What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Can we get the a post/update that shows the effects of the stronger Finland butterfly?

I'm going to do a summary as of the state of Finland at the time of the Munich Agreement after I've covered all the background to that point. Be a while before I get that far though (as in - hmmmm, a few months real time?). Don't expect anything before then.

I will then do another "State of the Nation" as of late November 1939, immediately prior to the outbreak of War.

In general terms, expect that Finland is armed to the teeth and hoping that will be a sufficient deterrent to prevent being attacked by the USSR. Economy is a lot stronger, military is better prepared and equipped, navy is more appropriately equipped and the air force has enough fighters to win the air war. Some innovative abd fairly leading edge equipment. Butterflies to that point - none outside of Finland, and the fact that Estonia fights rather than submits - which makes no difference to anyone except the Estonians. Everything else stays the same more or less until that point.
What's the status of night aviation, especially tactical night bombing?
With IR searchlights to illuminate a target and nightvision devices it could be possible.

Hmmm, hadn't thought about that. Off the top of my head, haven;t considered tactical night bombing - the Ilmavoimat is geared to tactical low level bombing which is not so much fun at night in 1939/1940. IR searchlights at the front might help but I think this might be something that emerges in the heat of battle as the war breaks out. If you have any ideas as to how it might happen, write them up and post them and I'll work it in. Flying with those Generation 0 night vision viewers would suck I would think. Maybe by 1944 or 1945 tho. Not ruling it out, just hadn't looked into it at all. Interesting idea tho :cool:
Congratulations, CanKiwi, for this excellent TL winning. Keep it up!

Thx, I was honestly surprised I even got nominated - there is sure some good stuff here. That said, thx to everyone who considered this the Best New Early 20th Century Timeline - especially considering the quality of the other threads, which I thought were great.

Of course, the Finals is another story - but just to get there makes me more than happy :)
Congrats on the Turtledove!

Also, I was just randomly thinking about an older discussion on this thread about whether or not Finland would preemptively invade Norway in 1940. I remember the prospect caused a lot of butterfly problems, but that you put a lot of effort into the operation. Well, if it's any help, you could probably hold off on the operation until Finland entered the war on the allied side and still keep the bad-ass idea of a Finnish paradrop in Norway. That way, your research and efforts won't have to be thrown away, even if a Norwegian intervention doesn't happen during the Winter War.
Congrats on the Turtledove!

Thx Expat :) and thx for the help and comments over the last year or so that I've been posting away here.

Also, I was just randomly thinking about an older discussion on this thread about whether or not Finland would preemptively invade Norway in 1940. I remember the prospect caused a lot of butterfly problems, but that you put a lot of effort into the operation. Well, if it's any help, you could probably hold off on the operation until Finland entered the war on the allied side and still keep the bad-ass idea of a Finnish paradrop in Norway. That way, your research and efforts won't have to be thrown away, even if a Norwegian intervention doesn't happen during the Winter War.

Been thinking about that off and on myself. I'm thinking at this stage that Finland grabs the Finnmark but not Narvik. Lyngenfjiord becomes pretty important to Finland for access in this scenario and a lot of effort has been put into creating the road to the port as well as the infrastructure, so it's not something they would let go of easily. Also, looking ahead a bit as well, the Helsinki Convoy and the Merivoimat vs Kreigsmarine shootout I have planned takes place shortly before Norway so the Germans will be a little wary of taking on the Finns, especially also give the way the Finns have dealt with the Red Army and Air Force. The Finnmark in and of itself would not be critically important to the Germans. So if the Finns "secure" the Finnmark but leave Narvik to the Germans, they would probably let it go at that. And I can still use the Finnish paradrop, just a bit further north.
Re: Unit Organisation: Regimental Combat Group “Verenimijä”

Copied across from forum.axishistory.com

Re: Unit Organisation: Regimental Combat Group “Verenimijä”[
by Fliegende Untertasse on Yesterday, 18:46

CanKiwi2 wrote: Unit Organisation: Regimental Combat Group “Verenimijä”

Panssaripataljoona Logistics Company (136 men)

Maintenance & Repair Joukku (59 men)
6 Mechanical Repair Shop Trucks (3 NCOs, 12 men)
4 Workshop Trucks, 4 x Gunsmiths, 4 x Infrared Equipment Specialists,
1 Radio Repair Truck, 2 Radio Repair Technicians
2 Armoured Recovery Tractors (1 NCO, 3 men)
15 x Tank Transporter Trucks (15 Drivers, 15 men)

Supplies Joukku (47 men)
1 x Office Truck, 1 NCO, 1 Sigs, 1 Clerk
4 x Kitchen Trucks, 4 men, 8 Cooks
6 x Ammunition Trucks, 12 men
6 x Fuel Trucks, 12 men
4 x Backpack and Tent Trucks, 4 men
4 x Supplies Trucks, 4 men

47 or 59 man is a bit large for joukkue.

Especially with ammo and fuel . In field those would be dispersed.
How is one lieutenant going to handle them ?

A 25 vehicle motor pool might need their own office. You need one on-duty master sergeant just to handle driving schedules.

You might also want separate offices for fuel and ammo dump and repairs depot

CanKiwi2 wrote:
1 x Kenttätykistöpataljoona

patteristo -artillery battalion

CanKiwi2 wrote:
Light Anti-Aircraft Company (12 x Hispano-Suiza single-barrelled 20mm AA Guns, 161 men)

patteri = artillery company

CanKiwi2 wrote:
3 x Ilmatorjuntapatteri(each Light AA Battery/Platoon, 4 x Truck or Half-Track mounted HS-404 20mm Single-barreled AA Guns, 50 men)

jaos- artillery platoon

CanKiwi2 wrote:
Regimental Supply Company (318 men/women)

Shouldn't 318 men be a battalion level unit ?
You would might a major to command it.
Common practice would be two companies - one for HQ&supplies, one for transport.

CanKiwi2 wrote:
Transport Platoon (113 men)

113 men would be komppania
or maybe you should re-indroduce plutoona

CanKiwi2 wrote:
Company HQ Ryhmä (CO, CSM, 2 Sgts, 4 Sigs/Messengers, 2 x Drivers, 4 man Security Ryhmä)

This could be an organisational joukkue, especially as the seurity team should be a separate squad. Or did you plan company CO lead them directly ?
Does the office need integrated security personnel-
Security detachments could be organised as a separate MP-platoon.

40 Trucks, 50 Drivers

maybe 2x20 car joukke
50 men & 40 cars is lot of workload for a single junior officer.

2 Workshop Trucks, 4 Mechanics

and a separate repairs platoon.
You want a specialist leader for repair team.

Ammunition Supplies Platoon (43 men)
4 NCO, 1 Sigs, 2 Clerks
2 x Gunsmiths, 2 x Infrared Equipment Specialists, 1 Workshop Truck
16 Men, 16 Drivers, 16 Trucks

transport and maintenance might need their own officers - that would make 2 platoons

- Greetings from an old motor pool clerk

ps. Where is village of Kieltää ?
Ray Ban in Finnish woud be
"sädekielto"( a ban of rays ),
"kiloesto" (obstaclement for glare) in 1930's "kilolasit"(glare glasses) was commonly used word for sunglasses
or if you want to get medieval: "päivänpanna" ( a Papal ban of sunlight )

Fliegende Untertasse

I am going to make amendments to my organisational post in the next few days based on this. I won't repost again - it would make for too much repetition given I've already posted it twice now. Three times would be overkill.

As for the Raybans translation - easy to tell I was winging it there.

Regimental Combat Group “Verenimijä”

Placeholder Post for “Verenimijä”. Going to come back and edit this in a day or three as I have some more posts that are not related to Verenimijä.
The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part I

The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part I

One of the constants in the numerous threats posed by an attack from the Soviet Union that faced the Finnish military was the Soviet Baltic Fleet, based out of the Soviet naval fortress of Kronstadt. The Soviet Baltic Fleet was large, far surpassing the Merivoimat in size and strength, and there was the additional risk of a seaborne invasion by the Soviets anywhere along the long Finnish coastline. A rapid sortie by the Soviet Fleet posed a significant naval threat, and one that the Finnish military continuously sought to counter. This risk was one of the Merivoimat’s chief challenges – and as we have seen in earlier Posts, the Merivoimat sought to counter this through the establishment of a tripod of forces – Submarines, Torpedo Boats and Minefields. In addition, the Merivoimat Air Arm and the Ilmavoimat worked together continuously to research ways and means to successfully attack the Soviet Navy within its heavily defended fortress and at sea from the air – without taking prohibitive losses in doing so. In this, the threat of anti-aircraft fire was a significant factor, as was the accuracy of the bombers.

The problem was that before radar, pilots trying to hit enemy ships had to fly so close that they likelihood of being shot down was high. The risk to aircraft and aircrew of such attacks could be reduced significantly if the attacking bombers could drop their bombs from outside the range of effective anti-aircraft fire. However, no such bombs existed, and even if they did, the problem was posed of how to ensure accuracy. Bombing from height was at best wildly inaccurate, as the Ilmavoimat had proven rather conclusively to themselves in a number of trials. Low-altitude attacks on a heavily-defended target such as Kronstadt ran the risk of the aircraft suffering heavy losses – and the Ilmavoimat could not afford to take heavy losses to achieve just one victory, however significant that victory was. And there was in any case no guarantee of success even if heavy losses were accepted as the price that needed to be paid. What was needed was some sort of technological miracle – and so, the request for just such a miracle to be provided was passed in to the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö (Technical Research Unit of the General Staff) who were tasked with coordinating, prioritizing and assigning R&D funding.

It was at this stage, in 1937, that the R&D group assigned this request proposed using a remote-controlled glider-bomb. As with many technologies, there were numerous precursors to the remote-controlled glider-bomb prior to WW2, and the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö was briefed on these as part of the request that had been made to design and develop a remote-controlled glider-bomb.

Early Beginnings of Wireless Remote Control – Nikola Tesla

Well before the race for wireless telegraphy and as far back as 1893 in St. Nikola Tesla demonstrated remote control of objects by wireless. This was two full years before Marconi began his experiments. In 1898 at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden Nikola Tesla demonstrated a small boat which could apparently obey commands from the audience but was in fact controlled by Tesla interpreting the verbal requests and sending appropriate frequencies to tuned circuits in the boat. "...What Tesla did was to demonstrate the possibility of remote control by radio waves. In the artificial lake, the audience saw a six-foot, iron-hulled boat decorated with tiny electric lights. Ever the master showman, Tesla invited the crowd to shout out commands, "Turn left! Turn right! Flash the lights!" In response, Tesla signaled the boat using his wireless transmitter and the boat executed the command. With the Spanish-American War just over, Tesla described how he could easily build a larger boat, arm it with dynamite, and then steer it by remote control toward an enemy ship. Here, one hundred years ago, was a prototype for the Cruise missiles of today and the remote-controlled Glide-Bombs of WW2…


Tesla caused a small boat (above) to obey commands from the audience.

To the press, Tesla prophesied a future in which telautomatons (robots) did man's bidding, perhaps some day exceeding mankind. Tesla had already decided that men were "meat machines", responding only to stimuli and incapable of free will, so to him the succession of man by machine seemed less preposterous. He also chose to join others in the race to use America's newfound technological superiority to devastate the Spanish in the the Spanish-American War. He offered his remote controlled boat to the military as a new kind of "smart-torpedo" that would make war so terrible nations would cease to wage it. The idea of banishing warfare by making it inconceivably horrific was a widely held conceit pretty much up until WWI. On November 8th, 1898, Tesla obtained a patent for the remote control, for which he had applied four months earlier on July 1st. This patent is the basis of contemporary robotics.


Nikola Tesla with his wireless controlled airship c.1900

John Hays Hammond Jr is regarded as the father of radio control due to the fact he was involved in experiments as an apprentice of Thomas Edison at the age of twelve. Hammond was a close friend of Tesla and they performed experiments together in his lab located in his castle. He learned a great deal from his exposure to Tesla. Tesla was granted a US patent on this invention on November 8, 1898. In 1903, the Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres y Quevedo presented the "Telekino" at the Paris Academy of Science, and was granted a patent in France, Spain, Great Britain and the United States. In 1904, Bat, a Windermere steam launch, was controlled using experimental radio control by its inventor, Jack Kitchen. In 1909 the French inventor Gabet demonstrated what he called his "Torpille Radio-Automatique", a radio controlled torpedo.


Gabet demonstrating radio control of his torpedo on the Seine.


Torpille radio automatique Gabet, 24-December-1909:


Torpille radio automatique Gabet, 24-December-1909:

In popular culture, the “Aerial Torpedo” was introduced as early as the 1909 film The Airship Destroyer. An unknown country arms their zeppelins with bombs and launches an air raid on England. After a bombing raid British aircraft engage the zeppelins but are shot down. The bombing raid continues until finally a patriotic British inventor creates an "aerial torpedo," controlled by "wireless electricity," which he uses to bring down the enemy air fleet. To quote from a movie list:"Inspired by Wells, this is one of the first real science fiction films to be made in England. The story concerns an attack on London by a fleet of airships from an unknown country. Through the extensive use of models, buildings were wrecked, prototype tanks destroyed, and railroads blown up. However, the films young hero, an inventor, launches radio controlled aerial torpedoes at the airships, and saves the day." The film was a great success, was directed by Walter Booth and produced by Charles Urban.


As early as October 1914, Dr. Wilhelm von Siemens had suggested what became known as the Siemens torpedo glider, a wire-guided flying missile which would essentially have been built from a naval torpedo with attached airframe. It was not intended to be flown into a target but rather at a suitable altitude and position a signal would be transmitted causing the airframe components to detach from the torpedo which would then enter the water and continue towards its target. Guidance signals were to be transmitted through a thin copper wire, and guide flares were to be carried to help control.


The Siemens Torpedo Glider hung beneath the hull of Zeppelin L35 - On 2 August 1918, a 1000 kg missile was dropped from airship L35, control could be kept for a distance of 7.5 km.

Siemens-Schuckertwerke was already occupied with remote controlled boats (the FL-boats or Fernlenkboote), and had some experience in this area. Flight testing was performed under the supervision of Dipl. Ing. Dorner from January 1915 onwards, using airships as carriers and different types of biplane and monoplane gliders airframes to which a torpedo was fitted before a biplane layout was adopted due to its greater carrying ability. The first take-offs were perfomed from the Siemens-Schuckert hangar in Biesdorf, later successfull inflight launches from airships followed. The last test flight was performed on 2 August 1918. Approximately 100 of these, of varying sizes and configurations, were built and tested from January 1915 until the project was abandoned in late 1918. Many successful launches were made from naval airships, and controlled distances of nearly five miles achieved with considerable accuracy. The missiles, however, never became operational.


A Photo from the website of the Zeppelin Museum in Tønder, Denmark (German until 1920, this was a famous airship base in WWI with the German name: Tondern)

After the war, the aircraft designer Anthony Fokker revealed that “In 1916 the [German] Army authorities asked me if I could make a very cheap aeroplane with a very cheap engine, capable of flying about four hours, which could be steered through the air by wireless waves. They intended to load each one of these aeroplanes which a huge bomb and send them into the air under the control of one flying man, who would herd them through the sky by wireless like a flock of sheep. He would be able to steer them as he pleased, and send them down to earth in just exactly the spot he selected.” Just what spots would have been selected, Fokker didn't say. He claimed that he was about to start churning out these flying bombs when the Armistice was declared. And indeed, one of the conditions imposed on Germany under the Versailles treaty was a ban on the manufacture of 'air machines which can fly without a pilot'.

Research and development on such weapons in Germany only resumed after the Second World War had started.

The Soviet Union

Little is known and even less documented about research programs rearding remote-controlled weapons in the Soviet Union in the inter-war years other than that they existed and that in the 1930’s, the USSR developed a range of remotely radio-controlled weapons. These included “teletanks”, teleplanes (apparently a remote-controlled Tupolev TB-3) and telecutters. Very little information is available on any of these projects or their results. Perhaps the single major exception being the Red Army’s use of Teletanks against the Finns in the Winter War, which was documented by the Finns – where the teletanks saw their first combat use.

