Red Wings in the Winter War 1939-1940

Published: October 25th, 2020     
Product Image
Front Cover
Author: Carl-Fredrik Geust
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 978-83-65958-51-8
E-Book ISBN #: 8365958511
Other Publication Information: Illustrators: Vasily Zolotov and Karolina Holda, Hard Cover, Square Bound, A4 [8.5” x 12.0”], 352 pages
Price: $52.00
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

MMP was founded in 1996 by Roger Wallsgrove, to publish "Mushroom Model Magazine". This quarterly modelling magazine was developed from "Mushroom Monthly", a club newsletter which ran from 1985 to 1995, achieving a world-wide reputation for quality articles, fearless and honest reviews, and a great sense of humor. From 1997 the magazine was produced in collaboration with Robert Peczkowski and Artur Juszczak (Stratus), which meant a big leap in print quality and design. MMP expanded into book publication in 1999, and since then they have built up a list of books on aircraft and aviation, naval, military vehicles, and military history. MMP Books are distributed in North America by Casemate Publications.

Carl-Fredrik Geust is a noted Russian aviation author. Previous books include Red Stars in the Sky: Soviet Air Force in World War Two (1979); Red Stars in the Sky 2: Soviet Air Force in World War Two (1983); Red Stars in the Sky 3: Soviet Air Force in World War Two (1983); Under the Red Star: Luftwaffe Aircraft in the Soviet Air Force (1993); and Red Stars 4: Lend-Lease Aircraft in Russia (2002).

The book is hardbound with a nice glossy hard cover, and 352 pages on high-quality stock. The text is in English and quite readable. I counted 512 black and white photographs, many seeing their first time in print. Vasily Zolotov and Karolina Holda provide 48 color side profiles highlighting markings details. Many of the unit sections have tables with the primary result that this book contains a whopping 83 tables.

The Soviet Union invaded Finland on 30-November-1939 as part of Stalin's effort to reclaim their puppet state they lost during the Russian Revolution. Originally part of the Swedish Kingdom, the Russian Empire invaded and conquered Finland in 1908. A Finnish Civil War in 1918 kicked out all remaining communists and Finland declared their independence. Stalin's "Winter War" lasted only three and a half months, ending with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13-March-1940. The Finns put up a stiff resistance for over two months in the sub-zero weather, but eventually the Soviets prevailed. Finland ended up turning 11 percent of its land to the Soviets, while the Soviets suffered heavy losses and international condemnation. Even worse, the Soviet's poor performance encouraged Adolf Hitler that Germany would be easily victorious over the Soviets. Of course the Soviets would emerge victorious, but at a horrible cost.

Carl-Fredrik Geust kicks off this tome with the background leading up to the Winter War and then provides a synopsis of the political and military machinations that led to the invasion. Nevertheless, the focus of this tale is the Air War, and that starts on page 16 with a discussion of the Soviet Air Force command, organization, aircraft industry, and aircraft. What follows is a review of every Soviet Aviation unit that was active in the Winter War. As you can see by the following Table of Contents, the number of units was huge. Unit histories include their bases, aircraft, organization, their missions, and their results. Some of these histories are short, but many go into great detail and utilize first person accounts to describe their missions. Keep in mind that the Soviets had an overwhelming dominance in the air. Indeed, most of the Soviet losses were due to accidents and weather issues rather than combat.

The Finnish Air Force is addressed by Carl-Fredrik Geust next. Of course, the Finnish Air Force started the Winter War with a mere 116 aircraft, most of those obsolete. This is compared to where the Soviets committed over 2,000 out of some 5,000 aircraft available. The Finns decided to focus on downing Soviet bombers and purposely avoided the Soviet fighters. The Finnish Air Force managed to acquire a few more aircraft during the short Winter War, and employed foreign mercenaries from Sweden and Poland. Many of these aircraft would be put to good use in the following Continuation War, in 1941. The sections include:

