Recall that until the mid-thirties, the Norwegian armed forces did not have a single combat vehicle and did not even plan to acquire them. Only in 1936 there was a proposal to build the first tank, with the help of which it was supposed to check the prospects of such a technique. The chassis of a light tank Landsverk L-120 was purchased from Sweden, which was completed at a Norwegian company and transferred to the army. For reasons of economy, the tank received a hull of structural steel and weapons in the form of a single machine gun. Such a machine showed itself not in the best way, and the military refused to purchase new tanks. Opponents of the modernization of the army, who wanted to save on purchases, were pleased with this.
Already after the attack of Hitler Germany on Poland, the Norwegian command realized its previous mistakes. German actions on Polish territory clearly showed the full benefits of armored vehicles of all classes. Taking into account all this, the warlords decided to order the development and construction of their own armored fighting vehicles. The country's limited economic capabilities did not allow us to expect to receive a large fleet of armored vehicles, but the army needed any vehicles capable of increasing defense capability.
The lack of sufficient funding and time reserve did not allow Norway to carry out a full-fledged program for developing promising projects. In addition, the Kingdom of Norway did not have a developed defense industry, which also imposed the most serious restrictions. As a result, it was decided to take as a basis for the promising technology available trucks, previously purchased abroad. From them it was necessary to remove more unnecessary units, after which it was possible to mount armored corps with crew seats and weapons.
It should be noted that this approach has been repeatedly used in the development of armored vehicles in different countries. He allowed to a certain extent to reduce the cost of development and production of finished machines, as well as simplified the operation and supply of spare parts. However, over time, industrially developed states were able to move forward and abandon the use of commercial chassis. Norway only had to go this way, but so far it was necessary to use "outdated" methods.
The first Norwegian armored car received the simplest designation - Panserbil 21 (“Armored Car-21”), reduced to PB 21. The following armored cars were designated in a similar way, but received different numbers.
A commercial three-axle truck by the British company Morris Motors was chosen as the basis for the armored vehicle with the number “21”. Apparently, it was a Morris Commercial CDSW model truck, also used as an artillery tractor. This car could carry cargo weighing up to 2,5 t and had a good cross, which made it a suitable basis for a promising armored car. Like other projects of similar purpose, in the course of reworking the truck should have been deprived of a regular cabin, bonnet and loading platform. In their place it was necessary to install an armored hull of the original design, able to protect both the crew and the main units.
The exact parameters of PB 21 protection are unknown, but, according to the available data, relatively thin armor was used, which is able to protect the crew only from small arms. weapons or fragments of artillery shells. Whether differential booking was used is unknown. The oblique arrangement of some armor plates of the front projection suggests that the authors of the project decided to use the so-called. rational booking angles, which allowed to a certain extent increase the level of protection.
The design of its armored hull, the first Norwegian armored car resembled older machines of its class of foreign design. To protect the engine it was proposed to use a box hood with a sloping front sheet and vertical sides. From above the engine was covered with a cover located at an acute angle to the horizontal. An interesting feature of the front of the case was the shield covering the wheels. In place of the bumper was a rectangular armor plate, significantly extending beyond the projection of the hull. The front wall had a hatch covered by a movable cover. It was intended to supply air to the radiator.
Directly behind the hood there was a front wall of the habitable compartment, which slightly protruded laterally relative to the sides. Above it was an inclined trapezoid sheet with two openings under the hatches. The front of the habitable compartment received a large roof piled forward and beveled side plates with openings under the doors. A large habitable compartment with vertical sides and stern was placed on the place of the cargo area of the base vehicle. The front part had a horizontal roof with a shoulder strap for installing the tower.
The tower differed rather simple design. Its main element was a cylindrical part that served as the forehead, sides and stern. In front of it there was an embrasure for weapons. In the frontal part of the tower, a bevel was provided, over which there was a movable manhole cover.
The base truck chassis of Morris remained unchanged. Its basis was a rectangular frame with nodes for installing all the necessary units. In front of the chassis were hp gasoline engine power 65-70 hp and gearbox. With the help of a cardan shaft and differentials, the torque was given to the two rear wheel pairs, which were the driving ones. The wheels had a suspension based on leaf springs. All six wheels had a lean-to design and were completed with standard "civil" tires. No means of protecting the undercarriage were provided. The front axle was connected to the steering gear.
The layout of the hull made it possible to assign the Panserbil 21 armored car to the category of armored personnel carriers. In front of the habitable compartment were placed driver and gunner. Behind them was the second shooter. Other volumes could be used for the transport of troops, guns or other payloads. To accommodate the soldiers proposed to use a couple of shops, fixed along the sides of the hull.
The PB 21 armored car received a rather interesting airborne armament complex. The “main caliber” of the machine was made by the 7,92-mm machine gun Colt m / 29 - a licensed copy of the American Colt-Browning M1917. This weapon used tape ammunition and was equipped with a large casing, necessary for water cooling of the barrel. The ammunition of the machine gun was transported in ribbons placed in boxes and placed on the shelves of the habitable compartment.
For the machine gun offered two options for placement. Depending on the tasks and the situation on the battlefield, it could be placed in a head-sheet installation and perform the functions of a course one, or be installed in a turret with circular shelling. Permutation of the machine gun was carried out manually, without leaving the protected volume.
In addition to the machine gun, there were three Krag-Jørgensen 6,5 mm caliber rifles on board the armored car. These weapons and ammunition for it were transported in a separate installation, and should be removed only when necessary. Also, the crew and troops could use personal weapons, firing through the inspection hatches or over the sides.
