WW2 Dutch Armored Cars WW2 Swedish Vehicles in Foreign Service

Pantserwagen M38 (Landsverk 180 in Dutch Service)

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1938-1940)
Armored Car – 14 Purchased

Pantserwagen M-38 was the name used by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht (English: Royal Netherlands Army) to refer to the 14 Swedish Landsverk 180 armored cars it had purchased in 1937.

They were organized into an armored car squadron that fought fiercely during the German invasion of the Netherlands.

After the country’s surrender, some of these armored cars were reused by the Wehrmacht.

Pantserwagen M38 No. 21 of the 4e Peloton (English: 4th Platoon) of the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens (English: 2nd Armored Car Squadron) photographed in May 1940.

The Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht after the First World War

Shortly after the First World War, the Netherlands was in a disastrous economic condition, and in the early post-war years, all the country’s resources were used for economic and social reforms. The prevailing belief was that, after the recent catastrophic conflict, which caused millions and millions of deaths, another war would not occur for a long time. This caused the standing army to be heavily underfunded and reduced in size.

A new hard blow came in the late 1920s, with the Great Depression of 1929, which severely affected the Dutch economy. Things did not improve in the early 1930s either, which saw the devaluation of the Dutch guilder and low exports.

With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933, the situation improved because the new Nazi economic reforms increased trade between the two neighboring countries.

Only in 1935 did Dutch politicians realize that Hitler’s expansionist policies could lead to a second conflict in Europe (in addition to the danger of Japan attacking colonies in the Dutch East Indies), and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht began to modernize. However, it was already too late, and modern weapons such as armored cars were only introduced into service after 1936.

On 28th August 1939, a general mobilization was announced, and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht took positions according to the “Concentration Blue” plan, which had been developed in 1935.

The plan aimed at defending the heart of the country, with the 2nd and 4th Corps deployed in the Gelderse Vallei region, one brigade positioned along the Betuwe Line, and another on the Maas-Waal Line. The 1st Corps was kept in reserve between Hook of Holland and Haarlem, while the Lichte Divisie (English: Light Division) was deployed in the southeast sector of the Noord-Brabant region. Lastly, the 3rd Corps and the ‘Peel’ Division defended the Peel-Raam Line.

Crucial for the Dutch defense was the support of France and Britain, as they could easily land troops in the Zeeland region if needed. However, this did not happen because neither France nor Britain really knew what to do, due to the pre-war Dutch refusal to develop plans, as it would have harmed their neutrality.

In May 1940, French troops marched into Zeeland and Brabant, but cooperation and communication with the Dutch did not go well, mainly due to the lack of planning. The same goes for the British, who only landed a few engineers to blow up some port facilities, against the Dutch’s desire to have entire units landed.

Dutch defensive lines in May 1940.
Source: Deviantart via roguephalanxx

On the eve of 10th May 1940, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht could count on 280,000 men, of whom few had good training.

Dutch soldiers in training during the 1939 mobilization. They are carrying a 6-Veld cannon.
Source: May 1940 the battle for the Netherlands

Armored Cars for the Dutch Army

At the end of 1934, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht decided to acquire some armored cars for reconnaissance purposes, and in early 1936, they received the first 12 Landsverk 181, referred to by the Dutch as Pantserwagen M36.

Pantserwagen M36 used in September 1937 during a training session at Zelhem.
Source: Holland paraat!

These vehicles were grouped into the 1ste Eskadron Pantserwagens (English:1st Armored Car Squadron) and were part of the Lichte Brigade (English: Light Brigade), later transformed into the Lichte Divisie (English: Light Division).

In 1937, the defense budget allowed the purchase of 12 Landsverk 180 and two Command versions (without the cannon in the turret), and these were named Pantserwagen M38. On 1st June 1938, the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens was formed.

Both models of armored cars were modern vehicles, armed with a 37 mm Bofors anti-tank cannon in the turret. In 1938, at the request of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht, the Dutch vehicle company DAF designed the Pantserwagen M39 ‘Pantrado’.