A teletank was controlled by radio from a control tank at a distance of 500–1,500 meters, the two constituting a telemechanical group. Teletanks were equipped with machine guns, flamethrowers, smoke canisters and sometimes a special 200–700 kg time bomb in an armored box, dropped by the tank near the enemy's fortifications and used to destroy bunkers up to four levels below ground. Teletanks were also designed to be capable of using chemical weapons, although they were not used in combat. Each teletank, depending on its model, was able to recognize sixteen to twenty-four different commands sent via radio on two possible frequencies to avoid interference and jamming. Teletanks were built based on T-18, T-26, T-38, BT-5 and BT-7 tanks. Standard tactics were for the control tank (with radio transmitter and operator) to stay back as far as practicable while the teletank (TT) approached the enemy. The control tank would provide fire support as well as protection for the radio control operator. If the enemy was successful at seizing the teletank, the control tank crew was instructed to destroy it with its main gun. When not in combat the teletank was driven manually.


Shot-up TT-26 remotely-controlled tank (teletank) with TOZ-IV telematics equipment from 217th separate tank battalion of the 30th Tank Brigade. Two antenna leads on the turret roof and two-colour camouflage of the vehicle are visible. Karelian Isthmus, February 1940.

OTL, the USSR also planted radio-controlled landmines in Vypuri but these were unable to be detonated as a result of Finnish jamming of the wavelengths used to transmit signals to the mines.

The United States

In the United States, the first attempts to create an airborne counterpart of the naval torpedo took place in the United States during World War I. A pilotless plane (considered by many to be the precursor of today’s cruise missle) was to be guided to a target and crashed into it in a power dive, exploding its charge. In 1916-17 a prototype called the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane made a number of short test flights proving that the idea was sound.

The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane

Before World War I, the possibility of using radio to control aircraft intrigued many inventors. One of these, Elmer Sperry, succeeded in arousing the US Navy's interest. Sperry had been perfecting gyroscopes for naval use since 1896 and had established the Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1910. In 1911, airplanes had only been flying for eight years, and yet Sperry became intrigued with the concept of applying radio control to them. He realized that for radio control to be effective, automatic stabilization would be essential, so he decided to adapt his naval gyro-stabilizers (which he had developed for destroyers). In 1913, the Navy provided Sperry with a flying boat to test and evaluate the gyro-based autopilot. Sperry's son Lawrence served as an engineer during the test phase. In 1914, Lawrence Sperry was in Europe and observed the developing techniques of aerial warfare, including the use of aircraft.

In 1916, the two Sperrys joined Peter Hewitt, an early inventor of radio-related devices, to develop an explosive-laden pilotless airplane. Elmer Sperry and Peter Hewitt served together on the Naval Consulting Board, where they both were members of the Committee on Aeronautics and Aeronautical Motors. Because of these connections, they were able to arrange for a representative of the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance, Lt. T. S. Wilkinson, to examine the control equipment they had assembled. The system consisted of a gyroscopic stabilizer, a directive gyroscope, an aneroid barometer to regulate height, servo-motors for control of rudders and ailerons, and a device for distance gearing. These could all be installed in an airplane which could be launched by catapult or flown from the water, and would then climb to a predetermined altitude, fly a pre-set course, and after traveling a pre-set distance, drop its bombs or dive to the ground. Wilkinson reported that the weapon did not possess a degree of accuracy sufficient to hit a ship, but, because of its range of 50 to 100 miles (160 km), it might be of interest to the Army.

The Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb

After the US declaration of war on Germany, Sperry began urging the Navy to revisit the idea. The Naval Consulting Board supported him, and formally requested the Secretary of Navy to allocate $50,000 for the work. The government thus included the development of the flying bomb or aerial torpedo in its war preparations. The Senate went so far as to establish two classes for the type weapon, one for wireless control, the other for completely automatic operation. Final approval came on May 17, 1917, and the Navy agreed to provide five (later upped to seven) Curtiss N-9 seaplanes and to purchase six sets of the Sperry automatic control gear. Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels agreed to spend $200,000 on the project, with the money to be administered by the Bureau of Ordnance, the Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering. The operation was established at Copiague, Long Island.

The autopilot equipment was already designed, but the radio control system hadn't been fully developed, so while the hangars were being built at Copiague, Sperry turned his attention to this aspect, purchasing rights to a number of patented radio-related inventions. Ultimately, though, the radio control systems were not used on the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane. Later, in 1922, the system was installed on several Verville-designed planes along with gear for the Army Air Services engineering division. These aircraft successfully hit their targets from ranges of 30, 60 and 90 miles (140 km).

The first test flights of an autopilot-equipped aircraft took place in September, 1917, with a human pilot onboard to fly the takeoff. By November 1917, the system was successfully flying the aircraft to its intended target at a 30-mile (48 km) range, where the distance-measuring gear would drop a bag of sand. Accuracy was within two miles (3 km) of target. Having observed the test flights, Rear Admiral Ralph Earle proposed a program to eliminate the German U-boat threat, one element of which was to use flying bombs, launched from Navy ships, to attack the submarine bases at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven and Heligoland. Ultimately this plan was rejected, but there was an element of prophecy, for in September 1944, during World War II, a modified B-24 flying as a drone attacked the submarine installations at Heligoland. Not only was Earle's recommendation rejected, but the Navy declared that though development of the system was to continue, no production resources were to be diverted to it, and it was not to go into production.

After the Curtiss N-9 flight test program got started, it became apparent that a more efficient airframe was needed. Because war production deliveries could not be diverted, a special, rush order was placed with Curtiss in October, 1917, for six planes of unique design, with an empty weight of 500 lb (230 kg), top speed of 90 mph (140 km/h), range of 50 miles (80 km) and the capability of carrying up to 1,000 lb (450 kg) of explosives. They became known as the Curtis-Sperry Flying Bomb. Because this was to be a design dedicated to the remote control concept, the planes were not equipped with seats or standard pilot controls. No flight or wind-tunnel testing of the design was performed before production began. The first was delivered on November 10, 1917.

One of the most daunting challenges to the designers was the launch mechanism. The original concept envisioned by Hewitt and Sperry was a catapult mechanism or from the water (the N-9s were seaplanes, the Curtis-Sperry Flying Bomb was not). For the Flying Bomb, it was decided to try to launch it by sliding it down a long wire. In November and December 1917, three attempts were made to launch the Flying Bomb. On the first launch, one wing was damaged as the plane went down the wire, and on the second, the plane lifted from the wire but immediately plunged to the ground. The wire method was then abandoned in favor of a traditional catapult with a 150-foot (46 m) track, with power obtained from a 3-ton weight being dropped from a height of 30 feet (9.1 m).


Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb on the traditional catapult with a 150-foot (46 m) track

On the third try, the plane lagged behind the cart, damaging the propeller, and the plane flipped over its nose. Two more attempts in January, 1918, saw the plane get airborne, but it was too tail-heavy, so it stalled and crashed almost immediately. It was realized that some flight test evaluation of the aircraft's capabilities was necessary. One of the planes was then fitted out with sled runners for landing gear, a seat and standard control stick, and Lawrence Sperry decided that he would be the test pilot. While taxiing it on ice, he hit some slushy snow, and wrecked the plane, though Sperry was unhurt. A second airplane was fitted out, and Sperry managed to get it in the air, but lost control when the automatic pilot was engaged. After two complete rolls, Sperry managed to regain control and land safely.

Clearly, though, more attention to flight testing the basic design was needed, particularly in the area of handling qualities. Sperry and his assistant, N. W. Dalton, obtained a Marmon automobile, and mounted the Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb to the top of it. In this configuration, Sperry and his crew drove the Long Island Motor Parkway at 80 mph (130 km/h), one of the first examples of an open-air wind tunnel, and adjusted the flight controls to what they thought was the optimum settings. The design of the fuselage was changed slightly, lengthening it by two feet. The Marmon was not only an excellent way to adjust the flight controls, it was realized that it would also be a good launching platform, and this was tried on March 6, 1918. The aircraft left the car cleanly, and flew in stable flight for the 1,000 yards (910 m) that the distance-measuring gear had been set for. For the first time in history, an unmanned, heavier-than-air vehicle had flown in controlled flight.


Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb mounted on the Marmon automobile

The feat, however, could not be duplicated, and it was thought that the roadway was too rough. The Marmon was fitted with railroad wheels, and an unused spur of the Long Island Rail Road, four miles (6 km) east of Farmingdale, New York was put back into service. On the first try, before full flying speed had been reached, the aircraft developed enough lift to raise the front wheels off the track, and another crash resulted. It was time to re-think the catapult system, and to help design it, Sperry and Hewitt hired a young and promising engineer named Carl Norden. The first try with the new system was in August, 1918, and it too resulted in a crash. Two more tests were tried, with the stabilization package that had been design for the Flying Bomb replaced with the four-gyro system used earlier on the N-9 tests, but the result was again a disappointment, with very short flights ending in crashes. On the last one, on September 26, the Flying Bomb climbed straight for about a hundred yards, then entered a spiral dive and crashed.

This was the final flight for the Curtiss-Sperry Flying Bomb, as all the usable airframes had been consumed in crashes, and there remained no confidence in the design. Sperry and Hewitt returned to the Curtiss N-9.

Return of the Curtiss N-9 Seaplane

The Sperrys then built a wind tunnel at the Washington Navy Yard and carried out a series of tests on the Curtiss N-9, fine-tuning the design. On October 17 1918, an unmanned N-9 was launched using the new Norden catapult system. It came cleanly off the track, climbed steadily and flew within 2° of the line of intended flight. The distance gear had been set for a flight of eight miles (13 km), but somehow malfunctioned. When last seen, the Curtiss N-9 was cruising over Bayshore Air Station at about 4,000 feet (1,200 m), heading east. It was never seen again.

Despite the success of the stabilization gear, there was doubt in the Navy about the program, and they asked Carl Norden to review the Sperry components and recommend improvements. The Navy was, by now, satisfied with the concept, and was contemplating purchasing such equipment on its own, apart from the Sperrys. Elmer Sperry tried to stir up enthusiasm again, calling the concept of the flying bomb the "gun of the future". This was to no avail, however. World War I came to a close when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Almost a hundred flights had been flown in the N-9, but almost all of these had a safety pilot onboard. The Navy took complete control of the program from Sperry, spelling the end of the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane program.

The Kettering Bug

The Curtiss-Sperry "Flying Bomb" was one of two American efforts during World War I to develop what would today be called a cruise missile. The other was the Dayton Wright Liberty Eagle, better known as the Kettering "Bug". In November 1917 Army representatives had witnessed one of the Curtiss-Sperry flights and decided to start a similar aerial torpedo, or flying bomb, project which could hit a target at a range of 40 miles. This was to be led by Lieut. Col. Bion J. Arnold for the Air Service and Charles Kettering of Dayton, Ohio for industry. The latter was assisted by Orville Wright, who acted as an aeronautical consultant on the project and C.H. Wills of the Ford Motor Company. Elmer Ambrose Sperry designed the control and guidance system. Various companies working together produced 20 complete pilotless aircraft (called the Kettering Aerial Torpedo but later known as the Kettering Bug and built by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company. A piloted development aircraft was built as the Dayton-Wright Bug),


The Kettering Bug was an experimental aerial torpedo, capable of striking ground targets up to 75 miles (120 km) from its launch point, while traveling at a speed of 50 mph. The aircraft was powered by one 4-cylinder, 40-horsepower De Palma engine. The engine was mass-produced by the Ford Motor Company for about $40 each. The fuselage was constructed of wood laminates and papier-mâché, while the wings were made of cardboard. The "Bug" could fly at a speed of 50 mph with a payload of 180 pounds (81kg) of explosives. Total cost of each "Bug" was US$400.

The Bug was launched using a dolly-and-track system, similar to the method used by the Wright Brothers when they made their first powered flights in 1903. Once launched, a small onboard gyroscope guided the aircraft to its destination. The control system used a pneumatic/vacuum system, an electric system and an aneroid barometer/altimeter. To ensure the Bug hit its target, a mechanical system was devised that would track the aircraft's distance flown. Before takeoff technicians determined the distance to be traveled relative to the air, taking into account wind speed and direction along the flight path. This was used to calculate the total number of engine revolutions needed for the Bug to reach its destination. When a total revolution counter reached this value a cam dropped down which shut off the engine and retracted the bolts attaching the wings, which fell off. The Bug began a ballistic trajectory into the target; the impact detonated the payload of 180 pounds (81 kg) of explosives.


Kettering Bug on the dolly and ready to be launched

The prototype Bug was completed and delivered to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1918, near the end of World War I. The first flight on October 2 (or October 4th, sources differ), 1918 was a failure: the plane climbed too steeply after takeoff, stalled and crashed. Subsequent flights were successful, and the aircraft was demonstrated to Army personnel at Dayton. "The Kettering Bug had 2 successes on 6 attempts at Dayton, 1 of 4 at Amityville, and 4 of 14 at Carlstrom." Despite some successes during initial testing, the "Bug" was never used in combat. Officials worried about their reliability when carrying explosives over Allied troops. By the time the War ended about 45 Bugs had been produced. From April 1917 to March 1920 the US Government spent about $275,000 on the Kettering Bug. The aircraft and its technology remained a secret until World War II. During the 1920s, what was now the U.S. Army Air Service continued to experiment with the aircraft until funding was withdrawn entirely in 1925.

Follow-on US Programs

During the early post-WW1 years, the US Navy's Bureau of Ordnance decided to follow up one aspect of the over-all problem of the aerial torpedo and to develop a radio-controlled plane. For the first program, the Navy ordered five examples of a new airframe design from Witteman-Lewis and Norden-designed gyrostabilizers were used, first flying in March 1919 but the results were no better than those achieved by the Sperrys and the wprogram was terminated in 1922. In 1921, the program was reoriented to focus on the radio control aspect. The control equipment was developed at the radio laboratory at NAS Anacostia (later the Naval Research Laboratory). In 1923, tests began, and were relatively successful and a successful flight without a pilot aboard took place on Sept. 15, 1924; but the plane was damaged in landing and sank but interest waned and the project lapsed in 1925.

Over a decade was to pass before the US Navy again looked into the development of target drones and pilotless aircraft, by which time developments in electronics and progress in aviation produced results which were later applied to missiles. The U.S. Navy re-entered the field of unmanned aircraft in earnest inthe mid-1930s, when several manned aircraft of different types were converted to radio-controlled drones, a program which was intended to provide realistic targets for antiaircraft gunnery practice but which went on to directly influence post-war missile development. These experiments would eventually lead to the TDR and TDN "assault drones" of World War II. Lieutenant Commander (later Rear Adm.) D.S. Fahrney was in charge of the drone project. The plane used was a Stearman-Hammond JH-1 and / or a Curtiss "N2C-2" drone (again, sources differ), and the radio control equipment was again developed by the Naval Research Laboratory. This drone made its first successful flight Nov. 15, 1937. The N2C-2 was remotely controlled from another aircraft, called a TG-2. N2C-2 anti-aircraft target drones were in service by 1938 and first used for target practice by the antiaircraft batteries of the USS Ranger. Commander Fahrney then suggested the development of assault drones.


A U.S. Navy Curtiss N2C-2 Fledgling converted into a target drone at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), 1938/39. Note that the aircraft has been fitted with a tricycle landing gear.

The US Army Air Forces (USAAF) adopted the N2C-2 concept in 1939. Obsolescent aircraft were put into service as "A-series" anti-aircraft target drones. Since the "A" code would be also used for "Attack" aircraft, later "full-sized" targets would be given the "PQ" designation.

The "Radioplane Company"

The first large-scale production, purpose-built radio-controlled drone was the product of one Reginald Denny. Denny had served with the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I, and after the war, immigrated to the United States to seek his fortune in Hollywood as an actor, where he did in fact make a name for himself. Between acting jobs, he pursued his interest in radio controlled model aircraft in the 1930s. He and his business partners formed "Reginald Denny Industries" and opened a model plane shop in 1934 on Hollywood Boulevard known as "Reginald Denny Hobby Shop". The shop evolved into the "Radioplane Company".

Denny believed that low-cost RC aircraft would be very useful for training anti-aircraft gunners, and in 1935 he demonstrated a prototype target drone, the RP-1, to the US Army, although the Army did not buy the aircraft. Denny then bought a design from Walter Righter in 1938 and began marketing it to hobbyists as the "Dennymite", and demonstrated it to the Army as the RP-2 in 1938, then after further modifications, as the RP-3 and RP-4 in 1939.

Just as a note of interest and not as part of this ATL, in 1940, Denny and his partners won an Army contract for their radio controlled RP-4, which became the Radioplane OQ-2. They manufactured nearly fifteen thousand drones for the army during World War II. It was at the Van Nuys Radioplane factory in 1944 that Army photographer David Conover saw a young lady named Norma Jeane, and thought she had potential as a model. This "discovery" led to fame for Norma Jeane, who soon changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.


