Tag: Norway

12 Historical Inaccuracies in The History Channel’s VIKINGS Series

VIKINGS is an Irish-Canadian television series written and created by Michael Hirst, for the History Channel, and is tremendously successful.

I love the show, but if you have an understanding of Viking, Anglo Saxon and Frankish history, then I would advise that in order to enjoy the series you should suspend disbelief, or at the very least take it with a LARGE pinch of salt. But hey, it’s TV, it’s entertainment, and it’s for fun, right?

The life and times of Viking Ragnar Lodbrok, “a farmer who rose to fame by successful raids into England and eventually became king of Denmark,” has gripped popular imagination and renewed interest in the Vikings.

Indeed, most of the enthusiastic fans of the VIKINGS series were probably not even aware of much of the history of the Vikings before this series were launched March 2013. VIKINGS is now in a fifth season, and with any luck, they will go on to do a sixth. One understands that some artistic licence needs to be made for films, but the series does consist of some minor and some quite major historical inaccuracies. 

1. Where are their helmets?

Inexplicably, none of the Vikings seem to wear any helmets in combat. Considering that most combat fatalities come from head wounds, the helmet was the single most important piece of armour for any veteran warrior. Viking helmets were advanced and effective, presenting a terrifying visage to their enemies. Viking helmets were effective at intimidating their enemies.

Most, when faced with these Viking warriors emerging from the sea, with helmet, shield, chain-mail armour and sword, or axe, and spear, fled without even attempting to oppose them. Presumably, the filmmakers wanted their stars to be easily identified and so have dispensed with helmets entirely. Many of their key actors, such as Rollo, survives despite wearing no armour at all and are presented as fighting wearing only trousers!

2. Looks are everything?

Many of the Vikings are depicted as having shaved their heads, including Ragnar, who apparently has his head covered in tattoos. There is no historical evidence that the Vikings did that. Anyone who has lived in Scandinavia would be aware that it gets incredibly cold in the winter. To deliberately remove the hair from ones’ head when living in often icy conditions and sailing the open seas, would be uncomfortable to say the least.

Ragnar Lodbrok in Vikings series 4, played by Travis Fimmel.

3. Absence of security for settlements.

There are some graphic scenes of massacres of civilians – women and children, depicted in VIKINGS. However, these are not of Saxon civilians killed by Viking invaders, but Viking settlers killed by Saxons. In a bizarre twist, the History Channel portrays the Vikings as settling without any semblance of security, with indefensible villages spread out in the open, without any form of stockade, fortification or protective measures.

Not even towers are erected. That just never happened. Considering that the Vikings were invaders, they took extraordinary measures to erect comprehensive fortified structures, normally in circles, surrounded by a moat and sharpened stakes, with all their dwellings neatly organised around a great hall within the fortification. Archaeologists are still digging up these Viking settlements within the British Isles.

Large Viking settlements were often surrounded by pallisades and the entrances protected by towers. None of this is in evidence in the TV series.

4. Inexplicably, Hirst’s VIKINGS television series depicts the temple to Odin at Uppsala as a wooden stave church in the mountains. The historic temple was actually situated on flat land and the stave churches were a hallmark of Christian architecture from the 11th Century onward.

5. Crucifixion by Christians

Hirst’s VIKINGS program portrays a crucifixion of a prominent character, the Christian monk, Athelstan, who had been abducted from Lindisfarne monastery, as being crucified by the orders of a Christian bishop in Wessex.

There is absolutely no case recorded where Christians used this form of execution to punish apostates. The Emperor Constantine officially outlawed crucifixion in the 4th Century.

Not only would such a mode of execution be abhorrent and blasphemous to any Christian, but there is no example of any Christians anywhere, let alone in Wessex, in the 9th Century, practising it.

6. Anachronistic clothing and fashions.

The wardrobe department has evidently had a lot of fun clothing the actors. However, many of the fashions seem more 20th and 21st Century, particularly the leather trouser designs. Some of the outfits seem to have come from a futuristic Mad Max episode. As for the bizarre and impractical hairstyles, shaven heads and abundance of tattoos, it would appear that great liberties have been taken with actual Viking culture and history.

7. The dates don’t add up.

Appropriately, the VIKING series begins with 793 A.D., with the launch of the Viking age and the notorious raid on the Lindisfarne monastery. However, the same man, Ragnar Lodbrok, who is meant to have been involved in the raid of Lindisfarne, is historically the one who led the siege of Paris in 846 B.C. That would have made him extremely old indeed by that time if he had also been at Lindisfarne in 793.

8. Rollo was not Ragnar’s brother.

The famous Viking Rollo (846 – 932 A.D.) seized Rouen in 876 A.D. and led the Viking fleet that besieged Paris 885-886 A.D. He was baptized as a Christian, married a French princess and it was his great, great, great grandson, William, Duke of Normandy, who invaded England in 1066 and became William I of England. Therefore, Rollo is one of the ancestors of the present-day British Royal family. Chronologically, there is no way he could have been contemporary with Ragnar Lodbrok, let alone his brother.

Rollo, (Clive Standen) as depicted in the History Channels hit TV series ‘Vikings’.

9. What do we know of Ragnar Lodbrok?

The Norse Sagas identify Ragnar Lodbrok as the father of Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and Ubba.

He was married three times:  to the shield maiden Lagertha, to the noble woman Dôra, and to Aslaug (all Scandinavian women).

Ragnar was the son of the Swedish king Sigurd Hring and a cousin of the Danish king, Gudfred. He distinguished himself with many raids and conquests, including the first siege of Paris, 846 A.D. He was seized by King Aella of Northumbria and killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes. His sons avenged him by invading England with the Great Heathen Army in 865 A.D.

10. In VIKINGS, the Christian’s are made out to be more treacherous than the heathen. Hirst’s History Channel saga depicts the Christians as more (or on a par with) treacherous, vile and perverted than the heathen. Whilst Christian’s of the period did engage in acts of terror, they were no more or less ‘barbarous’ than their Viking neigbours.

11. The Missionary Ansgar

The Apostle Ansgar was not the failure that Hirst depicts being executed by queen Aslaug when he failed a test. In fact Ansgar (801-865) known as The Apostle to the North, not only lived a long life, but succeeded in winning Vikings to Christ.

Numerous miracles accompanied his ministry and so impressed the Vikings, that they concluded that Christ is greater than Thor. Not that you would know any of this from watching Hirst’s History Channel fiction.

12. Alfred was the illegitimate son of the monk Athelstan. 

Possibly the biggest stretch of the truth in the series, was to suggest that the Princess Osburh had an affair with Athelstan and bore him a child, the future King Alfred the Great.

In the series, the King of Wessex, King Egbert, encouraged this infidelity and then blackmailed Osburh (his son’s wife) into becoming his mistress. The King’s son, Æthelwulf, is then persuaded that this was all the work of Christ and that he should accept it. None of this is in any way true.

Æthelwulf and Osburh were said to be extremely pious Christians, and there is no evidence of infidelity or impropriety on the part of the future Queen, and Alfred of Wessex was very much Æthelwulf’s son.

Æthelwulf and Osburh

Original post by Dr. Peter Hammond

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Peter Hammond is a Missionary in Africa with Frontline Fellowship P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725 Cape Town South Africa, Tel: 021-689-4480 Email:  mission@frontline.org.za Website:  www.frontline.org.za.

For an account of how the Vikings were won to Christ, see “Winning the Vikings for Christ on www.ReformationSA.org. This can also be viewed as a PowerPoint with pictures though our Slideshare link. You can also listen to an audio lecture, “How the Vikings Were Won to Christ, on our SermonAudio.com link.

 

Harald Fairhair’s campaign in Götaland

Harald Fairhair statue, in Haugesund, Norway.

