WORLD WAR TWO. ARMOURED FIGHTING VEHICLES & SELF-PROPELLED ARTILLERY
Despite playing a major part in the development of armoured cars in World War One, the Belgian Army had only a handful of relatively modern armoured cars in service at the start of World War Two, having purchased twelve French built Berliet VUDBs in 1930. They were used by both the two light regiments of the Gendarmerie and retired from service in May 1940. One Berliet VUDB 4 was also delivered to the Belgian Army in 1930-31 as a prototype but none were purchased.
In early 1940, the Belgians also used a form of partly armoured civilian van (the Ford/Marmot) Herrington armoured van) which was built on an American Ford 1-ton chassis. The armoured shell was manufactured in Belgium and the vehicle assembled at the ford works at Antwerp. It was intended as a towing vehicle for the 47mm anti-tank gun in cavalry regiments. The Germans took over those which remained after Belgium surrendered. The Free Belgium Forces in Britain were re-equipped with a mixture of British and American vehicles, the first being the Guy Mk IA armoured car which was supplied to their armoured squadron, when the unit was formed in 1940.
Built under licence in Belgian were a number of British Carden-Loyd light 2-ton tractors, which the Belgium Army used for towing the 47mm anti-tank gun in both cavalry and infantry units. There were two types, with or without seats for personnel. The Germans also took over the remaining Utility B tractors, giving them the designation Artillerieschlepper VA 601(b).
The T13 (Type I) self-propelled gun was designed utilising the chassis of the Vickers Carden-Loyd Type I tractor. It mounted a 47mm gun, in a fixed half-turret with shutters, which fired over the rear decks. The vehicle had a crew of three, weighed 4.5 tons and had armour 9mm thick. Dimensions were 12ft 2½ins long, 6ft wide and 4ft funs high and had a top speed of 25mph.
The T13 (Type III), used the Carden-Loyd Type III tractor chassis, but differed from the Type I in both suspension and transmission. The 47mm gun was mounted in a half turret with all-round traverse. The vehicle weighed 5 tons and was very similar in size to the Type I. A total of 150 of both types of T13 were built in Belgium, the Type III being deployed mainly in cavalry and infantry units also with border cyclist patrol troops.
Austrian ADGZ 1935 armoured cars on parade in Vienna. Weighing some 8 tons they mounted both heavy and light machine guns and were fitted with the Voith-Getriebe torque converter transmission. (TM)
In 1933, the Austro-Daimler Company secretly began to design the ADGZ, an 8x8 armoured car, which was completed in 1934. (TM)
The 6×6 ADGZ armoured car was produced in 1938 and had a very large turret ventilator placed between the two machine gun ball mountings. Note the frame aerial and the front rollers. (TM)
Like other near neighbours of Sweden, before World War Two, Denmark purchased a small number of the excellent Swedish-built armoured cars. These were the L185 armoured car of 1933 built to Danish specifications and the more modern 1939 Lynx armoured car. fortunately the numbers were small and Sweden only delivered three of the eighteen Lynx ordered. Those that remained in working order, once the country was occupied, were used by the German police.
The ADSK Baby scout car look very like the 1937 Kleinerpanzerwagen, except for the stepped front. (TM)
The diminutive ADMK Mulus wheel-cum-track, machine gun carrier could run on tracks or on roadwheels (stored at the rear of vehicle). (TM)
The Danish Resistance did build an improvised armoured ear in 1945 using a Ford truck chassis. They called it the Holger-Danske V-3 - a joke against the Germans because of their V-1 and V-2 rockets. The armoured car was used to support attacks by the Holger-Danske section of the Resistance.
The Holger-Dansk V-3 was produced in 1945 by a Danish Resistance unit of the same name. (TM)
Berliet VUDB armoured cars, in service with the Belgian Army, are paraded through Brussels in 1939. (TM)
Built in 1938, on the Carden-Loyd T-13 light tank chassis, this Belgian close support SP mounted a 47mm gun offset to the left in a half turret. (TM)
Eire (Republic of Ireland) was a neutral country in World War Two and had purchased a number of modern armoured cars from Sweden in the early 1930s, to replace their ageing World War One type Rolls-Royce, Peerless and lamia vehicles. Eight L180s were purchased and a further fourteen ordered, however, the outbreak of war prevented delivery. In addition the Irish built four armoured cars based on a Leyland Terrier chassis and fitted with Swedish-built Landswerk L60 tank turrets. These entered service with the 1st Armoured Car Squadron in 1939 and were still in use up to the 1980s. One is on display in the Tank Museum at Bovington.
