Categories
WW2 Dutch Armoured Cars

GMC Improvised Armored Cars

The Netherlands (1931-34) Armored Car – 3 Built

In the early 1920s, the Netherlands did not feel a need to acquire any armored vehicles. Nevertheless, the army had plans to buy one Renault FT tank and was already operating one armored car, based on an Ehrhardt Kraftwagen-Flugabwehrkanone taken from the Germans in 1918. These vehicles only served the purpose of familiarizing the army with the use of armored vehicles. For the same purpose, an improvised vehicle, made to look like an armored car, was built in 1924 in a local army workshop.

The turreted vehicle during exercises on the Veluwe in 1925. Note how it is covered in a smokescreen. Photo: Image Library Dutch National Archives.

Construction

The improvised vehicle was constructed by the Regiment vestingartillerie (Regiment Fortress Artillery), based in the city of Naarden. A GMC lorry was taken and a 37 mm gun was installed in the back on a pivot. The cabin and gun were enveloped in steel, tin, and wood, made to look like armor. The gun stood out above the roof and a wooden dome-shaped turret was placed around it. The spoked wheels were also covered with steel plating.
When the vehicle was put into service, it was quickly found that the added weight was far too much and the lorry could not drive faster than 24 km/h (~15 mph). Due to the thin armor and use of tin, the vehicle received the nickname blikken pantserwagen, (Eng: ‘tin armored car’). In 1927, the vehicle was slightly adjusted and the structure was reinforced to resolve the weight problem, after which it was put into service with the Korps Rijdende Artillerie (Corps Horse Artillery, abbreviated ‘KRA’). Somewhere during this time, it was repainted and also received a new registration number, M27012, and tactical number 702.
The vehicle was used in exercises, the last time being in 1931 when the superstructure and gun were dismantled by the KRA. The lorry was then used to transport newly acquired Carden Loyd tankettes.

Picture showing the first vehicle after it got adjusted and was put into service with the KRA. Note the wooden turret and the (either red or blue) cloth strung around the headlights. It indicates to which army it belongs during war games. Photo: Image Library Dutch National Archives.

A Different Design

Five years after the initial vehicle was built, the army wanted to acquire a foreign armored car and 12,000 guilders were made available, worth US$114,120 in 2016 money. Negotiations with multiple manufacturers including Citroën and Škoda failed, so First Lieutenant A.L.W. Seyffardt decided to design an armored car himself. Apparently, the construction of eight vehicles was planned, and they were to be assigned to the Recce sections of the divisional groups and to the Bicycle Battalions, although some sources contradict on that matter. However, eventually, three vehicles were built. These three armored cars were built by the Korps Motordienst (Corps Motor Service) located in the city of Haarlem. The armor was taken from various gunshields and they were quickly nicknamed Kippenhok, (Eng: ‘Chicken Coop’).

A GMC Kippenhok during the Jordaan Riots in July 1934. Photo: Image Library Dutch Military Archives.
The vehicles were built in 1931. Some features were a sheet iron roof, two oil lamps inside, and front and side armor with vision slots covered by armored glass. Three gunports were made, one in each side and one in the front. They could all be covered by an armored plate if necessary. The spoked wheels were covered by steel plates and had solid tires. Each vehicle received a black-green-yellow camouflage scheme.
The armament consisted of three 6.5 mm Lewis M.20 machine guns. The cars also featured double-steering with a driver in the front and in the back. A carbide searchlight could manually be raised from within the car and provide light when necessary. The front armor plate could be folded down completely, giving both the commander and front driver a vulnerable position but a clear view in return. The crew consisted of seven people, one commander, two drivers, three machine gunners, and one signaller. Despite being built in 1931, the vehicles were still based upon an outdated chassis and, in that sense, already obsolete when they were built. However, they formed the inspiration for the more modern Morris armored cars, of which three were built in 1933.

Both deployed vehicles are visible in this image. The commander and driver positions are clearly visible. Photo: Image Library Dutch National Archives.


