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The Trado truck


Although in general the Dutch army armament and equipment left much to be desired, the Trado truck was a highly modern and very capable piece of equipment. This special Dutch military design was presented in quite impressive numbers. The Trado truck deserves to be treated as one of the Dutch industrial highlights. The Germans later gladly made use of the hundreds of confiscated trucks.

Design and development

In the beginning of the thirties the artillery lacked a capable all-terrain vehicle that was able to both transport the guns during regular displacements and to pull heavier guns under severe conditions in the field. Up to that moment several types of trucks and ordinary [adapted] agricultural tractors were applied for this job, but they didn't meet the spec required by far. They were usually only fit for one of the required duties. With the introduction of increasingly heavy material [bigger search-lights, heavy AAA, 10-veld guns] this problem had grown dramatically.

The actual birth of the Trado truck is some of a mystery. It is said that an artillery NCO designed the basic lay-out of the revolutionary under-carriage when he was doing some disciplinary penitentiary time. He is thought to have presented this design to his superior officer who then turned his attention to the truck-manufacturer DAF from which the Trado truck must have resulted. This part of the story may well be true, but its never confirmed.

This commanding officer is well known however. It was the commander of the Motorized Artillery School, Captain engineer [PhD] van der Trappen. As a commander of the school for motorised artillery he was confronted daily with the challenges of negotiating heavy terrain with his guns and men. The design for the Trado that he had in mind was mainly focussed on a special undercarriage.

The Van Trappen design was based on a specification in which a six-wheeled vehicle had traction on all six wheels with a fully independent suspension. The indepandant suspension design was such that during all terrain conditions experienced, all six wheels would remain in contact with the ground hence continuing to deliver traction. The engine had to provide for a high torque capacity and as such an excellent pulling power, also in low gear.

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When Van Trappen was authorized to discuss his ideas with a civil truck manufacturer, he was teamed up with the experienced Van Doorne. Engineer Hubert van Doorne [1900-1979] founded a trailer factory in 1928 [since 1949 better knows as "van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek" or DAF]. Since 1932 the factory had been focussed on designing trucks and related means of heavy propulsion. Van Doorne was charmed by the Van Trappen design and jointly the men designed the Trado truck prototype. The designation Trado was created from the first letters of both designers family names [anagram]: Tra = Trappen, Do = Doorne.

Extensive tests were done with the undercarriage including power plant [but without coach-work skirt]. The prototype and first series were fitted with a Ford V-8 engine of 85 hp [the third series would be fitted with a Chevrolet engine]. The design proved to be highly successful. The pictures clearly show the heavy conditions the Trado could negotiate. For even heavier conditions tracks could be applied around the rear four wheels within 15 minutes. The latter feature would only be possible for the types with double wheel axes.

The coach-work was produced as a skirt that could be easily replaced by another skirt. As such just a limited variety in undercarriages had to be produced which improved the speed of production. The artillery [howitzers of 15 cm, 10,5 cm guns] and the air-defence units [heavy batteries and search light units] were equipped with the ten-wheel version [both rear axes double wheeled]. Other versions that were produced were designated for the engineer and pontoon-units, command staffs and some anti-tank gun units. All trucks were fitted with cellastic [acrylic polymer] bullet-proof tires.

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The great success of the design was soon followed by massive orders from the Dutch military in 1935. Many types for many different purposes were ordered. In total 1,200 Trado trucks would serve in the army of 1940. That was about 10% of all trucks and cars in the Dutch army at that time [12.000 trucks, 1.200 Trado's, 1.600 cars, 9.000 motorbikes]. By the way - this figure of about 15.000 motorised [4 or more wheel] vehicles was increased considerably by commandeered [requisitioned] cars, trucks and busses during the mobilisation and the war-days.


DAF had more successful products in those days. Apart from general purpose trucks, DAF experimented with an amphibious four-wheel driven vehicle [DAF-139] that proved highly successful during trials. It was a dual-directional land- and water-going vehicle that was able to pull a considerable load. It was designated to be introduced in the Dutch army for application with the engineering-units and the heavy machinegun companies. The war came just too early for this product to proof itself.

Another success that was overtaking by the events of war was the DAF designed armoured car Pantrado [military designation: M.39]. As the name suggests it was closely related to the Trado truck although the car also resembled the Swedish design of the Landsverk armoured cars that were in use with the Dutch army. The Pantrado armoured car made use of the undercarriage of the Trado, but the armoured skirt and fitting as well as the turret construction were much like the Landsverk. The Dutch military had ordered 24 off these cars, but only 6 were ready for action in May 1940.

Wehrmacht use

The Trado truck was extensively used by the Wehrmacht. Many had been captured and the terrain behaviour of the Trado was much appreciated by the Germans who basically lacked these kinds of wheeled vehicles. The German army used many Trado's for signal units.

Also the other DAF products got German attention. The few M.39 armoured cars were used by German AA units, in Russia in particular and also the design for the DAF-139 draw their attention.