Most impressive military achievement in the 20th Century? - Page 18




View Poll Results :Most impressive military achievement in the 20th Century?
The Japanese victory over Russia, 1905. 6 2.47%
The Allied victory in WWI, 1914-1918. 3 1.23%
The Finnish stand against the USSR, 1940. 46 18.93%
The Axis victories in the first half of WWII, 1939-1942. 29 11.93%
The Allied victory in WWII, 1939-1945. 39 16.05%
The Israeli victory in the Israeli Independence War, 1948. 11 4.53%
The UN/USA victory in the Korean War 1950-1953. 2 0.82%
The Israeli victory in the Six Days War, 1967. 30 12.35%
The Arab relative succes in the Yom Kippur War, 1973. 3 1.23%
The Israeli Victory in the Yom Kippur War, 1973. 10 4.12%
The North-Vietnamese Victory in the Vietnam conflicts, 1945-1975. 20 8.23%
The Mujahidin victory in the Afghan War, 1979-1989. 7 2.88%
The Hizballa succses in the Invasion of Lebanon,1982-2000. 4 1.65%
The UN/USA victory in the Gulf War, 1991. 11 4.53%
Other. 22 9.05%
Voters: 243. You may not vote on this poll

 
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May 21st, 2010  
Panzercracker
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontyB
I think you are doing a "Glass half full" comparisson here as I believe it is more accurate to say that Finland had geography on their side but Russia had every other advantage from manpower to equipment.

I voted for the Finnish war in this poll and would do so again because I believe that most would not have picked the initial Finnish defenses to have held up the Russians for much more than a day or two at the most given the disparity in the forces available to both sides.
No offense Monty but thats because you have no idea what kind of defenses the Finns had, in depth medium-light fortifications of concrete and steel double backed by field fortifications, all of that surrounded by marshes and patched with heavily wooded areas.

Additionally everything saturated heavily with modern artillery (yeah Finns had a relatively strong arty) clustered with mines at certain hotspots...

Then add the winter of a century and suddenly the Finns have it their way, then add the sheer incompetence of the force opposing them and suddenly the finnish victory while impressive is no longer a miracle victory.

I'll rephrase, any determined military with similar resources and relatively competent troops would have held just as long since conditions favored defence in the extreme.
May 25th, 2010  
Naddođur
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panzercracker
No offense Monty but thats because you have no idea what kind of defenses the Finns had, in depth medium-light fortifications of concrete and steel double backed by field fortifications, all of that surrounded by marshes and patched with heavily wooded areas.

Additionally everything saturated heavily with modern artillery (yeah Finns had a relatively strong arty) clustered with mines at certain hotspots...

Then add the winter of a century and suddenly the Finns have it their way, then add the sheer incompetence of the force opposing them and suddenly the finnish victory while impressive is no longer a miracle victory.

I'll rephrase, any determined military with similar resources and relatively competent troops would have held just as long since conditions favored defence in the extreme.
I agree; impressive but not a miracle.
May 25th, 2010  
Naddođur
 
 

Topic: The winter war


The Soviet order of battle on the 30th of November was the 7th Army on the Karelian Isthmus, with the 8th, 9th and 14th Armies spread out above Lake Ladoga with various objectives. This amounted to 250,000 Red Army soldiers with a variety of equipment and training, ranging from well equipped crack units, to scraped together green grunts that had been placed in a uniform only days before. A significant amount of armoured units and artillery pieces were to be used in the blitzkrieg style tactics that had worked so well for the Germans in Poland and Zhukov in Khalkin Gol. The Soviets had an overwhelming air superiority, which the Allies later noted was a virtual necessity in their victory in WWII. Against this, the Finns had an army of 160,000 troops organised into units depending on their home region, a complete lack of mobile armour, and a minuscule amount of ancient WWI biplanes.