The turreted improvised armored car as it would have appeared during exercises on the Veluwe in 1925. Illustration by Jaroslaw ‘Jarja’ Janas, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Jordaan Riots, 1934

After completion, the three vehicles were assigned to the Second Company Police troops stationed in Amsterdam. With these troops, the vehicles would see their only operational use when, in July 1934, riots broke out in the city district Jordaan. Due to the economic crisis started by the Wall Street Crash in 1929, there was a high unemployment rate across the country. Many unemployed people lived in the city of Amsterdam, and when news came that the social benefits would be lowered by ten percent, riots broke out. The police responded by asking the military for help and also tried to deploy its own armored cars.

Image of one armored car during the Jordaan Riots in July 1934, Willemstraat Amsterdam. Photo: Image Library Dutch National Archives.
However, when the obsolete armored cars were deployed on July 6th, one of the cars suffered an immediate breakdown. The other two could be deployed but it was feared that the front axles could break due to the heavy overload. For this reason, the vehicles were only deployed together. When the newer Morris armored cars arrived, the GMC’s were pulled back from action. They were taken out of service and scrapped the very same year.
Although the riots became known as the ‘Jordaan Riots’, disturbances also took place in other city districts and in other places throughout the country, but these were not as violent. In the Jordaan, streets were broken up and barricaded. The riots were violently suppressed by the police and military. According to the police, five people were killed, while 56 people were heavily wounded, among them were eight policemen and one member of the military police.

A shot of the two vehicles on the move during the riots in Amsterdam. Note the searchlight hatch in the roof. Photo: Aviarmor.net

Specifications (1931 Model)

Total weight 3500 kg (7716 lbs)
Crew 7 (commander, 2 drivers, 3 machine gunners, signaller/searchlight operator
Top speed 25 km/h (15.5 mph)
Armament 3x 6.5mm Lewis M.20 machine guns

Links & Resources

J. Giesbers, A. Giesbers, R. Tas. Holland paraat! Volume 2, Giesbers Media, 2016.
C.M. Schulten, J. Theil. Nederlandse pantservoertuigen, Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1979.

Tanks Encyclopedia Magazine, #2

Tanks Encyclopedia Magazine, #2


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Categories
WW2 Dutch Armoured Cars

C.P.I.M. Improvised Armored Car

The Netherlands/Shell (1929) Armored Car – 2 Built

In 1929, Venezuelan revolutionaries performed a successful surprise attack on a Dutch fortress on Curaçao in order to capture the fortress’ arsenal. The goal was to use these weapons to overthrow Caudillo Juan Vicente Gómez in Venezuela. The Dutch governor and the military commander of the island were both taken prisoner. During the chaos, the director of the oil refinery on the island ordered the construction of two armored cars which would be used to defend the refinery against a potential attack by the revolutionaries.


One of two armored cars, note the crude fitting of the metal sheets.

Short history of Curaçao

Curaçao is a 144 km2 island which is part of the Lesser Antilles and located above the coast of Venezuela. In 1499, the island was discovered by a Spanish expedition which enslaved most of the native Caquetio people, who were later sent to the island of Hispaniola. Together with the small neighboring islands of Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao (the ABC islands) was considered ‘useless’ by the Spanish, as there were not many natural resources, such as gold deposits. Furthermore, the soil was not suited for agricultural exploitation, but cattle thrived on the island. In 1634, only around 30 Spaniards remained on the island, when it was successfully invaded by the Dutch West-Indische Compagnie (West India Company, WIC for short).
The island was quickly fortified to defend it against a potential Spanish attack.

The Spaniards indeed tried on one occasion to recapture the island, but due to the wind heading in the wrong direction, they could not land, and a renewed attempt was never made. As such, the island remained in Dutch possession. In the meantime, the population grew steadily, plantations were built, and the island became an important trading post due to its deep natural harbors and close proximity to the Venezuelan coast. Slave trade began in 1665 and, in 1674, Curaçao became a free-trade zone, increasing its position in the international trade network. However, during the 18th century, French and English colonial possessions in the Caribbean, became more and more powerful, decreasing Curaçao’s role in trade with revenue dropping and, in 1791, the WIC had to file for bankruptcy.

