Tag: Helsinki

NATO Maritime Commander and Frigate Group to visit Helsinki

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1)

Allied Maritime Command Commander, Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, will make an official visit to Finland beginning on 24 August 2017.

The visit will be hosted by the Chief of Finnish Navy, Vice Admiral Veijo Taipalus.

In conjunction with the Commander’s visit, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) will arrive in Helsinki August 25 for a scheduled port visit as part of the group’s deployment in the Baltic Sea. The group will be hosted by Coastal Fleet.

Finland is one of NATO’s most active partners and a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions – it is one of five countries that has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with NATO.

The leadership discussions and port visit are a practical outcome of Finnish partnership with NATO in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The Commander’s visit allows for discussions on Finland’s maritime cooperation with NATO and the port visit provides an opportunity for sailors from the group to work with their Finnish counterparts to exchange information and enhance interoperability.

During the port visit, the SNMG1 command team will meet with local civilian and military leadership in Helsinki. The port visit is also a great opportunity for the sailors to enjoy a break from operations.

SNMG1 is currently composed of the NATO group flagship, Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup, Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown, Portuguese frigate NRP Francisco de Almeida and German tanker FGS Rhön.

Some of the ships will be open and welcome visitors aboard both Saturday 26 August and Sunday 27 August from 13.00 to 16.00. The ships will be at Hernesaari Quay, Helsinki Harbor, Henry Fordin katu 5.

Security measures during open ship

For security reasons, the following is not allowed to be brought on board:

. Large bags, backpacks etc.

. Weapons or dangerous objects

. Cameras, cell phones, tablets, computers etc

All visitors and their baggage may be subject to search before entry.

 

Nordic Defence Cooperation Meeting in Helsinki

The Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Jarmo Lindberg

PRESS RELEASE:

The Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Jarmo Lindberg, and the Director General of the Resource Policy Department of the Finnish Ministry of Defence, Raimo Jyväsjärvi, hosted a defence cooperation meeting in Helsinki on 18 August 2017.

 

 

Major General Petri Hulkko will assume the post of Commander of the Finnish Army

Major General Petri Hulkko will assume the post of Commander of the Finnish Army on the 1st August 2017. The current Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Seppo Toivonen will sign his post over to Major General Hulkko at the Concert and Congress House Mikaeli’s yard in Mikkeli on Monday the 31st July 2017. Lieutenant General Toivonen transfers to the reserve from the 1st August 2017.

Since January 2017, Hulkko has held the post of Chief of Staff of Army Command Finland. Before this, Hulkko has served as among others Deputy Chief of Division of the Eastern Command, Commander of the Utti Jaeger Regiment, Military Advisor at the Ministry of Defence and Chief of Army Operations. He was promoted to the rank of Major General in 2016.

The ceremony will be held in Mikkeli at the Concert and Congress House Mikaeli’s yard at 2.30 p.m. There will be a troop represented from each contingent of the Finnish Army. The public has an opportunity to follow the ceremony at pavement between the Mikaeli and the street Savilahdenkatu.

Major General Petri Hulkko

Source: Maavoimat.

FINNAIR FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO NATIONAL FLAG CARRIER

 

The changing face of FINNAIR: Revell Airbus A320 in 1:144 scale and Eduard’s Junkers Ju-52/m “Sampo”. Photo credit: Rich Reynolds.

On the 12th of September 1923, the charter establishing the ‘Aero Company OY’ (Aero Ltd.) was signed in Helsinki heralding the birth of what would become Finnair, the National carrier of Finland. On the 9th of October the same year, the company was entered into the trade register beginning operations on the 1st November following the first shareholders meeting.

Aero OY was founded by Gustaf Snellman, Fritiof Åhman and Bruno Otto Lucander. Consul Bruno Lucander became the company’s first managing director, bringing with him experience in long-distance air travel gained in his time as General Manager of the company ‘Finland Spedition-Central Ab-Suomen Välityskeskus O/Y’ from 1918. His company had handled the interests of the Estonian airline ‘Aeronaut’ in Finland, when Aeronaut had begun operating flights from Tallinn to Helsinki.

Aero OY Logo 1920

Lieutenant-Colonel Arne Somersalo, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) served as a technical advisor to the board of directors from 1923. The company received 500,000 Marks from the Government upon its founding; this was increased to 1 million Marks on the 12th December. Aero OY carried 269 passengers in its first year.

Aero OY Logo 1923

Late in 1923, the Estonian airline Aeronaut was acquired by the German company Junkers Flugzeugwerke A.G. and a Junkers F.13 went into service on the Helsinki route. The aircraft was a single-engine monoplane, equipped with a closed cabin and seats for four passengers. The crew consisted of a pilot and a mechanic.

Aeronaut had shown that the Junkers F.13 was up to the challenge of operating in the harsh conditions of Northern Europe which convinced Lucander that the aircraft should be the first choice for Aero.

In summer 1923 Lucander concluded an agreement with the Junkers Flugzeugwerke A.G. for the delivery to Aero of one aircraft plus technical help and personnel in exchange for a 50 per cent holding in the Finnish company.

On the 14th of March 1924, Aero took delivery of its first aircraft, a German-registered Junkers F.13 D-335. The Junkers Factory pilot Heinrich Putz flew the aircraft to Helsinki three days later. Its maiden commercial flight was on the 20 March 1924, when it carried 162 kilos of mail from Helsinki to Tallinn.

Aero OY Junkers F.13

Aero was based at Katajanokka, Helsinki where in 1923 the facilities consisted of a small terminal building and one seaplane ramp.
On June 2nd 1924, Aero began operations from Helsinki to Stockholm with the cooperation of the Swedish airline ABA. Operations were conducted with the Junkers fitted with floats because at that time Helsinki and Tallinn had no airfields.

Stockholm offered a rail link to Gothenburg, which offered flight connections to Copenhagen, Oslo and London. Both ABA and Aero operated between Helsinki and Stockholm during the summer. The Helsinki to Stockholm route was not as successful as the Helsinki to Tallinn route which was supported by the Nord-Europa Union of airlines which was supported by the Junkers factory with a connection to Königsberg, which in turn had a rail link to Berlin.

During the summer of 1924, Aero employed its first Finnish pilot, Gunnar Lihr, which brought the total number of employees to seven. The company was keen to interest the Finnish people in aviation giving 833 public demonstration flights in 1925.

Regular flights between Helsinki and Tallinn continued throughout 1925, in May 1926 the Junkers factory’s Nord-Europa Union and the Trans-Europa Union were merged into a single conglomeration of sixteen airlines. The Union of German airlines formed soon after this with the absorption of the German company Aero Lloyd into Deutsche Luft Hansa. Support for Aero OY from Junkers would decline after this merger as the Junkers factory focused its attention on the larger German carriers.

In 1926, Aero purchased a three engined, 9 passenger Junkers G 24 with help from the Government in the form of a state guaranteed loan. The aircraft was bought to Helsinki on the 4th June and put into service on the Stockholm route. The Junkers G 24 was equipped with skis which restricted its operations to the summer months.

In 1927, Aero became a member of IATA (The International Air Transport Association); The company was given the code, “AY”, which stands for Aero Yhtiö which means “company” in Finnish.

Later that year, the company’s Managing Director Bruno Otto Lucander, embarked on Aero’s first around-Finland flight. Several journalists were embarked on the flight taking the first flying tour of the country which went as far north as Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle.

The aim of the tour was to demonstrate to Aero’s board of directors that the commercial domestic routes of the company could be expanded to include the territories to the north.

At this stage Aero was enthusiastic about the possibility of building one or more permanent airports on land. They were however keenly aware that the 3 million population of Finland with its 187,888 lakes, were reluctant to build airstrips on land. As a result Aero remained with its current seaplane operations, opening Turku-Ruissalo air harbour in May 1927 enabling flight traffic to start between Turku and Stockholm.

During June 1928, an Aero Junkers F.13 piloted by Gunnar Lihr took part in the search for the explorer Umberto Nobile’s airship Italia, which had crashed on Spitzbergen after running into a storm on the way back from Nobile’s failed flight to the North Pole. Lihr succeeded in rescuing one of the expedition team, a feat which brought considerable publicity in the world’s press for both Lihr and Aero.

The fortunes of Aero looked set to change when in August 1929 Managing Director Bruno Otto Lucander died suddenly. Gunnar Ståhle, one of the original three directors from 1923, took over. The fortunes of the company looked in doubt as there was talk of a sell-out from Aero’s major stake-holder, Junkers. However, Finnish investors stepped in and saved the company. So at the beginning of the 1930’s Aero became an entirely Finnish operation.

The 1930s began in a spirit of Nordic cooperation. Aero and ABA launched the ‘Scandinavian Air Express’. This was done to market both Aero’s and ABA’s routes between Helsinki and Stockholm and Aero’s Helsinki-Tallinn route. Onward flight connections to major European destinations from Stockholm opened up the European market to Aero. Flights to Copenhagen became available as did an Aero operated route to Amsterdam from Stockholm.

The first major passenger carrying aircraft was purchased by Aero in 1932. This was a Junkers Ju 52/3m on floats. This was a three-engined, low-winged large aircraft seating 14 passengers.

Initially the aircraft was restricted to flying in the summer months only as it was on floats. It was quickly fitted with wheels which would enable the aircraft to fly the economically lucrative Helsinki-Stockholm route. The first Ju 52/3 went into service on 1 July 1932. In the period 1932-42, Aero took delivery of five Ju 52/3m aircraft.

Junkers 52/3m “Kaleva”
Eduard 1:144 Junkers Ju-52/m “Sampo”. Photo credit: Rich Reynolds.

On the 8th September 1935 the dream of the Aero Company’s board of directors would be realised with the opening of Finland’s first civil airport at Turku Artukainen. The opening of Stockholm’s first civil airport at Bromma on the 23rd of May 1936 increased the pressure on Helsinki to open its own international hub. Flights began from Malmi in December 1936, although the airport was not opened officially until May 1938.

Aero’s seaplane fleet would be consigned to history with a last seaplane flight from Helsinki Katajanokka to Stockholm Lindarängen on 15 December 1936. After this, the fleet was completely on wheels, and Aero operated at last from solid ground.

Eduard 1:144 Junkers Ju-52/m transport. Photo credit: Rich Reynolds.

 

Aero expanded its fleet in March 1937 with the purchase of two D.H. 89A Dragon Rapides. The aircraft, a seven passenger, 2 piston-engined bi-plane was purchased with a special purpose in mind; it would take on Finland’s first scheduled domestic service between Helsinki and Viipuri. This service started on the 1st of May 1937. Just two days afterwards the service between Helsinki and Tampere was started. In 1938 the Viipuri route was extended to Imatra and the Tampere route extended to Vaasa. A year later, the northern route was extended as far as Oulu and Kemi.

DH-89A Dragon Rapide

During the 1930s Aero OY consolidated its existing services extending only its Tallinn route via Riga and Kaunas to Berlin. There were however many plans for international services set to coincide with the 1940 Olympic games due to be held in Helsinki.

To realise these plans, two Focke-Wulf FW 200B Condor Aircraft were ordered by Aero in 1938. The FW 200 was a German all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner which resulted from a proposal by Kurt Tank of Focke-Wulf to Dr. Rudolf Stuessel of Deutsche Lufthansa to develop a landplane to carry passengers across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA.

This fitted in with Aero’s plans to develop a transatlantic service in cooperation with other Nordic airlines. The war unfortunately curtailed Aero’s plans for the time being. They never received their Condors as all available aircraft were requisitioned by the Luftwaffe and the Olympic Games due to be held in 1940 in Helsinki never took place.

In 1939 war broke out across Europe. The Russians and Germans invaded Poland; Russia invaded Finland on November 30th 1939 and then Estonia in 1940. The Finns forced the Soviet Union to the negotiating table in March of 1940 ceding up to 10% of its territory in the armistice. The Estonians weren’t so lucky. They were occupied. All available transport aircraft in Finland were requisitioned by the Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force).

Aero’s Dragon Rapides were requisitioned for use by the 4th Supplementary Flying Regiment. The Junkers 52 transports were put to work on the new Vaasa to Stockholm route as it was deemed too dangerous to operate these vulnerable aircraft out of Helsinki. However the Turku-Stockholm route was still flown on an irregular basis.

The Finnish Air Force would be Finland’s first operator of a commercial airliner with a retractable undercarriage, the Douglas DC-2. The DC-2 was an airliner and transport aircraft of U.S. manufacture. It accommodated three crew and 14 passengers. The first DC-2 baptized “Hanssin-Jukka” achieved almost legendary status as a bomber in the Winter War and later as a personnel transport.  Carl Gustaf von Rosen bought the aircraft from KLM and donated it to the Suomen Ilmavoimat. Two additional aircraft were purchased in 1949. The DC-2 was in use until 1955. The Air Force operated three DC-2s from 1940 to 1956.

