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Gollevainen
Post subject: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: March 31st, 2011, 11:19 am
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Periodically I go trough my old drawings in the finnish folder, to keep the par with my latest skill (and I was who orginally started this maddness ;) Even the grand ol' man though me beeing bit obsessive in it...)
Usually the reason for such has been sorting the ships to be ready for my AU purposes (as I always intend to use the OTL finnish ships in my scenarios aside with never-wheres and pure own desinged ones.)

This time I've been going trough the WWII era and basicly retouched all my drawings from that era. So I decide to use the posting of them for opportunity to explain a thing or two about them and generally about the naval aspect of our wars.

Coastal Defence ships

The two biggest and most important ships in our navy where the two coastal defence ships (or coastal battle ship depending how you look at it), Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen. They were build according to the Naval Act of 1927, only one of its kind in our history, and basicly the only time ever when our government had will to allow the navy to have normal expansion secured by the law to be fullfilled in worth coming budgets.
For a poor and small country like Finland has been, such Act was hugely important as basicly any single opportunity to restrengthen the navy was lost into the midst of the general chief of staff (where navy was as represented as any army division), and if any naval program ever got trough the chieff of staff, the paraliament would finaly shoot it down due lack of money or other random "excuse".

But not in 1927! Back then the naval circles did their best lobbying which was unheard in our political culture. Many of the land-orientated historians have blamed the naval act of 1927 beeing one of the biggest reason for the Army's lack of material-wise prepairness at the eve of the winterwar, but IMO such is just blaming the navy from the mistakes of the Army made itself by lack of intiative in ensuring funds.

The Naval Act of 1927 consisted from building two "armoured gunboats" and four submarines and some small craft minesweepers and utility boats. The armoured gun boats were orginally investigated to be smallish gunboats, but the navy was thinking big at the time and lobbyed to accept a Swedish Panserskepp concept trough. The ships were designed by Swedish engineers with help of German cover firm (that were alledged to experience to use of diesel-eletric drive for these ships for the german's own armoured ships then on desing state). The ships themselves were build in Chrichton-Vulcan yards at Turku and where the biggest ships then build in Finland and with 3,900 tons still remaining as the biggest warships ever build in Finland.

The ships weren't a naval architecturall master achievments, as the small size restricted their usefullness and the universal rule of thumb of not putting too much on two small size. They weren't good seaboats, their machinery complex was generally unstatisfactory in terms of volume and weigth intensitiviness, the Absolute displacement and draught limit imposed by the parliament and the naval staff made them under-armoured for effective use and late war experience showed that only two capital ships for small navy doesen't work!

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In appereance they were somewhat ungainly and box like, during the Splithead review in 1937, the Legendary comment from Brittish officers of "how Finland is such martime power that even its ligthvessels have 10 inch guns!" speaks much of their appereance.
But overally they weren't that bad miss-investment. Despite the Naval Act didn't include any escorts for them (nor was the navy able to aquire ones later), their existence in the Baltic enverioment still abled them to act as "fleet in beeing." Soviet Union had only two old Dreadnougths in Baltic and their two heavy cruisers had inferior gunnery against the four 10 inch barrels of each of our ships. In strategical wise this would have mean the Soviets needing to risk the bulk of their entire fleet to bring them down if we would have embloyed them to the scene... Soviet Union never engaged them in Battle nor attempt to invade the Ahvenanmaa/Åland archipegalo during 1939 or 1944 (where the ships spend most of their war service) when they operationally had the sea dominance.

Also in 1944 after the armsistice, Germans were bold enough to send Prinz Eugen to bully the Fortress of Utö to release captured netlayers, but she never endured into Åland itself where Väinämöinen was stationing.