The island became an official Dutch colony and property of the Netherlands. In 1800, due to the French occupation of the Netherlands, Curaçao was invaded by the British. They were expelled from the island by the local inhabitants in 1803, but returned in 1807 and kept control of Curaçao until it was returned to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1816. The economy mostly depended on trade (the slave trade was abolished in 1863), agriculture, and fishing. After 1816, the island was defended by a garrison of nearly 370 men with the primary task of defending against a surprise attack and the secondary task of preventing domestic unrest, but their number dropped over time.


A map of Curaçao, including its surrounding area, roughly 70 km from the main coast of Venezuela. Source: hubpages

Oil Reserves

The economic situation would make a drastic turn after 1914 when oil deposits were discovered. Within a year, the Curaçaose Petroleum Industrie Maatschappij, (Curaçao Petroleum Industry Company), CPIM for short, a subsidiary company of Royal Dutch Shell, settled on the island. After a century of standstill, there was a sudden increase in employment opportunities, which attracted many workers from the Caribbean, as well as people from Venezuela. The sudden increase of the working class also meant an increase in unrest, mainly in the capital Willemstad. The civilian police corp could not cope with the problems and two slums on the island were no-go areas for any law enforcement.

To deal with these problems, the Dutch government decided in 1927 to replace this police corp and the garrison, which had been gradually scaled down to around 80 men, with 150 men from the Korps Politietroepen, a military police unit from the Netherlands. So, unlike the previous garrison, this unit had as a priority the maintenance of order, and only secondary to defend the island against an attack. The unit arrived during 1928-1929. Nevertheless, the two slums on the island, Rio Canario and Suffisant, were still no-go areas for the police.


Rafael Simón Urbina (right) and Gustavo Machado Morales (left). Source: Maritiem Digitaal

Venezuelan Revolutionary Rafael Simón Urbina

It was in those two slums that the Venezuelan revolutionaries, Rafael Simón Urbina, Gustavo Machado Morales and Miguel Otero Silva, managed to gather a great following among the Venezuelan workers. Although they united to overthrow Caudillo (a military president-dictator) Juan Vicente Gómez in Venezuela, they had different motives. Some, including Urbina, where part of a group of patriots who wanted to liberate Venezuela from Gómez, the others, including Machado, were communists and wanted to establish a communist regime.
After causing too much unrest on Curaçao, Urbina was expelled from the island in 1928, but he managed to return in 1929 under a different name and with a Mexican nationality, which had been given to him by the Mexican consul in Panama. The group of revolutionaries led by Machado had already made extensive plans for an attack on the fort to capture the fortress’ arsenal when Urbina returned on June 1. For unclear reasons, he was directly appointed the leader of the group.

The Attack

On Saturday night, June 8, between 21:15 and 21:30, two trucks with 45 men drove at full speed into the fort. Because the fort also functioned as a police station, the gates were always opened. One group of revolutionaries, armed with two automatic pistols and machetes took the guards by surprise, killed the officer and wounded two other policemen. Simultaneously, another group entered the messroom, where they fatally wounded a Sergeant. A third group, led by Urbina, went to the dormitory, while a fourth group went to the arsenal. At the moment of the attack, the fort was manned by 26 policemen and 9 soldiers. Three soldiers were killed and six other people were wounded. The alarmed Commander in Chief of the military police, Captain A.F. Borren, was taken prisoner when he arrived at the fort.

