Dutch Tanks & Armored vehicles
Around 3,000 AFVs 1930-today
The Genesis of Dutch AFVs
During WWI, the Dutch remained neutral and therefore did not have the feel to develop a tank force, at least on its national territory. Only armored cars were retained for patrol and police duties. When WWII started, the growing defence budget was mostly attributed to the KNIL, the Dutch East Indies Army, and its sizeable navy, at least to help modernize it.
Soldiers of the Landmacht in 1937. The puttees and helmet shape, as well as the specific uniform colors, are distinctive.
The 1940 campaign
Being a colonial empire and despite its limited resources and population, the Dutch had to fight both the Germans and the Japanese. The resources allocated for the Koninklijke Landmacht (KL), or “Royal Army”, were way below the level needed to be able to fight the German Army. Despite all odds, the Dutch succeeded in some areas in holding back the German forces for three days. The 1st Corps was the force strategic reserve, located in the Vesting Holland, around The Hague, Leiden, Haarlem and in the Westland. Although secondary in the German attack plan, the only concerns were to avoid the Liege corridor and securing the route through Limburg.
For that, the 18th Army and the 9th Panzer Division were committed to the action. The 9th PZD was to break through the so-called Grebbeline, above the Rhine, and hold a crossing on the Afsluitdijk river. This unit was then ordered to aim for the Moerdijk Bridge in Southern Holland. At the same time, the 22nd Air Landing Division and 7th Fliegerdivision were to land around the Hague and capture Queen Wilhelmina, the government and General Staff in one stroke. Even before operation began, German officers had no difficulties spotting all the bunkers and defensive position on the border, which entered the sights of the artillery. The small Dutch Air Force was the first to be dealt with (only about 70 fighters of the Fokker D.XXI/D.XVII and twin-boom G.I types and obsolete biplanes for light bombing/recce).
In the first hours of May 10, 1940, German forces were trying to secure bridges at Ijssel and Maas. However, the bridges had been destroyed in all but a few areas, and progression was hindered by pillboxes and fortified positions. Paratroopers succeeded to capture the airfields of Waalhaven (near Rotterdam), Ypenburg, Ockenburg and Valkenburg (around the Hague) but were kept out of the Hague by a resolute defense. However, three airfield were recaptured by the Dutch in the evening. But the bulk of the fighting took place at Grebbeberg, the only possible path around on-purpose flooded areas. In this area, the Dutch had an outpost line, main defense line and stop line as a backup with reserves to block any possible breakthrough. On May 11 because of stiff resistance, the SS regiment “Der Führer” only secured the northern section of the first line and all outposts by the evening. The next day a major battle on the Kornwerderzand started, and also held back the German forces for days (in fact until the official surrender) due to its network of mutually supported bunkers.
The Battle of the Afsluitdijk – one of the bunkers of the Kornwerderzand complex.
On May 13, French reinforcements from the south were inefficient due to a lack of communications with Dutch Forces and the blocked Moerdijk Bridge, and eventually were brushed aside by the 9th Panzer Division which linked with the paratroopers but failed to enter Rotterdam, meeting fierce resistance. On May 13, the last line of defence of the Grebbe line (stop line) collapsed, nothing else preventing the German troops from reaching the sea except for a hastily-prepared Waterlinie (Water Line).
Surrounded, Rotterdam received an ultimatum, which was rejected, although a second one was signed while bombers carried out their mission, not seeing the warning flares. The bombing of Rotterdam after an official surrender raised a wave of international indignation. The official surrender came on May, 19, signed by General Winkelman. However, even after that, the Dutch still had powerful assets in their East Indies colonial empire.
East Indies campaign (1941-42)
The Princess Irene Brigade Group (1941)
Renamed Prinses Irene Brigade (P.I.B.) on 11 February 1941, its core was the only 1,500 strong brigade which reached UK in May 1940.
