Stridsvagn m/40 in early war "Gallian Blue" scheme and late/post war olive drab camouflage.
The Stridsvagn m/40 was the successor to the Swedish-designed Stridsvagn m/31. Despite the m/31's exceptional (for the time) mobility and great armament, at the outbreak of the Second World War it was considered inferior to the newest German Panzer II Ausf. D and E tanks that had began production, and the Allies considered it to be superior only to the earliest Panzer I and II tanks. The search for a medium tank began in 1936, when Landsverk AB invited Gallia to participate in its next-generation medium tank project called "Lago". The tank was to feature a 57mm gun, and weigh twice as much as the preceding Landsverk L-60 light tank.
Gallia, in typical fashion, dismissed the tank requirements and requested that the new tank feature a rifled 75mm bore (an automatic loading system was considered early on, but discarded as being too advanced and too maintenance intensive), at least 55mm of armour protection, protection against gas attacks, sufficient mobility to cross a 2m trench, wide tracks for flotation superior to competing foreign designs, an off-road speed of 30 kmh, an on-road speed of 50 kmh, two-way radio communications, and a deep wading capability. The 75mm gun was to be mounted in a powered, three-man turret and the commander was to be provided with a independent traversable cupola armed with a 6.5x55mm machine gun and an override capability for allowing the commander to slew the main gun towards a target designated. These specifications were exceptional for the period, comparable to the French Char G1 medium tank, and M4 Sherman.
This piqued the interest of the Swedish Army, which became involved in the project in late 1937. Lack of funding, however, precluded much Swedish development and Gallia promised to purchase at least 60% of the produced vehicles. Proposals were received in 1938 from several contractors: Strv S, Strv M, Strv G. Of these, only a consortium of Sverker Motorfabrik AB (SMAB), Landsverk, and Svenska Aeroplan were able to come close to the requirements, the "Strv S" design.
The first prototypes were delivered to the Gallian and Swedish Armies in late August 1939, and immediate deficiencies were found. Armour protection was slightly less than specified, however this was still proof against the German Pak 36 and Panzer III at typical combat ranges, and was not considered a serious problem. The mobility of the tank was exceptional, the flotation afforded by the wide tracks allowed it to cross many obstacles such as snow and swamps, however the transmission and engine were considered highly unreliable and the engine in particular was underpowered. The three man turret and commander's override provided the Strv 40 with exceptional hunter-killer capability unmatched by all Allied tanks except the American M4 Sherman. The 75mm gun had performance comparable to Franco-American Model 1897, the M2 variant which armed the newest US tank.
Saab had informed the Gallian design team that it would be unable to deliver an engine of sufficient power to meet the demands of the new tank in late 1937, and arrangements were made with the British to begin licenced production of the Rolls-Royce Kestrel, the powerplant of the principal Gallian bomber aircraft: the Hawker Hart. The deal was settled in early 1939 and the factory was constructed over the course of five months, with technicians being sent over to supervise the first 100 engines produced. By September, the factory was fully operational, sufficient to supply the Swedish and Gallian Armies with new engines. Transmissions were sought from Dana Corporation, however the United States government refused on grounds of neutrality.
Gallian designers had suggested that Swedish and Gallian tank units begin delivery of prototype vehicles to operational units, before 1939. These would be improved as new parts became available. This would keep the tank fleets of both nations up-to-date with the latest foreign developments, with minimal familiarisation time required. Both nations agreed that this would be a good course of action, and the first LRIP of 150 vehicles was delivered by the end of 1939, supplying one Swedish tank battalion and two Gallian battalions. The Swedish military had requested approximately 250 vehicles to supply their army, while the Gallian Army was to acquire 800. Between 1939 and 1941, Landsverk and SMA collaborated on a new transmission design, while the prototype vehicles were re-engined with the SMAB-Rolls Royce "Gripen", the licence built copy of the Kestrel. These improved prototype vehicles were received in March 1940 and showed markedly superior performance. Reliability and speeds were greatly improved, although the new transmission was assuredly still several months away. By mid 1941, the tank was still suffering from reliability issues.was decided to seek a solution from abroad. Spicer Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Dana, was approached.
This time, the Gallian and Swedish governments requested a new transmission design to be built in Gallia, with American input from automotive corporations. The US government initially rejected the offer, again on the grounds of neutrality. Sverker Motorfabrik suggested that the transmission be developed for tractors instead, leading to one American engineer to retort "What tractor weighs twenty six tons?". Despite the thin guise, the US government agreed to export Dana transmissions used on the prototype T6 tank, the next-generation replacement for the Medium Tank, M3. These transmissions were examined by Gallian and Swedish engineers, and adapted for use in the Strv m/40. The m/40-42 was the result, the final of the "reliability" upgrades, and mass production began in March 1942 equipping both Swedish and Gallian armies.
The failed German invasion of Norway marked the first combat use of the Strv 40. The Swedish government initially declared neutrality, however Gallia declared war on Germany in April 1940, and pressured the Swedes to follow suit. On the eve of war, the Swedish military was organised around four infantry divisions, and two infantry regiments, with a tank battalion equipped with 48 Strv m/40 medium tanks, and 30 Landsverk L-60 light tanks equipped with 37mm Bofors cannons. This was bolstered by the arrival on April 2nd of two regiments of Gallian Army infantry, and an L-60 tank battalion of 32 vehicles.
