|AIR DEFENCE IN THE NORTH|
WINTER WAR 1939 - 1940
Operational between 10.1. - 13.3.1940.
Initially F19 was subordinated to Swedish Volunteer Group (SFK) and since 28.2.1940 to Swedish Group SFr. (Lt.Gen. Ernst Linder [Swe]) which commanded SFK and Finnish Group Willamo. Finnish Lapland Group (LR) was suspended at the same time and its staff was moved to Bay of Viborg.
Flying unit was equipped with Swedish planes
equipped with skiis and marked with Finnish national
markings. All pilots, airfield personnel and supply came
from Sweden. Pilots were teached to say "I'm a
volunteer Swedish pilot" in Finnish in case they
would need to bail out above friendly area.
Air War in the North during the Winter War
Finnish Planes in the North
Finnish 3./LLv.16 was subordinated to Lapland Group (LR) on 23.12.1939 and operated from Rovaniemi between 23.12.1939 - 28.2.1940 using its obsolete and slow Junkers K 43 / W 34 (JU) planes in bombing, transport and reconnaissance duties. On 28.2.1940 flight was re-equipped with obsolescent Fokker C.VD and C.VE (FO) reconnaissance aircraft and subordinated to North Finland Group (P-SR). On 29.12.1940 flight was moved to Kuluntalahti ice airfield near Kajaani (marked with green K on the map below) for the rest of the war and operated to Suomussalmi and Kuhmo directions.
Between 9.2. - 14.2.1940 also Detachment
Siiriäinen (1./LLv.26) operated for P-SR
from Kuluntalahti with about ten Finnish Gloster
Gladiator II (GL) fighters.
Swedish Volunteers in Action
Initially Swedish pilots chose aggressive tactics to shock Soviets and already on 12.1.1940 they committed a combined reconnaissance and strike mission attacking heavily against a temporary Soviet airfield, troop concentrations and supply near Märkäjärvi, Salmijärvi and Salla. Three Soviet I-15 fighters were destroyed on the ground at Märkäjärvi by Hawker Hart I (HH) planes piloted by Lt. Per Sterner and 2Lt. Åke Mörne and Gloster Gladiator I (GL) fighter piloted by 2Lt. Martin Wennerström. Although the attack was a great success one HH and one GL were shot down and two HHs collided mid-air (see the table below). After that disaster more cautious tactics was needed to save planes. On 18.2.1940 2Lt. Mörne scored one more I-15 on the ground at Kairala.
Obsolescent Swedish GL fighters managed better than Hart bombers. Pilots attacked eagerly against initially unescorted Soviet bomber formations and fired supply columns and troops with MGs. Flying low was highly dangerous because GL was unarmoured. Swedes scored at least five bombers and three I-15 and/or I-15bis fighters although GLs were too slow and could not always reach faster Soviet planes. Anyway the presence of "Finnish fighters" in the north was a surprise to Soviet pilots who so far had flown freely without any danger.
Together with Group SFr.'s anti-aircraft
platoons (sections), heavy battery and a few Finnish AA
units F19 protected important targets in
Northern Finland which previously had been without any
air raid defence. After the Winter War Swedish planes
returned to back Sweden by the end of March 1940. Only
their Junkers F 13kä transport plane of
Transport / Liaison Flight remained in Finland.
Total flying hours of F19 were about 600.
Aerial Victories Claimed by Volunteer Swedish Pilots of Fighter Squadron / F19
Personnel and Aircraft Losses of F19 in Finland
Airfields in the North
The main airbase of F19 was an ice airfield at Veitsiluoto (in Kemi) where all overhauls and repairs were done. The other used so called "work airfields" (code names and abbreviations) were as follows:
Finnish Anti-Aircraft Defence in the North
At the beginning of Winter War Northern Finland was without any anti-aircraft protection because the northernmost Finnish AA unit was located at Jyväskylä in Central Finland. Finnish troops had only a few light AAMGs for close defence in the north. On 15.12.1939 Lt. N. Korpijaakko was appointed to Anti-Aircraft Commander of Lapland Group (LR) and had thereafter Air Defence Regional Centers (IPAK) at Kemi, Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi, Kuusamo and Ivalo under his command.
About the same time 52nd Light Anti-Aircraft Section (52.Kev.It.Jaos) was moved to Veitsiluoto (Kemi). Between 7.1. - 24.2.1940 it operated at Rovaniemi returning back to Kemi when the first AA units of Group SFr. arrived there. Only one light Finnish light AAMG platoon defended troops on the front. Before the war ended also Finnish 56th Heavy AAMG Platoon (56.Rask.It.KKJ) with two 20 mm guns was moved to Oulu.
Since mid-December 1939 two platoons of 4th Anti-Aircraft MG Company (4.It.KKK) operated at Hyrynsalmi and Kuhmo area (I and II/4.It.KKK) protecting Finnish troops and one platoon (III/4.It.KKK) at Kontiomäki which was an important railway crossing. On 25.12.1939 Lt. Silvo was appointed to Anti-Aircraft Commander of North Finland Group (P-SR) and had Air Defence Regional Centers (IPAK) of Nurmes, Kuhmo and later also Oulu under his command. 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery (9.Kev.It.Ptri) was moved to Kontiomäki north from Kajaani at the end of the war.
Capt. C.-A. Ehrnrooth became
Finnish Anti-Aircraft Liaison Officer in Swedish Group
SFr. in February 1940.
Swedish Anti-Aircraft Defence in the North
When the Swedish volunteers began to arrive in Finland during January 1940 air raid defence improved a lot in the north. Volunteer motorized Anti-Aircraft Company / SFK led by Lt. Per Frumerie was formed for the regional air defence and rear area of SFK. Only about half of the company personnel had anti-aircraft training which was initially given also to untrained men. For the close defence volunteer Swedish troops had light 8 mm twin AAMGs.
Independent AA platoons had their own signals and supply units. There were a total of six light AA gun sections (called platoons) but two of them were subordinated to the Swedish Volunteer Group (SFK):
Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery
By the end of the Winter War also motorized movable Heavy Anti-Aircaft Battery (4 - 75 mm Bofors m/30, m/36 central computer, 8 mm twin AAMG) led by Lt. Ture Mark arrived in Finland. Strength of the battery was about 160 men.
After two weeks training period battery was ordered to be moved to the positions east from the town of Rovaniemi on 20.2.1940. During the last weeks of the war battery protected Rovaniemi but couldn't shoot down any planes. Heavy anti-aircraft protection although forced all Soviet planes to fly much higher and prevented all further air raids against the protected city. When Kemijärvi was now on bombed instead battery was moved to Kemijärvi on 13.3.1940.
After the end of the Winter War on 13.3.1940
volunteers helped in evaquating of Salla region which was
ceded to USSR. Volunteers left Finland at the beginning
of April 1940 leaving their equipment to Finnish
© 2002 - 8.7.2005 Harri Anttonen