Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

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

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 26 Nov 2014 21:32

Exactly , the Finns worked with what they had, to the best of any item they had.

Being part Fin myself :), I can only go so far about that kinda stuff, given the constraints of this forum.
.

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 26 Nov 2014 22:08

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Being part Fin myself :)
Very nice,
welcome to the pack :wink:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... it#p367370

Regards, Juha
Last edited by Juha Tompuri on 26 Nov 2014 22:09, edited 1 time in total.
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durb
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Re: Winter War: Finns vs. Soviet in air combat

Post by durb » 26 Nov 2014 23:52

Regarding the equipment of Finnish Air Force, at the forum is also this thread: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9&t=209396

One of the often discussed things is that was Fokker D 21 a decent fighter by Winter War standards? It was quite good against enemy bombers and to my knowledge Fokker D 21 pilots destroyed more than 100 Soviet bombers. However fighting against nimble Polikarpov fighters was difficult as Fokker was a stiff plane - what I have read the memoirs of Finnish pilots they considered both I-16 and I-153 to be better fighter planes (more speed, nimbler, better rate of climb). The technical handicaps were compensated by two factors: 1) avoiding dogfights and concentrating in bombers + 2) better tactics based on flying in flexible pairs and formations based on them (quite like Germans) - Soviets had more nimble planes, but they suffered from old-fashioned tactics by flying in stiff three plane "vics".

When Gladiators came, I have read that at first pilots liked them more than Fokkers. Gladiator was as nimble as Soviet Polikarpovs and it was thought that Gladiator would match them well. However Gladiator was slower and had less armour (not self-sealing tanks etc.) than Polikarpov fighters, so it did not turn out so well as expected. I do not remember how it was with Fokker D 21 - did it have self-sealing tanks and some armour?

The "Finnish proved stifness" of Fokker D XXI is in contrast with the Dutch views - the wiki based on Dutch sources claims that Fokker D 21 was good in dogfights against Bf 109/Bf 110 and could dive well behind Ju 87. Wiki gives quite exaggerated claims on Fokker D 21 like that its top speed would have been 460 kph and cruising speed 429 kph. In Finnish sources the top speed of Fokker D 21 is 418 kph - less than the top speed of I-16 and I-153. Still Fokker D 21 was probably the best Finnish fighter in Winter War when one considers overall combat results. Moranes and Fiats were more modern, but they came late and their technical maintenance was not as easy as with Fokkers.

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

Post by John Hilly » 27 Nov 2014 14:33

FAF made a tactical error in deplying Moranes at first to Säkylä Air-Field. It was too far from Turku, so Moranes were too late to pursuit Soviet bombers.
Later they were partly re-deplyed to Turku itself and to Utti for defending Kotka and Kouvola, and to Hollola to defend Lahti.

The Morane squadron - LLv 28 - took part in the Winter War air war actions with 288 combat missions, of which 260 were intercepts, 8 reconnaissance flights and 20 ground attack missions. Moranes had air battles 28 times in the 22-day period, reaching 14 victories and losing one plane shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentolaivue_28

With best, J-P :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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

Post by durb » 27 Nov 2014 21:41

By the air victory claims we can see that Fokker D XXI was the workhorse of Finnish Air Force (FAF) during Winter War:

Fokker D XXI, 131 confirmed air victory claims, air combat losses 8
Gloster Gladiator, 37 confirmed air victory claims, air combat losses 14
Morane Saulnier 406, 14 confirmed air victory claims, no air combat losses (one lost to AA fire)
Fiat G 50, 13 confirmed air victory claims, air combat losses 1
Bristol Bulldog, 6 confirmed air victory claims, air combat losses 1
Bristol Blenheim, gunners claimed 6 air victories, air combat losses 7

If something above is wrong, please correct! But by doing it include only confirmed air victories, no probables in tally.

In total Finnish confirmed air victory claims were 207 in Winter War (if I have understood right), some sources mention that Fokker D XXI pilots shot down 151, but this includes probably probables?