This new vehicle was essentially an improved version of the Landsverk, with increased armor and improved suspension. More importantly, it featured a monocoque hull, instead of being based on a commercial chassis.

Twelve units were produced, but by May 1940, only eight were in service (the other four being under repair) at the Depot Cavalerie (English: Cavalry Depot) for crew training.

A Pantserwagen M39 ‘Pantrado’ during a trial. Source: Holland paraat!

A Swedish Armored Car: Landsverk 180

The Landsverk 180 was developed from the Landsverk 181 by the Aktiebolaget Landsverk (English: Corporation Landsverk) to solve the engine issue with the L-181. Denmark was the first to place an order, in 1936, for two units. The model for Denmark was armed with a 20 mm Madsen cannon and two 8 mm machine guns. It featured a 6×4 Büssing-NAG type KLA or Büssing-NAG A 5 P. chassis and a Büssing-NAG type L V8 engine with a power output of 150 horsepower or a Büssing-NAG type 5L with a power output of 75-80 hp.

The armored car was later purchased in fourteen units by the Netherlands, one unit by Estonia, and in eight units by Ireland. Ireland had ordered an additional five in 1939, but they were never delivered due to the outbreak of the Second World War. These five units became part of the Swedish army under the designation Pansarbil m/41 (English: Armored Car Model 1941) and were equipped with Landsverk Lynx armored car turrets.

A Pansarbil m/41 with the turret of the Landsverk Lynx
Source: Wikipedia


Chassis and Engine

The Pantserwagen M38 had a Büssing NAG type KLA chassis, and it featured dual driver controls to facilitate quick changes in direction during combat.

The engine was a Büssing NAG type L V8 with a power of 160 hp and a displacement of 7913 cm3, which could propel the seven-tonne vehicle to a maximum speed of 60 km/h forward and 40 km/h in reverse.

The Pantserwagen M38 was equipped with an independent axis on the rear dual wheel-base, which was highly useful on uneven terrain. This feature made this model of armored car more agile on rough terrain compared to the German armored cars.

Some Pantserwagen M38 during maintenance in a workshop. In the foreground, a chassis without its armored body is clearly visible, showing the two steering wheels, one at the front and the other at the rear of the vehicle. Also clearly visible is the Büssing NAG engine.

Armored Body

The Pantserwagen M38 had an armored body that was partially welded and placed on top of the chassis. The armor thickness was 9 mm, except for the roof, which had a thickness of 5 mm. This armor allowed it to only withstand light weapons fire.

The armored car had three armored doors for access into the vehicle. Two larger doors were located in the central part of the vehicle, while a smaller door was at the rear of the hull, on the left side.

The three armored doors of the Pantserwagen M-38.
Source: modified by author

There were three large ventilation shutters designed for engine cooling in the front part of the vehicle, where the engine was installed.

Two Pantserwagen M38 during a parade. Note the large ventilation shutters.


The Pantserwagen M38 had a large turret housing the main armament of the vehicle, and it also had a hatch on the top. The turret was armed with the primary weapon of the vehicle, except for the command version, which was equipped with a machine gun and additional episcopes. To deceive the enemy, a dummy gun was installed on the command version as well.

Turret of a Pantserwagen M38 (civil license plate L-36253).
A Pantserwagen M38 command version (civil license plate L-36256) with a regular turret in 1938. The decision to procure special command turrets had been made in March 1938 and these were delivered in April 1939. Also seen is an experimental fitting of a radio device with a large curved antenna.

Armament and Ammunition

The Pantserwagen M-38 had a respectable armament compared to contemporary German or other armored cars. The main armament, mounted in the turret, consisted of a 37 mm Bofors cannon and a 7.92 mm M.20 machine gun. Additionally, the hull of the vehicle was equipped with two more 7.92 mm M.20 machine guns, one located at the front and the other in the rear.

Each armored car had 60 rounds of 37 mm ammunition, including 40 Armor-Piercing High Explosive (APHE) rounds and 20 High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds. The three machine guns had a total of nine magazines with armor-piercing ammunition and 17 magazines with regular ammunition.

