Category Archives: May 40

28mm WW2 Dutch army completed at last!

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I’ve finally completed sufficient models to field a WW2 Dutch force for wargaming. The models depict a small mixed force of the Dutch army as it was when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in  May 1940.

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All but one of the figures and models are made by the Dutch company May ’40 Miniatures. The exception is the little Carden-Loyd carrier, which is by Reiver Castings. The figures are all 28 millimetres tall.

The buildings in the background of all these pictures, by the way, are cardboard models by Dutch gamer ‘Gungnir’ that I had bought from WargameDownloads. I’ve added home-made detailing of windows and doors.

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In my force I have three infantry squads like this one, plus one squad of Marines.

The Dutch infantry in 1940 consisted mainly of conscripts, with only a small number of career officers and NCOs. Infantry companies were commanded by a Captain, and made up of rifle or light machine-gun sections. A section was commanded by a Lieutenant, candidate officer or senior NCO, and had three or four squads. Squads were commanded by sergeants, and had 9-12 men armed with Steyr rifles.

On the left is a machine gun team. The light machine-gun squads had a M.20 Lewis light machine-gun operated by a gunner and assistant gunner. But the Lewis gun left much to be desired. In a fixed position it had a fairly acceptable level of reliability, but in more dynamic situations it often malfunctioned.

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Here’s a rear-view of one of the infantry squads. They wear green M.1927 steel helmets, and the grey uniform that had changed little over the previous twenty years. The NCO wears a yellow stripe on the lower left arm to denote his rank.

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The Korps Mariner were the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces, and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field. Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the grey of the regular army.  They were armed like regular army soldiers, but were additionally equipped with a so-called ‘storm-dagger’.

There were about 450 Marines in Rotterdam, the home town of the Korps Mariniers, when the German invasion occurred on 10 May 1940. They defended the bridges across the River Maas for four days. The story goes that when the surrender was declared and the Marines came out of their positions, the German commander was expecting a full battalion of men, but was stunned to see only a few Marines emerge in their dark uniforms. He ordered his men to salute them out of respect for their bravery and determination, and labeled them the ‘Black Devils’.

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An army of course needs supporting weaponry, so I’ve assembled a number of machine guns, anti-tank capability, artillery and armour for my Dutch force. We’ll explore each of these in more detail below.

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On the left is a three-man Schwarzlose M.08 machine gun team. The gun is complete with its hose and drain bucket. The Schwarzlose was produced in the Netherlands under licence from Austria. In May 1940 the Schwarzlose machine gun was quite outdated. Still, they proved to be highly reliable and robust, and the number of break-downs was extremely low.

On the right is a Solothurn S18-1000 20mm anti-tank rifle. It was a variant of the Solothurn S-18/100, featuring a larger cartridge and higher muzzle velocity for better armour penetration. When it was first introduced its firepower was adequate against light tanks and other soft-skinned vehicles, but by 1940 it was insufficient to deal with newer and heavier tanks.

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On the left is a Böhler 47mm anti-tank gun. These guns would prove effective during the intensive fighting in 1940. It could easily penetrate the armour of all German tanks of that time, it had a low profile and it was easy to handle. The 9th Panzer Division lost about 25 tanks, including Pz.III and Pz.IV medium tanks, due to Dutch anti-tank guns at Rotterdam and Dordrecht.

On the right is an 81mm mortar. Like many armies, the Dutch introduced mortars based on the Stokes-Brandt principle. My force is actually quite lucky to have one, as the Dutch army were under-equipped with mortars, and had only two per battalion.

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On the left is a Carden-Loyd tankette. The Dutch army  had five Mark VI versions of these little British pre-war tankettes named after big  cats: Lynx, Poema, Jaguar, Panter and Luipaard. The crew comprised a driver and a machine-gunner, which allowed each to fully concentrate on his own task. Two small domes protected the crew’s heads.

The Carden Loyd tankette was powered by a Model T Ford engine (true!) and had a road speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). The engine was mounted backwards between the two crew. The small bulge at the front of the vehicle housed the Model T’s transmission, which drove the front sprockets.