Some of the FAF claims are questionable (this happens usually with the claims of any air force). There has been much discussion on Bulldog pilot Uuttu´s claim on I-16 on 1.12.1939 due to its symbolic importance (first air victory claim of FAF). However, Soviet sources do not confirm it and the claim in its own time was listed as probable because no reliable eyewitness records or wrecks were found to confirm Uuttu´s claim. I would say that it is "probable", not first really confirmed and verified air victory of FAF. But just my opinion. Discussion about this: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2938&hilit

I would consider these as first legitimate air victories by Finnish AA and FAF:
30.11.1939 - I-15 bis of 7 IAP shot down by Finnish ground fire
1.12.1939 - SB of 25 SBAP shot down in air combat

The claims of Finnish Blenheim gunners are bit problematic, I could not find confirmation for any of them from Red. Stars, vol. 7 and at least one is clearly too optimistic (no Soviet fighters lost in inconclusive combat between BL and Soviet fighters).

There has been some discussion also if Soviet airplane combat losses were more than actual Finnish claims (FAF 207 + AA 314). SIH publications give 579 ("based on Soviet records") and thus give impression that Finns actually underclaimed. However I´m inclined to believe that Red Stars vol. 7 (Geust) estimates about 400-450 Soviet planes lost in total to Finnish AA + FAF to be more near of truth (see Geust 2011, p. 294) . Pajari in his book Talvisota ilmassa went for about 190 air victories for FAF (Pajari 1971, p. 249) - suggests that about 15-20 confirmed claims were actually not 100 % sure. Although FAF was accurate with the claims, the overclaiming is impossible to eliminate from the air victory records of any air force. I´m inclined to believe that there was some overclaiming rather than underclaiming in FAF and Finnish AA records during Winter War. But probably not much.

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

Post by John Hilly » 28 Nov 2014 14:21

On 30.11.1939 Finnish AAA destroyed one, or two DB-3s according to one source.
FAAA's histories claim only one SB-2 shot down by battery situated in Suomenlinna.

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

Post by Ruotsinsalmi » 28 Nov 2014 16:22

According to the war diary of gunboat Karjala 30.11. one enemy bomber was shot down between 10:56 - 13:20 by Patterimäen it and Sunilan it in Kotka harbour. The sulphate cellulose mill of Sunila Company had by it's own money bought one battery of 40 mm Bofors guns?
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/view.ka?kuid=1569060

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

Post by durb » 28 Nov 2014 18:11

On 30.11.1939 Geust mentions only the I-15bis of 7 IAP (fighter regiment) to have been shot down by ground fire of troops of 6./JR 24. But this is Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA) record only. Baltic Fleet Air Force was also operating vs. Finland.

I do not have in hand the Winter War history of Soviet Baltic Fleet Air Force, but it could well have lost plane (or two) to Finnish AA battery in Suomenlinna. Perhaps the gunboat Karjala´s combat report is also related to Baltic Fleet Air Force aircraft.

The heaviest Soviet air force casualties on 30.11.1939 were caused by the weather. The 5th Detached bomber Aviation Regiment (5 OSBAP) lost four planes in snowstorm when they were going to bomb Kemijärvi. Only one man of the crews of four planes survived. Also one I-153 of 25 IAP was lost in crash landing caused by snowstorm.

The weather was the most deadly AA to Soviet planes on 30.11.1939!

Also in other terms it was not the best day to start a war. Modern research has shown that bombing of civilian targets in Helsinki 30.11.1939 was in fact collateral damage caused by the orientering and sight mistakes of Soviet bomber crews. The targeted area were the ports of Hietalahti and Länsisatama, but the carpet bombing missed the intended targets and hit the civilian targets instead. With lots of foreign reporters in Helsinki this was a great propaganda defeat for Soviets - creating a Winter War version of Guernica. Not a good start for bombing campaign over Finland.

The best parallel of the above are perhaps the Italian bombings of Barcelona during Spanish Civil War. The bombs did fall more than once over civilian population and created an image of terror bombing, although Italians targeted the port area (which was a legitimate military target).

