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Armour in Finland


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I really enjoy using the minor powers in the game and playing against them. But one question I have about the Finns is this. What were the tank battles in Finland like? I understand that most of it was infantry but the Germans shipped an armoured force there and the Finns have tanks in the game. However it seems the Russian would have been able to run through Finland in a week with the kind of armour they possess. Balance of forces seem really off whenever the Russians have tanks. I would love to know what the armoured fighting there was really like in order to recreate it in CMBB.

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In which year? I suppose you mean 1941. The T-34 and KV-1 tanks were indeed terrible adversaries, when you had no guns capable of killing them. Only way to destroy a KV would have been to use buried or thrown explosives, mines to immobilize it or then heavy artillery. But there were too few of the modern ones to make a difference and the terrain in eastern Finland (Karelia), the battlefield, is better suited for infantry fighting because the few roads could be mined easily. Furthermore, most of the better tanks were needed in southern fronts. Most Soviet tanks at the time were light ones like T-26 and BT-7, and those could be penetrated with the 20mm Lahti ATR.

So, to get the effect, use heavily forested maps. I have made an operation called Paskamotti which is in the Scenario Depot, it's for two players and involves a Finnish attack and a Soviet counter-attack with some armour.

Then in 1944 Finns were on the defensive and had far more capable AT weapons - PaK40's, StuG's and at the end of June AT rockets.

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Originally posted by SpitfireXI:

I really enjoy using the minor powers in the game and playing against them. But one question I have about the Finns is this. What were the tank battles in Finland like? I understand that most of it was infantry but the Germans shipped an armoured force there and the Finns have tanks in the game. However it seems the Russian would have been able to run through Finland in a week with the kind of armour they possess. Balance of forces seem really off whenever the Russians have tanks. I would love to know what the armoured fighting there was really like in order to recreate it in CMBB.

armor is over rated ;)

there really weren't any pure armor battles to speak of until summer 1944.

the deep forests and the numerous lakes & swamps of Karelian terrain weren't suitable for armor, as shooting distances were very short. armor was used to support infantry attacks, but that was pretty much all. on both sides enemy armor was dealt with small caliber AT guns & infantry AT weapons. Combat Mission isn't optimal in recreation of those battles, as both sides used armor in woods (which isn't possible in CM). to recreate those battles you need large areas of scattered trees and it doesn't work well.

in the summer of 1944 there were some armor battles as USSR launched a massive attack to end the war for good. like you said, on paper it looked like it would be a quick game over situation: Soviets had some 800 modern tanks (T-34, IS-2, ISU-152), while Finns had only some 20 StuGs, about 10 captured Soviet tanks (most were T-34s, a couple of KV-1s & ISU-152s) plus some 20 German StuGs. but the only area suitable for armor was a 10 km wide isthmus and Finns managed to defend that isthmus. the battles were pretty much over in 3 weeks as Soviet high command didn't want to send reinforcements (and instead took away the Guards divisions to be used against Germans).

the most important factor in defeating the Soviet attack was the heavy use of artillery & airforces. the next most important one was infantry AT weapons (especially panzerfausts & panzerschrecks) and then the 37mm, 50mm and 75mm PAKs (those small caliber PAKs were effective due to the short shooting distances). Finnish panzers destroyed only some 100 tanks, while in total Soviets lost some 400-600 tanks. Finns lost some 10 tanks, 100 PAKs (in that terrain there was no way to take them with you when you had to retreat) and 8000-10000 men.

if you want to play these battles, i would go for user made scenarios available at Scenario Depot & elsewhere. a typical pure armor battle could be something like 4 Finnish StuGs facing 12+ Soviet T-34s, IS-2s & ISU-152. add in armor & airforce + infantry & AT-guns.

in case you are wondering, StuGs are good in dealing with even the heaviest of the Soviet tanks. also note that T-34s can't flank because of the terrain & heavy presence of infantry & PAKs.

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Originally posted by undead reindeer cavalry:

while Finns had only some 20 StuGs, about 10 captured Soviet tanks (most were T-34s, a couple of KV-1s & ISU-152s) plus some 20 German StuGs.

