Military equipment of Sweden during World War II

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Sweden was formally a non-belligerent nation throughout World War II, but saw considerable military build-up as the level of threat from the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany increased. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Swedes fought as volunteers abroad, a majority of them in service of Finland during the Winter War.

Army[edit]

Small arms[edit]

In the early stages of the war, Sweden relied on a numerous army through conscription and the use of a Total Defence policy. In 1945, the Swedish army had been modernized from the use of World War I weapons to semi-automatic rifles and high-tech firearms such as the Carl Gustav. The infantry had also been equipped with a great deal of rocket launchers for anti-tank warfare, and the availability of artillery had increased drastically with the World War II build-up. Throughout World War II, Sweden held the largest infantry army of the Nordic countries with more than 1,000,000 soldiers.

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
Pistol m/40  Finland/ Sweden Semi-automatic pistol Pistol m/40
Pistol m/40B
100,000 1940-1990s License-built Lahti L-35, manufactured by Husqvarna
Kpist m/37  Finland/ Sweden Submachine gun Kpist m/37 35,000 1939-1980s -
Kpist m/45  Sweden Submachine gun M/45
M/45B
M/45C
M/45BE
M/45BET
M/45S
300,000 1945–2007 Standard version
Minor improvements
Comes equipped with a bayonet mount
Selective-fire version, used by police
Comes equipped with a tear gas launcher
Uses a 50-round coffin magazine
M39  Germany/ Sweden Submachine gun M39 Unknown 1940s-???? -
MP 18  German Empire Submachine gun MP 18 Unknown 1920s-???? -
Gevär m/96  Sweden Bolt-action rifle M/1894
M/1896
M/1938
M/1941
M/1941B
127,000
535,000
88,000
5,300
5,300
1895-1980s -
Karbin M40  Germany/ Sweden Bolt-action rifle Kar 98k 5,000 1939-1970s -
Ag m/42  Sweden Semi-automatic rifle Ag m/42 30,000 1942-1960s -
Kg m/37  United States/ Sweden Light machine gun KG m/40 Unknown 1937–1980 -
Kg m/40  Sweden Light machine gun KG m/40 5,000 1940-???? -
Kulspruta m/41  Sweden Medium machine gun Kulspruta m/41 Unknown 1910s-1940s -
Kulspruta m/42  United States/ Sweden Medium machine gun Kulspruta m/42 Unknown 1942–present License-built, heavily modified M1919
Raketgevär 46  United States/ Sweden Recoilless anti-tank weapon Raketgevär 46 Unknown 1940s-1960s License-built M1 Bazooka

Armoured fighting vehicles[edit]

At the beginning of World War II, Sweden had a very low number of motorized vehicles, instead relying horses for transportation. When the war broke out in 1939, Sweden had one armoured division consisting of merely 13 light tanks, only 3 of which were considered to be modern (the remaining 10 had been in service since the 1920s). In 1945, the number of tanks serving the Swedish army had increased from 13 to more than 800.

