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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 (grebbeberg.nl). 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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Hanno Spoelstra

back to normal

January 7 2006, 9:37 PM 

"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 wonder if it would have continued at all. The Dutch arms production increased because of the German threat. If this threat would prove not to be one, many people would have sighed in relief and stopped everything. Remember there was quite a strong anti-military movement in Holland ("gebroken geweertje"), which hoped Holland would stay out of trouble (like during WW1), just as long as Holland did nothing to provoke Germany.

Interesting thought experiment, this.


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in that case

January 8 2006, 10:33 AM 

In case the Dutch govt would decide it was no longer necessary to go on arming the country, that would indeed mean the end of some orders and developments. But probably not the Navy's building programme would be sacrificed, because that was mainly intended to protect the Indies where the threat would remain.

Also KNIL would now be able to take over some of the Dutch Army's orders and buy its much needed 47mm AT guns and AA as well as planes and vehicles. The Dutch colonies' oceans of money would simply buy it all.

On the other hand, what would the Dutch commercial arms industry do if large orders were cancelled? Fokker and DAF would lose money and they might be tempted to look for greener pastures over the border, just like Fokker did in WW1. What would they do if Germany ordered some Fokker G1's for the Luftwaffe (with German engines and armament) or M39/M40 armoured cars (with German turrets) for the Wehrmacht? Say no? The German-language DAF brochure recently found (see elswhere on the Overvalwagen Forum) is a sign of what could have happened.

In case the German threat diminished arms development would partly continue. For the Navy, for KNIL and maybe some people would be tempted by the Germans...

But I do not think the threat would diminish and just like during WW1 Holland would feel it constantly. 1941 would see new German offensives (Balkan, North Africa, Soviet-Union) and after the entry of the US in WW2 the situation would change again. Hitler might at some point decide that Holland should be occupied, for instance because it was a breach in the Atlantic Wall. Just like in WW1 when a real threat was there right until (and especially at) the end.

Holland would keep on arming itself the best they could.

This message has been edited by nuyt on Jan 8, 2006 8:01 PM

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von Adler

Sweden's willingness to sell..

January 9 2006, 8:01 PM 

Well, if the Dutch would have sold Fokker G.Is (that the Swedes had ordered), aircraft engines (Sweden was desperate for engines and fighters 1940 and 1941), oil and rubber to Sweden, I am sure Sweden would have sold AT guns and artillery for those - and I am sure Sweden and the Netherlands, who were sharing ship and naval guns designs would enter a fruitful exchange of blueprints of ships, AT, AA and ATY guns, armoured cars and raw materials.

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January 10 2006, 6:08 PM 

I did not know Sweden ordered the G1! Apart from the engines (which I presume the Dutch would need just as desperately) this trade could indeed have become very interesting! Maybe we can add the Bofors 15cm howitzer, that was built in licence by the Swiss during WW2, as well to the Dutch imaginary arsenal from 1941...

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von Adler

Fokker G.I for Sweden

January 10 2006, 9:05 PM 

Sweden ordered 18 Fokker G.I to serve as S 13 recoinnasance planes in March 1940. They were to have been delivered in full in November 1940.

Sweden had:
AT guns
Tanks and armoured cars
AA guns
Iron ore (we were not self-sufficient in steel until a new steel mill was completed in Luleå in 1943)

I am sure we would have been willing to part from some of these - we sent some strategic raw materials to Italy as part payment for Re.2000 and Cr.42bis fighters and Ca.313 bombers in late 1940 anyway.

If the Dutch could send oil, rubber, food and airplanes, we would have been game, I am sure.

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Susan Cross

Fokker G.1

January 12 2006, 12:02 AM 

The Swedes were going to licence produce the G.1. There would have been 18 of the recce version and 77 of the bomber version. Fokker designed a "bathtub" observation cupola for the recce version and dive-brakes for the bomber.

The Danes also ordered the G.1; I have seen figures of 12 Fokker-built machines plus 12 each from the Army Workshops and SAI--but I have also seen figures of 9 from Fokker, 12 from the workshops and 24 from SAI.

Hungary also negotiated a licence, but I have no details. All in all Fokker would have done quite well with this design.

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fascinating - Swedish export policies?

January 13 2006, 2:12 PM 

I was always under the impression dat Sweden did not export at all after september 1939. I guess I was influenced by KNIL historians' complaints about undelivered Swedish orders, like the one of 16 10,5 cm Bofors Howitzers. These were confiscated as early as sep 1939 I think.
So what exactly were the Swedish arms exporting policies?
- nothing to foreign govts that were at war from sep 39 to maintain strict neutrality?
- designs to neutral states (Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, but what about Hungary - were the Bofors/Landsverk designs sold before Hungary's entry in the war? And what about the Bofors 40mms built by Britain?)?
- (small) deliveries to neutral states (12 40mm guns to Portugal in mid-war), unless of course they needed the weapons themselves?

