Even though the aircraft of the first quarter of the
Twentieth Century are not of primary interest to me, especially with regard to
modeling (too ham fisted to deal with the rigging), I did look forward to this
first volume of the history of the Finnish Air Force. One of the very first
books I bought when I returned to modeling, nearly 20 years ago, was the ARCO-AIRCAM
history of the Finnish Air Force, which evidently made an impression on me.
But, if you are like me, upon receiving a new book that
contains both text and a goodly number of pictures, you would take notice of the
existence of the text, but you would be drawn into looking at the pictures over
and over again. The danger of doing that with a volume such as this is that you
may give the text scant attention, which you should not do.
Considering that there are perhaps more than 340 pictures,
and that pictures take up the bulk of the volume’s 192 pages, it may be best to
deal with the obvious first.
Considering the age of the photographs, I was taken by the
quality of both the printing of the images and the images themselves. Many of
the aircraft are clearly photographed from multiple angles, giving modelers a
The photographs often go beyond the mere recording of an
image of a flying machine. Two of my favorites include the picture inside the
front cover, showing Hansa Brandenburg floatplanes lined up on land at an
Aviation School. The other is of a Stetinen flying boat being pushed down a
snow covered street, after landing in a nearby field. Looks like great winter
fun, even to the children standing around.
Of course, pictures alone cannot tell the history of the
Finnish Air Force. The text provides a most informative and well presented
account. The text actually begins the story earlier than 1918, back to the
beginning of the First World War, when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian
What makes the text so interesting to me is that it is not
just a discussion going from one aircraft type to another. Rather, the
development of the Air Force and the aircraft used is tied to the historical
events of the time period under review. We learn of the involvement of the
Germans, British and French in Finnish affairs in response to Russia and the
rise of the Soviet Union.
The text also clarifies some minute points, which I find
interesting. For example, I always thought that the Hakaristi (swastika) was
applied by the Finns to their first aircraft as a way to honor Count von Rosen
of Sweden, who gave the Finns the Thulin D. I now know that Von Rosen himself
had his “good luck” symbol applied prior to delivery of the Thulin D to the
I also discovered that, but for a seized up engine, an SW
20 (Swedish modified Albatros B.II) supplied by “Finland’s Friends” in Sweden
would have been Finland’s first aircraft. It received the designation F2, while
the Thulin was designated F1. There is a picture of F2.
The text is written in quite readable English, but there is
an occasional issue of syntax and grammar, especially in the early going. One
of my favorite little gaffs is when two Finnish airmen were captured by the red
army, “… and Nykänen being additionally killed.” These minor lapses aside,
there is much information contained in this book.
There are a number of appendices giving information on
aviation units and commanders, casualties, aircraft registration markings and
serial numbers. There is a history of each aircraft, but sadly there is no
English translation. There is also a brief discussion, in English, of aircraft
color and markings and the origin of the Hakaristi. Finally, there is a most
helpful glossary of Finnish terms and word and their English equivalent. OK,
repeat after me, “Runko”, “Fuselage”.
For those looking for the newest craze, profiles, there are
none. I do not believe that this detracts from the book in any way. Given the
caveats and information in the section on Camouflage and Markings, a modeler
could make a reasonably educated guess, should one wish to model a specific
Simply, Highly Recommended.
A selection of pictures
contained in this book may be seen on the Kari Stenman Publishing web site at
for the sample.
All Keri Stenman
Publishing books are available
direct from the publishers,
who now accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard).
Review Copyright © 2005 by
Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
Page Created 20 June, 2005
Last updated 19 June, 2005
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