The loot consisted of 197 rifles, 4 machine guns, 1 binocular, 38 pistols, 75 klewangs (bladed weapons of Indonesian origin), 7,000 cartridges, some machetes, leather clothing, and a reasonable amount of money. After the fort was secured and sealed off from the city by the revolutionaries, Urbina came in contact with the governor of the island, L.A. Fruytier. Threatened by Urbina that the petrol depot would be set on fire, the governor agreed for a free retreat. Just after midnight, 154 revolutionaries (other sources state up to 250) boarded the American freighter S.S. Maracaibo, taking the governor, commander, and several policemen as hostages with them, as well as their loot.

During the early morning of June 9, the revolutionaries unboarded at La Vela del Coro (the capital of Falcón State and the oldest city in the northwest of Venezuela), using the ships’ lifeboats. The Maracaibo was allowed to return to Willemstad with the former hostages, who were humiliated up to the bone when they arrived during the afternoon. If it was up to Urbina, they would have been killed, but Machado prevented that from happening. In the meantime, Urbina’s followers who had stayed on the island were still in large control of Willemstad. The remaining 90 policemen, assisted by civilian volunteers started to recapture the city. Reinforcements were sent during the following days in the form of 40 KNIL soldiers from Suriname, later followed by more marines and KNIL soldiers. The voluntary civilian support would be formed into the Vrijwilligers Korps Curaçao (VKC), 143 men strong.


One of the barricades made by employees of the CPIM. Source: Royal Tropical Institute


Illustration of the C.P.I.M. Improvised Armored Car by Yuvnashva Sharma, funded by our Patreon Campaign

Defense of the C.P.I.M.

Going back to the night of the attack, when the director of the CPIM heard about the attack on the Waterfort, he realized that the refinery was a potential target as well. He immediately arranged defenses in the form of sandbags, iron plates, and similar kinds of obstacles behind which the employees could take defensive positions. He also ordered the construction of armored cars. They were made by adding steel plates to postal trucks, which were largely available at the company. A small attack did indeed occur on that same night, which was successfully dealt with, but the armored cars were not finished yet. A second attack never came, so when the armored cars were ready the next morning, there was no need for them anymore.

One of two armored vehicles near a CPIM building. Note how the mudguards are visible through the gap and the crude way how the armor is cut. Source: Royal Tropical Institute

The second vehicle, the main differences from the other are the installation of the front armor plate, the protection of the headlights and the removal of the canvas roof. Source: Curacao in Ansichten, derived from Overvalwagen.nl

The Armored Cars

In several newspapers and the like, there are mentions of several postal trucks being converted (specific model unknown). Based on photo evidence, there indeed appears to be at least two vehicles converted. It is clearly visible that the vehicles were very hastily assembled, in fact, they were completed in one night. Firstly, steel plating was added over the engine compartment which then folded over the mudguards down to roughly 10 centimeters above ground, protecting most of the wheels, shod with pneumatic tires. Another trapezoid shaped piece folded down over the front, in which two holes were made for the headlights. Another rectangular plate was added below to protect the lower part of the chassis and the front of the wheels. An opening was left so that the front of the mudguards were still visible.

The front of the driver’s compartment was protected by one large sheet of metal with one large horizontal vision slit. The sides of the vehicle were covered in one large plate on each side which was slightly curved at the front. A total of eight shooting holes, four on each side, were also made. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the back of the vehicle, but it can be safely assumed that the doors were in the back. The roof was not armored, as the canvas roof of the original truck was retained.


The postal trucks of the CPIM, two of which would be temporarily converted into armored cars. Source: Royal Tropical Institute

Aftermath

How long the vehicles remained active is unknown, but given their improvised state, they were probably dismantled soon after the threat of an attack was gone. The vehicles were the first armored vehicles ever built in the Dutch colonies, which is made more impressive by the fact that they were built by a private company and not ordered or used by the Dutch government.

The aftermath of the embarrassing attack on the fort was mainly felt by the governor, Fruytier, who got fired in November, and the commander-in-chief, Borren, who was sentenced to one day of prison. However, it was also acknowledged that it could also have been prevented if there was a larger Dutch military presence, which led to an increase in this regard in the area. Only during World War II would armored vehicles serve on the island again, in the form of the Marmon-Herrington CTLS tank, meant to defend the large oil refinery which was a vital oil supplier in the American war effort.