Marilyn Monroe was a technician at the Radioplane munitions factory when she was photographed at her job by Yank magazine in 1944
The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part II

The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part II

Great Britain

Interestingly enough, even more so than “death rays”, pilotless or robot aircraft represent a thread in the early development of flight and of air warfare which has barely been recognised by historians and which is very rarely mentioned in most histories of air warfare. Nevertheless, it was there, pre-dating World War I. For example, Page 363 of the Illustrated London News for 6 September 1913 gives an artist's impression of a both a flying aircraft carrier and an airship drone. The idea was that the 'parent dirigible' (which looks very much like a Zeppelin) would carry several of these 40-foot long 'crewless, miniature air-ships' slung underneath it, and then launch them when in range of a target (here a fortification). The smaller airship would then be controlled by radio to fly drop its bombs 'on any desired spot'.


The artist is W. B. Robinson, but it was drawn from 'material supplied by Mr. Raymond Phillips'.

In 1910 Phillips, a consulting engineer from Liverpool, gave a demonstration of a 20-foot version of his 'aerial torpedo' at the London Hippodrome. Here, according to a report in the New York Times, he impressed an audience which included Claude Grahame-White, who only weeks earlier had become famous for undertaking the world's first night flight. Here, too, the purpose of Phillips's airship drone was war: "Now," said he [Phillips], "just imagine that row of seats is a row of houses, and that instead of a model, with paper toys in its hold, in its hold, I am controlling a full-sized airship carrying a cargo of dynamite bombs. Watch!" He pressed another key. There was a faint click from the framework of the airship, and the bottom of the box that hung amidships fell like a trapdoor, releasing, not bombs, but a flight of paper birds, that fluttered gracefully down on the seats beneath. "There!" said the inventor, with a note of finality, and he turned away to answer a shower of questions.


Phillips claimed that 'for £300 I can make, equip, and dispatch to any distance three wirelessly controlled airships carrying huge quantities of explosives' -- and unlike a naval torpedo, his aerial torpedos were reusable, making them very cost effective. "I offer my invention to the British Government, whose official representatives will inspect it in a day or two, because I want England to have command of the air just as she has command of the sea."

Phillips did at least consider the visual feedback problem, though his solution was dubious. From the NYT article above: "How can you tell when your airship is just over the town you purpose to destroy?" asked some one. Mr. Phillips replied replied that he might work with a large scale map in front of him. Or possibly he might fit each airship with a telephotographic lens, which, being en rapport with a reflector placed before the operator, would show him the country over which the airship flew. Although he gave further public demonstrations of his aerial torpedo in 1913 (and despite getting a free plug in the Illustrated News) the government seems to have declined to reward Phillips for his patriotism.

However, after the start of World War I, the British military did look onto the feasibility of such devices. In Britain, practical research and development was was carried during World War I by British inventor Archibald Low, who designed and flew the first British radio-controlled aircraft in 1916. His aim was to develop a weapon to counter German Zeppelin airships and provide rudimentary ground attack capabilities with unmanned aircraft packed with explosives. Low's expertise in wireless had been demonstrated in the development of a crude television system in 1914, some 10 years before John Logie Baird's invention.

When war broke out, Low joined the military and received officer training. After a few months he was promoted to Captain and seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, the precursor of the RAF. Initially, Low was actually working on the very first electronic range finder, based on the principles of radar, for the Artillery Corps but the RFC (Royal Flying Corps) had other things in mind for the good Professor. The RFC wanted Prof. Low to put his knowledge of radar to use in designing and developing remotely controlled pilot-less aircraft. His brief was to use his civilian research with a remit to develop a radio-controlled aircraft able to defend against German attacks from the air. With two other officers (Captain Poole and Lieutenant Bowen) under him, they set to work to see if it were possible. This project was called "Aerial Target" or AT a misnomer to fool the Germans into thinking it was about building a drone plane to test anti-aircraft capabilities. After they built a prototype, General Sir David Henderson (Director-General of Military Aeronatics) ordered that the Royal Flying Corps Experimental Works should be created to build the first proper "Aerial Target" complete with explosive warhead. As head of the Experimental Works, Low was given about 30 picked men, including jewellers, carpenters and aircraftsmen in order to get the pilotless plane built as quickly as possible.


The Experimental Works staff of the Royal Flying Corps, Low is front centre.

Within a year an "aerial torpedo" emerged in the shape of a small monoplane powered by a 50 horsepower Gnome rotary engine. The plane, the Ruston Proctor AT (Aerial Target – named to mislead the Germans as to the true nature of the project) was designed by H P Folland. It had its first trial on 21 March 1917 at Upavon Central Flying School near Salisbury Plain, attended by 30-40 Allied Generals. The aircraft was launched from the back of a lorry using compressed air (another first). Low and his team successfully demonstrated their ability to control the craft before engine failure led to its crash landing. A subsequent full trial on 6 July 1917 was cut short as an aerial had been lost at takeoff. At a later date an electrically driven gyro (yet another first) was added to the plane, but ultimately the "Aerial Target" project was not followed up after the war.

This remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) concept caught the interest of the great Sopwith Co. as well as Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd who began immediate, parallel development to Low's own at the RFC. Granville Bradshaw of A.B.C. Motors Ltd. who gained fame by designing the well proven 45 hp Gnat engine subsequently designed a throwaway engine specifically for use in the RPV. The engine was a two-cylinder air-cooled engine providing 26 kW (35 HP) and was intended to operate for only two hours, making it one of the first purpose-designed expendable engines ever built. It was this lightweight inexpensive engine that propelled RPV research and development into the next phase. In the mean time Sopwith had developed the 14ft wingspan "Sopwith AT" (AT = air target) which was fitted with the 35 hp ABC engine driving an ordinary wooden propeller. The radio box was further back towards the tail behind the fuel, batteries and of course the explosives.

The sensitive radio equipment was fitted into a wooden box with a glass lid, suspended on rubber supports. The box itself measured about 2ft 3in by 9in. This box contained all of the relays, receiver and the Key system which was an interference filter. An interesting note here, a shaft which was driven by the engine triggered a mechanical relay so that each contact made in the control box caused the engine power to operate the control services. The date was 1916 and the Sopwith AT was completed with full servo control. It never flew because it was subsequently damaged while in hangar and abandoned.


The Sopwith AT. The ironic end result of this project was the creation of the Sopwith Sparrow which was a small, single seat aircraft which did in fact have a pilot after all.

Naturally this is not the end of our story, enter Geoffrey de Havilland. De Havilland built a little mono plane around the lightweight ABC expendable engine. It is believed that it was the de Havilland monoplane which flew on a March 21st, 1917 test flight at Upavon. The rumor is that high ranking officials were invited to attend and were quickly dispersed in a rather comical fashion when the initial test flight went awry as they so often do and, embarrassingly, crashed immediately after launch. No more is known.

Later that year H.P. Folland the designer of the S.E.5 fighter embarked on task to build an aircraft using Low's radio equipment. By July of 1917 he had 5 aircraft ready for flight and on July 6, 1917 the first flight was conducted. The aircraft rolled smoothly along on a 150 ft launch track and became airborne mid way. The craft rose steeply, stalled and plummeted to the ground. Two more tests were conducted on July 25 and 28 but the aircraft were under controlled. At more or less the same time the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough built a monoplane with a wingspan of 6.7 meters (22 feet). The exact number of different types of aerial torpedoes developed by the British during World War I and their details is unclear. What is clear is that little came of the effort and the entire "R/C" program slowed to a trickle until the end of the war.

In 1917 Low and his team also invented the first electrically steered rocket (the world's first wireless, or wire-guided rocket), almost an exact counterpart of the one used by the Germans in 1942 against merchant shipping. Low's inventions during the war were to a large extent before their time and hence were perhaps under-appreciated by the Government of the day, although the Germans were well aware of how dangerous his inventions might be. In 1915 two attempts were made to assassinate him; the first involved shots being fired through his laboratory window in Paul Street; the second attempt was from a visitor with a German accent who came to Low's office and offered him a cigarette, which upon analysis contained enough strychnine chloride to kill.

Work on automated aircraft continued in Britain after the war. In 1920, a standard Bristol F.2B fighter was fitted with radio control and flown successfully, though the aircraft still carried a human pilot as a backup. A radio-guided purpose-built aerial target was also tested in 1921. These efforts led to the interesting "Long-Range Gun With Lynx Engine (LARYNX)" aerial torpedo of 1927. This was a neat little monoplane with a radial engine and a gyroscopic control system, built by the Royal Aeronautical Establishment for the Royal Navy -- one suspects the "Long-Range Gun" label was a way of selling a newfangled idea to conservative admirals. Lows designs were adopted by the Admiralty for the Larynx "Long Range Gun with Lynx Engine", and explosive laden autopiloted aircraft which was developed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment from 1925. “Larynx” was an early British pilotless aircraft, to be used as a guided anti-ship weapon. Started as a project in September 1925, it was an early attempt to design and build a “cruise missile” guided by an autopilot. A small monoplane powered by a 200 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV engine, it had a top speed of 200 mph (320 km/h) - faster than contemporary fighters at that time.


RAE Larynx on cordite-fired catapult of the Royal Navy’s destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927. The man on the box is Dr. George Gardner, later Director of RAE."

A number of test flights of the Larynx took place. The first test took place on July 20, 1927 with a Larynx successfully launched from a cordite-powered catapult fitted to the S class destroyer HMS Stronghold. The aircraft crashed into the Bristol Channel after a 12 minute flight due to engine failure. A second test was carried out on September 1, 1927, with the aircraft thought to have flown 100 miles (160 km) before being lost. A third test occurred on October 15, 1927 with a 112 mile (180 km) flight, hitting five miles from the target. Two more launches occurred in September and October 1928 from HMS Thanet, another S class destroyer. Two additional launches took place in May 1929. Launched from land, one overflew target and the other was successful. The duration of the 10th flight was 39 minutes long. The flight was so successful that the RAE recorded a record 43 separate commands. Once the news of this reached the powers that be the RAE was given the go ahead to do what comes naturally...build it bigger and better with a larger pay load.

The LARYNX was a mid- winged mono plane designed to hold 250lbs of high powered explosives and travel a distance of over 300 miles. The Armstrong Siddeley Lynx - 200 hp engine was enclosed in a low drag cowling at the front end of a light weight tubular fuselage and attained the impressive speed of over 190 mph in the year 1927. This aircraft was years ahead of its kind and was even faster than its contemporary, manned, fighter planes. When it came time to actually replace the empty payload section with the intended explosives and field test the "flying bombs" they decided to forgo the R/C and install gyroscopes. They sent these aircraft to Iran where all of them failed miserably except one. This aircraft sailed off into the distance never to be seen or heard from again. Whether the 113 kilogram (250 pound) warhead exploded or not, no one will ever know and the results of the tests were deemed to be inconclusive.


Archibald M. "Archy" Low: The “Father of Radio Guidance Systems”.

Low was born in 1888 in London. The son of an engineer, he frequently visited his father's workplace while a young child. He attended Colet Court School as a young boy and displayed a strong aptitude for science. In 1899, he attended St. Paul's School and in 1904, was enrolled in the Central Technical College. His technical genius was first apparent in May 1914 when he developed an early forerunner of what was to become television, which he called "TeleVista." He did not pursue this idea, in part, due to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. Low volunteered for military service and was soon a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps. He helped research ways to remotely control aircraft, with the idea of turning airplanes into guided missiles. As head of Experimental Works, the military organization in charge of the project, Low supervised a hand-picked team and conducted a test flight of an unmanned craft for military dignitaries on March 21, 1917. The vehicle was launched with compressed air (a first), and although it crashed soon into the test, Low and his team were able to control the plane, albeit briefly. He improved the test vehicle by adding an electrically driven gyroscope (another of his innovations), but the project was soon abandoned by the British military.

In 1917, Archibald Low and his team also invented the first electrically-steered rocket, a forerunner of a weapon used by the Germans against merchant ships in World War II. Low's inventions during World War I were, for the most part, too advanced to be appreciated by his own government but he has been called the "Father of radio guidance systems" for his wartime accomplishments. The Germans, however, were well aware of how effective his remote-controlled weapons might be, and in 1915, made two unsuccessful attempts to assassinate him. After World War I, Archibald Low founded Low Engineering Company, and produced several inventions in the 1920's and 1930's. In 1933, Archibald Low was one of the founders of the British Interplanetary Society and served as its president from 1936 to 1951. Although in poor health for most of the rest of his life he wrote a number of prophetic books on the future of astronautics in the 1930's and continued to propose innovative weapon systems, though none came to fruition. Although Low's military inventions were consistently rejected by his own government in World War II, the Germans improved upon Low's 1918 rocket guidance system in their V-1 flying bomb (the first cruise missile), which rained death onto England and Western Europe for months in 1944 and 1945.

Low was also a prolific author of science books, which he wrote for the general public, in an effort to nurture interest in science and engineering. Between 1916 and 1954, he authored forty books, including four works of science fiction for children. Archibald Montgomery Low died in September 1956. Low has been called the "father of radio guidance systems" due to his pioneering work on guided rockets, planes and torpedoes. He was a pioneer in many fields though, often leading the way for others, but his lack of discipline meant he hardly ever saw a project through, being easily distracted by new ideas. If it weren't for this inability to see things to a conclusion, Low could well have been remembered as one of the great men of science. Many of his scientific contemporaries disliked him, due in part to his using the title Professor, which technically he wasn't entitled to do as he didn't occupy an academic chair. His love of the limelight and publicity probably also added to the dislike.

Somewhat prophetic Archibald Low quotes:

"The telephone may develop to a stage where it is unnecessary to enter a special call-box. We shall think no more of telephoning to our office from our cars or railway-carriages than we do today of telephoning from our homes.”

“The second stage in the development of space-ships could be the launching of what have been called space-platforms...The rocket or space-station will travel round the earth in twenty four hours at most. The value of such stations might be very great; they might enable world-wide television broadcasts to be made; they would transmit data about cosmic rays or solar radiation; and they might have incalculable military value.”

"No team ever invents anything, they only develop one man's flash of genius.”

In the 1920s, various radio-controlled ships were used for naval artillery target practice. Perhaps the first was the Fairey IIIF - three IIIFs were modified as a radio-controlled gunnery trainer, and were known as the Fairey Queen (it is thought that the subsequent Queen Bee and Queen Wasp followed the “Queen” naming convetion that originated with the Fairey IIIF’s). In the 1930s Britain also developed the radio controlled Queen Bee, a remotely controlled unmanned Tiger Moth aircraft for fleet gunnery firing practice. A radio-controlled target gunnery target version of Tiger Moth appeared in 1935 called the DH.82 Queen Bee, it used a wooden fuselage based on that of the DH.60 Gipsy Moth (with appropriate structural changes related to cabane strut placement) with the wings of the Tiger Moth II, with nearly 300 in service at the start of the Second World, (it is believed the name "Drone" was derived from "Queen Bee"). These aircraft retained a normal front cockpit for test-flying or ferry flights, but had a radio-control system in the rear cockpit that operated the controls using pneumaticically-driven servos. Four-hundred were built by de Havilland at Hatfield, and a further 70 by Scottish Aviation.


Remote piloting a Queen Bee. Its design remained nearly the same throughout its history, it was well constructed and able to do aerobatics

The Queen Bee was superseded by the similarly named Queen Wasp, a later, purpose built, target aircraft of higher performance. The Airspeed AS.30 Queen Wasp was built to meet an Air Ministry Specification Q.32/35 for a pilotless target aircraft to replace the de Havilland Tiger Moth based de Havilland Queen Bee. Two prototypes were ordered in May 1936, one to have a wheeled landing gear for use by the Royal Air Force and the other as a floatplane for Royal Navy use for air-firing practice at sea. Powered by the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engine, a total of 65 aircraft were ordered, contingent on the success of the flight test programme. The aircraft was a single-engined biplane constructed of wood with sharply-tapered wings and fabric-covered control surfaces. An enclosed cabin with one seat was provided so the Queen Wasp could be flown manually with the radio control system turned off. The radio control system was complex with a number of backup safety devices to ensure radio and battery operation was uninterrupted. A trailing receiver aerial was winched out after takeoff and served as an automatic landing device which was activated when the trailing aerial weight hit the runway. In flight tests, the aircraft was found to be underpowered and water handling difficulties necessitated a redesign of the floats by their builder, Shorts. Although the production run of 10 aircraft was begun, only three more aircraft were completed and delivered to the Royal Air Force.