The Landsverk M.36 armoured car on the right was quite modern for its time. The 37mm gun was relatively heavy for an armoured car, and was better than that of a German Pz.III tank. Their only significant weakness was their poor armour. The Dutch armoured cars that served in the May war (about 35 were operational) would excel in the fighting.

Note the blue overalls worn by the crewmen over their grey shirts. The chap in black standing drinking a cup of coffee is a hussar in leather tunic and trousers. Hopefully sometime in the future May ’40 Miniatures might produce a motorcycle for him!

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Tanks? Well, the Dutch army had none! Before the German invasion, the Dutch considered the introduction of powerful anti-tank guns as marking the end of the tank era. As the website War Over Holland says, this belief was “amazing for an army that had not seen anything of modern warfare and that got all of its ‘knowledge’ from papers or magazines.” Of course, they couldn’t have been more wrong, resulting in the Dutch being the only belligerent to have no tanks!

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Here’s my headquarters section – an officer with two escorting soldiers. Dutch officers wore an impressive shako for their walking-out uniforms, but in combat they wore the  standard green helmet (nevertheless, I’d still like to add a shako-wearing officer to my force one day!)

Like the French, the Dutch had a strict chain of command, and were expected to operate ‘according to order’. This contrasted unfavourably with the Germans’ much more liberal command structure. The War Over Holland site gives an example of the difference between these two philosophies of command:

If a Dutch officer was instructed to take a certain position, he would be instructed to take that position, following a premeditated route, get a time to gain his objective and be sure about it not to go off-track. If the Dutch officer would establish that the instructed route to his objective was blocked, he would return to his senior command with the simple message that his order could not be executed.

His German equivalent would have been informed of the tactical reason why he was given a certain objective, he was given the time when to have reached his objective, possibly some relevant other information and off he went. Any obstruction on the way would be dealt with. He would adapt, he would improvise and he would overcome – anything to fulfill his objective.

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OK, so why build an army that survived only five days?

Many dismiss the Dutch because they capitulated so quickly. But War Over Holland posits that there are two factors that should be considered when explaining the quick Dutch defeat:

  • the first-ever use by the Germans of massive air-landing tactics
  • the sudden occurrence of an instant war on five fronts from all directions.

Both of the above were unprecedented in May 1940.

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But there’s another more personal reason why I have built a Dutch army. In September 1939 my father was conscripted into the Depot Battalion of the Medical Troops in Amsterdam (see my previous posting on this subject). In 1940 he was promoted to sergeant, a rank he had held for only one month when the Germans invaded on 10 May.

What Dad experienced over those five days, we don’t know. He never told us anything about the events of 1940. My mother believes he was in Rotterdam, which was badly bombed, though as a conscript from the southern province of Limburg, it was also possible he was stationed there.

So my Dutch army includes a team of medics, in Dad’s honour.

 

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Filed under May 40, Reiver Castings, Uncategorized, WW2

WW2 Dutch and 1745 Jacobites

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It might have been quiet here on the blog for the last week or so, but I have actually been  progressing with all sorts of stuff. My wargaming table is groaning under the weight of several projects on the go!

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My WW2 Dutch army is coming along.  I am in the throes of assembling and painting some anti-tank artillery. These intricate little models were released recently by May ’40 Miniatures. Along with the Landsverk armoured car, my Dutch army will soon pack at least a wee bit of punch.

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I’ve also been busy with my scissors cutting out paper soldiers for my ‘45 Jacobite Rebellion project. I’ve now got enough units on each side to play a game. The Paperboys figures even come with a set of simple rules, so it’ll be interesting to try them out.

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This British cavalry regiment looks pretty impressive, even though it just made out of paper.

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The armies even include paper artillery. The guns themselves are 3D models, and are a bit fiddly to make. The gunners and their tools are all flats. This close-up view perhaps doesn’t do these paper soldiers justice – but they do look simply splendid when looking at them from a little more of a distance.

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The book of Paperboys figures also includes 3D terrain, so I’ve built a typical Scottish ‘big house’. You can build this in any sort of configuration you want, so I chose to do a main building with a wing on the back, and a circular staircase turret.