[ img ]

Then again, our Navy never did deploy them operationally against the enemy, aside few times bombarding the Soviet base in Hanko, prior its fall in 1941. Partially the reason for this was that the sole time they did so (in sense) was in late 1941, when soviets were getting bottlenecked to Kronstad and the Germans hoped for capturing Leningrad they wanted to lure the Soviet fleet to try to escape the city in attempt to flee into Sweeden.
To achieve this, our forces were intended to perform series of fake rushes to the open seas with big vessels to dimulate the Soviet inteligence for possible naval assault to the Kronstad. During such sortie, Ilmarinen struck mine that got trapped to its paravane, and sunk with heavy loss of life. Väinämöinen was then never left the archipegalo and was most of the time stationed in Åland or Kotka.

After the war, when the war reparations called Finland to cede all German property in Finland to Soviets, it was reached an agreement that Väinämöinen could be included as such German property and it was sold to Soviets to amortize this german-recievables.

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Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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Gollevainen
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: March 31st, 2011, 11:45 am
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Submarines

Another class of vessels that the Naval Act of 1927 called were submarines. Submarines were deemed as most important ships for smaller navies during those days, and our Navy was eager to aquire them in every possible ways. Old Tsarist AG- calss submarines were salvaged and attempted to repair, as were sunked British submarines that were serving the Tsar in 1917 also surveyed for such operation.

Nothing came out of these, but instead the German consulatants in those operations adived of building entirely new submarines designed by the IVs, a covert Dutch firm that was german's surrogate for bypassing the Versailes treaty. First boats to be build were three Iku-Turso class "minelaying and ocean going" type boats. They were in effect only improved models of WWI era German u-boats and thus not very fast or having good Under sea capabilities. But they served with dignity never the less. Iku-Turso was first warship build in Independent Finland, and the three ships served all way up to the end of hostilities to 1944 when the Armistice called them to be demobilised and the Paris Peace treaty of 1947 called banning of Submarines in Finnish navy. There were three boats of their class, Iku-Turso, Vetehinen and Vesihiisi.

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During the war, they were embloyed rather wide spectrum of operations, but due the inactivity of Soviets to use large warships to their full extend, ill-adviced orders during the evacuation of Hanko and Tallin in 1941 and their general obsolence in terms of speed and working torbedoes led rather minimal score, expecially in 1941 when they were actively deployed against the soviet convoys. Their most notable succes coming from using them as surfaced submarine hunters or escorts during 1942 when they had depth charges deployed on their stern. During these campaings they scored several soviet Submarines that were trying to reach pass Åland to the Gulf of Botnia. A notable action was encounter of ShtSh-305 vs. our Vetehinen, where Vetehinen eventually sunked the soviet boat by ramming.

A small midget submarined called Saukko was also build during the naval act, with intention to use it during wartime in Lake Laatokka. She was never a succsessfull boat and spend most of her time on various repairs than in operative deployment.

[ img ]

The fifth boat was the Vesikko, which was intially a private venture of the Vulcan yard to build a prototype for the Germans for their own Type II class coastal submarine. The boat was of new generation and generally regarded as most suited boat for our enverioment. After Germans had used it enough, our navy managed to secure funds for purchasing the boat and it was allocated to the fleet. She also is sole remaing boat nowadays, beeing a museum in Suomenlinna fortess outside Helsinki.

[ img ]

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Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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Gollevainen
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: March 31st, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Gunboats

During the WWII, the bulk of our fleet came up from four old gunboats that were orginally ordered by the Tsar from Finnish shipyards, and whom after various adventures ended up into the new Finnish navy after the independence and Civil War.

Two larger ones, Hämeenmaa and Uusimaa were the most capable of them, good sea boats for their size and enverioment and were most suited for different kind of minewarfare functions as well. Intially they carried two old Russian 102mm guns but in 1943 were given new German Sk/32 105mm mounts that were ordered for their replacements, a class of four fast diesel escorts that where never build. They also had two 40mm Bofors and 20mm Madnessen AA guns.

