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  #11  
Old 2nd March 2005, 13:42
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Before the non-aggression pact the Soviets were trying to get together an anti-Nazi block, they did not succeed with the Anglo-French. The Soviets were always pragmatic...
...and tended to a world's revolution. Otherwise is it pragmatism to join the enemy? Weird to say the least but I think discussing virtues of pre-war policy leading to Ribbentrop-Molotv Pact are both too complicated and way off-topic to be discussed here.

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But now I've joined a debate that I wish to avoid on this forum.
So as moderator, if this discussion goes towards the political it will be locked.
Why, it may be just moved to off topic.

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I tried to use a neutral term for Germany and SU relationship after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, bacause I would like to keep this thread focused on history to airwar.
Here is the text of Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, so anyone can asses it. Have in mind that it was signed on 23 August 1939 and on 1 September the war started. I think no further discussion is necessary.
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1939pact.html

Anyone have the full text of the treaty of 28 September 1939 handy?

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Did the Soviets attain their strategic goals (other than complete occupation of Finland)?
If the goal was to gain control over Finland and thus to open way to control the Swedish iron ore, then no. Actually Soviets gained nothing on the campaign but anger of the free world. Claim that they secured water ways to Leningrad harbour is only an excuse as most of the trade was through land and the Soviet fleet was quite limited anyway.

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*what I know is from the Finnish and Western side.
A warning must be expressed here, that most of works showing the campaign from the Soviet point of view is based on Soviet propaganda materiels and falsed documents. The actual documents are only gradually appearing.
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  #12  
Old 2nd March 2005, 13:53
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Juha Juha is offline
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Hello
I happened to be a rather cynical person but my point is that to many Finns the Winter War was really a question of life and death. It's maybe difficult to understand nowadays but probably the destiny would have harsh to many Finns if Finns had been really defeated, same as to the Balts and to those Polish officers who fell to the hands of the Red Army in 39. They were not so priviledged than we, who can argue on nyances.

I'd like to answer to Your questions but for a proper answer I'd need time to think it out and some rereading and sorry, I don't have now that time.

Sorry about the cynical reply but Your post wasn't so far away from a statement to a Dutch Jew like "Why it was so important that Your granpa got out of Holland in last minute in 40".

Juha
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  #13  
Old 2nd March 2005, 13:56
Kari Lumppio Kari Lumppio is offline
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Hello!

Ruy wrote: "Did the Soviets attain their strategic goals (other than complete occupation of Finland)? "

Ruy. It seems no-one knows what the real Soviet strategic goals were in Finland during Winter War. Not very distant past Winter War was officially not even a war - just a border clash.

For Soviet Union Finland was a "problem" not per se but because it was seen as a corridor for an invader and dangerously near Leningrad. It looks like Stalin's Soviet Union tried to solve the "Finnish problem" simply by taking the full control of the area. It is nyances if this was to be military, political or economical control or mix of some or all.

What happened after Winter War? Finland searched for support from Germany. Germany was the only place to go after fall of France and occupation of Denmark and Norway which blocked away even the faintest hope of help from UK. The other direction fo help of course would have been East...

So by Summer 1941 we have Finland to join in the German war against Soviet Union. Exactly what was supposed to be prevented by Winter War and related politics.


About numerical superiority in Winter War. Like it is said in battle one Finn is worth of ten Russians. Problem was the eleventh one. Does someone on this forum really think that Finland fought for victory during Winter War!? Christ sake, the fight was for SURVIVAL.

Enough said,
Kari
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  #14  
Old 2nd March 2005, 21:09
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Juha Juha is offline
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One clarification, when I wrote that "I don't think that the airwar was essential" I meant that even if the both airforces had been grounded the endresult would have been the same. In other way, the actions of the FAF and the Finnish AA hindered VVS to the extent that its contribution wasn't crucial. It could not bomb the Finns to submission and could not cut Finnísh Field Army's raillinks of to rear. A part of the credit for the latter achievement must go to railroad repair gangs. FAF could also easy a little bit the pressure on the Field Army by hindering to certain extent the straffing and the use of fire control a/c. Also the FAF recon flights were important and the FAF bombing attacks had some nuissance value. And the straffing and bombing attacks against Red Army troops crossing the Bay of Viipuri/Vyborg had probably more than nuissance value, but they didn't stop the crossing.

Juha
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  #15  
Old 3rd March 2005, 20:36
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To Ruy, some observations on Winter War and VVS

This from memory and based almost entirely to Finnish sources.

Fighters.
Generally Soviet had better fighters, I-16 and I-153. The latter and the newer I-16s had good rate on climb and had good power to weight ratio for their days (1000hp/2000kg). Both also could turn very quickly. In both pilot had back armour which was lacking in Finnish fighters. The main Finnish fighter was Fokker D.XXI which main asset against newer Soviet fighters was its sturdy construction. If there was enough altitude Fokker D.XXI could break away from a tight spot by diving. Armament of all these 3 fighters was 4 * 7,62mm mgs. Finnish fighter pilots tended to think that I-153 was their most dangerous enemy and thought that it was clearly better than Gloster Gladiator Mk II, which Finns got during the war from UK. D.XXI had tendency to tip stall and also I-16 had tendency to flick out from tight turn. The other fighter of FAF at the beginning of war was Bristol Bulldog, but it was hopelessly outdated. In few days Finns found out that there was no use to it near frontline and moved them to SW Finland for interceptor work, but Soviet bombers were too fast for it.

