MILITARY UNIFORMS 4

 

Military Uniform M/36

 

 

 

Development work of military uniform m/36:

Military uniform m/36 was the standard issue Finnish military uniform during World War 2 and after the war remained in use all the way until 1960’s. It was designed by Field Equipment Board (Kenttävarustustoimikunta) lead by Colonel Aarne Heikinheimo (later Major-General and Inspector of Infantry until his accidental death in test-firing event of 47-mm mortar prototype in year 1938) and composed of jaeger officers (former Finnish volunteers of Prussian Jaeger Battalion 27 of World War 1). Composition of the board is a likely at least one of the reasons why it ended up developing military uniform, which was so heavily influenced by German Army uniforms of that time. In essence with military uniform m/36 Finnish military was replacing its existing standard issue uniforms the second time in time period of just 14 years – which was highly uncommon if compared to later Finnish uniform development. It is rather ironic that the official reason that the board noted for the development work of new standard military uniform was that they considered field uniform/27 to be poorly suited for combat use. In reality it seems more likely that the main reason was that the field uniform m/27 was considered not to be presentable enough for garrison and parade. In addition it would not be impossible for least some of the members of Field Equipment Committee may have also had other motives. Among them inter-service rivalry with Civil Guard or wishing to visually differentiate Finnish Armed Forces from Civil Guard, whose reputation had suffered a blow with Mäntsälä Rebellion (coup attempt of extreme right wing Lapuan Liike) in February – March of 1932).

The board did come up with some technical reasons why they considered field uniform m/27 to be so poorly suited combat use. In its critique towards field uniform m/27 it noted that possible use of chemical weapons had not been taken into consideration in its development process, which while true seems pretty poor excuse considering that other wool uniforms were unlikely to really do well in that regard. Yet one must be admit that it made some keen observations when it came in developing of soldier’s equipment and that field uniform m/27 did in fact have some problem points of its own. One of the matters that the board highlighted for a very valid reason was the weight of infantry soldier’s kit – the summertime kit weight about 33 kg and wintertime kit 37 kg. This was a lot of weight for soldiers marching on foot - hence the board put some effort in trying to reduce its weight, even if the results for its efforts were rather moderate.

Field Equipment Board put considerable effort in developing new military uniform. Year 1933 the board started its work by acquiring sample of complete (including shoes) military uniforms of the latest model from Germany and Great Britain. It is worth noting that this was not new or unique in a sense - Finnish military attachés had been ordered already in late 1920’s to acquire sample uniforms, samples of their fabric and certain other equipment issued by the military forces of the country where they were stationed to provide reference materials for developing new military clothing and equipment. Early on the board had also considered uniform made from cotton, but when tested none of the available cotton fabrics proved capable of surviving being washed repeatedly without losing its poise or its color fading. Due to this the cotton uniform option was abandoned and wool got confirmed as the only possible fabric for new military uniform.

PICTURE: Private (sotamies) of Finnish Army in typical military uniform m/36. Notice collar patches, which were not used in earlier Finnish military uniforms. Both green collar patches with white frame and brass badges of crossed rifles on epaulets indicate that the soldier's service branch is infantry. Trousers appear to be straight pants m/36. Rifle is infantry rifle m/27, belt is leather belt m/22 with ammunition pouch m/18 and bayonet. Hat is field cap m/36 and boots are black jackboot-type leather boots, which were the standard boot design for Finnish Army during use of military uniform m/36. Photo taken in Finnish Military Museum (Sotamuseo), Helsinki. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (126 KB).

 

 

Experimental military uniform M/34 (kokeilupuku m/34):

As part of the development process of military uniform m/36 Field Equipment Board first developed prototypes and a field test series of uniforms in form of experimental military uniform m/34 (kokeilupuku m/34). The fabric of this experimental uniform was made from wool that was thinner, tighter and lighter than the fabric commonly used in field uniform m/27 – making it experimental military uniform m/34 lighter and easier to dry, but it still had better wind resistance qualities and was almost as warm as its predecessor.

 

Tunic of experimental uniform m/34 (kokeilupuvun m/34 takki):

Tunic of this experimental uniform was directly based on German Army (apparently M33) military tunic, but not a direct copy, since there had been some changes. The most notable of these changed was that while German m/33 was closed with four buttons, the tunic of Finnish experimental uniform m/34 is somewhat longer and closed with five buttons. In addition size-wise the tunic is bit more loosely fitted than the German one and has no slit in the back. Back of the tunic is flat, but had two fabric folds, which if needed can be opened to provide more room around the waist. The experimental tunic also has a low folded collar, which was intended to be worn open. There was more than one cuff design being tested with some tunics having cuffs that had buttons, while some tunics did not. As typical to Finnish uniforms tunics, tunic pockets had flaps which are closed with buttons featuring Finnish coat of arms lion and similar buttons were used to also for tapered epaulets. First some prototypes of this experimental uniform was acquired in variety of colors, but only two color versions were issued for field testing in military units – green-grey (as the German original uniform) and green-brown (in essence in same color as in standard-version of field uniform m/27). Due to open collar design not used in any other Finnish military tunics of that time besides light uniform m/27 tunic, this tunic was intended to be used with green scarf or neck warmer.

Finnish Armed Forces issued experimental military uniforms m/34 in limited numbers for field testing to nine of its military units. Most of these units were infantry units, but also field artillery, cavalry, coastal artillery and Air Force were included. Although these experimental uniforms were originally intended to be used only as field uniforms, in many if not all of the units to which they had been issued apparently allowed also their use as holiday uniforms. Grand majority (at least hundreds) of the uniforms issued to military units for field testing had been made from green-brown wool (resembling color of field uniform m/27), while only much smaller number (dozens) had been made from grey-green wool. There was also a grey version of this uniform, but apparently only few uniforms were made in that color and all of those in earlier prototype stage, hence none of them probably saw field testing.

For some reason (presumably mainly due uniform colors used with experimental uniform m/34) officially very little of the uniform items introduced with earlier uniforms were allowed to be used with it. Although it seems uncertain how much actual effort was placed in enforcing these orders particularly during the war.

