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Dutch armoured cars type Landsverk

Introduction

The Dutch had a very limited stock of armoured cars in May 1940 and non tanks whatsoever. During the best part of the interbellum only a handful of light armoured cars had been constructed or procured. It wasn'[t until 1935 that the first combat vehicles would be purchased.

The combat armoured cars

In 1937 the Dutch Chief-of-Staff informed the Dutch War Department that the army was in desperate need of a considerable number of armoured cars and light tanks. Although still quite ahead of the hostilities of 1940, the request came too late for the Dutch army to be equipped with sufficient numbers of armoured cars and tanks in May 1940. At the very moment the appeal was made, the Dutch had already a squadron of twelve armoured cars of the type Landsverk L181 - which was designated as M.36 in the Dutch army. Also a variety of older and obsolete armoured vehicles were in service.

In 1934 a special Defence Comity had investigated the matter of introduction of modern armoured cars in the army. They had tests performed with products of FIAT, Citroën, Renault and Landsverk. The Comity selected the Swedish Landsverk product, which was basically a combination of a Swedish designed armoured top-section mounted on a Daimler-Benz chassis.

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M.36 Armoured car (may 1940)

The Dutch required the main-gun to be upgraded from a 20 mm to a 37 mm gun [semi-automatic loading, electrical and mechanical operation], and an additional machinegun position in the rear-armour. This was the M.36 type. In 1937 it was followed by a variation of the L181 type [the L180], which was externally almost identical, but the chassis had been changed into a Büssing-NAG type. This type would be designated the M.38. Both types had a dual pilot operation to facilitate instant direction change in combat situations.

Additionally two M.38 cars were procured as command-cars. They had no main-gun [although a dummy was installed to fool the enemy], and they were fitted with a larger number of episcopes for improved vision with closed hatches. Only one machinegun remained as armament, whilst a second could be fitted in the rear armour. Both cars could be modified to function as a battle-car by simply exchanging the turret.

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M.38 Armoured car

These two types of Landsverk armoured cars formed eight platoons of three cars each. Especially the M.38 was modern for its days and outmatched any of the German cars in May 1940. The frontal and turret armour of 9 mm was identical to the German adversary [with exception of the tower], but the 37 mm Bofors gun was considerably more powerful. Besides these aspects the independent axis on the dual wheel-base proved the Swedish cars to be able to negotiate rough terrain, something the German armoured cars were quite incapable of. Also competitive designs like the French heavy Panhard and the British Alvis-Straussler were outmatched in performance and battle-fitness.

In 1938 the Dutch car manufacturer DAF - nowadays well-known for its trucks and buses - was awarded an order for an improved Landsverk design. On the outside the DAF design - called Pantrado and designated as M.39 - looked quite similar to the Landsverk, but in fact the expansion, armoured top-section and wheel-base were much improved. The armament was identical to the Landsverk. In May 1940 all twelve cars had been finished, but only two platoons were equipped yet. The other six cars were unarmed or in repair [some cars suffered from metal fatigue already]. Another version of the car had already been ordered and designated M.40. These were not even in construction in May 1940.

The Germans would take all seized armoured cars into active service. The M.36 and M.38 [Panzerspähwagen L202] were assigned to patrol- and policing forces, mainly in Germany itself [after brief service with the AA.207 in France in 1940]. Especially the M.39 was well received by German cavalry specialists. The M.39 was taken in active front-service after being revamped [reinforced armour], and saw plenty of action at the Russian front. The Germans designated it as Panzerspähwagen DAF 201. There are quite some photographs of these cars in German service in Russia.

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Vickers Cardon Lloyd Universal Carrier

Besides the 32 modern armoured cars [M.36, M.38 and M.39] in service [plus 6 M.39 not battle ready] during the May War, the Dutch army had five Vickers Carden-Lloyd armoured carriers and a small number of obsolete Morris armoured cars at their disposal.

The M.36, M.38 and a few M.39 - which saw plenty of action during the war - proved excellent products in action. None of the armoured cars was taken out by German ground-fire although involved in numerous engagements at Rotterdam, The Hague and on the Veluwe. The few cars that were destroyed were caught by Luftwaffe bombs on Ypenburg. Just two cars sustained heavy damage from German AT measures. The six Landverks at Ypenburg were in particular responsible for eliminating the first waves of landing German Ju-52's when they succeeded in shooting plenty of planes to bits during and after landing.

The areas of concern with the Swedish design were the thin armour and the junction of armoured plates that caused the isolation to melt when hit by bullets. The melting of the isolation caused highly unpleasant fumes to fill the small interior of the car, forcing the crews to wear their gas-masks. Also the louver of the engine compartment proved vulnerable to bullets. Besides, when it was closed from within it caused the engine to overheat. This meant that when the cars were not in battle the louver had to be opened thus causing extended vulnerability once a sudden engagement occurred.

Specifications

Manufacturer:  A.B. Landsverk [Landskrona, Sweden]
In service:  1936 - 1940
Quantity:  12 off M.36
12 off M.38
2 off M.38 command-car
Service:  Cavalry, 1st and 2nd Squadron Armoured Cars
Role:  Armoured reconnaissance, support, AT
Manufacturer optics:  Nedinsco [Venlo, Holland]
Armament:  37 mm semi-automatic gun, Bofors
3 off machineguns 7.9 mm Lewis
Ammunition gun:  HE and AP
Crew:  5 [2 drivers, 2 gunners, 1 commander]
Weight:  7 tonnes
Dimensions:  5.87 x 2.24 x 2.33 [L x W x H]
Chassis and engine:  Daimler-Benz [M.36] and Büssing NAG [M.38]
Power:  150 hp approx.
Action-radius:  306 km
Max speed:  60 km/hr f.d., 40 km/hr r.d.
Armour:  turret: 9 mm; balance 5 mm sloped