  • English Abbreviations
  • Finnish Abbreviations
  • Soviet Army and Air Force Ranks, Officers [Table]
  • Soviet Army and Air Force Ranks, NCOs [Table]
  • Soviet Navy Ranks [Table]
  • Soviet Political Officer Ranks [Table]
  • Forward
  • The Winter War - General Outline
    • Baltic Bases
    • Negotiations with Finland
    • War Preparations
    • Soviet Military Supreme Command
  • Red Army in the Winter War
    • North-West front (SZFr)
    • Red Army Air Force (VVS RKKA)
      • High Command
      • Aircraft Industry
      • Aviation Regiment Structure
      • Regiment Type [Table]
    • Main Soviet Combat Aircraft in the Winter War [Page 31]
    • Army for Special Purpose (AON)
    • Soviet Naval Air Forces (VVS VMF) in the Winter War
    • Leningrad Military District Air Force (VVS LVO)
    • Northwest Front Air Force (VVS SZFr)
    • Air Force of the 7th Army (VVS 7.A)
    • Air Force of the 13th Army (VVS13.A)
      • VVS 13.A Organization [Table]
    • Special Aviation Brigade (OAB), Later Special Aviation Group (OAG)
      • OAG Organization
      • OAG Loss Summary
    • Air Force of the 8th Army (VVS 8.A)
    • Air Force of the 15th Army (VVS 15.A)
    • Air Force of the 9th Army (VVS 9.A)
    • Air Force of the 14th Army (VVS 14.A)
      • VVS 14.A (Murmansk Aviation Brigade) 12.1.1940
  • Aviation Brigades
    • 10th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (10 SBAB)
    • 13th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (13 SBAB)
    • 14th Aviation Brigade (14 AB)
    • 15th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (15 SBAB)
    • 16th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (16 SBAB)
      • 16 SBAB Mission Statistics [Table]
      • 16 SBAB Losses [Table]
    • 18th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (18 SBAB)
      • 18 SBAB Missions [Table]
      • 18 SBAB Bombing Targets [Table]
    • 9th Light Bomber Aviation Brigade (19 LBAB)
    • 27th Long-Range Bomber Aviation Brigade (27 DBAB)
      • 29th Heavy Bomber Aviation Brigade (29 TBAB); also 29th Long-Range Bomber Aviation Brigade (29 DBAB)
    • 54th Fighter Aviation Brigade (54 IAB)
    • 55th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (55 SBAB)
    • 59th Fighter Aviation Brigade (59 IAB)
    • 68th Light Bomber Aviation Brigade (68 LBAB); later 68th Fast Bomber Aviation Brigade (68 SBAB)
    • 71st Light Bomber Aviation Brigade (671 LBAB)
  • Regiments
    • 1st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment (1 TBAP)
    • 2nd Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (2 SBAP)
    • 2nd Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (2 LBAP)
    • 3rd Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (3 LBAP)
    • 3rd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment (3 TBAP) [Page 75]
    • 4th Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (4 LBAP)
    • 4th Fighter Aviation Regiment (4 IAP)
    • 4th Fighter Aviation Regiment (4 IAP)
      • 5th Detached Mixed Aviation Regiment (5 OSAP), from January 1940 5th Detached Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (5 OSBAP)
    • 5th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (5 SBAP)
    • 6th Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment (6 DBAP)
    • 7th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment (7 TBAP)
    • 7th Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment (7 DBAP)
    • 7th Fighter Aviation Regiment (7 IAP)
    • 7th Light Ground Attack Aviation Regiment (7 LShAP)
    • 9th Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (9 LBAP)
      • 9th Ground Attack Aviation Regiment (9 ShAP), also 9th Light Ground Attack Aviation Regiment (9 LShAP)
    • 9th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (9 SBAP)
    • 10th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (10 SBAP)
    • 11th Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (11 SBAP)
    • 13th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (13 SBAP)
    • 14th Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (14 RAP)
    • 14th Transport Aviation Regiment (14 TAP)
    • 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment (15 IAP)
    • 16th Fighter Aviation Regiment (16 IAP)
    • 16th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (16 SBAP)
    • 18th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (18 SBAP)
    • 19th Fighter Aviation Regiment (19 IAP)
    • 20th Fighter Aviation Regiment (20 IAP)
