Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland. Between 1881 and 1901 the Grand Duchy had its own army. Before that several other military units had also been formed while Finland belonged to Sweden.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Russian empire was weakening, and this was reflected in a reduced capacity of the Russian troops to keep public order. Voluntary defence organizations disguised as fire brigades were formed by the Finnish people, especially during the strikes during and after the Russo-Japanese War.
There were socialist Red Guards and conservative, anti-socialist Protection Guards (or White Guards). Also, during the First World War activists secretly travelled to Germany to receive military training and to be trained as Jäger troops (jääkärit).
After independence and beginning of the Finnish Civil War, the White government declared the White Guards as government troops, and the war was fought between the Red Guards, assisted by Communist Russians, and White Guards added with the Jägers and assisted by the German Empire.
After the war in 1919, the Protection Guards became a separate organization. Therefore, strictly speaking, there is no continuity between the White Guards, which became a voluntary organization, and the Finnish army, which was a cadre army based on conscription. However, Jägers gained important positions in the army, and German tactics and military principles were adopted.
Tankograd’s latest book Finland’s Maavoiment is all about the Modern day Finnish Army, with a great deal of detail both in text and pictures anyone interested in the neutral countries Army.
Bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia the latter being the largest of its borders has a small yet large army per head of population. During Finland’s history they helped the Russians against Napoleon's forces three 1200-man regiments were formed in Finland and Topographic Corps in Hamina. They also participated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), after which it gained the status of Old Guard of the Russian Emperor.
The first chapter of the book covers the history with some incredible facts that being interested in military history I am ashamed to admit I did not realise, like over the years Finland was occupied several times by either Sweden or Russia (with many parts of Finland belonging to Sweden) separation from Sweden was only possible after the Russo- Swedish war. Russia attacked Sweden on 21st of February 1808 to finally solve the Finnish question.
During World War II in the Summer of 1941, after Germany had attacked the Soviet Union under the Operation Barbarossa, Finland joined forces with the Deutsch Reich to free Soviet-occupied Karelia. This did not last long as, in 1944, with Germany close to defeat, Finland had to make a separate peace with the Soviet Union to avoid being completely occupied.
With Finnish history being such as it is the country remained completely neutral during the Cold War signing neither for NATO or the Warsaw pact preferring not to trust any country completely.
From history to the modern day Finnish army the book in text still heads into more detail about the units and there sizes and a number of different vehicles that are used by the Finnish Army. This goes into quite some detail and makes for an interesting read, which in fairness is the same for all the Tankograd books that I have been lucky enough to read.
The first section of the picture heavy section is Motorcycles, Quads, Cars and Trucks. For fellow model builders like me who have a large interest in building dioramas then these Tankograd Tri monthly books have to be one of the best in the market today, on a regular basis.
Having had a large trials bike as a youngster the very first picture made me smile with a Finnish soldier astride of a KTM 625 trials bike in a winter scene, the Quads being used by the Finnish Army are the Polaris ATV which is fielded in either 500cc or 800cc engines.
Four-wheeled drive land rovers are also used as is the Toyota land cruiser; a Toyota Hilux with box body catches the eye in the NBC Defence Force. Two pages of Mercedes and VW 4x4 and vans cover various types from A Finnish Mercedes Benz 290 with boxed body ambulance from the medical corps to a VW T4 Multivan this particular one being part of the Military Police. As is the case with all the Tankograd books all of the pictures are usually hi-res and very well taken.
Moving onto the truck section and a variety of trucks are displayed here with some of them making not just great pictures but also showing them in the field making for some great reference diorama pictures, like the Sisu A2045 HMTV Type 1 Signals variant with box body and for a line of sight radio communications. With an incredible amount of photos in this section it is nice to see the diversity of the different trucks and there uses, the Sisu SK-181 8-Tonne rigid with a drawbar trailer for logistics use. The Russian made Zil 131 caught my eye as I am in the process of doing an inbox review on one 400 of these trucks were in the Defence Forces service although now there are only a few of these trucks left in service.
Some Scania P series trucks doubled up as fire engines and decontamination vehicles one of which had a monitor on the front of the truck. For the refuelling of the Finnish helicopters the Sisu R500 fuel tankers although being the Sisu it is fitted with a Renault driving cab and Renault engine?
Finland's flagship among the multipurpose tactical vehicles is the armoured 20- Tonne Sisu E13TP 8x8 this particular truck really looks the part and is slightly similar in shape to the US HEMMT. Some articulated lorries are used in a variety of roles from Transporter to Mercedes Benz Actros truck that transports modular laboratory module.
One of the last vehicles in this chapter also brought a smile to my face, The Grenade Launcher Company uses the Voltry N 163 Direct as a prime mover (this particular vehicle looks very much like a Tractor with loading forks on the front) towing a low profile trailer with the personnel sat in with the grenade launcher being towed behind the trailer.