Douglas DC-2 “Hanssin-Jukka”. Photo credit: Rih Reynolds.

Of the 3,900 passengers carried during the Winter War, 1,500 were children evacuated to Sweden. On one flight, an Aero 14-seat Junkers Ju 52/3m carried 42 passengers, of whom 26 were children.

Aero OY Logo 1940

Between the Winter War and the Continuation War (13th March 1940 to 25th June 1941), Aero resumed flights to Tallinn on the 2nd April 1940 and to Stockholm two days later. The service to Tallinn was severely disrupted when on June 14 while the world’s attention was focused on the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany a day earlier, one of Aero’s Ju 52 transports was shot down by the Soviet Air Force.

Two Soviet bombers downed one of Aero’s Junkers Ju 52/3m fleet “Kaleva” flying from Tallinn to Helsinki carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki and over 120 kilograms of diplomatic mail by two French embassy couriers. A US Foreign Service employee Henry W. Antheil Jr., the French couriers and other passengers were killed in the crash.

On June 17th Estonia fell to the Soviet Union. The occupation was complete by June 21st and Aero’s operations to Tallinn ceased for the duration of the war.

The company instead switched its attention to starting flights to Petsamo in Northern Finland. This service finally began on 2 June 1940. Known as the “Petsamo Express”, it flew passengers from Helsinki to Petsamo via Tampere, Vaasa, Kokkola, Oulu, Kemi, Rovaniemi and Sodankylä in eight and a half hours. In October 1940, Mariehamn was added to the domestic network. The peace between Finland and the Soviet Union would not last.

The Continuation War began on the 22nd of June 1941 and lasted until the 19th September 1944. Throughout this second war between Finland and Soviet Russia, Aero aircraft made a considerable number of transport flights both in Finland and abroad. Despite the war-time conditions, Aero flew to Berlin during 1943 and 1944. Fuel shortages were a problem, but flights to Rovaniemi and Stockholm continued.

During the Continuation War with the Soviet Union, Aero was forced to operate out of Pori on a temporary basis as both Helsinki and Turku airfields had been placed under military control. Aero found once again that its major assets had been requisitioned by the Imavoimat.

When peace finally came Malmi Airfield was placed under the control of the Allied Control Commission (ACC). Aero’s fleet was transferred to Hyvinkää where flights to Stockholm were resumed in January 1945, both direct and via Turku and Mariehamn.

These flights were stopped by order of the ACC. Aero were not able to re-start services until August 1945 and these services were restricted to domestic flights only.

After the war Gunnar Ståhle left his post as managing director of Aero. The board of directors accepted his resignation in December 1945.
Aero was approaching a new era. It was obvious that as long as it remained a private company it would not manage to make the major acquisitions necessary nor cover the rapidly rising operating costs. As a result, the Finnish State acquired a 70% majority holding in the company in 1946. The remaining 30% was held by private companies, the situation remains much the same today.

Gunnar Ståhle was succeeded as Managing Director of Aero first by C.J. Ehrnrooth and then by Uolevi Raade. On 14 June 1947, Lieutenant-General Leonard Grandell was appointed managing director.
Aero’s administration was reorganised. A 12-member Supervisory Board (later increased to 18 members) appointed a six-member Board of Directors, with the Chairman of the Board also serving as the company’s President & CEO.

Aero chose the Douglas DC-3 as its first post war passenger carrying aircraft. The DC-3 was manufactured in vast numbers during World War 2 and hundreds of these were available from US surplus stocks in Europe. Aero began operating the type in May 1947 and began using the name Finnish Airlines on all of its aircraft. The first stewardesses were recruited to fly on the DC-3’s; initially they only flew on the Helsinki-Kemi and Helsinki-Kuopio routes.

Aero DC-3 “Karjula”.

The introduction of the DC-3 foresaw the phasing out of Aero’s older assets and led to standardisation of the fleet: in 1947, the last Rapide was sold and the DC-2s were withdrawn from service. Two Ju-52/3m aircraft remained in service until 1949, when they were also retired.

In 1949, Aero became a member of the new IATA (International Air Transport Association), the airline code AY, was re-instated after being withdrawn during the war and is still in use by Finnair today. In 1951 Aero flew from Helsinki to nine domestic and four foreign destinations.

Helsinki finally got it’s Olympic Games in 1952. It was a notable year for Aero with passenger numbers topping 100,000 for the first time. Helsinki Airport was opened in June near Seutula. The official opening took place on 10 July, and by October all flights had been transferred from Malmi to the new airport.

Although Aero converted its original 21-seat DC-3s to carry 26 passengers, aircraft of this type had had their day. In September 1951, Aero ordered three twin-engine Convair 340s from the USA.

Convair 340 Finnish Airlines

The Convair had a modern fuselage, engines and systems. It also featured a pressurised cabin. The aircraft was put into service on 19 April 1953 on the Helsinki-Copenhagen-Dusseldorf route. Initially it carried 44 passengers; the number was later increased to 52. In the period 1953-1964, Aero purchased a total of eight Convair 340s. The Convairs meant that Aero was able to begin scheduled flights between Helsinki and Moscow becoming the first western airline to operate this service.

In spring 1953, Aero started to use the name Finnair in its marketing. This became the company’s official name on 25 June 1968.
Finnair, the flag carrier of Finland was born.

Model Images

The aircraft depicted are the Revell 1:144 Airbus A320 and the Eduard 1:144 Junkers Ju-52/m transport. Both kits were completed by the editor in July 2017.

References

  • Finnair Group, History, 03/11/2010. http://www.finnairgroup.com
  • Heikki Immeli & Kari Juntunen: “Piletti Pietariin” (Ticket to St. Petersburg).
  • The centenary jubilee publication of the annually in multiple volumes published “Public communications in Finland”. Finnish Tourist Association, 1991.
  • “World Airline Directory.” Flight International. 24–30 March 1993.
Aero OY/Finnair Logo 1951

Article by: Rich Reynolds, The Baltic Post.

Mauno Koivisto, Finland’s last Cold War president – obituary

Mauno Koivisto, who has died aged 93, was Finland’s last Cold War president, serving two six-year terms from 1982 to 1994 and cautiously steering the country out of isolation and into the European Union.

Popularly known as “Manu”, he was once described in the New York Times as a “self-made man who regularly wears darned socks and who conveys the impression of sturdy self-reliance, without the slightest vestige of pomp or show”. He was a great favourite with Finnish voters.

“Finlandisation” was the derogatory term used in the West to describe the country’s Cold War policy of remaining neutral but in reality being highly compliant with the Soviet Union. As a veteran of both the bitter 1939-40 Winter War against the Soviets and the so-called Continuation War of 1941-44, Koivisto understood as well as any the need for Finland to establish a modus vivendi with her huge, volatile neighbour.

He had had his knuckles rapped in 1968 when, as Finland’s prime minister under the long presidency of Urho Kekkonen, his government had condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, earning a thinly veiled piece of sabre-rattling in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia calling for the establishment of Soviet military bases in Finland against a supposed West German threat. The situation only calmed down after a meeting between Kekkonen and the Soviet statesman Alexei Kosygin, followed by a “vacation” trip to Moscow by Koivisto two weeks later.

Under Kekkonen, who had served as Finland’s president from 1956 to 1981, there had been considerable media censorship and limitations on freedom of expression, to the extent that many questioned whether the country could be regarded as a democracy.

Books deemed critical of the Soviets had been banned, along with numerous films including The Manchurian Candidate. Soviet defectors were sent back as a matter of policy; Soviet atrocities were not reported and Finnish nationalist groups were heavily restricted.

A lanky man with a long, craggy face, in his early years as President Koivisto continued the policy of “active neutrality”, including the practice of returning Soviet defectors to the Soviet Union. But at the same time he introduced modest measures of democratisation, refraining from using some of the more authoritarian powers assumed by his predecessor and encouraging parliamentary institutions.

Above all, he charted a new course in foreign policy by cultivating good relations with both East and West, a task made easier by the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin in 1985. The two men became close and Koivisto, who was fluent in Russian, helped to broker improved relations between the USSR and the US; in 1990 he hosted a summit meeting between President George HW Bush and the Soviet leader.

President Mauno Koivisto with Queen Elizabeth II

The early 1980s were a period of free-market prosperity in Finland, buoyed up by relatively cheap supplies of Soviet energy and the market in eastern Europe for Finnish consumer and industrial goods that would have been difficult to sell in the West.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, created huge structural and political problems. In the early 1990s Finnish unemployment soared to about 14 per cent, the economy plunged into recession and the delicate political balancing act with Moscow began to look shaky as the three neighbouring Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, sought to establish their independence and looked to Finland for support. Suddenly caution seemed to be a luxury Finland could ill afford.

Koivisto worked hard to persuade the West of the urgent need of the Soviet Union (and subsequently of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States), for external economic support. While he avoided any public support of the Baltic independence movement, its representatives were allowed to work from inside Finland.

Meanwhile, gambling on his continuing good relations with Russia’s leaders, he began the process of leading Finland out of international isolation. When in 1990, after German reunification, he unilaterally renounced the military clauses of the 1947 Paris Treaty, which placed restrictions on Finnish defence forces, there was no official protest from Moscow.

The following year, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, he renounced the 1948 Finnish-Soviet pact, which pledged Finnish military assistance if Russia were attacked from the north and which had hindered Finland’s integration with European security structures. Emboldened by the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1992 Koivisto initiated the process of Finnish accession to the European Union, the final terms of which were agreed on the day he left office. Finland joined the EU in 1995.

The son of a ship’s carpenter, Mauno Henrik Koivisto was born on November 25 1923, in the southern port city of Turku. At the beginning of the Winter War in 1939 he volunteered aged 16 for a field firefighting unit.

During the Continuation War, he served in a reconnaissance detachment operating behind enemy lines. He was awarded the Order of the Cross of Liberty (2nd class) and was promoted to the rank of corporal.

Presidentti Mauno Koivisto 90 vuotta – kuvagalleria vuosien.

After the war, Koivisto joined the Social Democratic Party and graduated from the University of Turku with a degree in Philosophy and a PhD in Sociology. After graduation he became a banker, rising to become managing director of the Helsinki Workers’ Savings Bank from 1959 to 1967.

By this time he had emerged as a key figure among the Social Democrats and he went on to serve as chairman of the board of the Bank of Finland, a position he retained until 1982 and in which he was widely credited as the architect of the country’s prosperity.

He also served twice as prime minister, from 1968 to 1970 and 1979 to 1982, and despite friction over Czechoslovakia, he succeeded in moving cautiously beyond the limited Finno-Soviet sphere, overseeing Finland’s membership of the OECD in 1969 and participation in UN peacekeeping operations.

He also announced that Finland would play host to the 35-nation European Conference on Security and Cooperation that would lead to the Helsinki accords of 1975. However, he backed off from a proposed Nordic Economic Union with other Scandinavian countries for fear of jeopardising Finland’s neutral status.

In his spare time Koivisto liked playing volleyball, whittling and relaxing in a log cabin outside Helsinki that he had largely built himself.

In 1952 he married Tellervo Kankaanranta, who survives him with their daughter.

Mauno Koivisto, born November 25 1923, died May 12 2017  

Original article: The Daily Telegraph.  

 

 

 

Ships in Profile: Hamina-class missile boat

Hamina-class Missile Boat, Finnish Navy.

The Hamina-class missile boat is a class of fast attack craft of the Finnish Navy. They are classified as “missile fast attack craft” or ohjusvene, literally “missile boat” in Finnish.

The vessels were built in the late 1990s, early 2000s, and are the fourth generation of Finnish missile craft. The first vessel was ordered in December 1996 and the fourth was handed over on 19 June 2006. Since the launch of the Helsinki-class missile boats, all fast attack craft have been named after Finnish coastal cities. The class was previously known also as Rauma 2000 following its predecessor the Rauma class.

The four vessels form what the Finnish Navy calls Squadron 2000 (Finnish: Laivue 2000). Initially the Finnish Navy considered several different compositions for the new squadron, and at one point only two Hamina-class vessels and four Tuuli-class ACV were to have been built. After a strategic shift of the Finnish Navy’s role, the composition of the Squadron 2000 followed suit. The Tuuli-class prototype was never fully equipped, nor fitted for operational use and its three sisters were cancelled, instead two more Hamina-class boats have been built; with some of the equipment intended for the Tuulis being used in the Haminas. The fourth and final Hamina-class vessel was delivered in summer 2006.