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Filed under Eighteenth century, May 40, Paperboys, Uncategorized, WW2

Review: WW2 Dutch Landsverk armoured car in 1/56 (28mm)

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“Verdorie! Those are German paratroopers!” shouts the shocked commander of a Dutch Landsverk M36 armoured car as the Germans begin to invade the Netherlands on 10 May 1940.

I’ve just completed this 1/56 scale Landsverk model produced by May ’40 Miniatures, which at last gives my 28mm WW2 Dutch army some reasonable armour to face early-war Germans.

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Including a Landsverk in May ’40 Miniatures’ growing Dutch range for WW2 wargamers has long been a dream of owner Sander van der Star. The model’s development has been lengthy and torturous, as Sander is a stickler for getting everything right. But his dedication has paid off, with the recent launch of this impressive model in resin and white metal.

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The model comes well-packaged in a colourful box. It consists of two resin parts, and a number of smaller white metal components such as the wheels and guns. It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated instruction sheet and a set of decals with Dutch and German markings. If you want a commander and crew, these need to be ordered separately.

I should point out here that I bought this model when it was still Version 1.0. Sander was not in fact completely satisfied with his first version, and is now onto Version 2.0, which he says is a much higher quality model. But to my eyes, Version 1.0 still looks pretty good!

Assembly was simple and straightforward. I did decide to pin the machine guns to the body for added strength, and aligning the commander to hold the open hatch was slightly fiddly. But all in all, assembly took only about half an hour.

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Painting was also easy, as the Dutch Landsverks were simply painted green. I started with a black undercoat (which I did before attaching the wheels), and then dry-brushed the model with grey to bring out the detail.

I then painted the whole vehicle green, followed by a black wash over all details such as door frames and hinges, grilles, filler cap etc. To blend the black wash in, I then dry-brushed the model with the same green I had used previously.

Finally, the magic step – the absolute driest of dry-brushing with white to highlight all the edges, which makes the whole model pop.

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The decals are incredibly fine and thin, so care must be taken applying them. It is fair to say I found this the most difficult step in making my model.

Make sure you trim right to the edge of the marking before dipping it in water, and be patient for the decal to slide off the backing paper. When the decals were dry, I protected them with a coat of matt varnish. The end result is so fine that you can hardly tell they are decals.

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I did chicken out and decided to hand-paint the triangle on the front grille, rather than trying to mold the slippery decal over the lines of louvres. Luckily triangles aren’t too difficult to paint!

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So there we a have it – a Dutch armoured car to strike fear into my German wargaming opponents!

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The Landsverk is available from May ’40 Miniatures at the cost of €27.50, plus shipping from the Netherlands.

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History of the Landsverk

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In 1934 the Netherlands ordered twelve Landsverk L181 armoured cars and one spare chassis from the Swedish company AB Landsverk. These so-called M36 vehicles had a Daimler-Benz chassis with a Swedish body and turret. The Dutch changed the 20mm cannon to a 3.7 cm gun and fitted an extra machine-gun to the rear.

In 1937 another twelve were ordered, this time of the type L180 on a Büssing-NAG chassis, to be known as the M38. Two command variants were also ordered.

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The Landsverk was quite a modern armoured car for its time. The 37mm gun was relatively heavy for an armoured car. However, the chassis was quite rigid and proved unsuitable for rough terrain. Tracks could be fitted to the rear wheels, but this was impractical under fire.

The M36 served with the 1e Eskadron Pantserwagens and the M38 with the 2e Eskadron (1st and 2nd armoured car squadrons). The squadrons were divided between Vesting Holland and the Grebbelinie. Two platoons were stationed at Ypenburg Airport, and the other two on the Grebbelinie.

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The Landsverks performed well during the five-day war in May 1940.  They were quite capable of handling themselves in modern conflict. Not one Landsverk was taken out of action due to direct enemy fire. The cars that were disabled  had engine trouble or were damaged due to the bombing of Ypenburg.

Landsverk armoured cars took part in combat with the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and the 227 Infantry Division, as well as the defence of Ypenburg against German paratroopers.

After the capitulation, the Landsverks were used by the Germans under the name Panzerspähwagen L202 beute (‘prize’). May ’40 Miniatures includes decals for the captured version with their model.

