Worlds second largest defensive line after Chinese wall
And a history lession. Not many know it but the second largest defensive
wall after the Chinese wall was found in Finland during the second world war.
The reason to why itīs not known is simply because it was never used
in action. It was intended as a last ditch defensive line against the Soviet Union
but the Soviet troops never came that far before a armistice was signed.
Red showing the strongpoints of the Salpa-line on this northern Europe satellite map.
The Salpa-line stretched from southern Finland all the way up north.
About 1200 kilometers of fortresses, trenches, bunkers, minefields,
anti-tank obstacles etc etc. It was built in 1940-41, to some extenth funded
by the Swedes, and also with a lot of swedish workers. The Swedes interest in it
is quite obvious since itīs the western neighbour of Finland and what
protects Finland from the Russians also protects them. The defensive line
uses natural "difficult areas", as lakes, hills etc to a large extenth. The
number of workers was, at its highest, 35000 men. About 2000 women
worked at supply duties.
1944 when the Germans obviously was loosing the war on all fronts the
defensive line was further strengthened. To my personally, itīs quite
obvious that the line had a psychologically important factor on the Red
Army commanders in Moscow, although they may have been confident in
breaching it, but it would have taken some huge ass losses. And when
the Soviet offensive against Finland came behind schedule (taking over
the country in two weeks more or less because the Finnish army was to
be crushed), they didnīt want to try their luck against in example this
defensive line when the chase for Berlin was on.
Some pictures from the Salpa-line back in the days
Servicemen digging trenches
Fortress artillery gun enplacement being made
Hand-winching a stone with a weight of about 3-4 tons
Life continues for the civilians, although in a different landscape,
Putting up barbwire
Ball-bunker being constructed in 1944 when the line was further strengthened
A driller at work
Only the construction of this bunker needed about 45 tons of steel, and
steel was of course very important during the war in the war industry
Young servicemen playing poker during freetime
Freetime, note the age of the men.
Salpa-line today (from various war museums)
About 350 km of these trenches were digged during the war (in connection
to the bunkers at the defensive line)
MG nest, more than 3000 of these wooden position were built during the
war at the defensive line.
Of these steel re-inforced conrete bunkers 728 were built, they were built
to withstand a direct hit from a 500 kg airplane bomb (although the crew in the
bunker would probably not feel that good afterwards, but they could be replaced
while the bunker could not)
Impressive, Is it still intact or has some portions of it been dismantled.
Interesting, however I think history has shown us not to rely too much on defensive lines, for example: the Chinese Wall which you have already mentioned, the Maginot Line and the Bar Lev Line. Although the main reason the Bar Lev Line failed was the lack of preparation and forces. These kinds of strategies are mostly effective in wars of attrition but of course less effective when mobile forces are involved.
Well many of the bunkers is still there. Destroying a bunker that could withstand
Originally Posted by Falco
a 500 kg bomb is not very easy, but for anti-tank obstacles and such, farmers
have removed them etc, but large parts of the defensive line is still there. Some of
them have become museums etc. And the defensive line goes thru many national
parks as well, so when hiking in these areas itīs quite popular to check out the
defensive line as well.
Originally Posted by S'13
The thing with estern Finland, and southestern Finland in particular around the
Lake district Saimaa is that it looks like that. Itīs not exactly "tank country",
and as said the defensive line was built in naturally "difficult" areas. Personally
I believe that the success of the line depended much on wether the Finnish army
could or could not retreat to it successfully, and if they then would have anything
to give. In 1944 the Finnish army was quite much down on its knees after all those
years of war, and the heavy battles (in example the Nordic countries largest
battle of all times at Tali-Ihantala etc), it was pretty much the same divisions
fighting all the time, when Red Army in turn could throw in new fresh divisions
all the time.
Some more pics from the Salpa-line today
Bunker today, give it 50 more years and it will look like a natural
hill in the nature, itīs a Class 1 bunker. Class I bunkers were designed to
withstand continuous indirect fire hits from 305mm shells, direct fire hits
from 210mm guns, single hits from 420 mm shells and hits from 500-
1000 kg bombs.
In some places turrets from captured tanks were used as well, here a
turret from a T-26, that would be armed with a 45 mm gun and a 7.62 MG
45 mm anti-tank gun from the other side, notice the rings were extra
camouflage and protection could be attached
Observation cupola *****ped of all camouflage. Often they were maked
to look like boulders or other natural objects
Camouflaged observation cupola
And the bunkers were of course protected by infantry in more traditional
infantry field positions
Gun enplacement for a 152 mm field howitzer, near the
area there is another one, those two howitzers formed a
battery (with a range of 19 km).
Anti-tank gun, hm, looks like a german-supplied 75 mm
Kuivasaari coastal artillery, not Salpa line, but just to
to visualize that there was also defences along the coast
in the south, thatīs why the Soviets never tried out a
amphibious landing there "in the back", it would have
costed a lot in blood
as far as I know the Chinese wall has also never been used.
Yes it has been, it was used to fend off Mongol attacks.
Originally Posted by Kitsune
You were right, I'd never heard of it, nor in fact of most of the stuff you've posted concerning post Winter War Finland, so thanks a lot.
Wow, its even more then twice so long as the germanic Limes (550 km)
Weren't the japanese who built an entire ship on an island during WWII, with the big guns and everything...it received his ration of bombs and became useless....
"Wise and Grumpy" Ban Stick Wielder of Death
In Australia during WWII we had the Brisbane line, a notional line stretching almost 2000km, cuting off the south east corner of our country from Brisbane to Adelaide. If the Japanese invaded we would concede ground to the North and West of this line while we moved around and picked them off.
It was defended by few fixed defenses, instead relying on the harsh Australian outback and massive line of supply to do the damage.
With the Americans we stopped the Japanese in the Pacific Islands and it was never used, but knowledge of the line was hotly denied by the government of the day who didn't want to concede that they were only going to defend a quarter of the country. Although evidence to the contrary indicates that it was the policy of the day.
Dunno about the Japanese island battleship, but I suspect it would've been based on the Fort Drum (?) built by the Americans in the Phillipines. The thing with bigass fortresses and defense lines like that was - you got a LOT of men tied up in static positions - and the enemy (if he is smart) will always outnumber you wherever he chooses to strike.
Which is why "the best defense is offense"
is the 152 field howitzer enplacement in Lemi? It surely looks like the one near my summer cottage. The terrain is scattered by trenches and blown up bunkers all around.
Yep, itīs in Lemi.
Originally Posted by Elmo
The Maginot Line, often quoted as an example of military ineptitude, was in fact effective on the different places where the Germans attacked it.
It's only after turning them around and cutting the different defensive sectors from their supplies that most of the Maginot "ouvrages" had to lay down their arms.
Its main flaw was that it was not finished at the beginning of WW2. It was thus easy to go around it by the Ardennes area.
On the Alps front, all the Maginot positions attacked by the Italians were successfully held and caused massive casualties to the Fascist armies.