Before the war
At the start of the Winter War the Finnish tank forces were next to
non-existent. The only machinery available was hopelessly out-dated
French Renault -type tanks acquired in 1919 (the founding year of the
tank forces) and some English Vickers-Armstrong tanks bought in 1936,
which had however been purchased without guns communication equipment
due to lack of budget. At the very brink of the war the tanks were then
armed with old cannons, which eventually proved to be a bad solution.
The tanks also lacked all radio communication methods.
The Winter War
During the Winter War only one battle was fought in which the
Finnish Tank Forces had any role. This was the battle of the station of
Hankoniemi. The battle ended in the defeat of the Finns and the loss of
one tank, mainly due to communication difficulties.
During the cease-fire the situation with Finnish tanks got much
better as tanks captured in the Winter War could be reconditioned into
the use of Finnish troops. Out of these tanks was formed one Tank
Division, which was placed under the command of the newly appointed
general-major and future Mannerheim-cross knight, Ernest Ruben Lagus.
Lagus then made an introduction- and study trip to Germany, whose tank
forces were at the time considered to be the best in the World.
The Continuation War
In the attack phase of the Continuation War, the tank division
often played a very significant role in the achievement of the war
goals. In the trench warfare part of the war, the main part of the
division spent their time in a garrison of the captured town of
Petroskoi. Old equipment was replaced with captured Russian tanks and
Germany supplied Sturm -type storm cannons for a Storming Tank
-department, which was founded during the beginning of the Continuation
War. The storm cannons differ from the normal cannons in that they may
only turn a few ten degrees on contrary to the usual 360 degrees.
Before the Germans supplied such weapons, the Finns used Soviet-made
BT- storm cannons (taken from Russian B-17 tanks) which had proved
difficult to use in real action. During the Grand Soviet Attack at the
end of the continuation war, the tank division was often rallied to a
counter-attack to ground lost by the land forces. The tanks also
participated in driving the Germans out of Finland during the War of