    • 21st Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment (21 DBAP)
    • 23rd Fighter Aviation Regiment (23 IAP)
    • 24th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (24 SBAP)
    • 25th Fighter Aviation Regiment (25 IAP)
    • 26th Fighter Aviation Regiment (26 IAP)
    • 27th Fighter Aviation Regiment (27 IAP)
    • 31st Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (31 SBAP)
    • 33rd Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (33 SBAP)
    • 34th Fighter Aviation Regiment (34 IAP)
    • 35th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (35 SBAP)
    • 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment (38 IAP)
    • 39th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (39 SBAP)
    • 41st Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (41 SBAP)
    • 42nd Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment (42 DBAP)
    • 43rd Light Bomber Aviation Regiment (43 LBAP)
    • 44th Fighter Aviation Regiment (44 IAP)
    • 44th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (44 SBAP)
    • 45th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (45 SBAP)
    • 48th Fighter Aviation Regiment (48 IAP)
    • 48th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (48 SBAP)
    • 49th Fighter Aviation Regiment (49 IAP)
    • 49th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (49 SBAP)
    • 50th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (50 SBAP)
    • 52nd Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (52 SBAP)
    • 53nd Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment (53 DBAP)
    • 54th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (54 SBAP)
    • 58th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (58 SBAP)
    • 60th Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (60 SBAP)
    • 63rd Fast Bomber Aviation Regiment (63 SBAP)
    • 68th Fighter Aviation Regiment (68 IAP) [Page 191]
    • 69th Fighter Aviation Regiment (69 IAP)
    • 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment (72 SAP)
    • 80th Mixed Aviation Regiment (80 SAP)
    • 85th Special Purpose Aviation Regiment (85 AP ON)
    • 145th Fighter Aviation Regiment (145 IAP)
    • 146th Fighter Aviation Regiment (146 IAP)
    • 147th Detached Fighter Aviation Regiment (147 OIAP)
    • 148th Fighter Aviation Regiment (148 IAP)
    • 149th Fighter Aviation Regiment (149 IAP)
    • 152nd Fighter Aviation Regiment (152 IAP)
    • 153rd Fighter Aviation Regiment (153 IAP)
  • Detached Aviation Squadrons (OAE)
    • 1st Air Defense Fighter Aviation Squadron (1 IAE PVO)
    • 1st Long-Range Reconnaissance Squadron (1 DRAE)
    • 4th Long-Range Reconnaissance Squadron (4 DRAE)
    • 8th Detached Night Aviation Squadron (8 ONAE)
    • 12th Detached Fighter Aviation Squadron (12 OIAE)
    • 12th Detached Special Purpose Aviation Squadron (12 OAE ON)
    • 19th Detached Aviation Squadron (19 OAE)
    • 29th Detached Liaison Aviation Squadron (29 OAES)
    • 31st Military Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (31 VRAE)
    • 32nd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (32 RAE)
    • 33rd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (33 RAE)
    • 34th Long-Range Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (34 DRAE)
    • 38th Heavy Transport Aviation Squadron (38 TTAE)
    • 41st Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (41 RAE)
    • 50th Detached Aviation Squadron (50 OAE)
    • 56th Detached Army Corps Aviation Squadron (56 OKAE)
  • Detached Aviation Units (OAO)
    • 1st Army Corps Aviation Unit (1 KAO)
    • 2nd Army Corps Aviation Unit (2 KAO)
    • 5th Detached Army Corps Aviation Unit (5 OKAO or 5 KAO)
    • 9th Army Corps Aviation Unit (9 KAO)
    • 11th Army Corps Aviation Unit (11 KAO)
    • 15th Army Corps Aviation Unit (15 KAO)
    • 16th Army Corps Aviation Unit (16 KAO)
    • 18th Army Corps Aviation Unit (18 KAO)
    • 23rd Army Corps Aviation Unit (23 KAO)
    • 33rd Liaison Aviation Uni at 9th Army HQ (33 AO svyazi Shtaba 9.A)
  • Liaison Flights (Aviazveno Svyazi)
    • 29th Liaison Flight (29 AZv sv)
    • 36th Liaison Flight (36 AZv sv)
    • 61st Liaison Flight (61 AZv sv)
    • 69th Liaison Flight (69 AZv sv)
    • 85th Liaison Flight (85 AZv sv)
  • Aviation Groups
    • Aviation Group Tkachenko (Aviagruppa Tkachenko)
    • Aviation Group Filin (Aviagruppa Filina)
    • Aviation Group Spirin (Aviagruppa Spirina)
  • Civil Air Fleet Special Aviation Group (OAG GVF)
    • 1st Combined Aviation Unit of the Civil Air Fleet
