Edited By James S. Corum, Olaf Mertelsmann and Kaarel Piirimäe
Needs and Realities in Estonian Air Defense: The Interwar Years
This article is not directly connected to the combat operations in World War II but serves as a background to them. The article is about a small and relatively poor country before World War II that had a clear vision but possessed few resources to implement that vision. The Estonian armed forces was quite capable in management of its resources but faced a far superior enemy, had a sparse population, had little military industry, and most of all, was neutral and had no strong allies. In short, national defense was an almost hopeless task. Indeed, Estonia has never won a war on its own. In any case, this article will try to explain the key problems of small countries that face large enemies – a key strategic issue in the run-up to the Second World War.
Estonia was a typical Eastern European small country with a cadre of good engineers and ideas, but very limited technical resources. Engineers and inventors such as Voldemar Post and Karl Papello had few opportunities in their homeland. Some of Estonia’s most talented engineers emigrated because in order to realize their talents their only option was to move abroad and work in an environment that allowed them full research resources and the opportunity to see their inventions produced.
Estonia had a limited military industry. The main armaments firm – the Arsenal – made cartridges for handguns, anti-tank mines, shells for field guns up to 107mm, and even submachine...
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