Light Tank Ps. numbers

Questions & Answers about Finnish light tanks of WWII

Light Tank Ps. numbers

Postby csundstr » Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:41 am

Hello:

I've been researching the various vehicles Finland used, and have compiled the following list of Ps. number designations, based on text and photo evidence:

Ps. 161 - Vickers 6-ton
Ps. 162 - T-26 M1931/1932 (two-turret - no photo evidence of M1932 with 37mm gun in Finnish service)
Ps. 163 - T-26 M1933/1934/1935 (single turret original designs)
Ps. 164 - T-26 M1937/1939/1940 (single turret later designs)
Ps. 608 - T-26T (artillery tractor/tank recovery vehicle)
Ps. 183 - T-50 (uparmored version)
Ps. 355 - T-37A
Ps. 356 - T-38-M2

I have yet to find Ps. numbers for the following tanks (if the numbers existed at all); if anyone has these designations, I would appreciate learning them.

FT-17C
FT-17M
BT-5
BT-7

Did the Flamethrower versions of the various T-26 models receive separate Ps. number designations?

Also, I have noticed that some of the Ps. number series are reasonably sequential, while others seem to jump around quite a bit. Is there a resource that gives all of the Ps. number designations, like there is available for the German Kfz. number listings? I am guessing that some of the gaps are due to lesser-known vehicles being assigned those numbers.

Finally, while not specifically "Light Tank" related, is there any compiled list of the various artillery tractors used by Finland anywhere? So far, I have found information on the following:

Pavesi P4 (or similar model)
Latil TAR (early model?)
Latil M2TL6
T-20 Komsomolets
Stalinetz S-60/S-65 (a.k.a. license produced Cat 60/65)
McCormick T-6
McCormick TD-7
Ford Maultier
SdKfz 9
RSO/01
Heavy trucks (International, Ford, Citroen, Scania, ZIS, etc.)
T-26T

While the armored versions received Ps. numbers, did Finland use a similar system to designate non-armored vehicles at all?

Thank you for any help you can give.

Cheers,

Chris Sundstrom
Langley, BC, Canada
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Light Tank Ps. numbers

Postby Sturmi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:41 pm

Hi Chris.

have you heard of this book

http://www.bookplus.fi/product.php?isbn ... a7342537a0

it is bi-lingual Fin + english

next i have copyed in that book.

no particular registrtion markingins were used on the eanks of the Finnish Defense Forses before the Winter War. To identify the Renault F.T. tanks , the French registration numbers (Numèro de Matricule) were used.
Before the Winter War, registration number were frist used with the Vickers 6 ton tanks. On Vickers tanks, it was a three digit number painted in white on the registration plate on the left rear fender. During the Winter War the system was expanded to captured tanks as well. In official documents, the number had a letter "R" standing for "rekisterinumero" as prefix (for example, R-210), but only the number was painted on the vehicle. This system was in use until the "Ps" code was adopted, but the last R-regitered vehicles had new registration codes only after the war in 1945when they were repainted for peace time use.

R-0 to -46 armored cars
R-48 to -49 T-28
R-50 to -166 battle tanks and flamthrower tanks
R-170 Kv-1E
R-200 to -246 T-37A, T-38M2
R-321 to -499 T-20 Komsomolets
R-646 to -677 Vickers-Armstrong 6 ton tank
R-701 to -703 BT-7
R-702 to -720 BT-42 (excluding R-703)
R-1000 to -1025 inarmored tracked tractors

In the summer of 1943 the new "Ps" registration system was adopted. The new code included the letter addreviation Ps. a 1 to 3 digit number identifying the model of the vehicle (for example: Ps.163-50)

Ps.1 to 49 armored cars
Ps.51 to 99 cross-country armored cars
Ps.101 to 349 battle tanks
Ps.351 to 399 amphidious vehicles
Ps.401 to 449 flamethrower tanks
Ps.451 to 499 anti-aircraft vehicles
Ps.501 to 549 assault guns
Ps.551 to 599 command vehicles
Ps.601 to 649 training tanks
Ps.651 to 699 transporters
Ps.701 to 749 recovery vehicles
Ps.751 to 799 armored tractors

hope this helps.

BT-7 Ps.181 <-- code was never in use
BT-5 Ps.176 <-- code was never in use


Regards Kimmo
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Postby csundstr » Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:21 am

Thanks for the info Kimmo.

