Февральские бои оцениваются как довольно серьезные:
As is known, Finnish fighter units claimed 207 air victories during the Winter War. A big majority of these air victory claims were SB 2 or DB 3 bombers - 153, almost 74 % (+ 1 TB 3 shot down by Swedish volunteer group F 19). The gunners of Soviet bombers managed to shoot down only 2 Finnish fighters - thus the kill/loss ratio of Finnish fighters vs. Soviet bombers in Winter War was more than 75:1. Not all of these claims have been verified by Soviet bomber unit loss records, but also Soviet records confirm quite heavy losses in air combat. During December 1939 about 50 Soviet SB 2´s and DB 3´s were lost, and during January 1940 losses continued to be equally high. During the Dec. 1939 and Jan. 1940 Finnish fighter units (incl. F 19) lost only 4 planes in air-to-air combat, which is remarkable taking in account the Soviet air combat losses at the same time.
This needs analysis. In my opinion the biggest reason was the Soviet bombing strategy. It was based on Giulio Douhet´s erroneus theory that "bomber gets always through" and that bomber formations are able to defend themselves withouth fighter support. Soviet air commanders sent unescorted and often small formations (less than 10 planes) against Finnish targets. At the beginning there was also underestimation of Finnish fighter units, but by late Dec. 1939 it must have been clear to Soviets that bomber units that Finnish Fokker fighters were often able to catch SB 2 and DB 3. However, the same faulty strategy was continued in January 1940. The Soviet strategic bombing campaign failed - it did not stop Finnish infrastructure to function and very many Soviet bomber aircrews were lost.
When it comes to Soviet fighter units in Dec. 1939 - Jan. 1940, their performance was obsolete also. There may have been some logical reasons for this - without extra fuel tanks Polikarpov fighters were unable to escort bombers to targets deep in Finnish territory. Finnish air commanders were also unwilling to risk their few fighters in fighter vs. fighter combats, so Finnish fighter units avoided such combat situations and engaged only when the fighter vs. fighter was unavoidable. Bombers were the primary targets for Finnish fighters. Combats against Soviet fighters were of secondary importance.
However in February 1940 things changed. Soviets concentrated more in tactical bombing near frontlines and Soviet bomber formations were often protected by strong fighter escort. If the bombing targets were deep in Finnish territory, escort fighters were equipped with drop tanks containing extra fuel. Soviet fighter units became more aggressive and forced Finnish fighters more often in combat. During February and March of 1940 Finnish fighter units lost 18 planes in air combats vs. Soviet fighters. In total Finns lost 20 fighters in air combats vs. Soviet fighters during the Winter War. Soviet fighter units managed to destroy also two Finnish fighters on ground.
In total Finnish fighter units claimed 42 Soviet fighters destroyed during the Winter War - about 20 % of Finnish total claims. By 2001/2002 the study of loss records of Soviet fighter units confirm the loss of 15 - 20 Soviet fighters in air combat during Winter War. The possible Finnish overclaiming is not so much when compared to average overclaiming of other air forces during WW2.
However, the main point is that the "kill/loss" -ratio of Finnish fighter units was only 2:1 or less against Soviet fighter units. This shows that Soviet fighter units were capable to challenge Finnish fighters and caused considerable losses during the Winter War. If Soviets had used their fighter units more actively and efficiently right from the start of war, this would have changed considerably the course of aereal warfare during the Winter War.
The main question is why the changes in strategy and in tactics of Soviet air units were made in February 1940 and not earlier? Should Finns "thank" Giulio Douhet for creating erroneus airwar doctrine of "invincible bombers", because it was adopted by Soviets and was perhaps the ultimate cause of considerable losses to SB 2 and DB 3 units?
Sources: LeR 2/Suomen Ilmavoimien historia 17 (Keskinen & Stenman 2001), Suomen Ilmavoimien hävittäjähankinnat 1918 - 1945 (Haapanen 2002). I have taken also look on Geust´s books of Red Stars series, vol. 5 and vol. 7, which give excellent basic information about Soviet air units during Winter War.
I have also looked the axishistory forum threads about this same topic. There has been very extensive discussion about the claim and loss records of both sides. This may seem futile, but actually "kill/loss" -ratio was very important information for the commanders of air units during the war - the more accurate it was, better picture it gave about the success and failure in airwar - this same goes for also for any airwar historian. However here I would like the discussion to concentrate more in the changes of strategies and tactics of airwar during Winter War.
>Sources: LeR 2/Suomen Ilmavoimien historia 17 (Keskinen & Stenman 2001), Suomen Ilmavoimien hävittäjähankinnat 1918 - 1945 (Haapanen 2002). I have taken also look on Geust´s books of Red Stars series, vol. 5 and vol. 7, which give excellent basic information about Soviet air units during Winter War.
Да я в курсе, у меня эти книги стоят с дарственными подписями авторов и с благодарностями мне от них в тексте (ну кроме "ред старз-5", к ней я никаким боком) за информацию по нашим.
По меркам "Зимней войны" февраль действительно месяц довольно серьезных воздушных боев. Ну если сравнивать с декабрем и особенно январем. Но это только по меркам зимней войны. Сравнительно серьезные "рубилова" были во второй половине месяца, когда финны попытались отказаться от практики не засылать истребители к линии фронта и начали действовать активнее, что привело к нескольким стычкам с советскими истребителями с печальными для финнов итогами.
Что ж, сойдемся на том, что по меркам Зимней войны это были горячие бои.
Когда сравнительно небольшой иностранный контингент теряет за 3-4 недели половину личного состава убитыми и тяжело ранеными, есть основания для такого вывода.
>По меркам "Зимней войны" февраль действительно месяц довольно серьезных воздушных боев. Ну если сравнивать с декабрем и особенно январем. Но это только по меркам зимней войны. Сравнительно серьезные "рубилова" были во второй половине месяца, когда финны попытались отказаться от практики не засылать истребители к линии фронта и начали действовать активнее, что привело к нескольким стычкам с советскими истребителями с печальными для финнов итогами.