Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #4: Situation Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Were you aware that the German OKW produced maps of the entire east front, every day, showing  positions of major units? And, did you know that you can download these scanned maps, and use them for research?

Situation Map Background

The “situation” maps were called “Lage Ost” maps and made between June 1939 and May 1945. This is a highly significant and unique source of documentation for the 1939 Polish campaign and the Soviet-German war, 1941-45. These maps, which number approximately 2075, and were prepared for daily use by Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW. They detailed dispositions and movement of German forces and their opponents.

In 1999-2000, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) filmed these records in the format of 20.32 x 25.4 cm color transparencies. Negatives and reference prints were retained by NARA, while original maps were returned to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany. Fortunately, these have been digitized, and are now available through a website: More on this later.

The wall-sized maps were first printed  by the Mapping and Survey Branch (Abteilung fur Kriegskarten und Vermessungswesen,) and then, annotated by OKH’s Operation Branch (Operationsabteilung) to indicate specific headquarters and unit locations. New maps were prepared daily, as staff officers collated radio and teletype reports from front-line commands to indicate advances, withdrawals, or other changes in locations and shifting geographic boundaries.

The maps were sent to OKW’s Operations Staff (Wehrmachtfuhringstab) for their use in following daily military developments on the Eastern Front. At times, Adolf Hitier personally reviewed these in consultation with his generals. The approximate size of the originals varied from 193 x 193 cm to 152 x 243 cm.

The map annotations are in German, as are transliteration of Slavic place names (e.g. “Wilno” for Vilnius, “Woronesh” for Voronezh.) Knowledge of German is helpful. German and enemy command headquarters are shown by standard German Army tactical symbols. The NARA document: German Military Situation Maps provides additional technical information on the maps, and some history of their capture and exploitation by the US Army.

Sample Maps

An overall view of one of these wall-sized maps is shown here.

Lage Ost Map

Wall-sized Situation Map 26 June 1941

A “zoom-in” of a specific section of a situation map is shown here. This provides some details on the battle around Smolensk on 15 July 1941.

Map around Smolensk

Screenshot of Situation Map around Smolensk 15 July 1941

From this map, the locations of various divisions, like the German 20. Pz (blue color) or the Red Army 37th and 82nd Tank Divisions are visible.(Shown in red color.) Locations of the 2. Panzergruppe HQ is visible. (It is near Gorki.) The Red Army Western Front HQ is shown in Smolensk, but fleeing to the northeast. The next screenshot shows the resolution possible (The total map filesize is 86 MB).

Higher Resolution screenshot

Higher Resolution screenshot showing location of 2. PzGruppe HQ near Gorki

These are screenshots from the MS Paint software display of the files. Most of these files are in the *.tif format. The software program Paint is useful for viewing these as it allows various zoom levels.

Downloading Situation Map Files

The website where these maps can be obtained is This is a specialized server, and can be accessed only by pasting the following URL into a browser address bar:

After pressing the keyboard “enter” key, this website should appear. Here is a screenshot:

FTP Server Lagekarten

Screenshot website

Next select the directory Lage Ost, by left clicking on the link Lage Ost. Do not right click or attempt to open this in another tab or window at any time when working with this server. This will redirect and get off track. The next directory shows options for various years, 1941, 42, 43, 44, and 45. Army Group Weichsel 1945 is also shown.

Again, left click on the Lage Ost 1941 option, and the directories for the months June to December 1941 are shown. Left click on the month of your choice. For example, when June is selected, the screen will show the following:


FTP Server Lagekarten Daily

Daily June 1941 Situation Map Choices

The daily map of your choice can be downloaded by left clicking on the appropriate link. These maps have large filesize, shown on to the left of each link. They vary from 34 to 96 MB. Download times could take several minutes up to perhaps a half hour, depending on your internet service.

After downloading to the folder of your choice, the TIF graphic map file can be opened in MS Paint or some other suitable graphic software.


“Guide to German Military Situation Maps – “LAGE OST” (Eastern Theater), 1939-1945,” NARA

This can be downloaded from

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.


Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #3: Cyrillic Transliteration

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #2:Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Do some of our western comrades panic when they encounter text like Смоленск? Well, there is no need to, Смоленск  = Smolensk. Cyrillic is an alphabet used by millions of people in Russia and Eastern Europe. This article provides historical background, and some easy ways to transliterate into Latin letters.

Saint Cyril

For their work evangelizing the Slavs, the brothers Cyril and Methodius are known as the “Apostles to the Slavs.” To help spread the gospel, they translated the Bible into a 9th century language, “Old Church Slavonic,” developing the Glagolitic alphabet for this purpose.

The Glagolitic alphabet was the first to be used for Slavonic manuscripts. But, a simpler alphabet evolved, and early Cyrillic emerged in the First Bulgarian Empire. Later, disciples Kliment and Naum finalized it under a commission of Tsar Boris I of Bulgaria. Cyrillic supplanted the Glagolitic alphabet, and more closely resembles Greek.

Manual Transliteration

Systems exist to covert Cyrillic in to Latin-style letters. The the International Scholarly System was the first, and developed in the 19th Century. The Soviets developed a system in 1935, and later GOST 16876-71 was developed by the National Administration for Geodesy and Cartography at the USSR Council of Ministers.

Using a manual table is a useful way to become familiar with Cyrillic, making sight recognition easier. This is especially useful when working with Russian maps. In the Campaign Series map editor, Cyrillic symbols do not work. If you try to use them for map labels, they will show up as question marks, like “?????”. To represent Russian place names, Cyrillic letters must be transliterated.

The following table is useful for transliteration for Russian maps made in the pre-WWII era and a few decades after. Simply find the Cyrillic symbol in the table, and get the corresponding English letter on the right hand side.

Notice that certain symbols act functionally like accent marks or apostrophes, and indicate proper usage or pronunciation of a preceding letter. For example Ь is transliterated as ‘, and Ъ as “. The letter Ь indicates that the preceding consonant is pronounced in “soft” manner, and Ъ as hard. It is important to include these ‘ and ” symbols in the transliterated word.

Cyrillic Transliteration Table

Cyrillic Transliteration Table

Online Cyrillic Transliteration

Don’t worry my dear Vsadniks, I know you are “chomping-at-the-bits” to find an easier way to handle Cyrillic. The Google translation program automatically shows the Latin transliteration along with the Cyrillic Russian text.

Google Translate Example

The text circled in blue is the transliteration of the Cyrillic Russian text above. And, you can highlight this text and copy for pasting into a document, or perhaps a map label.

Google translate can be accessed via the Google search engine, by clicking the little Google Apps icon in the upper right of the screen. It looks like:

Google Button

Click on this and a selection of Apps appear. The translate option is at the bottom.

In the case of graphic file map symbols that aren’t easily highlighted and copied, there is an online webpage for transliteration. It allows one to type in the Cyrillic characters using a special keyboard, and then these can be transliterated. The website link is:

Here is a screenshot of what this looks like:

Translit Website

The Cyrillic letters are typed by clicking the dark highlighted symbols in the “Russian Virtual Keyboard.” Once finished, click on the “Latin” button and the transliterated text appears. For example, if you click on Latin, then the word “Smolensk” appears.

And as an added feature, the “Do more” pulldown menu allows options for spell check, searching, and translating into English, German, French or Spanish.

A few Wargaming Translations

Some common Russian words and their translations follow:

РККА  =  RKKA for  Raboche Kriestianskaya Krasnaya Armiya or Workers and Peasants Red Army

CCCP = SSSR for Sojuz Sovetskih Socialisticheskih Respublik  or USSR

армия  = armiya = army

корпус = korpus = corps

дивизия = diviziya = division

полк = polk = regiment

батальон = batal’on = battalion

Генеральная = General’naya = general

полковник = polkovnik = colonel


“Saints Cyril and Methodius”, Wikipedia

” Romanization of Russian”, Wikipedia

“Romanization Systems and Roman Script Spelling Conventions”, US Board Geographic Names

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.


Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #2: Russian Military Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Finding suitable maps to make EFIII battle maps is quite tricky, but this article describes some tips to get suitable reference maps.