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von Adler

Policies and such...

January 19 2006, 10:44 PM 

Well, we did impound anything ordered, but that was mainly because we needed weapons desperately and could not staisfy our own needs fast enough when war broke out.

We did provide strategic materials, such as iron ore and ball bearings of high quality both to the British and to the Germans. We also fronted deals for the Finns, although it was mostly supply variants.

It was a time of realpolitik. We spent precious strategic raw materials and gold to buy weapons from Italy (ships and planes) and Germany (rifles, pistols, SMGs, artillery, AT guns, among them our own designs (bofors) the Germans had captured from licence producers such as Austria and Poland).

Fighters were a top priority for Sweden in 1940, I am sure we woudl have abnstained some artillery and other things had the Netherlands been able to deliver. Combine that with precious strategic raw materials and I am sure the Swedish government would be all over the deal.

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Stellan Bojerud

Imaginary Dutch arms production and the Swedish example

February 5 2006, 8:56 PM 

The questions about imaginary Dutch arms production is interesting. We know that the Netherlands were ockupied by the Germans, but Sweden was not. Sweden like NL had an arms industry.

1. Small arms: Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori - GF-(State Rifle Factory) Eskilstuna. There production lines were extant for:
- 9 mm pistols m/1907 FN Browning
- 6,5 mm Mauser rifles m/1896 and carbines m/1894
- 6,5 mm LMGs m/1937 Colt-Browning
- 6,5 mm HMGs m/1914 Schwarzlose
- 8 mm HMGs m/1936 Colt-Browning
- 81 mm Mortars m/1929-39 Stokes-Brandt

SMGs were bought from OY Tikkakoski in Finland in small numbers (just three to a Rifle Company!)

2. Artillery: AB Bofors, Karlskoga. Production for export was going on.
- 37 mm AT-guns
- 75 mm fieldguns
- 105 mm fieldguns and howitzer
- 150 mm fieldguns and howitzers
- 25 and 40 mm AA-machineguns
- 75 - 105 mm AA-guns

3. Prior to the outbreak of war plans had been made to increase arms production by using civilian industries. GF did not have personell to man all production lines at the same time and therefore these were transferred to other industries:

a) Pistols, rifles and SMGS to Husquarna Vapefrabriks AB (normally made hunting rifles)
b) HMGs to Telefon AB LM Ericsson (Telephone factory)

GF consentrated on making LMGs and aircraft MGs

These efforts began showing resuts in 1941 and reached it´s peak in 1943-44

4. As a stop gap measure arms were bought wherever such could be found

- 9 mm pistol Walther P 38 1.500 pcs
- 9 mm SMG Bergmann M 24 1.800 pcs
- 7,92 mm rifles K 98 5.000 pcs
- 7,92 mm LMGs MG 28(t)Brünn 5.000 pcs
- 37 mm AT-guns Rheinmetall (intended export Turkey)
- 105 mm howitzers Rheinmetall M 18 142 pcs
- 150 mm howitzers Bofors-Böhler 28 pcs (ex Austian)
- 20 mm AA guns 60 pcs
- 40 mm AA guns 136 pcs (ex-Austrian and Polish)

- 11,43 mm SMGS Thompson M/28 1.000 pcs - only 500 delivered

- 20 mm AT-guns Solothurn 450 pcs
- 20 mm AA-guns Hispano-Suiza

- 120 mm mortars Tampella M/40 219 pcs
- Armoured Cars (ex-Soviet) 3 pcs

5. The supply of munitions to all these different weapons was a problem.

6. In 1939 the Swedish Army did not want 6,5 mm Mauser rifles but had to buy those because that was the only model for which production lines were extant.
Moving production to Husquarna ment loss of time and in 1943 series production of the m/38 rifle began. 24.500 pcs were made. Husquarna also made 74.100 SMGs Suomi m/37-39. The production of SMGs was given priority before rifles m/38. There was also made 83.300 pistols.

7. The Army wanted Ljungman semi-automatic rifles. These rifles m/42 were mainly delivered in 1944-45 by GF. 23.043 pcs made. (In the early 1950-ies this production line was sold to Egypt).

8. As an emergency measure a new company Svenska Automatvapen AB (SAV) was set up for making the horrible Knorr-Bremse LMG wich was made in some 8.000 pcs.

9. Sweden was sucessfull in producing several houndreds of obsolete tanks of which not one single one could stand up to a German or Soviet tank.