This was the third attempt by Urbina to overthrow Caudillo Gómez, but like the previous two times, he failed. After the Dutch hostages were freed to return to Curaçao, they immediately sent a message to the Venezuelan government in Caracas with information about the number of revolutionaries and their weapons, which allowed the government troops to respond and sent a force to defeat Urbina and his revolutionaries. Both Urbina and Machado managed to escape. Urbina would again try to overthrow the Venezuelan authorities in 1931 and would be involved in several other plots and coups until his assassination in 1950 after a failed kidnapping.

Sources

In de West de Nederlandse Krijgsmacht in het Caribisch gebied, Anita van Dissel, Petra Groen, Van Wijnen, 2010.
De rijke geschiedenis van Curaçao Indianen, de WIC en invasies, Jack Schellekens, Carib Publishing, 2012.
“De overval op Willemstad.”. Haarlem’s Dagblad. 09-08-1929. Consulted at Delpher.
“De blamage van Curacao. Hoe Willemstad in staat van verdediging werd gebracht.”. Haagsche courant. 11-07-1929. Consulted at Delpher.
“De verdediging van de C.P.I.M.”. Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant. 10-07-1929. Consulted at Delpher
Overvalwagen.nl and Overvalwagen forum

Categories
WW2 Dutch Armoured Cars

Morris ‘Koekblikje’ Armored Car

The Netherlands (1932 – 40) Armored car – 3 Built

During the early 1930s, the Dutch army had two armored cars in service. The first was an Ehrhardt Plattformwagen, confiscated from retreating German troops in 1918 with an improvised armored superstructure. The other vehicle was based on a GMC chassis and was purely meant for training purposes, as such it did not have real armor and was made of tin and wood. However, the GMC was dismantled in 1931, leaving the army with only one armored vehicle to train with. Although three new armored cars were built, these were to be assigned to the Amsterdam police force, leaving the army with still only one vehicle. That is why the Minister of Defence ordered in January 1932 the construction of three new armored cars. These cars were to be used for police duties or training and army exercises, and were not meant or even suitable for war.

All three armored cars during a parade at the ‘Molenheide’ near the city of Nijmegen. Source: Author’s own collection.
These three vehicles were to be built by Artillerie Inrichtingen (Hembrug), a state-owned company producing artillery, small arms, ammunition, and similar army equipment. As a base, the Morris Commercial 6×4 truck was used, five of which were already in service with the Motorartillerie (mechanized Artillery), based in the city of Naarden. The new armored cars were designed by Captain J. Wijnman, a retired artillery officer, and were influenced by the design of the GMC armored cars from 1931.

A Morris Commercial 6×4 truck with registration number G-61137, in service with the motorist in the city of Naarden. Source: Conam.info

Name

On February 11, the Minister announced to several military authorities that the cars were to be given the names Buffel (Buffalo), Bison, and Wisent and so, the armored cars became known as the ‘Buffel class’. Sometimes they are also referred to as the ‘Wijnman’ armored car, after their designer, but among the soldiers, it quickly gained the nickname ‘Koekblikje’ (small biscuit tin), completely in the Dutch habit of naming their armored cars after ordinary household items.

It is unclear which one of the three this vehicle is. SOURCE

Design

The exterior of the vehicle was plain and box-like, hence why it was named ‘biscuit tin’. The armor thickness is unknown. The slightly sloped armor was perfect during riot control, as thrown objects like stones or furniture could not get stuck on the vehicle. Four machine gun ports were placed, one in each side of the crew compartment, providing space for up to four Lewis M.20 machine guns.
The crews received special helmets and tight-fitting clothes to ease operating inside the vehicle. Boilersuits were also provided to be used during maintenance. The driver sat to the front left of the vehicle and had a closable visor in front of him. A machine gunner was located to the right of the driver.

