The British Committee for the Scientific Study of Air Defense delivered in early 1939, a worrisome report to the British PM, signaling the degree of ignorance of Great Britain regarding the futuristic new German weapons (Wunderwaffe). Upon the report a reputed scientist, Dr. R. V. Jones, was called up by the government to look into the matter. His task commenced before the war broke out and in June 1940, Dr. Jones, after a thorough study, concluded that the Germans had developed also a radio beam by which their bombers could operate over England regardless of weather, darkness, or cloud cover and still be most accurate in their blind bombing. By 1940, British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) started a special center in London, to train agents to be sent to Norway and the Baltic area to spot and collect samples of German advanced weaponry program. Their search was eventually justified because seven German missiles from the rocket development works in Peenemünde, of the Baltic Sea island of Usedom, crashed in Sweden. Later these missiles captured by the Swedish army were also the subject of a careful British technical examination. The captured weapons were to become the foundation of the Swedish missile program at SAAB and other Swedish vendors. On the other hand, during the war, USAF B-24 aircraft and radar equipped US Navy PBY Catalina aircraft, were assigned the job of locating enemy radar in the Pacific. They spotted and pinpointed Japanese air warning sets scattered all the way from the Solomons to the China coast. A few days before the Leyte landing in October 1944, one of the ferrets discovered the new Japanese radar on Suluan Island at the mouth of the Leyte Gulf. As this radar commanded the approaches to the Leyte coast line, it had to be eliminated by a commando raid of the US Rangers.
After the end of WW II, Gehlen Organization, the intelligence agency established by American occupation authorities in Germany in 1946, manned by former members of the Wehrmacht’s Fremde Heere Ost (Foreign Armies East), began recruiting agents from East European émigré organizations in early stages of the Cold War (1948–1955). Then an operation code-named “Jungle,” was set up under the leadership of Henry Carr, director of the Northern European Department of MI6 and Alexander McKibbin, head of the Baltic section. Their organizations were used in operations for the clandestine insertion of intelligence and resistance agents into Poland and Baltic states.
The Estonian group was led by Alfons Rebane (fomer Waffen-SS Standartenführer during Nazi occupation of Estonia), the Latvian group was led by Rūdolfs Silarājs (former Luftwaffe officer) and the Lithuanian group was led by history professor Stasys Žymantas. In late 1950, British Naval Intelligence and MI6 created a permanent department that hired first a crew of 14 sailors and based the first fast E-boat (“Enemy”) at Hamburg-Finkenwerder. The “British Baltic Fishery Protection Service,” was thus invented as a credible cover story given the harassment of West German fishermen by the Soviets. The operation evolved with a secondary task of visual and electronic reconnaissance of the Baltic coast from Saaremaa in Estonia to Rügen in East Germany. For this purpose the E-boat was re-fitted with additional fuel tanks for extended range, an extensive antenna suite and American equipment for COMINT (communication intelligence) and ELINT (electronic intelligence). Although they were not part of the UK-USA agreement, the cooperation in collection of intel by air operations was also granted to Norwegians and Sweden, having a great geographical advantage for the surveillance of the Soviet Baltic and Murmansk areas. So that very soon the neutral Sweden began to take on reconnaissance activity over the Baltic Sea, in order to minimize the possible threat posed by the Soviet military. The sorties began in 1945 and were flown primarily by SAAB B18 aircraft, a Swedish variant of the Ju-86Z delivered by Germany to Swedish AB Aerotransport in 1938. The reconnaissance planes typically were taking photos of any vessels they came across, even if sometimes they encountered Soviet fighters. In 1946, it was reported that some rockets flew through Swedish airspace. Therefore it was quickly decided to set-up a reconnaissance mission toward the Penemunde peninsula where it was suspected that the new Soviet rockets research centre was based. This mission was assigned to a SAAB B-17 single engine dive bomber converted into a recce aircraft. On August, 1946, it made the first attempt to make aerial photos of the facility but it had to turn back after being intercepted by several Soviet fighters. After a number of unsuccessful missions, it was decided to be used a higher performance aircraft