 

Trousers of experimental uniform m/34 (kokeilupuvun m/34 housut):

As earlier Finnish military uniforms, also experimental military uniform m/34 had three types of trousers acquired for it – breeches, riding breeches and straight pants. Not bothering to re-invent the wheel, these trousers many in large degree similar to those used with earlier Finnish military uniforms. Namely the cut and design used in breeches and riding breeches was similar to the ones already earlier used with field uniform m/27, while straight pants were apparently somewhat different, but all pants still used the similar four-holed iron buttons as used with trousers of field uniform m/27. In fact one could argue that the main difference to field uniform m/27 trousers was material – which was the same lighter and tighter wool as the experimental uniform’s tunic. All three trouser models had burlap lining in their upper parts and internal slightly canted front pockets with small pocket on the left for pocket watch. As usual for Finnish military uniforms of the era, these trousers did not have belt loops, since they had been intended to be used with suspenders and have buttons in waist area for that purpose. Sides of trouser’s waist also have tighteners about 10 cm / 4 in long for adjusting waist. These tighteners are straps of fabric which can be adjusted to correct setting with a small metal buckle.

 

Field cap m/34 (kenttälakki m/34):

When it came to hat issued with experimental uniform m/34, the field cap design introduced with it was bit of "back to the roots" sort of choice. Namely the field cap m/34 introduced with it was directly based on "jaeger cap" (jääkärilakki) type field caps used by Finnish White Army in year 1918 and also used by Finnish Civil Guard (Suojeluskunta) ever since. The White Army’s "jaeger cap" had in turn been based on cap design used by Austrian and German World War 1 era mountain troops. Field cap m/34 was made from the same wool as tunic and trousers, visor with two layers of fabric and sides that could folded down. Although it is possible that the Finnish White Army year 1918 field caps were skipped when it came to design used for inspiration of field cap m/34. What is known suggests that Field Equipment Board used at least already existing Civil Guard field cap and cap of Austrian mountain troops as reference while planning the exact cap design. Field cap m/34 was intended for around the year use, due to which it had been equipped in internal removable liner locked in with snap fasteners. While field cap m/34 was soon replaced in production with field cap m/36 directly based to it, field cap m/34 had been manufactured in such a large scale (total production was about 20.000 hats), that they still remained in use at least until end of World War 2. While field cap m/34 had been originally intended to be used also as winter hat, apparently the liner-equipped field cap proved not warm enough for winter use. Due to this it was replaced with field cap m/36, which no longer had the liner and Finnish Army decided to introduce separate new winter hat design called fur hat m/39 (turkislakki m/39) just before Winter War.

 

 

BASIC MILITARY UNIFORM M/36

 

Tunic m/36 (asetakki m/36):

PICTURE: Finnish military tunic m/36. This particular tunic is very late production (year 1963) and apparently unissued, but for all practical purposes identical to pre-war manufactured tunics. Blank dark red collar patches with black borders and brass badges on epaulets that have cannon shell with burning fuse insignia indicate rank of Gunner (tykkimies) in field artillery. Photo source Digitaltmuseum.se - original photo by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (111 KB).

While tunic m/36 was a direct further development from tunic of experimental uniform m/34, it also had some notable changes. The notable of these is probably change in color of the fabric (wool) to steel-grey, which probably for the large part credited to proposal made by Lieutenant General Harald Öhquist (1891 – 1971). The likely main reason or this change of uniform’s color was most likely a financial one – namely it allowed uniform items previously acquired for old military uniform m/22 to be continued to be used with new uniform. The other significant change was replacing open collar design used in tunic m/34 with "Polish-style" folded collar closed with two small metal hooks. Apparently the primus motor for changing type of tunic collar was Lieutenant General Hugo Österman (1892 – 1975, Commander of Finnish Army in 1933 – 1939) according whom "leaving top buttons open and using lapels may easily lead into diversity (in soldier’s appearance) and even to unruliness". With introduction of these changes Finnish military tunic m/36 became groin-length tunic made from steel-grey wool and is closed with single row of six large buttons, the lowest of which was slightly under waistline and standing folded collar with was closed with two metal claps. The tunic has large external breast pockets (about 10 – 12 cm / 4.0 – 4.7 in wide) and even larger (19 – 22 cm / 7.5 – 8.4 wide) side pockets, which both have flaps closed with standard Finnish uniform buttons featuring coat of arms lion emblem. There is no center seam in back of the tunic, but there are seems on sides of the tunic. Back of the tunic has belt hooks made from metal for keeping the belt in its correct place. Tunic collar is made from the same steel-grey wool as rest of the tunic and is folded standing collar about 5 – 7 cm /2 – 2.8 in high. Cuffs are straight cuff type with slit about 12 cm / 4.7 in long closed with two small hidden buttons. Hidden inside the cuff was a small button that can be used for tightening mouth of the cuff. Tunic epaulets are made from the same wool as rest of the jacket and about 6.0 - 6.5 cm (2.4 – 2.6 in) wide, getting narrower towards their end that is closed with small coat of arms lion emblem buttons.

PICTURE: Military tunic m/36 of Captain (Kapteeni) serving in field artillery. This tunic appears to be the same type as issued to enlisted men. Notice collar patches, which were not used in earlier Finnish military uniforms. Red collar patches with black frame and red piping in epaulets limit the options of service branch to field artillery, antiaircraft artillery, fortification artillery and some other small units. Triangular red-black symbol seen in cross strap going across chest and on left side of field cap are unit patches for Continuation War (1941 - 1944) era 2nd Artillery Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment 7. Collar patches used by officer ranks had/have details referred as "twigs" in their front corners, collar patches used by senior officer ranks (Major and above) had/have double frames. Belt seen here is officer's leather belt m/27 and hat is still field cap m/22. Breeches may not be original, since they appear to be notably darker than tunic. Photo taken in Museum Militaria, Hämeenlinna. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (113 KB).

