Pikku-sotka means 'Little Pochard' - a kind of duck - and was the nickname given to the T-50 tank which the Finns captured from the Russians, because of its resemblance to the Sotka, the bigger T-34 tank. That is generally reckoned to have been the best tank of WWII, but you probably haven't heard of the little T-50, because the Russians only built 80-odd of them, hence why the Finns ended up with this sole example. It's preserved in the Parola Tank Museum near Hämeenlinna.

The Finns used it as a command tank. Conceptually it was flawed; it derived from the pre-war idea of the 'infantry tank' intended to support the infantry, but such tanks were vulnerable when they came up against 'proper' tanks and anti-tank artillery. This is a late model T-50 which tried to address the problem with extra layers of armour. Look closely and you'll see all the rivet heads. But I'm sure the extra weight would have impaired its advantages of speed and manoeuvrability. In the meantime, as you can see, it sports what you can only call a 'pop-pop' gun.

Seeing this kit of a Finnish tank become available was interesting, despite generally not being into tank modelling. I've made model vehicles for layouts, but that's in 1:72 scale. This is the dreaded 1:35 scale, in which modelling becomes more serious. And the most unwelcome dose of seriousness for me was the expectation of assembling tracks, not just from individual links, but from links which each consisted of two very fiddly pieces. No, although I'm pleased with how this scene turned out, 1:35 scale tank modelling isn't going to become a habit for me.

Going ahead with the project became inevitable once I got hold of a group of attractive resin Winter War figures from Toro Model. They specialise in Polish subjects, so I've only bought a few things from them now and again. But these are nice, and even include a Lotta Svärd which is brilliant. That's the name for the Finnish auxiliary women's organisation which supported the troops, in hospitals, air raid warning positions and field kitchens, unarmed but in one case at least, working in an anti-aircraft battery. They made enough impact that the Russians insisted on their being disbanded after the war. It's a personal element for me in a way - our Mum was in the direct equivalent in the British Army in the last year of the war, in Burma. A very different environment, but some things never change - the women are still making hot drinks for the men! And just as much in the line of fire - Mum was shot at on one occasion, and suffered grievous injuries in a plane crash in a Liberator bomber at the end of the war, and she was mentioned in despatches for her actions.

I'm mightily pleased that all the undue effort has at least reached an end point. Apart from those track links, my patience and skills were also tested by having to use a lot of photo-etch parts. These can look very effective, but they usually need bending and manipulating which is far from easy. My figure painting seems to be keeping up a decent standard, although I can see that with vehicle kits, even more than with aircraft models, you need to get into weathering. I've avoided that for the most part, but it's glaring to me that the pristine state of this tank in this scene is ridiculous! What on earth to do with it? I suspect it'll be presented to someone else at some point, who knows.


  1. This looks amazing- I especially like the soldiers smile! Hope it wins you a prize, it should!


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