like Swedish P-51D equipped with reconnaissance US made cameras. These last missions carried out by Mustangs were part of “Operation Falun,” which began in July, 1948, their results being shared with various US Government agencies. From 1948 to 1949, about 15 Swedish reconnaissance missions were flown along the Soviet Baltic coast. On June 13, 1952, a Swedish Air Force Douglas DC3/C-47(Tp79 SN79001- Hugin) piloted by Alvar Almeberg, took off from Bromma airport near Stockholm on an intelligence mission across the Baltic Sea. The aircraft was manufactured in 1942 as C-47DL by Douglas at Long Beach, California, with the original US serial number 42-5694. It was delivered in 1943 to USAF 15th Troop Carrier Squadron of 61st Troop Carrier Group. The aircraft saw action in northern Africa before being stationed at RAF Barkston Heath base. It was flown on February 5, 1946, from Orly Air Base via Hanau Army Airfield (Hesse, Germany), to Bromma Stockholm Airport where it was registered as SE-APZ on May 18, 1946, as a civil aircraft to Skandinaviska Aero AB. The C-47 was one of two, the other being SN79002-Munin, (both named after Odin’s ravens), which together with a Ju-86Z called “Blondie,” were assigned to Transportflyggruppen-6 of F8 squadron. In fact those aircraft were used always for signals intelligence (SIGINT) duties. The C-47s were outfitted with five operator stations, the operators belonging to FRA (Försvarets Radioanstalt) the National Defense Radio Establishment. During the Cold War, Sweden that was not a NATO member remained officially neutral. That was because its government publicly stated that the country’s goal was to remain equally between the East Bloc and the West. However, the public image of Swedish neutrality was in tacit opposition to the country’s covert policy and military activities closely aligned with the West. Between 1948 and 1949, after the outbreak of the Cold War, Sweden and Great Britain became engaged in extensive discussions on a military cooperation. Therefore beginning in 1949, Sweden assumed the covert role of monitoring Soviet military activities in the Baltic area on behalf of NATO. Despite that the agreement was officially only between Sweden and UK, data collected was also shared with the US. Moreover, the (ELINT) equipment was sourced from the United States and delivered via UK. To serve the scope of the agreement, the Swedish Air Force mounted ELINT system on two C-47 aircraft to fly signals intelligence (SIGINT) gathering missions. These missions were coordinated with the UK on behalf of NATO. The US-built AN/APR-9 ELINT was a sophisticated radar signals collection system operating as a D-through I-Band Radar Intercept Receiver (1 to 10 GHz band) loaned by British. That top secret system was developed by the Radio Research Laboratory (RRL) at the MIT Radiation Laboratory for the US military as part of its Cold War electronic espionage programs. Nonetheless the Soviet counterintelligence discovered soon the scope of the Swedish flights, tipped by a Swedish spy, Air Force colonel Stig Wennerström, code-named “Eagle,” a military attaché in the Swedish embassy in Moscow. So that the Soviets began tracking Swedish FRA flights, identifying the type of missions flown by their profile and frequency. The Soviets tolerated for a while the Swedish air missions over the Baltic Sea, even when the Swedish SIGINT gathering missions began to grow more aggressive in 1948. Then a Swedish Air Force SAAB Sk-26 flown by Frederick Lambert-Meuller, flew over the USSR territory on a photographic reconnaissance mission. Next year in 1949, another reconnaissance flight-over was performed by a Swedish Air Force SAAB Sk-31 flown by Ingemar Wängström. Starting in 1952 the frequency of NATO overflights and reconnaissance missions toward the Soviet Union dramatically increased. On US orders relayed by British, the Swedish ELINT flight programs also expanded. For NATO and especially the USA, it was critical to test the Soviet air defense potential. Particularly it was assessed their ability to track and respond to potential missions by USAF nuclear-armed B-47 Stratojets, that could penetrate the Soviet airspace via Baltic Sea corridor. Such knowledges were so necessary in case the Cold War could come true one day. The increased frequency and depth of the Swedish missions exacerbated the preoccupation of Soviet leadership to counter Swedish shift toward NATO side. That is why, the Soviets warned the Swedes in regards of the serious consequences due to their definite siding with the West and expansion of SIGINT gathering activities on behalf of NATO. The Soviet messages included a harsh reminder to Swedish government that in 1950, the Soviet Air Force had downed several US reconnaissance planes over the Baltic area.