10. Sweden was sucessfull in producing aircraft that could fly but was inferior to what the Axis and the Allies had.

An example: 105 mm Howitzers

1) Extant before the war 132 pcs obsolete m/10
2) Embargo Bofors 32 pcs (16 KNIL, 16 Siam/Thailand)
3) Import Germany 142 pcs m/39 (German M 18)
4) Production Bofors 180 pcs m/40 delivered 1944-46

This message has been edited by nuyt on Feb 5, 2006 8:58 PM

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February 5 2006, 9:12 PM 

And sorry for my late reaction, I was abroad.

That's an impressive listing. Well, like you suggest the Dutch could have achieved similar results...Amazing the Swedes still were able to buy Czech Bren guns (5000 pieces)!
Considering this I think Dutch armament as well as KNIL's would have continued if the country had stayed neutral.
The scenario would complicate however, if things in the Far East would turn nasty. Would Imperial Japan strike at a neutral Dutch East Indies sooner or later? Would the Dutch Indies be ready to sell more oil etc. to Japan, now they could not align themselves openly to the Allies and the US during 1941? During the negotiations with Japan the Dutch might have taken a much less tougher stand than in reality. A confrontation with Japan should be avoided at all cost with Nazi-Germany watching next door in Europe...An attack by Japan would push the Dutch over to the allies.
On the other hand, if Japan would be satisfied with NEI oil deliveries and exploitation rights (joint ventures), might that have postponed war in the Pacific or not? And would the allies have let this happen (selling out oil to Japan)?

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P.S. Paaskynen

Too harsh on Swedish tanks

February 25 2017, 12:30 PM 

I think you are a bit too harsh about the Swedish Landsverk tanks. At the time of their design, they were easily a match for contemporary German designs. Only by the time they had been ordered and produced in sufficient numbers, newer models of tanks had overtaken these designs.

Point in case would be the L60 light tank. It was designed in 1934 when Germany had no armoured forced to speak of. For its time it was very modern. Had the improved model been ordered in large numbers, tank production would really have come off the ground by the time the war started and the follow-up models like the Lago could have been built earlier and in sufficient numbers too.

So, in the case of the Swedish tanks it was more a case of too little too late than really a design quality problem.

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Susan Cross

Re:Imaginary Weapons

January 8 2006, 1:36 AM 

If I am remebering correctly, a Dutch shipyard (Wilton-Fijenoord?) had a manufacturing licence for the Landsverk turret. The Dutch Army had ordered 13 additional armored cars as "M.40"s (J. F. Bom) I suppose we could assume DAF could have produced at least a dozen per year, in addition to their other orders.

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Armoured cars

January 8 2006, 10:41 AM 

Thanks, Susan, did not know that. Would that include the right to build the Bofors 37mm gun? W-F already built/assembled a fine line of Bofors guns...

The Dutch thought they needed around 100 armoured cars (De Jong) and as you say DAF would probalby have been able to build a dozen a year or so. Meanwhile the first Landsverks (M36) were becoming obsolete soon (they could have used the turrets for the DAFs as well), so more orders were needed.

Available were the White Scout cars at the time and the Dutch might have bought a batch of these, just like KNIL (44) would.

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January 8 2006, 12:27 PM 

Some more remarks:

Number of AA en AT guns:

- by May 1940 Holland had some 400 Boehler type 47mm and HIH Siderius/AI 47mm guns. Add to that the 400 to be built by subcontractor JdW of Dord and by year's end 1941 the AT arsenal might have doubled.

- In May 1940 there were some 72-81 (depending on the source) ready 75mm AA guns (Vickers, AI and Skoda). According to De Jong there were another 100 (sic) finished AI 75mm guns, but without the Hazemeijer fire direction these were useless. A further 50 were supposed to be delivered still by Skoda.
Of course the Polish made orders for 40mm Bofors guns would not have materialized, but Hungary still had to deliver the rest of the 50 pieces ordered (12 had been on hand already).

- By end 1941 there would at least have been some 230 75mm guns as well as some 90 40mm, apart from further builds by Dutch companies and possible further orders to Hungary and Skoda. Add to that the batch of (36?) Rheinmetall 37mm guns.


- The Grebbe lines and Water lines as well as the Fortress Holland would have been in a further state of improvement by end 1941. More casematies would have been built. Add to that 800 AT guns and over 350 modern AA guns, all concentrated in the Fortress Holland and the Grebbe lines, the airforce above it, well, that would look pretty impressive...

- The orders of the German 105mm field howitzer (120 pieces!) would have materialized to some degree (deliveries were already taking place by May 1940).

- Some more armoured cavalry units would be around or light brigades. These could slow down enemy advances or execute disturbing counterattacks. Maybe there would be a tank batalion.

- Training would be much more advanced, though ammo would be a problem (as it already was in May 1940).

