Tag: Estonia

Sweden plans large joint military exercise with NATO

Swedish Sridsvagn 103 Amphibious Main Battle Tank.

The Swedish military has released a statement announcing plans to hold its largest joint military exercise in years with NATO members this September.

The exercise will be labeled Aurora 17 and will involve land, air, and sea elements of the Swedish military and participating NATO members.

It will count over 19,000 Swedish personnel and 40 government agencies, 1,435 troops from the U.S. and smaller contingents from France, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia.

A Finnish army Leopard 2A4 Tank Platoon.

“Through frequent and extensive training and exercise, especially with other defense forces, Sweden is strengthening its deterrence effect and makes it more credible,” the statement said.

There has been internal debate in Sweden and Finland concerning the possibility of joining NATO, and both have played higher profile roles in NATO summits. Russia’s increasing military assertiveness since its annexation of Crimea and backing of separatist rebels in Ukraine has raised concerns in neighboring countries and NATO.

Swedish army Stridsvagn 122, based on the German Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would see Sweden joining NATO as a serious encroachment and would demand a military response.

Aurora 17 will mark another in a string of increasingly large and elaborate military exercises taking place in the Baltics and eastern Europe.

Source: UPI.


Mauno Koivisto, Finland’s last Cold War president – obituary

Mauno Koivisto, who has died aged 93, was Finland’s last Cold War president, serving two six-year terms from 1982 to 1994 and cautiously steering the country out of isolation and into the European Union.

Popularly known as “Manu”, he was once described in the New York Times as a “self-made man who regularly wears darned socks and who conveys the impression of sturdy self-reliance, without the slightest vestige of pomp or show”. He was a great favourite with Finnish voters.

“Finlandisation” was the derogatory term used in the West to describe the country’s Cold War policy of remaining neutral but in reality being highly compliant with the Soviet Union. As a veteran of both the bitter 1939-40 Winter War against the Soviets and the so-called Continuation War of 1941-44, Koivisto understood as well as any the need for Finland to establish a modus vivendi with her huge, volatile neighbour.

He had had his knuckles rapped in 1968 when, as Finland’s prime minister under the long presidency of Urho Kekkonen, his government had condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, earning a thinly veiled piece of sabre-rattling in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia calling for the establishment of Soviet military bases in Finland against a supposed West German threat. The situation only calmed down after a meeting between Kekkonen and the Soviet statesman Alexei Kosygin, followed by a “vacation” trip to Moscow by Koivisto two weeks later.

Under Kekkonen, who had served as Finland’s president from 1956 to 1981, there had been considerable media censorship and limitations on freedom of expression, to the extent that many questioned whether the country could be regarded as a democracy.

Books deemed critical of the Soviets had been banned, along with numerous films including The Manchurian Candidate. Soviet defectors were sent back as a matter of policy; Soviet atrocities were not reported and Finnish nationalist groups were heavily restricted.

A lanky man with a long, craggy face, in his early years as President Koivisto continued the policy of “active neutrality”, including the practice of returning Soviet defectors to the Soviet Union. But at the same time he introduced modest measures of democratisation, refraining from using some of the more authoritarian powers assumed by his predecessor and encouraging parliamentary institutions.

Above all, he charted a new course in foreign policy by cultivating good relations with both East and West, a task made easier by the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin in 1985. The two men became close and Koivisto, who was fluent in Russian, helped to broker improved relations between the USSR and the US; in 1990 he hosted a summit meeting between President George HW Bush and the Soviet leader.

President Mauno Koivisto with Queen Elizabeth II

The early 1980s were a period of free-market prosperity in Finland, buoyed up by relatively cheap supplies of Soviet energy and the market in eastern Europe for Finnish consumer and industrial goods that would have been difficult to sell in the West.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, created huge structural and political problems. In the early 1990s Finnish unemployment soared to about 14 per cent, the economy plunged into recession and the delicate political balancing act with Moscow began to look shaky as the three neighbouring Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, sought to establish their independence and looked to Finland for support. Suddenly caution seemed to be a luxury Finland could ill afford.

Koivisto worked hard to persuade the West of the urgent need of the Soviet Union (and subsequently of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States), for external economic support. While he avoided any public support of the Baltic independence movement, its representatives were allowed to work from inside Finland.