At the beginning of the war Soviets tried to fight in tight vics of three fighters and these even tried to open fire simultaneusly. Before the war Soviets had studied this much, for example hit patterns of this vic fire. But they learned rather quickly that this way of fighting didn't work well in fighter combat. When they found out that lonely bomber formations were vulnerable to fighter attacks they began to sent fighters to escort them. The possibility to use Estonian airbases and at least some use of drop tanks meant that Soviet fighters could operate much deeper inland than Finns were predicted and that was a nasty shock to Finns and made the life of Finnish fighter pilots much harder.

Bombers
Soviet bombers were fast but SB was very vulnerable when catch. DB-3 on other hand was decently protected. I think that Soviet bombers lacked well thought operational plan. If one looks where Sovietsdropped their bombs one sees that railroad stations and marshalling yards got good beating but surprising amount of bombing hit around the the country rather haphazardly. The logic of this is hard to gauge. Maybe Soviets tried to bomb Finns to submission, maybe their intelligence was poor or maybe part of the bombers simply got lost and bombed just any concentration of buildings. But one must understand that it was easy to get lost over a snowcovered, heavily wooded rather agrarian country in often poor winter weather. BTW many Soviets had more experience in poor weather flying because before the war Finns had rather strick flight safety standards. Bombers also supported Soviet land attacks but because Soviet had so powerful artillery I think that this didn't have a great influence to the land battle. I think that the lack of concentration diminished the effects of Soviet bombing.

What the Soviet bombers also lacked was the ability to hit pinpoint targets, they didn't succeed to drop any of the strategic bridges in Finland in spite of many attempts. But bridges were notariously difficult targets before the time of guided munitions. In fact the first instances when somebody destroyed an important bridge by bombing which now come in my mind happened in 1941 and on both times the bombers were Soviet ones. I think that during the Western Campaign all the important destroyed bridges were dropped by Dutch/Belgian/French combat engineers and as an attacker without very good bridging equipment the Germans were not eager to destroy bridges. Of course by 1944 Western AFs had became rather good in bridge bursting but so were also some Soviet units.

Also the inability to hit pinpoint targets is shown what happened to two Finnish coastal batteries, Mantsi and Järisevä. Both of these were subjected to much bombing and counter-battery fire but were not silenced even if they were two gun (120mm cannon) open pit structures, if I remember correcty still in WWI style side by side layout and without any meaningfull AA defence. IIRC Mantsi, which very early fell far behind Soviet rear and was therefore completely on its own, had only one or two 7,62mm AAmgs but even after numerous bombing attacks it stayed in action to the end of war and harased Soviet supply traffic along the coastal road on the NE shore of Lake Ladoga. It suffered some damage but I cannot remember how much of that was caused by bombing and how much by counter battery fire. Järisevä on the other hand situated in Carelia Istmus near the eastern end of Finnish Mannerheim Line, which was the main line of defence of the Finnish Field Army. One important function, other than its own firepower, of Järisevä was to mask nearby much more powerful (4*152mm cannon) Kaarnajoki battery, which remained unknown to Soviets to the end of the war. Even if subjected to heavy bombing and much counterbattery fire also Järiseva, even if rather badly damaged, stayed in action to end of the war.

I haven't yet have time to read Geust & Petrov book but IIRC the VVS-KBF main role was, as was natural for naval aviation, to stop/hinder Finland's maritime connections to west and so it bombed Finnish ports and maybe made attacks against Finnish shipping. It also made some minig but successes were not great but at least the shipping lane to one harbour was blocked for a few days before an icebreaker openned a new route. At least one icebreaker got a bad hit in bow with heavy loss of life in Kotka? harbour, but I don't know was the bomber from VVS-KBF. Probably the idea was also to force Finns to disperse their meager air defence assets to larger area and away from the main SE front.

In North of Lake Ladoga Finnish forced surrounded many Soviet units and destroyed most of those pockets even if they had very meager artillery assets there. Soviet tried airsupply some of the pockets using also big TB-3s in this work and this way of supply must have help some of those pockets to held out until the end of the war, but as I said, most of the pockets fell and much of the air-dropped supply fell outside the pockets and to Finnish hand and because both sides used same calibre ammo and Finns made much use of captured weaponry; Finns could use all those supplies.

All in all Soviet bombers achieved much havoc, but much of it was in secondary places and so they didn't have a decisive impact.

HTH
Juha
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  #16  
Old 3rd March 2005, 21:05
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Yes, the I-153 and I-16 have often been underestimated.
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  #17  
Old 10th March 2005, 17:12
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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I just found this, allegedly from "Jatkosodan Historia", vol. 6. Borgå 1994:

Claimed shot down by Finnish fighters during the Winter War:

Bombers: 154
Fighters: 42
Reconnaissance: 11

Claimed shot down by Finnish AAA during the Winter War:

314 Soviet aircraft.

Finnish AF losses during the Winter War:

74 aircraft destroyed, 71 damaged.
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  #18  
Old 10th March 2005, 19:30
Kari Lumppio Kari Lumppio is offline
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Hej!


Christer wrote:

"Finnish AF losses during the Winter War:
74 aircraft destroyed, 71 damaged."

This if for all causes, not combat losses.

If you want detailed data, try finding Keskinen et al "Ilmavoimat talvisodassa". It does have all the data you need. Also English Summary which more or less is the whole Finnish text translated.

MvH
Kari
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  #19  
Old 10th March 2005, 21:32
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Hello
some pieces of info gathered from lectures during last 5 years.
FAF war losses appr 40 (Geust 14.4.04), 45 (Lt. Col. and licentiate Martti Peltonen 9.2.00)
Finnish AA claims 404 (plus 376 damaged), of which AA arm 314, army's AA troops 49 and Naval AA 41. (Col. and inspection general of AA artillery (ret.) Ahti Lappi 19.4.00)

Juha
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