the face of the evidence above his story seems very "modified" to say the least. It is the internet which is filled with those romaticized stories, otherwise feel free to elaborate.
After Simo become famous in 1990's there have been multiple studies, books, tv documentaries and even comic book made about him. I have no particular interest of spending several days by going through all those just to provide some random person in internet an exact reference list. The materials are widely available in Finnish - you lacking the language skills to use them fortunately is not my problem.

One of the tv-documentaries (in Finnish):


Comic-book based video (with numerous errors that do no fit to historical events - it seems they took some "artistic license"):


Interview of Simo's company commander (Aarne "Marokon kauhu" Juutilainen) taped for radio broadcast during the war (in Finnish):

Yes that must have been overly accurate. Compare: During the Nazi-Soviet war German snipers used 198g FMJBT sS, schweres Spitzgeschoss with a G1 ballistic coefficient of .594, Vo= 760 m/s, to my understanding Nagant-long rifles used a 147 gr Full metal jacket with a coefficient of .405.They relied on Zeiss/Dialytan/Hensoldt scopes, argon purged and coated, I doubt Finland could afford such equipment, there seems to be a flexible definition of marksmanship and sniping I guess.
Imperial Russia and Soviet Union used ammo with 147gr FMJ bullet designs, the Finns manufactured ammo with the copy of imperial era (m/1907) bullet as bullet S-08/22 (later on known as bullet S-1) early on. By late 1930's S-1 bullet had been replaced by Finnish-developed FMJBT bullet designs that offered better ballistic coefficient and better long range accuracy. Year 1936 Finnish Army standardized as 200-grain D166 FMJBT bullet - mainly due to it suitability for (long-range) indirect machinegun fire. But since Civil Guard rifles such as m/28-30 had thight chambers and had not been designed such a long and thick bullet in mind, they were actually incapable of chambering ammo loaded with D166 unless so-called D-modification that was made to throat section of their cartridge chamber - which did not yet happen during Winter War. Hence the ammunition commonly used with for example m/28-30 rifles at that time consisted mostly of ammo loaded with VPT's 185-grain D46 & D47 FMJBT bullets (introduced circa 1933) and ammo loaded by Sako's with its 101A and 105 FMJBT bullet designs (introduced circa 1930 - 1932) that were in 180 - 188 grain range. These bullet designs proved so successful that D166 is still being used with M/85 sniper rifles while D46 remains higly popular among competitive shooters who shoot .30 caliber rifles.

Ballistic data about D46 bullet: http://www.lapua.com/en/reloading-compo ... ullets/d46
Bullet D47 was in essence D46 equipped with cannelure.

Just adding rifle scope to a rifle does not make it a sniper rifle any more than putting on surplus military uniform make untrained civilian a soldier. By military definition sniper rifle is a rifle used by a military sniper and military sniper is a military specialist trained for that job.
Yes, in a stressful situation. In which movie was that? Anecdotal evidence.
I just provided you name of the book and page number from a book written by an officer who was there and published in late 1940. Unfortunately no movie has been ever made about battles of Kollaa. Can you at least make an effort - this is getting boring...

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 22 Jul 2017 12:25

JTV wrote: What I remember Häyhä did most of his sniping from 300 - 400 meters. It has been established that he was truly 1st rate shooter and apparently did exceedingly well in pre-war shooting competitions, but what were his chances of hitting his (Soviet) targets from that range?
According to Häyhä's Civil Guard service records, he wasn't awarded with any of the marksmanship badges (ampumamerkki).
JTV wrote: What you apparently did not know or failed to grasp is that pre-war Simo Häyhä was member Civil Guard and one of the fairly small number of its guardsmen that received sniper training before the war. Also that range-based system of yours is not a standard of any sort - is it your own invention or does some army actually use such an artificial system?
The only formal sniper training Häyhä received was a Finnish Defence Forces course held at Utti military base between 14 July and 2 August 1938 (Jalkaväen kertausharjoitusjoukot, tähtäys- ja tarkka-ampujaryhmä). I haven't been able to find the criteria based on which the students were selected for the course.
JTV wrote: Yes - Simo was probably an anomaly when it comes to snipers, but do anomalies happen - the answer to that is yes. And he was not an only one. Ever heard of Viljam Pylkäs - in a battle fought at Perkjärvi in August of 1942 he personally shot 83 Soviets with Suomi m/31 in a single firefight (in case you are wondering the bodies were counted on the battlefield later on). I also have somewhere on hard drive (found it from SA-kuva photo archive) a photo of Finnish SMG-gunner who in summer of 1941 killed 12 Soviets who were apparently trying to do bayonet charge on him with a single (probably from 71-round drum) long burst (presumably with niittotuli-method).
Pylkäs' Iron Cross award document credits him only with fifteen kills. See Viljam Pylkäs' kills on April 12th 1942.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Stiltzkin » 22 Jul 2017 16:29