The Wisent, being cleaned by its crew during the mobilization in 1939 in the city of Voorthuizen. The registration plate has been removed. SOURCE
A hatch was installed in the roof which could be slid backward. As a result, one of the crew, probably the commander or searchlight operator had a clear view of the surroundings. A carbide searchlight could manually be raised from within the car and provide light when necessary. A second driver was located in the back. The exact amount of crewmembers is unclear but it ranged probably from four (two drivers, commander, gunner) to six (two extra gunners).
After the vehicles were completed in October 1932, they were added to the Korps Rijdende Artillerie, Corps Mechanised Artillery, KRA in short. They accompanied the five Carden-Loyd tankettes that were delivered to the KRA in 1931. They received the registration numbers M36313 Wisent, M36311 Bison, M36312 Buffel. On the right front of the vehicles, the number 60 was written, while on the left the tactical numbers (331, 332, 333) were written diagonally on a red-white-blue background, referring to the Dutch flag.


Illustration of the Morris ‘Koekblikje’ Armored Car by Yuvnashva Sharma, funded by our Patreon campaign.

More in Rotterdam?

In 1932, the Rotterdam Carbine Brigade was equipped with two armored cars, P1 and P2. These could be two armored cars like the Morris as two photos are known which show one Morris type car, together with police forces in 1934. Although the registration plate is largely unreadable, the number 5 is visible, a number not present on any of the Army Morris registration plates. It is also lacking any army markings.

A Morris armored car with the Rotterdam police. Source: Rotterdam Archives

The Morris cars in the Jordaan

During the Jordaan Riots in 1934, the Morris cars saw action and replaced the GMC armored cars. The GMC cars belonged to the second company police troops, based in Amsterdam. The head of the 4th Military Department, who was responsible for the military action during these riots, noted in his rapport about the riots that the GMC should be replaced by the three Morris cars, but that did not happen.
The cars performed well in the narrow streets. Thrown stones, furniture, and other kinds of objects didn’t harm the vehicles. The heaviest riots lasted from 4-9 July during which 56 people were wounded and five people were killed. Although the riots are named after one specific city district, the riots happened on a much larger scale, not only in other Amsterdam city districts but also in other cities, like Rotterdam.

The M36313 Wisent together with three soldiers in the Jordaan, Amsterdam. Source: Dutch National Archives

May 1940

After the riots, the armored cars remained in service with the KRA and played a big role during the annual wargames and other exercises until the country would be attacked by German forces. In May 1940, the Wisent, together with the Carden-Loyd tankette Panter, formed a platoon which was assigned to the 1st Regiment Huzaren (Hussars). This regiment was located close to Amersfoort. The platoon was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Reserve E.C. Everts and did not see any action on May 10. On May 11, the platoon was ordered to move to The Hague where it performed reconnaissance duties. The Buffel and Bison also formed a platoon, but were officially pulled back from duty just before war broke out.

Conclusion

None of three vehicles saw serious action, apart from reconnaissance duties, and they were all captured in their worn out state by the Germans. What happened after that is unknown, but it is most likely that all three vehicles were scrapped.

The Wisent at the K.R.A. in Arnhem, together with two out of five Carden-Loyd tankettes, registration numbers M37270 and M37272. The photo was taken between 1935-1940. Source: National Dutch Military Archives.

Specifications

Crew 4 – 6
Armament up to 4 Lewis M.20 6,5 mm machine guns
Total Production 3

Sources

J. Giesbers, A. Giesbers, R. Tas. Holland paraat! Volume 2, Giesbers Media, 2016.
C.M. Schulten, J. Theil. Nederlandse pantservoertuigen, Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1979.
Waffen Arsenal Band 146, Beutepanzer unterm Balkenkreuz, Werner Regenberg.
Hoefer, Armamentaria 3, Stichting Het Nederlandse Leger- en Wapenmuseum, 1969.
On politiemuseum.nl
On historischecollectiepolitieeenheidrotterdam.nl
On sytzema.nl

Tanks Encyclopedia Magazine, #3

Tanks Encyclopedia Magazine, #1 Republished

The first issue of the Tank Encyclopedia Magazine has been remastered and rereleased. It covers vehicles ranging from the French WWI Frot-Turmel-Laffly Armoured Road Roller up to the Salvadoran Cold War Marenco M114 converted vehicles. The star of this issue is a full article on the Improved Protection version of the famous M1 Abrams – the M1IP.