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During the war, they were deployed basicly in ever possible naval action there were, combating the soviet ligth forces and Naval Aviation with great success during the figths of various islands in Gulf of Finland that shifted their ownership while the fortunes of war rolled their dices. Due this heavy service, they were often shoot down by the enemy into floating hulks, then quickly repaired and send into the line again. After the war, they gave another heavy service in the minecleareance operation that lasted untill 1948 and took heavy toll on the small tonnage...Finland was obligated to have 200 minesweeper to be used for the international minecleareance program, where as only mere dozen such ships existed in our naval list. And of those, the Uusimaa and Hämeenmaa were the best.

Their last call for service came in 1948, when in the paraliament elctions, the Socialists and Conservative parties launched up a rumor of possible Communist coup ála Checkoslovakia and the strenghen this scheme, various means of rather public acts of preparedness were made. Among these acts, Uusimaa and Hämeenmaa (the biggest ships of the navy at the time) were called to station outside the President's palace as "reinforced honour guard".
Nothing of the rumoured coup came out, except a convidient electionary win for the non-communist parties.

After that, both ships were soon regarded as unseaworhty and their long serivice was finaly over.

Two smaller boats, Turunmaa and Karjala were rather poor seaboats, intended to be as some sort of semi-auxillary submarine net guard ships in Tsarist navy, and used as school ships by our navy and as gunboats in the war. They had two 75mm guns, and weren't that successfull as their bigger brothers, but were never the less used with same level and achieving similar treatment from the Soviets. Turunmaa managed to get herself sunked by the Soviet Air force in 1943 but she was hurriedly salvaged and repaired and put back in service.

[ img ]

There were also two converted fishing vessels, armed with one soviet 130mm B-13 naval guns, and serving as Auxillary gunboats Viena and Aunus, but sofar I've yet found suitable material to drawn them. Another "black spot" in my reference material covers the myriad of larger coat-guard vessels that were used as escorts during the war.

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Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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moxica
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: March 31st, 2011, 2:26 pm
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Very nice drawings, Finland during the war is an intresting part of history I think.
My grandfather who passed away in 2001 went over to Finland from Gotland to participate in the war


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Gollevainen
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 1st, 2011, 10:01 am
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Minewarfare vessels part I

The farmost important naval weapon in baltics were the sea mine. Traditionally the Tsarist navy and the soviet navy were pioneers in minewarfare and German's never stayed far behind in this aspect. In matter of fact, the German enthusiasm to mine the Gulf of Finland in 1941-1945 was beyond anything seen before. Totally over 60,000 mines were laid in the Gulf of Finland, and to put this to perspective, Mediterranean sea, despite beeing 8 times bigger in area and hundred times more strategical in grand scale had about 100,000 mines laid.
About 2/3 of the ammount of Mines laid in Gulf of Finland was done by the Germans, and the remaingn third was done roughly by Fins and Soviets in equall share.
In fact, the Continuation war started (few days even before the German Barbarossa started) by mining operations by our Submarines, and the war ended by our forces with laying of defensive minefields south of Ahvenanmaa/Åland to prevent German landings in 1945.

The mines beeing so important, its not suprise that they were laid down by every possible method, by dedicated minelayers, converted civilian ships, by gunboats and minesweepers down to fast attack craft and patroll launches, submarines and via Aircraft. In Lake Ladoga and Onega, the ground units laid mines to the ice-cap in attempting to get false start in mining when the sailing season started (this wasen't that succesfull after all).

Mines also became the most effective weapon in terms of losses to each three war-figthing parties in the Gulf Of Finland. In fact during the evacuation of Tallin, the Soviet Losses to the german and Finnish minefields were so huge that they almost top as the worst naval disaster in the history in terms of loss of life.

To this end its rather suprising that Finnish navy didn't have such large, well armed minelaying cruisers that many other small-to-mediocore navy had.
In fact our largest minelayer was eldery ex-Tsarist auxillary minelayer called Louhi, build in 1915 and used usually as depot ship and tender rather than minelayer.
She served with dignity trough the winter war and continuation war, only to struck at mine during the war against Germans in 1945.