Aerial Noise Detector
In April, 1950, Soviet La-11 (Fang) long range piston-engined fighter aircraft, piloted by B.Dokin, A.Gerasimov, Tezyaev, and Sataev, shot down a US Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer (BuNo 59645) “Turbulent Turtle” of VP-26, Det.A. Based from Port Lyautey, French Morocco, the aircraft flew a patrol mission launched from Wiesbaden, West Germany. Per the American account, the incident happened over the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Lepija, Latvia. The Soviets claimed that the aircraft was intercepted over Latvia and fired on the Soviet fighters during the interception. After the fighters engaged the Privateer, the Soviets reported that it crashed into the sea, about 10 kilometers off the coast. The wreckage was eventually recovered, but the crew of John H. Fette, Howard W. Seeschaf, Robert D. Reynolds, Tommy L. Burgess, Frank L. Beckman, Joe H. Danens, Jack W. Thomas, Joesph Jay Bourassa, Edward J. Purcell and Joesph Norris Rinnier Jr., were declared MIA and presumed dead. Again, in April, 1950, Soviet pilot Keleinikov, claimed the downing of a USAF P-38 Lightning. Also in April, 1950, Soviet pilots P. Dushin and V. Sidorov claimed the shotdown of a USAF B-26 Invader. In April, 1950, Soviet pilot N. Guzhov claimed the shotdown of two USAF F-51 Mustang as well. No later than December, 1950, two Soviet MiG-15bis (Fagot), flown by S.A. Bakhev and N. Kotov, shared in the downing of a USAF B-29 Superfortress. The aircraft was in fact an ELINT variant of the B29, the RB50G, carrying an RCA SHORAN (SHOrt-RANge) survey radar for navigation and for detailed geodetic surveys. The aircraft operated out of the RAF base at Lakenheath in UK. The Soviet messages stressed out, that the Swedish SIGINT gathering aircraft would be shot down if the flights frequency would not decrease to levels recorded before 1952. Nonetheless, in the morning of June 13, 1952, a Swedish Tp 79-Hugin aircraft performed a fly-by of a brand new Soviet Navy cruiser, Sverdlov-class, sailing in the international waters of the Baltic Sea.
Flying on the Hugin that day, was the crew formed by three men from the Swedish Air Force:
Alvar Älmeberg (Aircraft Commander / Pilot), from Stockholm,
Gösta Blad (Navigator / Radio Operator), from Stockholm,
Herbert Mattson (Flight Engineer), from Stockholm.
Also on board, in the back of the aircraft, there was a Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) crew from the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA).
This crew was manning a range of British-supplied Electronics Intelligence (ELINT) gear:
Einar Jonsson (SIGINT Group Leader / Intelligence Officer), from Stockholm,
Ivar Svensson (Signals Operator / Intelligence Officer), from Stockholm,
Erik Carlsson (Signals Operator / Russian Interpreter), from Kristianstad,
Bengt Book (Signals Operator / Intelligence Officer), from Stockholm,
Börge Nilsson (Signals Operator / Intelligence Officer), from Malmö.
Without any warning, around 11:23 am, a Soviet MiG-15bis piloted by Captain Boris Osinskiy of the 483rd Fighter Aviation Regiment, closed in to the Swedish aircraft and lined up on its target. At the last moment, near Ventspils, Latvia, the flight crew realized that the MiG-15bis was pressing an attack and issued a distress call to the Swedish Air Force squadron F2 at Hägernäs. About five minutes later the Swedish aircraft, badly damaged and on fire, fell into the sea at 11:28 am local time, just east of the island of Gotska Sandön in international airspace, with a loss of all eight crew members. Osinskiy reported back to his base that he observed at least one parachute coming out of the burning plane.
Two days afterward, a life raft from the aircraft was recovered baring Soviet shell shrapnel from the MiG-15′s cannon. The Swedish Government had softly claimed the loss of the aircraft due to the Soviet interception. Though Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander, was not willing to release full details to the public on the SIGINT gathering mission deemed extremely sensitive. At home, the Swedes were mostly in favor of a neutral stance in the Cold War, even if it was widely accepted that the country was leaning westward. Due to the loss of eight lives the Swedish government eventually released a statement about the circumstances of the crash, claiming that the Swedish Air Force Tp 79-Hugin plane had been lost on a “navigation training flight.” As per the public feelings during the next 40 years of cover-up, many suspected that the loss might have been the result of a military action.