Harald Fairhair’s campaign in Götaland was an attack that took place in the 870s.

Snorri Sturluson writes in Harald Fairhair’s saga that Harald Fairhair disputed the Swedish king Eric Eymundsson‘s hegemony in what is today southern Norway.

Götaland (Swedish: ˈjøːtaland, also Gothia, Gothland, Gothenland or Gautland) is one of three lands of Sweden and comprises ten provinces. Geographically it is located in the south of Sweden, bounded to the north by Svealand, with the deep woods of Tiveden, Tylöskog and Kolmården marking the border.

He attacked and forced Viken to accept his rule and then plundered and burnt in Rånrike. Because of this the Norwegian skald Þorbjörn hornklofi boasted that the Swedes stayed indoors whereas the Norwegians were out on the sea.

Úti vill jól drekka,
ef skal einn ráða,
fylkir framlyndi,
ok Freys leik heyja,
Ungr leiddisk eldvelli
ok inni at sitja,
varma dyngju
eða vöttu dúnsfulla.
The Norseman’s king is on the sea,
Tho’ bitter wintry cold it be.
On the wild waves his Yule keeps he.
When our brisk king can get his way,
He’ll no more by the fireside stay
Than the young sun; he makes us play
The game of the bright sun-god Frey.
But the soft Swede loves well the fire
The well-stuffed couch, the doway glove,
And from the hearth-seat will not move.

The Gauts (Geats) did not accept this and assembled their forces. In the spring, they put stakes in Göta älv to stop Harald’s ships. Harald Fairhair put his ships alongside the stakes and plundered and burnt everything he could reach. The Norwegian skald said of this:

Grennir þröng at gunni
gunnmás fyrir haf sunnan,
sá var gramr, ok gumnum,
geðvörðr, und sik jörðu.
Ok hjálmtamiðr hilmir
hólmreyðar lét ólman
lindihjört fyrir landi
lundprúðr við stik bundinn.
The king who finds a dainty feast,
For battle-bird and prowling beast,
Has won in war the southern land
That lies along the ocean’s strand.
The leader of the helmets, he
Who leads his ships o’er the dark sea,
Harald, whose high-rigged masts appear
Like antlered fronts of the wild deer,
Has laid his ships close alongside
Of the foe’s piles with daring pride.
Longships or dragonships (drakushiffen), Drakkar.

The Geats arrived to the ships with a great army to fight king Harald, but they lost after great losses.

Ríks, þreifsk reiddra öxa
rymr, knáttu spjör glymja,
svartskygð bitu seggi
sverð, þjóðkonungs ferðar,
Þá er, hugfyldra hölda,
hlaut andskoti Gauta,
hár var söngr um svírum,
sigr, flugbeiddra vigra.
Whistles the battle-axe in its swing
O’er head the whizzing javelins sing,
Helmet and shield and hauberk ring;
The air-song of the lance is loud,
The arrows pipe in darkening cloud;
Through helm and mail the foemen feel
The blue edge of our king’s good steel
Who can withstand our gallant king?
The Gautland men their flight must wing.
Viking Short Bearded Battle Axe.

Then the Norwegians travelled far and wide in Götaland, winning most of the battles. In one of the battles, the Geatish commander Hrani the Geat fell. Harald then proclaimed himself the ruler of all land north of Göta älv and north and west of lake Vänern and placed Guttorm Haraldsson to defend the region with a large force.

Viking Warriors shore assault.

References

Tears of Blood – The Last of the Viking Whalers

Pilot Whales Slaughtered.

Norwegians caught whales off the coast of Tromsø as early as the 9th or 10th century. Vikings from Norway also introduced whaling methods for driving small cetaceans, like pilot whales, into fjords in Iceland. The Norse sagas, and other ancient documents, provide few details on Norwegian whaling. The sagas recount some disputes between families over whale carcasses but do not describe any organized whale fishery in Norway.

Spear-drift whaling was practiced in the North Atlantic as early as the 12th century. In open boats, hunters would strike a whale, using a marked spear, with the intent of later locating the beached carcass to claim a rightful share.

The Lofoten Islands in the far north of Norway have always been a world apart, a peninsula-like chain of wild, craggy shards jutting into the Norwegian Sea inside the Arctic Circle. In Norse folklore Lofoten’s long spine of mountains was said to be the haunt of trolls and valkyries (maidens who conducted slain warriors to Valhalla), and its fjords provided dramatic backdrops to some of the grandest of the Viking sagas.

A small wooden boat putters across the glassy expanse of the Vestfjorden, its wake rippling the mirror-perfect reflections of the surrounding mountains. The boat’s skipper, 69-year-old Jan Bjørn Kristiansen, has been sailing these waters for more than 50 years, the past 40 of them in the same weather-beaten vessel, also called Jan Bjørn. The name is fitting, for man and boat have much in common: both are tough, seasoned whalers, quintessentially Norwegian – stubborn, practical, strongly built – and both bear the scars of much hard work at sea.

Over the course of the summer whaling season, Kristiansen will harpoon perhaps 30 or 40 minke whales, butcher their carcasses on deck, and sell the meat dockside to seafood merchants along the coast. Despite there being an international moratorium on commercial whaling, Norwegians such as Kristiansen persist in hunting minke whales – for practical reasons they do so only in Norway’s domestic waters.

Model of a Viking Whaleboat.

In his five decades as a whaler, Kristiansen has weathered many a storm, both at sea and on land. He lived through the dangerous years of the eco-wars, when activists sabotaged and sank a number of Lofoten whaling boats. And he survived a horrific shipboard accident a few years ago when his harpoon cannon backfired, nearly killing him and leaving him with a mangled left hand. He was back hunting whales the following season.

But as he steers towards an old whaling station on this calm midsummer morning, Kristiansen sees not only his own long career drawing to a close, but also an entire way of life. His eponymous boat is one of only 20 that came out to hunt this season – a far cry from the nearly 200 whalers that worked northern Norway’s coastal waters in the late 1950s, when Kristiansen was getting his first taste of whaling as a deckhand.

It isn’t a scarcity of whales that is bringing down the curtain, or even the complicated politics of whaling. It is something far more prosaic and inexorable: Norwegian children, even those who grow up in the seafaring stronghold of Lofoten, simply do not want to become whalers any more. Nor do they want to brave storm-tossed winter seas to net fortunes in cod, as their forebears have done for centuries. Instead, they aspire to safer, salaried jobs in distant cities or with the offshore oil industry, and they have been leaving their island communities in droves.

Present day Norwegian Commercial Whalers.

There is irony in this turn of events. For most of its history, Lofoten exerted a gravitational pull on the young and ambitious. In his 1921 coming-of-age classic The Last of the Vikings, the Norwegian novelist Johan Bojer described the island chain as ‘a land in the Arctic Ocean that all the boys along the coast dreamt of visiting some day, a land where exploits were performed, fortunes were made, and where fishermen sailed in a race with Death.

The Lofoten islands, off the west coast of Norway.

For a few gold-rush months each year, millions of Atlantic cod migrate south from the Barents Sea to spawn among the reefs and shoals of Lofoten. Fishermen have been flocking here to cash in on the bonanza for more than 1,000 years. In addition to straddling one of the world’s richest fisheries, these islands are also blessed with a near-perfect climate for drying fish in the open air to make stockfish. This durable, highly nutritious cod jerky sustained the Vikings on their long voyages and became Norway’s most lucrative export in the Middle Ages.

