Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tempo G1200 All Terrain Vehicle in Finnish Service

The Vidal and Sohn Tempo company built the G1200 all-terrain vehicle in the hope of securing a Wehrmacht contract. The Wehrmacht tested an early production version of the G1200 in 1936 and immediately dismissed the vehicle from consideration. The Wehrmacht test drivers complained about difficulties synchronising the engines and the gear changing. This probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to Vidal and Sohn's, as the G1200, with its dual engines and four wheel steering was quite an unusual vehicle and, as the user manual stated "driving skill is crucial for the vehicle’s off-road use, and for this reason it is necessary that every driver becomes familiar with the ... instructions before actually driving the truck off-road." Vidal and Sohn were naturally disappointed, but were convinced of the vehicle's utility and began to explore export opportunities. The G1200 achieved some measure of export success, being exported to armed forces in Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Denmark, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand and even Australia.

The Finnish army made a purchase of G1200s in 1940. They saw service during the Winter War (1939-40) and in the subsequent Continuation War (1941-44) as reconnaissance and transport vehicles, where they performed well in the tough conditions. One could argue that the conditions in Finland during its eastern war were exactly the kind of conditions the car was designed for. Its independent suspension and four wheel drive traction allowed it to cross rough and broken ground. Four wheel steering allowed it to navigate through tight forest tracks, and its twin two-stroke engines allowed it to run in sub-zero temperatures where other vehicles engines' froze (a problem the Russian's encountered in the 1940 Winter War).

Here are a series of photographs from the Finnish Defense Forces archive of crews test driving their Tempo G1200s as part of a training exercise. The winter photographs are from February and March 1942. Photographs of a summer exercise are from May 1942. The photos really demonstrate the amazing capabilities of this extraordinary vehicle.

Winter Exercise

Summer Exercises

All photos are from the Finnish Defense Forces archive -