During 1940/41 28 Ford MkVI were built to a design by Colonel Lawless and Commandant Mayne of the Cavalry Corps. Post-war some were used in the Congo in 1961.
Two Ford Mk VI armoured cars move through a village in Eire, March 1942. Armed with a single Vickers 303in MG, the 14ft 10ins long car had a top speed of 40 mph. (TM)
The Irish armoured car of 1938, was based on a 1934 Leyland Terrier 6×4 truck chassis. The body was fitted with a Swedish-built Landswerk turret mounting a 20mm Madsen cannon and co-ax MG. (TM)
Nicholas Straussler, who is best remembered tor his invention of the Duplex Drive for amphibious tanks, designed a number of arm-oured cars for Britain between the wars. He also designed the Csaba 39 Mpcgk for his home country of Hungary. It was a good looking three-man armoured car, built in 1939 mounting a 20mm gun and co-ax machine gun in a well shaped, centrally placed turret. Dimensions were 14ft 9ins long, 6ft 110½ins wide and 7ft 5ins high. It is thought that they were used by the Germans tor internal security duties in Hungary.
The Csaba 39 Mpcgk was the only Hungarian armoured car to be designed by Nicholas Straussler. It had a faceted turret mounting a 20 mm gun and co-ax MG. (TM)
The Dutch M38 was in fact the Swedish Landswerk L182, purchased from Sweden in the 1930s. (TM)
The Polish-built Ursus Wz 29 was a conventional looking armoured car which bristled with armament - a 37 mm gun and three machine guns. (TM)
The Dutch M39 Panserwagen, was the production model of the Van Dorne Type 3 armoured car. (TM)
Another version of the Polish-built Ursus, the Wz 34, also mounted a 37mm gun. (TM)
The Hungarians also produced a very successful self-propelled assault gun version of their Turan medium tank, the Zrinyi II, which mounted a 10.5cm howitzer. It was designated as the 40/41 M Zrinyi Rolamloveg in Hungarian Army service. Over sixty were built, the main armament being a 10.5cm 40/43 M L/20.5 (MAVAG) howitzer for which fifty-two rounds of ammunition were carried. The 21.5 ton vehicle carried a crew of four and measured 19ft 8ins long, 9ft 8ins wide and 7ft 3½ins high, armour was 13-75mm thick. Top speed was 27mph with a range of 137 miles. The Hungarian Army were also issued with 100 Hetzers by the Germans.
Although in 1939 Dutch armoured car strength was only thirty-six in total, they were all quite modern and fully operational armoured vehicles equal to anything that the Germans had in service. They had twelve each of the M-36 and M-38 armoured cars, which were in fact Swedish Landswerk 180 and 182.
However, they also had twelve DAK M39 Panserwagen 38, a modern-looking 6×4, 6-ton armoured car mounting a 20mm cannon and co-ax machine gun in the turret and two more machine guns in the front and rear of the hull. In 1937 it first appeared in prototype form as the Van Dome Type 3. Noticeable features were large engine cooling louvres on the top of the hull at the rear and small roller wheels at the front to prevent the low-slung hull from bellying when crossing obstacles The M39 was 15ft 5ins long, 6ft 8½ins wide and 6ft 8½ins high. The Germans commandeered them when Holland was occupied and used them for internal security duties, designating them Panderspahwagen DAF 201(h).
Some improvised armoured cars, APCs and AA lorries were also used in the Dutch East Indies, but only in small numbers.