If compared to military tunic m/22, which military tunic m/36 de facto mainly replaced in Finnish Army, tunic m/36 could be adjusted to fit into individual soldiers in far larger degree. This was not only due to better jacket cut and not quit tightly fitted, since its sizing were planned for situation in which several shirts (including sweater) to be worn under the tunic when needed. But tunic sizing was also more adaptable due to two fold in back of the tunic, which could be cut open to allow more room around waist and belt hooks having six sets of holes belt hooks for adjusting placement of belt. The folds were about 20 cm / 8 inches long and sewed close from length of about 7 cm / 2.8 in. In addition of side and chest pockets tunic m/36 has also inside pocket intended for first-aid bandage in hem of the jacket. In general this tunic model was moderately better for combat use than tunic m/22, although one could argue that it was not necessarily better in this regard than tunic of field uniform m/27. Still it seems that the primary motivations in developing it had included good looks and compatibility with older existing uniform items (which effected mainly to uniform color).

PICTURE: Officer's version of Finnish military tunic m/36. The officer's version of tunic m/36 has small differences to normal version, most visible of which are tapered pocket flaps seen in this photo. Collar patches indicate that the tunic belonged to Major (Majuri) of Engineer Corps, who served in Ministry of Defense or in some unit belonging to it. Photo source Digitaltmuseum.se - original photo by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (117 KB).

As with earlier Finnish uniform tunics, also tunic of uniform m/36 had some special versions. The most common of these special versions was cavalry version, which is 5 cm / 2 in shorter, but otherwise similar to normal tunic m/36. Another rarer, but more distinctive version of tunic m/36 was leather jacket m/36 made from leather (typically black leather, although there are claims about some jackets being made from brown leather as well) leather, which was also originally issued with leather pants. Although the soldiers did not always wear the whole leather uniform m/36, since only jacket or pants are sometimes seen period photos. It is worth noting that this was not a first leather uniform used by Finnish military, since it was preceded by leather uniform m/22. For Finnish Tank Corps leather uniform m/36 and particularly its tunic became status symbols, whose wartime production proved impossible due to shortage of leather. Hence when Finnish tank units expanded considerably during World War 2, leather uniforms m/36 became items only available for the lucky few, who had been able to obtain one.

During World War 2 military uniform m/36 was de facto the standard uniform for Finnish Army with wartime shortages having considerable effect to it in numerous ways. One of these ways can be seen in uniform standard issue Finnish uniform buttons, which sport the Finnish coat of arms lion. Originally these buttons were made from copper or brass, but during World War 2 the button material first changed into zinc in year 1941 and later to Bakelite, which is early type of plastic. Some sources claim that the Bakelite uniform buttons were introduced in year 1943, but this is probably wrong, since they seem to appear already in some period photographs taken in early 1942. In addition at least in some point during the war also flat buttons (apparently also made from Bakelite) seem to have been used in tunic manufacturing instead of normal standard issue buttons. Another major way was change in fabrics being used in uniform production during the war – originally uniform m/36 had been made from imported high quality wool, which was no longer available during the war. As the war progressed wool got replaced in large degree with substitute materials.

PICTURE: Two Finnish Army World War 2 era tank crew uniforms. The one on the left is leather uniform m/36, which was version of military uniform m/36 made from leather and only used by tank corps. The leather tanker's helmet is similar to Soviet tanker helmet design and in fact many of them were re-issued captured Soviet leather helmets. The belt is officer's leather belt m/27 with German pistol holster for Parabellum pistol. Another uniform of sort that the tank crews were also using particularly late in the war was overalls. The attire contains seen in the photo contains also field cap m/36 and leather belt m/30. Photo taken in Finnish Military Museum (Sotamuseo), Helsinki. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (133 KB).

In 1930’s Finnish army peace-time conscripts typically had been issued two tunics m/36 – with one tunic being reserved to be used in holiday uniform, while another tunic was used in service uniform. The normal practice for these uniform tunics was that the tunic used in holiday uniform had collar patches, while the tunic used in service uniform lacked those. Another pre-war uniform item found in tunics m/36 issued to peace-time conscripts were unit markings made from fabric, which were sewn into tunic epaulets, later on these were replaced with unit markings made from brass which had earlier only been used by regular military personnel. During World War 2 the only soldiers who commonly used collar patches in their tunics were the ones whose rank markings were in those collar patches – in other words: officers. Although not all officers did not use collar patches in their tunics, since during the war it became quite common for officers to place heraldic roses indicating their ranks into tips of collar tunic in similar manner as with military tunic m/22. The known reasons for this were poor availability of correct collar patches caused by wartime material shortages and trying to be less of a bullet magnet for enemy snipers. Non-commissioned officer ranks were marked with white stripes of cloth sewn in tunic epaulets.

It is known that there also existed some uniform tunics m/22, which had been modified to uniform tunic m/36 standard. However their total number was presumably quite small and at least officially their use had been limited for service uniform use only – probably so, because the basic cut of the two uniforms was so different that tunic m/22 could only be modified to resemble m/36 up to a certain degree. The typical modifications were replacing of collar, epaulets and jacket sleeves. Change in uniform regulations that allowed tunic m/22 to tunic m/36 was introduced in June of 1941.

 

Trousers for uniform m/36 (asepuvun m/36 housut):

Finnish uniform regulations specified that three types of trousers could be worn with military uniform m/36, these were:

  • Straight pants: Standard issue straight pants made from the same steel grey wool as uniform tunic m/36. Originally straight pants were the type of trousers issued for conscripts, later on during World War 2 they became the standard trouser type typically issued for enlisted men.
  • Riding breeches: These trousers are also made from the same steel grey wool as military tunic m/36. Being riding breeches they may have leather or fabric reinforcements in buttocks. They have similar large buttoned opening on the groin as in riding pants m/27, but also fabric loops going under soles of foot for securing trousers legs. Before the war riding breeches were typically used by officers and senior non-commissioned officers, but during the war the situation was not quite as straight forward. While there is good reason to believe that riding breeches remained more common especially among officers than with other ranks, straight pants seem to have been more common and use of riding breeches not as exclusive as in peace-time army.
  • Trousers originally introduced with military uniform m/22: While this was not exactly a standard issue trousers type for military uniform m/36, Finnish military was not into wasting money, so existing trousers of military m/22 could be worn with tunic m/36, although according uniform regulations pre-war use of this combination was to be limited to combat training and field training. While trousers of military uniform m/22 are also grey wool, they can be often easily spotted even from black-and-white period photographs by being notably darker grey, than standard issue trousers of military uniform m/36. In addition cavalry and Air Force did not just stop using their own m/22 trouser types, which had already developed into status symbols. Although cavalry’s red riding breeches and Air Force’s dark blue straight pants with grey stripes on sides for practical purposes apparently got transferred into status of items belonging for holiday uniform and dress uniform use only.
  • PICTURE: Lieutenant of Finnish Air Force in summer tunic m/36, trousers are Air Force breeches m/22 and Air Force field cap m/22. Bright blue collar patches with black frames indicate Air Force and brass unit markings in epaulets verify this. The belt is officer's leather belt m/27 with pistol holster for L-35 pistol. The badge on tunic pocket is pilot's badge m/18 (lentomerkki m/18) - Finnish Air Force version of pilot's wings and used from year 1918 to year 1945. Photo taken in Finnish Military Museum (Sotamuseo), Helsinki. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (141 KB).