Vehicle developments:

- As stated before DAF could have produced a second and third batch of M39/M40 6x4 37mm armoured cars in 1940 and 1941;

- Additional armoured cars and APCs could have been bought abroad: White Scout Cars eg;

- the 4x4 Alvis-Straussler AC3D as used by KNIL could have been copied in small numbers or acquired as the similar Csaba's from Hungary (if they delivered AA guns, why not armoured cars)

- DAF could have provided chassis for further APC's or scout cars to be build in Holland and for the KNIL overvalwagens;

- DAF could have built a small batch each of their two 1938 Ford armoured Commandantenwagen designs;

- DAF could have built production models of their amphibious car, their Martin 4x4 design for trucks, their T46 APC (on M39 chassis) and could have copied the Ford GP (as imported by KNIL);

- as for tanks: we have discussed the realistic possibilites of a DAF tank based on the M39 and a Werkspoor-Christie tank. Acquiring tanks abroad would have very difficult, considering the Marmon-Herrington story. They could try to buy Czech tanks, but I do not think the Germans would allow that as they would need everyting for their expanding Wehrmacht.

- meanwhile Sweden had some commercial designs, like the Landsverk L60, which they licenced out to Hungary (as Toldi light tank). If they delivered this design to Hungary, why not also to Holland? So a third tank model would have been available by 1941! Let's assume this would be the Wilton-Feijenoord-Landsverk tank, using the Landsverk 37mm turret or a newly designed 47mm one! Again, in limited numners only, but still an interesting thought...

This message has been edited by nuyt on Jan 8, 2006 9:18 PM

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Susan Cross

Re: Re: Imaginary Weapons

January 9 2006, 3:05 AM 

Don't know if the deal included 37mm Bofors gun.

I remember reading that a number of European countries (including Sweden and Spain) approached the Finns about buying captured Russian equipment after March 1940, including tanks, so maybe the Dutch could pick up vehicles there.

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January 9 2006, 6:45 PM 

they did try, but it turned out to be nothing in early 1940...
But maybe later, a couple of T26s and BT7s for training, maybe a KV1...

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any details

March 15 2013, 3:13 PM 

their T46 APC (on M39 chassis)

was this just the M39 with no turret ?

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March 15 2013, 6:09 PM 

Dont hava a clue. Judging by the name it might be a 1946 project, when plans were made to build the M39 again. Have often wondered how a M39-based APC would look like. Maybe they would have had the engine up front and build out the troop compartment on the M39's sloping front?

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Addendum II - Light weapons

January 13 2006, 2:33 PM 

As stated before the Dutch were able to produce a line of light weapons themselves, like
- Hembrug 6,5mm rifles and carbines;
- Hembrug-Lewis 6,5mm lmgs
- Hembrug-Vickers 6,5 mm mmgs

Now the Hembrug rifles and carbines were still usefull weapons. Some historians have complained about the old model year (M95= 1895), but that is nonsense. All armies at the time used weapons that were designed in the last decade of the 19th century (Mauser, Lee-Enfield, Arisaka, etc). The guns had been continuously improved and were produced right untill 1940 (KNIL still placed orders of carbines then) They could have used the guns throughout the war.

By 1940 the Lewis type was of course quickly becoming obsolete. I do not know if anything else was considered or planned (Ithink there were also some Madsens), but I could imagine the Dutch would be trying to look for a newer model soon. What realistic options would they have had in 1940-41 as a neutral country surrounded by warring and occupied ones?

They could have bought small batches of lmg's in Germany, maybe several hundred MG34 or the non-regular Knorr-Bremse, paid in Dutch butter or Gouda cheese. Some BAR's might have been obtained in the US and maybe some from Belgian stocks (the Germans do not seem to have used them). They could have tried to obtain a licence for the BAR and produce that. Later the Johnson Lmg might have become available (as ordered by KNIL) but we know that would not have happened until mid 1942.I can think of only one more realistic option to acquire a reasonable stock of light machine guns and that would have been the Mexican Mendoza, which seems to have been a reliable weapon.

The Dutch did not have a submachinegun in 1940, but KNIL used the Schmeisser MP28. They still had a lot on order by may 40, so in our scenario that order would have been fullfilled. This could have been a reasonable option for the Dutch army as well and the weapon, which was a non-standard German one anyway, could have been produced by Hembrug as well from 1941. Further away some batch of Beretta's could have been bought in Italy (paid well in tulips) and in Hungary the Danuvia M39 could have been purchased. One of these could have been built under licence as well. Additional Thompsons would have been bought in the US, just like KNIL did in the real world. Large numbers of 9mm UDM's and .45 Reisings would be in the picture from early 1942 just the same.

Now that I am fantacising anyway, suppose among the Belgian refugees in May 1940 would have been the engineer staff of FN in Liege. They might have brought the SAFN design along and Hembrug would have developed a Zelfladend Karabijn by 1941!

Any comments welcome!

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