Foreword: I guess you’ve heard about Swedish AFVs built on Czech TNH / TNHP / TNH-Sv chassis, the same vehicle used by the Germans as PzKpfw. 38(t). But what do you really know about the vehicles built and their usage? I will with this short article cover the variants used, including experimental vehicles.
First interests in TNHP
A study group was sent out in January 1937 to study Polish, German and French tanks. The result was disappointing, only the German PzKpfw I was found worthy testing. However, Sweden was not able to acquire any PzKpfw I at the time. During the trip, one had heard of interesting tanks built by CKD in Czechoslovakia. Generalmajor Gillner of the Swedish Artillery Staff were in March 1937 able to test two types ordered by Iran, the AH-IV and the TNH. In July 1937, the Swedish army orders two AH-IV prototypes plus a license to build a further 46 tanks in Sweden under the Swedish designation Stridsvagn m/37. Between January and April 1940, heavy work was laid down on expanding the Swedish tank arm. All since 1937, the Swedish army had been interested in Czech designs, among them the TNHP. Negotiations were held with CKD in occupied Czechoslovakia which had material available to manufacture about 100 tanks originally meant for the Czech army. Soon it was decided to purchase almost complete vehicles from CKD. Negotiations were held with the German authorities who permitted a production license, and in March 1940 some 90 TNHP-S tanks are ordered from CKD – now renamed BMM – for almost 14.000.000:- SEK. These were to be delivered in the summer of 1940. However in the early summer of 1940, German authorities decides to cancel the order and takes the vehicles themselves, probably because of the great experiences gained during their campaign in the west. To fill the gap, 100 Stridsvagn m/40L (Landsverk L-60-S/III) are ordered from AB Landsverk in Landskrona.
Stridsvagn m/41 SI
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Stridsvagn m/41 SI #205 on maneuver, 1943.
During 1940 more armored units were to be raised and so new needs for tanks arised. Negotiations are again held with BMM, this time of a production license of the TNHP. Soon German authorities permit this, and a contract is signed in December 1940. The vehicles were to be built by the Swedish firm Scania-Vabis in Södertälje. In June 1941, Scania-Vabis gets an army order of 116 TNHP-S, now with the Swedish designation Stridsvagn m/41 SI. The deal with BMM included a prototype with a Scania-engine to be delivered during the spring of 1941. The Czech engineers had made smaller modifications to the vehicle as it had thicker frontal armor, and different front armor layout. The German authorities didn’t want the Swedes to take part of these improvements, but one managed to get the changes in code on the drawings, which were brought in with BMM-couriers to Sweden. Stridsvagn m/41 SI had a Scania-Vabis type 1664 engine providing some 142hp. The frontal armor was increased from 22mm to 25mm, and the layout of the turret armor was changed. To increase turret space, the rear sloped plate was replaced with a vertical plate. Armament consisted of a 37mm Bofors m/38 L/37 or L/40 anti-tank gun, and two 8mm m/39 machine-guns. The Strv m/41 SI tanks are delivered between December 1942 and August 1943. All Strv m/41 SI served with P3 regiment in Strängnäs, where they were included with the 10th Armored Brigade’s light tank companies. They Strv m/41 SI were withdrawn from service in 1960. Swedish military numbers: #199 – 314. Weight: 10.500kg, Length: 4.54m, Width: 2.14m, Height: 2.35m, Crew: 4, Armor: 8-25mm, Max speed: 45km/h, Armament: 37mm Bofors m/38 L/37 or L/40 AT-gun, 2 x 8mm m/39 MGs, Engine: Scania-Vabis type 1664, 142hp.
Stridsvagn m/41 SI.