Finnish artillery units in Kollaa were:
- 1st Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 12 (6 x 76 K/02 field gun + 3 x 122 H/10 howitzer)
- 3rd Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 12 (minus its 3rd artillery battery, the unit arrived to Kollaa 17th of December) (6 x 76 K/02 field gun)
- 6th Artillery Battery of Field Artillery Regiment 13 (3 x 122 H/09 howitzer)
That is substantial firepower in this sector, these guns were responsible for the killing.
Also how much of Soviet irrevocable losses were actually MIA lost in snow-covered forests? It seems you need to go back to the drawing board for your calculations...
MIA are irrelevant to the discussion because those are claimed "kills"- kills Häyhä and his units supposedly "witnessed". A majority of MIA are going to be prisoners.
Including MIA rates does not improve the statistics much, the causes varied widely, i.e. 100% of them would not have perished due to riflefire.
4971 MIA +8100 KIA 13071 irrecoverable, subtracting artillery/MGs/others based on firepower, ammo consumption and lethality, we would land at 11-13% of irrecoverable losses inflicted by one man, which is quite frankly ridiculous (this could qualify as a Chuck Norris joke).
The materials are widely available in Finnish - you lacking the language skills to use them fortunately is not my problem.
Relying solely on the information of one side only gives you half the picture.
He became famous at a later point because Finland would not dare to boast about such topics in the presence and existence of the Soviet Union and no there was never a thorough and serious analysis on this topic. E.g. Valtonen analyzed LW and VVS claims, yet he did not dare to dig deeper into Finnish claims because he did not want to enrage his own kind.
However ultimately such arguments matter little in the face of evidence there is, namely Soviet casualty reports. Häyhä is considered a national hero, there is nothing else to say, self explanatory.
Comic-book based video
Yes, comic books are indeed a reliable source and relevant to an analytical discussion. This would be an interesting topic for political sciences, propaganda in the Winter War.
I just provided you name of the book and page number from a book written by an officer who was there and published in late 1940. Unfortunately no movie has been ever made about battles of Kollaa. Can you at least make an effort - this is getting boring...
That is not the issue. The problem is their uselessness in order to confirm the claims.

JR 34 sustained 56% losses before receiving substantial reinforcements, which leads me to the question: How do you keep track of your K/D ratio in the face of death?

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Nautilus » 25 Dec 2018 23:57

JTV wrote: What I remember Häyhä did most of his sniping from 300 - 400 meters. It has been established that he was truly 1st rate shooter and apparently did exceedingly well in pre-war shooting competitions, but what were his chances of hitting his (Soviet) targets from that range?
By Simo Häyhä's own statements in 1990s interviews:

- His rifle sights had been calibrated for 150 meters;
- Checked as often as possible the calibration behind frontlines by shooting the top of a small tree at a measured distance;
- Shooting was done usually at short or very short ranges (for the frontline), the ranges where a hunter shoots his game. After patiently sneaking inch by inch as close as possible and slinking into position. Not at 400m, not even 300 or 200;
- Longest shot ever had been at 400-450m, a lucky shot on a Soviet who raised himself;
- Most of his sure hits were at ranges shorter than 150m;
- The day he got shot in the jaw, moving Soviets were approaching the Finns and fired from as close as possible, spitting range, 50-100m;
- Contrary to the popular legend, he did not shoot back the man who hit him. Dropped instantly to the ground, like hit by lightning. The legend is based on a different incident, weeks prior, when he caught the glint of a scope lens in the Sun and shot the man.

1930s rifle scopes were definitely not in the same ballpark as modern optics.

They froze easily - there was no specialized waterproof coating on the lenses. Magnification was 2x or 4x, rarely and only for the most expensive German scopes was 6x. Lenses were tiny 20mm diameter, focal length was short. Finnish arsenal in 1939 held a small number of Busch Visar 4.5x, Zeiss 2.25x, Busch 3x and Zeiss 1-4x scopes, all 1920s designs.

Affordable Nikon, Weaver or Bushnell scopes of modern age are 40-56mm in diameter, 3-9x magnification, waterproof coated. A modern shooter with same K98 or M28/30 rifle, which are still in use for hunting, but with modern scope, may do things Zaitsev or Hetzenauer only dreamed of. After a few hundreds of rounds spent in training. Usually modern people don't because they do not have to - they train to hit a fox, badger or raccoon-dog sized target at 150m, not a man sized target at 500m. It's possible, but nowadays it's a matter of fun, not survival. Sniping at extreme ranges is done with super-specialized $5000 scopes and specifically-loaded ammo, something neither Finland nor the USSR could afford in 1940.

So the logical option for a Winter War Finn was to avoid the use of rare, expensive and freezing-prone optics and rely on his ability to sneak undetected to the close proximity of the enemy to deliver the killing shot.

During the first (1978) "Simo Häyhän Kilpailu" competition, The Man himself, then aged 73 with faltering eyesight, demonstrated the shooting techniques on iron sights, with his "honorary rifle" which he fired until his death. The original had been lost on the battlefield the day he was shot.

1. Saucer-sized target at 175m, 1 shot out of 3 - hit from the first;
2. Standing-man sized target at 375m, rifle supported on a stump, 1 shot out of 3 - hit;
3. Standing-man sized target at 370m, rifle supported on a tree branch, 1 shot out of 3 - hit;
4. Standing-man sized target at 300m, prone, rifle supported on a log, 1 shot out of 3 - hit;
5. Standing-man sized target at 400m, foxhole, rifle supported on ground, 1 shot out of 3 - hit;
6. Standing-man sized target at 490m, standing in foxhole, rifle supported on earthmound, 1 shot out of 3 - hit

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