The squadron reached its full operational capability in 2008 and have greatly improved the surface- and air surveillance as well as air defense capability of the Finnish Navy. Their electronic surveillance suite also increases the quality of information available to military leaders.

All ships were built at Aker Finnyards in Rauma, Finland. The vessels have their home base at Upinniemi.

In March 2014 it was announced that the Hamina-class missile boats will be upgraded in the near future.

The vessel’s hull is constructed of aluminum and the superstructures are constructed of re-enforced carbon fiber composite. The vessels have a very low displacement and are very maneuverable. They are equipped with water jets instead of propellers, which allow them to operate in very shallow waters and accelerate, slow down and turn in unconventional ways.

The Hamina class are very potent vessels, boasting surveillance and firepower capacities which are usually found in ships twice the size.

The Hamina class has been designed and constructed as stealth ships with minimal magnetic, heat and radar signatures.

The shape of the vessel has been designed to reduce radar signature. Metal parts have been covered with radar absorbent material, and the composite parts have radar absorbent material embedded in the structure. Radar transparent materials (kevlar, balsa) have been used where applicable.

Unlike glass fiber, carbon fiber blocks radio waves. This protects ship’s electronics against electromagnetic pulse. In addition, it stops any radio frequency signals generated by ships electronic devices escaping outside. Except for the bridge, the vessel has no windows that would allow the signals to escape.

FNS Pori (83) Finnish Navy Hamina class missile boat – Helsinki South Harbor.

The vessel contains hardly any steel parts, thus generating very low magnetic field. The remaining magnetic field is actively canceled with electromagnets.

Exhaust gases can be directed underwater to minimize thermal signature, or up in the air to minimize sound in submarines direction. 50 nozzles around the decks and upper structures can be used to spray seawater on the vessel to cool it. In addition, the nozzles can be used to clean the ship after chemical attack or radioactive fall-out.

Weapons

The Hamina class have the latest in surveillance and weapons technology all integrated into an intelligent command system. A Hamina class vessel can monitor about 200 kilometres (120 mi) of air space and its Umkhonto surface-to-air missile system can simultaneously engage a maximum of eight aircraft, up to 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) away, while the vessel’s anti-ship missiles have a range in excess of over 250 kilometres (160 mi).

Hamina Class Missile Boat Umkhonto surface-to-air missile system.

The Hamina class’ primary weaponry is four RBS-15 Mk.2 anti-ship missiles. The vessels are further equipped with a Bofors 57 mm gun against surface and aerial targets as well as the Umkhonto-IR surface-to-air missiles, MASS decoy system and two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns. It is also possible to use the ships for mine-laying.

Hamina-class Bofors 57mm Gun.

The software of the centralized combat control system is COTS oriented, built on top of Linux running on redundant x86 rack servers, which makes maintenance and future updates and optimizations simpler.

Vessels

FNS Hamina
Pennant number: 80
Builder: Aker Finnyards
Ordered: December 1996
Commissioned: 24 August 1998
Home base: Upinniemi
Current status: In active service.
FNS Tornio

 Tornio (81)
Pennant number: 81
Builder: Aker Finnyards
Ordered: 15 February 2001
Commissioned: 12 May 2003
Home base: Upinniemi
Current status: In active service
FNS Hanko
Pennant number: 82
Builder: Aker Finnyards
Ordered: 3 December 2003
Commissioned: 22 June 2005
Home base: Upinniemi
Current status: In active service

 Pori (83)
FNS Pori
Pennant number: 83
Builder: Aker Finnyards
Ordered: 15 February 2005
Commissioned: 19 June 2006
Home base: Upinniemi
Current status: In active service.
Class overview
Name: Hamina
Operators:  Finnish Navy
Preceded by: Rauma class
Succeeded by:
Completed: 4
Active: 4
General characteristics
Type: Fast attack craft
Displacement: 250 tons
Length: 51 m (167 ft)
Beam: 8.5 m (28 ft)
Draught: 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
Propulsion:
  • 2 × MTU 16V 538 TB93 diesels; 5520 kW.
  • 2 × Rolls Royce Kamewa 90SII waterjets
Speed: over 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 500 nmi (930 km; 580 mi)
Complement: 26
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Saab Ceros 200 with 9LV FCS (Saab)
  • Consilium Selesmar maritime radar
  • TRS-3D/16-ES multimode acquisition 3D radar (EADS)
  • ANCS 2000 Combat Management System (EADS)
  • MSSR 2000 I IFF (EADS)
  • EOMS (SAGEM)
  • Simrad Subsea Toadfish sonar
  • Sonac/PTA towed array sonar (Finnyards)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • MASS (Multi Ammunition Soft-kill System) (Rheinmetall)
  • Decoys: Philax chaff, IR flares
  • Smoke system: Lacroix ATOS
  • EMS: Matilda radar warning system (Thales)
Armament:
  • 1 × Bofors 57 mm/70 SAK Mk3
  • 2 × 12.7 mm machine guns (NSV)
  • 8 × Umkhonto-IR SAM (Denel)
  • 4 × RBS-15 Mk2 SSM (Saab)
  • 1 × rail for depth charges or mines (Sea Mine 2000)

National Parade on the Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces in Helsinki 4 June 2017

Puolustusvoimat FINNISH DEFENCE FORCES, 23 May 2017

The National Parade on the Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces will be held in Helsinki on 4 June 2017. In addition to the review of troops and pass in review, the programme will include vessel and materiel displays, a flight show and the Defence Forces’ Finland 100 summer tour 2017 concert. The events are free of charge.

The parade will be reviewed by President Sauli Niinistö together with the Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces General Jarmo Lindberg. Field Bishop Pekka Särkiö will hold the field devotional and the parade troops will be commanded by the Army Chief of Staff Major General Petri Hulkko.

The theme of the parade is: National defence is everybody’s business. Troops from the Finnish Army, Navy and Air Force, National Defence University, Border Guard and veteran’s and national defence organisations will participate in the day’s events. The parade will include a total of more than 1,300 persons, 50 vehicles and 19 aircraft.

The review of troops will take place at the Senate Square at 12:00. The parade troops will begin to gather at the Senate Square at 11:20.

The pass in review on Mannerheimintie will begin at the Simonkatu – Kaivokatu intersection at 13:30 and progress in the direction of Musiikkitalo. The pass in review will be viewed in front of Musiikkitalo.

In addition to the marching troops, the parade will include 50 vehicles. For the first time, a 155 mm Armoured Howitzer K9 Thunder will participate in the parade event.

The flypast will include Army NH90 helicopters and Hughes MD500 light helicopters, the Border Guard’s Super Puma sea rescue helicopter as well as Air Force Hornet fighters and Hawk jet trainers.

In addition to the parade, the day will also offer many other things to see around Helsinki. It will be possible to visit Navy combat and support vessels and equipment in the Eteläsatama harbour and the Border Guard’s offshore patrol vessel Turva at the Katajanokka dock.

A joint air show of the Air Force and Army will take place at the Kaivopuisto park before the review of troops, where NH90 transport helicopters, F/A-18 Hornet fighters and the Midnight Hawks aerobatic team will perform. All flypasts are subject to weather conditions.

Midnight Hawks Aerobatic Team.

There will be a joint equipment display of the Army, Air Force and other authorities on the Kansalaistori square, which will be open all day.

Also on the Kansalaistori square, the highlight of the day will be the Defence Forces Finland 100 summer tour 2017 concert, where the Defence Forces’ Guards Band and Conscript Band will perform with soloists Sami Pitkämö, Osmo Ikonen and Heini Ikonen.

The general public is invited to attend all of the Flag Day’s events. The review of troops and pass in review can also be watched on giant screens at the Senate Square, the Market Square and the Kansalaistori square.

The parade will affect the traffic in Helsinki. The public is asked to arrive in good time using public transportation in order to avoid traffic congestion. It is advisable to avoid using one’s own car in the city centre at the time of the Flag Day’s events, as some streets and areas will be completely reserved for the parade.

Preparations will begin already on 3 June at parade locations.

The Guard Jaeger Regiment is responsible for parade arrangements.

The Defence Forces, City of Helsinki and Helsinki Region Transport will provide information on traffic arrangements as of 22 June.

Programme for the Flag Day:

08.00 Ceremonial hoisting of the flag by the Navy in Eteläsatama harbour
9.00 Wreath laying ceremony at Hietaniemi cemetery
09.00-15.00 Navy vessels and equipment display open for visitors in Eteläsatama harbour
10.00-18.00 Equipment display at Kansalaistori square
10.00-10.50 Service in the Helsinki Cathedral
10.50-11.30 Air Force and Army Air Show in Kaivopuisto park
11.20 Parade troops begin to gather for the review of troops at the Senate Square
12.00 Review of troops at the Senate Square
13.30 Pass in review on Mannerheimintie
15.00-18.00 Defence Forces Finland 100 summer tour 2017 concert at Kansalaistori square

You can follow the parade on location or on the internet on the Defence Forces’ websites:

Revell 1/72 Junkers 88A-4/R Finnish Air Force Review

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Kit: Revell A04672 Junkers Ju 88A-4 Bomber.

Price: £16.99 available from Spot-On Models, Swindon.

Decals: 2 Options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

Notes: Eduard EDCX309 1/72 mask for the Revell Junkers Ju-88A-4 used £7.20. Techmod 72139 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals were used to make a Finnish Air Force Example at £5.60, available from Hannants UK.

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History

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept. It suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Affectionately known as “The Maid of all Work” (Mädchen für Alles), the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and even as a flying bomb during the closing stages of conflict.

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In April 1943 as Finland was fighting the Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip Lentolaivue 44 (LeLv 44 or No. 44 Sqn), which had previously operated the Bristol Blenheim which was transferred to No. 42 Sqn upon the arrival of the Junkers 88. The Ju 88 was a complex aircraft, most of 1943 was used for training crews in strategic and tactical bombing techniques, including; dive-bombing, level bombing and defence against enemy fighters. A handful of bombing missions were undertaken during 1943. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole of No.44 squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). During the summer of 1943, Finnish maintenance engineers discovered that Ilmavoimat Ju-88s had suffered stress damage to the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing operations. Restrictions in dive-bombing tactics were immediately implemented. The dive brakes were removed and the aircraft was limited to a 45-degree angle dive (compared to 60-80 degrees previously employed). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear. (This Revell review kit is modelled with the dive brakes removed).

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During February 1944, the Soviet Long-Range Bombing Group conducted 3 large scale raids against Helsinki. The Finnish Air Force, lacking the numbers to respond to strategic raids of this scale, developed a unique and effective answer to the bombing of Helsinki. A series of remarkable tactical operations were tested by Squadrons PLeLv 42 and 46. On the 29th of February 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when Finnish bombers, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn. On the 22nd of March 1944, the Ju 88s of PLeLv 44 conducted their own operation by following their Soviet counterparts back to their air-base at Aerosan, Petsnajoki.

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The Finnish bomber group matched their height and tactical formations. Once the Finnish group reached their destination, they joined the Soviet aircraft in the landing circuit, at the moment the Soviet bombers began to land; the Finns opened fire and bombed the airfield fuel reserves, ammunition dumps and the landing bombers. Several bombers were destroyed due to being parked in line-abreast outside of their hangars. Several raids of this type took place. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions by day and night, when the weather permitted.

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These missions are reported in greater detail in ‘THEMODELGALLERY’ article: The Bombing of Helsinki in World War II, under the sub-heading: ‘Finnish Response’. Click on this link to view the article: https://thebalticstatespost.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-bombing-of-helsinki-in-world-war-ii/

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No. 44 Sqn (re-named Pommituslentolaivue 44 or PLeLv 44 on 14 February 1944) was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945.

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After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb loads. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped during the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the frame structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa. The Suomen Ilmavoimat aircraft code for Ju 88 was JK.

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A single Ju 88 A-4, survives in Scandinavia; Werk Nr.0881478 4D+AM (ex-Stammkennzeichen of BH+QQ)

This aircraft is displayed at the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, the Norwegian Aviation Museum at Bodø Airport. On the 13 of April 1942, it was returning from an attack on Soviet ships when it ran out of fuel. The crew bailed out in the vicinity of Snefjord but the aircraft continued its flight and, remarkably, was left comparatively intact after crash-landing on a hillside at Garddevarre in Finnmark in the far north of Norway. It remained there until recovered by the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum in 1988.

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Junkers Ju 88 in Finnish service (Source: Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 9, Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen).

