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Old 26th April 2020, 14:02
Carl-Fredrik Geust Carl-Fredrik Geust is offline
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Carl-Fredrik Geust
Re: Red Wings in the Winter War 1939-1940

Mirek,
Thank you for your comment, which indicates that I did not phrase my answers exactly enough, why I would like to underline some points:
I am naturally aware that the NKVD Border Guards included an aviation component, but I want to repeat my previous statement:
”I doubt whether the NKVD Border Guards really had any "own" aircraft in the Karelian border regions” (in the Winter War).

Mirek, if you have exact information about NKVD Border Guard aviation units, bases, aircraft and crews in Karelia, please tell me!

I have known Oleg Kiselev for some 20 years, and he is one of 18 Russian colleagues mentioned with gratitude in my foreword, and his assistance has been very welcome. Oleg has ia. pointed out that practically all Soviet AF units north of Lake Ladoga were urgently ordered to drop supplies to the encircled Soviet divisions (”external garrisons” in Soviet terminology), which apparently saved some divisions from total annihilation.

The Winter war conference at the Finnish Embassy in Moscow December 2019, which I mentioned was NOT a aviation history conference, but dealt with the Winter War in general. Thus the military and political history of the Winter War was presented by both Finnish and Russian speakers (only I spoke about AF activities).
- I was very happy to see meet at the conference two of my long term friends and well-known aviation historians: Dmitriy Khazanov (withe several books already translated into English, and whose forthcoming book on the air war in Hungary was already mentioned in this forum) and Marat Khairulin (specialist on air warfare in WW I, whose remarkable three-volume book Russian Aviation Colors 1909-1922 has recently been translated into English).
- The statement ”the Finns teached the Russians how to fight against a superior enemy in an Arctic environment. Without this lesson the outcome of war against Germany 1941-1945 could well have been have been different...” which I mentioned, was duly received and noted by the Finnish conference participants. To my knowledge the Winter war has never before been referred to in this manner by Russian historians at a semi-official occasion.

Some of the lessons learned by the Soviet high commands after the Winter War (see the protocol of the Kremlin conference 14-17 April 1940, published in Russian, English [Stalin and the Soviet-Finnish War 1939-1940; Routledge 2014] and Finnish) include:
- The strong steel-beton bunkers of the Mannerheim-line (which was broken only on 10 February 1940) were thoroughly analyzed, and the experience later utilized when the Soviet KaUR -defence line north of Leningrad was constructed in 1940-1941.
- Subzero-hardy gun oil and other vital substances (both infantry weapons, artillery and aircraft) was urgently developped
- Winter adapted ski- and tent-equipped units were set up
- PPS-Submachine guns (similar to the famous Finnish Suomi-submachine gun) were introduced

- See attached photo of the heavy equipment left by the 44th Division on the Raate-road (on Finland´s narrowest part, east of Oulu) in early January 1940. This Division belonged to the Soviet 9th Army, commanded by Vasili Chuikov (future Stalingrad hero, who however does not mention the Winter War in his memories). The Commander of the 9th Army AF was Pavel Rychagov (fighter ace from Spain, Soviet AF Commander 1940-41, but after the big AF losses 22.6.1941 sentenced to death and executed 28.10.1941). The 44th Division command (Commander A. Vinogradov, Chief of Staff O. Volkov and Chief Political Officer I. Pakhomento) were sentented to death by Lev Mekhlis, one of Stalin´s most feared Political Officers, and executed in front of the troops 11 January 1940.

Some specific Red Air Force lessons learned:
- Adaption of operation capability to arctic environments:
o Introduction of aircraft skis, droppable reserve fuel tanks, heating equipment for aircraft engines etc
o Use of ice bases with narrow, snowy and slippery runways

- See attached photo from Lodeinoye Pole AF base (on River Svir, south of Lake Ladoga) 18 January 1940, when two TB-3 bombers collided on the slippery runway.
- As a result of the plentitude of losses of orientation, Polar aviation veteran Ivan Spirin (in Winter War commanded Aviation Group Spirin in the far North) was ordered to set up an AF navigation school in Monino, gradually expanded to the Soviet AF Academy (BTW I read a lecture at the Monino-Academy during the ”international” WWII Fighter Aces conference in August 2004; I was then the sole ”international” element).
- Rigid three-fighter (”troika”) tactical combat formation were gradually replaced by flexible fighter-pairs as applied by the Finnish AF (see the memoirs of 7 IAP fighter pilot Fedor Shinkarenko)

Finnish Air victory claims in Winter War:
- Finnish AF claimed 207 air victories
- Finnish A-A artillery claimed 314 aircraft shot down.
As the Red Air forces lost some 500 aircraft in combat, the Finnish claims are surprisingly exact (!), which is explained by the fact that almost all air combats took place over Finnish territory, and the aircraft wrecks were thus located by Finnish troops.

My book includes a full list of all Soviet AF personnel losses, so the above mentioned statement can be easily verified.

Mirek,
when you have had time to read my book (text volume some 650.000 letters) I am ready to continue discussing your comments to the presented facts and conclusions.
Carl
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