Russian Military Maps

The former Soviet Union made a great effort to create maps all over the world. These maps are useful for wargaming, particularly for the Barbarossa campaign. The best maps for Campaign Series are the 1:100000 or 1:50000 scale. Fortunately, these maps are reasonably well available. The system for identifying these maps is the International Maps of the World, IMW coding.

IMW System

The Soviet topographic sheets follow the International Map of the World (IMW) numbering system. In the Northern Hemisphere the numbering system begins at the Equator, and the 180° meridian with sheet number A1. Sheet numbers progress northward and eastward in letters,  and numbers respectively. The individual sheets cover 4° of latitude and 6° of longitude. Example: Sheet M36 is located between 48° and 52° north latitude and 30° to 36° east longitude.

The most useful sheets for Campaign Series mapmaking are the 1:100000 and 1:50000 scale. These also are in the Transverse Mercator projection, and have a rectangular grid system in kilometers. Using these grids is more “user friendly” for mapmaking than geographic coordinates, like latitude and longitude.

A 1:100000 sheet (100k) is identified by this IMW format: M36-18. The last number is a subdivision of the larger 4×6 degree area. Each 100k sheet is one of 144.

M-36 Map Grid

Further, each 1:100000 sheet area is divided into four 1:50000 sheets, (50k) each covering  10′ of latitude and 15′ of longitude.

M-36-18 Map Grid

In Russian (Cyrillic) the subdivision letters are A, Б, В, and Г. However some map websites use Roman letters A, B, C, and D. This needs to be kept in mind when searching for maps on the internet.

The ultimate IMW code for this 50k map is M36-18- Г, M36-18-D.

An IMW conversion spreadsheet is useful for finding the map number from geometric coordinates.

For example, in this spreadsheet, enter a geographic coordinate, 51.4N, and 32.8E. The spreadsheet will display the code M, 36, 18, and Г. The spreadsheet is shown below:

Map Conversian Table

With this IMW code M36-18- Г, a mapmaker can do an internet search to get the map.You can download the spreadsheet from here.

Map Websites

Virtually all Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union maps can be found at this webpage: The scale selection for 100k maps is 1 cm = 1 km. A large graphic map index is provided, and by selecting a square, it gives the IMW code and the correct map can be found.

Another way is to use a search engine and use the keywords: Map 100k–M36-18 (Yes, do use the double dash after 100k, it finds it more easily.) This webpage requires a three letter “Captcha” and allows users to download either a *.jpg, or sometimes a *.gif file. The webpage sometimes offers 50k maps

These maps on loadmap are more recent, from the 1970s and 80s. And for Campaign Series mapmaking, a 1:50000 scale is optimal. The language is Russian, using Cyrillic alphabet.

For older maps and 50k scale, this website has maps made by the Red Army:

This is how this website appears:

Index of Russian Maps

These maps feature a Transverse Mercator grid system, in 1 km increments. The timeframe is 1930s and early 40s, which is perfect for WWII battle maps. This website does not have much coverage as the loadmap site, but has a large number of maps. Also, the Parent Directory has maps in other scales. These maps are in the Russian language using Cyrillic alphabet.

German 50k maps of Russia also exist. The website that features these is:

These maps also have Transverse Mercator grid system, in 1 km increments, and a 1930s-early 40s timeframe. The language is in German.

Index of German Maps

Map Samples

1:100000 map section

Map Sample 1:100000

1:50000 Map Sample

Map Sample 1:50000


The IMW map system is useful for identifying maps of Russia. A spreadsheet that converts geographic coordinates to an IMW code is helpful as well and is downloadable from the CS Legion site. There are several good websites where decent maps can be obtained.


“Soviet military topographic maps Chapter 1,” USSR Chief Administration of Geodesy and Cartography

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.



Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #1: Barbarossa 1941

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

This new CS Legion article series, “Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha” covers the early part of the Red Army’s response to Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in 1941. The articles cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points. This first article deals with a guide on how to research the details needed for Campaign Series scenario design.

Scenario Research Problem with Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa was very massive, with numerous armies, dozens of corps, and hundreds of divisions. WWII war historians like David Glantz have written volumes about the 1941 invasion, but the discussions are about movements and actions of armies and corps. Occasionally, a division is identified and discussed, but this is the exception.