Below is a list of every Junkers 88A-4 that served with the Suomen Ilmavoimat during World War II. The list includes the fate of each aircraft:

Type WerkNr.088 German registration German units Finnish Registration History Finnish units
A-4/R 3880 GB+YJ JK-251 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 29/12 1943 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3878 GB+YH JK-252 Delivered 10/4 1943, used as a crew trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3879 GB+YL JK-253 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 26/8 1947 and not repaired LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3883 DJ+TC JK-254 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 1/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3889 DJ+TI JK-255 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 1/6 1944 and not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3860 GL+QM   JK-256 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down by German fighter 10/10 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3887 DJ+TG JK-257 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8797 CT+ZA JK-258 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3845 BI+EY JK-259 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down 23/6 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8785 CP+OO JK-260 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3857 JK-261 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3899 DJ+TS JK-262 Delivered 11/4 1943, exploded during landing 18/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3863 KG+KE   JK-263 Delivered 11/4 1943, shot down by german AAA 15/10 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 8794 CP+OX JK-264 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 15/6 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3877 GE+YG JK-265 Delivered 10/4 1943, put into storage 17/10 1945 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3885 DJ+TE JK-266 Delivered 1/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3888 DJ+TH JK-267 Delivered 11/4 1943, damaged during take-off 29/7 1944 and was not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8796 CP+OZ JK-268 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3882 DJ+TB JK-269 Delivered 10/4 1943, damaged by own bombs 20/8 1943 was repaired and stored LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3881 DJ+TA JK-270 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 18/6 1947 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3841 BJ+WW JK-271 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8795 CP+OY JK-272 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3912 GC+UM JK-273 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3849 BG+GO JK-274 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed on the flight to Finland 23/4 1943 LeLv. 44

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German Flak Defences during the Lapland War were effective, claiming at least one confirmed Finnish Junkers Ju-88A-4R.  I./Flak Rgt. 15 was attached to the XVIII Gebirgs Korps in October 1944, providing Flak defence around the Sturmbock stellung and Kilpisjärvi stellung until the 15th of April 1945 when the unit was re-located to the South of Norway.

One Finnish Junkers 88 was lost to Flak over Kilpisjärvi on the 15th October 1944, during the Lapland War.

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Lentolaivue 44 or Pommituslentolaivue 44/PLeLv 44 from the 14th of February 1944:

Flying Squadron 44 became the best equipped Finnish bomber squadron after receiving new Junkers Ju 88A-4/R bombers from Germany in the spring of 1943.

The inexperience of LeLv 44 crews with the Ju-88, resulted in a number of accidents and some losses. Germany refused to sell more bombers to Finland due to shortages of their own,  this restricted the squadron’s effectiveness until the summer of 1944, when an official training programme was implemented and the Ju-88s began flying combat missions escorted by new Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighters, Finnish bomber formations didn’t suffer any losses due to Soviet fighters during the heavy summer campaigns of 1944.

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Flying Unit: Finnish Name (and Abbreviation), Airbases, Notes (Name in English) Squadron Commander / Flight Leader
Flights and Planes . Rank: Name:
Lentolaivue 44 (LLv.44, since 3.5.42 Le.Lv.44) (Flying Squadron 44) Siikakangas (Ruovesi), 5.7.41- Mikkeli, 29.9.41- Onttola (planes only: 16.4.-28.4.43 Pori, summer 43 Luonetjärvi, ?.9-?.9.43 Utti, occasionally also Immola, Nurmoila, Tiiksjärvi Naarajärvi)Bomber squadron. BLs were relieved to Le.Lv.42 on 20.2.1943 and squadron was converted to new Junkers Ju 88A-4 bombers being operational again on 30.5.1943.1. Lentue (1st Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . . . . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .4. Lentue (4th Flight) (27.4.-15.11.43 JK) Operational only between 27.4. – 15.11.1943.Osasto [Detachment] Räty (JU) (25.5.42 – 23.10.42) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Originally known as Sairaankuljetuslentue (Ambulance Flight). Moved from Le.Lv.48 on 25.5.1942 for transport and special operations missions. On 28.6.1942 subordinated to Intelligence Department of Chief HQ (PM Tied.Os.)Osasto [Detachment] Malinen (HE, JU) (5.43 -?) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Formed in spring 1943 for special operations missions. On 1.7.1943 subordinated operationally to Er.P 4 / PM Tied.Os. . Maj. Maj./Lt.Col. (42) . . .. . .Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Lt./Capt. (42?)Capt. Lt.Capt. . . . . .Capt./Maj. Capt. E. Stenbäck B. Gabrielsson (30.12.41-) . . . .. . .E. Ahmo E. Ahtiainen (30.12.41-) E. Itävuori (2.5.42-)R. Moilanen (MIA -> KIA) T. Halonen (7.8.41-) O. Lumiala (20.1.42-) A. Helminen (31.7.42-6.1.43+) I. Ritavuori (8.1.43-) K. Lehmus (15.11.43-)A. Tervo (-14.8.41 KIA) J. Saarinen (17.8.41-) .O. Siirilä (27.4.43-) T. Iisalo (30.5.-15.11.43)J. Räty (25.5.42-23.10.42) . . . . .O. Malinen (5.43-) E. Jauri (1.7.43-)
Pommituslentolaivue 44 (PLe.Lv.44) (14.2.1944-) (Bomber Squadron 44) Onttola, ([6 JK] 6.3.-9.3.44 Utti, 6.44 Immola)1. Lentue (1st Flight) (JK)2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (JK) . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (JK) . Lt.Col. Maj. .Capt. Lt./Capt. (44) B. Gabrielsson T. Meller (20.2.44-) .E. ItävuoriK. Lehmus (KIA) T. Iisalo (23.6.44-) .J. Saarinen

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The Junkers Ju 88 assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945, and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout the production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged.

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The Kit

 This kit is a brand new mould. Thankfully, it bears no resemblance to their Ju-88 A/D kit and the difference really shows. Revell’s new release Ju-88A-4 is supplied in an end-opening style box. The kit comprises 191 parts in pale grey plastic on 9 sprue frames and 15 clear parts on four linked frames. The clear parts are excellent. In fact the whole kit possesses the kind of quality that you would expect from a kit twice the price.

The grey-plastic parts are beautifully detailed with recessed panel lines, the cockpit is furnished to a standard that you would expect from a 1/32 scale kit, there are no obvious flaws. I was looking forward to this build. In addition, a 15 page instruction booklet is provided with each stage represented in an ‘exploded-view’ format. The decals provide the modeller a choice of two Luftwaffe examples and are clear and appear to be in good register.

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Construction

I set the parts out after washing them in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release and carefully studied the instructions. Revell instructions are black and white and printed on inexpensive paper, presumably to keep the costs down. This is great for the pocket but daunting to the modeller, given the large number of small parts that would be required to fit into the cockpit area.

I sprayed all of the grey plastic sprues with grey auto-primer from a rattle-can and cut the relevant cockpit parts from the sprues detailed in stages 1 to 13. This was a time consuming process. Each stage was given a dry-fit, then airbrushed, then pre-shaded, detailed and post-shaded. However, with time and patience the results are extremely pleasing. I have a feeling that this 1/72 scale kit may have been scaled down from their 1/32 sale Ju-88, how they can produce such fine detail at £16.99 is beyond me, especially since my last 1/72 scale kit review of the Airfix Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 provided just the Pilot’s seat for the cockpit. The interior was airbrushed using Humbrol 67 tank grey, the fronts of the navigation station and instrument panel was painted black and the instrument dials and switches were painted white, red or yellow depending on the directions from the instruction manual and from colour pictures from the internet and book references.

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Once the cockpit had been completed, the tail-wheel was constructed and the fuselage halves were joined. Then the cockpit unit was glued to the rear fuselage, taped and set to one side to dry overnight. I decided to mask the entire canopy components at once, as this process can be time consuming; these were then placed securely in a zip-lock bag.

Sections 17 to 25 were the next stage of the build. This consists of gluing the upper and lower main wings together and taping them as well as the wing tips, wing flaps and ailerons. The same process was repeated for sections 28 to 31, which were the horizontal tail surfaces and tail-plane. All sub-assemblies were then allowed to set overnight.

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Stages 32 and 33 were the final assemblies of the day, which was the construction of the engines and nacelles with cowlings. The exhausts were painted with citadel colour scorched brown and glued into the nacelles, the front of the engines are the only components that are exposed; these were painted black and dry-brushed with Humbrol 11 silver when they had dried. The nacelles were glued together, taped and allowed to dry.

The next day, the wing assemblies, tail, tail-planes and canopies were glued together. The MG 131’s were glued to the inside of the canopy and lower-gondola before these components were glued to the airframe. Again, these were left overnight to dry. The aircraft that I had chosen to build was a Suomen Ilmavoimat Lapin Sota (Finnish Air Force Lapland War) aircraft, which carried an internal bomb load and were predominantly used for reconnaissance duties for the Finnish Ground Forces. Therefore, the external bomb racks and bombs were not required. Additionally, the Finns removed the dive brakes from beneath the wings of their Junkers Ju-88A-4/Rs due to airframe fatigue. The aircraft were still able to dive-bomb targets but were restricted to a 45 degree angle as opposed to the usual 60-80 degree dive angle.

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Before the Ju 88 went to the paint shop, the undercarriage was constructed, wheels painted (Hubs – Humbrol 67, tyres – Tamiya XF-85 Tyre black).

Camouflage & Markings

Techmod’s 1/72 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals offer 6 aircraft to choose from. Two are Luftwaffe examples, one based in Nurmoila, Finland, the other is an example based in Sicily in 1943. I chose ‘JK-268’ one of the four Finnish Air Force aircraft. This machine belonged to 3/PleLv 44 based at Onttola in Finland during June 1944. The aircraft took part in the Lapland War, survived the conflict and continued in service with the Ilmavoimat after the War.

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The aircraft was given a second coat of grey primer from a rattle-can and the undersides were airbrushed overall in RLM 76, which was taken up the fuselage sides. The undercarriage main and tail-wheel doors were similarly sprayed. The undersides of the wing-tips (approximately 1/3rd of the wings) were airbrushed using white ensign models WEMCC ALCW21 RLM 04 Gelb. The airframe was then masked and airbrushed V.L. Green, a combination of 6 parts Humbrol 116, 6 parts 117, 1 part 163 and 1 part matt white. Once this had dried, the upper-surfaces were masked and airbrushed with thinned Humbrol 33 black. The propellers and spinners were airbrushed with Humbrol matt 241 schwarzgrünand given RLM 04 Gelb tips.

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Final Construction

Once the masking had been removed, the decals were applied, the Techmod decals went on very nicely, they were thin but there was no hint of the camouflage showing through them. The undercarriage was fitted, as was the aerial wire. The airframe was then given a coat of Johnson’s Klear to seal the decals.

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Conclusion

I honestly don’t think you can get a better aircraft for your money. It was exquisitely detailed, went together beautifully and really is a must for anybody interested in the Finnish Air Force in World War II. I really can’t recommend this aircraft enough.

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References

  • Flying units in Finland 1942. Anttonen, Harri. 2002 – 2003. http://www.geocities.ws/finnmilpge/fmpg_lw42.html
  • Winchester, Jim. “Junkers Ju 88”. Aircraft of World War II. London: Grange Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.
  • Stenman, Kari. “Short But Gallant: The Career of the Finnish Junkers Ju 88s”. Air Enthusiast, No 60, November–December 1995. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing, pp. 35–39. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Suchenwirth, Richard. The Development of the German Air Force, 1919-1939. North Stratford, New Hampshire, UK: Ayer Publishing, 1968.
  • Taylor, John W.R. “Junkers Ju 88.” Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • Green, William. The Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1970. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.

Thanks to Chris Hext of Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Havelock street, Swindon for the review sample.

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Richard Reynolds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bombing of Helsinki in World War II

University of Helsinki main building after the third 1944 raid.
University of Helsinki main building after the third 1944 raid.

Helsinki was bombed several times during World War II by the Soviet Long-Distance Bomb Group Regiment (Russian: Avia Polk Dahl’nevo Deystviya—APDD), the largest of which took place during 1944, when Soviet Petlyakov Pe-8 Heavy Bombers flew 276 sorties against Helsinki, Tallinn and Pskov. In February 1944, 3 raids were undertaken by the Pe-8 over the city of Helsinki. The raid of the 06th of February 1944 was the largest, comprising 24 Pe-8 bombers from the 45th Division of the Long-Distance Bomb Group. During the second raid on the 07th of February 1944, two super-heavy 5.4 tonne FAB-5000 bombs were dropped on Helsinki, one destroyed the cable works, and the other struck the railway works.