The immense wealth of the dried-cod trade, and the possibility that jackpot riches might await any man with a boat, courage and a bit of luck, lured fortune seekers by the thousands. Grainy photographs from the 1930s show Lofoten’s harbours jammed with boats. Nowadays factory trawlers from the big seafood companies in the south do the work of many boats, netting and processing a high percentage of the catch. Small family-owned boats that brought their catches to local merchants and kept the Lofoten villages alive have now become endangered species.

The cod are still there, still in the millions, still a lucrative business. But as the older fishermen sell out and retire, seafood companies snap up their quotas for big money. Even the fishermen’s sons who want to carry on the family business may find their paths blocked by the cost of buying a boat and a quota – typically £500,000.

Atlantic Cod.

‘Banks don’t want to lend you that kind of money when you’re my age,’ says 22-year-old Odd Helge Isaksen, who nevertheless is determined to follow tradition and become a fisher­man. A resident of Røst, a close-knit island community at the heart of the Lofoten cod banks, Isaksen is making his way into the business the hard way, in an open boat hauling in cod one by one on handlines, in much the way his Viking forebears did 1,000 years ago. Such dedication is rare. In the past 10 years only Isaksen and one other young man on Røst have decided to pursue fishing as a career.

‘I’m one of the new Vikings,’ he jokes one bitterly cold evening as he motors into the harbour after a long day at sea. Coming in hours after the rest of the fleet returned, his boat is laden to the gunwales with hundreds of pounds of cod. Black Sabbath is blaring on his iPod as he steers his boat with one hand and updates his Facebook account on his mobile phone with the other.

‘My friends from school think it’s kind of funny that I decided to become a fisherman,’ Isaksen says. ‘But they sure are impressed with the money I’m making.’

Compared with Lofoten’s cod industry and its 1,000-year history, commercial whaling was a latecomer. ‘Whaling from boats was unknown in my grandfather’s day,’ recalls Oddvar Berntsen, now 83 and the last surviving resident of his fishing village. ‘The boats were just too small. Occasionally the villagers might kill a whale from shore if it came in close, but this was opportunistic, done for food.’

Norwegian workers butchering a Whale.

When commercial whaling finally arrived in Norway, it did so with a bang – literally. In the 1860s a Norwegian shipping and whaling magnate named Svend Foyn devised the grenade-tipped harpoon. It was a game-changer, thrusting Norway to the fore of the world’s whaling nations.

Norway’s fishermen, however, blamed the new industry for poor catches during the 1870s, since whales were believed to drive schools of fish closer to shore, where fishermen in small boats could catch them. After a series of bitter disputes between fishermen and whalers, Norway became the first nation to ban whaling in its territorial waters, declaring a 10-year moratorium in 1904. From then on, Norway’s commercial whalers sought their quarry in the wider North Atlantic and in the rich waters of the Antarctic.

At about the same time, the Lofoten fishing fleet began shifting from sail to engine. With their newfound mobility, some of the fishermen took up whaling as an additional means of putting food on the table – no small consideration later on during the Great Depression, when both cash and meat were scarce. The banner year for Lofoten’s whalers came in 1958, when 192 boats caught 4,741 minke whales. But change was already in the wind. By 1973, the year when Kristiansen bought his boat, the number of whalers had dropped by nearly half, and numbers have continued falling ever since.

The reasons are more economic and social than ecological. The cost of hunting whales is high, and returns are low. Although fashionable restaurants in Oslo still offer whale steak, many Norwegian grocery shoppers regard the rich red meat as Depression-era food, or as un-ecofriendly, or perhaps worse still, as a novelty cuisine for tourists. And because of a variety of factors – including restrictions imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – there is little export market. So although Norway’s government sets an annual quota of 1,286 minke whales, in practice whalers take far fewer (only 533 in 2011).

Even some of Norway’s green groups, staunchly opposed to whaling on principle, are content these days to maintain a death watch for a way of life they expect to disappear within a generation. They can afford to wait it out. With the North Atlantic minke whale population estimated at a healthy 130,000 animals, Norway’s modest annual catch is considered highly sustainable. It is the whalers who are heading for extinction.

The demise of whaling and the consolidation of the cod industry are changing the face of Lofoten, and nowhere is that change more glaring than at Skrova. A generation ago this was a thriving fishing port with no fewer than eight factories working overtime to process cod, herring and other fish. Fishing and whaling were booming then, and Skrova was the place to be. By the early 1980s the tiny community was deemed to have the highest percentage of millionaires in all of Norway.

Wealthy factory owners and fishermen liked to take their ease on a dockside bench, which bemused locals christened the millionærbænken, or millionaires’ bench. The old bench is still there, weathered and worn, but most of the millionaires who sat on it were put out of business long ago by the seafood companies down south and their fleets of factory ships. All but one of Skrova’s fish factories have closed, most recently in 2000. With the loss of jobs, the island’s full-time population has dwindled to about 150.

Only Ellingsen, an old family-run seafood company, remains in business. It is still prosperous, nowadays turning out 12,000 tons a year of its own locally farmed salmon and, for a few weeks each summer, buying whale meat from the handful of whalers who still work these waters.

‘To be honest, whale meat isn’t really commercial for us any more,’ says 42-year-old Ulf Christian Ellingsen, the third generation of his family to run the company. ‘We continue to buy it mainly out of respect for tradition and our old roots. My grandfather started this business in 1947 primarily as a whale-meat buyer. We’d like to keep that going for as long as we can.’

Skrova’s most significant export these days is not salmon or whale but the precious cargo that leaves on the passenger ferry to Svolvær every autumn – a small clutch of schoolchildren who have outgrown the island’s tiny community school and are obliged to pack their bags and leave home to attend the regional high school. For most of them, this introduction into the larger world is the start of a whole new life, one that leads away from Skrova.

The Lofoten Islands.

The five teenagers who depart Skrova this autumn will be followed by two more next year and another three the year after. And with no youngsters entering school at the other end of the line, the island’s already critically small community school will shrink still further.

‘We need to get more young families moving in here,’ says Ellingsen, whose own daughter, Aurora, is among this autumn’s group of teenage émigrés moving to Svolvær to continue their education.

‘I’d like to come back and retire here some day when I’m old,’ says 17-year-old June Kristin Hauvik, whose mother has worked in the Ellingsen fish factory for 35 years. For now, though, June Kristin is following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, both of whom are leading successful urban lives, one a doctor, the other a lawyer, worlds away from the sleepy island where they grew up. On a bright autumn afternoon, June Kristin and the other departing teenagers board the ferry and set off into the future, past the old millionaires’ bench, out beyond the headlands and into the wide open waters, where everything seems possible.

  • This article first appeared in National Geographic Creative

References

  • Official Norwegian minke whaling: Norwegian Government environmental policy site explaining Minke whaling policy (English).
  • Mark Cioc, The Game of Conservation. International Treaties to protect the World’s Migratory Species (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2009), Chapter 3 The Antarctic Whale Massacre, 104-147.
  • Kurk Dorsey, “National Sovereignty, the International Whaling Commission, and the Save the Whales Movement,” in Nation-States and the Global Environment. New Approaches to International Environmental History, Erika Marie Bsumek, David Kinkela and Mark Atwood Lawrence, eds., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 43-61.
  • Kurk Dorsey, Whales and Nations. Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014).
  • Charlotte Epstein, The Power of Words in International Relations: Birth of an Anti-Whaling Discourse (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005).
  • Anna-Katharina Wöbse, Weltnaturschutz: Umweltdiplomatie in Völkerbund und Vereinten Nationen 1920-1950 (Frankfurt: Campus, 2011), Chapter 6 Der Reichtum der Meere, 171-245.
  • Frank Zelko, Make It a Green Peace!: The Rise of Countercultural Environmentalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Chapters 7-9, 161-231.

 

 

 

Pets and Livestock in the Viking Age

Norwegian Elkhound.