As soon as the first Soviet bombs fell on Helskini, President Kallio officially rejected Mannerheim's resignation he had days earlier agreed unofficially to accept, and Mannerheim was immediately appointed commander in chief. Knowing that Finland could not resist the Red Army for long, Field Marshal Mannerheim was counting on three options with fighting. Knowing the Russians could only successfully attack Finland around Lake Ladoga, as roads further north were brutally inadequate, Mannerheim knew that the Finns could oppose the Soviet forces there and delay them for a few weeks at the least. In this time, hopefully the West would see Finland's plight and come to its aid. Failing that, Stalin might see the stubborn fighting, and rather than be drawn into protracted warfare, settle for a negotiation that would still see a sovereign Finland. If these two options failed, the Finns would fight to the last man, last dollar and last bullet, sure to leave the name Finland in the annals of heroism, even if it did not exist as a country after the war.

Besides Mannerheim's realistic plan to allow Finland to continue as an independent state, issues of Soviet misunderstanding of the situation in Finland and intelligence would work in Finland's favour. The blitzkrieg style tactics worked well in the plains of Khalkin Gol and Poland, true, but that was a different story on the vast forests of Finland. Poor roads did not support a blitzkrieg, neither did communication centres deep behind the lines providing no objectives to capture for the Soviets. The Soviets did not think to paint their tanks white to camouflage against the snow until weeks into the campaign, and also didn't think to have adequate clothing for such a cold winter. The presence of tons of waste resources such as propaganda leaflets and state- of-the-art anti-tank guns that were useless against Finland's non existent tanks just as they were useless against pretty much anything else. The expected fifth column of communists within Finland never appeared, having emigrated to the USSR in the 30s, with the socialists that remained fighting alongside their brothers. What sounded easy on paper, was not going to be easy in real life.

The key to attacking and defending Finland was the Mannerheim Line on the Karelian Isthmus. This eighty mile line of fortifications is strongest at the ends where the land meets the waters of the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, and fixed coastal fortifications shoot high calibre cannons. Even with the cold winter, the ice on this part of Lake Ladoga was too weak to support heavy equipment, and ice on the Gulf of Finland cannot support it until late February, so outflanking the line is out of the question. The sector of the line containing the road which was the shortest route from Finland to Leningrad, known as the "Viipuri Gateway", contained ground hard in the freeze, ideal for mobile armour. The Red Army spent most of it's forces in the Karelian Isthmus, and found their technology were not the war winning devices they thought they were, and over time the Finns learnt how to counter in their own way. The Finns lent the name "Molotov cocktail" to the bottles of petrol with cloth stoppers that were lit and then thrown, used to counter the Soviet tanks. The tank hunter units using these homemade bombs had a high casualty rate - about 70 per cent - but there were plenty of Finns prepared to fight the Russians this way. Through the Soviet's misuse of their soldiers and armour, the Finns courage, and the use of night-time by the Finnish soldiers to rebuild the gaps in the line, with barbed wire, mines, tank blockades and the like. But Marshal Mannerheim and every Finn knew that over time, all three of these factors would change through change of Russian tactics, Finnish tiredness and lack of reinforcements.

Makeshift weaponry was not the only development to augment the Finnish soldier's lack of resources and manpower. The army also developed new tactics with time. One of the most popular was the motti tactics. In Finnish, a motti is a pile of wood with stakes holding it in place, which will eventually be cut up for firewood. The motti tactics was to approach and pin a Soviet column that adequate information has been gathered about. Then with a focus on concentration of firepower, the column would be attacked and divided into many isolated parts. The key was not to make the isolated part too large to put up a struggle which it can use to break out of the motti, or defend until Red Army reinforcements arrived. Then the mottis could be dealt with, beginning at the weakest, and cold, hunger and lack of supplies could weaken the stronger ones. This tactic was used to supplement the lack of ammunition, artillery and manpower the Finns had.