- Stridsvagn m/41 SII
Already when the first Strv m/41 SI tanks were delivered, the development had passed them. The German Tiger and Russian KV heavy tanks were in production and in service with combat units. Its weak armament, protection and the riveted construction were totally obsolete at the time. However, Swedish tankers found it a mechanically very reliable tank, and one had a good ability to immediate production, something uncommon with countries not directly involved in the war. In addition, one should think of that no modern design were available for immediate production. It was decided to acquire more tanks, but they were to be improved. The turret was too small to carry heavier armament, so the frontal armor was increased to 50mm instead. The side and rear armor were kept unchanged, considering the vehicles total weight. The Scania-Vabis engine was replaced by a Scania L 603, providing some 160hp. The dimensions of the engine resulted in the chassis being lengthened some 65mm, note the distance between the second and third road wheel. The old fuel tank housing some 190 liters, was replaced by a newer which could carry 230 liters. 122 Stridsvagn m/41 SII were ordered in June 1942. The first vehicles are delivered in October 1943. Production ceased in March 1944 as only 104 Stridsvagn m/41 SII have been built, the reason for this can be found below. The Strv m/41 SII mainly equipped the P4 regiment’s 2nd Tank Battalion which were included with the 9th Armored Brigade in Skövde, while others were held as reserve at P2 and P3 regiments. Swedish military numbers: #80001 – 80104. Weight: 11.000kg, Length: 4.60m, Width: 2.14m, Height: 2.35m, Crew: 4, Max speed: 45km/h, Armament: 37mm Bofors m/38 L/37 or L/40 AT-gun, 2 x 8mm m/39 MGs, Engine: Scania L 603, 160hp.
Strv m/41 SI and Sav m/43 in Pansarmuseet, Axvall.
- Stormartillerivagn (Sav) m/43
Early Sav m/43 #131 during a full-scale maneuver in March 1945.
Courtesy of SPHF.
During the production of the Stridsvagn m/41 SII, it was decided to acquire an infantry support vehicle through the same concept as German StuH 42 and Russian SU-122. After trials were held with a prototype built on a non-modified Strv m/41 SII chassis, it was decided that the last 18 vehicles still to be manufactured were to be built as Sav m/43, while another 18 Strv m/41 SII were to be built after them. However, the Sav m/43 was found to be a great vehicle, and these 18 chassis were built as Sav m/43 as well. Sav m/43 are originally armed with a 75mm m/02 gun, but they are replaced by a 105mm Bofors m/44 gun in 1946. Engine used were a Scania-Vabis type 1664 with 142hp. In the autumn of 1944, the first vehicles are delivered, and all of them are sent to A9 regiment in Kristinehamn where they equipped a stormartillery division with three batteries. The division was commanded by Lt.Col. Karl Ångström, and the division were located at the Norwegian border in Värmland County until the wars end. The vehicles were later given to the armored troops in 1951. It served with armored infantry as assault gun companies. The Sav m/43 are withdrawn from service in 1973-74. Swedish military numbers: #80124 – 80159. At least four vehicles are preserved in Sweden, one at Axvall, another at P5 Society, a third at A9 regiment and one in private ownership. Weight: 12.400kg, Length: 5.05m, Width: 2.14m, Height: 2.29m, Crew: 4, Max speed: 43km/h, Armament: 105mm Bofors m/44, Engine: Scania-Vabis type 1664, 142hp.
Hetzer and G-13 in Pansarmuseet, Axvall.
Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer were commissioned in 1946. It was prepared for firing trials, but it’s unclear how and if it was used in trials. Swedish military number #80303. The Hetzer is currently preserved in Pansarmuseet at Axvall, Sweden. Weight: 15.750kg, Length: 6.38m, Width: 2.63m, Height: 2.17m, Crew: 4, Max speed: 42km/h, Armament: 75mm PaK 39 L/48, 7.92mm MG34/42, Engine: Praga AC2, 160hp.
- Pvkv II and Pvkv III
Pvkv II during trials.
Courtesy of SPHF.
