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Aerial warfare in the Winter War

Aerial warfare in the Winter War

The aerial warfare in the Winter War was the aerial aspect of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union from 30

November 1939 to 13 March 1940. While the Soviet air forces greatly outnumbered the Finnish Air Force, the Soviet bombing

campaign was largely ineffective, and Finnish pilots and antiaircraft gunners inflicted significant losses on the Soviets.

Contents

Soviet Air Force Soviet aircraft

Finnish Air Force Finnish aircraft

Finnish aces

See also

References

Citations

Bibliography

Soviet Air Force

Soviet Tupolev SB bombers appears on the sky above Helsinki 30 November 1939.
Soviet Tupolev SB bombers appears on
the sky above Helsinki 30 November
1939.

Soviet Air Forces, (the most common of which was the Tupolev SB-2

bomber, [1] which had shown its effectiveness during the Spanish Civil war.

However the VVS was not as effective as the Soviets might have hoped. The

material damage by bomber attacks was slight, as Finland did not offer many

valuable targets for strategic bombing. Targets were often small village depots

of small value. Finland had only a few modern highways, so the railway

systems were the main target for bombers. The rail tracks were cut thousands

of times but were easily repaired, and the Finns usually had trains running in a

matter of hours. [1] The damage inflicted on Finnish targets was also

diminished by poor navigation technique, and minimal bombing accuracy on

the part of the Soviets [2] and Finnish casualties were reduced by effective air-raid precautions. However the Soviet air force learned

from its early mistakes, and by late February they instituted more effective tactics. [3] One such success was the strike against the

Ruokolahti airfield on 29 February 1940. At noon on that day 40 I-16 and I-153 fighters struck the base, destroying three aircraft on

the ground and another three (twoGladiators and one Fokker) for the loss of only one I-16. [2]

Finland's capital city, Helsinki, was bombed on the first day of the war; a number of buildings were destroyed and some 200 people

were killed. [4] However the city was the target of raids only a few times thereafter. All in all, Finland lost only 5 percent of its total

man-hour production time due to Soviet bombings. Nevertheless, bombings affected thousands of civilians as the Soviets launched

2,075 bombing attacks on 516 localities. [1] Air raids killed 957 Finnish civilians. [5] The city of Viipuri, a major Soviet objective, was

almost leveled by nearly 12,000 bombs. [6] No attacks on

January 1940, Pravda continued to stress that no civilian targets in Finland had been struck, even by accident. [7]

civilian targets were mentioned in Soviet radio or newspaper reports. In

Soviet aircraft

[8]

At the start of hostilities the Soviet Air Force had the following aircraft in service:

Fighters

I-15 : biplane fighter ( Chaika -"seagull") I-15: biplane fighter (Chaika-"seagull")

I-15 bis : (improved version of I-15)I-15 : biplane fighter ( Chaika -"seagull") I-16 monoplane fighter ( Ishak -"donkey"; called

I-16 monoplane fighter ( Ishak -"donkey"; called Siipiorava , " flying squirre l " by I-16 monoplane fighter (Ishak-"donkey"; calledSiipiorava, "flying squirrel" by the Finns)

I-16 bisSiipiorava , " flying squirre l " by the Finns) I-153 biplane fighter (also called the

I-153 biplane fighter (also called the Chaika ; a variant of the I-15) I-153 biplane fighter (also called theChaika; a variant of the I-15)

Bombers

DB-3 twin engined long-range bomber DB-3 twin engined long-range bomber

SB-2 twin engined high-speed bomber Katyusha ( SB-2 twin engined high-speed bomber Katyusha(

SB-2 bisbomber SB-2 twin engined high-speed bomber Katyusha ( TB-3 four-engined heavy bomber - "Catherine")

TB-3 four-engined heavy bomber TB-3 four-engined heavy bomber

- "Catherine")

Reconnaissance

Po-2 multi-purpose biplane ( kukuruznik -"crop-duster") Po-2 multi-purpose biplane (kukuruznik-"crop-duster")

Naval aviation

MBR-2 multi-purpose flying boat MBR-2 multi-purpose flying boat

MBR2 bisNaval aviation MBR-2 multi-purpose flying boat Figures of Soviet losses during the conflict vary from

Figures of Soviet losses during the conflict vary from source to source; One estimate puts the loss at 700-900 aircraft, the majority of

them bombers: [2] Against this Finnish losses were 62 aircraft, with a further 59 damaged beyond repair. [9] Another states Finnish

[10]

aircraft shot down 240 Soviet aircraft, with ant-aircraft fire accounting for 314 to 444 others.

