Kronenburg Home

Kronenburg Fire Jeeps
in the Netherlands

by Jan Hogendoorn and Derek Redmond
 

The Kronenburg Brothers' Brandspuiten Fabriek ("fire apparatus factory") was first established by the Kronenburg family in 1823 in Culemborg, in central Netherlands, as a workshop for the production of bronze nozzles and pumps. In the early 20th century they began building complete fire engines on Ford and Chevrolet chassis. (1)

War surplus conversions

During World War II, the Nazis turned the Culemborg plant into a vehicle repair facility. In anticipation of the Allied invasion, they had the entire contents of the workshops taken away in three ships for safekeeping. The ships were recovered after the liberation, allowing Kronenburg to get back into production rapidly. (1)

One of their first projects was the modification of war surplus Willys MBs and Ford GPWs for the fire service. By 1948, Dutch fire brigades had over 50 surplus jeeps in use. Most were from the Canadian Demob Vehicle Park (190K JPEG) at Deelen airfield near Arnhem, where some 30,000 vehicles were stored and sold to the Dutch government in 1946. (2)
 

Grootebroek On many of the jeeps, Kronenburg Brothers built a rack for ladder transport. Often a trailer was supplied for hoses and other equipment, as seen in this photo from Grootebroek in North Holland.

Typically the jeeps and trailers did not have water tanks, as the Ministry of the Interior recommended the small vehicles be used only in municipalities with good water supply or availability of open water. (3)

Photo from the collection of Jan Hogendoorn.
 

Watergang The village of Watergang, north of Amsterdam, bought a Willys-Kronenburg in 1952 as a tractor for their trailer with gas-powered pump, hose and other equipment. Prior to this the trailer had been moved with manpower.

Photo courtesy Oudheidkundige Vereniging Landsmeer.
 

Oisterwijk The surplus jeeps were mainly deployed in areas with heath and forest. The Willys MB with registration number PJ-83-63 was used in the municipality of Oisterwijk in the south of the country, which includes two large nature reserves. The overhead storage was used to carry a large number of fire brooms for fighting grass fires.

Photo by Johan Pots.
 

Strand This jeep had a bronze 1500 liter/min. pump installed by Kronenburg in 1947, and was bought in 1950 by the community of Strand in the town of Jørpeland, Norway, where it was given a hardtop and used until 1977. It was later restored by a club in Stavanger. Photo by Jan Scheele.

See also a front view photo (130K JPEG) which makes the Kronenburg pump look huge on the little jeep.
 

Kronenburg Type 30 (1947)

Kronenburg Type 30
Kronenburg built their first all-new Jeep fire engine soon after Willys distributor H.C.L. Sieberg in Amsterdam began importing CJ-2A Universal Jeeps in late 1946.

Like the "factory" fire engines produced for Willys in the U.S., the Kronenburg conversion had a front-mounted centrifugal pump and an overhead rack for suction hose and a ladder. However, they had a rear bed extension rather than a water tank with storage area above, as usually installed in the U.S.
 

Kronenburg Type 30 The Kronenburg Type 30 is immediately notable for its overall length of approximately 162 inches (412 cm), including a 27" (68 cm) front pump platform, and a 20" (50 cm) rear bed extension.

The overhead rack is further back than the U.S. configuration, with its front support at the cowl rather than at the grille.
 

Sieberg ad Willys distributor H.C.L. Sieberg advertised the Brandweer Jeep conversion with no mention of the Willys name, which was not yet well known in Europe. There was only a small mention of Kronenburg, although the Kronenburg logo is visible on the windshield.

The ad is very optimistic: "The enemy of the red rooster -- the fire brigade Jeep has risen!" (Roode Haan or "red rooster" is a common Dutch term for fire.)

The first Type 30 unit was tested at Amersfoort, southeast of Amsterdam, in August 1947, and purchased the following year. However, Sieberg only sold an estimated total of ten of these CJ-2As, to customers who sent them to Kronenburg's plant in Culemborg for the conversion.
 