The Viking Age

Vikings (Old English: wicing—”pirate”, Danish and Bokmål: vikinger; Swedish and Nynorsk: vikingar; Icelandic: víkingar, from Old Norse víkingar), were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of northern, central, eastern and western Europe, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries. The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Viking home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, Ireland, France, Kievan Rus’ and Sicily.

Facilitated by advanced sailing and navigational skills, and characterised by the longship, Viking activities at times also extended into the Mediterranean littoral, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Following extended phases of (primarily sea- or river-borne) exploration, expansion and settlement, Viking (Norse) communities and polities were established in diverse areas of north-western Europe, European Russia, the North Atlantic islands and as far as the north-eastern coast of North America. This period of expansion witnessed the wider dissemination of Norse culture, while simultaneously introducing strong foreign cultural influences into Scandinavia itself, with profound developmental implications in both directions.

Popular, modern conceptions of the Vikings—the term frequently applied casually to their modern descendants and the inhabitants of modern Scandinavia—often strongly differ from the complex picture that emerges from archaeology and historical sources. A romanticised picture of Vikings as noble savages began to emerge in the 18th century; this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival.

Perceived views of the Vikings as alternatively violent, piratical heathens or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations of the Vikings are typically based on cultural clichés and stereotypes, complicating modern appreciation of the Viking legacy. These representations are not always accurate – for example, there is no evidence that they wore horned helmets.

Pets Kept by Vikings

Vikings were said to keep pets for several purposes. Apart from the usual cats and dogs, there were several others kinds of animals whose existence was recorded by historians. These animals do not only act as companions but at the same time they were used as farm animals. A large number of animals were present during Vikings age. Some of the animals, owned by the Vikings as pet animals or farm animals were: Cats, Dogs, Hawks, Sheep, Horses, Cattle and Goats.

Cats

There is a great deal of historical and archaeological evidence showing that Vikings kept cats. Historical evidence suggests that not only were cats employed to deal with vermin, they were also valued as pets. Vikings were master mariners and spent a great deal of time at sea in Longships – either exploring, trading or raiding; rats were a constant problem and cats were employed to control their population.

Norwegian Forest Cat.

Cats had a religious significance during Viking period. They were directly associated to Freyja, the Goddess of Love. Viking families used to give a kitten to a new bride so that she could successfully establish a happy household with her husband. It was said that Freya or Frayja, (Goddess of Love and Beauty, also; fertility, war, and wealth) was the daughter of Njord, and the sister of Frey. Her daughter, by her husband, Od, is named Hnoss, who it is said: “Is so beautiful that whatever is valuable and lovely is named treasure after her.”

Norwegian Forest Cat during the winter months.

Norse legend tells of Freya, whose chariot was pulled by two black cats. Some versions of the tale claim they became swift black horses, possessed by the Devil. After serving Freya for 7 years, the cats were rewarded by being turned into witches, disguised as black cats. The cats also played around her ankles as a symbol of her domesticity.

Freya aboard her chariot which was said to be pulled by Norwegian Mountain Cats.

Historians believe that the mythological cats that pulled Freya’s chariot were Norwegian Mountain cats. The Vikings used to call them “Skogkatt” which literally means mountain cats in Norwegian. These species of cats are found in the northernmost regions of Norway and Denmark. The bone structure and strong muscle form distinguished these feral animals from domestic cats.

The Viking people did however keep the Norwegian Forest cat domestically. Evidence suggests that they were kept as pets as well as a means of controlling vermin. Archaeological evidence shows us that these animals were revered by Viking elders. Many Forest cats and Elkhounds were buried with their masters.

Close up portrait of a Norwegian Forest cat.

The Norwegian Forest Cat was valued by the Vikings for it’s strength, intelligence and ability to survive and hunt in the harsh Norwegian winters. Today, the Forest Cat is “The Official Cat of Norway” and is a highly prized pet in Norway, Denmark and across Scandinavia. The Vikings introduced the breed to many countries across Europe and even perhaps North America.

Dogs

The next most common type of pets owned by the Vikings were dogs. Archaeological evidence from grave finds suggests that dogs were kept as pets by Vikings. They would have been used for hunting, companionship, as working animals and even as ‘War’ dogs.

Norwegian Elkhound.

Frigga, the Goddess of Fidelity and Marriage, wife of Odin was said to travel in her chariot pulled by a team of dogs. Thus according to Vikings, the dogs represent a perfect symbol of loyalty and faith towards their owner. Dogs are also part of Norwegian society today. But it was the Vikings who first kept dogs as pets in Norway and Denmark.

According to the Viking artifacts, the historians have found out that the dogs and owners were so attached to each other that they were buried side by side. Pictorial historical evidence shows that the Viking people had a good relationship with their dogs. The most common breed owned by the Vikings was somewhat related to the spitz; these dogs were hybrids of the Arctic Wolf and Southern Domestic dogs. There were several other dog breeds which were found later on by historians stated which illustrates the wide range of dog breeds that was present during the Viking age.

Norwegian Elkhound.

Some of them which were identified by the experts were:

  • Hunting dogs
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Karelian Bear Dog

These were some of the dog breeds owned by the Vikings during 8th to 11th century. Each had specialized skills. For example; the Elkhound was used for hunting deer and small animals, the Karelian Bear Dog, as it’s name suggests was bred for hunting bears.

Karelian Bear Dog.

Wild Animals

The Viking people utilised many wild animals. Animals such as hawks, cattle, sheep and many others have been recorded by historians over the years. Vikings attempted to domesticate many wild animals such as bears. For instance, they would send a hunting party to capture a young bear that had been caught in a trap. The bear would be reared and semi-domesticated.

It isn’t entirely clear how the adult bear was used by Viking communities, however it is possible that these creatures may have been kept for entertainment or used as a training tool for the Karelian Bear Dog.  Hawks and Falcons were also used by the Vikings. They were trained and used as hunting tools, much like the Falconers of today. The Vikings considered falcons as the kings of birds.

Accipiter gentilis, Scandinavian Goshawk, Hønsehauk. 56cm.

Cattle and Farm Animals

Certain livestock were typical and unique to the Vikings, including the Icelandic horse, Icelandic cattle, a plethora of sheep breeds, the Danish hen and the Danish goose. The Vikings in York mostly ate beef, mutton, and pork with small amounts of horse meat. Most of the beef and horse leg bones were found split lengthways, to extract the marrow. The mutton and swine were cut into leg and shoulder joints and chops. The frequent remains of pig skull and foot bones found on house floors indicate that brawn and trotters were also popular. Hens were kept for both their meat and eggs, and the bones of game birds such as the black grouse, golden plover, wild ducks, and geese have also been found.

An Icelandic cow, in a pasture with Icelandic sheep.

Seafood was important, in some places even more so than meat. Whales and walrus were hunted for food in Norway and the north-western parts of the North Atlantic region, and seals were hunted nearly everywhere. Oysters, mussels and shrimps were eaten in large quantities and cod and salmon were popular fish. In the southern regions, herring was also important.

The invention and introduction of the mouldboard plough revolutionised agriculture in Scandinavia in the early Viking Age and made it possible to farm even poor soils.

The Medieval mouldboard plough.

In Ribe, grains of rye, barley, oat and wheat dated to the 8th century have been found and examined, and are believed to have been cultivated locally.

Ribe is a Danish town in south-west Jutland.

Grains and flour were used for making porridges, some cooked with milk, some cooked with fruit and sweetened with honey, and also various forms of bread.

Remains of bread from primarily Birka in Sweden were made of barley and wheat. It is unclear if the Norse leavened their breads, but their ovens and baking utensils suggest that they did. Flax was a very important crop for the Vikings: it was used for oil extraction, food consumption and most importantly the production of linen. More than 40% of all known textile recoveries from the Viking Age can be traced as linen. This suggests a much higher actual percentage, as linen is poorly preserved compared to wool for example.

