The Marshal’s Fist
Finland’s lone armored division entered service in the summer of 1943, created by combining the existing Tank Brigade with the elite 1st Jäger Brigade. The division remained in reserve until the summer of 1944, when a massive Soviet offensive threatened to overwhelm Finnish defenses. Led by Maj. Gen. Ruben Lagus, the Armored Division, known as the Marshal’s Fist (Marskin Nyrkki) entered the fighting around Tali on the Karelian Isthmus. Most of its tanks were small, obsolete T26 models captured from the Soviets and totally outclassed by the modern T34/85’s of the Red Army. Despite fanatical bravery, the Marshal’s Fist could not stop the enemy onslaught.
The Marshal’s Fist is a set of 165 pieces for the Panzer Grenadier game system, showing the entire division as it stood in the summer of 1944. At that time the division included:
• Three truck-mounted Jäger (light infantry) battalions. Each would include nine Jäger platoons, three HMG platoons and one 81mm mortar platoon in game terms, plus 13 trucks to carry them.
• One anti-tank battalion, shown by six 50mm and three 75mm anti-tank guns, pulled by six trucks and three KMS prime movers.
• Two tank battalions, together represented by 16 T26s tanks, one KV1 at reduced strength, two Sotkas and one T28 at reduced strength. Each tank battalion also included a small detachment of armored cars.
• Two light artillery battalions, each with three 105mm artillery units and three KMS prime movers, and one medium battalion of three 150mm batteries, pulled by three KMS prime movers.
• An armored signal company with one T37, a separate assault gun company with three BT42’s, a motorcycle company, an engineer battalion with nine ENG platoons and an assault gun battalion with seven Stu40 platoons.
The set includes some extra pieces, like the 50mm anti-tank guns that preceded the 75mm pieces, and the Sotka (T34) and PzKwIVJ tanks that Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, Finland’s commander-in-chief and the division’s namesake, unsuccessfully tried to purchase from Germany. The division becomes far more powerful with these vehicles in place of its hopeless T26 tanks.
This downloadable set is free, but only for members of the Gold Club. Join up and send your Finnish armor clanking into battle.
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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.