The Soviet Union officials denied shooting down the Swedish C-47 even when a few days later a life raft with a MIG-15biss shell shrapnel was found. Surprisingly enough, the Swedish government remained quiet on the issue, despite the evidence on the mission of the Tp 79-Hugin aircraft. Beside the scope of taking aerial photos the crew was out that day to also capture SIGINT signatures from the new Soviet ship’s radar systems, as to determine the type of equipment and capabilities on board of the Soviet cruiser. The usual Swedish missions involved only the monitoring of Soviet military communications, specifically Soviet Air Force communications. This was done by flying along the coastline while collecting SIGINT with the AN/APR-9 ELINT system. Every time the Tp 79-Hugin flew such a mission the Soviet air defense communications and radars would activate, giving the Swedes the big picture of Soviet defense detection capabilities. Therefore the overflight of the new Sverdlov cruiser triggered the Soviet’s irritation and ultimately the aggressive reaction. As always, the entire flight of the Swedish aircraft was flown in international airspace unescorted because the mission was considered a routine with low risk. In fact, Swedish Air Force aircraft and FRA had been flying the missions for several years without Soviet interference, unaware when in early 1952, the Soviet high command issued the orders to shot down the ELINT-equipped Swedish aircraft.
Few hours after the loss of the Tp 97-Hugin, a SAR operation was mounted to look for survivors. After two days of search was located and retrieved the aircraft damaged life raft. On the third day of the search, three planes were up in the air off the coast of Estonia. There were two Swedish amphibious aircraft Tp 47 (Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina) from the F2 squadron flying out of Hägernäs and a Tp 2 (Junkers W 33/34). The planes took off just after midnight and headed east to begin flying a search pattern looking for debris from the Tp 97-Hugin still afloat. The Swedish aircraft were unescorted again because a SAR mission was not considered threatening to the Soviets. However the downing of Tp 97-Hugin on June 13, was a tough Soviet response signaling that SIGINT gathering flights would no longer be tolerated. Regardless the Soviet violent action, Swedish officials thought that a SAR operation would likely be let go to proceed.
On June 16, 1952, on board the Tp 47 (SN47002) PBY Catalina “Gustav Bertil” were a crew of seven men, including Commander Sven Törngren, First Pilot Olof Arbin, Navigator Ove Engberg, Crew Chief / Mechanic Elis Eliasson, Radio Operator Paul Eriksson and two additional observers, Gösta Stålhammar and Uno Littke.
All of a sudden two Soviet MiG-15bis fighters, flown by the pilots N. Semernikov and I. Yatsenko-Kosenko, appeared in the sky, closing in fast. At 04:09 am, the pair of MiG-15bis made a first pass by PBY Catalina at high speed, on each side of the aircraft. The Swedish crew transmitted a message to their base at Hägernäs reporting a simulated attack by two MiG planes. Realizing the threat, the pilots Sven Törngren and Olof Arbin turned the PBY Catalina to the west, taking a heading toward the Swedish airspace. PBY Catalina tried an evasive maneuver by coming down low over the waves. Once again, the MiGs came around and fell in behind opening the fire. The third MiGs pass had caused light fuselage damage by cannon rounds ricocheting off the water. On the fourth pass, the MIGs had hit the left wing without injuring the crew. The MiGs circled around yet again, attacking from behind, hitting the aircraft’s elevator. The MIGs came back for a sixth attack and by firing their 23 mm cannons they hit the flying boat’s left engine. Trying to survive the attack, the crew attempted an emergency landing. The MiGs circled back again coming for another attack that hit the Catalina’s cockpit. That seriously wounded the first pilot Olof Arbin and navigator, Ove Engberg, missing the radio operator Eriksson. The flying boat was severely damaged, with the electrical system knocked out, the autopilot leaking oil and with a radio rendered mute. Seeing a nearby ship ahead, the injured Swedish pilot turned the PBY Catalina and at 04:20 am was able to make an emergency landing nearby, but damaging the aircraft nose. Water flowed in fast, so the crew had to quickly abandon the plane onto life rafts.