References

 

The Battle of Niså, the Invasion of Demark by Norwegian king Harald Hardrada

Battle of Niså – king Harald Hardrada aboard his Longship during his attempt to invade Denmark.

The Battle of Niså (Slaget ved Niså) was a naval battle fought on 9 August 1062 between the forces of Norwegian king Harald Hardrada and king Sweyn II of Denmark.

Harald had claimed the Danish throne since 1047, and had launched raids into Denmark ever since. With his invasion in 1062, he wanted to decisively defeat the Danes, and thus finally be able to conquer Denmark. The battle was won clearly by the Norwegians, but since many Danes managed to escape, including Sweyn, it proved indecisive in Harald’s attempt to conquer Denmark.

When Harald became the sole king of Norway in 1047, he also claimed the Danish throne, despite that his predecessor and co-ruler Magnus the Good (king of Norway and Denmark) had appointed Sweyn Estridsen as his successor in Denmark. Since 1048, Harald launched raids into Denmark almost annually, attempting to force Sweyn out of the country. Although the raids were largely successful, Harald never managed to occupy Denmark. With the invasion in 1062, he sought to gain a decisive victory over Sweyn.

Harald Hardrada – the last of the ‘great Vikings’ who invaded England in 1066 AD.

According to the Icelandic saga writer Snorri Sturluson, the battle had been preassigned a time and place, but Sweyn did not appear as agreed. Harald thus sent home his non-professional ships and soldiers, the “peasant army” (bóndaherrin), which had made up around half of his forces. When the ships were out of sight, Sweyn finally appeared and engaged Harald’s fleet. With his own so-called drekanum ship in the middle, Harald tied his ships together in order to prevent gaps in the line. He placed earl Haakon Ivarsson and his forces from Trøndelag on the flanks. Sweyn used the same tactic, but unlike Harald had his own earl Finn Arnesson placed right next to himself, instead of on the flanks. The battle commenced in the evening, and lasted through the night.

The History Channel show ‘Vikings’ naval battle between the Vikings and the Franks gives a good representation of how the Vikings prepared for and conducted naval battles (see video above).

The two sides were evenly matched for a long time into the battle, until Haakon disengaged his ships from the flanks and started attacking the weakened Danish ships on the flanks. Sweyn had no similar reserve force, and his fleet was defeated by dawn, with 70 ships left “empty” and the remainder retreating.

While Finn Arnesson fought until he was captured, Sweyn jumped into the water and was rescued by his former ally Haakon (albeit unknowingly to Harald). Haakon was after the battle universally recognized, including by Harald, as the hero of the battle, but when his treachery in rescuing Sweyn was discovered he fell into disfavour (even though Haakon claimed Sweyn had been in disguise, and that he had not recognized it was him).

Sweyn II King of Denmark 1047-1074.

Aftermath

Although Harald won the battle, the victory was not decisive since many Danish ships and men had managed to escape, including Sweyn. Denmark’s economic and social fabric had been destroyed by the yearly raids, but the lengthy war had also taken its toll in Norway. After the Battle of Niså, Harald had trouble collecting taxes in the Uplands, and probably also in other areas. In 1064, Harald finally offered Sweyn unconditional peace without reparations or loss of land, and the two kings concluded peace.

References

The Mighty Draken Harald Hårfagre Longship in a Storm in the Labrador Sea

Draken Harald Hårfagre (English: Dragon Harald Fairhair) is a large Viking longship built in the municipality of Haugesund, Norway.

Draken Harald Hårfagre brings the seafaring qualities of a warship from the old Norse sagas to life. It is a ship that combines ocean-crossing sailing capabilities with a warship’s use of oars.

Construction

Building began in March 2010. Construction was funded by Sigurd Aase, described as a “Norwegian oil and gas tycoon.”

An oceangoing Norwegian warship

The longship is a ’25-sesse’ (25 pairs of oars) – in other words, it is equipped with 50 oars. Each oar is powered by two men. Under sail it requires a crew of 30 people.

Draken Harald Hårfagre is 35 metres (115 ft) long with a beam of approximately 8 metres (26 ft) and a displacement of about 95 metric tons. The longship is constructed in oak and carries 260 square metres (2,800 sq ft) of sail.

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the largest Viking ship built in modern times. In the Viking age, an attack carried out from the ocean would be in the form of a “Strandhogg”, i.e. hit and run tactics, being highly mobile. By the High Middle Ages the ships changed shapes to become larger and heavier with platforms in the front and back. This was done for the sake of sea battles, that made it possible to board ships that lay alongside each other. In the 13th century, this tactic was well known and widely used in Scandinavia. The law of the land in those days (Norwegian: Gulatingsloven) included standards that required Norwegian provinces (fylker) to cooperate in supplying 116 such warships of 50 oars size (Norwegian: 25-sesser) (25 pairs of oars) for duty in the Norwegian fleet of warships.

Draken Harald Hårfagre under construction
 

Norwegian boatbuilding traditions

Copies of Viking ships are usually based on interpretations of archaeological material. But in the construction of Draken Harald Hårfagre an alternative method has been used. It was decided to begin with the living tradition of Norwegian boatbuilding, with roots that can be traced directly to the Viking Age. The foremost Norwegian traditional boat builders are involved in the project. Their knowledge of traditional boatbuilding is supplemented with the results of investigations carried out on archaeological material, source material in Norse literature, literature from the same period from foreign sources, iconographic material, etc. The goal of the project is to recreate in this manner an oceangoing warship of 50 oars taken right out of the Norse Sagas.

Launch and Maiden voyage

The launching of the longship took place in the summer 2012. Because no one today has real experience handling a Viking ship of this size, the initial period was one of exploring how to sail and row the ship, and for experimentation with the rigging along the coast of Norway.

In summer 2014, skippered by Swedish captain Björn Ahlander, the longship made its first real expedition, a 3-week passage under sail from Norway to Merseyside. There it was hosted by the Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club. It also visited various other locations around the coast of the British Isles including the Isle of Man, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Draken Harald Hårfagre in May 2011, working with 17th strake.

Expedition America 2016

The ship left its home port of Haugesund, Norway on the 26th of April, 2016, bound for Newfoundland, the aim being to explore and retrace the first transatlantic crossing and the Viking discovery of the New World. The route included stops at the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, before landfall on Newfoundland was finally achieved on the 1st of June that year. Future stops are planned along the Atlantic Canadian and American coast.

The schedule of the voyage is:

  • April 24 – Haugesund, Norway
  • May 3 – Reykjavik, Iceland
  • May 16 – Quqortoq, Greenland
  • June 1 – St Antony, N.L.*
  • June 15 – Quebec City, Que.*
  • July 1–3 – Toronto, Ont.*
  • July 8 – Fairport Harbor, Ohio, U.S.*
  • July 14 – Bay City, Mich., U.S.*
  • July 22 – Beaver Island. Mich., U.S.
  • July 27 – Chicago, Ill., U.S.*
  • Aug. 5 – Green Bay, Wisc., U.S.*
  • Aug. 18 – Duluth, Minn., U.S.*
  • Sept. (TBD) – Oswego, NY Canals, N.Y., U.S.*
  • Sept. 1st – Ilion NY
  • Sept. 3rd- Little Falls NY
  • Sept. 15 – New York City, New York, U.S.*
  • Oct (TBD). – Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, U.S.*

(*Approximate dates)

In mid-July 2016 doubts were raised about the ship’s ability to visit US destinations in the Great Lakes. The U.S. Coast Guard deemed it a commercial vessel, requiring a pilot per a 1960 law. The total cost of piloting was estimated at $400,000. Sons of Norway raised over $60,000 in order to help pay the pilot fees. On 4 August 2016 Viking Kings issued a press release declaring that Green Bay would be the ship’s last stop in the Great Lakes, planning to make its next stop in New York in September.