The Airspeed AS.30 Queen Wasp, a British pilotless radio-controlled target aircraft built by Airspeed Limited.

A further episode in the British development of such weapons was the involvement of the Hungarian inventor, Kálmán Tihanyi. In the beginning of 1930, Tihanyi had moved to London at the invitation of the British Air Ministry to build a prototype of his aerial torpedo, whose plans he had completed in Berlin. Later that same year, he learned of RCA's interest in his television patents. While working on the aerial torpedo and negotiating with RCA, he conducted negotiations regarding various other inventions as well: wide-screen and stereo film, a reflector for submarines, etc. At the end of 1931, Tihanyi was invited by the Italian Navy to develop his torpedo for marine use. During the next three years, he divided his time between the laboratories of the Air Ministry in London and the laboratories of the Italian Navy off the harbor of Genoa, on Isola Castagna.


Kálmán Tihanyi (born 28 April 1897, Üzbég (now Zbehy, Slovakia) – died 26 February 1947, Budapest) was a Hungarian physicist, electrical engineer and inventor.

Tihanyi studied electrical engineering and physics in Pozsony (today Bratislava) and later in Budapest. By age fifteen, he had several small inventions, and was only seventeen years old when he sold his patented remote control for city lights to a Viennese manufacturer. A list of "Future projects" dating from the same year included: device for the prevention of train collision, hydrogen-oxygen motor; scanner with selenium cells against the grounding of ships; automatically guided torpedo; remote controlled submarine boat and submarine mine. Interestingly enough, all these projects were later realized. During World War I, Tihanyi served as artillery engineer, then as radio engineer at the Austro-Hungarian Navy Headquarters in Pola, where his remote controlled submarine mine was developed and successfully used. It was subsequently honored as an outstanding military invention.

One of the early pioneers of electronic television, Tihanyi had first started thinking about television broadcasting in 1917, but it wasn’t until 1924 that he finally began his experiments, and 1926 when he applied for his first patent, after which he would go on to make significant contributions to the development of cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which were bought and further developed by the Radio Corporation of America (later RCA), and German companies Loewe and Fernseh AG. Tihanyi called his fully electronic television system "Radioskop", and his application contained 42 pages detailing its design and mass production. Though it bears certain similarities to earlier proposals employing a cathode ray tube (CRT) for both transmitter and receiver, Tihanyi's system represented a radical departure. Like the final, improved version Tihanyi would patent in 1928, it embodied an entirely new concept in design and operation, building upon a technology that would become known as the "storage principle". This technology involves the maintenance of photoemission from the light-sensitive layer of the detector tube between scans. By this means, accumulation of charges would take place and the "latent electric picture" would be stored. Tihanyi filed two separate patent applications in 1928 then extended patent protection beyond Germany, filing in France, England, the United States, and elsewhere.

In 1928, Tihanyi went to Berlin, where the development of mechanical television involving Nipkow disks had already been begun by the German Post Office and the larger manufacturers. The invention was received with enthusiasm by Telefunken and Siemens, but in the end they opted to continue with the development of mechanical television.


Letter from the British Embassy in Berlin to Tihanyi dated Nov. 29, 1929.

From 1929, Tihanyi worked on television guidance for defense applications, building prototypes of a camera for an automatic optically-controlled, pilotless aircraft in London for the British Air Ministry, and later adapting it for the Italian Navy. In 1929, he invented the first infrared-sensitive (night vision) electronic television camera for use with anti-aircraft defenses in Britain. In 1936 Tihanyi described the principle of "plasma television" and conceived the first flat-panel television system. Tihanyi's U.S. patents for his display and camera tubes, assigned to RCA, were issued in 1938 and 1939, respectively.

Several articles about this project appeared in Hungarian newspapers, one or two were published in Italy, and two German articles about Tihanyi's television work mention this project as well. In an article, entitled, "Etwas uber das Fernsehen," ("About Television,") written by Tihanyi and published in the journal: “Funk und Fernseh Technik”, Berlin, (undated, but judging from a reference to the invitation by the British Air Ministry to London, probably in early 1930) Tihanyi describes his “Aerial Torpedo” as a device which also possesses "eyes" with the help of which it "sees" and locks onto moving targets deploying one of various weapons it carries for the target's destruction. It should be noted that the patent [K. Tihanyi: Br. Pat. 352,035/December 21, 1929 application, (conv. date December 16, 1929, Hungary), issued June 22, 1931.] describes television guidance through specially constructed light and heat sensitive photocells for other types of weaponry, such as tanks, bombs, etc. as well.


Part of the description of Tihanyi’s Aerial Torpedo optical control mechanism


Tihany’s Patent: Page 1


Tihany’s Patent: Page 2

Despite the fact that this work was carried out in the UK and articles about it were published in the Hungarian, Italian and German press, nothing about this work was ever published in Great Britain, although not for want of trying for Tihanyi did work to publicise himself. A letter from the Daily Mail explains the reason for this.


Letter from the Daily Mail to Dr Nandor Fodor, Jan. 22, 1931. Nothing about Tihanyi’s work on remotely-guided aerialtorpedoes was was published in Great Britain. This letter from the Daily Mail explains the reason for this.

Sometime in early 1933, Tihanyi contacted a Lt. Col. Wesson, asst. military attache to the U.S in the UK. Apparently, Lt. Col. Wesson received a "description and five sketches of the optical self-directing apparatus", which he then forwarded to the War Department and which, per subsequent letters of April-May 1933 by the naval attache, ended up "interesting" the U.S. Navy Department. Tihanyi received a request for detailed plans and a proposal; the letter stated that these would be kept confidential and no use would be made of them without first informing him....The proposal was apparently submitted. By the way, in 1931, Tihanyi had filed a new patent application for the improved version of this invention, which according to a letter home he considered "the really good solution".

In 1935, Tihanyi began to work on applications of hyper-energy ultrasound for rain-inducing irradiation of clouds and the large-scale eradication of harmful insects The completed plan described an ultrasound reflector with a range of 5-8 kilometers in the air and 400 kilometers in water. Both Archibald Low and Kálmán Tihanyi were acquaintances of Eric Tigerstedt in the 1930’s – the scientific world that they moved in was small enough that most of the leading scientists were known to each other and it was certain that Tigerstedt knew of the work that was going on in this field through the 1930’s, particularly given the common areas of research that they worked in. While we cannot confirm whether or nor Low made any contribution (other thans hus published papers) to Tigerstedt’s work, we do know that in early 1938 Tihanyi accepted an offer to work with Tigerstedt at the Nokia R&D Lab in Helsinki, where the two worked closely together over 1938 and 1939, the results of which work will be described shortly as we cover the Finnish Glider-Bomb Project.

In late 1940, after the end of the Winter War, Tihanyi returned to Hungary despite pleas from Tigerstedt, Nokia and the Finnish government for him to continue to work with the Nokia R&D Team in Helsinki. Sadly, Tihanyi declined and returned to his native Hungary where he later became involved with the Resistance and developed an intimate friendship with its leader Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky. In 1941, he was briefly arrested in connection with propaganda material against Hitler and Basch and in 1943 his home was searched. Following Hungary's March 19, 1944 occupation by the Germans, Kalman Tihanyi was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned at the Margit Ring prison. Although he survived five months of solitary confinement, starvation and interrogations, following the failed attempt at armistice on October 15th by Regent Miklós Horthy and the installation of the Szálasi government, like the rest of the Resistance, he went underground. He survived the war but died two years later, in February 1947, leaving behind a large number of inventions.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Tihanyi, try these sites.

The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part III

The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part III

Finland’s Liito-Pommi (Glide-Bomb) Project

As has been mentioned earlier, in 1937 the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö (Technical Research Unit of the General Staff) approved the request for research work to be carried out on the design and development of a remote-controlled Liito-Pommi (glide-bomb) and allocated initial funding. The initial R&D project team was composed of a small team from Ammus Oy (the bombs), Valtion (State Aircraft Factory – the “aircraft” part of the project) and a small Nokia/Fenno Radio Team responsible for developing the wireless remote control. Work started quickly, with the initial objective being understood as the development of a “Liito-Pommi” which could be dropped from an aircraft out of range anti-aircraft guns and then guided to the target by a bomb-controller in the bomber aircraft.

As we have seen there were numerous precursors to the remote-controlled glider-bomb prior to WW2, and both the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö and the Liiti-Pommi R&D Team had been briefed on what was known on these. While Tigerstedt was not part of the “Liito-Pommi” team, he was involved in the initial briefings and provided the team with guidance, reviews of progress and supervision. Work started quickly – this was not rocket science and the theory and practice of bombs, flying and wireless remote control were well understood. The glider-bombs the “Liito-Pommi” team developed all shared a similar layout/platform and were constructed primarily of plywood (something that the Finnish Forestry Industry and VL were specialists in) and employed elevons attached to swept-back wings.

The initial version developed in mid-1937, the LP-1 was a truly simple weapon. Very basic wings and a tail were fitted to a standard 1,000 Pound bomb. The glider had a 12 foot span, and was constructed with wooden wings and steel tube main spar that was bolted to the fuselage frame that extended aft as twin booms to which a twin tailed wooden empenage was bolted. A complete LP-1 weighted in at 1456 Pounds. Glide speed was approx 370 km/h. Aspect ratio was 4.36 and the lift/drag ratio was 4.97. A range of abouit 32km (20 miles) was achieved after a drop from 15,000 feet, giving a significant stand off capacity. Beside its stand off capacity the glider weapon was found to have another advantage, as the angle of attack made it more likely that it hit the side of the target, while vertically falling bombs were more likely to hit the ground or the target from above and do less damage to structures.


The “pilot” Liito-Pommi Malli 1 (Glide Bomb Model 1). The LP-1, as the photo shows, was a truly simple weapon with a simple auto-pilot which maintained a straight course.


A slightly different version of the Liito-Pommi Malli 1 (Glide Bomb Model 1). The team experimented with a number of different wing versions, as well as bombs. This was an attempt to launch a torpedo version that was trialed in parallel with the LP-1. Using a torpedo instead of a general purpose bomb, it flew on a preset glide path. It was equipped with a paravane which trailed 6 m (20 ft) below it, and which upon entering the water triggered the explosive removal of the airframe components from the torpedo. In the water, the torpedo would continue to travel in a straight line.

Conceptually, the throught was that this would enable Torpedo Bombers to launch their torpedoes from well outside AA-gun fire, albeit at the expense of accuracy as the stand-off distance gave the target a great deal of time to change course. In repeated trials, it was found that the additional time allowed the target to evade in every instance.

Initial aiming of the weapon was done by the bombardier on the bomber by aligning the plane to the target and then compensating for wind drift and trajectory. To compensate for roll, ailerons were provided and attached to a rudimentary automatic pilot. The LP-1 was stable in flight and showed the potential for a stand-off bomb, but without any guidance system it offered little advantage as, once dropped it was on its own and accuracy was non-existent even under perfect conditions. Also, it was found that on detaching from the bomber, the aircraft slip-stream more often that not threw the bomb off its preset course. However, the stand-off potential had been demonstrated, as had the ability to “glide” a bomb considerable distances. Meanwhile, the team had been working on designing and building a radio-controlled version. Again, we should keep in mind that radio-controlled aircraft had been proven as early as World War I and the technology was known and understood.


Liito-Pommi malli 1 loaded beneath Ilmavoimat bomber for early trials

While the LP-1 was still in testing, the LP-2 was constructed. This model carried a radio receiver so that the bombardier could guide it towards its target. It was no super weapon and required the launching bomber to keep slow and level, making sure the bomb was in visual sight of the operator while he was guiding in the bomb to the target. Contrary to several post-war articles, none of these Liito-Pommi had a TRUE tail elevator - rather these gliders were equipped with a small trim-tab to maintain glide-bomb attitude that was in turn controlled by an autopilot. All directional control (climb, dive, bank) was performed by the elevons on the main wing and the bomb was roll-stablised by a gyroscope. The various projections from the airframe on this and later versions have frequently been misconstrued as air-driven generators, but they were in fact either venturi tubes that drove the gyroscopes or were spinner-type/bomb fuses that spun off, thereby arming the bomb in flight. The LP-2 could be guided to the target visually with some difficulty – the main problem identified was the difficulty of visually tracking the bomb and guiding it accurately onto the target. Between the combination of visual tracking of the bomb and judging speed and altitude, accuracy was very low – more or less on a par with medium to high level bombing.

The next version, the LP-3, was both more aerodynamically designed to increase speed and in addition to the radio receiver, incorporated 5 flares mounted behind the wing leading edge, so the bombardier could guide it towards its target. In addition, the Radio receiver equipment on the LP-3 was upgraded and more powerful batteries installed (used to drove the solenoid control actuators for the elevons). In operation, the launch aircraft would send commands using a Nokia radio transmitter, which was received by the Receiver unit on the LP-3 and used to demodulate the signal and generate steering commands for the control actuators. Eighteen preset frequencies in the 48-50 MHz bands were available. This was the first air launched Command to Line Of Sight (CLOS) guidance system ever used. Red coloured flares on the tail of the weapon were used to cue the operator when steering the weapon. With the provision of a telescopic viewer, the bombardier had a better chance of keeping the bomb accurately on target, but the controlling aircraft still had to remain within visual range if the bomb was to be accurately guided onto the target, which meant that the aircraft had to both maintain a gentle flight path consistent with tracking the bomb, and would also be subjected to anti-aircraft fire. Range of the LP-3 obviously varied depending on the height of the release but it was found that from a releaee at 3,500 ft a glide range of up to 11km was possible.


Liito-Pommi LP-3: As well as being radio-controlled, this was equipped with bright flares which allowed the bombardier to visually track the glide-bomb and apply corrective commands on the way to the target (the 5 flares can be seen above the bomb at the rear, just behind the main wing).

The basic limitation that the bomber aircrews involved in the trials flagged as the major issue was that they couldn’t go out of line-of-sight and if subjected to AA fire or enemy fighter attack, counter-measures meants that the bombardier could all to easily loose track of the LP-3, even with the flares assisted with their visual signal. In addition, to actually visually guide the bomb onto the target, they needed to be close enough that they were within AA gun range in any event.

It was at this stage of the project, around the end of 1937, that Tigerstedt suggested that consideration be given to a combination of glide-bomb mounted TV camera’s and radio control. When one wonders why this hadn’t been considered earlier, one should remember that in the late 1930’s, both radio-control and promitove television were very much “Buck Rodgers” technologies and were still very much in their own developmental infancy. And complex autonomous-guidance systems were very much the stuff of pure science-fiction.Recall now that Tigerstedt had a remarkable range of contacts in the specialized field that he worked in – and he was very much aware of the work of Archibald Low and of course, of the work of the Hungarian inventor, Kálmán Tihanyi. Grasping somewhat at straws, Tigerstedt flew to London and contacted both Low and Tihanyi. Low’s work on guidance systems was discussed at length, as was Tihanyi’s work on an “Aerial Torpedo” using an infrared camera to lock onto a moving target.

After some further meetings and discussions on what Tigerstedt was trying to achieve, Tihanyi in early 1938 accepted an offer to work with Tigerstedt at the Nokia R&D Lab in Helsinki on the project. They would continue to work closely together over 1938, 1939 and into 1940, while they made substantial progress, the goal of a remotely-guided or autonomous glider bomb that worked successfully would elude them for some years, with Tigerstedt only really achieving what he was looking for in 1944. Even so, the Nokia radar-guided and infrared-homing Liito-Pommi and rockets of 1944-1945 were substantially ahead of any other country at the time, and they gave the Maavoimat, Merivoimat and Ilmavoimat a decided tactical advantage when they entered the war against Germany in spring 1944. However, that discussion is a little ahead of the current timeline, to which we will now return.

With Tigerstedt and now Tihanyi working feverishly together from early 1038, progress began to be made. In late 1938, the Liito-Pommi LP-4 was trialled. The LP-4 was in many ways similar to the LP-3, basically a 2000 lb general-purpose bomb fitted with a 12 ft wing and twin tails. A primitive TV camera was mounted in the bomb nose, with the transmitter contained in the fuselage behind the bomb. The TV image was transmitted and displayed to the bombardier, who could then send radio commands to correct the glide bomb's course. The LP-4 flew at a speed of 385 km/h (240 mph) and it was found that accuracy under optimal conditions was around 60 m (200 ft).