The 37 mm Bofors was one of the most advanced anti-tank guns of the late 1930s and was widely used by Poland, Denmark, Finland, and many other countries.

The cannon could fire approximately 10 rounds per minute and had various types of ammunition available for use.

Ammunition for the 37 mm Bofors gun
Name Type Muzzle velocity (m/s) Weight of complete ammunition (kg) Penetration in mm of RHA angled at 30° at
400 m 800 m
37 mm sk ptr m/34 slpprj m/38 Armor Piercing 785 0.735 30 24
37 mm sk ptr m/34 slpgr m/39 Armour-piercing High Explosive 775 0.740 // //

The secondary armament of the Pantserwagen M38 consisted of three M.20 machine guns. These were Dutch copies of the Lewis machine guns, which were adopted in 1920. The Dutch had two different versions of the M.20 machine gun: one for the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht, also called Landmachtmodel (English: Land model), firing 6.5 x 53.3R caliber ammunition, and the other for the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (English: Royal Air Force), also called der Luchtvaart dept (English: of Aviation dept), in 7.92 mm caliber.

Dutch soldiers during the 1939 mobilization with an M.20 ‘Landmachtmodel’ machine gun. Note the large magazine for the 97 rounds of 6.5 x 53.3R caliber.
A M.20 ‘der Luchtvaart dept’ machine gun.
Source: Facebook via Collectie Nationaal Militair Museum

The Pantserwagen M38 used the version of the M.20 machine gun of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht. The M.20 machine guns used by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht had a large 97-round magazine developed by the Artillerie Inrichtingen (English: Artillery Establishments) , which was cumbersome and impractical, especially inside a vehicle like the Pantserwagen M38.


The Pantserwagen M38 had a crew of five soldiers, each with specific roles:

  • The commander (a sergeant) was responsible for loading the cannon and overseeing the overall operations.
  • The gunner, who aimed and fired the cannon, also operated the turret-mounted machine gun, reloading it as needed.
  • The driver operated the vehicle and was in charge of maneuvering.
  • The machine gunner operated the front-mounted machine gun.
  • The second driver and machine gunner drove the vehicle from the rear and operated the rear-mounted machine gun.

Each crew member played a vital role in the functioning and effectiveness of the armored car in combat.

The crew of a Pantserwagen M-38. Oddly enough, four out of five soldiers are sergeants.
The number 13 on the hatch indicates that it is the vehicle with the civilian license plate L-36244.


The Pantserwagen M38 had various symbols on their bodies. In white color, placed above the radiator, on both hatches, the turret, and the rear of the vehicle, each vehicle had a unique number ranging from 13 to 24 (the command armored car of the 2nd Squadron had the number C2). Initially, they also had civilian registration plates, which consisted of a letter (for Pantserwagen M-38, it was ‘L’ for Utrecht) followed by a series of numbers.

Additionally, there was a military identification plate consisting of a rectangle with diagonal red, white, and blue stripes, with the military serial number placed in the center. This plate was positioned above the front machine gun and on the rear of the vehicle. In 1939, this plate was replaced with orange rectangles with black numbers.

Some symbols on a Pantserwagen M-38. The military identification plate is indicated by the red arrow, the vehicle number by the green arrow, and the civilian license plate by the blue arrow.
Source: modified by author

Furthermore, in 1939, a nationality symbol was introduced, which consisted of a large orange triangle with a black border. This symbol was placed on the hatches, the hood, and the front and rear of the hull.

A Pantserwagen M38 with national symbols. This vehicle is n° 18 (civilian license plate L-36249).
Registrations of the 1st Armored Car Squadron
Civilian License Plate Vehicle Number Military license Plate
L-36244 13 III-705
L-36245 14 III-706
L-36246 15 III-707
L-36247 16 III-708
L-36248 17 III-709
L-36249 18 III-710
L-36250 19 III-711
L-36251 20 III-712
L-36252 21 III-713
L-36253 22 III-714
L-36254 23 III-715
L-36255 24 III-716
L-36256* C2 III-717

*Command L-180


In 1936, the manual titled Pantserwagen Reglement deel II, ‘Het Gevecht’, no. 139b. (English: Armored Car Regulations, part II, ‘The Combat’, nr. 139b) was published, explaining the use of armored cars.