    It is worth noting that officers, senior non-commissioned officers and military officials could also acquire themselves (fancier) uniform trousers made from diagonal wool. In general the cut and design of trousers of military uniform m/36 was very similar to those already earlier issued with field uniform m/27, although wool used in them was different and obviously their color was medium steel grey color instead of brown-green-grey of field uniform m/27. These trousers designs were also basically identical to those used with experimental military uniforms m/34. All other soldiers except conscripts normally had side stripes that indicated service arm and also rough reference to level of military rank.

     

    Summer tunic m/32 (kesäpusero m/32):

    Finnish Army had issued summer tunic made from lighter fabric already with military uniform m/22, but it could not be officially worn with field uniform m/27 and it took couple of years until new summer tunic was developed and approved. That new summer tunic was summer tunic m/32 (kesäpusero m/32), which was manufactured in two basic versions due to Finnish Army, thas was still using both military uniforms m/22 and field uniforms m/27 at that time. Those two basic versions were brown-green-grey summer tunic m/32 intended to be used with trousers of field uniform m/27 and steel-grey summer tunic m/32 vanh. (vanhempi = older) intended to be worn with trousers belonging to military uniform m/22. These tunics were completely made from cotton and this included also collar, cuffs and epaulets. The total length of this tunic is such, that reaches about 5 - 7 cm / 2 – 2.8 in above groin and is closed with covered single row of six flat metal buttons with a flap going under a collar. Back of the tunic has sown in fabric belt about 4 cm / 1.7 in wide made from the same fabric as rest of the tunic. Sides of the tunic have fabric belt loops closed with small buttons. Tunic collar was soft, double layered, folded downwards and closed with two buttons. Sleeves have cuffs about 8 cm / 3.1 in wide and closed with two buttons. Tunic sleeve cut is such that they taper towards the cuffs. Some but not all of these tunics have elbows reinforced with additional layer of fabric. The only pockets only found in these tunics are breast pockets, which are external pockets closed with tapered flaps and closed with buttons. The tunic has tapered epaulets sown into the tunic from one end and closed with a standard buttons that sport the lion from Finnish coat of arms. Typically all other buttons except the ones used with epaulets are flat dull grey colored aluminum buttons with four holes.

    PICTURE: Group of soldiers from Häme Cavalry Regiment (Hämeen Ratsurykmentti) photographed in 1930's. They all seem to be wearing variations of summer tunics m/32. Trousers appear to be riding breeches and boots have riding spurs attached in them. All except one of the hats are field caps m/27 and the only exception among them is so high, that it might be field cap m/34. Leather belts are apparently leather belts m/27. (Photo Jaeger Platoon photo collection.) CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (204 KB).

    Summer tunic m/32 was officially approved to use of Finnish Army, Air Force and Coastal Artillery in May of 1932. It was intended to use of non-commissioned officers, military officials and conscripts. Officers were allowed to use this tunic only as part of field uniform. In pre-war era senior non-commissioned officers and military officials used on tunic epaulets unit markings made from brass, while conscripts normally used painted unit markings that were on fabric patches sown on tunic epaulets. Early on conscripts seem to have often used shoulder boards originating from military tunic m/22 with their summer tunics m/32 – this may have been due shortage of standard fabric patches with painted unit markings at that time. In just a few years summer tunics m/32 and m/32 vanh. were replaced in uniform manufacturing by summer tunic m/36 and because of this was never issued in large scale – the heyday of these two summer tunic models was in mid 1930’s, when they were issued in limited numbers to numerous military units. Epaulets used in summer tunics m/32 and m/32 vanh. lacked the colored piping used in normal epaulets of summer tunic m/36. Once summer tunic m/36 had been officially approved, markings of rank used in summer tunics m/32 and m/32 vanh. got replaced with standard m/36 markings. Still while summer tunic m/36 became the new standard also summer tunics m/32 and m/32 vanh. manufactured by that time remained in use and apparently saw use in World War 2 until they worn out in harsh wartime use.

     

    Summer tunic m/36 (kesäpusero m/36):

    There is reason to believe that this summer tunic was originally only intended to be used in garrison duty, but practical experiences forced Finnish military to issue it more widely for summertime use. The reason for this was apparently that tunic m/36 proved much too warm for warm summer days, due to which summer tunic m/36 first went to large scale production and later entered to mass-production in year 1940.

    PICTURE: Staff Sergeant (ylikersantti) of Finnish Army in typical military uniform m/36, which is composed of summer tunic m/36, breeches m/36 and field cap m/36. Green collar patches with white frame indicate that his service branch is infantry. Belt is leather belt m/30 with pistol holster model that was used with pistol m/19. Photo taken in Finnish Military Museum (Sotamuseo), Helsinki. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (116 KB).