Pe-8 746th APDD 1943.
Pe-8 746th APDD 1943.

When the Soviet Union attacked Finland during the autumn of 1939, Helsinki’s Air Defence was largely unprepared. The defence consisted of four heavy anti-aircraft gun batteries comprising three to four guns each (the 1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment); one light Anti-Aircraft Gun battery and one Anti-Aircraft machine gun Company.

In 1943 the command of Helsinki’s Air Defence was passed to Colonel Pekka Jokipaltio. Jokipaltio set about updating and strengthening the Air Defence system which was improved considerably under his command. During the Continuation War Germany provided two early warning radars and four gun laying radars to Helsinki. In addition, 18 German 88 mm Anti-Aircraft guns were placed in Lauttasaari, Käpylä and in Santahamina.

By February 1944 Helsinki was protected by 13 light and heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun batteries. Air defenses included 77 heavy Anti-Aircraft Guns, 41 light Anti-Aircraft Guns, 36 search-lights, 13 acoustic locators and 6 radars supported by visual spotters. The Air-Defence network was based on the German model and was considered extremely effective in countering the Soviet threat. In fact, when the Allied Control Commission visited Helsinki after the war, its leader Soviet General Andrei Zhdanov was extremely perplexed by the lack of damage.

An 88mm AA Gun at the Finnish Anti-Aircraft Museum.
An 88mm AA Gun at the Finnish Anti-Aircraft Museum.

The Helsinki Air Defence system was supported by 12 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6/R6 Night-fighters of Jagdgeshwader 302 based at Malmi and the German Night-fighter Direction vessel (Nachtjagdleitschiff) Togo, From October 1943, Togo cruised the Baltic Sea under the operational control of the Luftwaffe‘s 22/Luftnachrichten Regiment 222. In March 1944, after the three great Soviet bombing raids on Helsinki, she arrived in the Gulf of Finland to provide night fighter cover for Tallinn and Helsinki.

JG 302 Finland 4

Helsinki’s air defenses prioritized stopping bombs from reaching the city over the destruction of air targets. In a special type of barrage, several batteries would fire a wall of flak in front of the approaching bombers in an attempt to scare them into dropping their payloads too early and breaking away. Anti-Aircraft shells had been jury-rigged by drilling the fuse-hole larger and filling the extra space with magnesium mixed with aluminium, turning their explosion from a dull red to a searing white.

Civil defence was well organised and effective in Helsinki. Due to a far-sighted City decree in 1934, air raid shelters had been constructed in all high-rise building basements. All buildings were required to have an appointed civil protection supervisor who was not in the reserves or the armed forces, and as such was usually unfit for military service. This person was tasked to see that all occupants made it to the shelter in an orderly fashion.

There were a few larger shelters built into solid rock, but it was not possible to fit all the citizens of Helsinki into these. Some hospitals were also equipped with subterranean shelters where patients could be relocated during air raids. Others, such as the Children’s hospital, were moved outside the city. One hospital was entirely underground, below the Finnish Red Cross building. Much of the Air Defence system of Helsinki was operated by the City’s Citizen Volunteers which were drawn from organisations such as Suojeluskunta, which provided 16 year old male volunteers to man the Anti-Aircraft Guns and The Lotta Svärd organization, which provided Female volunteers to operate the Searchlight Batteries.

Searchlights at the Finnish Anti-Aircraft Museum.
Searchlights at the Finnish Anti-Aircraft Museum.

Soviet bombing raids on Helsinki during World War II have come to be known as “The Great Raids against Helsinki”. These began on the 30th of November 1939 just 3 hours into the Winter War. Helsinki was bombed a total of eight times during the Winter War. Some 350 bombs fell on the city, resulting in the deaths of 97 people and the wounding of 260. In all, 55 buildings were destroyed.

The Soviet bombings led to harsh reactions abroad. U.S. President Roosevelt asked the Soviets not to bomb Finnish cities. Molotov replied to Roosevelt: “Soviet aircraft have not been bombing cities, but airfields; you can’t see that from 8,000 kilometers away in America”. Molotov is said to have claimed that the Soviets were not dropping bombs but dropping food supplies to the city. The Finnish response was to develop the ‘Molotov Cocktail’ petrol bomb, said to have been so named as it was ‘the drink to go with the food that the Soviets have given us’.

Helsinki was bombed 39 times during the Continuation War. The majority of deaths and damage caused to the City were during the three big raids of 1944. 245 people were killed and 646 were injured from 25th June 1941 to the 19th September 1944.

Raids Bombs Dead Wounded
Winter War 8 about 350 971 260
1941 9 about 80 332 210
1942 17 about 70 683 167
1943 13 about 110 3 21
1 91 deaths on 30 November 1939 2 22 deaths on 9 July 1941 3 51 deaths on 8 November 1942

The Great Raids of February 1944 consisted of three large-scale raids directed at the Finnish capital which were designed to break the resolve of the Finnish people, thus forcing the Finnish Government to the negotiating table in order to end the Continuation War. The raids were conducted on the nights of 6–7th, 16-17th and the 26-27th of February. Joseph Stalin had obtained British and American support for this measure at the Tehran conference in 1943. In this manner the USSR hoped to force Finland to break its ties with Germany and agree to a peace settlement.

Finnish air defense forces counted 2,121 bombers in the three raids of February 1944, which dropped more than 16,000 bombs. Of the 34,200 shots fired against the bombers, 21,200 were with heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery, and 12,900 were with light Anti-Aircraft Artillery. The Finns deceived Soviet pathfinders by lighting fires on the islands outside the city, and only using the searchlights east of the city, thereby leading the pathfinders to believe that it was the city. Only 530 bombs fell within the city itself. The majority of the population of Helsinki had left the city, and the casualties were quite low compared to other cities bombed during the war.

Of the 22 to 25 Soviet bombers lost in the raids, 18 to 21 were destroyed by Anti-Aircraft Artillery fire, and four were shot down by German night fighters.

In addition to the four-engine Petlyavov Pe-8 heavy bombers, the APDD flew large numbers of twin-engined Ilyushin-4, Lisunov Li-2, North American B-25 Mitchell and Douglas A-20 medium bombers. The B-25s and the A-20s had been supplied to the Soviet Union under the Lend Lease programme from the United States. The Lisunov Li-2 was a Soviet bomber version of the American Douglas DC-3.

B-25 Mitchell APDD
B-25 Mitchell APDD
Douglas A-20G APDD
Douglas A-20G APDD
Ilyushin Il-4 APDD
Ilyushin Il-4 APDD
Lisunov Li-2
Lisunov Li-2 APDD

The first great raid: 6–7 February

The first night saw the most destruction.

The first bombs fell at 19:23. Some 350 bombs fell within the city and approximately 2,500 bombs outside of Helsinki. The total amount of bombs dropped (including the ones that fell into the sea) amounted to some 6,990. Approximately 730 bomber aircraft participated in the raid. The bombers arrived in two waves: 18:51–21:40 on the 06th of February, and 00:57–04:57 on the 07th of February.

The defense fired 122 barrages. The light Anti-Aircraft Artillery fired 2,745 shots and the heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery fired 7,719 shots. The Finnish Air Force had no night fighters at this time.

100 people were killed, and 300 injured. More than 160 buildings were damaged. The Anti-Aircraft defenses had issued several false alarms in the days leading up to the raid, which had lowered the population’s reaction time considerably.

The second great raid: 16–17 February

After the first raid, a German night fighter group of 12 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6/R6 fighters with special night fighting equipment of Jagdgeshwader 302 were transferred to the Helsinki-Malmi Airport from the Estonian front. These managed to shoot down six bombers during the following two raids. The anti-aircraft batteries fired 184 barrages and downed two bombers. Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery batteries fired 12,238 shots and light Anti-Aircraft Artillery batteries fired 5,709 shots.

Most of the population of Helsinki had voluntarily evacuated to the countryside and the remainder took to their shelters at the first warning. This reduced casualties significantly.

383 bombers participated in the second raid. 4,317 bombs fell on the city, the sea and in the surrounding area, only 100 bombs fell within the city. The warning was sounded at 20:12 and the bombers approached again in two waves: 20:12 to 23:10 on the 16th of February and 23:45 to 05:49 on the 17th of February. The first wave tried to concentrate the bombing by approaching from different directions. The second wave of aircraft came in smaller groups from the east. Finnish intelligence had intercepted messages one hour and 40 minutes before the raid and warned the air defence, which had time to prepare. The air defence sounded the warning 49 minutes before the raid. Radar picked up the first aircraft 34 minutes before the beginning of the bombings.

This time casualty figures were much lower: 25 died and 29 were injured. 27 buildings were destroyed and 53 were damaged.

Petlyakov Pe-8 3-View
Petlyakov Pe-8 3-View

The third great raid: 26–27 February

On the evening of 26th of February, a single Soviet reconnaissance aircraft was spotted over the city. It was a sign of the coming attack. The weather was clear, which helped the attackers. Again Finnish Radio Intelligence intercepted messages of the forthcoming raid, this time 1 hour and 28 minutes before the bombing would commence – although the Soviets tried to maintain radio silence.

Five minutes later, the air surveillance grid, manned by Lotta Svärd auxiliaries, reported approaching bombers. A silent alarm was sounded in the city in good time before the raid. Street lights were turned off, trams and trains were stopped and radio transmissions ended. Because these measures were taken, the enemy had more difficulty finding their target. Citizens proceeded to the shelters in a timely and orderly manner.

The first bombers were picked up by Finnish radar at approximately 18:30, 25 minutes before they would arrive. A few minutes later, the night fighters took off and flew to their pre-determined positions. The Anti-Aircraft Artillery had also been forewarned. The air raid warning was sounded at 18:45. Anti-Aircraft Batteries opened up at 18:53. At 19:07 the first bombs fell.

This last great raid differed from the two previous ones. The battle lasted for some 11 hours and was divided into three different phases. The first one was in the evening and lasted for four hours and concentrated the attacks against the city. The second one was mainly focused on the defending Anti-Aircraft Artillery, but with little success. The last wave hoped to finally flatten the city, but the majority of the aircraft turned away when met with fierce Anti-Aircraft Artillery barrages and night-fighters. The all clear signal was finally sounded at about 06:30 in the morning on the 27th of February.

The damage, compared with the first night, was limited: 21 people were killed and 35 wounded; 59 buildings were destroyed and 135 damaged.

The heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery fired 14,240 shots and the light Anti-Aircraft Artillery 4,432 shots. Nine Soviet bombers were destroyed. 896 bombers participated in the raid on Helsinki. They dropped 5,182 bombs of which only 290 fell on the city itself.

The damage of the great raids

Thanks to the efficiency of the Anti-Aircraft Artillery and the deception measures that were employed, damage was limited. Only 5% of the bombs fell within the city, and some of these fell in uninhabited park areas causing no damage. In the order of 2,000 bombers participated in the three great raids on Helsinki and dropped approximately 2,600 tons of bombs. Of the 146 people who died, six were soldiers; 356 were wounded. 109 buildings were destroyed. 300 were damaged by shrapnel and 111 were set on fire. The Soviets lost 25 aircraft.

By comparison, Dresden was bombed on the 13th to the 15th of February 1945 by 1,320 bombers, which dropped 3,900 tons of bombs. This force was comparable to the total that attacked Helsinki, but the Dresden raid killed about 25,000 to 35,000 people and the city was almost completely destroyed.

After the war, the Allied Control Commission led by Soviet General Andrei Zhdanov visited Helsinki. Zhdanov was perplexed by the limited damage the city had sustained. The Soviet leadership thought that they had destroyed the city completely and that it was these bombings that had forced the Finns to the peace table.

Väestönsuojelutyö (Civil Defence) poster.
Väestönsuojelutyö (Civil Defence) poster.

Finnish response

The Finnish Air Force responded to the air raids with series of night infiltration bombings of APDD airfields near to Leningrad. The first of these tactical attacks was called “The Night of the Bombers” by their Finnish crews. Finnish bombers – Junkers Ju 88s, Bristol Blenheims, and Dornier Do 17s – either tailed or in some cases even joined formation with returning Soviet bombers over the Gulf of Finland and followed these to their bases. Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinen describe the action that took place: “On 25th February the air force CO ordered bomber squadrons PLeLv 42 and 46 to attack these bases under suitable conditions. The Russians were to be mislead by the Finnish bombers joining the formations at night over the Gulf of Finland, when returning, say from a mission to Helsinki. Bomber squadron 46 tested the new tactics on the night of 29th February. Four Dornier Do 17 bombers too off and joined a returning Russian bomber stream over the Gulf of Finland.