Even after the emergency landing the Soviet MiGs circled around readying another attack, undisturbed by the nearby ship’s crew witnessing their action. The MiGs made a final pass, simulating an attack on the rafts and downed plane that already started to sink. Back to base at Hägernäs, with no words from PBY Catalina’s crew, the operations control team imagined the worst case scenario, ordering the other PBY Catalina and the Tp 2 to quickly return to base. The Swedish Air Force escalated the response, scrambling a fighter escort to secure the Swedish planes safe return to base. While in their life rafts, the flight crew identified the nearby ship, as the West German freighter, Münsterland. Witnessing the MIGs attack, Captain John Dierks rushed in to rescue the Swedes and maneuvered quickly around to pick them up. The captain recorded the Münsterland position and logged the details of the MIGs attack. Later, his log became the clear evidence that the downed PBY Catalina had been in international airspace. As the crew was brought on board, the sailors on the Münsterland spotted two additional aircraft at higher altitude passing over the ship. Fearing retaliation from possibly additional Soviet MiGs, the captain decided to hide the Swedes below decks and cut free from the freighter their life raft. The captain steered the ship to a different port of call than the scheduled one, at Hangö, also in Finland fearing that his ship could be boarded in the Baltic Sea by the Soviet Navy. Medical care was provided for the injured PBY Catalina flight crew that were interviewed by the mass media on arrival.
Soon after the interviews, and while the crew was at the Swedish Consulate in Helsinki, a special message came in from their base as to keep the matter secret. Soon after their arrival, the mass media spread the news about the SAR plane shootdown, the survivors existence and West German witnesses. The breaking news cornered the Swedish Government facing the explanations request on the violent incident between Sweden and USSR. Within hours, the press dubbed the incident “The Catalina Affair,” naming it after the type of the second aircraft attacked by MIGs, because the loss of the first aircraft,
Tp 79-Hugin, was not officially confirmed. The media created a huge impact on the outraged Swedish public believing that a state of war became effective between Sweden the Soviet Union. Many asked for the Swedish military to start patrolling the airspace of the Baltic area and fire on any Soviet aircraft encountered. Eventually the Swedish Air Force issued orders for the use of force if any of its aircraft were attacked by East Bloc states. A public demonstration also took place outside of the Soviet embassy in Stockholm. Meanwhile the SAR operation was called off and the SIGINT Squadron F2 was grounded.
The risk of a continue escalation with the Soviet Union proved to be very high, so that a political and diplomatic approach became necessary in order to defuse the military escalation. By the midnight of June 17th, the very real possibility of direct combat between Swedish and Soviet aircraft became a frightening reality. Not surprisingly at all, when the Swedish government blamed the Soviets for their responsibility of shooting down the two aircraft, the Soviets denied any involvement. However, facing the eye-witness reports on the downing of the PBY Catalina, the Soviets released an official statement pretending that the Swedish aircraft had fired upon the two MiG-15s, with .50 caliber machineguns mounted in the waist ports of the flying boat. That false claim lacked strong confidence as long as the Swedish PBY Catalinas were both unarmed. The Soviets exchanged behind the door messages with the Swedish Prime Minister Erlander, making clear that their military would not allow Sweden to go that far on NATO side. Therefore Erlander and Khruschev governments began lengthy negotiations to establish rules of operation for every party in the Baltic Sea. Meanwhile, US became worried that the Soviets may try to recover the top secret AN/APR-9 ELINT system. After strenuous discussions with the American side, Sweden notified the Soviets that any attempt to salvage the plane or its contents would be met with military force, hoping to discourage Soviets to deploy recovery and salvage teams at the crash sites.
However, four years after the shootdown, in 1956, during a meeting between Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev and Swedish Prime Minister Erlander, Khruschev personally confirmed Soviet responsibility for the shooting down of the first aircraft, the ELINT-equipped Tp 79-Hugin. For Sweden, this gesture was a sign of relief showing the Soviets will to improve their diplomatic relations with Sweden by accepting responsibility for their aggression in the Baltic area. Nonetheless, PM Erlander kept the Soviet admission secret from the public pointing out toward the loss of the Catalina. His key goal was to not damage Sweden’s public image of neutrality softening in the same time any public concern on the risks created by Swedish involvement in the Cold War. For many years that followed “Catalina Affair,” Swedish government declined to further comment that matter. In the due course the loss was almost forgotten but the families still struggled with the government’s official position that the Tp 79-Hugin ELINT aircraft crashed due to a navigation error. Russian General Fyodor Shinkarenko who was a colonel in the early 1950s, admitted in 1991 that in 1952 he had ordered the downing of the Swedish C-47 after scrambling a MiG-15bis to intercept it. In the same time, independent researchers were able to gain access to the archives of the Soviet intelligence agencies, MGB and KGB, which confirmed that the Soviet leadership had approved the downing of the Tp 79-Hugin.