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Categories
WW2 Dutch Armoured Cars

Wilton-Fijenoord Armored Car

The Netherlands (1933-45)
Armored car – 3 built

At the end of the twenties, the Dutch military slowly began to realise the importance of armored vehicles and their off-road capabilities. They developed a tactic that lighter armed armored cars should be used together with infantry to give close support, but the Royal Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) didn’t take big steps in buying new vehicles. Meanwhile, the K.N.I.L. (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army) was far less conservative in buying new vehicles. In August 1933, the Dock and shipyard company Wilton-Fijenoord Limited, based in Rotterdam, signed a contract with the Ministerie van Koloniën (Ministry of Colonies) to deliver three armored cars to the K.N.I.L.. These cars were designed upon a Krupp chassis. Plans were made to deliver three more cars a year later. On the 26th of April 1934, the first out of two cars was shipped to the Dutch Indies by the steamship Kota Tjandi.

The car at the ‘Korps Rijdende Artillerie’. Note the big unfolded headlight. Photo: Holkema & Warendorf Publishing

Design

The car was armed with three machine guns, probably the Lewis M.20 6.5 mm, of which two were mounted in the hull and one in a fully rotating turret. This turret could be turned by pedaling so the gunner could use both hands to handle the gun. Additionally, an anti-aircraft machine gun could be mounted on top of the vehicle. The machine guns in the hull had a traverse angle of 25 degrees to each side. The crew consisted of at least three people, two drivers/gunners, and one commander/gunner. If needed, the crew could be scaled up to five people, so the two hull-mounted guns could be manned by other men. If needed, the exterior of the car could be electrified so enemies or rioters could not make contact with the car. A small hatch was installed in the bottom plate, through which lachrymatory gas grenades could be thrown.
The armor was resistant to 7.9 mm S.M.K. (Stahlmantelkern) bullets from 30 meters distance. The designers tried to avoid vertical placed armor plates and the use of high-quality steel led to a good trade-off between weight and protection. The total weight of the car was around 4.5 tons. Horizontal armor plates were also avoided to reduce the chance that thrown grenades could land and stay on top of the car. The crew could enter through three hatches and the drivers had closeable openings to see, but when they were closed, the drivers could see through small slots, covered by safety glass. The commander also had a periscope to have a view of the complete surroundings.

The Wilton-Fijenoord, together with the improvised Ehrhardt armored car in Oegstgeest, captured by the German Army, May 1940. Photo: SOURCE
The engine was a Krupp four-cylinder, air-cooled engine producing 60hp (44.7 kW) at 2500 rpm. The engine was horizontally opposed and equipped with special cooling rings along which air was blown by a compressor which could blow around 1000 liters of air per second. The fuel tank had a capacity of 60 liters so the car could drive a distance between 250 and 300 km.
Power was transmitted by a single disc clutch and an Aphon gear change with four forward gears and one reverse gear. The car was equipped with an extra gear change for better off-road capabilities. As a base, the Krupp 22H143 6 x 6 (other sources state the Protze L2H43) chassis was chosen. It had three axes and six-wheel-drive and had theoretically good off-road capabilities. Maximum speed was around 70 km/h (43.5 mph) on road and around 30 km/h (18.6 mph) off-road.
The car had one driver in the front and another in the back. The smallest turning circle was 4.4 meters. The four back wheels were equipped with hydraulic brakes. Both on the front and the back, spotlights were installed, which could be folded into the superstructure. Eight lamps were installed on the inside. The tires were made of solid rubber and bulletproof. In the two boxes above the back wheels on both sides of the car, tracks were stored, which could be applied on the two back wheels, resulting in better off-road performance, and essentially making it a half-track.

