ILMARINEN and VAINAMOINEN 
by
  Paul Jacobs 
 
In the late 1920's the Finnish Navy ordered two armored coast defense ships (Panssarilaiva), the first large modern ships for their navy.  The two ships named VAINAMOINEN and ILMARINEN entered service in the early 1930's, and remained the largest, most powerful ships, and primary units, of the small Finnish Navy into and through World War II.  
 
Heavily armed with four 11" guns (254mm) and eight 4.1" (105mm) guns, the two ships were specifically designed to operate along the coast of the Baltic archipelagos rather than as sea going vessels.  They had a shallow draft, low speed, and short range which made them bad sea boats, but good armor protection for vessels of only 3,900 tons.  
 
Both ships were active during the Winter War with the Soviets, acting as protection against invasion in the Aland Islands, then subsequently supported German forces in operations along the Baltic coast after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union.  On September 13, 1941, while supporting a German naval operation, ILMARINEN struck one or more mines off the coast of Estonia, and sank. VAINAMOINEN continued in service throughout the war primarily patrolling the Gulf of Finland, but since the Soviets did not actively engage in naval operations with their heavy ships, the ship saw no action.  
 
In May 1947, the ship was turned over to the Soviets as war reparations, serving actively for about six years after which she served as a residence ship, finally being scrapped in 1966.
 
Several commercial models of this class ship have been made, the earliest by Wiking, and much later by Hai and Argonaut.  The two models pictured here are the Argonaut ILMARINEN (AR 751). One depicts the factory model, which I have repainted repainted and rigged but is otherwise unmodified.  The second depicts VAINAMOINEN in camouflage and after modifications that were done during wartime.  To do this, another Argonaut model had to be modified, using primarily plastic rod and strips, and some brass wire.  
 
The photos here show the model undergoing this transformation, and the completed version.  As can be seen in the first two photos, the mast had to be replaced with a revised one, various changes to the superstructure made, and small guns added.  The third photo shows the model with a base coat of paint and the remaining photos show the final result.  
 
Photos of the ship in the camouflage pattern can be found on line. During her career, the ship carried several different patterns, but this is the only one that I could find color renderings for.  During the Winter War, the ships were painted overall white for a time  to hide them from Soviet bombers. 
 
 
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Paul Jacobs

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