The new game, Campaign Series EFIII is not suitable for simulating these very large operations. It is much more geared to scenarios with maybe a few regiments on each side, at most a couple of Divisions per side. Details of the lower level unit identification, specific combat locations and times, are not easily found in the narratives.

For example, David Glantz wrote “Barbarossa Derailed, The Battle for Smolensk, 1941 Volume 1.” It is an excellent reference, but does not provide the level of detail needed for good CSEFIII scenario design.

A narrative example in Barbarossa Derailed is as follows: “Boldin, to attempt to organize a counterstroke in accordance with DP-41. Assigning Boldin nominal control of Khatskilevich’s 6th and Mostovenko’s 11th Mechanized, as well as Major General Ivan Semenovich Nikitin’s 6th Cavalry Corps, he ordered the forces of the three mobile corps to mount a concerted attack northward from the Belostok region towards Grodno. . .”

Notice that there are no divisions, regiments, battalions, etc. identified. Where were some of the firefights between German and Soviet forces? The area between Belostok to Grodno is huge, as these cities are 50 km apart. On an EFIII map this would be about 200 hexes. Further, this action spanned two or three days. This narrative is simply not specific enough to design a historical EFIII scenario.

EFIII Campaign Model

This problem can be overcome by using a systematic research method. The first step is to identify a specific campaign within the overall Operation Barbarossa.

Then on the German side, identify the Army Group, Armies, and Corps.

On the Russian side, identify the Front, Armies, and Corps. There were certain identifiable, smaller “campaigns” within Barbarossa. For the German Army Group Center vs Soviet Western Front, the advance on Minsk comprises the first phase, and then afterwards the Smolensk Campaign. In the south, there was a huge tank battle in the Lutsk-Brody-Dubno triangle. These may be artificial constructs, not always found in the literature, but they provide a framework for further research.

Using the narrative example, and studying the book’s Appendix B OOB tables, one can find that the Western Front had 11th Mechanized Corps. This Corps consisted of 29th and 33rd Tank Divisions, and 204th Motorized Division.

We can pick one of these, perhaps 29th Tank Division for a scenario. We can do Russian language searches on it, like 29-й танковая дивизия, in Google, and translate these back to English and find regiment and battalion numbers. Perhaps, in Wikipedia articles, we might even find a battle narrative that provides further detail.

Similarly the 6th Mechanized or 6th Cavalry Corps can be researched for historical information.

One of these should have some interesting action that can be fairly well defined, in terms of units involved, specific locations, and specific times.

A Corps level commander on the Soviet side might have Wikipedia articles. They might even contain some of this battle information. Primary source data, such as a “Kriegstagebuch” might offer some additional information.

Similarly, and perhaps more easily, we can determine possible German Divisions involved.

According to Glantz’s text:

“The few tanks, cavalry, and infantry that survived the gauntlet of intimidating air strikes arrived in the Grodno region long after Hoth’s panzers had raced eastward toward Vilnius and fell victim to devastating infantry ambush and antitank fire from German Ninth Army’s advancing V Army Corps.”

The Divisions of V Army Corps can be found in Appendix B OOB tables: 161st,  5th, and 35th Infantry Divisions. Similar internet research on these Divisions might yield some specific relevant information.


So the basic “Campaign Model” method is to understand the overall picture of a “campaign,” and to know the Army Group, Front, Armies, and Corps involved. (Both sides)

Then from the operational narrative, identify specific Corps actions, general area, and timing.

From Corps designations, list the Divisions involved.

Research these Divisions and perhaps commanders in more detail, to find specific and relevant units,locations, and times.

A sketch of the campaign is useful:


EFIII Campaign Sketch


“Barbarossa Derailed, The Battle for Smolensk, 1941 Volume 1”,  David Glantz

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.

World War 2 in Colour

About colourised photographs

I have long been a fan of WW2 Colourised Photos, one can but marvel at time, dedication and skills often put in use to colourise a vintage WW2 black&white photograph. Often in addition to colourisation, there’s been a lot of effort put in describing the background of the photograph and the soldiers in them, and what their fate was.

