Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Book review: The Lagus assault guns

This book is about the Finnish assault gun battalion in action during WWII. The title of the original book is Laguksen rynnäkkötykit – Rynnäkkötykkipataljoona 1943-44, written by Erkii Käkelä.  My version is in Swedish, from 2006, and called Lagus stormkanoner – stormkanonbataljonen i strid 1943-44, ISBN 951-50-1560-X.
In 1943 the Finns constructed the BT-42 assault gun. It was based on captured Russian BT-7:s, with a British 114 mm howitzer of WWI vintage in a locally made turret. 18 were made and they first saw action in late 1943. They were moderately effective against pillboxes but totally inefficient against tanks.
At about the same time the Finns bought a number of StuG III G:s from Germany. These first saw action in June 1944, and then fought continuously until cease-fire in September 44.
This book is a detailed account of this battalion, how the assault guns were acquired, the training etc.  And for us wargamers, the most interesting bit is the very detailed descriptions of the fights of this unit. As a testament to their skill, they killed 87 enemy tanks, at the cost of 8 of their own.
My gaming group has played a bit of Winter War, i.e. the war between Russia and Finland in 1939-40, and with this book we  will get a lot of detailed scenario-ideas for the Continuation War.
Recommended if you’re interested in this rather odd topic, and highly recommended if you would like to see these guns in action on the table-top.
How about Lagus then? Well, he was their commander

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