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imaginary Dutch arms production/development after 1940

January 7 2006 at 1:42 PM

I am usually not into the "What if?" business, but I'd like to share some thoughts with you.

Suppose Nazi-Germany did not invade Holland in 1940 (as the Dutch had hoped and just like in WW1) and the country would stay neutral and out of trouble at least until Pearl Harbour. How would Dutch arms production and development have continued?

I do not know all outstanding Dutch orders in may 1940, but some of you might be able to help out.

- the Fokker G1 fighter might have been produced in greater numbers (the full 52 planes would haven been built plus the extra confiscated Spanish order) and production of the new Koolhoven FK-58 fighter (also ordered by France) might have started and be completed (36 pieces).
- Furthermore the Fokker D23 design might have been produced.
- All of this in modest numbers probably and depending on imports of engines.
- The Curtiss Hawks would have entered service in Holland and not diverted to KNIL and the Douglas dive-bombers would be operational.
- Some more Fokker and Koolhoven transport, training, recce and bomber planes could have been built as well. Some Fokker T9 bombers for KNIL for instance.
- Overall the airforce would be in good shape by the end of 1941 (though at the cost of KNIL's).

- the extensive shipbuilding programme would have been continued and some of the ships (out of a few dozen destroyers, gunboats, cruisers, submarines and battlecruisers under construction) would have been added to the Navy in 1940 and 1941. Wilton-Feyenoord would have been able to build the guns, if enough material was at hand.
-Ships ready by end 1941 might be the K1, K2 and K3 gunboats, 3 out of four new destroyers, all 7 O21 class submarines, though not any of the bigger ships. Jan? Anything else planned or under construction?

Army vehicles:
- DAF would be able to convert lots more Chevrolets and Fords and imports from the US would simply continue (like they did to Germany right up to the US entry in the war);
- Model year 1941 and some 1942 GM and Ford models would make it to Holland as would probably some Chevrolet 4x4 G4100 series and other vehicles;
- DAF would have built more armoured cars. A second order for the 6x4 M39 was already under way in may 1940 ( Additional batches could have been produced throughout 1940 and 1941 and several dozen of these cars would be in service by the end of 1941. Engines would come from the US and steel would have to be acquired there as well now the Belgian works were out of question. Getting the Landsverk/Bofors turrets might have become a problem but the Dutch could have built there own (larger) version and install the Bohler/AI 47mm gun. An excellent combination probably.
- the Dutch did not have tanks yet but they were after them all over Europe by 1940. Belgian and Czech tanks were inspected. Meanwhile DAF offered to build two tanks for training, based on the same DAF M39 armoured car. They needed one year. Could have been interesting. Imagine the M39 with tracks (and trados?). If successfull a small batch of these tanks with 47mm guns could have been produced by the end of 1941.
- Meanwhile Werkspoor had acquired the rights to build Christie tanks (national archives) and another tank type could have been developed based on the Christie suspension system and it could be produced in limited numbers. The result may have looked a bit like the Soviet BT7 series perhaps.
- Additional small numbers of US tanks could have been ordered, but we all know the sad ending of the Marmon-Herrington orders. More Dutch orders might have jammed the system even sooner.

- combined efforts of the AI, Werkspoor, Wilton-Feyenoord and others would allow the Dutch to extend their numbers of modern guns:
- Vickers 75mm and Bofors 40mm AA guns would have been produced in reasonable numbers, given enough imports of steel. The orders (37mm AA) to Rheinmetall would probalby have been fullfilled as they had been paid in return for butter.
- the order for 400 47mm Antitank guns to AI subcontractor Johan de Witt factory in Dordrecht would materialize. Also 47mm bunker guns would be produced by the AI.
- one or two dozen 105mm Bofors guns would be built by AI as well;
- Would Bofors deliver from Sweden under these circumstances?
- AA and AT defences by the end of 1941 would be excellent.

Light weapons:
-AI Hembrug already produced 6,5mm Mannlicher rifles and carbines, Lewis guns, Vickers machineguns.
- More machineguns (also for the planes and vehicles) and submachineguns would have to be bought in the US. That would be hard given all the known efforts of KNIL....

- KNIL might have been able to acquire some of the above artillery, like a few dozen 47mm AT guns and 40mm AA guns;
- KNIL might have built up a substantial number of DAF converted Chevrolets (4x4);
- Maybe a light 4x4 DAF armoured car with 47mm gun might have been developed for KNIL based on the AC3D?

-oil and other raw materials would have to be sent from the Indies, bought in the US and maybe a bit of steel might be bought in Sweden. Especially steel would have been a problem.
- aircraft engines and other fine stuff would have to be bought in the US.
- enough manpower would have been available in Holland but not in the colonies. Thousands of lightly armed men would have been sent to the East (a KL Indische Brigade of 3 battalions of infantry plus artillery and extra personnel, engineers, etc- all volunteers) and West Indies (an extra 1000 or so) to boost KNIL and Dutch presence.

- as a neutral power Holland would of course stay out of the developments elsewhere. But like in WW1 many (1 million) refugees from Belgium would cross the border, bringing many troops with their equipment as well as engineers etc. Some Belgian guns and vehicles (T15 light tanks, T13 tankdestroyers, Vickers tractors) would be incorporated in Dutch service as well as some French Panhard armoured cars (that took a wrong turn in Belgium when fleeing).

By 1942 the situation would change. Japan would threaten the Indies just the same and one way or another they would be lost. The weapons described above would soon be obsolete by that time and furhter developments would be necessary.

Could they have done it?

Any comments?


This message has been edited by nuyt on Jan 8, 2006 7:59 PM

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