The manual stated that armored cars could directly collaborate with cavalry and cyclists but were considered ineffective for passive defense, only managing to slow down the enemy’s advance. However, it emphasized that they could make a significant contribution by working in conjunction with other military units.

The manual also explained their deployment within the Lichte Brigade. The squadrons could operate as independent units, be integrated into a brigade’s force or used as reserves.

Operational Use

All the Pantserwagen M38 were grouped together in the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens, which was officially established on 1 June 1938. The squadron was put under the command of Ritmeester (English: Captain) J.L. Bruinier, and its headquarters were located on the outskirts of Amersfoort in the barracks named after Prince Bernhard. The barracks were completed in May 1939, and before that, the squadron was accommodated in an infantry barracks.

Ritmeester J.L. Bruinier, commander of the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens.

Initially, the squadron was not fully equipped, having only eight armored cars in 1938 and with auxiliary equipment almost being nonexistent. The crews were trained by personnel from the 1ste Eskadron Pantserwagens, but even by August 1939, during the general mobilization, not all personnel were fully trained.

Four Pantserwagen M38 in training at Amersfoort in 1938. The Bernhard Barracks are visible in the background.
Source: Facebook via Eddy Monsjou

After enough personnel had been trained, in November of the same year, the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens was split up, with the first two platoons sent to Barneveld and the other two to Apeldoorn. They were later reunited in April 1940 for a training course in Friesland. With all platoons being moved several times, at the beginning of May, the entire 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens was stationed in Apeldoorn, albeit shortly.

On 1st May, the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens was divided once again. The 1ste Peloton (English: 1st Platoon) and 2de Peloton (English: 2nd Platoon) were placed under the command of the 4e Regiment Huzaren (English: 4th Hussars Regiment), while the 3de Peloton (3rd Platoon) and 4de Peloton were assigned to the 1e Regiment Huzaren (English: 1st Hussars Regiment). Their purpose was to defend the Grebbe Line.

Meanwhile, the armored cars of the 1ste Peloton had been transported to the city of Delft, to be outfitted with radio equipment. However, on 9th May, the situation had become so dire that they were hastily returned.

The Grebbe Line.
Source: Wikipedia

10th May

On the morning of 10th May, the day of the German invasion of the Netherlands, the 3de and 4de Pelotons were sent to Ede, while the 1ste and 2de Pelotons remained at Apeldoorn to defend the canal, along with the command group (based in Voorthuizen). At 6 a.m. the bridges were demolished, and the 1ste Peloton retreated to Kootwijkerbroek, joining the 4th Battalion of the 1e Regiment Huzaren. Meanwhile, the 2de Peloton reunited with the 1st Battalion of the same unit in Garderen via Vaassen and Uddel. By the evening, all units were positioned on the Grebbe Line, where they blocked all the roads leading to Amersfoort.

The 3de and 4de Pelotons were initially positioned in a rearward position, serving as mobile anti-tank guns. However, in the afternoon, they were transferred to different locations. The 3de Peloton was sent to defend the command post of the 1e Regiment Huzaren at Langenberg. Upon finding the command post abandoned, they retreated and eventually reached Leersum at 9 p.m.

The 4de Peloton conducted patrols until 8 p.m., then returned to Ede, as they had not learned about the overall retreat. During the night, the platoon came under friendly artillery fire and attempted to relocate. During this attempt, armored car No. 19 had to be abandoned after it got stuck in a hole. It was not until the following afternoon that they reached Leersum and rejoined the 3de Peloton.

11th May

On 11th May, the 1ste and 2de Pelotons participated in a reconnaissance mission to the IJssel River in the morning. In the afternoon, they received orders to relocate all the available armored cars to The Hague.