Sources

  • Grossman, David (14 July 2016). “World’s Largest Viking Ship Might be Defeated by U.S. Coast Guard”. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  • Heide, E. “Vikingskipa i den norrøne litteraturen” Institutt for lingvistiske, litterære, og estetiske studier, Norrøn filologi, 2012
  • A. W. Brøgger and H. Shetelig. “Vikingeskipene- Deres forgjengere og etterfølgere” Dreyers forlag 1950, p. 2137
  • Bent og Erik Andersen. “Råsejlet – Dragens Vinge”. Vikingsskipsmuseet Forlag, Roskilde 2007, p. 9-44
  • Jon B. Godal: “Measurements, figures and formulas for the interpretation of Western Norwegian boats and Viking ships”, Acta Boralia ,1990. Volume 7, Issue 2, pages 56-8
  • Gunnar Eldjarn og Jon B. Godal: “Nordlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten”, bind 1-4. A Kiellands Forlag, Lesja 1988
  • Pattinson, Rob (2 July 2014). “In Pictures: World’s largest-ever Viking longship set sail for Merseyside today”. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2016-07-15.

NATO Maritime Commander and Frigate Group to visit Helsinki

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1)

Allied Maritime Command Commander, Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, will make an official visit to Finland beginning on 24 August 2017.

The visit will be hosted by the Chief of Finnish Navy, Vice Admiral Veijo Taipalus.

In conjunction with the Commander’s visit, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) will arrive in Helsinki August 25 for a scheduled port visit as part of the group’s deployment in the Baltic Sea. The group will be hosted by Coastal Fleet.

Finland is one of NATO’s most active partners and a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions – it is one of five countries that has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with NATO.

The leadership discussions and port visit are a practical outcome of Finnish partnership with NATO in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The Commander’s visit allows for discussions on Finland’s maritime cooperation with NATO and the port visit provides an opportunity for sailors from the group to work with their Finnish counterparts to exchange information and enhance interoperability.

During the port visit, the SNMG1 command team will meet with local civilian and military leadership in Helsinki. The port visit is also a great opportunity for the sailors to enjoy a break from operations.

SNMG1 is currently composed of the NATO group flagship, Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup, Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown, Portuguese frigate NRP Francisco de Almeida and German tanker FGS Rhön.

Some of the ships will be open and welcome visitors aboard both Saturday 26 August and Sunday 27 August from 13.00 to 16.00. The ships will be at Hernesaari Quay, Helsinki Harbor, Henry Fordin katu 5.

Security measures during open ship

For security reasons, the following is not allowed to be brought on board:

. Large bags, backpacks etc.

. Weapons or dangerous objects

. Cameras, cell phones, tablets, computers etc

All visitors and their baggage may be subject to search before entry.

 

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.

 

Revell 1/72 Blohm & Voss “Wiking” Build – Part 2 – Stages 49 to 64

2 With the initial construction phase of the BV 222 complete: see Revell 1/72 Blohm & Voss “Wiking” Build – Part 1 – Stages 1 to 48. The six Bramo engines were assembled. These units come in six sections and can be modelled with the maintenance access covers in the open or closed positions. Next the aileron, rudder and elevator actuators were added, as were all of the peripheral accessories. The guns and propellers were left until last whilst the aircraft was being masked in order to avoid damaging them. 6 Camouflage & Markings Of the two options available in the kit (the first an example that served in the Mediterranean theatre), I chose; BV 222, V2, “X4+BH”, SAGr.130, Norway, 1944-45. This aircraft was captured intact by the British liberating forces in Norway. The windows, canopy and nose gunners glazing were masked with Tamiya tape and the entire aircraft was primed with grey auto-primer. The undersides were airbrushed with two tins of White Ensign Models WEMCC ALCW03 Hellblau (RLM 65) and left to dry overnight. In the meantime, the top-turret was constructed and masked with Tamiya tape, primed and airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 241 (RLM 73 Grun). 7 The following day, the BV 222 was airbrushed with two tins of Humbrol Matt 241 (RLM 73 Grun) during the morning spraying session. During the evening, the upper-surfaces were masked in a Luftwaffe 1944 ‘splinter’ pattern. Using the Mediterranean 3-view colour profile in the instructions makes a perfect template for this job. The aircraft was then airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 243 (RLM 72 Dark Grun). Once dry, the BV 222 was masked using a combination of Blu-Tac and Tamiya tape before the ‘white distemper’ camouflage was applied with Humbrol Matt 34 white. The decals were of excellent quality and went on without any complications with the use of Micro-Sol setting solution. 10 The Blohm & Voss was allowed to settle overnight before post-shading and a wash of Windsor & Newton Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna was applied into the panel lines. I gave the BV 222 a ‘water mark’ using the same process. Since this aircraft was captured in April/May 1945, I wanted to give the impression that it had seen ‘heavy’ service. Black and white photographs of these magnificent machines show them to be in poor condition at the end of the war. 11 Final Construction The upper-turret, wing turrets, and FUG 200 radar were fitted, as were the guns in the four waist positions and the gun-barrel in the nose. Finally, the aerial wires were added. The wires were 0.2mm copper wire coloured black, kindly supplied by Paul Fitzmaurice of Little-cars who carry an extensive range of accessories, which add that final touch to your project. Link to: Little-Cars 12 Conclusion Another fine kit from Revell. How they can provide an aircraft of this size for £39.99 is beyond me. Add to that the fine exterior detail and a full interior, if you have the room, this kit is a must. Highly recommended. 13 Special thanks go to Bob and Chris Hext of Spot-On Models, Fleet Street, Swindon for this review sample. The in-box review can be seen on this site by clicking on this link: Revell 1/72 Blohm & Voss BV 222 “Wiking” – In-box REVIEW 14 GALLERY 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 3

Richard Reynolds.

Revell 1/72 Blohm & Voss “Wiking” Build – Part 1 – Stages 1 to 48

The Revell 1/72 scale Blohm & Voss “Wiking” has reached the point at which it will soon be ready for the paint shop. It has yet to be filled, sanded-down and primed. I anticipate that by the weekend the under-surface RLM 65 and top-side base colour of RLM 73 will be applied. Below is a selection of photographs from the various build stages. This aircraft is big but holds no vices, so far it has been a pleasure to build.

The BV 222 with the interior complete, prior to the fuselage halves being joined together.
The BV 222 with the interior complete, prior to the fuselage halves being joined together.
The BV 222 cockpit and rear crew compartment.
The BV 222 cockpit and rear crew compartment. The upper and lower cargo decks can be clearly seen from this shot.

The control panel has been dry-brushed to highlight the instruments, dials and switches. 3 4 The rear crew compartment features the Navigators/plotters station, the Radio Operators station and the Flight Engineers station. All dials and switches have been dry brushed over a base colour of RLM 02 Grau. 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 The fuselage halves were joined without any difficulties, taped and left to dry. 13 The rear crew compartment can be accessed provided that the dorsal gun position is not glued into place later in the build. 14 The wings and horizontal tail surfaces are aligned and glued into position in addition to the floats. The giant flying boat finally takes shape. 15 The 1/72 BV 222 is posed with a 1/72 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 fighter to give a sense of the “Wiking’s” enormous scale. 16 A full build review will follow this article.   Richard Reynolds.    

Revell 1/72 Junkers 88A-4/R Finnish Air Force Review

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Kit: Revell A04672 Junkers Ju 88A-4 Bomber.