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The only dedicated minelayers build in Finland were the Two Ruotsinsalmi class vessels. They were rather small, with only 400 tons or so in full load, but could take 100 mines and had fair good seakeeping and shallow draugth to be usefull in all areas in our shallow waters. They were also best ships suited for minesweeping.
[ img ]

Of them two, Riilahti sunk in 1943 by Soviet MTBs attack, but Ruotsinsalmi survived well into the 70's when the old lady was finaly retired and replaced by the Schoolship/minelayer Pohjanmaa. in 1944 it was planned to build two more of these ships, but no funding was secured. in late 50's when the naval rebuilding finaly got away, a near-sister to them, Keihässalmi was build to bit larger dimensions and better capacity.

Of the smaller vessels used for minelaying, I present here the Mineboats of Pommi and Loimu class. These were tiny motor vessels build for the Tsar in Finland during the WWI for mobilisation minelayers, and they could took about 12 mines each. They were slow, poorly build, small and overloaded and were kept in service to untill 1950's, then sold to civilian owners of which one IRC still floats today!

[ img ]

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Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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Gollevainen
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 1st, 2011, 10:18 am
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Minewarfare part II

Dedicated minesweepers had always been the achiless heel for our navy. For long it was thougth that during crisis, civilian ships (tugs) could be taken into service as auxillary minesweepers, but as the technology marched on and mines became more complex and demanding to the sweepers, the need of specialised minesweepers has grown more demanding. Yet it took up to these recent years before our navy finaly embarked to purchase proper, seagoing MCM vessels of ship size, by Ficanteri firm from Italy in 2007.

In WWII, our MCM fleet consisted of odd collection of vessels.

"Proper" minesweepers were only the two venerable old Tsarist "Fugas" class ships, Rautu and Vilpula. They were rather obsolete in 1939, and most used as tenders than true sweepers. Vilppula was sunk in 1944 by Soviet aircrafts, but Rautu survived to 1950 when she was also scrapped.

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During the late 30's a series of small motor minesweepers of Ahven class were build for the navy. This series were followed by similar Kuha class, build during the winter-war and intermediate peace. These were small boats good inshore sweeping, but they weren't that seaworthy to be used in open seas.
[ img ]

After the winter war, Soviets placed an order for few tugs from Finnish yards, and when the new war started, these vessels were taken by our Navy and embarked as either coastal escorts or minesweepers. Expecially the Jurmo class, a riverine tugs were well regarded becouse of their strong engine output that was well suited for the minesweeping. Despite their usefullness, the intermediate peace in 1944 called them to be returned to Soviets.
[ img ]
[ img ]

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Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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ALVAMA
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 1st, 2011, 4:20 pm
I love this, I always liked the small fleets it most. The first Finnish seaman sould be pround on you!


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Hood
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 1st, 2011, 7:03 pm
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A very good set of drawings. Well drawn and with some interesting history too.

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odysseus1980
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 4th, 2011, 6:42 am
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Very interesting story!


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Gollevainen
Post subject: Re: Finnish Navy in WWIIPosted: April 4th, 2011, 10:51 am
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Small craft

Of all vessels, the motor torbedo boats proved out to be most succesfull and most suited ship type to our navy in WWII. Despite the early war obsolence of our FAC arm, and the inactivity of Soviet surface fleet since the 1941 made their overall score in sunken tonnage small, when they were deployed against the enemy, the succes was usually ensured. Most notable action was the sinking of large Gunboat Krasnaya Zamnja in Lavansaari 1942 (mind that this 1,800 ton vessel with 5 130mm guns was the largest vessel Soviets deployed outside Kronstad after the fall of Hanko and Tallinn) by the eldery Thornycroft type MBTs backed with ex-Soviet G-5 class warbooty craft.
Also, during the fall of 1944, when German's decided to invade Suursaari from us, it was the MBTs that throw away the german landing force, sinking its MFBs and damaging the supporting M-class minesweeper/escorts.

