A Simonov AVS-36 was rare everywhere except, it seems, in Finnish captivity. Many of the photos in the Finnish Army photo archive (which is the source of these) include captured AVS rifles, either being used by Finns, or, more often, in piles of captured stuff. That’s what this picture is, and it rewards an embiggening click with a relative close-up of four of the rare AVSes, along with one ringer (a relatively common DP light machine gun). Only one of the AVSes has its 15-round magazine in place, and they all show the bare-metal triggers of the type (the bolt and bolt carrier was also bare metal, same as a Tokarev or, for that matter, a Mosin). The AVS also had a unique flash hider or muzzle brake of a type not seen on any other Russian rifle.
The rare auto rifles are propped in front of an impromptu sculpture of “found objects,” specifically Mosin-Nagants and M1910 Maxim guns. Off to the right, you can see the wheels of a Sokolov mount for another Maxim; in the background, the logistic background of the Winter War, skis and poles. (All that’s missing is an ahkio, a Finnish human-drawn sled, or the shorter Norwegian version, the pulk). The Scandinavian armies rely on ski troops, and on mass-mobilizing reserves. Prior to World War II, they also relied on neutrality, which turned out to be a false hope; now most Scandinavian countries seek allies. It seems to be working. The last two invasions of Scandinavian countries were Russia’s successful but pyrrhic war against Finland, and Nazi Germany’s invasion of Norway and Denmark, which turned into a tar baby for the Germans. (True, there was fighting between the Germans in Norway and the Finns after the latter withdrew from their alliance with Germany in 1944, but that wasn’t really an invasion in the way the others were).
Our next photo is a pair of pairs of weapons. These DA (Degtyaryev Aviatsiya) machine guns were used as defensive weapons on Russian bomber and liaison planes; that’s why they have the cartridge bags. Stray brass bound up in airplane control cables could lead to a bad day. It’s the same basic machine gun as the DP used in rifle units and the DT used in armored vehicles; the aviation and tank versions usually used a double-depth pan magazine instead of the slim 47-rounder of the ground forces’ version.
Once again, click on the picture to see it at full size, or go to the Finns’ excellent archive yourself. Many of the SA-Tuva archive are bleached, or desaturated like this second picture, or flecked with dust like the first one. That doesn’t really matter; the original photos were generally professionally composed and shot with quality equipment onto glass negatives, we think, or at least with view cameras (like a Speed Graphic). So they are clear enough; these aren’t soldiers’ snapshots, but professional photogs’ work. They also are a priceless historical archive, bringing to us today primary documentation about a war that is now all but a legend.
We have still not examined all of the archival photos, but they do seem to be primarily ground forces’ photos. The Finnish air forces had a similar qualitative superiority to the vastly more numerous Russians, and the quality seems to have come entirely from personnel. The Finns had a variety of foreign-built, hand-me-down equipment, some of which (Gladiator, Buffalo) had horrible records in their native air arms.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.