Price: £16.99 available from Spot-On Models, Swindon.

Decals: 2 Options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

Notes: Eduard EDCX309 1/72 mask for the Revell Junkers Ju-88A-4 used £7.20. Techmod 72139 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals were used to make a Finnish Air Force Example at £5.60, available from Hannants UK.

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History

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept. It suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Affectionately known as “The Maid of all Work” (Mädchen für Alles), the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and even as a flying bomb during the closing stages of conflict.

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In April 1943 as Finland was fighting the Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip Lentolaivue 44 (LeLv 44 or No. 44 Sqn), which had previously operated the Bristol Blenheim which was transferred to No. 42 Sqn upon the arrival of the Junkers 88. The Ju 88 was a complex aircraft, most of 1943 was used for training crews in strategic and tactical bombing techniques, including; dive-bombing, level bombing and defence against enemy fighters. A handful of bombing missions were undertaken during 1943. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole of No.44 squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). During the summer of 1943, Finnish maintenance engineers discovered that Ilmavoimat Ju-88s had suffered stress damage to the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing operations. Restrictions in dive-bombing tactics were immediately implemented. The dive brakes were removed and the aircraft was limited to a 45-degree angle dive (compared to 60-80 degrees previously employed). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear. (This Revell review kit is modelled with the dive brakes removed).

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During February 1944, the Soviet Long-Range Bombing Group conducted 3 large scale raids against Helsinki. The Finnish Air Force, lacking the numbers to respond to strategic raids of this scale, developed a unique and effective answer to the bombing of Helsinki. A series of remarkable tactical operations were tested by Squadrons PLeLv 42 and 46. On the 29th of February 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when Finnish bombers, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn. On the 22nd of March 1944, the Ju 88s of PLeLv 44 conducted their own operation by following their Soviet counterparts back to their air-base at Aerosan, Petsnajoki.

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The Finnish bomber group matched their height and tactical formations. Once the Finnish group reached their destination, they joined the Soviet aircraft in the landing circuit, at the moment the Soviet bombers began to land; the Finns opened fire and bombed the airfield fuel reserves, ammunition dumps and the landing bombers. Several bombers were destroyed due to being parked in line-abreast outside of their hangars. Several raids of this type took place. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions by day and night, when the weather permitted.

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These missions are reported in greater detail in ‘THEMODELGALLERY’ article: The Bombing of Helsinki in World War II, under the sub-heading: ‘Finnish Response’. Click on this link to view the article: https://historiasaxonice.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-bombing-of-helsinki-in-world-war-ii/

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No. 44 Sqn (re-named Pommituslentolaivue 44 or PLeLv 44 on 14 February 1944) was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945.

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After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb loads. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped during the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the frame structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa. The Suomen Ilmavoimat aircraft code for Ju 88 was JK.

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A single Ju 88 A-4, survives in Scandinavia; Werk Nr.0881478 4D+AM (ex-Stammkennzeichen of BH+QQ)

This aircraft is displayed at the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, the Norwegian Aviation Museum at Bodø Airport. On the 13 of April 1942, it was returning from an attack on Soviet ships when it ran out of fuel. The crew bailed out in the vicinity of Snefjord but the aircraft continued its flight and, remarkably, was left comparatively intact after crash-landing on a hillside at Garddevarre in Finnmark in the far north of Norway. It remained there until recovered by the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum in 1988.

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Junkers Ju 88 in Finnish service (Source: Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 9, Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen).

Below is a list of every Junkers 88A-4 that served with the Suomen Ilmavoimat during World War II. The list includes the fate of each aircraft:

Type WerkNr.088 German registration German units Finnish Registration History Finnish units
A-4/R 3880 GB+YJ JK-251 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 29/12 1943 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3878 GB+YH JK-252 Delivered 10/4 1943, used as a crew trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3879 GB+YL JK-253 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 26/8 1947 and not repaired LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3883 DJ+TC JK-254 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 1/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3889 DJ+TI JK-255 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 1/6 1944 and not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3860 GL+QM   JK-256 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down by German fighter 10/10 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3887 DJ+TG JK-257 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8797 CT+ZA JK-258 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3845 BI+EY JK-259 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down 23/6 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8785 CP+OO JK-260 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3857 JK-261 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3899 DJ+TS JK-262 Delivered 11/4 1943, exploded during landing 18/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3863 KG+KE   JK-263 Delivered 11/4 1943, shot down by german AAA 15/10 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 8794 CP+OX JK-264 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 15/6 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3877 GE+YG JK-265 Delivered 10/4 1943, put into storage 17/10 1945 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3885 DJ+TE JK-266 Delivered 1/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3888 DJ+TH JK-267 Delivered 11/4 1943, damaged during take-off 29/7 1944 and was not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8796 CP+OZ JK-268 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3882 DJ+TB JK-269 Delivered 10/4 1943, damaged by own bombs 20/8 1943 was repaired and stored LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3881 DJ+TA JK-270 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 18/6 1947 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3841 BJ+WW JK-271 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8795 CP+OY JK-272 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3912 GC+UM JK-273 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3849 BG+GO JK-274 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed on the flight to Finland 23/4 1943 LeLv. 44

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German Flak Defences during the Lapland War were effective, claiming at least one confirmed Finnish Junkers Ju-88A-4R.  I./Flak Rgt. 15 was attached to the XVIII Gebirgs Korps in October 1944, providing Flak defence around the Sturmbock stellung and Kilpisjärvi stellung until the 15th of April 1945 when the unit was re-located to the South of Norway.

One Finnish Junkers 88 was lost to Flak over Kilpisjärvi on the 15th October 1944, during the Lapland War.

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Lentolaivue 44 or Pommituslentolaivue 44/PLeLv 44 from the 14th of February 1944:

Flying Squadron 44 became the best equipped Finnish bomber squadron after receiving new Junkers Ju 88A-4/R bombers from Germany in the spring of 1943.

The inexperience of LeLv 44 crews with the Ju-88, resulted in a number of accidents and some losses. Germany refused to sell more bombers to Finland due to shortages of their own,  this restricted the squadron’s effectiveness until the summer of 1944, when an official training programme was implemented and the Ju-88s began flying combat missions escorted by new Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighters, Finnish bomber formations didn’t suffer any losses due to Soviet fighters during the heavy summer campaigns of 1944.

