Tank destroyers in
As stated before, the Dutch forces in the East and West Indies operated many unique vehicle
types. Often the Netherlands Purchasing Commission was forced to acquire vehicles (as well as
other military equipment) that was by no means standard allied material. Sometimes they bought
off the shelves prototypes or equipment rejected by the US armed forces. A brilliant example is the
purchase of the Ford 4x4 "Swamp Buggy" and the T8 Gun Motor Carriage on the same chassis.
The only armed forces in the world ever to use this unique vehicle were the Dutch in Surinam.
A nice Ford factory picture from 1941 showing several Ford
4x4 products, among which from left to right an armoured
observation vehicle (prototype), a CAJ light truck, a 1 1/2 ton
"Swamp Buggy" and a GP jeep. Both the Ford GP and Swamp
Buggy would end up in Dutch service that same year. The
jeeps have been dealt with in the Jeeps chapter, the Swamp
Buggy will follow below (picture from Wheels and Tracks
Magazine). The Dutch obtained permission from US authorities
in July 1941 to order a Swamp Buggy.
This picture is shown in Crismon's US wheeled vehicles book and
shows the Swamp Buggy during trials in Fort Holabird, Maryland. The
combination of short wheelbase, large tyres, high ground clearance,
four wheel drive and low gearing was thought to result in a very
versatile vehicle. Note engine in the rear to the right, with one
passenger seat facing backwards, one in front and the driver left of
centre. It could do 60 miles per hour. Nevertheless it was rejected by
the US military. Note that although the name Swamp Buggy might
suggest otherwise, the vehicle on the picture needed all help from its
crew to find its way out of the mud.
Ford decided to participate in the bid for the US Army's new mobile
37mm AT gun and designed the T8 Gun Motor Carriage by installing a
M3 37mm AT gun on the Swamp Buggy. This early version was
pictured on Aberdeen Proving Ground in May 1941. Note the gun
position in the front, the gunner to the right, driver still left of centre
and the loader facing backwards while on the move. Some early
prototypes were fitted with large collapsable shields.
The final prototype came out in August 1941. The rear facing
passenger can face forward now. A large ammo box has been
fitted now between the wheels. This was offered as the final
production model, but rejected in lieu of the well known Dodge
based M6 GMC. The T8 was able to drive readily through bush
and traveled over rough terrain fairly well. It had the advantage of
a low silhouette, but its visibility was hampered by the position of
the gun and the crew.
Another, front view of the production model of the T8 GMC. The
37mm gun is not fitted. Fording ability was less than the Dodge:
when the fan of the Ford's engine struck water it would kill the
engine, a handicap for a vehicle called a Swamp Buggy. Trials
proved firing accuracy was good and provision was made to have
360 degree traverse for the gun. In all, the T8 was considered
"satisfactory". Of the 15 production vehicles made, 4 were sent to
Canada and a further two to England. What happened to the other
9 in unclear, although some would show up in Suriname.
The T8 mounted the standard M3 US 37mm
Anti-tank gun. This picture shows the mount
between the front wheels of the vehicle. The gun
would be separated at the trail axle to mount it on
the Swamp Buggy. If the Surinam vehicles came
with the M3 gun is not known. If so, the Dutch
forces in that country would thus be obliged to use
three different types of 37mm guns: the American
Armament guns fitted in the Marmon-Herrington
tanks, the National Forge and Ordnance anti-tank
guns and the T8's M3 guns.
And here it is: a unique picture (kindly provided by
Hans Heesakkers) of a T8 Tankdestroyer in Surinam.
The picture may have been taken after WW2.
We do not know how many Ford "tankjagers", as they
were sometimes referred to, were actually available to
the Dutch. In one of the plans for an Expeditionary
Force from Surinam to the Netherlands East Indies, the
formation of two platoons is mentioned.