Hello readers, Shadyrush back with a brand new article. It’s been a while since I last wrote one, time didn’t allow me to make new ones but with the holiday starting, now’s a good a time as any to publish a new one. This article won’t be as lengthy as the last one, so it’ll be a light read.
As you probably guessed, this article will be about the Wilton-Fijenoord Overvalswagen. This design had the honor to be the first type of armoured car to serve with the Dutch army.(although very briefly) So why is it so unknown? Well, only 3 were made and there isn’t much information on these vehicles. Another thing to note is that they were designed and produced by a shipyard. The shipyard shared its name with the armoured car: Wilton-Fijenoord. This company was established in 1929 out of a merger of two Rotterdam shipyards, Wilton and Fijenoord. After the merger many activities were concentrated in neighbouring Schiedam, home of Dutch jenever distilling. In the early 1930s W-F acquired a licence to produce Bofors guns. Because this shipyard was one of the few arms manufacturers in the early 30’s the Dutch minister of colonies ordered two 6 wheel armoured cars to be built on the Krupp 22H143 chassis.
This vehicle would be known as the Wilton-Fijenoord Overvalswagen
It was an advanced concept for its time, with 3 to 10mm thick steel plates, excellent ballistic angles and a 360º rotating turret. It was also armed with three machine guns, one in the turret, one in the rear and the other in front, with several hatches for observation. It also had an electric fan for gas extraction after shooting. To avoid people from climbing this armoured car, they gave the hull the ability to release a electric discharge upon contact. Fun thing to note: The headlight on the front of the vehicle could be retracted back into the armor.
I managed to get some technical details from a few documents as well:
Weight: 4.500 Kg
Engine: 4 cylinders, 60 HP gasoline.
Maximum speed: 70Km/h
Fuel capacity in the reservoir: 65 liters
Crew: 3 to 4 men.
Unfortunately no confirmation on the type of machine guns used, the most likely candidate is the 7.92mm Lewis machine gun, as it was the main machine gun for all Dutch armoured cars. Now, let’s continue the story of these 3 vehicles.
Two of the three produced vehicles were sent to the East Indies in 1934. After entering service, they showed some deficiencies: they were too heavy for the roads there and the motor heating was excessive, forcing the use of aircraft gasoline instead of the common gasoline. Only half a year after being sent to the East Indies they were retired from service and returned to the company that build them. In February 1935 two vehicles were sold to the Brazilian government and in 1936 were incorporated to The Special Police of São Paulo, with important modifications. The three machine guns were replaced by a device to shoot lachrymatory gas or flames(yes, the source said flames) at the demonstrators. Unfortunately there are no sources indicating what happened to these two vehicles after being sold to Brazil.
This is however not the end of the Wilton-Fijenoord overvalswagen. Remember me saying that 3 were build? Well, the third vehicle was kept in the W-F factory until 1938. In 1938 it was sold to the Dutch Army, finding its way into service like its two brothers. However, unlike its brothers this one DID serve on Dutch soil. On June 1st the Dutch army found a place for it in the Artillery Mobile Body. The vehicle served with the Dutch army until the 15th of May 1940, the day of Dutch surrender. After the Dutch surrender, this vehicle was one of the many that were captured. There is one thing that makes this vehicle pretty special. In 1944 when the German troops started to be withdrawn from Holland, this vehicle that had already been incorporated to the German army was taken to Germany, among others. In 1945 it was used in the defense of Berlin. The vehicle was eventually destroyed defending the Reich Chancellery internal patio, where it ended its service in a hopeless defense.
So, this was the story of the Wilton-Fijenoord overvalswagen, an armoured car forgotten by time.