M39 Pantserwagen

Armoured car

The Pantserwagen M39 or DAF Pantrado 3 was a Dutch 6×4 armoured car produced in the late thirties for the Royal Dutch Army.

From 1935 the DAF automobile company designed several armoured fighting vehicles based on its innovative Trado truck suspension system. Among these was the Pantrado 2, an armoured car. From 1936 the Dutch military encouraged DAF to develop this type into the Pantrado 3, a design more closely meeting army specifications for a reconnaissance vehicle, in order to establish a small indigenous armoured vehicle production capacity. A prototype was built and in early 1939 twelve vehicles were ordered of the DAF M39 type, the last of which was delivered in January 1940. The vehicles were destined to equip reconnaissance platoons of four cavalry hussar regiments.

For its time the DAF M39 was a modern design with an all-welded monocoque construction of the hull and extensive use of sloped armour. The turret, fitted with a relatively powerful 37:mm cannon, was produced in Sweden by Landsverk. The type was lightly armoured and relatively fast, with a good cross-country capability. It had been intended to build a second series of an improved type with 6:x:6 drive, the DAF M40, but production preparations were interrupted by the German attack during the Second World War.

When the Netherlands were invaded on 10 May 1940, no operational unit had yet been equipped with the type. The crews had not finished their training yet and the vehicles themselves had not all been completed due to delays in the fitting of the armament and repairs necessary because the welded armour plates proved prone to cracking. Therefore only three DAF M39s actually participated in the fighting, in ad hoc-units, engaging German airborne troops and landed transport planes. After the Dutch defeat, German combat units would for several years employ the captured vehicles under the designation Panzerspähwagen DAF 201 (h), some of them upgraded by DAF, until gradually losing them all on the Eastern Front.

After the war there were plans to restart production, building two hundred vehicles for Dutch reconnaissance units and perhaps a number for Belgium, but eventually it was decided to use light tanks for this role instead.

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