The car at the ‘Korps Rijdende Artillerie’. Note the storage areas above the back wheels. Photo: Holkema & Warendorf Publishing

Wilton-Fijenoord illustration
Illustration of the Wilton-Fijenoord by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Use

When the car was tested in the Dutch counties of Noord-Brabant and Limburg, no problems occurred. During the tests of two vehicles in the Dutch Indies, however, severe problems were encountered. Firstly, it was too heavy for the local roads. Secondly, the motor heating was too excessive so kerosene had to be used, instead of common gasoline. Because of these problems, the delivery of the third vehicle was canceled and all three vehicles were brought back to the factory. The two cars in the Indies were sent back to the Netherlands. In February 1935, two out of three were sold to Brazil, together with a few Ford/Wilton-Fijenoord APC’s, where they were assigned to the Special Police Force of São Paulo. The three machine guns were removed and replaced by a device which shot lachrymatory gas or apparently flames. They received a grey color.

Destroyed Wilton–Fijenoord armored car in the internal patio of the Reichs Chancellery in Berlin. Note the destroyed Schupo-sonderwagen Benz/21 armored police car behind it.
The third vehicle, with registration number H66436, was kept in the factory in running order. On the 20th and 21st of March 1936, the ‘Amsterdamse Vrijwillige Burgerwacht’ (Voluntary Civil Guard of Amsterdam) organized an exercise and Wilton-Fijenoord decided to take part. With only two crewmembers, the car was not fully manned and when the car started its exercise, it was immediately stormed by civilians. This had to do with the ‘Jordaan riots’ of 1934 when also armored cars were used. Luckily for the crew, they could electrify the vehicle after which the civilians immediately backed off. When it drove back to Rotterdam after the successful exercise it was stormed again, so the car had to defend itself again. Back in Rotterdam, they had a collision with a civilian motor car, causing more commotion.

The two vehicles in Brazil during a police parade, April 1936. Photo: SOURCE
Although the Royal Army already showed interest in 1934 the decision was made not to buy it. Four years later though on the 1st of June 1938, it was sold to the Army as part of a tax deal, and assigned to the ‘Korps Rijdende Artillerie’ (‘Corps Mobile Artillery) but was unarmed. Negotiations with DAF about arming the vehicle stalled and the vehicle was not used in combat during the German attack in May 1940. It was captured by the German troops and was assigned to the Ordnungspolizei. The Germans used it eventually in the defense of the Reich Chancellery internal patio during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, where it got destroyed by Soviet forces.
Because the chassis was a design of the German Krupp company, they heavily got involved in the design process and after the Wilton-Fijenoord armored car was rejected by the KNIL, Krupp started to build an armored car on their own, called Gepanzerte Radfahrzeug as a replacement. Only one prototype of this vehicle was built and was eventually never sent to the Dutch Indies

Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.065 m x 2.2 m x 2.3 m ( 16.6 x x 7.2 x 9.8 ft)
Total weight 4500 kg / 9920.8 lbs
Crew 3 – 5
Propulsion Krupp 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, air-cooled engine with 60 hp (44.7 kW) at 2500 rpm
Top speed 70 km/h (43.5 mph) road / 30 km/h (18.6 mph) off-road
Operational range 250 km / 155.3 mi
Armament 3x 7.92 mm machine guns
Armor 3-10 mm (0.11-0.39 in)

Sources:

Dr. C.M. Schulten & J. Theil, Nederlandse pantservoertuigen.
Magazine ‘Het Motorverkeer’, June 13 1934
‘Mars et historia’, number 25, 1991, C. Blijleven, page 77-81
www.kfzderwehrmacht.de
www.ecsbdefesa.com.br