Number of tanks pre-war: 14

Number of tanks in 1939: 29

Number of tanks in 1940: 38

Number of tanks in 1941: 135

Number of tanks in 1942: 373

Number of tanks in 1943: 544

Number of tanks in 1944: 795

Number of tanks in 1945: 795+

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
Pbil m/39  Sweden Armoured car Pbil m/39
Pbil m/40
15
30
1939-1956
1939-1960s
Standard version
Powered by a Volvo engine
Pbil m/41  Sweden Armoured car L-180
L-181
L-182
5
0 (18)
0 (1)
1933–1980 More than 50 produced, most of them sold to other countries before and during the war.
KP-bil  Sweden Armoured personnel carrier SKP
VKP
262
100
1944–2004 Manufactured by Scania-Vabis
Manufactured by Volvo
Strv m/37  Czechoslovakia/ Sweden Tankette Strv m/37 48 1938–1953 License-built version of the AH-IV
Landsverk L-120  Sweden Light tank L-120 1 1937–1940 Prototype in active service but never mass-produced
Strv m/21-29  Sweden Light tank M/21
M/21-29
5
5
????-1939 Standard version
Enhanced engine and armour
Strv m/31  Sweden Light tank Strv m/31 3 1935–1940 Dug in as static bunkers for the Skåne Line
Strv L-60  Sweden Light tank Strv m/38
Strv m/39
Strv m/40
Strv m/40L
Strv m/40K
15
20
?
100
80
1939-????
1940-????
????-????
1941-????
1944-????
-
Strv m/41  Czechoslovakia/ Sweden Medium tank Strv m/41 238 1942-1950s License-built, slightly upgraded version of the Panzer 38(t)
Strv m/42  Sweden Medium tank Lago I (Strv m/42)
Lago II (Strv m/42 TM)
Lago III (Strv m/42 TH)
Lago IV (Strv m/42 EH)
342 total 1943-????
1943-????
1944-????
1944-????
Standard version
Two engines and electromagnetic gearbox
Two engines and two hydraulic gearboxes
One engine and a hydraulic gearbox

Artillery[edit]

Sweden's artillery corps was made to specialize in mobility and warfare in the Swedish homeland terrain, which mostly consisted of thick forests and small, remote towns. Anti-aircraft warfare was considered important even before the war began, due to Sweden's small aircraft capacity in the 1930s. The Bofors 40 mm, a Swedish auto cannon, was exported to most warring countries in thousands of examples, making it the most common anti-aircraft weapon of the war.

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
Bofors 37 mm  Sweden Light anti-tank gun Bofors 37 mm Unknown 1935-???? -
Bofors 20 mm  Sweden Anti-aircraft auto cannon Bofors 20 mm 2,592[1] 1940-???? -
Bofors 40 mm  Sweden Anti-aircraft auto cannon L/60
L/70
924[2] 1934–present Standard version
Greatly improved version for combat against jet aircraft
Bofors 75 mm Model 1929  Sweden Anti-aircraft gun 7.5 cm m/30
8 cm m/29
350[2] 1930–present Another 8 bought by Finland, 36 by the Netherlands and dozens by Hungary
Bofors 75 mm Model 1934  Sweden Mountain gun Bofors 75 mm 74[1] 1934-???? -
10.5 cm kanon modell 1927  Sweden Heavy field gun Model 1927 4 in the coastal artillery, many more in the army 1927–1945 -
Kanon m/34  Sweden Heavy field gun M/34 68 1942-???? -
Bofors 12 cm M. 14  Sweden Towed howitzer M.14 Unknown ????-???? -
Haubits m/40  Sweden Towed howitzer M/40 400 total 1940-???? -
Sav m/43  Sweden Self-propelled artillery M/43 36 1943–1973 -
L-62  Sweden Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun L-62 Anti
L-62 Anti II
136
6
1938-????
1942-????
Most in Hungarian service
All served the Swedish corps in the Winter War

In addition to these weapons, Sweden also possessed 9 unspecified heavy anti-aircraft guns with a caliber of 105 mm.[2]

Navy[edit]

The Swedish government saw a strong naval defense against a possible Soviet invasion as a high priority during World War II, and like with the rest of Sweden's military the Royal Navy lived through an enormous enhancement, ending up as the second-strongest naval power of the Baltic Sea after the Soviet Union.

Major surface combatants[edit]

Class Origin Type Names Quantity In service Notes
Gotland class  Sweden Seaplane cruiser HSwMS Gotland 1 1933-1963 The Swedish response to an aircraft carrier, able to carry 8 Hawker Osprey
Tre Kronor class  Sweden Cruiser HSwMS Göta Lejon
HSwMS Tre Kronor
2 1944-1984 The Göta Lejon was launched on 17 November 1945, 94 days after the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II
Fylgia class  Sweden Armoured cruiser HSwMS Fylgia 1 1905-1957 The HSwMS Fylgia is the smallest armoured cruiser ever to be launched
Clas Fleming class  Sweden Mine cruiser HSwMS Clas Fleming 1 1912-1960 -
Dristigheten class  Sweden Coastal defence ship HSwMS Dristigheten 1 1900-1947 -
Sverige class  Sweden Coastal defence ship HSwMS Drottning Victoria
HSwMS Gustav V
HSwMS Sverige
3 1915-1957 -