Meanwhile, gambling on his continuing good relations with Russia’s leaders, he began the process of leading Finland out of international isolation. When in 1990, after German reunification, he unilaterally renounced the military clauses of the 1947 Paris Treaty, which placed restrictions on Finnish defence forces, there was no official protest from Moscow.

The following year, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, he renounced the 1948 Finnish-Soviet pact, which pledged Finnish military assistance if Russia were attacked from the north and which had hindered Finland’s integration with European security structures. Emboldened by the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1992 Koivisto initiated the process of Finnish accession to the European Union, the final terms of which were agreed on the day he left office. Finland joined the EU in 1995.

The son of a ship’s carpenter, Mauno Henrik Koivisto was born on November 25 1923, in the southern port city of Turku. At the beginning of the Winter War in 1939 he volunteered aged 16 for a field firefighting unit.

During the Continuation War, he served in a reconnaissance detachment operating behind enemy lines. He was awarded the Order of the Cross of Liberty (2nd class) and was promoted to the rank of corporal.

Presidentti Mauno Koivisto 90 vuotta – kuvagalleria vuosien.

After the war, Koivisto joined the Social Democratic Party and graduated from the University of Turku with a degree in Philosophy and a PhD in Sociology. After graduation he became a banker, rising to become managing director of the Helsinki Workers’ Savings Bank from 1959 to 1967.

By this time he had emerged as a key figure among the Social Democrats and he went on to serve as chairman of the board of the Bank of Finland, a position he retained until 1982 and in which he was widely credited as the architect of the country’s prosperity.

He also served twice as prime minister, from 1968 to 1970 and 1979 to 1982, and despite friction over Czechoslovakia, he succeeded in moving cautiously beyond the limited Finno-Soviet sphere, overseeing Finland’s membership of the OECD in 1969 and participation in UN peacekeeping operations.

He also announced that Finland would play host to the 35-nation European Conference on Security and Cooperation that would lead to the Helsinki accords of 1975. However, he backed off from a proposed Nordic Economic Union with other Scandinavian countries for fear of jeopardising Finland’s neutral status.

In his spare time Koivisto liked playing volleyball, whittling and relaxing in a log cabin outside Helsinki that he had largely built himself.

In 1952 he married Tellervo Kankaanranta, who survives him with their daughter.

Mauno Koivisto, born November 25 1923, died May 12 2017  

Original article: The Daily Telegraph.  




Zvezda 1/72 Petlyakov Pe-8 Soviet Bomber Build Review


Kit: Zvezda No. 7264 1/72 Petlyakov Pe-8 [Tupolev TB-7] Soviet Bomber

Price: £24.99, available from Hannants UK

Decals: One Option

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Eduard 1/72 scale mask CX215 for Pe-8 used at £5.99 from Hannants UK.



The development and combat history of the Petlyakov Pe-8 can be seen in the previous article on this website by clicking on the picture below:

Petlyakov Pe-8 Soviet Heavy Bomber.
Petlyakov Pe-8 Soviet Heavy Bomber.


The Kit:

When the box for this kit came in the post, I was astonished at its size. I knew that the Pe-8 was big, but this was impressive. The box is also beautifully illustrated, is made from strong good quality cardboard and is in the ‘flip-top’ opening style, which makes a project of this scope much easier to manage, as the parts can be stored in the box with the lid open where they can be easily accessed.

This was my first Zvezda kit and I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at a box full of quality parts. The kit comprises seven large frets in grey injection moulded plastic and one fret of clear parts. Also included are the decal sheet and a 12 page black and white instruction booklet with 54 easy to follow steps. The moulds are crisp and clean with fine recessed panel lines and the initial dry fit of the fuselage and wings indicated that this kit would go together accurately without any major concerns.




The parts were carefully washed in a weak warm soapy solution to remove the mould release. Once dry, the contents were primed with grey auto primer from a rattle can. The build began with the AM-35A engines. An unusual feature of this aircraft is the addition of two 12.7-millimeter (0.50 in) Berezin UBT machine guns in the ShU barbettes in the inner engine nacelles. Construction of the four engines is straight forward, the fit is excellent and the process ends at step 13 of the instruction booklet.


