Finnish Anti-Tank Weapons

Shell Types and Armour Penetration Capabilities

Soviet T-26 light tank

The Finnish army used a lot of captured Soviet guns and vehicles, of which the T-26 light tank was one of the more numerous types taken in battle. This model of the Soviet T-26 is from the collection of Patrick Storto.

The table lists armour penetration values for Finnish guns at 0 to 100 meters range and 0 degrees inclination of armour. Dates indicate the year when a particular shell type entered production, not necessarily the year of availability to combat units. New shell types would take several months to reach the troops at the front, some favoured units receiving the new shells more quickly than others. Andrew Mark Reid is the author of Panzergranate, a set of miniature wargame rules using carefully researched gunnery data to simulate armour penetration results.

Weapon Projectile Penetration
13 mm Boyes 0.55 Inch Anti-Tank Rifle A.P. 21 mm
Britain supplied a large number of Boyes anti-tank rifles in 1939 and 1940. The weapon was popular with the Finns, because it could deal with Soviet T-26 tanks which the Finns encountered in many engagements.
13.2 mm H.M.G. A.P. 29 mm
Main armament of a Landsverk 182 armoured car purchased from Sweden. Apparently, this Landsverk 182 was ordered without its 20 Madsen gun, and fitted with a locally produced 13.2 mm HMG. The vehicle was phased out in 1941.
20 mm VKT Lahti L-39 AT-rifle A.P. 38 mm
It appears to be similar in size to the Swiss Solothurn 20 mm anti-tank rifle still produced today as an anti-helicopter sniping weapon. Both are self-loading, and the World War Two versions would have been magazine fed.
20 mm L.60 Madsen (Danish) A.P. 34 mm
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.)
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39)
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 110 mm
25 mm Anti-Tank Gun (French) A.P. 50 or 54 mm
It is not known if these were Hotchkiss or Puteaux anti-tank guns, the latter had the higher performance of the two.
37 mm L.21 Sa.18 Puteaux Tank Gun A.P. (Rupture M.1916) 27 mm
37 mm L.21 Sa.18 Puteaux Tank Gun A.P. (Rupture M.1927) 31 mm
Vickers 6 Tonner tanks purchased from Britain were originally fitted with 37 mm Puteaux, but later received 37 mm Bofors tank guns instead.
37 mm L.37 Bofors Tank & Anti-Tank Gun A.P. (Carbon Steel) 32 mm
37 mm L.37 Bofors Tank & Anti-Tank Gun A.P. (Manganese Steel) 54 mm
37 mm L.37 Bofors Tank & Anti-Tank Gun A.P.H.E. 34 mm

It is unlikely that the A.P.H.E. shell would have been used, even though it was available for the 37 mm Bofors L.37 gun. Some A.P.H.E. shells are tracer detonated, but most are detonated by inertia and they are used as anti-aircraft shells. Their use against tanks may have been out of accident rather than design. Navies use A.P.H.E. shells against enemy ships, and their application to tank combat may have been a throwback to this naval method.

The 37 mm Bofors was used as the main armament of the Vickers 6 Tonner tank which the Finnish army purchased from Britain. The Finnish Army deployed the 6 Tonner during the 1939-40 Winter War with Russia, but the entire unit seems to have been knocked out or destroyed in their first attack at Honkasalmi in 1940. Recovered vehicles were upgunned with captured Soviet 45 mm anti-tank guns.

