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"Sleds for Winter Warfare" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on Finnish military sleds originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 19, February 25, 1943. The German military adopted similar shallow sleds for use during the winter on the Russian front.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


German sources reveal the use of sleds (Ackja) by the Finns to meet the problems of winter transport.

A small flat-bottomed boat-shaped sled, the keel of which forms the running surface, is used for the transport of light loads of different kinds: ammunition, rations, radio equipment, wounded, and light weapons. The following types of sled, modelled on the Finnish pattern, have recently been introduced into the German Army:

  German Designation           English Equivalent  
Schlitten 300 kg
Schlitten 500 kg
Schlitten 1,000 kg
Leichter Ackja
Sled, 660 lbs
Sled, 1,100 lbs
Ambulance sled
Sled, 2,200 lbs
Light Ackja
Boat-type (clinker-built) Ackja
Weapon-carrying Ackja

a. Description

Ackjas may be constructed either of three-ply wood or of ordinary planks, clinker-built (with planks or plates put on so that one edge of each overlaps the edge of the plate or plank next to it, like clapboards on a house).

(1) Plywood Type

An example is shown in the accompanying sketch, figure 1. The various sections of plywood are cut out, partly shaped by soaking in water, and nailed or riveted into position. The stern of the sled is braced by a 3/4-inch-thick wooden batten secured at each end by strips of 1/64-inch strap iron. Dimensions and design are varied to suit the purpose for which the sled is built, but in every case the sled should be as light as possible.

(2) Clinker-Built Type

These are stronger but also considerably heavier than the plywood type. They are constructed exactly like a small boat, and move on a single broad runner along the keel.

[Finnish Ackja and Finnish Transport Sled]

b. Propulsion

Ackjas can be pulled in two ways:

(1) By Dogs

The normal team is of two dogs, the first being led. Dogs must be specially trained for this work.

(2) By Men on Skis

In deep snow, a team of men commonly go ahead to clear a track of sufficient width to accommodate the sleds.

c. Light Snow Drag

A simple horse-drawn drag, suitable for transport of light loads, is shown in figure 2 of the sketch.


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