The bombers flew to Levashovo airfield and invidually bombed the lit airfield at 2230. The bomb rows hit parked aircraft and shelters. Several fires were built up and a strong explosion shook the airfield. The flak opened fire when the Finns were already on their way home.” Each Dornier Do 17 was equipped with 20 x 50 kg bombs with 0,08 second delay. When the bombers took off and flew towards the Gulf of Finland their own AA artillery at Kotka gave them a goodbye greeting, as they didn’t seem to know the identity of these strange bombers flying in middle of the night. The Finnish bombers navigated their way into middle of the Gulf of Finland, all lights off, looking for a suitable Soviet bomber formation… Finding one, the Finnish Dornier pilots joined the enemy bombers unnoticed, slowly creeping their way inside the Soviet formation.

It took a lot of skill and nerves (a lot of nerves, when thinking about it 60 years later) to stay in the formation, as the Soviet pilots might recognize the strange looking bombers at any moment. After all, the German built Dorniers had completely different outlooks to the Soviet bombers, consisting primarily of Li-2s, B-25s, IL-4s and A-20 Bostons, with two squadrons of heavy Pe-8s. After crossing the front lines the Soviet planes suddenly turned their navigation lights on, feeling safe over their own side of the front lines. With sudden inspirations the Finnish pilots followed the example. With all lights on the huge bomber formation consisting of both Soviet and Finnish bombers flew eastwards, more and more inside the enemy territory, shining brightly in the dark sky.

The Soviet bombers arrived at their home field and readied themselves for landing. The Finnish pilots kept their nerve – and actually joined the Soviet night bombers in their landing circuit, still with navigation lights on. One by one the Soviet bombers landed, with the rest – Finns included – approaching the field. The bombers circled the Soviet airfield, brightly lit in the winter night of the northern hemisphere, landing one by one. And finally – the last Soviet bomber had landed and the bright lights of the field welcomed the last four bombers seen circling in the landing pattern. But instead landing these bombers opened their bomb bays, throttled up and filled the field with 80 shrapnel bombs, filling it with destruction…. The sudden attack was immensely successful. With no warning given, the four Finnish bombers gained complete surprise and attacked the Soviet night bomber field with no opposition.

The Soviet anti-aircraft artillery didn’t have any time to react. The bombs hit the plane rows and plane shelters. Several fires and a large explosions were seen. Keskinen-Stenman comments: “Encouraged by the successes, all regiment squadrons were ordered on March 2nd to participate on large scale attack against Leningrad area airfields. The opportunity came on March 9th when APDD bombers returned from the bombardment of Tallinn, Estonian’s capital. Nineteen Finnish bombers from all four squadrons joined several formations between Seiskari and Kronstadt and followed the APDD aircraft to Gorskaya, Levashovo and Kasimovo airfields.”

After the huge success of these four bombers the whole bomber regiment was ordered to readiness. It took until March 9th until the weather and other conditions made new attack possible. The four bomber squadrons of Flying Regiment 4, the whole Finnish Air Force bomber command, sent total of 19 bombers (or 21, depending on source). 10 Blenheims, 5 Dornier Do 17s and 6 Junkers Ju 88s took off for their mission. Once again the bombers infiltrated the Soviet bomber formations. The Blenheims of PLeLv 42 (bomber squadron 42) followed the APDD from north of Seiskari. PLeLv 44 joined the Soviet bombers near Kronstadt fortress island with five Ju-88s. PLeLv 46 joined the Soviet bombers near Kronstadt with five Dorniers. And PLeLv 48s Blenheims followed the Soviet bombers from Kronstadt.

Bristol Blenheim IV PLeLv 48 1944.
Bristol Blenheim IV PLeLv 48 1944.
Dornier 17Z LeLv 48 1944.
Dornier 17Z LeLv 48 1944.
Junkers Ju 88 PLeLv 44 1944.
Junkers Ju 88 PLeLv 44 1944.

Tactics were similar to the previous mission. Either the bombers joined the Soviet formation and flew alongside them, with landing lights on and joining the landing pattern, or the Finns followed slightly behind. Surprise was total both ways, bombs started to rain on the Soviet airfields when the last bombers were still landing or taxiing on the field. Bombs and the shrapnel struck without warning, Soviet losses of material and personnel were high, as personnel were not sheltered. On some occasions the Finnish bombers attacked while landing operations were still in progress, this must have caused extreme confusion when the airfield defenders saw aircraft still circling the field and couldn’t know whether they are own bombers trying to land or if there are still more Finnish bombers ready to attack.

An example of the effectiveness of these attacks is the bombing of Gorskaja airfield by three Blenheims of PLeLv 48. The three bombers hit their target from 1400 meters, 2140-2145. The planes dropped 28 x 100 kg explosive and 16 x 15 kg firebombs. Hits were observed in the north side of the field with five planes burning. Two more planes were burning in southeast corner of the field, with one storehouse exploding. Paavo Alava, a Blenheim pilot from Bomber Squadron 42, was on the BL-151 on the attack at March 9th. He describes the mission: “Our five planes took off with bellies filled with shrapnel- and firebombs. The tension rose in the cockpit when we were over the Gulf of Finland looking for a suitable enemy formation. There they come! Several planes flying at 500 meters east of Seiskari island, flying eastwards. We performed a quick turn and then as quietly as we could, joined their formation. I could see clearly how the neighbor’s boy sat in his turret, carefree.

A small light was on, he must have already dreamed of the coffee waiting on the ground. There they go! Li-2s and so close that I could shoot them with my machinegun. Sure hit! But I must restrain myself – the mission would fail if they recognize us. Another Soviet bomber formation flew towards us from east – they’re going to bomb Tallinn… Here we were – red stars over Gulf of Finland, with blue swastikas in middle of them. We are over Kronstadt, when the Ruskie planes start flashing signals with red and white lights. We see responding signals from ground. I guess this is permission to come in and land… The planes turn north towards Gorskaja. It was interesting situation – Soviet lead bomber navigates the formation to their home field, which would soon be bombed by enemy bombers flying in the same formation.

The field appears – all lights on. Large numbers of planes are in the landing pattern and more in ground, our four Blenheims dropped their bombs from 1200 meters. One of our Bombardiers remarked “Best regards from the people of Helsinki”. I can see the explosions in the rows of bombers and aircraft shelters. A huge explosion takes place as the fuel storage tanks go up in flames and planes are burning on the ground. This was one of the most successful missions in the history of our squadron. Everything worked perfectly from the beginning to the end.”

Keskinen-Stenman: “At around 2130 they released the bombs on landing airplanes, parked aircraft and runways, causing huge explosions and numerous fires on all airfields. The attacks came as total surprises and only at Levashovo airfield the AAA was on alert, though did not inflict any damage. The airfield strikes continued. On April 4th 34 bombers attacked Kähy airfield north-east from Leningrad, where aerial reconnaissance had observed 57 aircraft. Bombs were dropped at 2030 causing huge explosions. 23 large fires were counted by the retreating bombers. Further strikes were flown during May.” Aarno Ylennysmäki was bombardier in PLeLv 48’s Blenheims and flew a mission in 3rd May against yet another Soviet airfield. He describes the mission: “Vector 270 degrees, five minutes to target, I heard on headphones. The pilot turned and matched altitude to ordered 2900 meters. Then he pushed throttles forward and accelerated to over 300 km/h. At that speed they’d stay a shorter time at the target area over the AAA fire. We would be the 2nd last wave. Behind us follows only the big Stukas, Ju-88s, with their 1000 kg bombs.

Now I saw the first bomb explosions ahead, from the first bomber wave. I took them as my target and then continued to give more exact commands to the pilot as we approached. Two degrees left, straight, one right, here we go, straight ahead. I could see a row of Soviet aircraft in the light from the other burning planes and the row was running straight on the aiming line of the mechanical bombsight. Then the line, aiming dot and the beginning of the plane row connected and I released the bombs. The plane wavered as it got lighter and the signal lights came on showing all the bombs had been released successfully. Only now I had time to watch out and noticed the anti-aircraft fire cloudlets around our plane. Aki, in his turret behind us, was watching downwards when he noticed that a searchlight was trying to find us. He called suddenly “DIVE!”. The pilot pushed his stick almost to the instrument panel and the plane dropped quickly almost thousand meters lower. Then he pulled back and leveled the plane at 1500 meters. The G forces pushed us to our chairs at almost three times our normal weight. A moment later Aki called that a night fighter had flashed past us, just lower. We kept sharp lookout but didn’t see it anymore. The whole regiment returned without any losses. The planes from Onttola base had landed at Immola. The chatter of almost 30 pilots filled the field and we found out, that an enemy night fighter had followed the bombers almost as far as Immola. Next day the Commander of the Air Force arrived to the base and awarded medals to a number of the crews”

Mr. Torsten Sannamo was radio operator / gunner at Bomber Squadron 42 in the time of these attacks. He participated in the bombing of Kähy airfield May 3rd 1944. Mr. Sannamo describes his attack: “Our squadron was the first to arrive to the target. Our bombing altitude was 3100 meters. The enemy AAA fire did not reach our altitude, at least in my case, and my pilot Akke dropped the bomb load on the barracks of the enemy base. From my turret I saw several fires coming up. Our squadron had two groups, both with five planes. Any attacking fighter would have been met with machine gun fire from five guns, but we didn’t see any fighters and we landed at our base at Värtsilä at 2200.” The night of May 18th saw the largest attack against any single target. 42 bombers took off, 41 bombed Mergino airfield right after midnight. The attack was lead by PleLv 44 with their 8 Junkers Ju 88s, with 2 firebomb torpedoes, 1 x 500 kg, 26 x 250 kg and 80 x 50 kg bombs.

Next in the target was PleLv 46 with 9 Dornier Do 17s, altitude 1500 meters, 120 x 50 kg and 30 x 100 kg bombs. Then came the Blenheims, first PleLv 42 with 13 Blenheims, then PleLv 48 with 12 Blenheims. 42 bombed from 1800 meters, PleLv 48 from 1600 meters.  The first major night infiltration bombing took place on 9 March 1944 and they lasted until May 1944. Soviet casualties from these raids could not be estimated reliably, however, large scale raids on Helsinki by the APDD were stopped soon after these infiltration attacks began.

References

  • Torsten A. Sannamo: Kundina hesassa flygaajana krigussa
  • Jukka Piipponen: Onttolan punaiset pirutMäkelä, Jukka (1967). Helsinki liekeissä. Helsinki: Werner Söderström osakeyhtiö. p. 20.
  • Keskinen-Stenman: Suomen Ilmavoimien historia 4 – LeR4
  • Helsingin suurpommitukset Helmikuussa 1944, p. 22
  • Jukka O. Kauppinen; Matti Rönkkö (2006-02-27). “Night of the Bombers”. Retrieved 2010-04-12.  Cite uses deprecated parameters (
  • P. Hirvonen: Raskaan sarjan laivueet
  • help)Martti Helminen, Aslak Lukander: Helsingin suurpommitukset helmikuussa 1944, 2004, WSOY, ISBN 951-0-28823-3
Finnish State Flag with Coat of Arms.
Finnish State Flag with Coat of Arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lotta Svärd – The Women who saved Finland

The Lotta Svärd organization  Emblem
The Lotta Svärd organization Emblem

Since 1809 Finland had been an autonomous state of Russia. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Russian Government began implementing a program designed to bring all States within the Russian sphere of influence under more direct political control.

The Russian Government intended to abolish Finnish autonomy altogether. This led to political unrest within Finland which eventually led to the War of Independence in 1917. Soon after the declaration of independence was ratified at the end of 1917, the newly formed state of Finland found itself embroiled in a bloody civil war between the pro Finnish ‘Whites’ and the Pro Russian/Communist ‘Reds’. This conflict resulted in the greatest loss of Finnish life in any Finnish war.

Tensions between Finland and the Soviet Union escalated from 1918 until the invasion of Soviet Russia on the 10th November 1939. To put the conflict into perspective; the population in Finland in 1940 was 3,695,610. The population of the Soviet Union in 1940 was 110,333. The Finnish Armed Forces were outnumbered 10:1.

The Finns recognized that in order to survive, all elements of their society would have to be involved in the defense of their state. Men and Women became involved in military activities, preparing Finland for the inevitable war with the Soviet Union. The Lotta Svärd was a volunteer auxiliary Women’s organization. The inspiration for using Lotta Svard name came from patriotic book “Vanrikki Stoolin tarinat” (Stories of 2nd Lieutenant Stool”) by J.L. Runeberg. The book contains mostly fictional poems from the Swedish-Russian war of 1808-1809 giving a heroic picture of Finnish the soldiers in it. One of its poems “Lotta Svärd“ tells the story of a soldier’s wife of that name, who follows her husband to war selling drinks to soldiers and boosting moral. Her husband was sadly killed in the war yet Lotta stayed with the soldiers, tending to their wounds, feeding and caring for them.