The Liito-Pommi Malli 4 had a small TV camera in the nose, sending a picture back to the Bombardier. While it was a good idea, the unreliability and lack of sharp image made it a weapon system that only worked in the best weather conditions. The initial trial results were disappointing, not the least because of technical difficulties but also because the TV image was too fuzzy on anything other than a clear day.


Crew members control the Liito-Pommi LP-4 guided bomb in a trial


Liito-Pommi LP-4 mounted beneath the wing of an Ilmavoimat bomber. The early TV cameras used for this bomb were very heavy and very expensive. There were continuing developmental issues with television camera resolution and the strength and range of the transmitted signal.

And it was at this point that the project stalled. The stand-off concept and the ability to fly and control the bombs had been proven. However, the television technology was still at rather too early a stage of development to work successfully, despite the work that Tigerstedt and Tihanyi put in. A second version of the LP-4 using infrared technology was also worked on, but while the infrared components worked to an extent, the autonomous homing described by Tihanyi in his earlier papers proved to be conceptual rather than designed and working – and it was the designing and building that stymied the team over 1938 and into 1939 (and indeed, would continue to do so through to 1942-43 when the first versions began to work somewhat problematically). Simply put, the infrared seeker could be used to home on targets which were significantly hotter than their surroundings but contrast was problematical and designing and building an autonomous control to home on a moving target proved a major challenge. While the LP-1, LP-2, LP-3 and LP-4 Liito-Pommi would have no major impact on the Winter War, they showed the path towards the future, where guidance systems and stand off capacity would take a giant leap forward by the end of WW2, with Nokia at the forefront of guidance system technology.

However, in 1939, as has been mentioned, the team came up with a working Liito-Pommi - the world’s first true “fire and forget” bomb. Once dropped, the Liito-Pommi went solo, guidimg itself to the target with a nose-mounted autonomous homing mechanism that was impervious to electronic countermeasures.

The History of the LLP/-40 Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40)

Known colloquially to Ilmavoimat ground crew handling the devices as the Linnunpaska Liito-Pommi (Bird-shit Glide Bomb) or even more commonly as “Paskapää” (shithead), the Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40) had its origins in a strange combination of the aforementioned Glide-Bomb Project and the research work of a junior psychologist at the University of Helsinki, Johannes Nahkuri.

The history of what would become known to history as the Linnunpaska Project is the history of a crackpot idea, born in a bar at midnight, but eventually vindicated by success. It is the story of an innovative proposal that was attempted but which at the time turned out to be in advance of the available technology and faced failure – but which then achieved success by abandoning the technology component that was the cause of the failures and replacing this component with a simple and easily available organic component – to wit, trained Pigeons. The end result was the world’s first highly accurate guided missile and it was a weapon that was used by the Ilmavoimat through the entire duration of the Winter War in attacks on both sea and land targets – attacks that had a high degree of success, with some 85% of bombs dropped hitting dead on target. This was superlative accuracy for the time in question, and that it could be achieved without placing the attacking aircraft in any substantial danger made it even more of a success.

As we have seen in the preceding post, the basic technology of the glider bomb had originated towards the end of WW1 and the bomb, wings and controls necessary for flight were a fairly straightforward and rapidly achieved engineering problem. The real problems were not with the glide-bomb itself, but in the control and homing mechanism. Tigerstedt and Tihanyi’s work on television and radio remote control and autonomous infrared homing had run into ongoing obstacles which they continued to struggle to overcome. In late 1938, in one of those fortuitous moments which occur, one of the Nokia engineers on the project, Erkki Nahkuri, sat in a Helsinki bar with his younger brother, Johannes Nahkuri, a junior psychologist at the University of Helsinki (who somewhat incidentally had studied at the University of Minnesota in 1937) and after the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol, poured his woes and the woes of the project out, in the process breaking all the sworn secrecy clauses of his contract, but not before ensuring nobody else could overhear them.


Johannes Nahkuri, photo taken 1939

In his work at the University of Helsinki, young Nahkuri was completing a Doctorate program in Psychology. For his thesis, he was working in the then brand-new field of operant conditioning, studying the relationship of behaviour to experimental conditions using Pigeons as the experimental subjects, influenced in this by his studies at the University of Minnesota.

Operant conditioning is an interesting field and in 1939 it was in its infancy. A simplified explanation is that it has long been known that behavior is affected by its consequences. We reward and punish people, for example, so that they will behave in different ways. A more specific effect of a consequence was first studied experimentally by Edward L. Thorndike in a well-known experiment. A cat enclosed in a box struggled to escape and eventually moved the latch which opened the door. When repeatedly enclosed in a box, the cat gradually ceased to do those things which had proved ineffective ("errors") and eventually made the successful response very quickly.

In operant conditioning, behavior is also affected by its consequences, but the process is not trial-and-error learning. It can best be explained with an example. A hungry rat is placed in a semi-soundproof box. For several days bits of food are occasionally delivered into a tray by an automatic dispenser. The rat soon goes to the tray immediately upon hearing the sound of the dispenser. A small horizontal section of a lever protruding from the wall has been resting in its lowest position, but it is now raised slightly so that when the rat touches it, it moves downward. In doing so it closes an electric circuit and operates the food dispenser. Immediately after eating the delivered food the rat begins to press the lever fairly rapidly. The behavior has been strengthened or reinforced by a single consequence. The rat was not "trying" to do anything when it first touched the lever and it did not learn from "errors."

To a hungry rat, food is a natural reinforcer, but the reinforcer in this example is the sound of the food dispenser, which was conditioned as a reinforcer when it was repeatedly followed by the delivery of food before the lever was pressed. In fact, the sound of that one operation of the dispenser would have had an observable effect even though no food was delivered on that occasion, but when food no longer follows pressing the lever, the rat eventually stops pressing. The behavior is said to have been extinguished. An operant can come under the control of a stimulus. If pressing the lever is reinforced when a light is on but not when it is off, responses continue to be made in the light but seldom, if at all, in the dark. The rat has formed a discrimination between light and dark. When one turns on the light, a response occurs, but that is not a reflex response.

The lever can be pressed with different amounts of force, and if only strong responses are reinforced, the rat presses more and more forcefully. If only weak responses are reinforced, it eventually responds only very weakly. The process is called differentiation. A response must first occur for other reasons before it is reinforced and becomes an operant. It may seem as if a very complex response would never occur to be reinforced, but complex responses can be shaped by reinforcing their component parts separately and putting them together in the final form of the operant. Operant reinforcement not only shapes the topography of behavior, it maintains it in strength long after an operant has been formed. Schedules of reinforcement are important in maintaining behavior.

If a response has been reinforced for some time only once every five minutes, for example, the rat soon stops responding immediately after reinforcement but responds more and more rapidly as the time for the next reinforcement approaches. (That is called a fixed-interval schedule of reinforcement.) If a response has been reinforced n the average every five minutes but unpredictably, the rat responds at a steady rate. (That is a variable-interval schedule of reinforcement.) If the average interval is short, the rate is high; if it is long, the rate is low.

If a response is reinforced when a given number of responses has been emited, the rat responds more and more rapidly as the required number is approached. (That is a fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement.) The number can be increased by easy stages up to a very high value; the rat will continue to respond even though a response is only very rarely reinforced. "Piece-rate pay" in industry is an example of a fixed-ratio schedule, and employers are sometimes tempted to "stretch" it by increasing the amount of work required for each unit of payment. When reinforcement occurs after an average number of responses but unpredictably, the schedule is called variable-ratio. It is familiar in gambling devices and systems which arrange occasional but unpredictable payoffs. The required number of responses can easily be stretched, and in a gambling enterprise such as a casino the average ratio must be such that the gambler loses in the long run if the casino is to make a profit.

Reinforcers may be positive or negative. A positive reinforcer reinforces when it is presented; a negative reinforcer reinforces when it is withdrawn. Negative reinforcement is not punishment. Reinforcers always strengthen behavior; that is what "reinforced" means. Punishment is used to suppress behavior. It consists of removing a positive reinforcer or presenting a negative one. It often seems to operate by conditioning negative reinforcers. The punished person henceforth acts in ways which reduce the threat of punishment and which are incompatible with, and hence take the place of, the behavior punished.

The human species is distinguished by the fact that its vocal responses can be easily conditioned as operants. There are many kinds of verbal operants because the behavior must be reinforced only through the mediation of other people, and they do many different things. The reinforcing practices of a given culture compose what is called a language. The practices are responsible for most of the extraordinary achievements of the human species. Other species acquire behavior from each other through imitation and modelling (they show each other what to do), but they cannot tell each other what to do. We acquire most of our behavior with that kind of help. We take advice, heed warnings, observe rules, and obey laws, and our behavior then comes under the control of consequences which would otherwise not be effective. Most of our behavior is too complex to have occurred for the first time without such verbal help. By taking advice and following rules we acquire a much more extensive repertoire than would be possible through a solitary contact with the environment.

Responding because behavior has had reinforcing consequences is very different from responding by taking advice, following rules, or obeying laws. We do not take advice because of the particular consequence that will follow; we take it only when taking other advice from similar sources has already had reinforcing consequences. In general, we are much more strongly inclined to do things if they have had immediate reinforcing consequences than if we have been merely advised to do them.

The innate behavior studied by ethologists is shaped and maintained by its contribution to the survival of the individual and species. Operant behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences for the individual. Both processes have controversial features. Neither one seems to have any place for a prior plan or purposes. In both, selection replaces creation.

Personal freedom also seems threatened. It is only the feeling of freedom, however, which is affected. Those who respond because their behavior has had positively reinforcing consequences usually feel free. They seem to be doing what they want to do. Those who respond because the reinforcement has been negative and who are therefore avoiding or escaping from punishment are doing what they have to do and do not feel free. These distinctions do not involve the fact of freedom.

The experimental analysis of operant behavior has led to a technology often called behavior modification. It usually consists of changing the consequences of behavior, removing consequences which have caused trouble, or arranging new consequences for behavior which has lacked strength. Historically, people have been controlled primarily through negative reinforcement that is, they have been punished when they have not done what is reinforcing to those who could punish them. Positive reinforcement has been less often used, partly because its effect is slightly deferred, but it can be as effective as negative reinforcement and has many fewer unwanted byproducts. For example, students who are punished when they do not study may study, but they may also stay away from school (truancy), vandalize school property, attack teachers, or stubbornly do nothing. Redesigning school systems so that what students do is more often positively reinforced can make a great difference.

Nahkuri was, as has been mentioned, working with Pigeons in this field and had been achieving what he considered to be considerable success using an instrumental conditioning chamber containing one or more levers which a pigeon could press, one or more stimulus lights and one or more places in which reinforcers like food could be delivered. The pigeon’s presses on the levers were detected and recorded and a contingency between these presses, the state of the stimulus lights and the delivery of reinforcement could be set up, all automatically. It was also possible to deliver other reinforcers such as water or to deliver punishers like electric shock through the floor of the chamber. Other types of response could be measured — nose-poking at a moving panel, or hopping on a treadle for example.


Nahkuri’s Pigeons in a Conditioning Box

Nahkuri was working to demonstrate the idea of shaping, or “the method of successive approximations.”… Shaping began by reinforcing a behavior that was vaguely similar to the desired behavior. Once that behavior had been established, when variations occur that were closer to the desired behavior those were rewarded. These were continued until the behavior wanted was being performed. Nahkuri had certainly proved to his own satisfaction that the idea of shaping could create a behavior that would not show up in ordinary life. Nahkuri’s experiments to date as of early 1939 had produced pigeons that could dance, do figure eights, and play table tennis. As Nahkuri would remark after the war: “Too many people think of me as the person who taught pigeons to play Ping-Pong. It turns up in the damnedest places! I did that for a demonstration to the Maavoimat to prove what you could do with these techniques, to show people the product of shaping behavior. I didn’t do it to teach the pigeons to play Ping-Pong. That’s not the science!” Then he added, with comic timing, “Although the pigeons did get pretty good at it…angle shots and so on.”


Nahkuri’s Pigeons playing Table Tennis (Ping Pong)

Once Johannes older brothers had finished pouring out his woes, Johannes began questioning him as to what they were trying to achieve. Chief among these was the whole issue of target detection and homing, the susceptibility of the television and radio mechanisms to jamming and the sheer size and weight of the servo-mechanisms and television equipment. With a better idea of what the issues were, Johannes’ thoughts immediately turned to his Pigeons. Without mentioning his intentions to his older brother (who by the following morning had a splitting headache and very little recollection of the previous evening, let alone of anything he had said), Johannes got down to work. Acquiring a further 24 Pigeons, he proceeded to experiment.

Next Post: The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World, Part IV
The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - Part IV

The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World – Part IV

Nahkuri proceeded to test the capacity of the pigeon to steer towards a target with a hoist by the simple expedient of enclosing the pigeon in a jacket (actually, the “jackets” were some old socks) and harnessing this to a block, immobilizing the pigeon except for its head and neck. It could eat grain from a dish and operate a control system by moving its head in appropriate directions. Movement of the head operated the motors of the hoist. The bird could ascend by lifting its head, descend by lowering it, and travel from side to side by moving appropriately. The whole system, mounted on wheels, was pushed across a room toward a bull's-eye on the far wall. During the approach the pigeon raised or lowered itself and moved from side to side in such a way as to reach the wall in position to eat grain from the center of the bull's-eye. The pigeons rapidly learned to reach any target within reach of the hoist, no matter what the starting position and even during fairly rapid approaches.


Thirty-two pigeons, jacketed for testing.


Pigeon harnessed for testing


Nahkuri trained the Pigeons to be comfortable in a harness while they pecked at the target and ate their rewards. When they had learned this, he progressed to training the pigeons to ‘steer’ their bomb. Nahkuri designed a system that reflected the birds movements – when the pigeon lifted or lowered its head, it closed electrical contacts to operate a hoist. When it moved its head from side to side, the hoist moved back and forth. Nahkuri would push the whole thing across the room and the birds learned to guide it straight towards the target, finally receiving its reward at the end. The pecking itself was transmitted as electrical signals. When the image of the target started to move off center, the pigeons would peck frantically to bring the device back on track (and to get their reward!)

With the backing of the Head of the Univesity’s Psychology Department, who had no idea of the real reasons behind Nahkuri’s experiments, Johannes conducted a series of further experiments aimed at reinforcing and improving the earlier results. A simpler harnessing system could be used if the bomb were to rotate slowly during its descent, when the pigeon would need to steer in only one dimension: from side to side. Nahkuri built an apparatus in which a harnessed pigeon was lowered toward a large revolving turntable across which a target was driven according to contacts made by the bird during its descent. It was not difficult to train a pigeon to "hit" small ship models during fairly rapid descents. However, it had been difficult to induce the pigeon to respond to the small angular displacement of a distant target. It would start working dangerously late in the descent. Its natural pursuit behavior was not appropriate to the characteristics of a likely missile. A new system was therefore designed. An image of the target was projected on a translucent screen as in a camera obscura. The pigeon, held near the screen, was reinforced for pecking at the image on the screen. The guiding signal was to be picked up from the point of contact of screen and beak.


Pigeon harnessed and in the early stages of training

In an early arrangement the screen was a translucent plastic plate forming the larger end of a truncated cone bearing a lens at the smaller end. The cone was mounted, lens down, in a gimbal bearing. An object within range threw its image on the translucent screen; and the pigeon, held vertically just above the plate, pecked the image. When a target was moved about within range of the lens, the cone continued to point to it. In another apparatus a translucent disk, free to tilt slightly on gimbal bearings, closed contacts operating motors which altered the position of a large field beneath the apparatus. Small cutouts of ships and other objects were placed on the field. The field was constantly in motion, and a target would go out of range unless the pigeon continued to control it. With this apparatus we began to study the pigeon's reactions to various patterns and to develop sustained steady rates of responding through the use of appropriate schedules of reinforcement, the reinforcement being a few grains occasionally released onto the plate.

By building up large extinction curves a target could be tracked continuously for a matter of minutes without reinforcement. Nahkuri trained pigeons to follow a variety of land and sea targets, to neglect large patches intended to represent clouds or flak, to concentrate on one target while another was in view, and so on. He found that a pigeon could hold the glide-bomb on a particular street intersection in an aerial map of a city. The map which came most easily to hand was of a nearby foreign city which, in the interests of post-war international relations, need not be identified but which was certainly a valid target in the Winter War. Through appropriate schedules of reinforcement it was possible to maintain longer uninterrupted runs than could conceivably be required by a glide-bomb (One Nahkuri-trained Pigeon pecked at an image more than 10,000 times in 45 minutes without any reinforcement being used within the entire test period). He also undertook a more serious study of the pigeon's behavior, with the help of a number of undergraduate students who joined the project at this time. They ascertained optimal conditions of deprivation, investigated other kinds of deprivations, studied the effect of special reinforcements (for example, pigeons were said to find hemp seed particularly delectable and using hemp seed improved performance of the Pigeons), tested the effects of energizing drugs and increased or decreased oxygen pressures, and so on.