Destroyers[edit]

Number of destroyers pre-war: 13

Number of destroyers in 1939: 14

Number of destroyers in 1940: 19

Number of destroyers in 1941: 20

Number of destroyers in 1942: 23

Number of destroyers in 1943: 27

Number of destroyers in 1944: 28

Number of destroyers in 1945: 28

Class Origin Type Names Quantity In service Notes
Göteborg class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Göteborg
HSwMS Stockholm
HSwMS Malmö
HSwMS Karlskrona
HSwMS Norrköping
HSwMS Gävle
6 1935-1962
1936-1965
1938-1970
1939-1979
1940-1965
1941-1968
After World War II, all ships were rebuilt as frigates
Romulus class Kingdom of Italy Italy/ Sweden Destroyer/torpedo boat HSwMS Romulus
HSwMS Remus
2 1940-1958 Originally torpedo boats, rebuilt as destroyers for patrolling the Baltic Sea
Psilander class Kingdom of Italy Italy/ Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Psilander
HSwMS Puke
2 1940-1947 -
Vidar class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Wale
HSwMS Ragnar
HSwMS Sigurd
HSwMS Vidar
HSwMS Wale
4 1909-1947
1909-1947
1910-1947
1908-1940
-
Wrangel class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Wachtmeister
HSwMS Wrangel
2 1917-1947 -
Ehrensköld class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Ehrensköld
HSwMS Nordenskjöld
2 1926-1963 -
Klas class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Klas Horn
HSwMS Klas Uggla
2 1932-1958
1932-1942
-
Mode class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Magne
HSwMS Mjölner
HSwMS Mode
HSwMS Munin
4 1942-1966
1942-1966
1942-1970
1943-1968
-
Visby class  Sweden Destroyer HSwMS Hälsingborg
HSwMS Kalmar
HSwMS Sundsvall
HSwMS Visby
4 1943-1978
1944-1978
1943-1982
1943-1982
-

Air force[edit]

Sweden's air force at the beginning of World War II was relatively small and lacked modern radar systems, engines, or weaponry. This changed during the build-up in the 1940s, though, eventually providing Sweden with an aircraft storage that was both numerous and of high quality, in preparation for the Cold War.

Fighter aircraft[edit]

Just as the rest of the Swedish Armed Forces, the number of fighter aircraft increased drastically from 98 before the war to almost 600 in 1945. 239 additional aircraft were manufactured immediately after the war.

Number of fighters pre-war: 98

Number of fighters in 1939: 158

Number of fighters in 1940: 290

Number of fighters in 1941: 290

Number of fighters in 1942: 485

Number of fighters in 1943: 485

Number of fighters in 1944: 485

Number of fighters in 1945: 593

Number of fighters post-war: 832

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
J 3 Nazi Germany Germany/ Sweden Biplane fighter aircraft J 3B 7 1930-1945 Another 8 aircraft were in use prior to the war
J 6  Sweden Biplane fighter aircraft J 6
J 6A
J 6B
7
3
7
1929–1941 3 donated to Finland for the Winter War
J 7  United Kingdom/ Sweden Biplane reconnaissance aircraft J 7 11 1930–1940 2 donated to Finland for the Winter War
J 8  United Kingdom/ Sweden Biplane reconnaissance aircraft J 8
J 8A
37
18
1937-1942
1938-1945
Some used in Finland
J 9  United States/ Sweden Fighter aircraft J 9 60 1940–1951 Sweden's first monoplane aircraft
J 11 Kingdom of Italy Italy/ Sweden Biplane fighter aircraft J 11 72 1940–1946 -
J 12 Kingdom of Italy Italy/ Sweden Fighter aircraft J 12 60 1939–1945 -
J 21  Sweden Fighter and attack aircraft J 21A-1 54 1945–1949 Another 128 aircraft were built immediately after the war
J 22  Sweden Fighter aircraft J 22A
J 22B
143
55
1942–1952 Numbers may not be correct for the World War II era; some may have been built in 1946
J 26  United States Fighter aircraft P-51B
P-51D
2
52
1945–1954 Originally P-51 Mustang, another 111 aircraft purchased immediately after the war

