In 1990 I moved from a relatively luxurious and warm childhood existance under the Mediterranean sun, to a freezing and, to me, unknown country at the north eastern extremity of Europe. Finland was its name and over the next 6 years I came to appreciate the initial(!) un-welcoming atmosphere of this country and – more importantly – the moral tenacity of its people. ”Moral tenacity” looks weird even as I write it, but to further describe what defines this country and its people to me… Well that would take five books and a shrink!
At the time World War 2 did not interest me. But later in life, when this era of history became my all-consuming interest one of the first things that struck me was this: Finland – then and now a social/liberal democracy – fought on the side of Nazi Germany?!? What?!
As always with history the whole story turned out to be more complicated than expected. In essence the Finns were caught in the same (yet opposite) situation as that of the western allies: Namely they saw themselves forced to ally with a gruesome dictatorship to attain their own – arguably noble – goals.
Putting aside moral dilemmas and the intricacies of history: There were also many large and interesting battles fought between Finland and the Soviet Union in the years 1939-1944. And this is where Unity of Command comes in…
During testing of Black Turn I discovered that Finnish units were included, as they were in Red Turn. But more importantly so was the section of map needed for making scenarios north of Leningrad. Previously, Southern Finland had been a blank canvas on the map. I asked around about the possibilty of including Finnish scenarios and was told, that 2×2 had initially wanted to do this, but time fell short. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to make these things myself then. And so I did… Yay me
The four scenarios I have concocted for the release of Black Turn cover an epic, yet little known, part of World War 2. They are as follows:
Can you succeed where the Soviets failed? Take charge of the Initial attacks on the Mannerheim Line and into Ladoga Karelia in December-January 1939/40.
NOTE: I Split the Finnish divisions into Regiments to keep things interesting.
“Talvisota PvP” (Multiplayer scenario, 11 Turns):
A multiplayer version of the above. A tough scenario for both sides as any mistakes will be punnished harshly.
Prove Stalin right in that: “Quantity is a quality in its own right”. Lead the final and massive assault on the Mannerheim Line during the Winter War in February-March 1940.
NOTE: I Used a german FlaK88 in Viipuri to balance Soviet air power.
Try to fill the shoes of Finland’s Marshal Mannerheim and lead the Finnish Forces to victory during the offensive to retake what was lost in the Winter War. This takes place during the Continuation War, specifically in July-October 1941.
NOTES: I had to make three fictional Soviet units in the rear area of Ladoga Karelia/Olonets for balance reasons. I also used a German attachment of Stug III E’s to represent the 1. Jägerbrigade’s use of Soviet armour that had been captured during the Winter War.
For those with a more in depth interest in this part of the war, I recommend William R. Trotter’s “A Frozen Hell”. It truly is an amazing story of David versus Goliath, and if you are interested in war and/or history, then I really recommend reading more about this fascinating part of the Second World War.
I’ll sign off with these ten Finnish war related “fun facts”:
1. The iconic Soviet PPsh41 submachine gun is a copy of the Finnish ”Suomi KP/31”. The effectiveness of the ”Suomi” during the Winter War brought about this bit of patent infringement.
2. The term ”Molotov cocktail” was coined by the Finns during the Winter War as an insult to the Soviet foreign minister Vyahcheslav Molotov. Molotov Cocktails were mass produced by Finnish factories and were one of the primary means of combatting Soviet tanks at this stage (1939) due to the scarcity of AT-guns.
3. The word ”Motti”, used to describe the pockets of surrounded Soviet troops in the wilderness, means ”measure of wood” in Finnish. After the Winter War it became the international name for the tactical doctrine for outnumbered light forces using off-road mobility to first ”chop up”, and then destroy, a larger force that is road dependant.
4. There are stories of Finnish soldiers immobilizing tanks with their trusted ”puuko’s” (strong Finnish woodland knife). I have never been able to confirm this and it sounds like a ”war story” (aka a myth). However there are several confirmed instances of Finnish troops immobilizing tanks by sticking lumber into the tracks!
5. The Finnish battle cry ”Hakkaa päälle” means ”Hack on them/hack them down”.
6. The Finnish M/26 Lahti LMG was an advanced but also rather complicated and delicate piece of weaponry. As such, it was not very practical for the harsh conditions of the Winter war. Hence Finnish troops preferred using captured Soviet DP’s. The ”Lahti” was originally made for export purposes, but it seems the only country to actually buy this weapon was China(!)
7. The Finnish army used an upright standing swastika for markings on their tanks and planes. The Finnish airforce has this symbol in its flag to this day. This did not (and still does not) have any connection with Nazism.
8. During the Winter War, Simo Häyhä (a Finnish sniper) achieved the highest number of confirmed kills by a sniper in history – 505. An effort that earned him the nickname ”White Death”. This was done in less than 100 days (more than 5 kills a day on average).
9. Finland had the highest degree of mobilisation of both manpower and national finance of all the fighting nations in World War 2.
10. Finland was the only country to completely pay off its war debt after the war ended: 300.000.000,- dollars to the Soviet Union. It did so by 1952. One of the ways the country came up with this money was, that many Finns personally donated both money and jewelry to the government. Therefore most Finnish jewelry from this period is made of iron and other non-precious metals.
Enough trivia – now go get Black Turn, if you don’t have it already, and try out these extra scenarios when you do. Remember they are not part of the official release. If you liked Unity of Command and Red Turn then I promise you, you won’t be dissapointed! Enjoy and have fun!
-Daniel, Beta Tester on Red Turn & Black Turn