The Swedish Air Force possessed 542 aircraft, composed of approximately 220 bombers, of these approximately 160 were Northrop A-17s and 40 were Douglas A-20 Havocs, the remainder were Junkers/Saab Ju-86s. Fighter aircraft numbered approximately 240, mostly Gloster Gladiators and small number of Republic Aviation EP-1s. The remainder were filled out by torpedo bombers, reconnaissance, and transport/liaison aircraft. The arrival of a Gallian Royal Navy air wing consisting of 60 Hawker Hurricane Mk. Is aboard HMS Skoeld (Shield), the only Gallian carrier in service at the time, made air operations over Southern Norway hazardous for the Luftwaffe.
The Swedish Royal Navy, and ships of the British and Norwegian fleets, bloodied the nose of the Kriegsmarine during the Battle of the Kattegat, sinking the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper
, the killing blow delivered by HMS Rodney of the Royal Navy, during its cross-Baltic hop to Oslo, along with several destroyers and transport ships. Cruiser Deutchsland
was sunk by torpedoes from the submarine HMS Triton. In exchange, HMSwS Sverige was damaged and required six months in dry dock, HMGS Skoeld's air wing lost 12 fighters, and HMSwS Ehrenskoeld, HMSwS Drottning Victoria, HNoMS Gyller, and HNoMS Odin were also sunk, however this precluded landing of one German infantry division (163rd Infantry Division) at Kristiansand. Successful landings by Sickleforce and Rupertforce in Northern Norway cut off the German force in half. Harassment flights by HMGS Skoeld's Hurricane wing kept elements of the 181st Infantry Division from deploying to Trondheim.
Norwegian and Swedish divisions linked up on April 18th in Akershus, and the 1st Infantry Division and its supporting Strv 40 tanks secured Oslo from German landings. German cruiser Blücher
was sunk by a Norwegian fortress, and the landing force was disrupted by harassing fire from Swedish and Gallian artillery units stationed within the city and the Oslofjord.
Despite this, the Germans managed to deliver two divisions to shore in the South, with elements of a further two to follow in the latter of April. Opposing them were three Swedish infantry divisions, one Gallian regiment, one Strv 40 tank battalion, and five Norwegian divisions. Pressure put on the German airborne and mountain troops in Trondheim by the Swedish 2nd Infantry Division and 4th Armored Battalion equipped with L-60 tanks allowed for the successful landing of Mauriceforce, commanded by Major General Carton de Wiart of the British Army.
The first tank battle was rapidly decided in the early hours of April 21st, as the 193rd Infantry Regiment attempted a breakout from Stavanger. Swedish Strv 40 medium tanks met them in combat, supported by a Norwegian infantry regiment. The German Panzer IIs and IIIs, equipped with 37mm and 20mm cannons, found themselves unable to penetrate the frontal armour of the new Allied medium, which rapidly depleted their available armour and punched a hole in German lines. By the end of April 24th, Norwegian infantry had begun pouring into the rear areas of 69th Infantry Division, and Strv m/40 tanks demolished German headquarters and supply depots. By April 30th, the situation near Stavanger had approached critical for the German Army, and Hitler ordered the 69th to retreat towards Bergen. The Allies now had a salient against the German invasion forces, Stavanger Airport had been recaptured from the 69th Infantry and German paratroopers giving the Allies a frontline airhead for bombers and fighters, and the British and Swedish Royal Navies had secured the Baltic from further naval intrusions.
Gallian Strv m/40s made landfall in Harstad, Norway, as part of Rupertforce. There, the 10th Air Corps found itself stretched to the operational limits of their machines, unable to provide sufficient protection for the infantry and armour, and Strv m/40s made short work of the lighter German Panzers wherever they were encountered. By May 1st, the situation in the south was dire, the Germans had been unable to contain the Allied forces and were cut off from each other. Landing forces in Narvik and Trondheim had been all but destroyed, and surrendered en masse. Troops in Oslo were running out of ammunition and supplies, and Norwegian and Swedish troops were taking ground. Major General Pellengahr of the Wehrmacht negotiated a surrender of his forces, cut off from evacuation and resupply, and approximately 30,000 German POWs were taken to be interned in Sweden.
The situation near Bergen was slightly more fortuitous. On Hitler's order, a force led by German cruisers Scharnhorst
, and Emden
managed to lead a convoy of transport ships sufficient to evacuate the surviving elements of the 69th and 214th infantry divisions, leaving most of their anti-tank, artillery, and armoured fighting vehicles behind. Despite this success, cruiser Emden
was sunk by HMS Truant
of the Royal Navy, who had previously sunk the light cruiser Karlsruhe
. On May 10th, the Allies began Operation Alphabet, the evacuation of Franco-British troops from Norway to be returned to France.
In total, the Kriegsmarine suffered a loss of four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, eleven destroyers, nine U-boats, twenty torpedo and patrol boats, and forty three transport ships and auxiliaries. The Luftwaffe suffered a loss of sixty four fighters, eighty three bombers, twenty two dive bombers, one hundred and forty three transports, and thirty seven miscellaneous aircraft for a total of three hundred and forty nine aircraft lost. The Wehrmacht suffered a total loss of three divisions (2nd, 3rd Mountain, 181st Infantry), and elements of 163rd, 69th, and 214th infantry division. The Norwegian Campaign was the single greatest victory of the European allies in the early war, and directly led to the collapse of Nazi Germany in early 1945.
The Stridsvagn m/40 would not see further combat until 1943, with the liberation of France from the Germans and Italians. However, its first victory in Norway against Nazi Germany paved the way for victory in Europe after the Fall of France, and the pivotal role it played in supplying both Sweden and Gallia with modern armour to take on the Nazi war machine.
tl;dr Get fucked, Nazis.