Finnish Air Force

At the beginning of the war, Finland had a very small air force, with only 114

combat airplanes fit for duty. Therefore, Finnish air missions were very limited

and fighter aircraft were mainly used to repel Soviet bombers. Old-fashioned

and few in numbers, Finnish aircraft could not offer support to the Finnish

ground troops. Therefore, the Finnish Air Force adopted the same guerilla

tactics used by Finnish ground forces, dispersing to makeshift airfields often

consisting only of a frozen lake. [11] In spite of aircraft losses throughout the

war, the Finnish Air Force grew by 50 percent by the end of the war. Most new

aircraft shipments arrived during January 1940. [12]

The Finns ordered 18 BritishBristol Blenheim light bombers in 1936
The Finns ordered 18 BritishBristol
Blenheim light bombers in 1936

The Finnish Air Force had also revised its tactics; In air combat, the Finns used the more flexible"finger four" formation (four planes

split into two pairs, one flying low and the other high, with each plane fighting independently of the others, yet supporting its

wingman in combat), which was superior to the Soviet tactic of three fighters flying in a Vic formation. This formation and the credo

of Finnish pilots to always attack, no matter the odds, contributed to the failure of Soviet bombers to inflict substantial damage

against Finnish positions and population centres. [13]

Finnish fighter pilots often dove into Soviet formations that outnumbered them ten or even twenty times, and Soviet bomber

formations became wary of even single Finnish fighters, as they knew the pilot would not let them pass un-noticed. Entire squadrons

could disappear on missions over Finland, and those back at their bases in Estonia could only guess at what had happened. [14] On one

occasion, the Finnish ace Jorma Kalevi Sarvanto encountered a formation of seven DB-3 bombers on 6 January 1940 and shot down

six in just 4 minutes. [2]

Finnish aircraft

At the start of hostilities, the Finnish Air Force had 146 aircraft of all types at its disposal, organized into 12 squadrons. The primary

fighter aircraft were

Bristol Bulldog IVs , which had entered service in 1935, Bristol Bulldog IVs, which had entered service in 1935,

of the more modernFokker D.XXI Fokker D.XXI

older Fokker aircraft of various types; C-10's , C-5's and D-10's ;C-10's, C-5's and D-10's

15

41

65

15

There were also 18 license-built Bristol Blenheim bombers. In 1939, an order had been placed in Italy for 25 Fiat G.50 fighters; two

were being assembled in Sweden when the war broke out.

During the war, a number of aircraft were ordered from abroad: [13]

Gloster Gladiator II biplane fighters from the United Kingdom Gloster Gladiator IIbiplane fighters from theUnited Kingdom

Bristol Blenheim IV bombers from the United Kingdom Bristol Blenheim IVbombers from the United Kingdom

Brewster 239 fighters from the United States Brewster 239 fighters from theUnited States

Gloster Gauntlet trainers from the United Kingdom Gloster Gauntlet trainers from the United Kingdom

Fiat G.50 fighters from Italy Fiat G.50 fighters from Italy

30

12

30

44

22

10

Owing to this reinforcement, the Finnish Air Force had a greater strength at the end of the conflict than at the beginning; however

[2]

they were seldom able to field more than 100 aircraft at any one time against an expanding VVS commitment.

Finnish fighters shot down 240 confirmed Soviet aircraft, against the Finnish loss of 26. A Finnish forward air base often consisted of

only a frozen lake, a windsock, a telephone set and some tents. [15] Air-raid warnings were given by Finnish women organized by the

[1]

Lotta Svärd. Finnish antiaircraft gunners shot down between 314 and 444 Soviet aircraft.

Finnish aces

[9]

The following Finnish pilots became aces (achieving five confirmed victories) during the war

name

confirmed

unconfirmed

13

4

Lt. Tatu Huhanantti

6

4

S/M. Viktor Pyötsiä

7 ½

2

S/M Kelpo Virta

5

1

Lt. Urho Nieminen

5

1

Lt T. Vuorimaa

4

2 ½

Capt. Erkki Olavi Ehrnrooth

7

4

See also

References

Citations

1. Trotter 2002, pp. 187–193

2. Hardesty p. 52

4.

Engle p. 22

5.

Kurenmaa, Pekka; Lentilä, Riitta (2005). "Sodan tappiot".In Leskinen, Jari; Juutilainen, Antti (eds.).Jatkosodan pikkujättiläinen (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 1150–1162.ISBN 951-0-28690-7.

6.

Trotter (2002), pp. 187–188

7.

Tillotson (1993), p. 157

8.

Hardesty pp. 250-1

9.

Engle p. 62

10.

Trotter pp. 187–193

11.

Engle p. 60

12.

Peltonen, Martti (1999). "Ilmasota talvisodassa".In Leskinen, Jari; Juutilainen, Antti (eds.).Talvisodan pikkujättiläinen (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 606–649.ISBN 951-0-23536-9.

13.

14.

Engle p. 58

15.

Engle, Paananen pp. 56–62

Bibliography

Engle, Eloise/ Paananen, Lauri (1973)The Winter War Sidgewick&Jackson ISBN 0 283 97949 6 The Winter War Sidgewick&JacksonISBN 0 283 97949 6

Trotter, William R. (2002) [1991]. The Winter war: The Russo–Finno War of 1939–40 (5th ed.). Trotter, William R. (2002) [1991]. The Winter war: The Russo–Finno War of 1939–40 (5th ed.). New York (Great Britain: London): Workman Publishing Company (Great Britain: Aurum Press).ISBN 1-85410-881-6. "First published in the United States under the title A Frozen Hell: The Russo–Finnish Winter War of 1939–40"

This page was last edited on 15 January 2018, at 16:34(UTC).