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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The White Death, and Other Killers


The longest record for an officially confirmed sniper kill is held by British Corporal Craig Harrison. The feat occurred in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in November 2011.
Corporal Harrison killed two Taliban fighters (two consecutive shots!) at a distance of 8120 feet, or 2.47 kilometers. A third shot also sent a Taliban machine gunner straight into martyrdom.
Before that, the previous record for the longest kill was held by Corporal Rob Furlong of the Canadian Army. He sent to Islamic paradise an Al Qaeda fighter from 2.43 kilometers away in 2002 during Operation Anaconda, also in Afghanistan. 
At these distances, the bullets can take several seconds to reach their intended targets. 
Corporal Harrison used an Accuracy International L115A3 rifle for his record-breaking shot.
Like this one:


Corporal Furlong, on the other hand, used a Mcmillan TAC-50:

U.S. Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, in his autobiography “American Sniper,” states that his official confirmed kills is 160—more than any other American service member. Nicknamed Al Shaitan Ramadi (The Devil of Ramadi) by Iraqi insurgents, Chris Kyle’s longest shot was at 2100 yards (1.9 kilometers). He used one of these bad boys, a Mcmillan TAC 338:

Snipers have always been the most feared combatants in a battlefield. Stealthy, silent, cold-blooded hunters of men—every war has produced its own share of these highly-skilled, take-no-prisoner killers.
Carlos Hathcock,  Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Vasily Zaitsev, Jack Coughlin, Josef Allerberger—these are just some of the people whose exploits are now the stuff of legends, when it comes to sniping.
But one sniper that stands above them all is a diminutive hunter/farmer from Finland—Simo Hayha, a. k. a. “The White Death.”

Simo Hayha (December 17, 1905-April 1, 2002) joined the Finnish militia when he was 20 years old. He was a hunter and a farmer before becoming the world's deadliest sniper. 
During the Winter War (1939) between Finland and the Soviet Union, he was assigned as a sniper, and immediately began bagging a number of Russian soldiers on a daily basis that the Soviets began to feel alarmed. 
They sent a task force to look for him, but the White Death took them. They sent counter-snipers; Simo Hayha killed them all, too. On a 100-day period, he took out more than 500 enemies with his rifle. When they got near him, he used his submachine gun: almost 200 soldiers he killed this way.
And this was during winter, in temperatures 20-40 degrees Celsius below zero, in several feet of snow. 
To those Russians who faced him, he must have seemed like a mythical creature that lurked in the forests, invisible, killing them one by one.
Simo Hayha used his knowledge of the forest to his advantage. He would report for work each day, dressed completely in white, with enough food and a couple of clips of ammunition for the day—it was apparently all he needed—and picked off enemies unlucky enough to blunder into his killzone.

The White Death he was, indeed.
The Soviets tried firing artillery strikes in the general area  where Simo Hayha was supposed to be, hoping to get lucky. This failed to slow him down; he was the White Death, after all.
Finally, one soldier got lucky and shot Simo Hayha, hitting him in the lower left jaw. Half of his head was missing, according to the soldiers who picked him up.
You’d think that he’d die with such horrific wound, but no. He regained consciousness the day the Winter War ended, and was out of the hospital two weeks after getting half his face blown off.  
The White Death was credited with 505 officially confirmed sniper kills—the highest confirmed kills for any sniper. Some sources even put it at 546.
According to some estimate, his total kills stands at 706 Soviet soldiers.
So, what kind of sniper rifle did he use? What kind of telescopic sight it had? Well, he used these:

A Suomi K31 SMG, and a Finnish militia variant of Mosin-Nagant rifle with iron sights
Simo Hayha preferred iron sights because a telescopic sight would have made him a bigger target. 
Yes, the White Death did not need fancy telescopic sight; iron sights would do. Also, he preferred this rifle because it suited his 5 foot 3 inch-frame.

Simo Hayha died at age 96, a legend not only in his own country, but also a legend for the whole world.
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