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Specifications

  • Armament: one 37mm Bofors semi-automatic gun, three M20 (7.9 mm) machine guns.
  • Ammunition: high-explosive and high-explosive armour piercing.
  • Crew: Five (two drivers, two gunners, one commander).
  • Maximum speed: 60 km/h forwards, 40 km/h backwards.
  • Armour: turret 9mm, rest 5mm.

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Filed under May 40, Uncategorized, WW2

WW2 Dutch armoured car

smallAfter many many months of anticipation, I’ve finally got my hands on one of May ’40 Miniatures’ Landsverk armoured cars for my WW2 Dutch army.

First impression is that’s it a very good model.  I will report more in the next few days once I start building it.

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At last my little Carden-Loyd tankette can look forward to some armoured reinforcement!

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Pre-orders for 28mm Dutch Landsverk armoured car

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The long-awaited Landsverk M36 is on the May ’40 Miniatures website right now!  It’s in the web-shop under the pre-orders section.

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This model will not only be of interest to collectors of WW2 Dutch armies, but also those who are building up German forces, as they used captured Landsverks.  In fact, the model includes decals for both Dutch and German versions.

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These pre-orders are not to actually order one or more of the models.  Rather, they are purely meant for May ’40 Miniatures to gauge interest and see where we stand.

There’ll only be a limited stock, so they are looking at how to go about fairly distributing what should be available – but will cross that bridge when they get to it.

If you’re interested, please ‘place an order’ for one or more Landverks. Don’t add anything else, as these ‘orders’ won’t actually be processed – they’re just to gauge interest.

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WW2 Dutch ‘PAG-trekker’ light artillery tractor

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May ’40 Miniatures are currently working on a new model for their range of 28mm WW2 Dutch vehicles: the PAG-trekker light artillery tractor.

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In the 1938-1940 period the Dutch Army ordered a large number of light artillery tractors or Anti-tank gun tractors from DAF (Van Doorne’s Aanhangwagenfabriek) in Eindhoven. In Dutch these were called PAG-trekkers, PAG meaning “pantserafweergeschut”.

DAF built these on both Ford and Chevrolet chassis by converting them to four wheel drive and adding specialised bodywork with three rows of seats for six crew-members, as well as ammo storage in the back.

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They were used to tow the Dutch Boehler 47mm anti-tank guns, and there are also reports of the vehicles being used as staff-cars or personnel vehicles.

When May ’40 Miniatures come out with their range of WW2 Dutch vehicles and artillery, which besides the PAG-trekker will also include the Landsverk armoured car and a couple of different anti-tank guns, I can see a purchase coming on!

Source of above info about the PAG-trekker: The Overvalwagen Forum

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WW2 Dutch ‘Black Devils’

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The last of the infantry for my 28mm WW2 Dutch army is a section of ‘Korps Mariniers’, or Marines, known as the ‘Black Devils’. As with the rest of my army, these figures are produced by Dutch company, May ’40 Miniatures.

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Marines were professional soldiers – the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces – and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field. They had a strong tradition that went back to the year 1665, when the Korps Mariniers found its roots.

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Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the olive-green of the regular army.  They were armed like regular army soldiers, but were much better trained to use them. They were additionally equipped with a so-called ‘storm-dagger’. The basic weapons used in Rotterdam were the Steyr M.95 rifle, the Lewis light machine-gun and the storm-dagger.

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There were about 450 Marines in Rotterdam, the home town of the Korps Mariniers, when the German invasion occurred on 10 May 1940. About half were in basic training, and the others were either staff, operational marines or attending NCO courses.

The Marines successfully defended the bridges across the River Maas for four days, preventing German paratroopers in the city centre from rendezvousing with the other German forces. The Germans ended the stalemate by bombing Rotterdam.

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The story goes that when the surrender was declared and the Dutch soldiers came out of their positions, the German commander was expecting a full battalion of men, but was stunned to see only a few Marines emerge in their dark uniforms. He ordered his men to salute them out of respect for their bravery and determination, and labeled them ‘Black Devils’.

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As always when I try to take photos of blue uniforms, my pictures have turned out much lighter than the actual figures.  The blue tunics and greatcoats are actually quite dark on my models.

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Historical information in this posting came from the War Over Holland website. 

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