They went on to differentially reinforce the force of the pecking response and found that pigeons could be induced to peck so energetically that the base of the beak became inflamed. They investigated the effects of extremes of temperature, of changes in atmospheric pressure, of accelerations produced by an improvised centrifuge, of increased carbon dioxide pressure, of increased and prolonged vibration, and of noises such as pistol shots. (The birds could, of course, have been deafened to eliminate auditory distractions, but Nahkuri found it easy to maintain steady behavior in spite of intense noises and many other distracting conditions using the simple process of adaptation.) They investigated optimal conditions for the quick development of discriminations and began to study the pigeon's reactions to patterns, testing for induction from a test figure to the same figure inverted, to figures of different sizes and colors, and to figures against different grounds.


Johannes Nahkuri in his Lab in the University of Helsinki, late 1938: Early days of working to train Pigeons to guide Glide-Bombs

All of this was achieved in a mere three months and tt was at this point of his research work in late February 1939 that Nahkuri arranged through his brother Erkki to meet with Tigerstedt. The meeting was not hard to arrange, Tigerstedt was a sociable sort of a chap and intensely interested in scientific work even when outside of his specialist fields. As it stood, he met with young Nahkuri and discussed his experiments with him with a great deal of interest. Shortly afterwards, Tigerstedt and Tihanyi jointly visited Nahkuri in his lab, where they were given a demonstration of the pigeons capabilities. Intrigued and also somewhat amused by the possibilities and not particularly concerned that it was not “their” solution, Tigerstedt approached the Pääesikunnan Teknillinen Tutkimusyksikkö (Technical Research Unit of the General Staff) for funding. Tigerstedt advise the PTT that this was a potential homing device capable of reporting with an on-off signal the orientation of a Liito-Pommi toward various visual patterns. The fact that the device used only visible radiation (the same form of information available to the human bombardier) and that once launched it was completely autonomous made it superior to the radio and television controlled Liito-Pommi then under development because it was resistant to jamming.

The PTT sent observers to see a demonstration. Apparantly the pigeons, as usual, behaved flawlessly. One of them held the supposed Liito-Pommi on a particular intersection of streets in the aerial map for five minutes although the target would have been lost if the pigeon had paused even for a second or two. Although highly skeptical, on Tigerstedt and Tihanyi’s insistence on exploring the possibilities, the PTT agreed to contribute 250,000 markka to further research work. Nahkuri’s experimental subjects and equipment were moved to the Nokia R&D Labs and with a great deal of hilarity and many bad jokes at Nahkuri and the Pigeon’s expense, serious design and experimental work began.

The pigeons were to be harnessed inside the nose cones of the bombs and work on electro-mechanical controls and a prototype progressed rapidly. A lens in the nose of the missile threw an image on a translucent plate within reach of the pigeon which was cushioned in a pressure sealed chamber. Four air valves resting against the edges of the plate were jarred open momentarily as the pigeon pecked. The valves at the right and left admitted air to chambers on opposite sides of one tambour, while the valves at the top and bottom admitted air to opposite sides of another. Air on all sides was exhausted by a Venturi cone on the side of the missile. When the Liito-Pommi was on target, the pigeon pecked the center of the plate, all valves admitted equal amounts of air, and the tambours remained in neutral positions. But if the image moved as little as a quarter of an inch off-center, corresponding to a very small angular displacement of the target, more air was admitted by the valves on one side, and the resulting displacement of the tambours sent appropriate correcting orders directly to the servosystem.

The translucent plate upon which the image of the target was thrown had a semiconducting surface (the glass screen was coated with stannic oxide to make it electrically conducting), and the tip of the bird's beak was covered with a gold electrode. A single contact with the plate sent an immediate report of the location of the target to the controlling mechanism. Through circuitry based on the Wheatstone Bridge principle, pecks on the glass were translated into distance right and left and up and down from the center lines.

One of the more challenging tasks for the project team was to determine the electronic inputs/voltages required for control of the gyroscopes amd servomechanisms in the Liito-Pommi but again, “this was mere engineering” and the engineering team soon solved this problem. Another early problem was soon rectified. Trials revealed a possible data inconsistency with repect to phase lag, which was traced to a specific nonlinearity in the system. In pecking an image near the edge of the plate, the pigeon struck a more glancing blow; hence the air admitted at the valves was not linearly proportional to the displacement of the target. This could be corrected in several ways: for example, by using a lens to distort radial distances and this was soon done. After examining the early simulation tests, Tigerstedt exclaimed gleefully "This is better than television control!"

The device required no materials in short supply, was relatively foolproof, and delivered a graded signal. It had another advantage. By this time Nahkuri had begun to realize that a pigeon was more easily controlled than a physical scientist serving on a committee. It was very difficult to convince the latter that the former was an orderly system. Nahkuri therefore multiplied the probability of success by designing a multiple bird unit. There was adequate space in the nose of the Liito-Pommi for three pigeons each with its own lens and plate. A net signal could easily be generated. The majority vote of three pigeons offered an excellent guarantee against momentary pauses and aberrations. (The team later worked out a system in which the majority took on a more characteristically democratic function. When a Liiot-Pommi was falling toward two ships at sea, for example, there was no guarantee that all three pigeons will steer toward the same ship. But at least two must agree, and the third can then be punished for his minority opinion. Under proper contingencies of reinforcement a punished bird will shift immediately to the majority view. When all three are working on one ship, any defection ws immediately punished and corrected). To cater for circumstances where there were more tha two ships in visual range, one Pigeon was designated as the Primary Target Selector and if necessary, the other two Pigeons would be punished into achieving target compliance.


The arrangement in the nose of the Lintu-Liito-Pommi is shown above. Three systems of lenses and mirrors, shown at the left, throw images of the target area on the three translucent plates shown in the center. The ballistic valves resting against the edges of these plates and the tubes connecting them with the manifolds leading to the controlling tambours may be seen. A pigeon is being placed in the pressurized chamber at the right.


View of the Lintu-Liito-Pommi nose cone with the cover removed

The Project engineers also built a simulator as a training device for pigeons — designed to have the steering characteristics of the Liito-Pommi. The training simulator tilted and turned from side to side. When the three-bird nose was attached to the simulator, the pigeons could be put in full control - the "loop could be closed" - and the adequacy of the signal tested under pursuit conditions. Targets were moved back and forth across the far wall of a room at prescribed speeds and in given patterns of oscillation, and the tracking response of the whole unit was studied quantitatively. At the same time a thorough and detailed training regime for the pigeons was devised. Nahkuri’s team of students, who had now also joined the project team, continued their intensive study of the behavior of the pigeon.

Looking ahead to combat use they designed methods for the mass production of trained birds and for handling large groups of trained subjects. Nahkuri and the students proposed to train groups of birds for certain classes of targets, such as ships at sea or tanks, bridges or buildings on land, while smaller “special” squads of Pigeons were to be trained on specific targets, photographs of which were to be obtained through reconnaissance. A large crew of pigeons would then be waiting for assignment. It was thought that the Pigeons would require ongoing training in order to maintain their targeting skills, but tests made with the birds showed that even after a period of months of inactivity a pigeon would immediately and correctly strike a target to which it has been conditioned and will continue to respond for some time without further reinforcement.


A multiple unit trainer is shown above. Each box contains a jacketed pigeon held at an angle of 45° to the horizontal and perpendicularto an 8" X 8" translucent screen. A target area is projected on each screen. Two beams of light intersect at the point to be struck. All on-target responses of the pigeon are reported by the interruption of the crossed beams and by contact with the translucent screen. Only a four-inch, disk shaped portion of the field is visible to the pigeon at any time, but the boxes move slowly about the field, giving the pigeon an opportunity to respond to the target in all positions. The positions of all reinforcements are recorded to reveal any weak areas. A variable-ratio schedule is used to build sustained, rapid responding.

The Pigeons were fairly smart birds in some ways. They found early on in their training that it was not actually necessary to peck on the target to receive grain. This early rebellion against their training was rectified through the use of two beams of light which intersected at the target (the point to be struck). Only on-target responses of the pigeon were rewarded. As it turned out, Pigeon training to standard could be carried out in 30 days. Trainee pigeons were started out in the primary trainer pecking at slowly moving targets. The target was moved by a small mirror controlled by a servo. The control circuits were such that if the pigeon stopped tracking, the target image would drift rapidly away from the center of the screen. This forced the pigeon to correct not only his own pecking errors, but those introduced by the yawing of the glide-bomb. The pigeons were trained with slides of aerial photographs of the target, and if they kept the crosshairs on the target, they were rewarded by a grain deposited in a tray in front of them. They quickly learned that good pecking meant more food. Eventually pigeons were able to track a target jumping back and forth at five inches per second for 80 seconds, without a break. Peck frequency turned out to be four per second, and more than 80 percent of the pecks were within a quarter inch of the target.

The training conditions simulated glide-bomb-flight speeds of between 250 and 400 miles per hour. Average peck rate, average error rate, average hit rate, and so on were recorded under various conditions. The tracking behavior of the pigeon was analyzed with methods similar to those employed with human operator. Pattern perception was studied, including generalization from one pattern to another. Simulators were constructed in which the pigeon controlled an image projected by a moving-picture film of an actual target: for example, a ship at sea as seen from an aircraft approaching at up to 600 miles per hour. Although in simulated tests a single pigeon was found to able to keep the target image on their screens for the duration of more than half their flights (55.3% to be precise), a three-bird unit was found to yield a signal with a reliability of almost 90% and it was a three-bird targeting unit controlling the bomb’s direction by majority rule that the Project Team settled on.


Frames from a simulated approach

The physical control system finally settled on for the Liito-Pommi incorporated a lens at the front of the Liito-Pommi projecting an image of the target to three screens inside, where three suitably trained pigeons pecked at the image of the target that was displayed. As long as the pecks remained in the center of the screen, the missile would fly straight, but pecks off-center would cause the screen to tilt, which would then, via a connection to the missile's flight controls, cause the missile to change course. In the live trials that were carried out over the summer of 1939, the pigeons produced excellent results and proved highly reliable under stressful conditions including extremes in cold, vibration, acceleration, pressure, and noise, with some 85% of the trial glide-bombs hitting the target. Somewhat incidentally, Nahkuri found that the accuracy of the pigeons was improved by some 5-10% and they were less easily disturbed under confusing circumstances if they were fed hemp (marijuana) seeds before a targeting run. At the time of the Winter War, Standard Operating Procedures were to ensure the Pigeons had been well fed with hemp for some hours prior to the mission being flown.

A further problem was the the targeting system was optically based since the Pigeons had to see the targets they were pecking at. The bomber launching the bomb also needed to ensure that the Pigeon was visually cued and had visually “acquired” the target befpre launching. Also, if the Liito-Pommi went too far of course on launching due to the bombers slipstream, target reacquisition was problematical, with the Pigeon’s “acquiring” whatever was in view that looked like a target. Ways and means also needed to be found to keep the Pigeon alive within its harness in the freezing cold of a winter mission of at high altitude. However, for all of these limitations, solutions were found. Appropriately aligned sights could be used to ensure the Liito-Pommi was on target, a “wakeup call” could be generated, alerting the Pigeon that the mission was about to begin (this step was included in the Pigeon Training Program), optimal launch profiles which minimized the risk of throwing the glide-bomb of it’s initial course and thereby risking a complete miss were determined. The size of the Pigeons viewing screen was increased to give a larger picture, thus allowing greater corrective action to be applied. Battery powered “Pigeon Warmers” were included within the Liito-Pommi.

And in mid-1939, the Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40) was ordered into limited production. The military hierarchy was still bemused and sceptical, but the test results looked good. A number of aircraft were adapted to carry the Liito-Pommi and limited numbers of the bombs were ordered to be constructed, and Pigeons trained. On the outbreak of the Winter War, the Ilmavoimat and Merivoimat Air Arm had approximately 200 of the 2,000lb LLP/m-40 and some 500 of the 1,000lb LLP/m-40 in stock together with around 3,000 trained Pigeons. (A 1,000lb version was ordered as many of the Merivoimat and Ilmavoimat aircraft were restricted in the bomb-weight they could carry).
The Most Heavily Armed Pigeons in the World - “They Were Expendable”

“They Were Expendable”

On the outbreak of the Winter War, the LLP/m-40’s were used almost immediately in strikes against Soviet naval targets. Success was immediate, and at far lower risk to the aircraft and aircrew than conventional bombing attacks on naval targets. One of the first missions carred out was on the 14th of December 1939 when two Soviet destroyers (the Gnevny and Grozyashtchi) attacked the Finnish lighthouse and fortifications at Utö on 14 December. The Finnish coastal artillery battery at Utö opened fire and called for air support as soon as the Soviet destoyers were sighted and identified.


The Soviet Destroyer Gnevny (Wrathful): In the early 1930s the Soviets felt able to re-start construction of fleet destroyers and forty eight ships were ordered under the second Five year Plan and the Gnevny class were the result. The design was produced with Italian assistance despite ideological differences between the Soviets and Fascist Italy. They resembled contemporary destroyers built in Italy for the Greek and Turkish Navies. They suffered from some of the weaknesses of contemporary Italian ships with structural weakness and limited seaworthiness. There were also significant machinery problems in the earliest ships. Armament consisted of 4 × single barrelled 130 mm (5.1 in) B-13 guns, 2 × single barrelled 76.2 mm (3.00 in) 34-K AA guns, 2 × single barrelled 45 mm (1.8 in) 21-K AA guns, 2 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) DK or DShK machine guns, 3 × twin-tubed 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes, 60-95 mines and 25 depth charges.

Finnish artillery fire was seen hitting one of the Destroyers, both of which then withdrew with the help of smoke screen. Shortly afterwards, four Merivoimat Vindicators arrived, each carrying a single 1000lb LLP/m-40’s. The Soviet destroyers were spotted immediately the Merivoimat aircraft arrived and all four aircraft dropped their LLP/m-40’s from a distance of approximately 8 miles. The Pigeons performed flawlessly, although three of the bombs targeted one destroyer while the sourth targeted the second. The first Destroyer was hit by two of the three 1,000lb Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 which targedt it and sank almost immediately. The second destroyer was crippled with a near miss and then sunk by a second flight of four Vindicators armed with 500lb bombs.


Results early in the Winter War spoke for themselves: An Ilmavoimat Divebomber dropping a Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40) against a Soviet naval target during the Winter War. These autonomous homing glide-bombs were highly accurate and used with devastating effect. In this particular instance the LLP/m-40 was dropped almost 8 miles away from the target, a Soviet Destroyer in the Gulf of Finland in early December 1939.


The Soviet Destroyer Gnevny, hit by two 1,000lb LLP/m-40’s, she sank almost immediately.


The Soviet Destroyer Grozyashtchi, damaged by a near miss from a single 1,000lb LLP/m-40, she was then hit by four of eight 500lb bombs and sank. There were no reported survivors from either ship.

Initial successes with the Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40) against naval targets were such that a second series of 500lb Pigeon-guided bombs were ordered for use against Soviet tanks. As mentioned, these types of targets had been envisaged and limited numbers of appropriately-trained Pigeons were available. On receiving the order for production, Pigeon’s were press-ganged in from all available sources (young boys made a considerable amount of money from catching Pigeons over the next few months) and a training regime instituted while the bombs, fuselages and control mechanisms manufactured. As has been mentioned, approximately 30 days was needed to fully train a Pigeon and by the end of February 1940, stockpiles of 500lb bombs and trained anti-tank Pigeons to control them were available. These were used to assist inbreaking the back of the Red Army’s last major attack on the Mannerheim Line in early March 1940. The surprise engendered by waves of winged bombs swooping down at 300kph and accurately targeting moving formations of Red Army tanks and decimating them was impressive, not least to the Red Army troops who witnessed the attacks.