Willys Export ad Although Sieberg and Kronenburg were collaborating on made-in-Holland Brandweer Jeeps, Willys-Overland Export also saw an international market for the newly-standardized Jeep Fire Engine from Willys in the USA. They placed this high-profile (and probably expensive) ad inside the front cover of Time magazine's European edition on 1 September 1947.

The artist was clearly portraying a European fire brigade, and note that a rooster is also shown running away!
 

More CJ-2A variations

RAI, Amsterdam 1948 Kronenburg did a single CJ-2A conversion with a rear-mounted pump and rear body extension, exhibited in 1948 during the RAI car exhibition in Amsterdam. Due to the unfavorable distribution of weight, this was not a success, and it remained unsold. Photo courtesy Nationaal Archief.
 

Woudenberg Kronenburg brothers converted a Willys CJ-2A for the municipality of Woudenberg (province of Utrecht) and supplied a trailer with hose reels and a pump.

A remarkable water cannon was mounted on the front of the Jeep, although it does not seem likely the town had any structures large enough to require the use of this type of deluge gun, other than possibly the Pyramid of Austerlitz, erected by Napoleon's soldiers in 1804!

Photo by Johan Pots.
 

CJ-3A fire engines

Kronenburg
By 1950, Kronenburg Brothers needed more space, and built a new facility in Hedel. An early project at the new plant was the modification of Willys CJ-3As for the fire service. As with their CJ-2A Type 30, the Kronenburg approach was to add a rear bed extension for hose storage, rather than building a superstructure over the cargo bed, as was the case with most Jeep Fire Engines in North America.
 

Kronenburg The front pump platforms on the CJ-3As are typically even longer than the Type 30, projecting approximately 36 inches (90 cm) out from the radiator guard.

This 1950 CJ-3A was originally sold to Nibbixwoud in North Holland, and later restored by J.P. Luken in nearby Zwaagdijk. It's seen here at a 2013 car show in Venhuizen. The Kronenburg builder's plate is visible on the windshield frame. Photo by Skitmeister on Flickr.
 

Delft In 1950 the municipality of Delft, between The Hague and Rotterdam, purchased this Willys-Kronenburg CJ-3A and used it for many years. The Jeep proved especially useful because it could drive through a railway tunnel inaccessible to larger fire trucks.
 

Delft, rear The tall bed extension on the rear of the Jeep at Delft provided a significant amount of storage for hose and other equipment. Photos courtesy Gemeente Delft.
 

1949 Kronenburg This example is evidence that not all the Kronenburg Jeeps were lengthened. This 1949 CJ-3A saw service in Vriezenveen, near the German border in the province of Overijssel. It is estimated that only about ten Kronenburg 3As were sold to the Dutch civilian market.

Photo from the archive of the Vereniging van Belangstellenden in het Brandweerwezen ("Firefighting Interest Association") on their website Brandweer.org.
 

Culemborg factory An important part of Kronenburg's production was destined for export. The orders came from all continents. The three CJ-3As in this photo are ready to be transported from the factory in Hedel to Rotterdam Harbor for shipping to Cairo. Photo © Theo Kronenburg.
 

Jan Balk photo The CJ-3A belonging to Jaap Luken always attracts a lot of interest at car shows. The Jeep was purchased in 1950 and until 1970 served with the municipality of Nibbixwoud. Then the Jeep came into the hands of Jaap Luken who converted it for spraying, for his garden business. In 1980 he decided to return the vehicle to its original state, and completed the restoration in 5 years.

Next to the right front fender are metal tags (170K JPEG) applied by importer H.C.L. Sieberg and the garage that delivered the Willys.

Photos by Jan Balk.
 

Dutch Air Force

KLu CJ-3As In the early 1950s, Kronenburg was given the assignment by the Air Force to convert 30 CJ-3As into fire trucks. The Jeeps were provided by the Air Force and equipped with heavier front and rear springs to increase the carrying capacity to 2,000 kg.

They had six seats, the front of which were foldable for access to the rear seats. Under the seats and at the rear, storage areas were made for the equipment and fire hoses. The order was executed in 1953-54, and the Jeeps are seen here at the factory in Hedel. Photo © Theo Kronenburg.
 