I am aware of the book, but my finances don't extend to purchasing it at this time. I hope to be able to purchase it in the near future.

So far I have used many online and paper sources to pull together the following information:

The Vickers 6-ton tanks were late model VAE 6-ton Mk.E Type B tanks, fitted with the hull and turret arrangement (but not the engine) designed for the prototype Belgian VAE 6-ton Mk.F Type B tank. This arrangement is visible in every wartime and post-war photo I have seen of Finnish VAE 6-ton tanks...extended hull fighting compartment, turret offset to the right-rear. This hull form wasn't designed until 1935, though, so the test model purchased in 1933 had to be of the older hull type (short fighting compartment, turret offset to the left, commonly seen on the T-26 which was based on the older design as well).

Some sources state that only 26 of the "new" Vickers tanks were in service during the Winter War. The others, presumably seven in number, were in transit/still being completed.

Some suppositions I have, and would like comments on:

1) 13 tanks were armed for the Winter War, this being one company's worth of tanks. Coincidentally, 14 FT-17 tanks were "out of service" at the start of the Winter War, probably because these were the tanks which had their mantlets removed so the mantlets could be fitted to the 6-ton tanks for training purposes. Is this assumption reasonable? I assume that the same tanks that were outfitted for training would be the easiest to ready for combat as they had been fitted with at least some of the parts left off for cost-savings reasons.

Note that I have seen at least one photo attributed as a Finnish FT-17 captured by the Russians which had it's entire mantlet removed...the attribution seems to indicate this was one of the eight FT-17 captured still on board the train moving them to the front-lines. Therefore it is quite possible that the "out-of-service" FT-17 did see service...I cannot imagine why the Russians would remove the entire mantlet of an ancient FT-17 after capture.

2) Kimmo's post indicates the Vickers tanks were given registration numbers R-646 through R-677 (32 numbers inclusive). www.winterwar.com gives one of the Vickers tanks damaged at the battle of Honkaniemi as R-644; could this possibly be the testing tank purchased in 1933? If one assumes a theoretical (but never accomplished) issuing of the registration numbers R-600 through R-645 to the existing FT-17 tanks and the various prototype tanks purchased and/or considered during the 1930's, this numbering seems reasonable.

As for the T-26 tank, one of my sources (translated from Russian) indicates that the following numbers of T-26 tanks were repaired in 1940-1941 in time for the battle: 10 T-26 M1931, 20 T-26 M1933, 2 T-26 M1937/1939, 2 OT-26 and 4 OT-130. The same source indicates 70 non-flamethrower T-26 were captured during the Winter War - assuming a similar ratio of M1931 (two-turret) to other models, this gives almost exactly the correct number of too-damaged T-26 tanks so as to provide 45mm guns and mantlets for the Vickers tanks.

The same source quotes 102 T-26 tanks in service in 1942. Some appear to have been converted from existing tanks; the source states that six M1931 were converted using turrets from broken T-26 M1933 and BT-5 tanks, while two more were converted with turrets from broken M1937/1939 tanks. Similarly the OT-26, OT-130 and OT-133 tanks were converted. The source states that the OT-26 tanks which had their new turrets mounted to the right were the ones which received bow machine guns, while some OT-130 and OT-133 conversions received the same.

The source also notes that several of these Finnish OT-tank conversions used turrets from BT-5 and BT-7 tanks (which apparently have different pistol port closure types?). Since these conversions were done in 1942-1943, it seems possible that some of these turrets may have come from the hulls used to make the BT-42 SP guns. Any thoughts on this?

Aside from this, if anyone has any suggestions on books to purchase regarding the use of tanks in Finland, I would appreciate a posting of this information. I already have "Wehrmachtin Panssarit Suomessa" and plan to purchase the book Kimmo listed. I have also found information in David Glantz's book on the battles of 1944 in Lapland and the US Army Special Series on the Northern Theatre of Operations. Russian language books I have found info in include the Frontline Illustrations books on the T-26, BT and KV series, Armes Militaria magaine (in French) and the Osprey book on the T-34. I have also dug up some Russian language references on Russian tank forces arrayed against Finland.

Thanks for any comments.

Cheers,

Chris
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Postby Sturmi » Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:14 am

csundstr wrote:Thanks for the info Kimmo.

I am aware of the book, but my finances don't extend to purchasing it at this time. I hope to be able to purchase it in the near future.