Just after the end of the war, KAF began studies of upgunning the tanks from the early 1940s. The 37mm Bofors gun used were obsolete, and interim measures were taken to test new armaments. Strv m/40 chassis were built as Pvkv IVA and Pvkv IVB with 57mm and 75mm guns. Strv m/41 SII chassis #80099 were armed with a 75mm m/36 L/56,5 AA-gun, and the other with a 57mm m/43 AT-gun. The 75mm gun vehicle were designated ‘Pansarvärnskanonvagn II – Pvkv II’, and the other ‘Pvkv III’. None of the versions were found suitable and the projects were dropped. Shortly thereafter, the ‘Pvkv m/43′ tank destroyer were improved instead.
- Pbv 301
First AFV (Pbv 301 #80083) arrives at newly reorganized P6 regiment in Kristianstad, May 1963.
On Stridsvagn m/41 SII chassis #80032 a wooden mock-up was built, it was built in mid-1957, and this vehicle was shown to representatives of AB Landsverk and Hägglund & Söner in May 1958. The army planned a series of about 200 vehicles, so the project was very interesting for both firms. Pansarbandvagn 301 (APC) were then developed by AB Landsverk and Hägglund & Söner during 1958-59. AB Landsverk build a prototype upon Strv m/41 SII chassis #80099, and this is presented on April 30th 1959. A pre-series of 10 vehicles are ordered in June 1959, three vehicles from AB Landsverk and seven from AB Hägglund & Söner. AB Landsverk build a further three prototypes on chassis #80074, 80075 and 281, the latter on a Strv m/41 SI chassis. Hägglund & Söner also develops 7-8 prototypes, among them: #301, 302, 303, 80043 and the final version accepted for production #80091. In summer of 1960, the first complete Pbv 301 performed firing trials on Kråk exercise field. Until the autumn of 1961, nine chassis had been delivered, while the turrets not yet had been completed. Before these turrets were completed, a m/39 MG were used as temporary armament. Hägglund’s got the order, and built some 220 vehicles. The engine was replaced by a SFA B44 engine with 150hp, and it was armed with a 20mm automatic cannon m/45B. It had a crew of two men and could carry another 8 troopers. The early tracks were troublesome as they were the same used on old Strv m/41, they were sometimes very worn down and caused lots of extra repairs. The interior was found to be cramped as fully combat ready soldiers were loaded into the vehicle. There was no heat inside, so it was not a pleasure being an armored infantry soldier in a Pbv 301 during winter times. There were two hatches on the combat compartment roof which could be opened, enabling 4 men to fire from inside the vehicle. Delivery began in 1961 and ended in April 1963, but it was slow and drivers were trained on Ikv 73 (modified Strv m/42 EH) instead. They had similar steering systems, however they were very different to drive. A combat command vehicle named "Stridsledningspansarbandvagn 301 – Strilpbv 3011", and the fire command vehicle "Eldledningspansarbandvagn 301 – Epbv 3012" were also used. A Pbv 301 could quickly be prepared as a supply or medical vehicle. Pbv 301 served with Swedish army between 1961 and 1969. Several Pbv 301 are preserved today. Weight: 11.700kg, Length: 4.66m, Width: 2.23m, Height: 2.64m, Crew: 2+8, Max speed: 45km/h, Armament: 20mm Bofors m/45B automatic cannon, Engine: SFA B44, 150hp.
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Preserved Pbv 301 outside Pansarmuseet at Axvall, Sweden.
Plenty of material and photos related to this article has been published in SPHF "Pansar" magazine. Some reference is from; "Pansartrupperna 1942-1992", S. Edgren, ISBN 91-630-1253-7, Västervik 1992. For full reference list please contact the author below.
Photo 1) From "Pansartrupperna 1942-1992"
Photo 2) From "Praga LT vz.38 / Pz.Kpfw.38(t)"
Photo 3) From Pansarmuseet at Axvall, authors private collection
Photo 4) From "Pansar" issue 2-3/84
Photo 5) From Pansarmuseet at Axvall, authors private collection
Photo 6) From "Pansar" issue 2-3/84
Photo 7) From "Pansartrupperna 1942-1992"
Photo 8) From Pansarmuseet at Axvall, authors private collection
Photo 9) From Pansarmuseet at Axvall, authors private collection