The new Glide-Bombs gave the Ilmavoimat an additional weapon in the battle against the Red Army. Hitherto, the Ilmavoimat had been effective performing in a Close Air Support role, carrying out dive-bombing and low-level strafing and bombing attacks. However, CAS aircraft were exposed to fire from the ground and numbers were lost to enemy AA fire. With the first successful use of the Glide-Bomb against land targets and the ability of the Pigeons to carry out target-specific aiming, the future of the Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (Bird Glide Bomb Model 40) was assured. The future of Pigeons perhaps less so, but after all, they were expendable!


The contribution made by Johannes Nahkuri to the war effort was recognised some years after WW2, when the extreme secrecy that surrounded the project was finally dropped as the Pigeons came to be superceded by electronic guidance systems. Here, a painting of Johannes Nahkuri loading a Pigeon into the nose-cone of a Lintu-Liito-Pommi Malli-40 (from the Helsinki Museum of Modern Art)

Following early successes, a variety of schemes were tossed around in which two Glider Bombs would be carried beneath the wings of a larger aircraft. Other combinations of Glider-Bombs were investigated wherein one of the new Merivoimat Catalina’s could be outfitted with 2 bombs in the bomb-bay and two beneath the wings. This huge load would obviously make long-range patrol activity challenging, but one might consider the impact of a sortie wherein a single aircraft could drop four devices against a convoy. In the event, this was what actually happened during the Battle of Bornholm between warships of the Kreigsmarine and Merivoimat warships escorting the Helsinki Convoy of Spring 1940. Four Merivoimat PBY Catalina’s and twenty Merivoimat Junkers Ju88’s operating at extreme range and each carrying two LLP/m-40’s dropped out of the cloud base at 5,000 feet and from a distance of 5 miles launched a wave of 48 Lintu-Liito-Pommi 2,000lb bombs. The effect of bomb after bomb striking or achieving near misses on the Kreigsmarine warships turned the tide of the Battle, as we will see at a later date when we cover the Helsinki Convoy in detail.


LLP/m-40 mounted beneath a Merivoimat PBY Catalina Wing. Following initial successes, Merivoimat long range patrol aircraft carried two LLP/m-40’s as standard. One was usually fitted with Pigeons trained to target surface vessels, while the second was crewed with Pigeons trained on profiles for surfaced Submarines. At least six Soviet submarines were confirmed destroyed using the LLP/m-40.

Next Post: Waterbombers for the Forest Service
Waterbombers for the Forest Service

Waterbombers for the Forest Service

As we have seen, the Finnish Forest Service increasingly emphasized the importance of fighting forest fires, largely for economic reasons. This led to the early use of aircraft for fire-spotting and later, for the parachuting of fire-fighting teams into the forest to fight forest fires quickly, before they spread. The same reasoning drove the Forest Service’s experimentation with “water-bombing.” Aerial firefighting in Finland began around 1920 with the first attempts at dropping water from aircraft onto a fire. Most of these attempts were from small civilian aircraft and were unsuccessful during this era, largely due to the very limited amounts of water that could be carried and dropped, but they provided a platform for future initiatives. The first experiments were with actual water bombs -- five gallon waterproof bags of water were dumped out of the cockpit by the observer but without any observed success. A later experiment saw a 50 gallon barrel fitted into the Observers cockpit with a large hose piping the water out through a hole cut in the fuselage floor, this time achieving an observable, if limited, impact on the fire.


Perhaps the first recorded successful use of an aircraft for fire suppression in Finland. Summer 1931, a civilian aircraft leased by the Forest Service makes an aerial drop. Flying close to the ground at low speed, the plane carries out precision water bombing on a fire. It carries a 50 gallon pay load.

In 1938, things began to change very rapidly indeed. In July 1937, as has been mentioned, the Noorduyn Norseman was first introduced into Finland by Veljekset Karhumäki. Impressed by the aircraft, the State Forest Service’s Aerial Surveillance and Fire Fighting Unit purchased eight Norseman aircraft from Noorduyn towards the tail end of 1937, taking delivery in 1938 in time for the start of the Fire Season. Originally designed and constructed to handle the harsh flying conditions of the Canadian bush, the Norseman was not intended to be a detection plane but was to be used as a reliable, all-purpose utility machine, a “half-ton truck with wings”. The Norseman had phenomenal STOL short take-off and landing capabilities and this capability made all the difference on loaded fire patrols carrying firefighters and equipment. Even on a small lake, or in a tight spot, a heavily loaded Norseman needed very little room to land, or to take off.


State Forest Service Noorduyn Norseman flying through mountains on the Norwegian Border – near the Finnmark

In 1935, the Aerial Fire Control Experimental Project was created. At this point, aircraft became important for fire detection, but were still somewhat incapable of successfully extinguishing rapidly-spreading fires with water and fire retardant. A number of Ilmavoimat pilots were seconded to the Forest Service to fly Veljekset Karhumäki aircraft through the 1937 season. One of these men, a pilot-engineer named Karl Koivisto, was an inveterate tinkerer (as so many engineers are) and began his own experiments with aerial fire-fighting. His initial trials used water tanks inside the aircraft cabin, and he created an elaborate system of metal tubes, elbows and nipples to get the water from the source into the barrel, while the aircraft was moving along the surface of a lake. These efforts proved less than satisfactory until a firefighter suggested using a fire power pump and hose. While this was an efficient way to get the water into the barrel, dumping it from the air with any degree of accuracy proved disappointing more times than not.

Koivisto didn't give up however. He got the idea of taking water directly into the floats. The problem here was that the floats of the day were not baffled or compartmentalized. A pilot attempting this manouevre ran the risk of filling the floats too full, and this would spell disaster for a floatplane. The two main problems were that the pilot had no way of knowing how much water was going into the floats, and had no way of dumping the load quickly. There were no hydraulic bomb doors for water load release. Koivisto figured out what had to be done and a set of floats were converted based on his detailed drawings. Fitted to the rugged Noorduyn Norseman aircraft, complete with water pickup and bombing controls installed in the cockpit, Koivisto was successful in attacking a fire in August 1937. While only carring about 100 gallons of water, which took nine seconds to jettison, Koivisto was able to knock the fire down and give fire crews a chance to get in on the ground and put it out.

However, 100 gallons was not really sufficient to attack a large forest fire and through the winter of 1937-38, Koivisto continued to think through possible solutions. The idea of carrying a water-filled tank in the cabin of the aircraft, with the water load exiting through the side doors was quickly scrapped. Then, a fellow Ilmavoimat pilot suggested they try open-top tanks mounted on each float. These roll tanks could be easily filled by simply moving the aircraft rapidly along the surface of the water. A series of cables and pulleys allowed the pilot to dump the load and the tanks, weighted at the bottom, would automatically right themselves, ready for the next pick-up. In Spring 1938, Koivisto gained permission from the Forest Service for a trial and immediately outfitted a Norseman with two rollover tanks, each of which held 100 gallons. A further 100 gallon belly tank was fitted after it was proven that the float tanks worked successfully.

Koivisto got his chance early in the Summer of 1938. Using a lone Norseman equipped with roll tanks, he was able to hold down a strip of fire about one mile long until the fire fighting teams could get in and get their firefighting equipment set up. It was later conceded that without the aerial waterbombing, the fire would have quickly grown into unmanageable proportions. The success of this and a number of other fire-fighting sorties led to the fitting of three more Forest Service Norseman for aerial fire fighting. At the end of the fire-fighting season, an evaluation of the program declared it a complete success and recommended that the Forest Service look into acquiring a larger aircraft capable of carrying a much larger quantity of water.

Now, you may recall that many Posts ago, the purchase by the Merivoimat of ten Consolidated PBY Catalina’s in December 1936 was mentioned, with the aircraft delivered in mid-1937. The Forest Service spent considerable time in late 1938 examining a Merivoimat Catalina and looking at ways the aircraft could be converted for use as a water bomber. In January 1939, the Forest Service was encouraged by the Government to buy ten of the Catalinas, with a considerable contribution in funding from the Government defence budget provided on the understanding that the aircraft along with their aircrews and maintenance personnel would form a Merivoimat Air Arm Reserve unit.


Forest Service PBY Catalina modified to carry 1,000 US gallons (3,800 L) of water for air-dropping on forest fires. Purchased in early 1939 and delivered in the summer of the same year, only one of the ten Catalina’s purchased by the Forest Service was actually converted for use as a water-bomber. Two months later it was hastily converted over to a military configuration for use by the Merivoimat Air Arm, bringing the Merivoimat’s Catalina strength as of November 1939 up to a total of twenty.

Aerial fire-fighting using water bombers would not resume in Finland until after the end of WW2, but the Merivoimat’s Catalina strength would grow considerably over the course of WW2. Many of these aircraft would remain in service after the war, used for both waterbombing of forest fores and for forest spraying programs. In the meantime however, the Forest Service’s waterbombers would lead to a further weapon which the Ilmavoimat would use with great success over the course of the Winter War. This was the Fire-Bomb.

Next Post: Fire-bombing
Hello, everybody.

After a serious attack of Real Life(tm), I hereby post a placeholder for a gust installment concerning the night figting units of the Finnish army. The text should be ready day after tomorrow at the latest while the unit patch will likely be added at the end of the week as I had to implement a change and my cheap-ass scanner went tits-up on me...and I'm not at home during weekdays anyway.

English-language training for my future job. go figure :rolleyes:
OK, totally out of sequence but just for fun - "Once Were Warriors"

OK, totally out of sequence but just for fun, given I finished writing it up (I don't work sequentially even tho thats the way I usually post content here), here's a snippet from the future...... (or at least, the future based on where this timeline is right now). It's part of a section on foreign volunteer units....

......To this mix were later added the 28th Māori Battalion of the New Zealand Army and a single Battalion of British volunteers, the 5th Battalion (Special Reserve), Scots Guards. We will cover each of these two “special” units in turn.

Once Were Warriors – the 28th Maori Battalion of the New Zealand Army


Cap Badge of the 28th Māori Battalion of the New Zealand Army

The 28th (Māori) Battalion of the New Zealand Army was formed immediately after the dispatch of the ANZAC Volunteer Battalion to Finland following pressure on the Labour government by some Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) and Māori organisations throughout the country who wanted a full Māori unit to be raised for voluntary service to assist Finland. The unit had its early origins in mid-1939 when Sir Apirana Ngata started to discuss proposals for the formation of a military unit made up of Māori volunteers similar to the Māori Pioneer Battalion that had served during the First World War. This proposal was furthered by two Māori MPs, Eruera Tirikatene and Paraire Paikea, and from this support within the Māori community for the idea began to grow as it was seen as an opportunity for Māoris to participate and raise their profile as citizens of the British Empire, serving alongside their “Pākehā” (New Zealand european) compatriots and to also give a new generation of people with a well-noted military ancestry the opportunity to test their own warrior skills.

At first the New Zealand government was hesitant, but on 4 October 1939, the decision was announced that the proposal would be accepted and that the battalion would be raised in addition to the nine battalions and support units that had already been formed into three brigades of the 2nd New Zealand Division. Nevertheless, it was decided that the battalion's key positions, including its officers and non commissioned officers (NCOs), would initially be filled largely by New Zealanders of European descent. This decision was met with some consternation, so assurances were made that over time suitable Māori candidates would take over these positions. In this regard, it was decided that the battalion's first commanding officer would be a regular officer, Major George Dittmer—later promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1940—and that his second in command would be a Reserve officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Bertrand, a part-Māori who would take up the position with the rank of Major. Both men were veterans of the First World War and had considerable experience


Lt. Col George Dittmer, CBE, DSO, MBE, MC, MID. Born Maharahara (New Zealand), 4th June, 1893, 1st Commanding Officer, the Maori Battalion from November 1939 to February 1942.


Major George Bertrand: photographed as part of a group of New Zealand and Allied officers at Katerini in Greece in 1941. Left to right: Major George Bertrand, a Greek officer, Captain Tiwi Love, Captain George Weir, 2nd Lieutenant Charles Bennett, and an unidentified Soviet officer

Almost immediately effort was focused upon selecting and identifying the officers and NCOs. To this end volunteers were called for amongst units that had already formed as part of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) and from new recruits. At the end of November 1939, 146 trainees reported to the Army School at Trentham, where even serving officers and NCOs were required to prove their suitability for positions in the new battalion. Concurrently, recruiting of men to fill the other ranks positions began in early October and within three weeks nearly 900 men had enlisted. The process was carried out by recruiting officers who worked closely with tribal authorities, and the recruits were restricted to single men aged between 21 and 35, although later married men were allowed to join, but only if they did not have more than two children of similar ages. The outbreak of the Winter War, the dispatch of the ANZAC Volunteer Battalion in December 1939 and the pressure on the Government from Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) and Māori organisations throughout the country who wanted a full Māori unit to be raised for voluntary service to assist Finland led to rapid progress in the formation and training of the Battalion. With the full agreement of Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) and Māori organisations, the Battalion was dispatched to Finland in late January 1940.

On 6 January 1940 the battalion came together for the first time, marking its official raising at the Palmerston North Show Grounds. The Battalion consisted of a Headquarters Company, four Rifle Companies designated 'A' through 'D', a Heavy Weapons Company and a Logistics Company. In addition, a further two Rifle Companies were designated as reserve and training companies in the expectation that the casualties to be expected would need to be replaced whilst for all intents and purposes being unsupportable by the New Zealand Army. Upon formation it was decided that the battalion would be organised upon tribal lines, with ‘A' Company was recruited from North Auckland; 'B' Company from Rotorua, the Bay of Plenty and Thames–Coromandel; 'C' Company from the East Coast from Gisborne to East Cape and 'D' Company from Waikato, Maniapoto, Hawkes Bay, Wellington and the South Island, as well as some Pacific Islands and the Chatham and Stewart Islands).

Mid-January saw the issuing of equipment and the commencement of training. A lack of previous experience in technical trades also hampered the training of the battalion, as the unit was short of men who were able to serve in roles such as clerks, drivers and signallers because the majority of personnel were drawn from mainly rural backgrounds. Consequently men for these roles had to be trained from scratch. The organisation of the battalion was completed in mid-January, with the men allocated to their respective companies, and on 23 January 1940 the 28th (Māori) Battalion was declared on active service. The battalion conducted three weeks of training before embarking on 14 February 1940 on the SS Awatea, a well known New Zealand passenger ship. The battalion's strength at this time was 80 officers and 1242 other ranks.


The 28th Maori Battalion of the New Zealand Army left New Zealand on the SS Awatea (Union Steamship Company), travelling to Lyngenfjiord via Perth, Cape Town and Belfast. From Cape Town, she was accompanied by the SS Mariposa (Matson Lines) carrying the Suid Afrikaanse Boer Volunteers, the De La Rey Battalion. In her day, the Awatea was regarded as one of the fastest and most luxurious liners of the period and the Maori Battalion certainly enjoyed the trip. Here shown in a painting by W.W. Stewart, the SS Awatea racing through the Atlantic in company with the SS Mariposa in 13th February 1940. The Awatea was later bombed and sunk in the Mediterranean in World War 2, like so many other wonderful liners.

After a short stop in Perth, the SS Awatea steamed for Cape Town, where she anchored at the Simonstown Naval Base. The Pākehā troops were given shore leave, but due to South Africa's policies of racial segregation, the Māori men of the Battalion were restricted to the ship. The Pākehā troops, primarily Officers and NCO’s, refused to take shore leave that was not permitted to their fellow soldiers, publicly declining a number of invitations to official engagements and resulting in a somewhat embarrassing situation for the South African Government. As frustration mounted, a compromise of sorts was reached and the men of the Māori Battalion were eventually taken to a luncheon hosted by the Mayoress of Cape Town and then given less than an hour to see the city. They were warned to be on their best behaviour, but were in fact warmly welcomed by the local population.


Māori Officers of the Māori Battalion photographed in Cape Town, early February 1940.

Four days after their arrival, the SS Awatea in company with the SS Mariposa (with her cargo of Boer volunteers) steamed towards Britain, escorted by HMNZS Achilles, whose return to New Zealand after the Battle of the River Plate had been interrupted by orders to proceed instead to Cape Town and escort the SS Awatea to the UK and thence to Norway, after which her Captain was ordered to place himself at the disposal of the Finnish Navy until further orders were received.


Built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and laid down in June 1931, HMNZS Achilles was the second of five ships of the Leander light cruiser class and served with the New Zealand Navy through WW2. She was perhaps most famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter. Powered by four Parsons geared steam turbines with six Yarrow boilers, she had a speed of 32.5 knots, a ramge of 5,730 nautical miles at 13 knots and a wartime crew of 680 men, 60% of whom were New Zealanders. Her armament consisted of 8 x six inch naval guns, 4 x 4 inch guns, 12 x 0.5 inch machineguns and 8 x 21 inch torpedo tubes.