Own crew of an armored car consisted of two people: the driver and the gunner. The driver's seat was in front of the hull at the left side. He had to get into the car through the side door. It was suggested to follow the road with the help of rectangular hatches in the front leaf and the door. In a combat situation, the hatches were covered with movable covers.
To the left of the frontal inspection hatch there was a second smaller opening designed for use by the shooter. Access to the place of the latter was also provided by the side door. The front hatch was completed with machine gun fastening means, using which it became an embrasure for firing. Similar devices were located in the tower.
A large habitable compartment located in the center and aft of the hull could be used as a troop compartment, for which benches were located along its sides. The size of the armored car allowed the infantrymen with weapons to be taken on board the 6-8. They could enter the car through the side and stern doors. The troop compartment did not have any means of observation, although the fighters could inspect the terrain overboard. If necessary, an armored car could take on board a particular load of the corresponding mass. Apparently, after the installation of the armor hull, the truck car chassis retained the ability to carry a payload 500-700 kg.
As a result of the proposed modernization, the army could get a car, in its dimensions, as a whole, corresponding to the existing trucks of the base model. At the same time, the installation of a new armored hull and a cylindrical tower could lead to some increase in size, especially height. The curb weight of the Panserbil 21 armored car, according to various estimates, could reach 4,5-5 t. According to its driving characteristics, the armored car could be similar to the existing production model trucks.
Panserbil 21 at the parade
The construction of a prospective armored car based on its own Norwegian project started at the very end of 1939. In accordance with the proposals of the designers, all the extra units were removed from the serial truck, instead of which they installed their own armored hull. After a short and relatively simple rework, the car was taken out of the assembly shop and handed over to the customer. Having passed the necessary tests, the armored car was sent to one of the combatant units. Almost simultaneously with the PB 21, two other armored vehicles, numbered “22” and “23”, were tested based on other projects.
It is known that during the tests, the first armored car in Norway proved to be far from the best. It quickly became clear that the car has noticeable flaws, and therefore can hardly reach full operation. First of all, problems arose with the power plant and chassis. 70-strong engine is not easily coped with the increased weight of the machine, and also regularly broke down and required repair. It should be noted that in addition to the large curb weight of the machine, the engine was adversely affected by the unsuccessful design of the armor hood, which did not provide the correct radiator cooling.
A regularly breaking engine, with great difficulty developing the required power, did not allow the armored car to show the maximum possible characteristics of mobility. As a result, the road performance on the highway, in general, was satisfactory, but on rough terrain the armored car lost its already not too high mobility.
Other car problems were related to outdated technical appearance. Armored cars based on commercial trucks with machine guns no longer met the current requirements and therefore could not give the desired results. Indeed, the Norwegian machine could move around the battlefield and attack the enemy with rifles and machine guns without fear of return fire. However, the actual fighting qualities, especially against the background of foreign samples of a similar purpose, left much to be desired.
However, having no alternatives, the Norwegian army adopted a new armored vehicle. The Panserbil 21 combat vehicle was transferred to the 1 th dragoon regiment based near Oslo. By this time, in that part, the only Norwegian tank already served - the Rikstanken. It was assumed that in the course of its service the armored vehicle would provide support for the advancing cavalry units. The self-propelled chassis made it possible to move alongside the cavalrymen, and the machine guns made it possible to noticeably increase the firepower of the unit as a whole. Later on, the 1 th dragoon regiment received two more armored cars, after which it could count on a good growth in combat performance.
According to various sources, until April 1940, the PB 21 armored car and other newly built vehicles were used in various exercises, during which interaction between cavalry and armored vehicles was worked out. Despite all the problems of combat vehicles, managed to get satisfactory results. In addition, in practice it was confirmed that the army really needs self-propelled equipment with its own weaponry. According to the results of these maneuvers, a decision could be made to order several new armored vehicles.
On the night of April 9 1940, German troops invaded Norway. Soon after, the 1 th Dragoon Regiment received an order to prepare for advancement to the front. Early in the morning of April 10 the regiment left the location. It is noteworthy that the fighters took only weapons, ammunition, provisions and horses. The only tank that also had no armor, and three armored vehicles for some reason remained in the garage of the unit. A few hours later the abandoned military object was captured by the Germans. The entire fleet of armored vehicles in Norway at one moment became the trophy of the enemy.
The subsequent fate of the first Norwegian armored car Panserbil 21 is reliably unknown. In various sources it is mentioned that the captured armored vehicles attracted the attention of German soldiers, and they began to send home photographs in the “I and the trophy” style. No further information is available on further events around PB 21. At the same time, it is known that at least one of the two armored cars in Norway was accepted by the invaders, returned to service and was actively used as a police vehicle until the development of a resource. The first car probably broke down often and quickly showed itself in the worst way, which was why even lean Germans preferred to send it for scrap.
How, when and where PB 21 PB ended its existence - it remains only to guess. Nevertheless, the fate of all three Norwegian armored vehicles is reliably known. For some time they remained in operation, but over time they were written off and dismantled for metal. These machines were not destined to see the end of World War II and the liberation of Norway.
Until a certain time, the warlords of the Kingdom of Norway, for reasons of economy, did not want to equip the army with any armored vehicles. Understanding the need for such machines came too late - only after the start of the Second World War. In the shortest possible time, new projects were developed, on which, nevertheless, only three armored vehicles with bulletproof armor and machine-gun armament were built. Other equipment with higher characteristics did not have time to appear, and the available samples could not have any impact on the course of the battles.
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