    This summer tunic model was clearly a further development of summer tunic m/32 vanh. – in other words the grey colored version of summer tunic m/32. Like its predecessor it was normally manufactured from cotton and was closed with six aluminum buttons hidden under a flap of fabric. The main visual difference to summer tunics m/32 vanh. is re-locating marks of rank from shoulder boards and epaulets to colorful collar patches, whose colors indicated unit type and other details level of military rank. This difference is often not easy to spot because this change was not implemented for conscripts and reserve officers until year 1941 and due to wartime shortages of collar patches particularly junior non-commissioned officer ranks routinely used their rank markings in epaulets and this was not very not uncommon for senior NCO ranks either. Not only did officers often have trouble finding correct colorful collar patches, but collar patches also proved to be somewhat of a liability for officers serving frontline, making officers wearing them a priority target for enemy snipers. Hence there were orders issued by many units to reduce officer casualties ordering officers to remove collar patches and wear brass heraldic roses indicating their military rank in collar tips of their tunic in similar manner as with field tunic m/27. Summer of 1944 this was confirmed as new official standard when orders were issued for all rank markings to be placed on tunics without collar patches – officers were to attach their heraldic roses indicating rank to collar tips in previously explained manner, while non-commissioned officers were to mark them to tunic epaulets with white stripes of fabric. Early production summer tunic m/36 have cuffs with slits about 12 cm / 4.7 inches long closed with two aluminum buttons in similar manner as summer tunic m/32 and m/32 vanh, but sometime circa 1941 – 1942 these were replaced in production with straight cuff design, which became a new standard for production from that on. While original standard fabric for summer tunic m/36 was cotton, which looks light steel grey from a distance but is actually composed of black and white yarn woven in crisscross pattern, senior non-commissioned officers and officers could privately acquire summer tunics made from diagonal wool.

     

     

    OTHER ITEMS OF MILITARY UNIFORM M/36

     

    Greatcoat m/36 (mantteli m/36):

    With military uniform m/36 greatcoat remained as the standard overcoat commonly used by all ranks. Greatcoat m/36 introduced with military uniform m/36 was directly based on earlier greatcoat m/22 and shared its main features in such degree, that in fact much of the greatcoats m/36 were in fact simply greatcoats m/22 modified to greatcoat m/36 standard. Both greatcoats had quite similar basic cut with two rows of buttons on the chest and was made from grey wool. The only notable visible difference in between them was color of collar, which changed from notably dark grey collar used in m/22 to somewhat lighter shade steel grey collar, that was only of slightly darker shade of grey than rest of the coat. According original uniform regulations from year 1937 there was a difference how collar of greatcoat was worn depending rank - namely officers, military officers, senior NCO ranks and cadets were allowed to open top two or three buttons of their greatcoat and turn the collar down, while this was not allowed to conscripts. As earlier greatcoat m/22, also greatcoat m/36 was quite heavy (4 – 5 kg / dry and substantially more when wet) and due to its length when worn limited soldier’s mobility. Even with its obvious limitations greatcoat m/36 served Finnish Army through World War 2 and remained in its use until replaced by notably shorter greatcoat M/65 (päällystakki M/65), which has collar made from the same fabric as rest of the coat.

    PICTURE: Continuation War era photo intended to show soldiers kit of Finnish Army soldier at that time. Besides greatcoat m/36 the soldier is also wearing field cap m/36, leather belt m/30 with Finnish-made rubberized canvas ammunition pouch and short boots m/34. The two shoulder straps belong to bread bag and gas mask bag. The rifle is infantry rifle m/27. (SA-kuva.fi archive, photo number 139025). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (135 KB).

     

    Raincoat m/36 (sadetakki m/36):

    This jacket was officially called raincoat m/36, but regardless its official title, the actual purpose for which it was probably mostly acquired was probably as a lighter trench-coat sort of overcoat for those professional soldiers who wished to buy one. Due to fabric from which this jacket was manufactured (wool and wool-mix) it was only water-proof in up to a point. Being item that only officers, military officials and senior non-commissioned officers could acquire at their own expense, it saw far more limited use than greatcoat. Its use was also limited to Army and Air Force, due not being approved as part of Navy uniform. It was officially approved for Army and Air Force in year 1937.

    The basic design of this raincoat was based to earlier officer’s raincoat m/27 with some ideas from overcoat designed for experimental military uniform m/34 (but never put in actual production) mixed in. The experimental overcoat for military uniform m/34 had been a cotton jacket notably shorter than existing greatcoats and equipped with removable liner. Yet the design of rain coat m/36 looks quite similar to preceding officer’s raincoat m/27. Besides the color changing from brown-green-grey used in officer’s raincoat m/27 to steel grey, the basic look of raincoat m/36 is so similar that the two can usually identified from one another in period black-and-white photos only by button design. This rain coat is made from medium steel grey wool or mix of wool and other materials, it has very loose fit, two rows of three buttons in chest and open standing somewhat low downwards folded collar, which can be raised if needed. There is a flap and one additional button under collar for those situations in which the collar is raised. Cuffs have places for markings of rank and the jacket has epaulets and fabric belt made from the same fabric as rest of the jacket. It also has a slit back in the middle with buttons. Sleeves are normal straight sleeves without separate cuffs, although cuffs can be tightened. Length of the jacket is such that it reaches about 30 – 35 cm / 12 – 14 in from ground and it can be equipped with waterproof liner attached inside the jacket with buttons. The buttons used are grey flat large Bakelite (plastic) buttons. With raincoat m/36 officers used markings of rank placed on patches attached to jacket sleeves near the cuffs with three buttons, while non-commissioned officers and military officials carried rank markings on jacket epaulets. Due to this jackets that belonged to military officials and non-commissioned officers tend to have one of the three cuff buttons needed for attaching officers’ rank marking missing.

    What is known suggests that rain coat m/36 had been originally intended as standard overcoat for military uniform m/36, but ultimately Finnish military decided against it – possibly to save finances because large number of greatcoats m/22 acquired earlier were still in serviceable condition and/or because this jacket was not considered to be stylish enough. In the grand scheme of things raincoat m/36 seems to have been somewhat poor design – as mentioned wool or wool mix probably made it pretty poor as a raincoat and apparently the hassle of using internal liner reduced the jackets suitability for field use. Hence it probably was not much of a loss for this jacket not being issued in large scale, although it is worth noting that Finnish Army did not issue any raingear to its soldiers during World War 2.