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

Post by John Hilly » 28 Nov 2014 19:46

Here's a link to Winter War bombings - in Finnish, though:
http://www.flightforum.fi/forum/index.p ... 523.5.html

With best, J-P :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 29 Nov 2014 19:03

durb wrote:I would consider these as first legitimate air victories by Finnish AA and FAF:
30.11.1939 - I-15 bis of 7 IAP shot down by Finnish ground fire
1.12.1939 - SB of 25 SBAP shot down in air combat
Juha Tompuri wrote:30th November 1939 around 0930 hours (private ?) Leimo Purola from JR24 shot down a low flying Soviet I-15 fighter, belonging to 7th IAP, with his (LS-26?) LMG at Sakkola.
This was the plane I ment and AFAIK the first plane shot down by FDF.
http://forum.axishistory.com/posting.ph ... 9&p=870101

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

Post by Ruotsinsalmi » 29 Nov 2014 20:44

I checked the bombing of Kotka town in 30.11.1939: The time was 13:13 and there was at that time no private AA guns at Sunila mill. A pair of 40 mm Bofors guns came in spring 1941. There must have been an other AA battery situated in Sunila?

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

Post by durb » 29 Nov 2014 21:20

How much there was in total available AA artillery pieces in Finland by the outbreak of war?
I have read (Pajari 1971) all at hand at that time was:

- 28 x heavy artillery guns of 76 mm (+ 10 "useless")
- 30 x medium artillery guns of 40 m
- 49 x 20 mm guns
+ 130 AA machineguns
+ some Navy AA (20 mm + machineguns)
+ some heavy coastal batteries with their cannons modified to serve AA purposes.

Although the numerous AA machineguns were better than nothing, I wonder how useful they were against bombers flying at high altitude and to defend ports like Kotka and Turku? DB and SB bombers flying quite high? I could imagine that AA machineguns were more useful near frontlines to deal with ground attacks of Soviet planes.

Pajari makes a comment that Finnish HQ had suggested in late 1930´s more AA artillery to be bought abroad and it was accepted in the framework of defense budget, but by one important condition. Defence minister Niukkanen was against importing AA guns and to support Finnish industry it was decided to get the license to build AA guns in Finland. They bought a license from Bofors and a Finnish manufacturer was chosen to license-build Bofors guns. However things went slowly, and those guns ordered well before Winter War were delivered in 1943 and all ordered were not yet ready when the Continuation War ended.

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

Post by JTV » 30 Nov 2014 09:34

According Itsenäisen Suomen ilmatorjuntatykit / The Anti-aircraft guns of Independent Finland 1918 - 2000 by Vehviläinen, Lappi and Palokangas page 93 Finnish military had following (light and medium) anti-aircraft weapons in 30th of November 1939:
- 7.62 mm ItKk/31 VKT AA-machinegun: 124
- 20 ItK/23 Oerlikon: 4
- 20 ItK/30 BSW: 30
- 40 ItK/36 B: 30 (Hungarian manufactured)
- 40 ItK/38 B: 23? (Swedish manufactured)

Heavy guns: (based to my calculations):
- 76 K/14 P: 2 (likely included to the guns considered "useless")
- 76 ItK/02/34 OH: 8 (likely included to the guns considered "useless")
- 76 ItK/27 BK: 8
- 76 ItK/28 B: 4
- 76 ItK/29 B: 4
- 76 ItK/34 V: 12
The total number of 76-mm Bofors guns and 76-mm Vickers listed above would be 28 guns.

As mentioned Navy had bunch of dual-use guns suited also for anti-aircraft use, although due to not having mechanical fire control computers (keskuslaskin) their (typically 3T) shooting method was less than effective and rate of fire tended to be notably slower than with purpose-built anti-aircraft guns.

The part about the plan of domestic manufacture is correct, although I would not dump the matter on Minister Niukkainen alone. There had been questions about why the guns were not manufactured locally in Finnish Parlament already with buying of 76 ItK/34 V guns in year 1934. Hence there seem to have a wider political consensus for domestic production. Finland had acquired production licenses for Bofors guns in 1937 and the plan had been for domestic industry to manufacture much of the heavy weapons needed by Finnish military. The whole thing was also obviously directly linked in establishing of State Artillery Factory (Valtion Tykkitehdas / VTT) in year 1938. Tampella was another company closely linked to this, while State Rifle factory (VKT) had already been busy for years in planning with planning and manufacturing of anti-aircraft machineguns. The way I see it, there was nothing wrong in this plan originally, especially considering this plan allowed Finland to built domestic industrial capability for repairing and building heavy weapons, every bit of which was desperately needed during the war. The ultimate problem point of this plan was that the leading politicians failed to predict that there would a war that would start already in year 1939, until it was too late. Hence building the capability was not even complete before the war started, much less had it any real chance to mass-produce the needed weapons. It is also worth noting that export orders for 20 ItK/30 guns from Germany and 40-mm Bofors guns had been made before the war started - but due to changed political situation (Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) the time was running out even for them.