Tp 47 Catalina of Musko
SAAB -18 of Musko
MIG-15bis of Musk0
Tp 49 Douglas of Musko
For the families of the fallen, that triggered the beginning of a long time campaign to have the death of the eight men crew of the Tp 79-Hugin officially recognized as Swedish heroes of the Cold War. The thin bubble of lies was blown away in June, 2003, by Swedish searchers who found the wreckage of the C-47 on the bottom of the Baltic Sea in international waters, near Gotska Sandoen island, about 120 kilometers east of the Swedish coastline. The discovery brought in a retired Swedish Air Force fighter pilot, Anders Jallai, who embarked on a crusade to disclose the full truth of the affair and honor the memories of the fallen. Joined by a renowned diver Carl Douglas and marine biologist Ola Oskarsson, the CTO of Marin Mätteknik AB (MMT), they set out to find, photograph and raise the ELINT aircraft from the seabed. Jallai also hoped to recover the bodies of those lost and bring the relief to the victims’ families. In the summer of 2003, the team was able to find the aircraft in 126 meters of depth. Later, the wreck of the PBY Catalina was also found on the Baltic seabed, 14 miles farther east. Both aircraft wrecks were found riddled with holes from the MiG-15′s 23 mm cannon shells. The remains of the Tp 79-Hugin, along with the bodies of four of the crew members, including the pilot Alvar Älmeberg, were raised in two operations, one in 2003 and the other one during the night of March 19/20, 2004, and returned to Sweden. The second operation used a revolutionary new forensic recovery process called Freeze Dredging (FriGeo). The Swedish submarine rescue vessel HMS Belos, carried a freezing plant and was able to employ the FriGeo system to freeze the top layers of the ocean floor into solid blocks. Then, using slings and cables, the HMS Belos raised the entire aircraft fuselage and seabed together, lifting an amount of about 200 cubic meters of earth. The wreck of the aircraft and the collected seabed were transported to a Swedish underground naval facility on the island of Muskö, located south of Stockholm. That naval base with miles of tunnels and many rooms is carved directly into the sides of granite cliffs rising straight up out the water. Recovery specialists combed through the seabed to uncover any bodies and other relevant debris that might aid in the investigation of the crash. One of the key items was to recover the AN/APR-9 ELINT equipment from the aircraft, because the device and its potential contents was deemed top secret. Shockingly, no trace of the US made AN/APR-9 ELINT radar intercept system was found. It is believed today that the Soviet Union deployed in the area by early 1970, India-class diesel-electric submarines designed to function as mother ships for two Poseidon Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRVs). Those vehicles were fitted with propellers for underwater navigation also with Caterpillar/Tank style Tracks enabling them to crawl on the bottom and recover wrecks of interest (such alleged tracks were seen and photographed in Swedish waters). During that time, the USA was still operating the AN/APR-9 ELINT system as a key piece of equipment in the Vietnam War. The India-class boats were often used to aid Russian subs involved in accidents, also worked in support of Russian Spetsnaz special operations. The boats had decompression chambers and medical facilities on board. Two vessels of this class were built for the Soviet Navy and were scrapped in the 1990s. After the wrecks examination was completed and all human remains had been recovered, identified and buried, the aircraft were transferred to the Swedish Air Force Museum at Linköping for public display. There, a lengthy and costly conservation work was done to stabilize the wreckage which was deteriorating in the atmosphere after was raised from water. Eventually the “Catalina Affair” exhibit opened to the public on May 13, 2009, having on display today, the wreckages as a silent testimony to the sacrifices of Swedish military and intelligence services during the Cold War era. Anders Jallai private initiative brought some relief to the families, also forced the government’s hand in recognizing the sacrifices of the men who were lost. With the completion of the recovery, the eight men who were shot down on June 13, 1952, were posthumously awarded a gold medal in recognition of their service, a timely gesture even after so many decades. Anders Jallai was also publicly honored by the Swedish government in the same ceremony. Even more, in 2003, Anders Jallai received an award from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf for finding the aircraft shot down by Soviet MIGs in 1952, after an expedition for which he was also named ”Project Manager of the Year.” Beside all these, Jallai received an award from Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, for finding the S7 Soviet submarine that was depth charged and sunk during WWII by the Finnish navy and was sitting underwater in the Stockholm archipelago for decades.