     

    Oilcloth jacket (öljykangastakki):

    This was another jacket that only officers, military officials and senior non-commissioned officers could acquire and only at their own expense. As mentioned due to its fabric of choice rain coat m/36 seem to have been less than efficient as a raincoat, which caused in year 1939 introduction of this jacket, that provided more reasonable level of protection from rain. The material used for it is shiny dark grey, almost black oil-treated cotton, which can be from a distance mistaken as black leather. Its size length-wise and basic design is somewhat similar to rain coat m/36, but it has substantial differences in jacket cut and numerous details. Jacket chest has six buttons in two rows with reinforcements and it has two rather large side pockets with slightly canted vertical pocket flaps. The jacket had seam in middle of the back with extending reinforced segments of fabric on shoulders, double layer fabric on upper back and slit in the back as well. It has standing folded collar and cuffs about 10 cm / 4 inches wide are lined, equipped with two buttons – that allow the cuffs be tightened when needed. Elbows are reinforced second layer of cloth and all parts expected to be potential weak points such as button holes, cuffs and pocket openings are leather-reinforced. Officers used patches with markings of their rank attached in sleeves near cuffs with buttons, while non-commissioned officers and military officials were to wear their rank markings on of patches that were to be attached on shoulders of the jacket. While this jacket apparently may have been somewhat popular, it also seems to have been quite a high price item during World War 2 and therefore quite rare.

    PICTURE: Two Finnish Army officers with oilcloth coats. They are also wearing summer caps m/39, summer tunics m/36, and officer's leather belts m/27. The officer on the right has pistol holster for Parabellum pistol. (SA-kuva.fi archive, photo number 52541). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (144 KB).

     

    Tunics only intended for officers and military officials:

     

     

     

    HATS AND SHOES USED WITH MILITARY UNIFORM M/36

     

    Field cap m/36 (kenttälakki m/36) "verikauha":

    This cap model that that was directly based to experimental field cap m/34 became the standard Finnish military field cap for World War 2. It was a Jaeger-cap style hat made from the same medium steel-grey wool cloth as tunic and trousers of uniform m/36. It sports a soft visor made from the same cloth as rest of the cap and the cap has sides which can be folded down and opened when necessary. This hat normally has a cotton liner, although also other fabrics, including silk, have been spotted in privately acquired hats. Unlike its predecessor experimental field cap m/34, this field cap was intended to for three seasons (spring, summer and autumn) only and lacked separate liner used with m/34 – although it soon proved too warm for warm summer days. All other soldiers besides conscripts normally had in front section of the hat colored piping that indicated service arm. Early production hats have leather sweatband, which at some point was replaced in wartime-production with burlap sweatband, with leather sweatband being re-introduced for hats manufactured in post-war era. In front of the hat above visor are two small buttons with the standard issue Finnish coat of arms lion emblem and on top of them white-blue-white roundel cockade. The hat design proved popular among Finnish soldiers who gave it a nickname "verikauha" ("blood scoop") probably due to its shape. Field cap m/36 did a very long career with Finnish military, in 1960’s its original version was replaced in production by its late production version often referred as field cap M/65. This late production version can be identified from its material, which is diagonal wool and having stiffened longer visor. Finnish Defense Forces continued to issue its conscripts field cap M/65 until late 1990’s and the cap model remained in use of officers and senior non-commissioned officers until finally retired in year 2013.

    PICTURE: Finnish Army field cap m/36. The purple piping in front of the field cap indicates that the soldier who used it served in engineer corps (sappers). Fabric used for the hat (diagonal wool) and (fancier) enamel cockade version of national cockade suggest that the cap belonged to senior NCO or officer. Photo source Digitaltmuseum.se - original photo by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (116 KB).

    Uniform regulations from year 1939 contain also hat cover for field cap m/36. This hat cover was about 10 cm / 4 inches high cover made from oil-treated cotton and intended to be used with oilcloth jacket. The basic idea seems to have been to use the hat cover for making field hat m/36 rain-proof, while the hat cover's 13 - 15 cm / 5.1 - 5.9 inches long rear neck section was designed to keep rain water from entering inside collar. However the hat cover does not seem that the hat cover may not have been ever really fielded, what can be said for sure is that was never been fielded in any real scale. The likely reasons for this are that the oilcloth jacket that it was to be used with was only available for private purchases and that the whole hat cover design looks very goofy.

    PICTURE: On the left early war field cap m/36 made from coarse cloth. The hats issued to enlisted men and non-commissioned officers during the war had no color piping in front of the cap and was used with painted tin cockade. In the middle the same cap with its sides folded open. On the right late production variation commonly referred as M/65, it is made from thinner diagonal wool and has longer stiff peak. The M/65 version of field cap m/36 seen here was manufactured in year 1984. Photos taken by JTV for Jaeger Platoon Website. Copyrights (c) Jaeger Platoon Website. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (106 KB).

    During World War 2 there were some field cap designs rather similar to Finnish field cap m/36 being introduced in Germany and Sweden. The German field cap was einheitsmütze M43 introduced in year 1943 and issued both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, while the Swedish field cap had was known as skidmössa m/41 for Swedish Army and skidmössa m/41 hv for Swedish Hemvärnet (home guard). The German einheitsmütze M43 was based into bergmütze caps used by their mountain troops since World War 1, but when it comes to Swedish field cap, it may have been at least partially based to Finnish field cap m/36.

     

    Summer cap m/39 (kesälakki m/39) "venelakki" / "suikka":

    This is a side cap type hat intended for warm summer months. In a way this cap design got introduced as an afterthought of sort for military uniform m/36. Finnish military had originally intended field cap m/36 to be used also at summer, but the field cap proved to be so warm, that soldiers continued to use old field caps m/22 in warm summer days – even if the particular hat model was no longer officially supposed to be in wide-scale use. Since there was an apparent need for new summer cap, such a hat was developed, officially approved in May of 1939 and likely entered production still in summer of that year. The inspiration for this hat design were similar looking caps used by reserve companies for Army of Finnish Grand Duchy had in turn of 19th – 20th century, although it seems likely that field cap m/22 effected at least to selection of hat type. The hat was commonly referred as "venelakki" ("boat cap") even in manuals, while the hat design was also commonly less officially referred as "suikka". According uniform regulations from year 1939 originally this cap was intended to be used as part of field uniform or service uniform, unless ordered otherwise.