The Lotta Svärd organization ran from 1920-1944. During its time it provided invaluable service in the defense of Finland and by 1944 at the cessation of hostilities with the Soviet Union had within its ranks 242,000 volunteers which represented 16.1% of the population.

On the 23rd January 1919, the first Women’s association called Lotta Svärd was formed, osasto 1. Osasto 1 or ‘Division 1’ was formed in Helsinki by Swedish speaking women.

The founding of the Helsinki organization gave rise to many locally raised groups and other divisions of the Civil Guards. These organizations were independent groups and on October 29, 1919, Colonel Georg Didrik von Essen, the Commander-in-chief of the Civil Guards, made an appeal to recognise the Lotta Svärd as the definitive organization within the Civil Guards.

The number of Lotta Svärd organizations grew rapidly; however, they lacked a mandate and required a set of rules to follow across all sub-divisional units. This necessitated the formation of a national Lotta Svärd Organization by the General Staff on the 11th May 1920. The organization was entered into the register of associations on September 9 of the same year.

The Lotta Svärd Directive

The primary purpose of the Lotta Svärd was to aid the Civil Guards through medical care, cooking, preparing equipment, raising funds and any other means that would contribute to and support the Civil Guards. Later in the war these duties would expand into national defense. . The most well-known chairperson of the organization was Ms. Fanni Luukkonen, who held the position for 15 years from 1929 until the organization was abolished in 1944.

Fanni Luukkonen was born in Oulu on 13th March 1882and died October 27th 1947. She was chosen as the leader of the Lotta Svärd in 1929, under her stewardship, the organization grew to 232,000 members, which made it the largest Women’s organization in Finland and even the world.

Fanni Luukkonen Chairperson of the Lotta Svärd and recipient of the Mannerheim Cross.
Fanni Luukkonen Chairperson of the Lotta Svärd and recipient of the Mannerheim Cross.

She was awarded the Order of the Cross of Liberty 1st Class with swords, by Marshal Mannerheim in June 1940. She was the first woman to receive this decoration. When the Continuation War ended, the Soviet Union demanded that Lotta Svärd, along with the Suojeluskunta, were to be disbanded. In the Suuret Suomalaiset (Greatest Finns) competition (similar to the 100 Greatest Britons) Fanni Luukkonen was voted for 44th place.

Management Sub-divisions

Lotta Svärd was managed by a central board which was responsible to the Commander-in-Chief of the Civil Guards. The central board consisted of six members and two vice-members, who were selected at the organization’s annual meetings. The boards Chairperson was then appointed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Civil Guards.

The organization was then further sub-divided into district divisions, run upon similar lines to Civil Guards District Divisions. These were further sub-divided into local districts according to the number of Civil Guards Divisions in that district. In the countryside, the District Divisions were further divided into village divisions.

The Lotta Svärd was associated and worked closely with the Civil Guards. This arrangement was mutually beneficial to both organizations. The Civil Guards provided office space and a supply of raw materials for the work of the provisioning and equipment divisions and the Lotta Svärd provided desperately needed workers.

In 1920 requirements were introduced for new recruits wishing to join the Lotta Svärd. These were:

  • A good reputation
  • Loyalty towards the legal social order
  • Trust

The organization did not set an age limit but applicants under the age of 18 were required to obtain permission from their guardians. In 1921 the rules were amended that those members wishing to join the active group were required to obtain permission to join from their husbands.

According to these rules, the local districts could accept any woman who were loyal to the Finnish Government, and who had the recommendation of two well-known and trustworthy people. In the 1930s the organization started putting new applicants on probation for a period of 3-12 months before they could be accepted as members. During the probation, new applicants were educated in the work of the members and the principles of the organization. At the end of the probation period the applicants were given a test; those who passed it were accepted as new members .These requirements were followed until 1943, when the growing need for new recruits forced the management to start accepting new members on lesser grounds.

Members of the Organisation

The members of the organisation were called ‘Lottas’ and they were divided into two groups: : Toimen-Lotat (acting Lottas) and Huolto-Lotat (supply Lottas). The acting Lottas, after taking the ‘Lotta Promise’, were accepted into the Medical and Provisioning divisions. It was their duty to commit themselves full-time in the event of National mobilisation and to serve anywhere in the country. The supply Lottas consisted of the rest of the active members, who worked in their divisions under the supervision of the Civil Guards regional Command. In addition to these two groups, a third group of supporting members made financial contributions to the organisation by paying an annual fee.

Supply Lottas preparing for the Winter War.
Supply Lottas preparing for the Winter War.

The Lotta Svärd organization was voluntary with each member contributing to help their country survive the war. In December 1939 the Ministry of Defence began supplying the Lottas with a small daily allowance.

The 1921 rules stated that Acting Lottas and Supply Lottas who held a position of trust were required to take the Lotta oath. This required them to follow the rules of the organization. This was at first given in writing but was soon changed to the ‘Lotta Promise’ which was performed in a ceremony. Another important fact of the Lotta Svärd organization was the uniform. This was grey and made from either cotton or wool, with a white collar and shirt cuffs. Each uniform had an organization armband which showed the division that the member belonged to, and a membership badge pin.

Lotta Svärd membership badges.
Lotta Svärd membership badges.

The Lotta Promise

“Minä N.N lupaan kunniasanallani, että rehellisesti ja omantunnontarkasti avustan Suojeluskuntaa sen puolustaessa uskontoa, kotia ja isänmaata sekä lupaan, etten luovu Lotta-Svärd yhdistyksen toiminnasta ennen kuin yksi kuukausi on kulunut siitä, kun olen paikallisjohtokunnalle todistettavasti ilmoittanut haluavani erota Lotta-Svärd yhdistyksestä.”

 “I first name surname pledge with my word of honour, that I will honestly and according my conscience to assist Suojeluskunta in defending creed, home and fatherland. And I promise that I won’t give up working in Lotta Svard Association, until one month has passed from me verifiably informing Local Board from my desire to resign from the Association.”

The Four Divisions of the Lotta Svärd Organization and the Little Lottas

The Lotta Svärd organization fundamental groups of ‘Acting Lottas’ and ‘Supply Lottas’ responsibilities included: 1) Medical 2) Provisioning 3) Equipment  and 4) Fundraising divisions. The Fundraising division was later renamed the Fundraising and Office division. Later, as the organization grew larger and the war conditions changed, these four divisions were improved and also altered.

Often Lottas were required to undertake additional roles such as operating the 14. Valonheitinpatteri (14th Searchlight Battery) in the defense of Helsinki during the Continuation War. The weapon used by the women should they be attacked by Soviet units was an Italian Terni military rifle that was also used by other anti-aircraft units. The battery was the only armed unit in Finnish Army made up from women that was organized as a military unit fit for combat duty.

Searchlights in the anti-aircraft museum (Ilmatorjuntamuseo) in Hyrylä of Tuusula, Finland.
Searchlights in the anti-aircraft museum (Ilmatorjuntamuseo) in Hyrylä of Tuusula, Finland.

The Medical Division

Members of the Lotta Svärd Medical Division.
Members of the Lotta Svärd Medical Division.

Acting Lottas were assigned to aid in the care and transportation of sick and wounded soldiers in addition to arranging bandaging stations and sick rooms and preparing the necessary equipment for them. They were also responsible for replenishing the Civil Guards stock of drugs. During the Winter War and the Continuation War, the Medical division took part in setting up many more field hospitals, stationary war hospitals and medical trains. When the Winter War broke out, the main purpose of the division was to train medical Lottas, who assisted the real nurses in the stationary and field hospitals and also in first aid stations and medical trains.

Lotta Nurse.
Lotta Nurse.

Their other responsibilities included civil defence duties, setting up hospitals and sick rooms for evacuees and tending to convalescents. In addition they prepared bandaging material and took care of the medical supplies. Lottas washed and fixed the wounded soldiers clothes, with the aim that every soldier would have clean and mended clothes or, if needed, an entirely new set of clothes when they left the hospital. The Medical division also included a special veterinary division which took care of the horse’s welfare.

A Lotta taking care of a War Horse.
A Lotta taking care of a War Horse.

The Provisioning Division

The work of the Provisioning division was from the beginning the most extensive and visible form of Lotta work. Provisioning was also a priority in the organizations main duty: supporting the Civil Guards. The Lottas responsibilities ranged from providing coffee to the Civil Guards to organizing full provisioning for large camps and exercises. Although the Provisioning division carried the heaviest workload, on the other hand it also had by far the largest number of members. In addition, Lottas from other divisions took part in the work of the Provisioning division during events which required extensive provisioning. According to the rules set in 1926, the purpose of the Provisioning division was taking care of the provisioning for the Civil Guards and training the divisions Lottas during peace, as well as providing the Civil Guards with the necessary number of provisioning Lottas in the event of national mobilization.

Lottas in the Provisioning Division.
Lottas in the Provisioning Division.

The Equipment Division

The main work of the Equipment division was preparing, maintaining and keeping a list of the equipment for both Lotta Svärd and the Civil Guards. Their main duties and responsibilities were to prepare materials needed for the Lotta Svärd sewing circles and organizing rummage sales. Since its foundation, the Lotta Svärd organization had been aiding the invalids of the Finnish Civil War, along with their families. This work was especially the Equipment division’s responsibility. This division consisted mainly of elder Lottas, who carried out their Lotta duties by doing handiwork; it also had the smallest number of members.

The Fundraising Office Division

Accordingly to its original name, the Fundraising division was mainly responsible for collecting funds for both its own operations and the Civil Guards. This division was traditionally also responsible for organizing parties, rummage sales and all sorts of other events. The reference to office was added to the divisions name in 1925 when its operations were changed to include providing office help for the Civil Guards. As the Lotta Svärd organization assumed new forms of operating, these were added to the Fundraising and Office division because the operations of the other divisions were much more clearly defined, and the Office division had traditionally taken care of all the leftover tasks. These new forms of operating included sea and air surveillance and the information service.

The division raised funds in various ways, including organizing events, gathering supporting members and selling Lotta publications. Even though the division mainly worked with financing and fundraising, it also had an important role in morale building: to spread patriotism and the will to participate in national defence not only among the Civil Guards but also the whole nation. Naturally, the whole organization participated in this work; its sheer number of members made it possible for the organization to give the people strength simply by setting an example. In practice, however, the main responsibility fell on the Fundraising and Office division, which organized parties and educational meetings.

During the war the work of the Fundraising and Office division directly benefited the defensive forces. The Lottas who were assigned to the defensive forces were usually in positions where they replaced men assigned to the same tasks; thus they helped free soldiers for the front lines. These Lottas worked as typists, cartographers, telephone operators and weather observers, among other positions.

The Little Lottas

The Little Lottas was the organizations youth division, which consisted of girls aged 8 to 16. The main point of the division was to raise new members for Lotta Svärd. The only requirement for new members was that they had to be at least 8 years old and have permission from their parents. As it did not matter whether the girl’s parents were members of Civil Guards or Lotta Svärd or not, there were many girls joining the division whose parents belonged to neither group. To make the divisions operations easier, the girls divisions were separated into two age groups: 8-13-year-olds and 14-16-year-olds. When a member turned 17, she had the opportunity to request to become a member of Lotta Svärd. By the end of the 1930s, most of the new members came from the girls divisions.

Ideology of the Organisation

According to the rules, the purpose of the Lotta Svärd organization was to invoke and strengthen the ideology of the Civil Guards and to aid the Civil Guards in protecting religion, home and country. The organization carried out its purpose by attempting to raise the people’s morale and will for national defence and also by working for national defence in various fields of activity. At the same time the organization aimed to raise Finnish women to be model citizens. A Finnish woman was supposed to be patriotic, self-sacrificing, brave, enduring, responsible and skilled. The organizations ideology was based on Christianity, morality and patriotism, which was also engraved in the organizations Golden Words, which were an essential part in the crystallization of the Lotta spirit. The Golden Words were as follows:

  • May the fear of God be the greatest strength in your life!
  • Learn to love your country and your people!
  • Value your Lotta ideals. Only when you are righteous, pure and sober can you be a true Lotta!
  • Always demand the most from yourself!
  • Be good!
  • Be loyal even in the smallest things!
  • When you encounter misfortune, remember the greatness of our goal!
  • Respect your Lotta sisters and aid them in their work, thus you can strengthen the feeling of unity!
  • Remember the work of the past generations. Respect your elders, for they have done more than us!
  • Be modest in the way you behave and dress!
  • Submit to self-discipline in order to raise the discipline of the organization!
  • Lotta, remember that you represent a great, patriotic organization. Be wary of doing anything that may hurt it or damage its reputation!
Lotta Svärd Volunteers during the Winter War of 1939.
Lotta Svärd Volunteers during the Winter War of 1939.