Jarkko

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

Post by durb » 30 Nov 2014 13:50

To my knowlege only one Finnish plane and pilot - Fokker D XXI "FR-77" , Kukkonen KIA - was lost to "friendly fire" of Finnish AA during Winter War. However in memoirs of some pilots they commented that they faced often "friendly fire" and that Finnish AA and ground troops seemed to consider almost always all planes in air to be Soviet ones. IIRC, I have read couple of comments that fortunately for Finnish pilots the "friendly fire" was not too accurate.

However the Finnish AA claims were more (314 - 60 % of all claims) than those claimed by FAF (207), which suggests that the AA fire was dangerous for Soviet air units. And besides planes one should take in account the aircrew losses. I wonder if there has been any afterwar study about the confirmed Finnish AA claims and "probables" - damaged planes may have made it back to home but written off due to flak damage or may have crash-landed in Soviet territory. Some of them can be checked by Soviet loss records. Some "confirmed" cases may turn out to have been too optimistic (damaged plane managed to do it to Soviet territory was repaired for further use).

Soviet AA destroyed at least 7 Finnish planes (Soviet AA claims?) and other undefined enemy activity led to loss of 4 during Winter War. That looks little, but they had of course much less targets than the Finns. The big majority (36 - 74 %) of Finnish aircraft combat losses were caused by Soviet air units.

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

Post by John Hilly » 30 Nov 2014 17:09

From Ilmatorjunta -magazine nr. 3/2009 by Col (ret.) Ahti Lappi:

"Varsinaisten ilmatorjuntajoukkojen käytössä oli kalustoa seuraavasti: 28 kpl 76 mm ilmatorjuntatykkejä, 9 kpl 40 mm tykkejä, 24 kpl 20 mm tykkejä, 10 kpl keskuslaskimia, 18 kpl 2–4 m etäisyydenmittareita, 31 kpl valonheittimiä, 5 kpl kuulosuuntimia ja 125 kpl konekivää­rejä.

Kalustoa oli vähän ja osa siitä oli teknillisesti vanhentunutta, kuten 76 ItK/14 Breda ja 76 ItK/16 Vickers. Raskaita ilmatorjuntatykkejä oli kuutta eri mallia. Ilmatorjuntakonekivääreistä yli puolet oli korvattava tavallisella konekiväärillä (7,62 Maxim/09). Lentojoukoilla oli kenttien suojana vain 20 ilmatorjuntakonekivääriä. Meri­voimilla oli ilmatorjunta-aseita aluksillaan ja rannikkolinnakkeilla (25 kpl 75–76 mm, 29 kpl 40 mm, 30 kpl 7,62 mm)."


"At use of the actual anti-aircraft troops there was following equipment: 28 pcs 76 mm anti-aircraft guns, 9 pcs 40 mm cannons, 24 pieces of 20 mm cannons, 10 pcs fire calculators [?], 18 2-4 m distance meters, 31 pcs searchlights, 5 pcs of sound detectors, and 125 pcs machine guns. Equipment was scarce and some of it was technically out of date, such as 76 ItK / 14 Breda and 76 ItK / 16 Vickers. There were six different models of heavy anti-aircraft guns. From Anti- Aircraft machine guns, more than half had to be replaced by a standard machine gun (7.62 Maxim / 09). Air force's air fields was protected by only 20 anti-aircraft machine guns. Navy had anti-aircraft guns on their vessels and on coastal forts (25 pcs 75-76 mm, 29 x 40 mm, 30 pieces of 7.62 mm). "

Sorry for the bad translation made in a hurry!

With best, J-P :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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