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View Full Version : Finnish Air Force - why such diversity?



TinyTim
06-18-2009, 07:43 PM
If we only take a look at fighters - in Winter and Continuation wars Finns operated Brewster 239, Curtiss P-36, Fiat G-50, Fokker D.XXI, Hawker Hurricane, Morane Saulnier MS.406, Messerschmitt 109G, VL Myrsky, some older biplanes (Gladiator, Bulldog, Gamecock) plus some captured Russian types (Lagg-3, I-153). I might still miss some. If we exclude biplanes, captured planes and lately obtained 109s, this still leaves 6 different fighter types in service by 1941, all obtained in a period of 2 years max.

So, what was the idea behind such a diversity? It must have been a logistic nightmare. Operating different captured planes is understood, but they bought small numbers of nearly each of upper type (apart from MS.406s which were donated by France, and Myrsky which was a domestic design). Why didn't they buy one or two models in greater numbers? Was it that fighters were so hard to get at those times that it was only possible to get small number of each type? Or was it perhaps that they didn't want to be dependant on a low number of suppliers? Any thoughts beyond guessing?

TinyTim
06-18-2009, 07:43 PM
If we only take a look at fighters - in Winter and Continuation wars Finns operated Brewster 239, Curtiss P-36, Fiat G-50, Fokker D.XXI, Hawker Hurricane, Morane Saulnier MS.406, Messerschmitt 109G, VL Myrsky, some older biplanes (Gladiator, Bulldog, Gamecock) plus some captured Russian types (Lagg-3, I-153). I might still miss some. If we exclude biplanes, captured planes and lately obtained 109s, this still leaves 6 different fighter types in service by 1941, all obtained in a period of 2 years max.

So, what was the idea behind such a diversity? It must have been a logistic nightmare. Operating different captured planes is understood, but they bought small numbers of nearly each of upper type (apart from MS.406s which were donated by France, and Myrsky which was a domestic design). Why didn't they buy one or two models in greater numbers? Was it that fighters were so hard to get at those times that it was only possible to get small number of each type? Or was it perhaps that they didn't want to be dependant on a low number of suppliers? Any thoughts beyond guessing?

Treetop64
06-18-2009, 08:02 PM
The saying goes:

"You do what you can with what you got."

The Finns were highly resourceful when they had to be, and were more than a mere headache to the Russians.

Ba5tard5word
06-18-2009, 10:10 PM
From wikipedia (since you said no guesses)


As the war progressed, the Finns tried desperately to purchase aircraft wherever there were any to be found. This policy resulted in a very diverse aircraft inventory, which was to cause some major logistical problems until the inventory became more standardized. The Finnish Air Force was to consist of numerous American, British, Czechoslovakian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Soviet, and Swedish designs. Other countries, like South Africa and Denmark, sent aircraft as gifts. Many of these purchases and gifts didn't arrive until the end of the hostilities, but were to see action later during the Continuation and Lapland wars.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...e#Winter_War_1939-40 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Air_Force#Winter_War_1939-40)


Sounds like all they had at the beginning of the Winter War was Fokkers and Blenheims...wikipedia says 17 bombers and 31 fighters only!

Freiwillige
06-19-2009, 12:32 AM
Many of the nations that Finland was buying aircraft from suddenly found themselves at war and needed all the aircraft they could manufacture for their airforces. Many Orders from England and France to Finland were cancelled on those grounds.

AnaK774
06-19-2009, 03:49 AM
very nice site on FiAf developement

http://www.sci.fi/~ambush/faf/faf.html (http://www.sci.fi/%7Eambush/faf/faf.html)

dirkpit7
06-19-2009, 04:26 AM
When the Winter War begun, the FAF found itself very inadequately equipped. As Ba5tard5word posted, there was a desperate attempt to purchase anything they could get. Most of the fighter types used in Continuation War were bought during the Winter War (but arrived too late to see action in the Winter War itself). These include Fiats, Brewsters, Hurricanes, Gladiators and Moranes. Some were purchased during the Interim Peace period, at least the P-36.