The small convoy arrived in Belfast in late February 1940 where the ships were joined by one further passenger ship carrying the sole British Volunteer Unit of the Winter War, the 5th Battalion (Special Reserve), Scots Guards, together with four Finnish cargo ships carrying military supplies for Finland. After steaming from Belfast escorted by two Royal Navy Destroyers and HMNZS Achilles, the convoy was joined by two passenger ships from Dublin carrying O’Duffy’s Irish Volunteers. The ever larger convoy steamed north towards Iceland and then turned in towards Norway, bucketing through the icy North Atantic to finally arrive safely in Petsamo (the Norwegian authorities, suspicious of British intentions, refused to permit the British troops to land in Lyngenfjiord or Narvik and as a result, the troopships were redirected to the Finnish port of Petsamo where they eventually disembarked in late March 1940.

To say the cold was a considerable shock to the men of the Māori Battalion was something of an understatement. It was with some relief that they clambered onto the Maavoimat Trucks for the long drive south. However, after two months on ship they welcomed anything to do with land and within days they were undergoing the rigors of Maavoimat training – an experience they found rather more demanding than the New Zealand Army training they had been subjected too – but it was training they took in their stride. Itching to get into combat and at the enemy, the Battalions opportunity came in May 1940, as the Red Army attempted a series of counter-attacks on the Karelian Isthmus in response to the Maavoimat’s spring offensive which had retaken the Isthmus and brought the war to the outskirts of Leningrad. At the same time, the German attack on Norway had resulted in a number of Finnish units being diverted to that front.


The men of the 28th Maori Battalion moving up to the front-line on the Karelian Isthmus, May 1940.

Maori Battalion Marching Song

And one of the reasons why the Maori Battalion was a rather terrifying opponent - the Warrior Spirit as brought to life in the Haka! Ther periods a little off but the spirit is the same - Utu!

While the Finns considered the Māori Battalion under-trained, the men of the Battalion themselves were eager to enter the fray and it was with a great deal of high spirits that they moved south towards the front. Entering combat in May 1940, the Battalion went on to fight with distinction in the Karelian Isthmus through the remaining months of the Winter War. Specialists in close quarter combat and bayonet fighting, they soon began to be utilised as a reserve force taking the lead in counter attacks to drive back Red Army attacks and in night fighting – and continued to fight in these roles to the end of the Winter War with a ferocity and an obvious enjoyment of fighting that was both welcome to the Maavoimat and terrifying to the Red Army units they faced.


Men of the Māori Battalion on the attack the way they preferred: bayonets fixed and chasing down the enemy - Karelian Isthmus, July 1949: counter-attacking Red Army units are retreating with the Māori in pursuit.

Subsequent to service in Finland in the Winter War, the Battalion was later attached to the 2nd New Zealand Division in the Middle East as an extra battalion that was moved between the division's three infantry brigades. The battalion fought during the Greek and North African campaigns during which it further earned its formidable reputation as a fighting force – a reputation which has subsequently been acknowledged by both Allied and German commanders. In early 1944, when the 2nd New Zealand Division was transferred to Finland as part of the Allied Expeditionary Force designated to assist the Maavoimat in the invasion of Estonia, the 28th (Māori) Battalion again returned to Finland where they continued to fight with distinction, this time against the Germans. The 28th (Māori) Battalion would end the war as the most decorated battalion of the New Zealand Army, receiving more individual bravery decorations than any other New Zealand battalion.


Lieutenant Colonel Arapeta Awatere, Commanding Officer of the 28th (Māori) Battalion from 27 July 1944 – 29 August 1944 (succeeding to command after the previous CO, Lt. Col Young, was hospitalised with jaundice). Lt-Col Awatere commanded the Battalion through the thick of the fighting southwards through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and into Germany. The Battalion’s losses in this campaign were 230 men killed and 887 wounded.

Lieutenant Colonel Arapata Marukitepua Pitapitanuiaranga AWATERE - a brief biography: Arapeta Marukitepua Pitapitanuiarangi Awatere (whose name is also recorded as Te Arapeta Pitameirangi Marukitepua Awatere) was born on 25 April 1910 at Tuparoa, on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand, to Petuere Wi Hekopa Awatere, a farmer of Te Whanau-a-Hinetapora hapu of Ngati Porou, and his wife, Heni Hautao, also known as Heni Pratt (Parata). The family name was taken from the Awatere River, where Arapeta's great-grandfather, Te Whetukamokamo, had died in battle against a Nga Puhi force. Later, Ngati Hine of Nga Puhi sent young rangatira (Maori aristocrat) women and men to intermarry with Ngati Porou to ensure a lasting peace. Awatere's maternal grandfather, Wiremu Parata Moihi Ka of Ngati Hine, was accepted into Ngati Porou in the same spirit of reconciliation.

While Arapeta was still an infant his mother took him by boat to Whangaruru to her marae, Pipiwai, to be raised by a relative, Heni Maahanga. As they were being transported to shore, waves swamped the rowing boat. The sleeping infant's head was submerged several times, but he did not wake up. This was interpreted as a sign that he would one day play an important role for his people. Awatere's pito (umbilical cord) was buried in the wahi tapu (sacred ground) in front of the hall on the marae: it was symbolic of the return of a long lost family to the north. Awatere returned to the East Coast at the age of six and spent the rest of his childhood under the guidance and tuition of his Ngati Porou relations. He learned Maori lore from respected tohunga, including Pineamine Tamahori. At the whare wananga (houses of learning) Umuariki and Ruataupare at Tuparoa, Awatere was trained in karakia, whaikorero (oratory) and whakapapa, and the history and use of ancient weapons. He won the Taiaha named "Tuwhakairiora" for his prowess with weaponry. When he attended the native schools at Tuparoa and Tokomaru Bay it always struck him as odd that pupils were not allowed to speak Maori. He eventually spoke fluently in many languages and could quote poetry in Latin, Greek and English.

After Awatere's parents died he left Tuparoa to work as a sailor to pay his way through high school. He attended Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay, and during school holidays went back to the ships to earn money. He passed the interpreters' first grade examination in Maori in 1925. After leaving school he joined the Native Department in 1928 and was stationed at Rotorua, Wellington and, from 1933, Gisborne. While there he was a member of the Kaiti School Committee, organiser and secretary of the Maori Voluntary Welfare Workers at Kaiti and a physical instructor at the Gisborne YMCA. Awatere married Elsie Bella Rogers of Ngati Whakaue at Ohinemutu on 17 January 1931; they were to have five daughters.

In 1928 he joined the New Zealand Army Territorial Force (the Active Reserve Force) and studied the great figures of European military history. Awatere was successfully able to combine the Maori and European military traditions during the Second World War. He enlisted in November 1939, and received a field commission as a second lieutenant in March 1940 shortly before the Battalion arrived in Finland. He fought with one of the Rifle Companies through the Winter War. After the return of the Maori Battalion to the UK and then the Middle East and the campaigns in Greece and Crete, he served as an intelligence officer, first with the battalion and then with the 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade. With the rank of Captain (temporary major), he commanded C Company in the fighting at Tebaga Gap in 1943 and was awarded the Military Cross. He was awarded the DSO after the fighting in the Relief of Warsaw in September 1944 after having been promoted to lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the 28th Maori Battalion in July 1944.

DSO: New Zealand Gazette, 2 May 1946. Citation: "Relief of Warsaw: Lieutenant Colonel Awatere's Battalion had a very difficult assault in the attack on the night 4/5 September (1944). From a short start line it had to take two objectives on a wide front. By skillful handling all objectives were captured before first light. Unfortunately it was found impossible to get armour to support the leading companies owing to the wet nature of the ground. The enemy promptly counter attacked with tanks and infantry and despite hard fighting the forward localities had to be abandoned. Lt Col Awatere withdrew his troops skillfully and handled his support weapons so well that the enemy suffered many casualties. He then reorganised his position and held firm still on a difficult line where armour could only support one flank. Throughout the day he was so aggressive that the enemy, fearing further advances on an open flank again counter attacked at dusk. This was also smashed and the enemy started a general withdrawal. Lt Col Awatere's handling of his Battalion and inspiring leadership were responsible for causing the enemy over one hundred casualties, while his personal bravery and calmness under fire was an example to all ranks."

Sir Apirana Ngata, the New Zealand Maori political leader, had opposed Awatere's taking command of the Maori Battalion on the grounds of a supposed inherited stubborn streak that would not be in the battalion's interests. In fact Awatere was not at all reckless about the lives of his comrades, and it pained him deeply that so many were killed. He later wrote numerous poems in remembrance of his fallen comrades. He was a determined commander who led from the front and gave no quarter: there were persistent rumours about the mistreatment and even killing, of prisoners from as far back as the Winter War. Awatere was both feared and admired by his men, not least or his prowess with the Taiaha, a combat skill which he insisted all the men of the Battalion should learn and in which he instructed. During the Winter War, he had begun to study the Finnish military martial art, KKT and had resumed this on the Battalions return to Finland in late 1943 as part of the Allied Expeditionary Force. He would go on to incorporate Taiaha techniques into KKT and ensure the Maori Battalion men also studied and practiced KKT.


The Taiaha is a traditional weapon of the Māori of New Zealand. An image of the weapon is incorporated into the official badge of the New Zealand Army. The Taiaha is a wooden staff about 5 to 6 feet in length with three main parts: The Arero (tongue)- a sharpened end, sometimes made from jade, used for stabbing the opponent. The Upoko (head)- the base from which the tongue protrudes. The Ate (liver)- the flattened wooden end which is used for striking and parrying.

Awatere was quick to see the advantages that the Maavoimat's weapons and body armour gave the Finnish soldiers and did his best to acquire these for his soldiers - somewhat successfully it would seem given the number of Suomi submachineguns and Lahti-Salaranta 7.62mm SLR's that would surface in New Zealand after the return home of the Battalion at wars end. In battle, he was an inspired and aggressive leader with a sound grasp of tactics and an unwillngness to take casualties needlessly. On his instructions his men communicated in Maori, and in Maori code when they were on the front line or during reconnaisance to avoid eavesdropping by the enemy.

After his return to New Zealand in August 1945, Awatere spent two years on the road with Eruera Stirling, honouring the fallen soldiers of the Maori Battalion at hundreds of marae around the country. After this he rarely spoke of the war. He participated in two separate rituals of purification to release himself from the effects of warfare. In 1948-49 Awatere established a short-lived seafood business before rejoining the Department of Maori Affairs. He took university courses in anthropology, philosophy and Maori in 1952 and in philosophy in 1955, and did extensive research into Maori history and ethnography. He served as a Maori district welfare officer in Wanganui (from 1953), Rotorua (from 1958) and Auckland (from 1959). Awatere was known to spend his own salary on this welfare work and to give clothes or money to those in need. In Auckland he led a haka team, Maranga, and a choral group, the Aotearoa Folklore Society. They participated in competitions, toured the country and travelled to Samoa and the Cook Islands.

He was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1962, serving until 1969. In 1963 he was chosen to perform in the ceremonial challenge in front of Queen Elizabeth II at Waitangi, an honour that overwhelmed him. He used his taiaha, Tuwhakairiora, which was made to fit a man over six feet tall. Awatere was not tall, but stocky and extremely strong and had practised constantly in order to master the use of the weapon.

Awatere did not sleep much, and when he did he preferred the floor. He seemed to his family to be up all night, composing choral pieces on the piano or writing pages of poetry in Maori, which he then translated into English. He was passionate about everything that pertained to the Maori world, including the language. He immersed himself in whakapapa and tribal history, and composed numerous waiata. During long car journeys to the many hui he attended, he would chant these in a droning monotone. Awatere's health deteriorated in the 1960s. He suffered a stroke and developed diabetes, which was not diagnosed until severe physical damage had been done. In 1965 he began an extramarital relationship with Tuini Hakaraia. In 1969 Hakaraia took up with a Hendrik Vunderink. On 2 August Awatere experienced several rehu (premonitions) that Hakaraia was in danger. Early on the morning of 3 August he went to her home in Te Atatu, and during an altercation stabbed Vunderink with a knife he was carrying in his overcoat. Awatere was charged with murder. His defence was that his diabetes had created a psychosis, but there was conflicting evidence as to whether he had been fully conscious of his actions. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In prison, Awatere continued to write and compose and to keep abreast of Maori political and social events, and he produced an extensive collection of writings on Maoritanga. He had a constant stream of visitors and taught and mentored students from university, or anyone who had a thirst for Maori knowledge. Awatere began haka groups in prison, and taught Maori to other prisoners. He involved himself in many other intellectual pursuits, including teaching himself Japanese. His death, on 6 March 1976, was completely unexpected. He had reached a point of excellent health and fitness and was looking forward to his imminent parole. He was intending to return to Tuparoa and to rebuild the wharenui, Tangihaere. He was survived by his wife and children.

Arapeta Awatere's tangihanga was enormous. It took the funeral cortège several days to travel between Auckland and Tuparoa. Circuitous routes were taken in a vain effort to avoid the many marae that wanted to farewell him, but they simply set up road-blocks. His final poroporoaki (farewell) was at Mangahanea, in Ngati Porou territory, although a contingent from Ngati Hine came to claim him also. His old war comrades were his pallbearers, but on his final journey up the hill to Waitetoki he was borne by his grandsons. He was buried beside his mother.

And think of this more or less as a parting concert given by the Maori Battalion for their comrades in arms....

Following the end of hostilities, the battalion contributed a contingent of personnel to serve in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, before being disbanded in January 1946.
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So it begins!

You know, I think I'm onto your long term plan. It is pretty clear that CanKiwi is looking to master that most difficult of timelines, that being the Finnish + NZ forestry industry-wank. Many have tried, few have succeeded.

I submit the following:

Item 1 - The author is a Kiwi
Item 2 - He has spent some time developing the forestry industry of Finland, for economic reasons amongst others
Item 3 - He has created relations between Finland and NZ, back up by NZ troop deployments to Finland
Item 4 - The Maori Battalion are specifically deployed to Finland
Item 5 - Maori at this time were still principally rural, based in large numbers around the central North Island
Item 6 - the NZ forestry industry grew massively after WW2, principally in the central North Island
Item 7- It is reasonable to assume that post war, there will remain personal, military, political and economic relations between the two countries

After the War many Finns will migrate to NZ (see OTL Dutch and the dairy industry) to help kick start the forestry industry in a new land. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawerau
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O'Duffy!? Gross...

Still, I guess Ireland is a good place to draw fresh manpower from since they're not otherwise engaged in the general conflict.

I'm very curious about foreign contributions to the Winter War. Will we be seeing enhanced (from OTL) troops/equipment from:

  • Italy
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Denmark (the other Scandinavian states have at least been mentioned)
  • White Russian organizations
Finally, I've just read that Christopher Lee tried to fight with the Finns IOTL. Any chance he'll make an appearance here?
O'Duffy!? Gross...

Still, I guess Ireland is a good place to draw fresh manpower from since they're not otherwise engaged in the general conflict.

I'm very curious about foreign contributions to the Winter War. Will we be seeing enhanced (from OTL) troops/equipment from:

  • Italy
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Denmark (the other Scandinavian states have at least been mentioned)
  • White Russian organizations
Finally, I've just read that Christopher Lee tried to fight with the Finns IOTL. Any chance he'll make an appearance here?

Definitely Italy, Spain, Poland, Finnish-Canadians and Finnish-Americans, Hungary, New Zealand and Australia (already covered), South Africa (2 Battalions - one English-south africans and the other being the De La Rey Battalion (Boers), Rhodesia, Scandanavia for sure, 1 British battalion. NO White Russians or Germans (Mannerheim was rather emphatic about no Russians - looking to the future again no doubt), the aforementioned Irish led by the redoutable O'Duffy. Estonians. Others may appear in small numbers as needed or as they did historically. Like the black Jamaican pilot!

Christopher Lee - oh yes indeed. A shoe-in for english liason with the Verenimja unit for sure :D (and in case you didn't get round to translating it, that's Finnish for Vampire - how much more awesome can you get with that as a pointy peg in a pointy hole). David Stirling will of course also make an appearance in the Scots Guards battalion - and his experiences with the Maavoimat's Osasto Nyrkki unit will spark of his thinking on the possibilities of a similar British unit which will go on to become the SAS.

I'm actually writing this up at the moment, got hooked on it so I'll probably finish it and post it before returning to the plot. Bit of a deviation but hey, it's fascinating going into it......