In the north of Finland's border with the USSR, guerilla tactics were the favoured method of fighting. What few roads there were, the Red Army stuck to them, for deviating into the forest was a sure death, whether to the terrible cold or a Finnish sniper. The invading soldiers were wholly unprepared for winter in the north: being too overloaded, too underdressed, and some Soviet citizens from warmer climates, such as Soviet central Asia, died in the cold of the north. The Finnish ski soldier is still the enduring image of the Winter War, even though the war was decided in the more conventional fighting on the Karelian Isthmus. At Suomussalmi, where Finnish ski guerillas destroyed two divisions of Soviets with little loss to themselves, was forged both the most popular victory of the Winter War outside of Finland as well as the enduring image of the ski soldier winning the Winter War. In reality, these victories did little in deciding the outcome of the war, and would have also been the case had the Soviets pulled off convincing victories. If anything, all they did was create false hopes in Western minds that free men can resist tyranny and win, which did not bode well for Field Marshal Mannerheim's plan to involve the West.

On the 1st of February, Stalin was tiring of the charade in Finland. He had replaced Voroshilov with Timoshenko in orchestrating the fall of the tiny Baltic republic that had thus far refused to submit, and a large artillery barrage began on the Karelian Isthmus, the largest since the German barrage at Verdun in the Great War. 600,000 Soviet troops amassed near the Mannerheim line, and on the 6th of February, the final Russian offensive began. Finally the Finns fears had come true, the Red Army had learned from it's previous mistakes just when Finland's soldiers were at their most timed, and ammunition the most low. Massed coordinated armour assaulted the line, and by the 14th, Mannerheim was worried enough to personally view the situation himself at the front. He know that if a massed army was thrown at the Mannerheim Line long enough, Finland couldn't resist. Older fortifications of the Mannerheim Line were abandoned first, then the whole line altogether as the Finns retreated to the secondary defensive lines.

When peace negotiations were reopened, Soviet terms were harsher than November 1939. The city of Viipuri would be ceded to the Soviets, as all the land on the Karelian Isthmus and around Lake Ladoga. Over 400,000 Finnish refuges would need to be resettled after the war, some 12% of the population. Finland would lose the port of Petsamo, as well as strategic points in the Gulf of Finland. Economically, Finland would also lose out, it would lose farmland and vital timber industries on the Karelian Isthmus, 100 power stations, and numerous farms. Ashamed, the Finnish politicians had no choice but to sign. It was better than total subjugation. The peace terms were to come into effect at midday on the 13th of March, 1940. They would not be accepted easily by the people of Finland, as in the words of Vaino Tanner: "Peace has been restored, but what kind of peace? Henceforth our country will live as a mutilated nation". In the coming months, Finland's politicians would be walking on tenderhooks to resolve issues peacefully with an increasingly frustrating and frustrated Soviet Union.
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May 25th, 2010  
Atasas
 
Can I summarize here?
votes say Finish conflict by those who knows a lot about it
who had not had a chance to learn about it earlier, had voted WW2...
May 25th, 2010  
Naddođur
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atasas
Can I summarize here?
votes say Finish conflict by those who knows a lot about it
who had not had a chance to learn about it earlier, had voted WW2...


How can you conclude that all that had voted for the Finns knows a lot about it…??? Also you say: who had not had a chance to learn about it earlier, had voted WW2...

The question was: Which one do you think was most impressive achievement by military forces in the 20th Century

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.

So to summarize:

1. The Allied victory in WWII, 1939-1945.
2. The Finnish stand against the USSR, 1940.
3. The Israeli victory in the Six Days War, 1967.
May 25th, 2010  
Atasas
 
The Allied victory in WWII, 1939-1945. as in accordance to number of votes and most importantly- amount of potential voter having own country involvement and patriotism (in a nice way, but obviously ie somebody from Italy would hardly vote for Finnish war)
I have voted for The Finnish stand against the USSR, 1940. because I believe greatest is not necessary biggest.
Matter of opinion, own nationality does have effect I say....
May 26th, 2010  
Naddođur
 
 
Okay mate. That we can agree on.

Cheers
June 24th, 2010  
adam7
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panzercracker
No offense Monty but thats because you have no idea what kind of defenses the Finns had, in depth medium-light fortifications of concrete and steel double backed by field fortifications, all of that surrounded by marshes and patched with heavily wooded areas.
I don't know where you got that. The main defence line, which later was dubbed the Mannerheim line by press during the Winter war, was a single line of defence, of about 140 km, of which 60 km were water and 80 km land, across the Carelian isthmus.