First MTB in our navy were two Sisu class boats, Sisu and Hurja which were former italian MAS-220 series boats. They were old and venerable by 1939, their bows not suited for Baltic wave's, but yet they were used until 1942 when they were discarded as unseaworthy. in 1941 Sisu managed to sunk a Soviet Fugas (pr.3 ) class large minesweeper in Suursaari.
[ img ]

There was also a 3rd similar boat build in Finland (of which I yet not have good linedrawing) called Isku

The next series of boats bougth in 1928 where the 4 Thornycroft 55' foot series boats, of which two were build in UK, and two in Finland. They served untill 1943, when they were moved to Lake Ladoga to use as patrol crafts and fast minelayers, and later discarded before the end of the war.

[ img ]

There were 3 G-5 class boats captured in our navy and named as Viima, Vihuri and Viima-3 (and Vihuri renamed as Viima-2 at some point). Also one D-3 class boat was used, but it was mostly embarked as patrol boat with 40mm bofors instead of torbedoes. All these boats were returned to Soviet Union after the armistice.
[ img ]
[ img ]

The saga of aquiring modern Torbedo crafts begun in 1939 but it took up untill 1943 before the first then ordered boats, the 5 Baglietto build Hurja class vessels arrived in Finland. Our navy had been impressed of the Italian MAS type boats well before WWII as the side launched torbedoes were far superior to the island rugged coastlines and shallow waters compared to the English Thornycroft boats aft launched torbedoes whom to be used most effectively demanded lots of open waters for long passages in full speed, and such outcluded the full tactical advantage that our waters offered for defender.

[ img ]

The Hurja class was not a succesfull in service, as their engines proved out to be failure and prevented their purposefull use as attack vessels. Thus they served as fast minelayers and patrol boats instead.

Finland also ordered mordern Thornycroft boats from UK and from Higgin's in the US. Due the War these orders were never placed, as neither was the German order of 4 E-boats that were ordered in 1944 but not delivered due Fürher's whims regarding the arms-embargo to Finland imposed after our government asked Allied terms in early 1944.

But the Hurja class weren't the first Baglietto boats in our Navy. In 1942 German's had also realised the misserable status of our MBT fleet and were rather embarrased of the equipment we used to high-value torbedo attacks. Expecially the need for using MBTs in lake Laatokka agains the supply convoys to Leningrad siege was noted and as Germans themselves lacked any MBTs that could be transferred via landway, they asked Italians to help. At this point Italy was allready established good practice of sending boats to Black Sea, so the 1.300 Km long transfer to Laatokka was not a overwhelmed task, and 4 boats were send up here. In 1943 they were purchased by our Navy and given J- names.

[ img ]

Best of the Baglietto's were (naturally ;) ) the ones that were build in Finland in Turun Veneveistämö, the 8 strong Taisto class build in 1943 and two more 1946. Of these, one vessel, Tuima had briefly torbedo tubes fitted instead of the normal racks. After the war they were all given 40mm Bofors guns instead of TTs as the Paris Peace treaty forbid the use of MBTs. Despite the Ban, the purpose of these new "motor gun boats" (as well as the post war Vasama and Nuoli class crafts) were to serve in their orginal role as soon as new crisis would envolp, so the tactical training retained all the MBT functions despite them beeing forbidden.

[ img ]


At last, the I present the VMV class, a group of motor patrol boats of the Merivariolaitos, or coast guard, that were incorporated into the navy in 1939. There were overally severall subclasses of these vessels (preciding the most numerous VMV-8 class) and some odd motor boats were also given the VMV - prefix. The VMV-8 was the largest, most numerous and most buetifull of them all, and during the war these boats served in patrol-, ASW-, anti-small craft-, guard-, escorts, minelayers-, minesweepers- and even limitedly torbedo vessels, always sublementing the lack of dedicated vessels for such purposes. They served well and participated in basicly every maritime operation there were, including rescuing the men aboard sunken Ilmarinen and Riilahti Several were lost during the war and they scored atleast one Soviet Submarine in 1942.

[ img ]

_________________
Coming next: L/M Moskva, some research ships, pr.26bis, Pr.1144 remakes and Project 1143 complete redux.



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