The Strv m/39 was quite similar to m/38 but with a modified gun shield with two MG, a different steering system and extra armour.
Swedish m/39 tank
In October 1939, a month after the outbreak of World War II, the head of the Swedish Army petitioned for finance to buy a further 104 tanks. At that time they only had 16 Strv m/38 tanks armed with 37mm Bofors guns and 46 light tanks armed only with two machine guns. If an enemy army decided to attack Sweden the country was not prepared to repel that attack. Despite the obvious danger the government only granted enough funding to purchase a further 20 tanks.
It seemed like madness to the army but the political view was that if Sweden did not appear a threat then they would not be attacked and the country's neutrality policy would protect them. This funding was officially granted on 28th November 1939 just a few days before the Soviet Union attacked Finland.
The Army wanted improvements added to the new batch of tanks. Additional armour protection was the most important as larger guns were now being fitted into foreign tanks. Landsverk were authorised to build the new tanks but discovered that the extra weight fitted to the m/38 L-60-S tank was too heavy. They carried out some modifications and designed a new tank chassis that was capable of carrying the additional weight of the armour. They called this version of their tank inside the factory the L-60-S-II.
It looked very similar to the Strv m/38 tank except the front of the turret. The gun mantle was widened to enable an additional machine gun to be fitted. Inside the tank the m/38 steering wheel was replaced with two levers. The driving and parking brake no had separate levers rather than being operated from the same combined control. The hydraulic gearbox was relocated to the right side of the lower front armour in an effort to keep it cooler and away from the hot engine.
Because of a delay at the Swedish company Bofors, who was having problems manufacturing the twenty 37 mm guns by the agreed target date, the tanks were not delivered until the spring of 1941. The Swedish Army named this new version of the Landsverk L-60 tank the Stridsvagn m/39. The tank could be fitted with extra armoured plates on the front to increase the armour thickness from 15 to 50 mm. Instructions were given to the tank crews not to fit them during exercise so as not to over stress the tank. They were only to be fitted when there was a possibility of combat.
The new Strv m/39 tanks were sent to the P4 Regiment at Skövde, the P2 Regiment at Helsingborg and the P3 Regiment in Strängnäs. On the 1st October 1942 the Regiments were renamed P4 and P3. Stridsvagn m/39 tanks remained in service with the Swedish Army until 1957.
What are the differences between the Strv m/38 and Strv m/39?
Both tanks had the same 37mm Swedish Bofars m/38 gun but the m/39 was given an additional turret mounted 8mm m/26 Machine gun. The dimensions of both tanks were the same but the m/39 now weighed 9,360 tons with the additional 50mm armour added. The m/38 only weighed 8,525 tons. Only 16 m/38 tanks were made between 1938-39. A total of 20 m/39 tanks were made in 1940-41.
Where can I find preserved Stridsvagn m/39tanks?
- Arsenalen, Sweden