When the Winter War started, there were 42 machine gun concrete bunkers of which more the modern 25 in the west of the isthmus and 17 older ones on the east of the isthmus. In the east there were also 6 older artillery bunkers built in the twenties. Only 14 520 cubic meters of concrete were used for the fortifications. Mostly the single line was comprised of a trench and barbed wire in front of it and machine gun nest and underground log troop shelters.

There were a total of 606 (west isthmus 438 and east isthmus 168) machine gun nest and underground log troop shelters. Barbed wire extended for 331 km (west isthmus 214 km and east isthmus 117 km) and 2–3 ton rocks were used in rows as tank obstacles for 136 km (west isthmus 85 km and east isthmus 51 km). This means that for each km there were 4 fortified (concrete or log)machine gun nest, 2,5 km barbed wire and 1 km tank obstacles.

Hardly anything scaring. The line was meant only to slow down the enemy, but it stopped the mighty Russian military machine for months.


Quote:
Additionally everything saturated heavily with modern artillery (yeah Finns had a relatively strong arty) clustered with mines at certain hotspots...
Wrong wrong wrong !

The arty of the Finnish troops was a motley collection of pieces, the oldest from 1870 with rigid frames. The needed ammunition calibres were a nightmare for the logistics. As Russians practised area artillery bombardment, the Finns often could use only a few rounds, but the shooting methods and spotters were quite good, so often the result was quite good.
Quote:
Then add the winter of a century and suddenly the Finns have it their way, then add the sheer incompetence of the force opposing them and suddenly the finnish victory while impressive is no longer a miracle victory.
So you say that the Russians were not used to a cold winter?

They certainly should have been, but the mental culture did not respect the fighting troops, who had very poor logistics, and often were either starved or drunk.

Quote:
I'll rephrase, any determined military with similar resources and relatively competent troops would have held just as long since conditions favored defence in the extreme.
What resources? Model Cajander, Cajander being a former prime minister who without his own cause became a symbol for the lack of resources, was a blue and white cockade for your civilian headgear, military pants, a leather belt with the militarys belt buckle and a rifle. That was how a great part of the common reserves could be equipped in the beginning of the Winter War.

Do find out about 32 outmoded light tanks against the 3000 (estimates also between 2500 to 6500) soviet tanks or the 114 aircraft against the 3800 Soviet.

The Finnish army of the Winter War was mostly a peasant army with rudimentary army experience. However, on an individual basis, most fighters were used to outdoors in the cold and a lot were already experienced shots, from hunting experience. There existed a core of "Civil Guards" the legacy of White Guards from the Civil War/War of Liberation/Uprising, how ever you want to name the national conflict of 1918.

The big issue was, that the Soviet expected, through their stooges, that the working class will take part in the conflict, on the Soviet side. What a misapprehension! All Finns regardless of their class status fought. The Helsinki working class fought for their tenements!
.....

You do not make any difference between the trench war of attrition on the Carelian isthmus and the very flexible operations on the 1000 km border north of Lake Ladoga, where all Russian incursions were either merely stopped or utterly destroyed.

The Wikipedia article in English is not too bad. Hope you find it.
July 13th, 2010  
Kruska
 
Hello adam7,

great post there. What many people also tend to overlook is that the Soviet army - due to the revolution and ongoing military campaigns had far more combat experience then the Finns.

That the Soviet military leadership was a havoc is true - but that would also apply to the British Desert Army when Rommel came in. So yes one can exuse a military failure on behalf off poor leadership but it doesn't take away the achievements of a battle or the fact of a defeat.

Can't blame those brave and efficiently fighting Finns for the dumbness of the Soviet leadership.

BTW, I voted for; The Axis victories in the first half of WWII, 1939-1942. Never before had Europe or the World seen such a series of victories and total triumph (by more or less a single country - Germany) in such a short time span, despite total superior Allied formations.

Regards
Kruska
July 27th, 2010  
Panssari
 
my choice was "The Finnish stand against the USSR, 1940.", for obvious reasons.