So far I have used many online and paper sources to pull together the following information:

The Vickers 6-ton tanks were late model VAE 6-ton Mk.E Type B tanks, fitted with the hull and turret arrangement (but not the engine) designed for the prototype Belgian VAE 6-ton Mk.F Type B tank. This arrangement is visible in every wartime and post-war photo I have seen of Finnish VAE 6-ton tanks...extended hull fighting compartment, turret offset to the right-rear. This hull form wasn't designed until 1935, though, so the test model purchased in 1933 had to be of the older hull type (short fighting compartment, turret offset to the left, commonly seen on the T-26 which was based on the older design as well).
Some sources state that only 26 of the "new" Vickers tanks were in service during the Winter War. The others, presumably seven in number, were in transit/still being completed.


I have took this in the book: The Finish Armoured Vehicles.
In the 1930s
The Ministry of Defense ordered three different tanks from Great Britain: a Vickers-Carden-Loyd MK VI* (V.A.E.115), a Vickers-Armstrongs 6 Ton Tank Alternative B ( V.A.E.546), And a Vickers-Carden-Loyd Model 1933 (V.A.E.503). The manufacturer numbers (in parentheses) were later used as registration numbers.
Based on the trials, the Ministery of Defense ordered a total of 32 Vickers-Amstrong 6 Ton Tank Alternative B tanks from Vickers-AmstrongLtd on 20 July 1936. The delivery dates were 11 tanks on 20 July 1937, 10 tanks on 1 April of 1938, and 11 tanks on 1 January 1939.
(VTT, State Gun Factory). Because of VTT`s difficulties in production, delays in tank deliveries from Great Britain, and the cancellation of optics deliveries from Germany, only 10 tanks were ready towards the end of 1939.

Based on this, the only different hull was in R-546, and the rest of the Vickers had same hull.



csundstr wrote:2) Kimmo's post indicates the Vickers tanks were given registration numbers R-646 through R-677 (32 numbers inclusive). www.winterwar.com gives one of the Vickers tanks damaged at the battle of Honkaniemi as R-644; could this possibly be the testing tank purchased in 1933? If one assumes a theoretical (but never accomplished) issuing of the registration numbers R-600 through R-645 to the existing FT-17 tanks and the various prototype tanks purchased and/or considered during the 1930's, this numbering seems reasonable.



I have took this in the book: The Finish Armoured Vehicles.
At Honkaniemi and in subsequent followinq skirmishes, the 4th Armor Company lost seven tanks (R-648, -664, -666, -667, -668, -670, -672). The Eighth tank (R-655) was damaged and recovered, but never rebuilt.
Orginally bought for the trials (R-546) received the Soviet 45mm tank gun and rear bustle for ammunition storage after the Winter War.

So R-644 has to be incorrect number.

hope this helps for now, others need more research...

-Kimmo-
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Postby lassi » Sun Mar 18, 2007 4:25 pm

csundstr wrote:Note that I have seen at least one photo attributed as a Finnish FT-17 captured by the Russians which had it's entire mantlet removed...the attribution seems to indicate this was one of the eight FT-17 captured still on board the train moving them to the front-lines. Therefore it is quite possible that the "out-of-service" FT-17 did see service...I cannot imagine why the Russians would remove the entire mantlet of an ancient FT-17 after capture.


Armament of this FT-17 may have been removed by the Finns before Russians captured it. According to P.Kantakoski's book Suomalaiset panssarivaunujoukot 1919-1969 ("Finnish Tank Troops 1919-1969", available only in Finnish) page 79, Finnish tank troops removed armament of some of the FT-17s when the FT-17s were left behind in February 1940.
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Postby lassi » Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:31 pm

csundstr wrote:Aside from this, if anyone has any suggestions on books to purchase regarding the use of tanks in Finland, I would appreciate a posting of this information.


Steven J. Zaloga's & James Grandsen's The Eastern Front - Armour Camouflage and Markings 1941 to 1945 has 3 pages of text and 10 photos of Finnish Tanks. It is short and from 1980s but I still consider it high quality summary of Finnish tanks in the Secord World War (as expected from Zaloga).
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Postby lassi » Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:31 pm

Sturmi wrote:So R-644 has to be incorrect number. Kimmo


I agree that R-644 is wrong identification number on www.winterwar.com. P.Kantakoski's book gives on page 86 number R-664 for Corporal Rassi's Vickers. It was the only that survived Honkaniemi battle. It got stuck in a ditch, turret was damaged and it returned to Jukkala.
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