From the early 30s to the Interim peace
In the beginning of the
1930s it was clear that the old Renault F.T. Modèle 17 tanks
were getting outdated so trials for purchasing new equipments
were started. The Ministry of Defence ordered three different
tanks from Great Britain on July 6th 1933:
- Vickers-Carden-Loyd Mk
VI* (prod. nr V.A.E.115)
- Vickers-Armstrongs 6
Ton Tank Alternative B (prod. nr V.A.E.546)
model 1933 (prod. nr V.A.E.503).
The manufacturer also
sent an amphibian Vickers-Carden-Loyd model 1931 to Finland, but
it was soon found unsuitable for Finnish conditions.
After several tests, the
Vickers 6 Ton Tank was recommended to be purchased.
On July 20th 1936 the
Ministry of Defence ordered 32 Vickers-Armstrongs 6 Ton
Tank Alternative B tanks. Their shipment dates were supposed to
- July 20th 1937, 11
- April 1st 1938, 10
- January 1st 1939 11
The purchase order didn't
include guns, optics or communication equipments. However, the
shipments were late and by the July 1938 there were no tanks
arrived. In February 1939, 33 of 37 mm guns for tanks were
ordered from VTT (Valtion tykkitehdas, State gun factory).
Optics for the guns were ordered from Germany, but the
shipments were cancelled. Due the VTT's production problems,
delays in the shipments of the tanks and cancellation of the
shipments of the optics only 10 tanks were produced by the end
Before getting the VTT's
37 mm guns, the 37 mm Puteaux cannons moved from Renaults were
installed in V-A tanks. First Vickers-tanks with VTT's 37 mm gun
participated in the first battle of Finnish armored forces
on February 26th 1940 in Honkaniemi. 7 tanks were lost in
Honkaniemi and in following smaller fights. The 8th, damaged one
was able to get back, but it was never repaired.
During the Interim peace the 37 mm guns were replaced with
Russian 45 mm tank cannons because of compatibility reasons.
Also Russian 7,62 mm DT machine gun became as co-axial weapon
and the sighting optics were replaced with Russian ones too. By
these changes the designation was changed to T-26E.
The two companies
equipped with Renault F.T. Modèle 17 tanks were used to
collecting war booty material and to dig the tanks into fixed
strongpoints. The latter one was made to carry out only
partially at Näykkijärvi and Taipale areas and all equipments
except four tanks were lost to the Red Army.
War booty in Winter war
The Winter war was very
important for the armor equipments in the form of war booty
materials. In all, a 167 different armored cars, tanks and
armored tractors were collected and repaired. The war booty
- mainly light T-26 (and
its flamethrower version OT-26 and OT-130) tanks
- 2 medium T-28 tanks
- light amphibian T-37A
and T-38 tanks
- T-20 Komsomolets
armored tractors (6 of them were already lost back to Soviet
troops in Winter war)
- 21 of 7 different
models of armored cars
The fast and common BT-5
and BT-7 tanks were also captured but none were evacuated in
time before the lines moved and the war ended.
War booty in
Right after the attack
started in the beginning of Continuation war, several BT-5 and
BT-7 tanks were captured and taken in use. They were used until
early 1942. The captured material made possible to expand the
Armored Battalion to a Armored Brigade consisting two battalions
on February 10th 1942. The first new tanks for armored troops
were T-34s captured in the autumn 1941 and also more of T-28
were got as a war booty forming the equipment of the Heavy
Armored Company of the II Battalion. During 1942 also two KV-1s
were added to the company.
In June-July 1944 Finns
captured 2 T-34 and 9 T-34-85 of which 7 were able to be taken
in use. On June 25th 1944 in Portinhoikka, Finns captured two
ISU-152 assault guns. Four days after repairs one of them was
lost in the Köhli area and the another one was evacuated and
modified to a towing tank.
On July 7th 1944 the HQ
gave an order to remove the T-26, T-28 and BT-42 tanks from use
as invalid equipment for combat.
The modifications during
the Continuation war produced several tank models that were only
used in Finland. The flamethrower versions of T-26 (OT-26,
OT-130 and OT-133) and the twin turret version, only with
machine guns armed T-26 model 1931 were considered useless other
than for driving training and were decided to be modified as
cannon-armed tanks during 1942 and 1943. Only OT-26 and T-26T
tanks stayed unmodified.
In spring 1942, VTT began
to design an assault gun on the chassis of a BT-7 model 1937.
This new type got the designation of BT-42. The turret was
constructed on the base of the original turret's lower part and
armed with British Q.F. 4.5 inch howitzer Mark II (114 mm).
Muzzle brakes for the guns were fitted in Finland. First tanks
were given to the Assault gun Battalion on February 26th 1943.
The last of the batch oh 18 tanks were delivered in late autumn
The construction wasn't very successful and the battalion gave
all BT-42s to a Separate Armored Company on December 7th 1943
after receiving German Stu 40 assault guns since September 1943.
In spring 1943 a
suggestion was made about building armored personnel carriers
from the BT- tanks. One specimen was made with designation BT-43
and was given for tests.
Number of armored vehicles in 1941-1944
table gives only guidelines as the numbers show the situation
only on certain dates. It does not tell the whole numbers of
armored vehicles in use.
the Armored Brigade was mainly equipped with T-26, T-34, T-28
and KV-1 tanks. On July 7th 1944 an order was given to remove
T-26 and T-28 -tanks from use.
1) Renaults were
became obsolete by the time of Winter War. They were mainly
used for collecting war booty material and they were also dug
into fixed strongpoints (only at the areas of Näykkijärvi
and Taipale). All but four were lost to Soviet troops.
2) Armament first changed to 37 mm Puteaux gun from
Renaults, then to 37 mm Bofors and during Interim peace to
Russian 45 mm 20K gun. The designation also changed to T-26E
3) Repairable. BT-5 and BT-7 were in use until the
beginning of 1942.
4) 45 of Stu 40 Ausf. G -assault guns were ordered in
1943 and 30 of them arrived in mid 1943. They were delivered
to the front by the Sep. 2nd 1943. Why they are missing from
the table above, I don't know.
the sum below
Suomalaiset panssarivaunut 1918-1997 (The Finnish armored
vehicles); Esa Muikku & Jukka Purhonen