Bomber aircraft[edit]

During World War II the Swedish government maintained a neutral (alternatively, defensive) stance and thus saw no priority in adding offensive aircraft to the air force. Despite this, a fairly large number of bombers and ground-attack aircraft served in the Swedish air force during World War II and after, possibly for intimidation purposes - in fact, after 1940, Sweden had more bombers than fighter aircraft. These offensive aircraft may have been meant to attack Soviet naval bases in the Baltic Sea, and some of the later designs could even reach Moscow with full payload.

Number of bombers pre-war: 88

Number of bombers in 1939: 116

Number of bombers in 1940: 276

Number of bombers in 1941: 346

Number of bombers in 1942: 534

Number of bombers in 1943: 743

Number of bombers in 1944: 775

Number of bombers in 1945: 879

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
B 3 Nazi Germany Germany/ Sweden Bomber aircraft B 3
B 3A
B 3B
B 3C
B 3D
3
35
2
16
16
1936-1948
1937-1958
1937-1958
1939-1944
1941-1958
72 total
B 4  United Kingdom/ Sweden Biplane bomber B 4
B 4A
3
42
1937–1947 5 used in the Winter War
B 5  United States/ Sweden Ground attack aircraft B 5A
B 5B
B 5C
1
64
38
1938-1942
1940-1950
1941-1950
103 total
B 6  United States/ Sweden Ground attack aircraft B 6 2 1940-1953 More were ordered but never entered service
S 16 Kingdom of Italy Italy/ Sweden Light bomber
Reconnaissance aircraft
Reconnaissance aircraft
Torpedo bomber
Light transport
B 16A
S 16A
S 16B
T 16A
Tp 16A
30
66
14
14
2
1940-1943
1940-1945
1942-1945
1941-1942
1941-1946
126 total
Saab 17  Sweden Bomber and reconnaissance aircraft B 17
B 17B
B 17C
S 17BL
S 17BS
132
54
77
64
56
1943-1948
1942-1945
1943-1947
1942-1949
1942-1949
383 total
Saab 18  Sweden Bomber and reconnaissance aircraft B 18A
B 18B
62
120
1944-1947
1945-1958
-
T 1 Nazi Germany Germany/ Sweden Torpedo bomber T 1 2 1928–1939 -
T 2 Nazi Germany Germany/ Sweden Torpedo bomber seaplane T 2 12 1939–1948 -

Auxiliary aircraft[edit]

Name Origin Type Versions Quantity In service Notes
Trp 1 Nazi Germany Germany Small passenger transport aircraft Trp 1 3 1928-1946 The world's first all-metal transport aircraft
Trp 2 Nazi Germany Germany Passenger and transport aircraft Trp 2
Trp 2A
0
2
1933-1945 One Trp 2 was in use until 1935
Trp 3  United Kingdom Light transport aircraft Trp 3 1 1936-1942 -
Trp 4  United States Trainer and utility aircraft Trp 4 1 1940-1953 -
Tp 5 Nazi Germany Germany Transport aircraft Tp 5 5 1940-1945 -
Tp 6  United States STOL aircraft Tp 6 1 1940-1941 -
Tp 7  United Kingdom Transport and trainer aircraft Tp 7 1 1940-1944 Still preserved in flying condition
Tp 8  United States Biplane transport aircraft Tp 8
Tp 8A
3
1
1940-???? -
Tp 9 Nazi Germany Germany Bomber, reconnaissance and airliner Tp 9 1 1940-???? -
Tp 10 Nazi Germany Germany Airliner Tp 10 1 1942-1944 -
Tp 11  Poland Reconnaissance aircraft Tp 11 1 1939-1951 -
Tp 12  Sweden Reconnaissance aircraft GV 38 6 1941-1945 -

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.smhs.eu/gallery_116.html
  2. ^ a b c Militärhistoria issue 10, 2015

Sources and further reading[edit]

Off-site sources[edit]

Fellow Wikipedia articles used as sources[edit]