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Flying Unit: Finnish Name (and Abbreviation), Airbases, Notes (Name in English) Squadron Commander / Flight Leader
Flights and Planes . Rank: Name:
Lentolaivue 44 (LLv.44, since 3.5.42 Le.Lv.44) (Flying Squadron 44) Siikakangas (Ruovesi), 5.7.41- Mikkeli, 29.9.41- Onttola (planes only: 16.4.-28.4.43 Pori, summer 43 Luonetjärvi, ?.9-?.9.43 Utti, occasionally also Immola, Nurmoila, Tiiksjärvi Naarajärvi)Bomber squadron. BLs were relieved to Le.Lv.42 on 20.2.1943 and squadron was converted to new Junkers Ju 88A-4 bombers being operational again on 30.5.1943.1. Lentue (1st Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . . . . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .4. Lentue (4th Flight) (27.4.-15.11.43 JK) Operational only between 27.4. – 15.11.1943.Osasto [Detachment] Räty (JU) (25.5.42 – 23.10.42) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Originally known as Sairaankuljetuslentue (Ambulance Flight). Moved from Le.Lv.48 on 25.5.1942 for transport and special operations missions. On 28.6.1942 subordinated to Intelligence Department of Chief HQ (PM Tied.Os.)Osasto [Detachment] Malinen (HE, JU) (5.43 -?) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Formed in spring 1943 for special operations missions. On 1.7.1943 subordinated operationally to Er.P 4 / PM Tied.Os. . Maj. Maj./Lt.Col. (42) . . .. . .Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Lt./Capt. (42?)Capt. Lt.Capt. . . . . .Capt./Maj. Capt. E. Stenbäck B. Gabrielsson (30.12.41-) . . . .. . .E. Ahmo E. Ahtiainen (30.12.41-) E. Itävuori (2.5.42-)R. Moilanen (MIA -> KIA) T. Halonen (7.8.41-) O. Lumiala (20.1.42-) A. Helminen (31.7.42-6.1.43+) I. Ritavuori (8.1.43-) K. Lehmus (15.11.43-)A. Tervo (-14.8.41 KIA) J. Saarinen (17.8.41-) .O. Siirilä (27.4.43-) T. Iisalo (30.5.-15.11.43)J. Räty (25.5.42-23.10.42) . . . . .O. Malinen (5.43-) E. Jauri (1.7.43-)
Pommituslentolaivue 44 (PLe.Lv.44) (14.2.1944-) (Bomber Squadron 44) Onttola, ([6 JK] 6.3.-9.3.44 Utti, 6.44 Immola)1. Lentue (1st Flight) (JK)2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (JK) . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (JK) . Lt.Col. Maj. .Capt. Lt./Capt. (44) B. Gabrielsson T. Meller (20.2.44-) .E. ItävuoriK. Lehmus (KIA) T. Iisalo (23.6.44-) .J. Saarinen

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The Junkers Ju 88 assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945, and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout the production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged.

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The Kit

 This kit is a brand new mould. Thankfully, it bears no resemblance to their Ju-88 A/D kit and the difference really shows. Revell’s new release Ju-88A-4 is supplied in an end-opening style box. The kit comprises 191 parts in pale grey plastic on 9 sprue frames and 15 clear parts on four linked frames. The clear parts are excellent. In fact the whole kit possesses the kind of quality that you would expect from a kit twice the price.

The grey-plastic parts are beautifully detailed with recessed panel lines, the cockpit is furnished to a standard that you would expect from a 1/32 scale kit, there are no obvious flaws. I was looking forward to this build. In addition, a 15 page instruction booklet is provided with each stage represented in an ‘exploded-view’ format. The decals provide the modeller a choice of two Luftwaffe examples and are clear and appear to be in good register.

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Construction

I set the parts out after washing them in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release and carefully studied the instructions. Revell instructions are black and white and printed on inexpensive paper, presumably to keep the costs down. This is great for the pocket but daunting to the modeller, given the large number of small parts that would be required to fit into the cockpit area.

I sprayed all of the grey plastic sprues with grey auto-primer from a rattle-can and cut the relevant cockpit parts from the sprues detailed in stages 1 to 13. This was a time consuming process. Each stage was given a dry-fit, then airbrushed, then pre-shaded, detailed and post-shaded. However, with time and patience the results are extremely pleasing. I have a feeling that this 1/72 scale kit may have been scaled down from their 1/32 sale Ju-88, how they can produce such fine detail at £16.99 is beyond me, especially since my last 1/72 scale kit review of the Airfix Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 provided just the Pilot’s seat for the cockpit. The interior was airbrushed using Humbrol 67 tank grey, the fronts of the navigation station and instrument panel was painted black and the instrument dials and switches were painted white, red or yellow depending on the directions from the instruction manual and from colour pictures from the internet and book references.

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Once the cockpit had been completed, the tail-wheel was constructed and the fuselage halves were joined. Then the cockpit unit was glued to the rear fuselage, taped and set to one side to dry overnight. I decided to mask the entire canopy components at once, as this process can be time consuming; these were then placed securely in a zip-lock bag.

Sections 17 to 25 were the next stage of the build. This consists of gluing the upper and lower main wings together and taping them as well as the wing tips, wing flaps and ailerons. The same process was repeated for sections 28 to 31, which were the horizontal tail surfaces and tail-plane. All sub-assemblies were then allowed to set overnight.

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Stages 32 and 33 were the final assemblies of the day, which was the construction of the engines and nacelles with cowlings. The exhausts were painted with citadel colour scorched brown and glued into the nacelles, the front of the engines are the only components that are exposed; these were painted black and dry-brushed with Humbrol 11 silver when they had dried. The nacelles were glued together, taped and allowed to dry.

The next day, the wing assemblies, tail, tail-planes and canopies were glued together. The MG 131’s were glued to the inside of the canopy and lower-gondola before these components were glued to the airframe. Again, these were left overnight to dry. The aircraft that I had chosen to build was a Suomen Ilmavoimat Lapin Sota (Finnish Air Force Lapland War) aircraft, which carried an internal bomb load and were predominantly used for reconnaissance duties for the Finnish Ground Forces. Therefore, the external bomb racks and bombs were not required. Additionally, the Finns removed the dive brakes from beneath the wings of their Junkers Ju-88A-4/Rs due to airframe fatigue. The aircraft were still able to dive-bomb targets but were restricted to a 45 degree angle as opposed to the usual 60-80 degree dive angle.

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Before the Ju 88 went to the paint shop, the undercarriage was constructed, wheels painted (Hubs – Humbrol 67, tyres – Tamiya XF-85 Tyre black).

Camouflage & Markings

Techmod’s 1/72 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals offer 6 aircraft to choose from. Two are Luftwaffe examples, one based in Nurmoila, Finland, the other is an example based in Sicily in 1943. I chose ‘JK-268’ one of the four Finnish Air Force aircraft. This machine belonged to 3/PleLv 44 based at Onttola in Finland during June 1944. The aircraft took part in the Lapland War, survived the conflict and continued in service with the Ilmavoimat after the War.

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The aircraft was given a second coat of grey primer from a rattle-can and the undersides were airbrushed overall in RLM 76, which was taken up the fuselage sides. The undercarriage main and tail-wheel doors were similarly sprayed. The undersides of the wing-tips (approximately 1/3rd of the wings) were airbrushed using white ensign models WEMCC ALCW21 RLM 04 Gelb. The airframe was then masked and airbrushed V.L. Green, a combination of 6 parts Humbrol 116, 6 parts 117, 1 part 163 and 1 part matt white. Once this had dried, the upper-surfaces were masked and airbrushed with thinned Humbrol 33 black. The propellers and spinners were airbrushed with Humbrol matt 241 schwarzgrünand given RLM 04 Gelb tips.

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Final Construction

Once the masking had been removed, the decals were applied, the Techmod decals went on very nicely, they were thin but there was no hint of the camouflage showing through them. The undercarriage was fitted, as was the aerial wire. The airframe was then given a coat of Johnson’s Klear to seal the decals.

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Conclusion

I honestly don’t think you can get a better aircraft for your money. It was exquisitely detailed, went together beautifully and really is a must for anybody interested in the Finnish Air Force in World War II. I really can’t recommend this aircraft enough.

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References

  • Flying units in Finland 1942. Anttonen, Harri. 2002 – 2003. http://www.geocities.ws/finnmilpge/fmpg_lw42.html
  • Winchester, Jim. “Junkers Ju 88”. Aircraft of World War II. London: Grange Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.
  • Stenman, Kari. “Short But Gallant: The Career of the Finnish Junkers Ju 88s”. Air Enthusiast, No 60, November–December 1995. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing, pp. 35–39. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Suchenwirth, Richard. The Development of the German Air Force, 1919-1939. North Stratford, New Hampshire, UK: Ayer Publishing, 1968.
  • Taylor, John W.R. “Junkers Ju 88.” Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • Green, William. The Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1970. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.

Thanks to Chris Hext of Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Havelock street, Swindon for the review sample.

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Richard Reynolds.