    PICTURE: Photo composition showing two versions of Finnish Army summer cap m/39. The cap on the left was manufactured in year 1960, has been made from wool and has bright red piping referring to field artillery or anti-aircraft artillery. The cap on the right is probably from 1980's or 1990's, has made from very thin diagonal wool and has green piping referring to infantry or jaeger troops. Photo source for left side photo Digitaltmuseum.se - original photo by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. Right side photo photographed by JTV for Jaeger Platoon Website. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (114 KB).

    While on the first look this hat might resemble field cap m/22, profile of the hat is lower and it lacks the side buttons that field cap m/22 has. It is oval-shaped cap, which is slightly higher from the front than the back. Sides of the hat have been sown from two or four separate parts in such a manner that the inner parts are slightly higher than the outer ones. The side parts have a colored piping whose color indicated service arm sown in them. Inside the cap is a thin liner. Early on only caps equipped with leather chinstrap were those intended for units, which were expected to ride horses or bicycles - field artillery, cavalry and bicycle troops. But starting year 1941 similar chinstrap was included to all manufactured caps. Leather chinstrap is about 1.5 cm wide, attached to the cap with small standard issue buttons that have Finnish coat of arms lion emblem in them and equipped with a small steel buckle. Typically buttons used in wartime summer caps m/39 are either brass or copper. Cavalry units often wore chinstrap of their caps placed over the cap instead of normal manner.

    While standard version of this cap used by Army and Coastal Artillery was medium shade steel grey with grey leather chin strap, Air Force had its own dark blue version with black leather chinstrap and some of the manufacturers used brown or black leather chinstraps in their standard version caps. But that was not necessarily even the most significant manufacturing variation. Since uniform regulations did not specify the type of fabric to be used for manufacturing it beyond "thin wool fabric", standard steel grey summer cap m/39 was manufactured from variety of fabrics of similar steel grey color as uniform m/36.

    Summer cap m/39 proved apparently quite popular. Originally it was uniform item, which only officers and senior non-commissioned officers could privately acquire for their own use. But during World War 2 situation changed – during Continuation War (1941 – 1944) also junior non-commissioned officers and enlisted men were able to buy and use this cap. After the war that status changed even further becoming a summer hat issued for conscripts and remained in that sort of use until 1960’s. While use of summer cap m/39 ended with that, in 1980’s the cap design made a comeback and completed a full circle - returning to its original role as a summer hat that officers and senior non-commissioned officers could buy privately. It has also remained in that role to this day.

     

    Fur hat m/39 (turkislakki m/39) "norsunvittu":

    As mentioned field cap m/34 introduced with experimental military uniform m/34 had been intended for all seasons, but had proved not warm enough for winter use. Hence a separate hat design was needed for winter. That winter hat was fur hat m/39. Unlike sometimes claimed origins of Finnish Army fur hat m/39 are not in Russian ushanka, but it was in fact a development based on fur hats earlier introduced by Finnish military and Frontier Guard. The first of those fur hat designs was (white) fur hat m/19 from which all black version was developed and adopted by Finnish Navy in turn of decade as fur hat m/30. In early 1930's Finnish Frontier Guard had become so unhappy with fur hat m/22, that it introduced its own grey version of the Navy fur hat in year 1934. Finally in year 1939 Finnish Army decided to adopt the Frontier Guard’s steel grey fur hat as fur hat m/39 (turkislakki m/39), to which the Finnish soldiers gave a rather politically incorrect nickname "norsunvittu" – "elephant’s cunt". The hat is normally made from thick fake fur with rear section and ear flaps that are usually folded up and locked there with a hook, push-buttons of fabric string. Normally these hats have cotton liners, but also liners made from other fabrics such as silk were commonly used in privately acquired hats. There are two versions of the fur hat with version intended for officers, senior non-commissioned officers and military officials having shorter ear flaps, while version intended for junior non-commissioned officers and enlisted men have ear flaps so long that they usually meet on top of the hat when folded up. As mentioned these hats were mainly manufactured from fake fur, which had considerable color variations depending material used and manufacturer. In those cases when the hat was made from real fur, the fur used for it could also be just about any type. While standard version of this fur hat is grey, Air Force version has black sides and blue top.

    PICTURE: Finnish Army fur hat m/39 version for enlisted men and junior NCO ranks. This hat is late production version manufactured in year 1981. It is made from fake fur and has grey cotton liner. Notice cockade made from plastic, wartime version issued in similar manner had painted tin cockade. Photos taken by JTV for Jaeger Platoon Website. Copyrights (c) Jaeger Platoon Website. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (99 KB).

    Fur hat m/39 proved so successful that it has remained in of Finnish Defense Forces to this day. Admitted more modern hats of similar design have replaced it have now replaced it in wide-scale use. Those more modern fur hats of similar basic design are fur hats M/91 and M/05, which both have camouflage pattern similar to camouflage uniforms that they used with and are made from modern fabrics. There is a distinct possibility that the Soviet Red Army "ushanka" fur hat introduced in year 1940 was based on Finnish fur hat m/39, although it has somewhat different cut and is not as comfortable to wear as the Finnish hats. Also German Army introduced its own ushanka-based winter fur hat made with rabbit-fur in year 1942.

     

    Shoes and belts used with military uniform m/36:

    "Jackboot" type black leather boots continued to be a standard shoe type for soldiers of Finnish Army and also Laplander boots remained in its use. But in late 1930’s also black laced leather boots with shorter legs were issued in limited scale as experiment to some military units. These experimental black laced boots were known as short boots m/36 (varsikengät m/34), became the first laced combat boots issued by Finnish army. They were black laced leather boots with short laced legs and leather flaps that covered top section of laces. The leather flaps was closed with two buckles that were on outermost side of each boot. What is known originally these short boots were apparently introduced for the large part due financial reasons – namely leftover leather parts from manufacturing of standard issue "jackboot" type service boots could be used in production of short boots m/34, which reduced the material waste of leather in manufacturing of military boots. But the short boots m/34 seem to have also shown considerable potential in pre-war trials - marching test performed by Jaeger Battalion 3 in year 1936 indicated that on long marches soldiers equipped with short boots m/34 suffered much less chafes and blisters on their feet than soldiers equipped with standard issue "jackboot" type service boots. It seems possible that these may have particularly been intended for bicycle troops, since such a large percentage of units field testing them were bicycle troops. While the short boots m/34 apparently never entered in real mass-production, the boots had already been manufactured before the war saw use in World War 2.