Poland had to face the might of the German Blitzkrieg with a handful of outdated tanks and armoured cars. The latter were the elderly Ursus Wz 29 built in 1926 and the slightly more modern Ursus Wz 34 I & II. The Wz 29 mounted a 37mm Putcaux gun in the turret, plus a machine gun in a separate mounting, pointing out of the left-hand side of the turret. A second machine gun was located at the rear of the hull. Disc wheels with pneumatic tyres were fitted. Dimensions were 17ft long, by 6ft wide and 8ft 1in high. The Wz 34 had a shorter, stubbier hull (under 12ft long), while the turret had a cupola on top. Main turret armament was either the 37mm gun or a heavy machine gun.
The excellent 1939 Swedish-built Lynx scout car, which weighed 8 tons and had a top speed of almost 45mph. (TM)
Prior to the war the Romanian Army purchased some Czechoslovak-built tanks including 126 of their LT vz 35 light tanks (designated by Romania as the R-2 light tank) these were deployed successfully in Russia with the 1st Royal Armoured Division, but suffered heavy casualties at Stalingrad in March 1943. After withdrawing them from front line service some were converted to self-propelled guns by fitting captured Soviet 7.62cm M42 guns in an open- topped structure.
Although the Swedes maintained strut neutrality during the war. some of their armoured cars saw action with other combatants, for example the Dutch had both the Landswerk 180 and 182 in service, the Danes both the Landswerk 185 and Lynx.
The Landswerk 185 was a 4×4 armoured car, built in 1933 and based on a Ford car chassis with disc wheels and a long bonnet with distinctive engine cooling louvres Mounting a 20mm gun and two machine guns, the 4.2-ton vehicle had a top speed of 37mph and a range of just over 90 miles. Its dimensions were 16ft long, 5ft 9ins wide and 9ft 1in high.
In 1938 the very streamlined 4×4 Lynx, which weighed 8 tons, first appeared. The production model of 1939 was not quite so streamlined but was a highly effective vehicle, remaining in Swedish service until long after the end of World War Two. It had a larger turret than the original model, with a hinged cupola, hut still mounted the 20mm gun and three machine guns (one co-ax and two in the hull - one at the front and one in the rear). The 16ft 9ins long vehicle was 7ft 6ins wide and 7ft 2½ins high, had a top speed of 44mph and a range of 155miles.
The Landswerk 180, 181 and 182 armoured cars were based on the 6×4 Scania-Vabis truck chassis, with a front-mounted engine and a well- shaped, conventional looking turret. Armament was a 20mm Madsen cannon and a co-ax machine gun, plus another MG alongside the driver. Top speed was 50mph and the range 180 miles. All had a crew of four or five men, weighed between 6 and 7 tons and measured just over 18ft long, by 6ft 6ins wide and 8ft high.
The L30 wheel-cum-track, also built by Landswerk, never entered full production but was an interesting vehicle which, it was claimed, could switch from wheels to tracks in under thirty seconds whilst the vehicle was actually moving! It had the M 31 light tank turret and was sometimes known as the Strv fin/31. It weighed 11.5 tons, had a top speed on wheels of 47mph and i range of 187 miles. Main armament was a 37mm gun.
The Swedish-built Landswerk 181 armoured car used a Scania Vabis 6×4 truck chassis and mounted a 20mm gun in conventional looking turret. (TM)
The Landswerk 182 was the third model of the series which started in production as the 180. All weighed between 6 and 7 tons. (TM)
The Landswerk 185 light armoured car was based on a Ford passenger car chassis. It weighed 4.2 tons and mounted a 20 mm gun and two machine guns. (TM)
A US Army convoy, led by two M8 HMC self-propelled howitzers, passes down a country lane in England, May 1945 (TM)
Sweden built a number of very useful looking self-propelled guns (Stormartillerivagen (Sav)) based on the Strv m/41 tank chassis which was of course the Czech TNH-Sv built under licence. One of these was the Sav m/43. The prototype of which mounted a 75mm Bofors gun. The production model built by Scania Vabis was armed with a new 105mm Sak m/44 gun but only eighteen were produced. Other Savs built on the m/41 chassis were the PvKv 3 mounting a 57mm anti-tank gun. The PvKv 4 which mounted the 75mm L/60 AA gun, both in open-topped turrets, whilst an earlier PvKv 2 was based on the Swedish designed Strv m/40 with a 57mm gun mounted in an armoured sleeve.