The next chapter of the book is on Flugabwehr / Air Defence section one of the first pictures that caught my eye was a Mercedes Unimog U5000 Advanced Short-Range Air Defence System ASRAD-R one of my favourite vehicles the Unimog. Some incredible Sisu It012 Nasams II Fin Air Defence System the launch container carries six AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. With a series of these outstanding Sisu vehicles including one with a Raytheon MPQ-64F2 multi-radar system.
A great action shot on the following page of a Sisu Ilamatorjuntaohjus 90M It090M the new R.480NR high speed guided missile. On the last page of the chapter is two very impressive action photos of two self-propelled antiaircraft gun systems, one of them the Polish made T55 AM MBT chassis that was used until recently before being replaced by the Leopard 2 Marksman.
Wheeled Armour is the chapter in the book with another great action photo of a pair of RG32M 4x4 armoured patrol vehicles from BAE Land Systems South Africa for use with the Finnish Special forces, training in a purpose built building. Sisu XA-180 6x6 wheeled armoured carriers which started to replace the ageing Soviet BTR-60 with a great shot of the XA-180 coming out of the water.
XA-185 is a stunning winter shot of the armoured ambulance, with various armoured vehicles adorning the following pages I could not help but be suitably impressed with a huge APC The Patria XA-360 AMV. This vehicle is huge powered by a near 12 litre Scania D1 12 Turbocharged engine this really is a very impressive vehicle indeed. One of the final wheeled armour vehicles is the new AMV XA-361 AMOS with its twin 120mm barrels this Advanced Mortar System is regularly put through its paces on military exercises.
The engineer's section follows and this is usually a section I relish as I have a fascination with some of the most obscure soft skin vehicles. The first of the vehicles is the Sisu RA 140 DS ‘Raisu’ this 15-tonne vehicle is able to clear a span of 3.4m wide in a minefield being driven in reverse at 6kmh. with its rotating drum of 82 hammers, this is able to destroy mines weighing up to 10kilos. The first two pages have various other mine clearing vehicles including a T 55M MBT of Soviet origin with its KTM-5M mine rolling system.
A really fantastic picture of a Leopard 2R coming out of the woods with what looks very similar to the Abrams Breacher sends me thinking about a scratch build diorama. Several pictures of various bridge laying vehicles follow on with a great double spread picture of the ‘Leguan’ based on the chassis of a Leopard 2A4. A couple of pictures of a wheeled version of the bridge layer ‘Leguan’ based on the Sisu chassis look very impressive.
Artillery section starts with one mortar crew in the snow with winter camo loading an 81 KrH 81mm Mortar. With a second crew manning a 95 S 58-61 ‘Mustie’ recoilless rifle. This section contains some very dramatic action shots, one of which I loved of an old East German Tatra 122 RakhH 89 multiple rocket launcher, 36 of these vehicles came to Finland after the reunification of Germany.
Another great shot of a M270A1s purchased from Sweden is firing its guided missile with a forest of pine trees in the background really makes this picture stand out.
Over-Snow Vehicles sees a Hagglunds Bv 206 participating in exercise cold response in 2010 this particular vehicle carrying a mounted 12.7mm ItKK heavy MG. Having never heard of the manufacturer Sisu previous to being able to do a review on this Tankograd publication it is a manufacturer that I will never forget? With a Sisu NA-140 BT looking suspiciously like the Hagglund making its way across the terrain.
Tracked Armour starts to look more familiar with me with a very nice ‘eye-catching’ winter camouflage scheme MT-LB one of 300 that were purchased from the Soviet Union. The bulk of these was the MT-LBV version. Some fantastic photos of some of the older tracked armour with Finland having purchased 85 Soviet BMP-1 AFV.
Another BMP-1TJ ‘Tuija’ an artillery and reconnaissance observation vehicle plenty of action photos follow the various other tracked armour vehicles which include BMP-2M and CV9030 Mk II built by Hagglund finishing this section of is some action photos of the CV9030 in different terrains and weather.
The final section of the book is the main battle tanks with the deliveries of 139 Leopard 2A4 the ex-Soviet T-55 and T-72’s vanished from the arsenal of the Finnish Forces again full of photos of their various A24 leopards with some great camo of fern tree branches and also some winter camo MBT’s there is plenty to be learned about the Finnish Defence Forces.
It is hard to not like the format of these fantastic Tankograd books which go to into detail and have a picture heavy theme show on whatever the subject of the book you are reading at the time.
I found out some incredible information about a country that for a small head of population has throughout history had various other countries trying to occupy it.
The fascinating details and first class photography that goes into these books are I have to say second to none and it does not stop there with each photo is dual (German and English) text explaining about the picture and does this very well.
Highs: Fascinating subject that goes into quite a depth of detail and great photography of the Finnish Defence Forces Lows: None that comes to mind other than you want more and more information and pictures? Verdict: Very hard not to recommend Tankograd books to most people, however, if you like cold war Russian armour, or genuinely like the Finnish Defence Forces then this is highly recommended.