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Museum Review-The Parola Armour Museum, Finland

I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to the Parola Armour Museum in Finland. The Museum is located about 110 kilometres from Helsinki; an easy drive even with all the snow.  Here are some of the highlights.

Nationality Markings of Finnish Armoured Vehicles

The vehicles in the Museum still carry the national markings that they last held. During the Winter War (November 1939- March 1940) they were painted with nothing. Later in 1940, they were painted with a blue-white ring, but this was soon discontinued.

In June 1941, the Finnish armoured vehicles began to display the newly adopted national symbol – the blue Finnish hooked cross “Hakaristi”. It was originally a symbol of luck for the family of Count Von Rosen who donated his first plane to the Finnish in 1918.

Only after the German Socialist National Party adopted a similar hooked cross as their emblem did this ancient symbol acquire political significance. The Finnish hooked cross had nothing to do with the ideology of the National Party or fascism in general.

However, because of the emotive nature of this emblem and to comply with Wargaming’s policy, I have removed some markings from the photos.

  Thank you for your understanding. 

 

 
KV-1M Hiding   Renault FT 17 Model 1917
   

The first tank purchased by the Finnish Army was a French FT Renault 17. It was armed with the 37mm cannon, which was housed in a rotating turret, different to many other vehicles of the time which had a rigidly mounted machine-gun. 

Weighing in at 6.7 tons, the FT17 was an incredibly advanced design for the era, with a rotating turret and the engine compartment located in a fireproof bulkhead.  A total of 32 were bought by the Finnish Tank Regiment, which was formed on July 15th 1919. 

 
BT-42   T-34 M - 1941

BT tanks were deployed on the Russian Front against Finland both in the Winter War (1939-40) and in the Continuation War (1941-44). They were armed with a 114 mm cannon, andtthe Museum houses the last remaining one (511-8).

Although fast (the BT-42 could do 52kmh on tracks) the BT’s suffered from numerous technical problems including the badly designed tracks which would frequently slip off. 

 

The Soviets tested prototypes of a new T34 on the Mannerheim Line after the Winter War in 1940. It was deemed as “superb” and immediately went into production. It was also deployed after the outbreak of the Continuation War in 1941. 

 
T-34-85   ZSU-57-2

The improved version with larger turret and 85mm gun. The Finnish troops captured seven of these and immediately put them to use. This amazing example has only ever had 61 hours of driving time. 

 

Based on a modified T54 MBT chassis and armed with twin air cooled 57mm automatic cannons. This Anti-Aircraft gun was capable of firing 210-240 rounds per minute, depending on the type of ammunition. Seven ZSU-57-2 tanks were modified in the early 90’s and fitted with the Marconi Series 400 target indicator radar and two Swiss made 35mm automatic Cannons. 

 
A great collection of original radio equipment    T-50
   

Only two T50’s remain, and Parola owns one. “Little Sotka” as it’s called by the Finnish (T-34 is referred to as “Big Sotka") was only produced in very small numbers as the superior T-34 was being launched at the same time. 

 
ISU-152   PstK/37 & PstK/40

Plenty of ISU assault guns operated on the Finnish Front in 1944. Two ISU-152’s were captured and one was put into service with the Finnish Army. It was armed with a 152mm cannon and incredibly heavy ammunition (Armour Piercing Round weighed 48.5 kg). Due to this weight, the ISU -152 had two loaders and could only carry 22 rounds inside the vehicle. 

 

The Museum also houses a fabulous collection of Anti-Tank Guns in a dedicated hall.

 
Just one of the halls, photo taken from the Leopard 2A4. The Finnish Defence Force purchased 124 Leopard 2A4’s to replace the aging T55’s and T72’s.Twenty were converted to be used as mine-sweepers and bridge layers. A truly capable Main Battle Tank armed with the 120mm Rheinmetall Smoothbore Gun. 

 

Summary

My huge thanks to everyone involved for showing me around, I have barely scratched the surface of this amazing collection. If you get the chance to visit, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

Visit the Museum Website!

Lots more photos on Facebook


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