The reason for the limited deliveries is simply that other countries were not willing to sell/give more. The two most numerous were Brewsters, which the Americans apparently disliked, and P-36s, which were captured by Germans in France and sold to Finns as a part of the development of the close relationship between Germany and Finland.

Most of the older planes were from pre-war period when the FAF was more homogenous as far as plane types are concerned. For example, there was one main fighter type (Fokker D.XXI). These planes were used in Winter War, but had little role later in Cont. War.

Waldo.Pepper
06-19-2009, 02:34 PM
Same reason that Israel had such diversity in the 1940's. They lacked a patron nation to offer reliable supplies of aircraft and spares.

general_kalle
06-19-2009, 04:37 PM
always found the Finnish front interesting to fly in IL2 because of that diversity...also it was made it interesting to be making missions for.

lynxrattle
08-15-2009, 03:00 AM
Anyone interested in the history of Finnish air force will find great info on

http://www.saunalahti.fi/~fta/history.htm (http://www.saunalahti.fi/%7Efta/history.htm)

It's written by the former commander of the FAF so he might have an idea of what he is writing about.

On the pages you will get a view of Finnish fighter tactics and flight training during the war years.

Hurri-Khan
08-15-2009, 05:51 AM
The reason is war. Finland was in process of renewing the airforce when soviet union attacked. So some old planes stayed in service like Bulldog, Kotka, Ripons, fokker C.V etc.

Fokker was to be the main supplier for FiAF. The Dutch company was of not a small reputation (WW1 dominance and I recall reading that like 90% of civilian flights before DC-2 era in europe was flown in fokkers). And finns had operated fokker's planes before.
Plan was to have same poweplant in all aircraft when possible for logistical and training reasons.. i.e the bristol (or tampella - the finnish manufacturer) mercury and pegasus.

Fleet was to be:
*Fokker C.X -Army co-op/light divebomber, license bought 1936. 2 license series of planes completed before war.
*Fokker D.XXI -Interceptor (fighter), chosen 1935, 1st planes came 1937 and 1st license plane flew 1938.
*Fokker T.VIII -Maritime (chosen and license bought in 1939, never came to FiAF).
*Bristol Blenheim -Bomber, chosen 1936 and 1st came 1937. License bought 1938, but war started before production.

Winterwar brought some war-booty planes and pretty much any aircraft that could be bought at that point (few we're donated too): I-152/3, DB-3, SB, morane 406, CR 714, G.50, Hurri Mk1, Gladiator Mk2, Lysander and B-239. As modern enough planes could not be acquired, VL myrsky project was started before war.. but in '44 it was hopelessly obsolete as resources we're needed on current aircraft, project was halted several times and decent engines we're not available.

During continuation war Germany refused to sell more modern stuff, but some could be acquired from war-booty depots;
-H.75's (norway/france), moranes (406 & 410 france), more I-153's and SB's/DB's and PE-2's. And some Mig-3's but these we're destroyed in german harbor during allied bombing. Some more war-booty was captured by finns themselves (LaGG-3, Mbr-2 and previosly acquired types and planes that never flew in FiAF like IL-2, airacobras & Yaks).

Finally later during war germany finally decided to sell some older planes; Do-17/22, 109G and JU-88.


Good link (in finnish tho, but bad google translation is available xP )

http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...3%A4j%C3%A4hankinnat (http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suomen_ilmavoimien_h%C3%A4vitt%C3%A4j%C3%A4hankinn at)

http://translate.google.com/tr...l=en&history_state0= (http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl=en&js=y&u=http%3A%2F%2Ffi.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FSuomen_il mavoimien_h%25C3%25A4vitt%25C3%25A4j%25C3%25A4hank innat&sl=fi&tl=en&history_state0=)

>>>-H-K--->