The 2de Peloton followed the order, but the 1ste Peloton had not yet returned by the time the order was received. When it did, it was arranged that it could stay behind to defend the headquarters of the 1e Regiment Huzaren. In the late afternoon, the 1ste Peloton engaged in a skirmish with some German units near Voorthuizen, and retreated after breaking through German fire. One armored car was severely damaged, but could be repaired behind the lines the next day.

The 2de, 3de, and 4de Pelotons arrived at The Hague with the task of defending the General Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Land and Sea Forces, General H.G. Winkelman, against potential attacks by German paratroopers. In the Hague, headquarters was set up in the Pulchri Studio, near the General Headquarters.

Armored car No. 24 from the 3de Peloton joined an infantry battalion and advanced towards Valkenburg, which was occupied by Fallschirmjäger. There, it was joined by armored cars No. 16 and 18 from the 2de Peloton.

Near Valkenburg, the armored cars opened fire on the buildings occupied by the Germans and then retreated to The Hague at 8 a.m. of 12th May.

12th May

In the morning, the 1ste Peloton was sent on a reconnaissance mission to the east and spotted a German armored force near Zwartebroek. In the evening, it retreated, along with the 1e Regiment Huzaren, to Soesterberg.

At 6 a.m., two armored cars were sent from The Hague to Wateringen to support an infantry company. However, they were attacked by the Germans, and armored car No. 17 was severely damaged by an anti-tank shot, while the commander and gunner were wounded The armored cars managed to retreat to The Hague by 8:30 a.m.

In the morning, four armored cars, three from the 2de Peloton and one from the 3de Peloton, escorted some officers from The Hague to Rotterdam. After the escort, the 2de Peloton was sent on a reconnaissance mission to Overschie and the road between Rotterdam and Delft.

Armored cars No. 18 and 24 from the 2de and 3de Pelotons remained to guard the drawbridge on the road between Rotterdam and Delft, while armored car No. 16 supported a counterattack towards Overschie.

The 4de Peloton had patrolled through Wassenaar, but was later ordered to Utrecht with two armored cars.

13th May

The 1ste Peloton patrolled the areas around Amersfoort, searching for any German paratroopers, but they did not find any. By evening, they retreated to Haarzuilen.

Armored cars No. 18 and 24 supported the attack by elements of the Korps Mariniers (English: Marine Corps) against the German paratroopers on the bridges of the Meuse River near Rotterdam. However, the attack failed, and the Dutch forces were forced to retreat. During the engagement, the two armored cars had a gunner and a driver wounded.

In Overschie, the Dutch forces made another attempt at an attack, supported by armored car No. 18. Nevertheless, they were once again repelled and forced to withdraw to Rotterdam.

Upon the advice of General H.G. Winkelman, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands left The Hague and was escorted by some armored cars from the 2de Peloton to Hook of Holland. There, she was met by the British destroyer HMS Hereward, which took her to England.

14th May

On 14th May, the Dutch forces surrendered to the Germans. The 1ste Peloton surrendered at Haarzuilen, the 2de and 3de Pelotons surrendered in The Hague, and the 4de Peloton surrendered in Utrecht, where it had already been for two days. Some armored cars from the 2de and 3de Pelotons also surrendered in Rotterdam and Delft.

What remained of the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens was assembled at the ‘Willem de Zwijger’ barracks in Wezep, and the unit was officially disbanded by the German authorities on 24th June 1940.

Fallen of the 2de Eskadron Pantserwagens
Rank Name and Surname Date of death
Wachtmeester J. van Zuijlen 17-5-1940
Huzaar L. J. Ramaekers 10-5-1940
Huzaar van Bergen 11-5-1940
Huzaar J. D. Lauwers 10-5-1940
Huzaar J.M.J. van der Sommen 10-5-1940
Huzaar W. van der Male 10-5-1940

German Use

After the surrender of the Netherlands, the German authorities requisitioned the Pantserwagen M38 armored cars, designating them as Panzerspähwagen L202(h) (English: L202 Dutch armored reconnaissance vehicle).

