Bombings for peace

In February 1944 the Soviet Air Force started its actions against Helsinki, the capital of Finland. This was the ADD, the Long Range Aviation, the equivalent to the Bomber Command (in a sense). All together the over 2 000 bombing sorties took place in the three raids dropping more than 16 000 bombs (around 2 600 tons of bombs).

The raids took place during the nights of the 6-7, 16-17 and 26-27 of February 1944. First raid had over 700 bombers, the second one almost 400 bombers and the last one nearly 900 bombers. The aircraft types used were mostly Il-4 (or DB-3F, Soviet 2-engined bomber), Li-2 (licensed produced bomber variant of DC-3), B-25 (lend-lease Mitchell) and A-20 (lend-lease Havoc).

Finnish air defenses for Helsinki consisted of 70 heavy AA guns (at least 75 mm) and around 40 lighter guns. The Finns had prepared special AA shells by adding magnesium and aluminum to the explosive making the explosion much brighter and dangerous looking. Some of the heavy AA batteries had Würzburg radars for targeting while overall situation was followed with pair of longer range Freya radars. During the later raids a flight of German night fighters was present.

The casualties of the raids were fairly low as only 146 people lost their lives in them altogether (from whom 6 were military losses) and 356 were wounded, most of them during the first raid. The Soviet losses were 25 aircraft. Finnish deception measures and effective AAA barrage firing resulted in most of the bombers releasing their bomb loads either at decoy targets or well short of targets.

The bombings were nicknamed as ‘rauhanpommitukset’ or ‘bombings for peace’ as it was seen as an attempt by the USSR to force Finland out of the war. The Soviet leadership was under the impression that the bombings had been much more devastating and that they would have been forcing Finland into concessions while actually only relatively minor damage had been inflicted.


Thanks for the post Wanderer and great to see you back :slight_smile:

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You may wonder why Finland doesn’t just drop out of the war right now. But Finland’s politicians and military leadership (Mannerheim ea) know that if they jump the gun, Hitler might intervene and replace their government with one that kowtows only to Hitler and keep Finland in the war come what may (until the Red Army overruns Finland).

They have to time it just right. Ask for negotiations at a point too late for Germany to intervene (when Germany is busy fending off Soviet attacks) but still early enough to prevent Red Army breakthrough to Helsinki.

Of course, the absolute key to this is that even if they get the timing right, they still have to hold the front long enough for the Soviet Union to agree to negotiations when Finland can still salvage its independence.

Developments in Romania and Hungary will contribute to Finland’s hesitation.