As Finland fought for its independence between 1939 and 1944, one of the major weapons this country could call upon was nature itself. Much of the battlefield was covered in thick forest, and of course in the winter the freezing temperatures and heavy snow could stop an invader almost as well as any modern weapon. This often made the going difficult for infantry and tanks, allowing Finland to make the best use of her limited resources.
As with the sister set to this one (Finnish Anti-Tank Squad in Summer Dress), this winter set has two principal weapons, both shown in our bottom row. The first is another model of the Finnish Lahti L-39 anti-tank rifle, which is also in the other set, and so is discussed there. This model is identical in both sets, but the prone gunner is different. The gun is a single piece, which explains the awkward mismatch of the bipod legs, but is accurate and fairly well detailed.
The second, larger weapon here is described on the box as a 37mm Madsen anti-tank gun, but it is not. Instead the weapon here is the PstK/40. This was made up from a Madsen 20mm automatic anti-aircraft gun mounted on a wheeled carriage by the Finns. This was done after the Winter War as there was a desperate shortage of anti-tank guns, and it was thought this might serve in that role. 20 were made, and put into service when the Continuation War commenced (June 1941), but inevitably it quickly became apparent that 20mm ammunition could rarely harm the modern tanks it faced, and by the following March it had been withdrawn, with the guns used on coastal defence installations instead. The model here is quite accurate but as always somewhat simplified. It is quite a nice model and true to the general form, and also relatively easy to put together.
The figures in this set are of course all dressed for winter, and such clothing took many forms. Some wear old World War I-era German helmets, some the usual peaked cap and one a large fur-lined hat with ear flaps, while another has a hood hiding his headgear. They wear hooded coats or private-purchase winter coats of various styles, and some have face masks too. The lower legs could have trousers or camouflage coverings, so everything here is perfectly reasonable.
Visible kit is minimal, so while most have a knife on their belt there is not much more except the occasional pouch or pistol holster. Many have no personal weapon, but one man has a submachine gun (perhaps a KP/-31 or ‘Suomi’), another a rifle and a third has a machine gun with a top feeder, probably the Madsen light machine gun.
The poses are what you might expect in sets such as this. There are several generic poses and a couple handling ammunition. The prone man using the L-39 interacts with his weapon very convincingly, but none of the poses are really using the larger weapon. Nevertheless this is a decent array of poses to place round the guns, and the man looking through binoculars is particularly nice. The man with the Madsen machine gun is presumably resting it on something as this would otherwise be a rather uncomfortable pose. The prone figure holding a rifle is the weakest of the bunch, as he is largely looking down at the ground in the manner many much older sets did (to allow the face to be accessible to the mould).
The sculpting is pretty good. Obviously the clothing tends to be baggy and irregular, so this is not a demanding set for detail in that respect. Faces are often covered in this set, but some that are not do suffer some loss of form. Many of the hands are basic, but this is probably because the men are wearing gloves or mittens, so again not a concern. The weapons themselves however are nicely done and very well-detailed, while the gun on the carriage fits together well and does not require gluing. The sculptor has avoided any extra plastic in concealed areas, and there is a little flash to be removed.
Primarily this is a useful source of some winter-clad Finnish troops dong something other than engaging the enemy with small arms. The anti-tank rifle is very useful, but the PstK/40 was so rare, and used for such a short period of time, that it will not set the modelling world alight. Of course the figures can also man the weapons in the ‘summer’ set, and certainly the world needs plenty of Finns in winter gear, so this decent set has more uses than might at first be apparent.