Stig Wennerstrom with his Soviet spy master
Stig Wennerstrom with journalists after his arrest
GRU General Vitaly Nikolsky FHO General Reinhard Gehlen
On the other hand, in 1964, Stig Wennerström, code-named “The Eagle” by his Soviet spy-masters, was convicted to life in prison, of four counts of treason, for revealing classified information of neutral Sweden, the USA and NATO. As a matter of facts, his anti-Swedish activity began in November, 1940, when he had received an appointment as the air attaché to Moscow. By that time he was already passing secret information to German counterintelligence. In 1943, Wennerström would command a squadron and in 1944-45 he was the Swedish Air Force officer responsible for liaison with representatives of foreign air forces. In 1946 via General Reinhard Gehlen, one of the former chiefs of German military intelligence on the Eastern Front and then the founder of the Gehlen Organization (predecessor to the BND), the US intelligence obtained Abwehr documents in which Wennerström was favourably portrayed. Then he was subsequently recruited by American Intelligence. In the same year, having been at a Soviet Air Force parade in Moscow, he wrote a report on the prospects of intelligence activity on the territory of the USSR. He had a wide sphere of acquaintances in military circles and practically unlimited access to documents of state importance. He provided the Soviets information on NATO such as the plans for the defense of Northern Europe, a description of the new English “Bloodhound” surface-to-air missile, the basics of British anti-air defenses, characteristics of new American “Sidewinder,” “Hawk,” “Falcon,” air-to-air missiles, and also data on major alliance maneuvers. He also informed Soviets of the development of the Swedish all-weather interceptor, the J-35 “Draken” and the coordinates of the underground Muskö Swedish Air Force base built in the coastal cliffs. Wennerström was handled by two Soviet military intelligence (GRU) high ranks, like the military attache Ivan Rybalchenko and general Vitaly Nikolsky acting under a diplomatic cover in Sweden. According to the information from Soviet intelligence archives, GRU was blackmailing Wennerström in regards of his espionage work for the Nazis during WW II. However on June 19th, 1963, the housekeeper Karin Rosen, recruited by Swedish counterintelligence, uncovered a cache of microfilms in Wennerstrom’s attic intended to be handed over to GRU operatives in Sweden. Next morning, on June 20, 1963, Wennerström, a knight of Sweden’s Legion of Honor, also a distant relative of Gustav VI Adolphus and his adjutant for a while, was finally arrested on his way to work. Though after his conviction he served only ten years in a Swedish jail, he was released on parole as a low security risk subject. During all these years, he never talked to media on his espionage activity for so many parties, barely mentioning the ‘Catalina Affair.” By all means the Swedish government failed to further interrogate him on the matter, preferring to close the case earlier than expected. In his 1972 biography, titled “From the Beginning Till the End: Memoirs of a Spy,” Wennerstrom stated that he was promoting world peace. By providing the Soviets with military secrets from the West, he claimed he was helping to maintain the balance of power and averting the war. Two years before his death in 2006 as a free man in Stockholm , aged 99, Wennerstrom said in an interview with Swedish magazine Aret Runt that he did not regret anything. Nonetheless several intelligence historians would give him some credits for his role in limiting the risk of a nuclear conflict during the Cuban Missile crisis. However the remains of the other four Swedish crew members lost in 1952 have not been found yet. There were strong rumors after the aircraft downing, that a Soviet torpedo boat managed to pick up a life raft with four Swedish intelligence officers on board. It is also alleged that the four Swedes were conveyed to Tallinn, the capital of Soviet-occupied Estonia, where they were turned over to the Soviet intelligence, eventually sharing the same ill fate as of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.Even today it is still strongly believed that the Soviet intelligence was able to obtain in 1952 a number of persons of interest, including Americans captured during the Korean War. Likewise, as early as 1950s, tens of thousands of German and Axis WWII prisoners were still in the Soviet custody. Many of these prisoners failed to return back home, most of them dying of starvation, disease or simply being worked to death in the Soviet gulag system. As the final chapter of the “Catalina Affair”, a memorial for the eight crew members lost on Tp 79-Hugin was erected at the Galärvarvet Church in Djurgården, Stockholm. It stands as a solemn reminder of a dark era of the Cold War frightening history, a time when Sweden and the Soviet Union were nearing the boundaries of a major international conflict.