I am responsible for 2D Graphics for Campaign Series, and as all work makes Jack a dull boy, I need my distractions. What better than to try to achieve something different with my trusty graphics editor. Here it is, my first WW2 colourisation!

Making of the colourised version

Not just the picture, but the story behind it, too!

Obviously, to begin with, one needs the original photograph of interest, and permissions to use it if the colourisation is to be published. For the benefit of us history geeks, Finnish Army has made all their wartime photographs available at, under Creative Commons CC BY, requiring that they are credited, and that photographs are not used for inappropriate or unlawful purposes. So we are good to go!

I wanted to try colouring one of the assault guns, and having looked at the SA-kuva archive, ended up  choosing picture # 151597.

Picture comes with an original description (translated to English) written at the time: New assault guns being shown to Field Marshal Mannerheim and to President of the Republic. Assault Guns on parade. Enso, 1944.06.04.

More of that in a bit. Here’s the original:

SA-kuva # 151 597

So, what we have here is an authentic Finnish Army photograph of Finnish Assault Gun Battalion, in spic&span condition, readying to parade in front of  the Finnish Top Brass, on June 4, 1944.

I thought this would be not only an interesting picture to colourise, but also easier to get up to speed, as there’s no foliage, dust, wear, etc on the equipment.

Colourisation technique

How colourisation is typically done is that first the original picture is cleaned up, and contrast and brightness adjusted. That’s what I did as well. There were quite a few specks in the original negative, so I first removed those. Then, unfortunately, there was quite a lot of granulation in the original, so I had to blur it a tad, to make it look smoother.

That done, with my graphics editor (I use GIMP), I added several transparent layers on top of the original, and then dedicated each of them to a certain colour or a certain aspect of the picture. I ended with a dozen or so layers there, one for grass, one for sky, one for each of the camo colours, skin, uniforms, dust, what not.

For each of them, I then adjusted their transparency setting so that the colours appear naturally on top of the original. This opens up an almost endless amount of variations, where I ended up using not too strong colours, at least for the first version here.

All this took quite a few hours, but all worth the effort.

Want to see more?

Here’s the YouTube tutorial referred by the WW2 Colourised Photos Facebook page. Make’s it look easy, doesn’t it!

Update: Finally, what you could next, and what I ended up doing as well, is to “Photoshop” it a bit using your favourite photograph editor, in my case Affinity. Worked wonders, to make the original effort look like any of your contemporary snap shots!

Choosing the right colours and hues

Finnish three-colour camo scheme

Part of the colourisation effort in trying to make a timeless, colourful version of the orginal, is to get one’s facts right!

One of the peculiarities with colourising this picture is that there are no surviving original colour pictures of any WW2 era Finnish vehicles in their camo scheme. As odd as that sounds, those are the cards we’re dealt with, and for instance for the modelling community, it has been an endless source of frustration.

What is known of course, from the many surviving original guidelines, is that the three colours used in the scheme were

  • Grey N:o 1
  • Moss Green N:o 2
  • Sand Brown N:o 3

However, their exact hues have been lost in time.

The closest we can come are the surviving equipment carrying the camo, with Bofors 37mm anti-gun guns perhaps the best examples, as they had a folding gun mantle, which was closed the time they were in storage:

Bofors 37mm at Parola Armour Museum (Wikimedia Commons)

From there, and from other similar pieces of equipment, it’s been possible to determine what the original hues were. Not an exact science, but close enough anyway.

Based on research done by a Finnish historian Esa Muikku, the RAL RSD codes for these colours were:

  • Grey: 075 50 10
  • Moss Green: 110 30 10 (should yet have a bit more grey)
  • Sand Brown: 070 30 10 (should yet be a tinted a bit)

Now we know.

Background for SA-kuva # 151597

What is left before publishing the photograp is the background information part. So here goes:

Assault Gun Battalion of the Armoured Division

On parade were the men and equipment of the Armoured Division, and their most modern formation, Assault Gun Battalion, with their Stu-40 Ausf. G assault guns, procured from Germany in summer 1943.

