We were going to have a couple serious military vehicles as range props for Finnish Brutality back in February, but with the match postponed because of covid restrictions that didn’t come to pass. However, Jari (CEO of Varusteleka) and I were not going to let that stop us from having a bit of fun! So we headed out to Mil-Safarit.com in Pornainen (about 50km northeast of Helsinki) to get some driving lessons.
First up, the “Nasu”. That is an abbreviation for Nauha-Sisu, but it also translates as “Piglet” (just like the Winnie the Pooh character) and that’s what it is called by troops in service. It’s a light tracked utility vehicle with a really neat steering system. The vehicle consists of a front driver’s compartment and a rear cargo section, each in an independent set of tracks. A flexible drive shaft connects the two, along with a pair of hydraulic cylinders that bend the two sections side to side. That is how it steers; by being the vehicle in the middle – the tracks are always turning at equal speeds. It’s a very effective and reliable vehicle, used to haul pretty much anything, as well as towing trains of infantry on skis.
Jari had experience driving these in the service, but it was a pretty neat new experience for me. The steering definitely took some getting used to, but it will pretty much go anywhere.
Next up was the real star, a Polish T55 (the Finnish military used Soviet T55s for a while). This beast weighs in at about 40 tons, powered by a 39-liter V12 Diesel engine. It has a 5-speed manual transmission, and hydraulic-assisted steering levers. It was intimidating at first (and still at the end, if I am to be honest), but actually not that hard to drive once I squeezed myself into the driver’s compartment. And a tremendous amount of fun!
We will have either these vehicles or something comparable at the rescheduled Finnish Brutality: Continuation War match in October 2021. Thanks to Varusteleka for setting this little excursion up, and to Mil-Safarit.com for not sending me straight to the gulag after I drove their tank into a ditch!