KLu CJ-3As A two-speed centrifugal pump was installed on the bumper, with a capacity of 1,500 liters (400 gal.) per minute and a manometric head of 80 meters (110 pounds/sq.in.)

Until 1953 the Air Force was not yet an independent part of the Dutch armed forces, so the Jeeps were at first assigned to the Royal Netherlands Army. The license plates thus read "LSK" indicating Lucht-Strijd-Krachten (Air Forces branch of the Army) rather than the later "LM" (LuchtMacht). Photo © Theo Kronenburg.
 

A. Kriek photo A photo by Adriaan Kriek shows a Koninklijke Luchtmacht ("KLu") CJ-3A now owned by the museum of the Artillery Training Center in Oldebroek. This one has a trailer to allow it to lay a long run of large-diameter hose, and somebody apparently decided it also needed a few more feet of hard suction. Photo courtesy Historical Fire Engines Europe.
 

LM-13-95 Fire engines designed to pump water were clearly not intended primarily as airfield crash trucks, but the Air Force did have them equipped with large carbon dioxide extinguishers. Photo from the collection of Jan Hogendoorn.

(In January 1953, the KLu also ordered 27 CJ-3A chemical and CO2-equipped crash Jeeps from P.J. Pennock & Sons in The Hague. See Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps coming in January 2019 on CJ3B.info.)
 

Air Force The fire brigade at the KLu Technical and Equipment Service Depot at Jessurunkamp in Soestduinen is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie. A Kronenburg CJ-3A is parked betwen a pump trailer and a NEKAF M38A1.
 

Other Models

Pump This impressive pump was installed by the Kronenburg brothers on the front bumper of a converted Willys-Overland panel truck. Photo from the collection of Jan Hogendoorn.
 

Schiphol Airport This conversion was done for the Police and Fire Brigade at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. See it in action in Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps on CJ3B.info.
 

Drawing In 1972, the aircraft manufacturer NV Fokker placed an order with Kronenburg Brothers for a pump-equipped AMC Jeep, model DJ-5.
 

Jan Korte photo Painted yellow, the DJ-5 pumper is seen here with a rear superstructure added, and a rack for about 16 feet of suction hose. The Jeep is pulling a trailer with what appears to be a pressurized dry chemical tank. The pump is in full operation, possibly for an exercise. In the background is a DAF Pony tanker/sprayer.

Photo © Jan Korte.
 

Thanks to Jan Hogendoorn for his research. -- Derek Redmond

See also some Dutch-Built CJ-3B Fire Engines.

Footnotes

  1. Kronenburg: een magische naam in de brandweerwereld, an illustrated history in Dutch of Kronenburg Brothers, by Peter Snellen. In 2000, the company unexpectedly went bankrupt despite a large volume of orders, and is now reorganized as Kronenburg BV.
  2. Peace Dividend: The War Assets Corporation and the Disposal of Canada's Munitions and Supplies, 1943-1948 by Alex Souchen, University of Western Ontario, 2016.
  3. Rapport: Jeep-AutoSpuit ("Report: Jeep Fire Engine"), Ministry of the Interior, Head of the Technical and Inspection Service, 15 April 1948. This report included an extensive assessment of the specifications of a "jeep" which was not identified specifically, but with a 1250-1500 liters/min. pump.
    The introduction states: "During the research into the efficiency of the jeep fire engine, it was determined which fire brigade technical requirements the jeep can meet in view of its technical qualities."
    The conclusion reads: "The jeep fire engine is:
    1. not considered suitable as the only fire fighting vehicle in municipalities with poor fire extinguishing water;
    2. considered acceptable as the only firefighting vehicle in municipalities with a good extinguishing water supply, provided that rapid assistance from adjacent municipalities can be assured;
    3. considered to be an additional response engine, possibly as the first turnout vehicle, in those municipalities where other rapidly deployable equipment is also available."


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Last updated 22 December 2018 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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