You are not counting the T-26's.

Finns lost some 10 tanks,

8 Stugs and 30-something other models , including BT-42's and T-26's. I'll have to check the total.

and 8000-10000 men.

AFAIK the official number is 12 000 KIA.

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Originally posted by Tero:

I'll have to check the total.

thanks. i was pulling numbers from my memory, so they must be more or less off.

did T-26s really take part in the armored battles of summer 1944? i was under the impression that lighties were kept behind the lines.

how did those German StuGs & StuHs do? they took part in battles, but that's all i know.

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Originally posted by undead reindeer cavalry:

thanks. i was pulling numbers from my memory, so they must be more or less off.

did T-26s really take part in the armored battles of summer 1944? i was under the impression that lighties were kept behind the lines.

how did those German StuGs & StuHs do? they took part in battles, but that's all i know.

Yes, T-26s did participate in some action on Isthmus..and if I recall right, so did T-28E from Ps.D's (Arm Div)Heavy Tank Company. Of course they were not too effective against T-34s.. smile.gif .

German StuGs and StuHs from 303. StuG Brigade knocked out exactly 1 Soviet tank, a T-34. Picture of that is one of the most famous TK-pics (war correspondant pics) during that time, several pics were taken, most wrongly giving the kill to Finnish 75 PAK 40. German unit was raw, just formed in Baltic states area and it's performance was less than stellar.

In comparison, Finnish StuGs killed 87 Soviet tanks while losing 8 StuGs during that period.

Cheers,

M.S.

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Originally posted by Sardaukar:

Yes, T-26s did participate in some action on Isthmus..and if I recall right, so did T-28E from Ps.D's (Arm Div)Heavy Tank Company. Of course they were not too effective against T-34s.. smile.gif .

cool :D i need to read about this. it's far too humiliating to not know these things in detail, not say even on general level redface.gif

German StuGs and StuHs from 303. StuG Brigade knocked out exactly 1 Soviet tank, a T-34. Picture of that is one of the most famous TK-pics (war correspondant pics) during that time, several pics were taken, most wrongly giving the kill to Finnish 75 PAK 40.

i went & got Kuusela's "Wehrmachtin panssarit Suomessa" from library. i just read the part about Sturmgesch├╝tz-Brigade 303, and it seems they knocked out two T-34s. 1st Battery got one 28th of June as three T-34s managed to break through Finnish defences, and then 3rd Battery got the one you talk about 30th of June.

German unit was raw, just formed in Baltic states area and it's performance was less than stellar.

according to Kuusela, they were actually pretty experienced. they had been on front (Northern Russia, Soutern Estonia) already four months before they got transferred to Finland, and had scored 46 kills. in contrast Finnish StuG crews had zero battle experience before the battles.

Kuusela reasons that German StuGs didn't get that many kills, because

- Germans used them (properly) in depth as anti-tank assets to stop potential armored enemy breakthroughs, whereas Finns used them at the very frontline & in aggressive counter attacks.

- Germans hadn't received any training on how to use their StuGs in the Karelian terrain.

- Cooperation between Finnish infantry & German StuGs didn't work well (Finnish infantry misunderstood German intentions).

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I am currently playing "Panzers in Finland" and having a ball. I also get a better understanding of why tanks did not fare so well there. Most of the armour shootouts are down long roads with trees on both sides, very little manuever possibilities. By the way, last night as I was playing I saw a really unusual behaviour. A Russian T-26 charged straight at my tanks on the opposite side of the road, for a full 500 meters this tank went right at me then stopped and fired two rounds before buying the farm. It was kind of scary but once he died I started to wonder what the Ai was thinking. I don't think the tank went beserk because it only fired when it stopped and not when moving.

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Rune's P-i-F was in the Boots and Tracks the last time I checked.

Here's a link to my scenario, A Strong Response. It is not historical, but is based loosely on a historical situation in a real location and I think it shows what sort of problems Soviet armoured counter-attacks had in Finland in 1941. It has been tested single player, so if anyone would like to give it a try in two player I'd be grateful.

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