Stages 14 to 21 deal with the construction of the wings. To give you an idea of the scale of these units they represent 39 metres in span compared to the B-17G which is 31.62 metres. The wheel bays are well detailed with cross bracings and rib frames. The upper and lower halves of the wings were glued, taped and left overnight to dry. Once dry, the four engine units were added to the wings which were fitted without the need for any filler. The wings were then set to one side whilst the undercarriage was painted using Humbrol 129 grey (this included the wheel hubs). The large main-wheels were easy to paint, however, masks are provided for the hubs in Eduard’s Pe-8 mask set.


The only slightly challenging aspect of this kit was the assembly of the four-piece undercarriage. Just a little care and concentration was required and once this sub-section had been completed, the wheel-well doors were glued into position.




Sections 23 to 48 deal with the interior construction of the Pe-8. Zvezda’s kit is well furnished with an engineer’s station, navigators table, bulkheads which include windows above the bulkhead access doors and a well detailed cockpit. The pilot and co-pilot are seated in a tandem configuration, which adds further interest to this fascinating aircraft.

The Petlyakov Pe-8’s defensive armament consists of a retractable ShVAK in the MV-6 dorsal turret, another ShVAK in a KEB tail turret, twin ShVAKs in the nose turret and as mentioned earlier, two 12.7-millimeter (0.50 in) Berezin UBT machine guns in each ShU barbette in the inner engine nacelles. The turrets were masked with Eduard’s Pe-8 mask set and the gun positions were assembled as per sections 23 to 32 of the instructions, and then left to one side to be added later in the build process.


Section 33 deals with the preparation of the fuselage halves. Once the interior had been airbrushed, in this case with Humbrol Hu33 Black, the clear windows were fitted and the window to the rear of the passenger door was cut-out using a hobby knife. This procedure is clearly shown in sections 33 and 34.

Once all of the interior sub-assemblies had been constructed, they were attached to the fuselage floor and the integrated main-spars and then glued into position into one of the fuselage halves. The tail-plane main-spar was added together with the tail-wheel and the fuselage halves were then glued together, taped and left overnight to dry.


Next, the dorsal turret and fairing was fitted as well as the two-piece canopy, tail cap and pre-assembled horizontal tail surfaces. This was followed by fitting the nose and tail gun positions before the wings were attached. After the kit had dried, a small amount of filler was added around the engine nacelles and the seams were rubbed down using 600 grit wet and dry paper.

I decided to build the FAB 5000Kg Bomb, displayed with the undercarriage doors open. Alternatively the FAB 2000 NG bomb can be used giving the modeller the choice of two massive munitions that this impressive aircraft carried.

Two 12.7-millimeter (0.50 in) Berezin UBT machine guns are located in each ShU barbette to the rear of the inner engine nacelles.




Camouflage and Markings:

After researching the combat history of the Petlyakov Pe-8, I wanted to build one of the aircraft that took part in the raids against Helsinki, Tallinn and Pskov in 1944. The camouflage scheme was simple but looked effective. From 1943 onwards the Soviet Long-Distance Bomb Group Regiment (Russian: Avia Polk Dahl’nevo Deystviya—APDD) began adopting deep black ‘noch’ undersurface camouflage intended for night operations, with the upper-surfaces a combination of deep black and Soviet VVS ‘All Dark Green’.


The airframe was airbrushed with Humbrol Hu33 black before being masked off in preparation for the distinctive (White Ensign Models WEMCC ACS18) WW2 Soviet VVS all Dark Green. The decals were then applied using micro-set and micro-sol decal setting solutions. This particular Petlyakov Pe-8 represents ‘Red 8’ of the 45th Division of the Long-Distance Bomb Group Regiment (APDD). This machine is unusual in that it includes upper-wing stars, which were rare on ‘noch’ or night Bombers.


Final Construction:

The final stage of construction involved adding the propellers and spinners, aerials and aerial wires, before a final coat of Johnson’s Klear was applied to seal in the decals.



This kit surpassed all of my expectations. It represents excellent value for money, it is beautifully detailed and it provides the modeler the opportunity to build Soviet ‘Heavy Metal’ from the World War 2 era which is usually the preserve of the post-war age. As for Zvezda, I cannot recommend them enough. I am looking forward to building their Ilyushin Il-4T Torpedo Bomber. I am definitely a convert.

Highly recommended.











Richard Reynolds.