The Lotta Svärd disciplinary regulations and the Golden Words obliged every Lotta to remember that they represented the whole organization. The discipline was absolute concerning the use of alcohol and tobacco: the organization forbade the Lottas from using alcohol while on duty and while wearing the Lotta uniform and smoking was not allowed in public. Lottas were also not allowed to use make-up while wearing their uniforms, and the use of jewellery was restricted so that only wristwatches and wedding and engagement rings could be used Improper behaviour could result in disciplinary measures or in the worst case expulsion from the organization

Although the rules were usually strictly followed, some problems did emerge. The tense wartime atmosphere gave rise to all sorts of negative rumours about the behaviour of Lottas on the front lines. There were of course some actual cases of rule-breaking, for example drinking or smoking in public, but in most cases the rumours proved to be baseless. Additionally, most of the rule-breakers were young women who had only recently been accepted into the organization during a time of great need for new recruits, and who had not had time to adopt the organizations ideals. All in all, only 346 Lottas, comprising only 0.38% of the 232,000 members, were ever expelled from the organization for breaking the code of behaviour.

Post World War II

When the Continuation War ended, the Soviet Union demanded that all organizations it considered paramilitary, fascist or semi-fascist be banned. Lotta Svärd was one of the groups which were disbanded, on 23 November 1944. However, a new organization called Suomen Naisten Huoltosäätiö (Support Foundation of Finnish Women) was started which took over much of the old property. This organization still exists by the name of Lotta Svärd Säätiö (Lotta Svärd Foundation).

Since 4 January 1995 women between the ages of 18 and 29 have had the right to apply for voluntary military service in the Finnish Defence Forces and are free to apply into any form of service, which is granted provided they fulfill the minimum fitness and health requirements.

The Finnish Lotta Svärd organization has inspired similar organizations in other countries and there is still a Lotta Svärd organization in Sweden (Lottorna); the same model is also used in Denmark and Norway.

References

ICM 1/72 Tupolev SB 2M-100A Kit Review

Tupolev SB 2M-100A
Tupolev SB 2M-100A

Kit: ICM 72162 1/72 SB 2M-100A

Price: £15.41 Available from Amazon UK (Model Hobbies)

Decals: Four Options

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

History:

 The Tupolev ANT-40 was a high-speed three seat twin engine bomber developed in 1934. It was known in Russia by its service name Tupolev SB (Russian: Скоростной бомбардировщик – Skorostnoi Bombardirovschik – “high speed bomber”).

The design, despite being very advanced at the time lacked refinement, much to the dismay of the crews. Josef Stalin commented of the bomber that “there are no trivialities in aviation”.

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Numerically the SB was the most numerous Soviet bomber during the 1930’s the type saw combat service during the Spanish Civil War, China, Mongolia and Finland and during the initial stages of conflict with Germany.

By 1939 the Tupolev SB was becoming obsolete. Despite this on the 30th November 1939 it took part in the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. Losses were heavy with bomber formations frequently unescorted and forced to operate at low level where they were vulnerable to Finnish fighters and anti-aircraft fire. The Tupolev SB 2 was a relatively slow aircraft. During the Winter War they were fitted with skis making them even slower. By the end of the 15 week war, at least 100 SBs had been lost with the Finns claiming nearly 200 shot down, 92 of them to fighters.

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In addition to this, the Red Air Force command structure was disastrous. A ‘Dual Command’ or ‘Collegiate’ control system was introduced in 1937. Each fighter or bomber regiment was assigned a ‘Political Commissar’ with equal rank to the Regiment Commander, each tactical plan and decision had to be approved by the Commissar before it could be implemented.

These problems were further compounded by the fact that each Air Regiment operated as an autonomous ‘Air Army’. Air Regiments would regularly operate independently of each other, not share strategic information and in some cases not communicate with each other in the operational area at all.

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Furthermore, the Soviets did not commit their best bombers in the initial stages of the campaign. Perhaps in the belief that the war would be quickly won by the USSR. The principal bombers of the Winter War were the Tupolev SB and the Ilyushin DB-3. Both aircraft were relatively fast during the 1930’s but by 1939 were outpaced by newer designs. The Tupolev SB possessed only two 7.62 mm ShKAS light machine guns covering the rear of the aircraft, in the dorsal and ventral positions and one 7.62 mm ShKAS machine gun in the the nose. Moreover, there was only one gunner covering the rear positions whose job it was to scramble between the guns whilst attempting to anticipate from which direction the attacking fighter would come.

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Finnish fighter tactics against Soviet bombers were relentless. They would tend to close to well within 100ft of the bomber concentrating on the single rear gunner first. Then they would attack the engines, then the fuel tanks.

To increase accuracy of bomber interceptions, the Finns harmonised their guns to approximately 150 yards. By harmonising their weapons the Finnish fighters tended to tightly group their hits increasing the effectiveness and the power of the attack. In addition, the Finns would load the right-hand cowl or wing machine gun entirely with tracers to assist in correcting the bullet stream, the remaining weapons were loaded with a mixture of incendiary and armour piercing ammunition to maximize the probability of success.

The extraordinary success of the Finns against the Soviets can also be explained in the good quality of the well trained Finnish pilots. The comparable performance of Soviet aircraft to the Fokker D.XXI was off-set in favour of the Finns by the adoption of Luftwaffe-style fighter tactics with the use of Schwarms. 4 aircraft in formation each sub-divided into 2 pairs called ‘elements’ with a flight leader covered by a wingman. Inexperienced pilots were paired with experienced pilots as opposed to Soviet air combat tactics being predictable with en-masse air regiments being deployed in ridged formations, allowing the Finns the opportunity to range above their opponents and choose their targets before attacking and disengaging.

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Much as the Royal Air Force did in the Battle of Britain, the Finns dispersed their aircraft to auxiliary camouflaged airfields which regularly changed or rotated, enabling the Finns to effectively manage their smaller force. The units flew between 6-8 sorties per day, their aircraft were covered and kept warm with the use of electric radiators when not flying and maintained on ‘alert’ status for rapid deployment in the event of an attack. Similarly, they were operating over home territory, thus a damaged aircraft or downed pilot could be retrieved to fight another day.

The Soviets were also disadvantaged in having to waste time transiting to and from the combat area. Finnish Anti-Aircraft batteries shot down 300 Soviet aircraft; Finnish fighters claimed 200 confirmed kills, whilst losing only 62 of their own.

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The ‘Molotov Cocktail’ improvised petrol bomb was developed as a direct result of the bombing of Finland by Tupolev SB 2 and Ilyushin DB 3 bombers. The term was coined by the Finns as an insult to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who was responsible for the partitioning of Finland with Nazi Germany under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in August 1939.

The pact explicitly stated Soviet intentions to invade Finland and was mocked widely by the Finns, as was the propaganda that Molotov employed declaring on Soviet state radio that the bombing raids over Finland were actually humanitarian aid missions where bombers were supplying food to their starving neighbours and not bombing Finnish cities.

Soviet cluster bombs delivered by the Tupolev SB’s and Ilyushin DB 3’s were derisively referred to as ‘Molotov Bread Baskets’. When the improvised Molotov cocktail petrol bomb was first devised it was dubbed ‘The drink to go with the food’ that Molotov was delivering to Finland.

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Molotov despised the name as it became the ubiquitous term used for all petrol bombs, ironically it was the Molotov cocktail that was the weapon of choice during the eastern bloc uprisings against the Soviet Union directly after the war.

The Kit:

The ICM 1/72 SB 2M-100A consists of 6 sprues moulded in soft grey plastic. Sprue F contains the transparencies which are clear and opaque. The instruction booklet is 8 pages long with the final four pages devoted to camouflage and markings.

There are 11 assembly stages in this kit and I studied each stage very carefully. The parts are coded with letters indicating the colour that each sub-component needs to be painted. However, there are no part numbers indicating how each part is to be assembled.

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The difficulty comes in that each stage is an exploded view three view diagram and each of these are small and complicated. It is not easy to work out where certain parts are located. Therefore I recommend a dry-fit at every stage.

Construction

The kit was first washed to remove any mould release. Once dry, it was primed using grey auto primer from a rattle can.

The assemblies come in three stages. 1) The centre section and fuselage 2) the tail section and 3) the nose. All of these stages are printed on the same page; it required a certain amount of concentration to complete these sub-sections.

The next component to be assembled in stage 7 are the engines. These are straight forward as are the wings which were completed next. Once the centre section, rear fuselage, nose, wings and engine assemblies had been allowed to dry overnight, the fitting of all of the components including the tail planes were combined and the joining of all of the sub-assemblies were a straight forward process.

This kit is fairly industrial and although it has adequate surface detail, when the components had been assembled and bonded, a fair amount of green putty was required. This took approximately 2 hours to carefully sand down but the end result was satisfactory.

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I skipped stage 10 which was the preparation and masking of the transparencies and adding the weapons, electing to leave this stage to the end which seemed to me to be logical.

As I has chosen to model SB 2M-100A, 44th SBAP (Bomber Regiment) stationed in Karelia in January 1940, I opted for the ski equipped version. I chose this aircraft as I model aircraft involved in the three conflicts that the Finns were involved in during WWII and this aircraft would have participated in the Winter War.

Cutting the skis from the sprue was easy enough, however the supporting struts were of such poor quality that they broke despite the careful use of side cutters. Luckily, I had in stock some copper wire which I cut to size and substituted these for the unusable items.

Undercarriage ski assembly - starboard side.
Undercarriage ski assembly – starboard side.

Luckily, the supporting ‘ladders’ for the undercarriage suffered no such misfortune and after some patient application of Cyanoacrylate, the whole unit went together well. The restraining cables at the front and rear of the skis were 0.2mm steel wire supplied by ‘Little-Cars’. These proved extremely fiddly to fit in this scale but once again patience proved its worth.

Undercarriage ski assembly - port side.
Undercarriage ski assembly – port side.

The canopies were masked using Eduard’s 1/72 SB-2 set of masks (CX122). Once these were applied the canopy sections were glued into place using Humbrol ClearFix. The aircraft was then masked using Tamiya tape in preparation for spraying.

Camouflage and Markings

There are four options available. 1. SB 2M-100A, 24th SBAP (Bomber Regiment), Karelia December 1939; SB 2M-100A, 49th SBAP (Bomber Regiment), Mongolia June 1940; SB 2M-100A, West Front, Summer 1941 and the example that I chose, the ski equipped SB 2M-100A, 44th SBAP (Bomber Regiment), Karelia, January 1940.

My decision was based on the fact that this aircraft had participated in the Winter war and I had seen black and white photographs of this example which was invaluable in the late construction phase.

There is still some confusion surrounding the correct colour scheme for the Tupolev SB of this period. Some sources claim that the bombers were painted in pale grey; some say they were painted silver. I decided to paint my example in silver after researching the excellent VVS research page by Massimo Tessitori. I airbrushed the aircraft in Humbrol 27002 silver, pre-shaded the airframe and then gave the aircraft another two coats.

Once the paint had been allowed to dry overnight, I gave the aircraft a medium wash of black oil-paint as these aircraft had been worked extremely hard during the Winter War. Johnson’s Klear was then applied and allowed to dry for approximately 30 minutes before the decals were applied.

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The 44th SBAP aircraft that I had chosen, included 10 decals, 4 large red stars over and under the wings, two small stars on the fuselage, red tail flashes either side of the tail and red number ‘8s’ either side of the rudder. The decals were a challenge. Eight of the ten decals broke up as they were extremely brittle. Nevertheless, with patience and a great deal of Micro-Scale Micro-Set, I was able to save all ten decals. I gave the Tupolev SB a final coat of Johnson’s Klear to seal the decals before applying the finishing touches.

Final Construction

The propellers and spinners, pitot tube and guns were the last items to be added. I am pleased with the result however; I have never been more relieved to finish a kit. Yet as an example of an aircraft that played a significant role in the Winter War of 1939-40 it is a welcome addition to the collection.

Conclusion

This kit requires a great deal of planning and patience. It has the ability to catch you out if you lose your concentration and the instruction ‘booklet’ is quite frankly appalling. However, I found the subject very interesting and would recommend the kit to anybody who feels that they would like to have a go at a more challenging subject.

References

Richard Reynolds.