Finland’s Tigers / Stalin’s Falcons
At Historicon this year I picked up as part of my haul all of the aircraft to play the two Continuation War scenarios from the the Check Your Six! rulebook (Tigers of Finland and Finland the Brave). Last night I finished the last of the Finnish aircraft and took some pictures.
One of the two scenarios calls for a few I-15bis (also called the I-152 in some sources). This was a version of the I-15 produced with a straight upper wing instead of the gull wing characteristic of the I-15. Unfortunately, 1/300 manufacturers produce models of the I-15 and the I-153, but I could not find an example of an I-15 bis for sale, so I have chosen to use the I-15bis model from Navwar. I briefly considered scratchbuilding new upper wings for all four fighters, but common sense intervened.
I’ve always loved the look of the stubby little I-16. It’s like a Geebee racer grown up and sent to war. For these models I decided to go for a more interesting paint scheme rather than the much more common overall green as depicted on the I-15s. I found great views of all three surfaces of this camo scheme at the Modeling the VVS website. A few of the other details such as spinner color or placement of the star are a composite of various similarly painted aircraft found on Wings Palette. These are Collectair models and I really like the way these turned out.
The R-5 was a biplane light bomber, liaison, reconnaissance aircraft from the 1930’s that soldiered on for the VVS in various configurations through the early part of the war. The scenario actually calls for the later variant with the enclosed cockpit, but the open cockpit version produced by Navwar is the only one of these aircraft available in 1/300. I again contemplated some conversion work to add the canopy, but decided to just get on with painting the aircraft. The Modeling the VVS website again provided the inspiration for the rather unusual color scheme in an excellent article on various alternative camouflage patterns that the Soviets experimented with in the immediate pre-war years. There is a photo of an aircraft in an operational squadron in 1942 near Leningrad bearing this paint scheme and that was all of the justification I needed. When painting an aircraft type that I’ll likely use often and generically to represent many squadrons, I usually go with a more common paint scheme, but odd scenario aircraft like this one provide a great opportunity to go crazy. The effect turned out quite well.
The SB-2s from Collectair provide targets for one of the two scenarios. A nice simple aircraft painted in a conventional scheme. I propeller spinners for this aircraft are much too big and I probably should have filed them down, but I didn’t. They look fine at tabletop distances. Markings are again a composite of a couple of aircraft profiles from Wings Palette.
There is a wealth of information and aircraft profiles available for the Finnish Air Force in WWII. I was able to find good views of all surfaces for the Brewster, but only profiles for the others, but the basic pattern was repeated with minor variation on all Finnish aircraft, so I adapted the Brewster pattern to the upper surfaces of the other two. The Finnish aircraft are shiny in places because I still need to give them a layer of Testors Dullcoat.
Navwar models that went together easily and painted up nicely.
Moraine Saulnier MS-406
These are Navwar models that I have had sitting around for a long time. I have nine total and had planned on making a Vichy French squadron to face off against my buddies Fleet Air Arm aircraft over Madagascar, but that project never got off the ground. These models are typical Navwar aircraft, a little rough in places, but quite servicable and nice looking when painted.
The Finns enjoyed the greatest success with the Buffalo, mainly by avoiding the US and British mistake of overloading the airframe with too much armor, ammo, fuel, and other weighty items. This is a Collectair model and is one of the few in the Collectair line that is disappointing. In this case the fusealge is too long, so the model does not have enough of that squat barrel look so characteristic of the Buffalo. The annoying part is that I knew this from painting Collectair Buffalos before but forgot that fact in the excitement of the Histoircon dealer’s room. Nevertheless the models look nice when done and are certaily recognizable as Brewsters.
All of these were painted with my usual mix of acrylic paints, primarily cheap craft paints and Testors Acryll line. Decals are from I-94 Enterprises (Finnish ensignia, Soviet numbers) and Dom’s Decals (Soviet stars).
We are planning to put these on the table tomorrow night, so there should be a game report featuring these soon.
I’m planning on eventually picking up some more models for this theater. I think some Fiat G-50’s in Finnish service would be great, especially since many of them retained their original Italian paint schemes. Some Soviet I-153, LaGG 3, or even lend-lease Hurricane fighters would be appropriate, as well as some Pe-2 bombers. This site offers a month-by-month breakdown of the top Finnish fliers, including what aircraft they flew and what aircraft they shot down, providing a great glimpse into the types of aircraft involved in the fighting.