The aftermath and Cold War (1945-1947)
What was left of the KNIL in 1944 found itself at war against Indonesian nationalists…
The Cold War Koninklijke Landmacht
Another involvment of the Dutch army in Asia was in Korea in 1950-53. In total, 3,972 Dutch soldiers served in Korea, and 123 never returned. From 1960 to 1962, the war with Indonesia over New Guinea lasted until Dutch troops retired and an international agreement was set up. The Army re-equipped itself as a part of NATO, which the Netherlands joined early on and formed the I (Netherlands) Corps, assigned to the Northern Army Group. Its duties were to relieve the 1st German Corps forces ASAP, devise tactics to integrate into COMNORTHAG’s vision of covering force battle, assume main defensive battle duties and maintain cohesion with LANDJUT while securing NORTHAG’s left flank.
Exercise Allied Spirit I, Hohenfels, Germany.
Post Cold War reforms
In the early 1990s, the I (NL) Corps was reduced to just the First Division, later part of the I. German/Dutch Corps, while its division HQ was disbanded. The army size was reduced and gradually many AFVs were sold or stored in reserve. The army followed the same path of professionalization and specialization as most European countries. Full-time personnel is now 21,500. The army took its “tours of duty” in peacekeeping and peace enforcing missions:
-Lebanon 1979-1985 (presence with UNIFIL, 9,084 soldiers deployed, 9 died). The only AFVs deployed arrived with the 44th Armored Infantry Battalion
-Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo 1991–present: In Bosnia, the Dutch army was heavily criticised for their passive stand during the Srebrenica massacre. They were present since 1999 with the NATO Kosovo Force.
-Eritrea and Ethiopia 2001
-Iraq 2003–2005: 1,345 troops from Landmacht and Dutch Marines were deployed with helicopters at Camp Smitty near As Samawah (Muthanna Province), and lost 2 soldiers in an ambush.
-Afghanistan 2002–2010: From mid-2006, the Dutch Special Forces Corps (Commandotroepen) operated successfully in Tarin Kowt, protecting engineers working on a large base. Later in summer, 1,400 troops were deployed to the Uruzgan province (Southern Iraq), 200 served at Kamp Holland, and Deh Rahwod. These forces were backed by AFVs of the 44 Pantserinfanteriebataljon Regiment Johan Willem Friso and 42 Tankbataljon Regiment Huzaren Prins van Oranje, operating PzH 2000 self-propelled guns. Dutch troops also actively participated in Operation Medusa and at the Battle of Chora. On this occasion, 96 Australian Bushmaster MRAPs (mine resistant ambush protected) were used (10 lost in Uruzgan and Kunduz provinces).
However, massive budget cuts had ineluctable consequences. On April 8, 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Defense dissolved the last tank unit and sold the remaining Leopard 2s (about 445 had been in service, most were sold). As of today, the core fighting consists of three brigades, the 11th Airmobile Brigade, 13th Light Brigade and 43rd Mechanized Brigade. The Royal Netherlands Army is a volunteer force, and the compulsory military service has been suspended. The Royal Marechaussee is also a volunteer force. There is a military academy (Koninklijke Militaire Academie) in Breda. There is a Korps Nationale Reserve counting three mixed regional oriented battalions similar to the UK’s Territorial Army. The bi-national Army Corps I. German/Dutch Corps is a rapid deployment Army Corps, part of NATO’s response force. The battalion is based at Münster (Germany) and Eibergen (Netherlands).
Landsverk L181s of the Dutch 1st squadron – Credits: alternate-netherlands-history.
On of the Vickers 1938 model light tanks delivered to the KNIL.
Dutch KNIL CTLS-4A in postwar fighting against Indonesian insurgents.
Royal Netherland Army (homeland)
– M39 DAF Pantrado: (12, 1939) These were by far the most modern and potent armored cars in the Dutch homeland.
– M36 Landsverk 181: (12, 1938) Modern 4×6 Swedish vehicles.
– Ehrhardt E-V4: (8, 1918) Old ex-German vehicles bought in the early 1930s.