Apparently, four of these armored cars were assigned to the Aufklärungs Abteilung (English: Reconnaissance Battalion) of the 227.Infanterie-Division (English: 227th Infantry Division), which was initially deployed for coastal defense in France until 1941. However, pictures do not prove that more than two were used. Later, the division was transferred to the Eastern Front.

The German crew of a Panzerspähwagen L202(h).


The Pantserwagen M38, along with the Pantserwagen M36 and M39, and a few other vehicles, were the few armored vehicles used by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Landmacht during the May 1940 fighting.

Despite not being able to match the heavier German tanks, like the Panzer III and Panzer IV, the vehicle performed quite well. It excelled in its roles as a reconnaissance vehicle and infantry support. In fact, only armored car No. 19 was abandoned in combat, while all the others fought until the day of the Netherlands’ surrender.

Pantserwagen M38 (Landsverk 180 in Dutch service). Illustrations by Godzilla funded by our Patreon Campaign.

Pantserwagen M38 specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.87 x 2.24 x 2.28 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 7 tonnes
Crew 5
Propulsion Büssing-NAG V8 160 hp engine
Maximum Speed 65 km/h
Range 306 km
Armament 1x 37 mm Bofors
3x M.20 machine guns
Hull Armor 9 mm front, sides and rear, 5 mm roof
Turret Armor 9 mm front, sides and rear
Total Production 14 purchased


Vereeniging Officieren Cavalerie Ter Gedachtenis aan de kameraden die voor koningin en vaderland zijn gevallen. 10-14 Mei 1940 June 1940

Herman Amersfoort and Piet Kamphuis May 1940. The battle for the Netherlands Boston 2010

David R. Higgins Panzer II vs 7TP. Poland 1939 Osprey Publishing 2015

Nigel Thomas Hitler’s Blitzkrieg Enemies 1940 Denmark, Norway, Netherlands & Belgium Osprey Publishing 2014

De Koninklijke Militaire Academie Pantserwagen Reglement deel II, ‘Het Gevecht’, no. 139b. Breda 1936

J.A. Bom, Eskadrons Pantserwagens 1936-1940, 1986.

5 replies on “Pantserwagen M38 (Landsverk 180 in Dutch Service)”

As a Dutchy my self and serving in the Dutch Army. We don’t say Royal Netherlands Army. But simply ‘Royal Army’ (Koninklijke Landmacht).

Althought it makes sense to use the 7.92mm version, as this would allow the M20 Lewis copies to fire SmK ammo and the like, it does raise some questions. (it contradicts wikipediea, but you guys usually know your stuff)

-Is this a one-off case and anything else used 6.5mm for vehicles?
-Did it hurt the logistics as it’s not the main caliber outside of the air force?
-Which of your sources specifically stage they used an aircraft MG in this AC?

Hi Rishøj,

Very interesting and relevant questions. I’ve tried to answer them as clearly as possible, feel free to ask further questions or clarifications!

1. The rechambered 7.92 mm Lewis was used in the M36, M38, and M39 armored cars. Indeed, the few older armored vehicles (Ehrhardt, Morris, Carden-Loyd) used other caliber machine guns. To be honest, at this moment it is not clear to me if other cavalry units also used 7.92 mm Lewis, or if they retained the infantry 6.5 mm.
2. In theory, yes. But I went through all the action reports of the L-181 and I did not encounter any trouble with the supply of machine gun ammunition. However, as I did not go through all the reports of the L-180, as I didn’t write this specific article, I cannot give a definitive answer to the question if there wasn’t any trouble.
3. I would also like to know where that claim came from! As it is wrong… 🙂
New sub variants of the M.20 were designed to be fitted in the armored vehicles. The hull machine guns were designated “M.20 No.1 Paw.” and the coaxial machine gun was designated “M.20 No.2 Paw.”. They had a different handle and also retained the steel cover over the barrel, which was actually removed on the air force machine gun. There probably was confusion about the matching 7.92 mm caliber between the air force and armored car machine guns. But other than the caliber, they are different.

One armored car M.20 is actually preserved in the National Military Museum ->

Kind regards,

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