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Finnish Armoured Vehicles 1918-1997 (Suomalaiset Panssarivaunut)

by Esa Muikku and Jukka Puhonen

Published by Apali Oy, ISBN 952-5026-33-7, 208 pages.

Here is a very welcome new edition of the long out-of-print essential reference for everyone interested in Finnish AFVs. The original, published in 1997, has its few errors corrected and the new edition has better quality prints of some of the rare photographs.

So what does it cover? Anything and everything that carried armour in Finnish service! So here is a treasure trove of information for modellers.

The text is bilingual English/Finnish and starts with the first armoured cars in Finland – Austins and Armstrong-Whitworth-Fiats, all taken from the Reds in January 1918. They were soon joined by FT-17s that remained in service until 1939. Various tanks and armoured cars were acquired in small numbers in the 1930s but real expansion came with the Winter War of 1939/40 with 167 AFVs captured from the Soviets and refurbished. Swedish Landsverk AA tanks were bought in 1942 and German StuG IIIs in 1943, and yet more tanks were captured from the Soviets. In the postwar period British Comets and Charioteers arrived, as well as T-54s and other equipment, bought form the Soviets this time. Development of a Finnish-designed and built APC began in the early 1970s, with the first design being unsuccessful but a second one was more suitable and went into production. Like the T-55s, T-72s and other Soviet vehicles it was modernised in the 1990s.

The photographic coverage of all of these is excellent. Looking at a random sample of pages there are Ft-17s, T-26s of several types, BA-3 and-6 armoured cars, T-37 amphibious scout tanks, T-28s, BT-7s, T-34s, T-50s, Landsverk AA tanks, StuG IIIs, Pz IVs, Charioteers and Comets, T-54s and T-55s with KMT mine ploughs, BTR-50s, BTR-60s, the Finnish Sisu APC, BMP-1s, MT-LBs, 2S1 Gvodzikas, ZSU-57-2 AA tanks, and an intriguing assortment of Soviet-built engineer tanks and artillery tractors. Many, if not most, of these are available in kit form or as conversions. Following the photographs there’s a section on camouflage and markings, including lists of the three different serial number systems used in this long period. Then several appendices give you a table of all the Finnish armoured units for the whole period with their dates of establishment – disconcerting at first glance since it isn’t translated, but on the opposite page is appendix 2 with translations of all the abbreviations. Other appendices list all the types used with brief specifications and finally the numbers in service of each type in almost every year from 1941 to 1959. There’s also an appendix, alas like the 1997 edition not translated, with diagrams of a Comet tank with various parts numbered and identified. Maybe not essential reading, but if you happen to want to know the Finnish for turret or periscope, for instance, this will show you the words.

Next are 14 good colour plates of vehicles used up to 1948 followed by 11 pages of colour photographs of more modern equipment. These are very useful for modellers, showing the typical camouflage colours and patterns.

Overall this is an excellent book, and anyone interested in “different” finishes for many available models from FT-17 to Pz IV and T-72 will find it an essential reference. If you missed out on the first edition get this one – I recommend it highly! It’s available direct from the publisher via their website at www.apali.fi (English language page available) and will be stocked by any good military bookshop.

John Prigent