  • Did you know: StuG III’s with the upgraded 7,5-cm-StuK 40 L/48 main gun got called “StuG III”  only as the production of StuG IVs started. Before that, these particular vehicles were classified as Stu-40, short for Sturmgeschütze-40.

Shown here are the armored fighting vehicles of battalion’s 2d Company. There was just one assault gun battalion at this stage, of 30 Stu-40s, with another similar batch (29, to be exact), arriving in July 1944, forming the 2d Assault Gun Battalion at that stage.

Those familiar with Finnish history might take note of the date of the parade, as June 4th was the birthday of Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.  Accordingly, he was the recipient of this very parade, together with the president of republic, Mr Risto Ryti.

Story of Ps. 531-10 ‘Bubi’

At front is the Ps.531-10, nicknamed ‘Bubi’, the second assault gun of the I Platoon (of three assault guns), 2d Coy. Here’s some interesting facts about her.

It was customary the driver of each vehicle got to name it, often naming their vehicle, often after their sweethearts. As for  ‘Bubi’, it is understood not to be a particular sweetheart, but a misspelled version of English word ‘Baby’…

Kills were credited for the gunner. ‘Bubi’s gunner Olli Soimala was the tank ace of the battalion, with eleven confirmed kills during the summer 1944 battles, before September 1944 armistice with Soviet Union. Battalion soon adapted a practice where each kill would be painted as circles on assault gun’s main gun, so ‘Bubi’ had eleven of those around her gun tube (there’s link to a restored ‘Bubi’ at the end of this blog post).

To the right is the assault gun commander, First Sergeant Börje Brotell, and to the left, I assume, is either the gunner Olli Soimala or loader Armas Launikko, with driver Sulo Kauppi the one of the four-man crew certainly not  visible here.

What about these soldiers in the picture, what became of them?

Again, this picture was taken on June 4, 1944, and in a matter of only a few days – on June 10, 1944 – the Soviet Viborg-Pedrozavodsk Summer offensive would hit the Finnish front.

These men, so much at their leisure here, would find themselves in the hottest of hot spots in the next coming weeks and months…

I am happy to report they all survived the war, as did the assault gun, which is now standing guard at Parola Garrison, home of the modern Armoured Brigade cadre formation.

The other two assault guns with their markings visible, Ps. 531-11 and Ps. 531-8,  both survived the war, both the men and the assault guns.

Assault guns with visible markings in the picture are:

  • Ps. 531-11 ‘Airi’, lead by Sergeant Kumlin, the third tank of the I platoon.
  • Ps. 531-8 ‘Aili’ lead by Lieutenant Peltonen, the platoon leader of the II Platoon.

2d Company pictured here was the luckiest company in this sense, as they only lost one vehicle in the fighting that summer. All in all, this Assault Gun Battalion  lost eight Stu-40s in exchange to 87 confirmed enemy kills.

SA-kuva # 151597 in colour

With all that said, here’s the colourised picture, finally:

I hope you enjoy it, together with the history of the men and their vehicles!

For more information about Finnish assault guns, I can recommend Mr Andreas Lärka’s excellent webiste, here’s a link to our ‘Bubi’ at his site.

Coloured picture updated 9 June 2019: Tanker uniforms are tan, not grey colour. Source: Suomen Panssarisota.

Finnish Order of Battle in East Front III

I have just finished putting together a second iteration of the Finnish order of battle for Campaign Series: East Front III, a platoon-scale tactical wargame covering battles in WW2 Eastern Front in 1939-1941. This blog post supplements the previous German and Romanian OOB posts by Jason Petho, and Scott Cole, respectively.

Finnish Army in Campaign Series: East Front III

As those familiar with history know, Finland participated in the Second World War battling the Soviet Union at two occasions, and then once against Nazi Germany pushing them out from the country. In this regard, Finland was placed in the unusual situation of being for, then against, then for, the overall interests of the Allied powers.

Campaign Series East Front III | OOB

A lone guard on skis. Petsamo 1940.02.01 (

As East Front III 1.0 will cover the years 1939-1941, the relevant conflicts are the invasion of Finland by Soviet Union in 1939, known as Winter War, and the subsequent Finnish participation in Operation Barbarossa, dubbed Continuation War.