K.N.I.L (Royal East Indies Company)
– Marmon-Herrington MTLS: of the 200 ordered, only 19 were delivered after the fall of Java in 1942, taking part in the defence of Suriname.
– Marmon-Herrington CTMS: 200 ordered, 31 delivered in late 1941.
– Marmon-Herrington CTLS: 194 ordered, 20-24 unloaded in march 1942, just in time for the fight, and 39 more later.
– Vickers light amphibious tanks: Two ordered and delivered in 1937.
– Vickers light tanks: two ordered and delivered in 1937. 73 ordered in 1938, 20 delivered but the remainder (49) were confiscated by the British Government at the outbreak of the war. Used locally as “Dutchmen”. Later in 1941, 49 South-African armoured cars were shipped to Java in compensation.
– Krupp-Wilton-Fijenoord: 6 built in 1933 from Krupp 22H143 truck chassis at Rotterdam shipyard, two resold to Brazil.
– Alvis-Straussler AC-3D: 12 built in 1938 from Alvis, created by Hungarian engineer Nicholas Straussler.
– Army Overvalwagen: Late 1940 type “B” or “Braat” – 30? built on a Chevrolet COE truck chassis. Two series, 5 variants.
– M3A1 White scout cars: 40 bought in 1941 from USA, Java.
– Marmon Herrington Mk.III: 49 shipped from South Africa in february 1942.
– Ford T8 GMC: An unknown number sold to the KNIL. These were Ford swamp buggies armed with a 37 mm M3 used in Suriname.
– Stadswacht Overvalwagen: early 1940 – 90? built from the Homeguards, based on a Chevrolet 4×2 chassis.
Cold War Dutch AFVs
AMX-13/105 NL (here “B16” from the 103rd reconnaissance batallion Cavalerie Verkenningseskadron in 1985). About 200 AMX-13s were in service with the Dutch Army.
AMX-VCI, about 300+ VTT 12.7 HMG APCs and other variants (VCC TOW below) derived from the AMX-13 chassis were also in service until the 1980s.
YPR-765S were the main AIFVs of the Dutch Army, locally produced from 1975 in several variants. They are all retired now. It was based on the M113 American APC also used by Belgium. Some served in Afghanistan. All have been replaced by CV9035NLs IFVs and other wheeled vehicles.
Modern Dutch AFVs
Only 18 Leopard 2A6 are maintained in active service (provision for 48), a single battalion.
BAE CV90: Of the 149 vehicles bought, 92 were kept in reserve (in 2014, 44 were sold to Estonia), and 17 for training.
Panzerhaubitze 2000. 57 bought, 33 in storage, 18 active and 6 used for training.
LGS Fennek: 365 in active service. Types used: Reconnaissance (144), General Purpose/Cargo (63), Medium Range Israeli Gill Missile (48), SPAAML with Stinger (18), Forward Observer (45), Mortar Carrier (39), Tactical Air Control and Target Designation (8).
GTK Boxer: 8×8 APC, 200 in active service, counting Command (36), Ambulance (52), Engineering (80), Repair (12), Cargo (18) and Driver training (8) variants.
Luchtmobiel Speciaal Voertuig, about 160 of these multi-purpose airborne wheeled vehicle were built in the Netherlands, pending replacement.
The modern Dutch army also counts several German specialized AFVs, namely 6 NBC recce 6×6 Fuchs vehicles, 18 Buffel ARVs, 20 Bergepanzer 2s, 4 Leguan bridge layers and 10 Pionierpanzer 3s.
Latest ww2 tanks
- Type 4 Ho-Ro
- BT-7 Artillery
- Daimler Armoured Car
- T26E4 “Super Pershing”
- 10.5cm leFH 18/1 (Sf) auf Geschutzwagen IVb
- Bison Mobile Pillbox
- 10.5cm leFH 18/3 (Sf) auf Geschützwagen B2(f)
- Gas Powered Fahrschulwanne tanks
- 10.5cm LeFH 16 auf Geschutzwagen Mk.VI(e)