3.7 cm L.45 PaK 35/36 (German) A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 65 mm
3.7 cm L.45 PaK 35/36 (German) A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 79 mm
45 mm L.46 M.1938 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (1941) 52 mm
45 mm L.46 M.1938 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) H.V.A.P. (1942) 64 mm
45 mm L.46 M.1938 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.D.S. (1945) 96 mm
The 45 mm L.46 gun was the main armament of captured Soviet T-26, T-50, T-70, BT-5, and BT-7 tanks, as well as BA-10, and BA-32 armoured cars. Surviving Vickers 6 Tonner tanks received this weapon as well.
45 mm L.66 M.1941 Anti-Tank Gun Soviet A.P.H.E. (1941) 74 mm
45 mm L.66 M.1941 Anti-Tank Gun Soviet H.V.A.P. (1942) 102 mm
45 mm L.66 M.1941 Anti-Tank Gun Soviet A.P.D.S. (1945) 138 mm
47 mm L.35.8 Breda 47/32 M35 AT-Gun (Ital.) A.P. 64 mm
Twelve of these were available during the Winter War.
5 cm L.60 PaK 38 (German) A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 99 mm
5 cm L.60 PaK 38 (German) A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 141 mm
Only a dozen PaK 38 were purchased from Germany.
75 mm L.36.3 Puteaux M.1897 Field Gun A.P. 90 mm
The famous French "75" of World War One, designated 75 mm K.97 in Finnish service. The Finns sent 48 of these guns to Germany, to have them converted to PaK 97/38, of which 45 upgraded units were returned later.
7.5 cm L.36.3 PaK 97/38 (f) A.P. (Pz.Gr.) 90 mm
7.5 cm L.36.3 PaK 97/38 (f) A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 128 mm
Converted Puteaux PaK 97/38 used French and German shells. Apparently, the Germans considered these guns adequate for anti-tank work. No wartime shell production was set up for PaK 97/38 in Finnland.
7.5 cm L.48 KwK 39 (German) A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 144 mm
7.5 cm L.48 KwK 39 (German) A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 172 mm
Main Armament of Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J tanks, and StuG. 40 Ausf. G assault guns purchased from Germany. The StuGs arrived in 1943, but the Panzer IVs came too late to participate in the Continuation War in 1944. Panzer IV were deployed in the Lappland War, but they saw no action.
7.5 cm L.46 PaK 40 (German) A.P. (1940) 149 mm
7.5 cm L.46 PaK 40 (German) A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 176 mm
PaK 40 was the most common German anti-tank gun in Finnish service.
76.2 mm L.16.5 M.1927 Infantry Gun (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (Any Year) 38 mm
76.2 mm L.24 M.1930 Field Gun (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (Any Year) 58 mm
A modernized version of the Czarist 76.2 mm L.26 M.1902 Putilov field gun, it was used as the main armament of the BT-8 and T-28.B tank.
76.2 mm L.54 ZIS.3 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (1941) 104 mm
76.2 mm L.54 ZIS.3 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) H.V.A.P. (1942) 133 mm
76.2 mm L.54 ZIS.3 Anti-Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.D.S. (1945) 191 mm
114 mm (4.5 Inch) L.16/L.18 Howitzer (Brit.) H.E.A.T. approx. 50 mm
114 mm (4.5 Inch) L.16/L.18 Howitzer (Brit.) C.P.H.E. (Gr. 39 Hl/C) 128 mm
A.P.H.E. is effective against bunkers, and was only intended for this purpose until tanks appeared in World War One. The howitzer was used to convert captured Soviet BT-7 tanks to self-propelled guns, designated BT-42 in Finnish service. In their first real engagement, eight BT-42 gun tanks were destroyed, and the others were subsequently withdrawn from combat to be scrapped. Early H.E.A.T. rounds for this weapon were locally produced, and found to useless. A later H.E.A.T. round existed which may have used the German 10.5 cm Gr. 39 Hl/C warhead.
122 mm L.23 M.1930 Howitzer (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (1941) 73 mm
122 mm L.23 M.1930 Howitzer (Soviet) H.V.A.P. (1942) 102 mm
122 mm L.23 M.1930 Howitzer (Soviet) A.P.D.S. (1945) 131 mm
122 mm L.23 M.1930 Howitzer (Soviet) H.E.A.T. (1944) 200 mm
122 mm L.46 M.1938 Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.H.E. (1941) 145 mm
122 mm L.46 M.1938 Tank Gun (Soviet) C.P.H.E. (1941) 124 mm
122 mm L.46 M.1938 Tank Gun (Soviet) H.V.A.P. (1942) 205 mm
122 mm L.46 M.1938 Tank Gun (Soviet) A.P.D.S. (1945) 261 mm
122 mm L.46 M.1938 Tank Gun (Soviet) H.E.A.T. (1944) 200 mm

The Finns bought armaments from Sweden throughout the wars. Western powers, and the USA sold guns during the Winter War, and additional shipments continued well into 1940. Germany sold no weapons to Finnland during the Winter War, honoring the Russo-German Pact of Nonaggression. German arms shipments of captured French and British equipment began in August of 1940, followed by StuG. 40 Ausf. G assault guns in 1943. German Pz.IV. Ausführung J tanks were sent to Finland just days before the country changed sides in 1944. These vehicles were subsequently deployed against German forces on the Lapland front, pushing the Wehrmacht back into Norway. The Finnish army was very adept at recycling obsolete and captured equipment, much of which was of Soviet origin.

Andy Reid
Sources: Harri Anttonen; Janne Kemppi; Panssarimuseo

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