The war against Nazi Germany to liberate Finnish Lapland will be featured in an East Front III sequel covering the years 1944-45 and is not covered in this article.


Winter War Order of Battle

The Winter War began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. This provides a relatively short period of time in regard of Order of Battle design, and will be implemented as a holistic, independent data set.

In addition to Finnish Army, the Swedish Volunteer Corps will be added as another independent formation to game’s data set under Finland nation ID 41.

Finnish Army

Finnish Army will be covered in detail from Army Corps to Platoons, as there were no Army level formations in Winter War. There will be generic formations available under the standard TO&E information, with each and every historical division also represented in the data:

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle

Being an artillery reservist myself, I took an additional effort to depict each and every historical artillery formation to the game as well, from Artillery Regiments to independent Batteries. As Winter War was a short but violent battle, each artillery formation will additionally be depicted as how they started the war, and how their strength was in February 1940, with one more month of war to go:

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle


Swedish Volunteer Corps

While most WW2 history geeks are aware that Sweden maintained their neutrality during the conflict, a less known fact perhaps is that during Winter War, Sweden simply declared themselves a “non co-belligerent” state instead. In other words, they did not maintain a strict neutrality as such.

Perhaps the concrete example of Sweden’s aid to Finland at this critical hour were the Swedish Volunteer Corps. Svenska frivillligkåren (in Swedish) were roughly a Brigade sized, well equipped formation, with some 9 650 Swedish volunteers choosing to join Winter War together with Finland. As part of the Corps, Sweden also sent approximately one third of their most moder airforce fleet (Gloster Gladiator fighters and Hawker Hart bombers) to Finland to accompany the volunteer pilots.

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle

“Finland’s Cause is Yours – Come join the Volunteer Corps!”

Swedish Volunteer Corps played an important part occupying a wide front in Finnish Lapland, with the brave young volunteers willingly having risked their life for the sake of their Nordic neighbor. To honor their commitment, the Swedish Volunteer Corps are deservedly a part of the Winter War order of battle as an independent and full organization:

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle


Continuation War Order of Battle

The Continuation War began some fifteen months after the end of the Winter War, with Finnish Army commencing their attack against Soviet Union in 10 July, 1941. The war would continue until September 1944, when Finland agreed to a cease-fire with USSR. For the purposes of East Front III 1.0, the initial Finnish Army formations will cover the year of 1941.

In addition to Finnish Army, no additional formations will be added to the data set, with Finnish Volunteer SS Battalion being a likely candidate for addition to a future East Front III sequel covering the years 1942-43. It is true parts of the Finnish volunteers fought already in 1941 in Waffen-SS division Wiking, but as they were integrated into the unit, instead of being an independent formation as the III/Nordland was (as of January 1942), they will not be depicted in the data sets for the first year of war.

Looking at the order of battle data, this time there will be a complete Finnish Army formation available from the Army level down to Platoons, again with generic TO&E based generic formations, and each and every division depicted in all their detail, too:

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle

As with Winter War, all historical artillery formations are covered as well. With the hodgepodge set of various makes and models of artillery pieces, this was my favourite part of the OOB design, and I do hope you enjoy the historical details included in the game!

As a little something to look forward, all this detail in order of battle design will make it possible to add a plethora of nice little detail to the game.

Here’s the Finnish 3D unit bases with nine different designs available at the time of writing this article!

Campaign Series East Front | Order of Battle

Finnish 3D unit bases (work in progress), from left to right:

  • Generic Finnish Army
  • Winter War Finnish Army
  • Winter War Swedish Volunteer Corps
  • Continuation War Finnish Army
  • Continuation War Armored
  • Finnish Volunteer SS Battalion (not included in 1.0)
  • Winter War Finnish Air Force
  • Winter War Swedish Volunteer Corps Air Force
  • Continuation War Finnish Air Force



As Jason pointed out in his German OOB blog, Order of Battle creation is a labour of love with many challenges part of the job.

I do concur with him that, with addition of Winter War and Continuation War Finns (and Swedes!) to the game database, we’re making every effort to ensure that you will have the most accurate organizations to build your East Front scenarios, once the game is out!