    • 2nd Special Unit of Civil Air Fleet (2 OO GVF)
    • 3rd Special Unit of the Civil Air Fleet, also 3rd Combined Special Air Unit of the Civil Ari Fleet (3 OO GVF)
  • Baltic Fleet Air Force (VVS KBF)
    • VVS KBF Organization
    • 8th Bomber Aviation Brigade (8 BAB)
    • 1st Aviation Regiment (1 AP)
    • 57th Aviation Regiment (57 AP) [Page 256]
    • 11th Detached Fighter Aviation Squadron (11 OIAE)
    • 12th Detached Fighter Aviation Squadron (12 OIAE)
    • 13th Detached Fighter Aviation Squadron (13 OIAE)
    • 61st Fighter Aviation Brigade (61 IAB)
    • 5th Fighter Aviation Regiment (5 IAP)
    • Night Fighter Group
    • 13th Fighter Aviation Regiment (13 IAP)
    • 10th Aviation Brigade (10 AB)
    • 1st and 2nd Detached Fast Bomber Aviation Squadron (1 and 2 OSBAE)
      • 3rd Detached Bomber Aviation Squadron (3 OBAE, also called 3 Detached Long-Range Bomber Aviation Squadron 3 OBDAB)
    • 30th Detached Fighter Aviation Squadron (30 OIAE)
    • 12th Detached Maritime Close Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (12 OMBRAE)
    • 43rd Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (43 OMRAE)
    • 43rd Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (43 OMRAE)
    • 44th Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (44 OMRAE)
  • Detached Units
    • 15th Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (15 OMRAP)
    • 18th Maritime Close Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (18 OMBRAE)
    • 19th Maritime Close Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (19 OMBRAE)
    • 58th Detached Aviation Squadron (58 OAE)
    • 12th Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Unit (12 OMRAO)
    • 71st Detached Fire-Control Aviation Unit (71 OKAO)
  • Ladoga Military Flotilla (VVS OKAO)
    • 41st Detached Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (41 OMRAE)
  • Northern Fleet Air Force (VVS SF)
    • 118th Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (118 MRAP)
    • 72nd Aviation Regiment (72 AP)
  • White Sea Flotilla
    • 49th Detached Naval Close-Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron (49 OMBRAE)
  • Claims and Losses
    • Decorated Aviators and Air Force Units
    • Air Victories and Losses
    • Aviator POWs
    • Finnish POWs in Soviet Union
    • Finnish War Booty Aircraft
    • Winter War Impact on the Soviet Air Forces
  • Finnish Air Force During the Winter War 1939-1940
    • Introduction
    • Aircraft Licenses Acquired in 1935-1938
    • Aircraft Procurement in October 1939
    • 30 November 1939 - The Winter War Breaks Out
    • Finnish Air Force Operations Summary
      • International Assistance During the Winter War Assistance Offered by Allied Countries
        • England [Page 313]
        • Polish Government in Exile
        • France
        • USA
        • Germany
        • Private Donations
        • War Booty (Ex-Soviet) Aircraft
        • Aircraft Production and Maintenance
        • Personnel References
        • Basic Training Abroad
        • Offensive Plans in March 1940
        • War Ends 13 March 1940
        • Finnish Air Force After the Winter War
    • Epilogue
  • Colour Profiles [Page 347]

I was extremely impressed with this volume's coverage of the three and a half month's operations during the Winter War. There is a lot of detail on organizational structures and operations, but this is not a tedious read. The combat chronicles are quite interesting and the inclusion of first person accounts, grab your attention. The 512 captioned photographs that are included throughout just add to it. Carl-Fredrik Geust presents a tremendous amount of research to bear, integrating both sides of the battle.

A good example is from the 149th Fighter Aviation Regiment's engagement of 15-February-1940. Thirty-six SB bombers were escorted by seven I-16s and four I-153s on a mission to bomb the Imatra hydro-electric power station. Six Finnish Fokker D.XXIs rose to engage. Major Syusyukalov's flight claimed two Fokker's downed with one "was set afire" and the other "crashed uncontrolled to the ground". The other four Fokker's escaped Major Suusyukalov's wrath, although the Major did note that an "SB like aircraft" was in flames. The Ilmavoimat claim was "did not lose any fighters".

My thanks to Casemate, Mushroom Model Publications, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this excellent book.

Highly recommended!

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