    PICTURE: Two pairs of Finnish army leather boots of the type most commonly used during World War 2. On the left standard issue "jackboots"-type black leather boots and the right laplander boots. Notice that there were several variations of Laplander boots, although this version likely may have been the most common in use of Finnish military. Source for the original photos Digitaltmuseum.se - original photos by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (100 KB).

    Also other boot designs were tested at that time with experiments continuing during World War 2. Conscripts of late 1930’s could also be issued laced leather shoes with leather gaiters. At least in theory conscripts of that era were to be issued with two pairs of boots, from which pair of boots intended for winter use was supposed to be shoe one size larger. But during World War 2 Finnish military found it problematic to supply even one pair of boots for all its soldiers with shortage of boots particularly during Winter War. Hence it is uncertain how common it was for the soldiers to be issued two pairs of boots during World War 2.

    There was a multitude of shoe and boots designs tested in 1930's and various boot designs saw some limited or experimental use during World War 2. These included new (to Finnish Army) boot designs such as rubber boots and jackboot type boots in which boot's leg was leather, but lower part of the boot was made from rubber. These jackboot type boots of mixed rubber and leather construction are known in Finnish as (kumiteräsaapas). While they saw limited use, rubber boots and kumiteräsaapas apparently proved less than satisfactory and traditional jackboot type black leather boots continued to serve as standard boot model for Finnish military long into post World War 2 era.

    Leather belt m/30 (nahkavyö m/30): One of the issues noted during development of new uniform items was that steel belt buckle used with leather belts m/22 and m/27 could make opening belt of wounded man difficult. This was presumably at least one of the reasons behind introduction of leather belt m/30, which was intended for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers. This belt is 45-mm / 1.8 in wide dark brown leather belt with simple roller buckle with one prong. The belt was manufactured with both brass and steel belt buckles, from which the steel version was presumably late production version. While this belt design apparently did not totally replace earlier leather belts, it did apparently become the de facto standard issue belt design for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers during World War 2.

    PICTURE: Leather belt m/30, notice dark brown leather, roller belt buckle made from brass with one prong and leather flap behind the belt buckle. This belt was also manufactured with steel belt buckle of similar design. Photo source Digitaltmuseum.se - original photo by Armémuseum (Sweden), CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (76 KB).

     

    Items originating from earlier military uniforms used with military uniform m/36:

    While in principle Finnish military did not like mixing of items from several military uniforms and in particular did not like (brown-green-grey) field uniform m/27 items to be mixed with (steel grey) items of military m/22 and m/36, there were some exceptions. From the start numerous uniform items earlier introduced with uniforms m/22 and m/27 were officially approved to be also used with military uniform m/36. These items included:

    PICTURE: Although Finnish uniform regulations specifically banned using of mismatch of uniform items in which main items of field uniform m/27 would have been worn with items of military uniform m/22 or m/36, in reality the rules were not necessarily followed even before World War 2. The reserve officer student from year 1935 seen here has field cap m/22, field tunic m/27 and breeches m/22. (Photo Jaeger Platoon photo collection.) CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (109 KB).

     


    Petteri Leino: Asepuku M/36 vuosina 1936 – 1945 (Uniform m/36 in years 1936 - 1945).

    Pekka Aarniaho: Kaluunat ja rähinäremmit. Itsenäisen Suomen virkapuvut ja arvomerkit 1918 – 1945 (Uniforms and Rank Markings of Independent Finland 1918 - 1945).

    Puolustusvoimien huolto 1918 – 1986 (Supply of Defense Forces 1918 - 1986) by Huoltoupseeriyhdistys.

    Juhani U.E. Lehtonen: Sotilaselämän perinnekirja (The Tradition Book of Military Life).

    Suomalaisen sotilaan historia ristiretkistä rauhanturvaamiseen (History of Finnish Soldier from Crusades to Peacekeeping).

    Marko Palokangas: Itsenäisen Suomen sotilasarvot ja –arvomerkit / Military Ranks and Rank Badges of Independent Finland.

    Military manual: Kenttäpuku m/36 ja sadetakki m/36 (Field Uniform m/36 and Raincoat m/36) by Ministry of Defense (published year 1937).

    Military manual: Muutoksia ja lisäksiä valtakunnan puolustusvoimien virkapukuohjesääntöön by Ministry of Defense (published 17th of November 1938.

    Military manual: Kevyt takki - helletakki - kesätakki - olkanauhat öljytakki ja lakinsuojus Kauluslaatat asetakissa m/36 erinäiset arvomerkit (Light Jacket - Summer Jacket - Epaulets Oil Cloth Coat and Hat Cover Collar Patches in Uniform Jacket m/36 and Seperate Rank Markings) by Ministry of Defense (published year 1939).

    Military manual: Vuonna 1936 ja senjäkeen vahvistetut puolustuslaitoksen henkiökunnan virkapukumääräkset (published year 1941).

    Military manual: Vuonna 1936 ja senjäkeen vahvistetut puolustuslaitoksen henkiökunnan virkapukumääräkset (2nd improved and completed edition, published year 1942).

    Article: Marko Palokangas: Sotilasarvomerkkiemme taustaa ja taivalta (Background and Development of Our Military Rank Markings), (Ase-lehti magazine vol 5/1995).

    Article: Petteri Leino: Kruunun sarasta diagonaaliin - värvättyjen sotilaspuvut itsenäisyyden aikana in Puolväli magazine vol. 6B/98.

    Theses: Kristian Värri: Itsenäisen Suomen ratsuväen varusteiden kehitys talvisotaan mennessä (Development of Equipment in Cavalry of Independent Finland before Winter War).

    Special thanks to Finnish Military Museum (Sotamuseo), Helsinki.

    Special thanks to Museum Militaria (Museo Militaria), Hämeenlinna.

    Special thanks to Armémuseum (Sweden)


    Last updated 8th of December 2018
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