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Military Jeeps in the Netherlands


by Jan Hogendoorn and Derek Redmond

Royal Netherlands Army

During World War II, the Prinses Irene Brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army (in Dutch, Koninklijke Landmacht) obtained a small number of jeeps from the British.

Prins Bernhard In early September 1944 as the Allied advance approached the Dutch border, Prince Bernhard was appointed Commander of Netherlands Forces. On 23 September 1944, Prince Bernhard and some staff officers paid a lightning visit to the headquarters of the Irene Brigade in Eindhoven (photo courtesy of the Nationaal Archief.) His British Airborne jeep was stolen shortly afterwards and replaced by a Ford GPW with which the Prince made almost all his trips through liberated territory.

The First Canadian Army turned over its vehicles to Dutch forces when they withdrew from Europe in 1946.

Indonesia The Dutch Army fighting the Indonesian War of Independence in the period 1945-1949 employed a large fleet of jeeps, including surplus MB/GPWs from a variety of sources, and Universal Jeeps purchased in the U.S.A. This Landmacht CJ-2A was photographed on 19 December 1948 by J. Zijlstra, on the road to Djokjakarta, where the headquarters of the Indonesian Army was located.

See also a 1947 front view of a CJ-2A. Photos courtesy of the Nationaal Archief.

CJ-3A As in the Dutch East Indies, the Universal Jeep was the logical successor to the WWII jeep in the Netherlands. In 1951 the Landmacht purchased 425 CJ-3As with 6-volt electricals through Dutch importer H.C.L. Sieberg. The first 250 units were assembled in Brussels by the Belgian importer Wilford; the source of the next 175 Jeeps is not clear.

On 27 April 1953 a further 217 CJ-3As, with 24-volt electrics installed, were assembled at the Belgian plant Ateliers de la Dyle in Leuven. The order stipulated that the batteries, tires and rims would be of Dutch manufacture.

The 3A seen here is on display at the Marechaussee (Military Police) Museum in Buren. Photo courtesy WarMuseums.nl.

In the time period 1952-55 the Netherlands also received 899 MB/GPWs as Canadian Mutual Aid, and some 3,200 rebuilt American MB/GPWs under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP).

Air Force, Navy, Marines

Marines In a scene very similar to the museum display above, another Military Police CJ-3A and motorcycle pose together, but in this case it's a convoy of Dutch Marines (Korps Mariniers) on Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, circa 1954.

Photo from the collection of J. van der Wiel, courtesy of the Mariniersmuseum Rotterdam on Flickr.

CJ-V35U Surprisingly, the Korps Mariniers also received a shipment of six CJ-V35 Jeeps under MDAP. The CJ-V35 was an underwater-capable version of the CJ-3A, built in a limited edition of only 1000 for the U.S. Navy and Marines. This surviving CJ-V35 is now on display at the Mariniersmuseum in Rotterdam.

(Elsewhere on the web, see CJV-35/Us and the Netherlands Marine Corps at CJ3A.info.)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (in Dutch, Koninklijke Luchtmacht or "KLu") received 38 jeeps from Canadian surplus stocks after World War II, and bought ten Willys CJ-2A Universal Jeeps in 1948. In the early fifties those were supplemented with 187 CJ-3A Universal Jeeps, and 80 surplus MB/GPWs from MDAP. The Jeeps were used for transporting personnel, guard duty, chasing birds off the runways, snow removal and traffic control.

CJ-3A snowblower Of the 21 CJ-3As deployed for snow removal, nine were equipped with a Rolba RJS 11 snowblower. The snow was picked up with a huge rotating cutter and thrown out via a blower. Depending on the set speed, the snow was thrown away with an arc of 12 to 40 meters. The blower was powered by a Ford V8 engine through a drive shaft running through the windshield frame. The chassis was reinforced and the hood was modified with hinges on the right side. This installation came from Switzerland and was imported by Imbeda NV in Haarlem.

CJ-3A crash truck The KLu also had CJ-3As converted as crash trucks, fire engines (see Kronenburg Fire Jeeps) and ambulances (see Royal Netherlands Air Force Jeep Ambulances.)

This photo shows one of 27 CJ-3A crash trucks ordered from Willys importer Sieberg and loaded with methyl bromide extinguisher cylinders. (See more details in Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps on CJ3B.info.)

CJ-3B, 1959 Some 37 CJ-3Bs assembled by Nederlandse Kaiser-Frazer (NEKAF) were sold to the KLu and a few to the Navy. This photo taken on 11 November 1959 shows an Air Force Jeep during an annual 24-hour training exercise for military officers. There were 147 teams in the exercise, including 11 KLu teams. In the photo, team 89 reports at a checkpoint in their CJ-3B. The prefix "LM" on the license plate indicates LuchtMacht or "Air Force."

Ten of the Air Force 3Bs were also converted as ambulances (see Royal Netherlands Air Force Jeep Ambulances.)

Navy 3B Some of the Navy CJ-3Bs were carried on ships for use while in harbor. Others were used in the Netherlands New Guinea and Netherlands Antilles, where this undated photo of a sailor was taken. ISA Sales, based in Curaçao, was at the time the importer of Willys for the Netherlands Antilles, and supplied a small number of Universal Jeeps and Willys Station Wagons to the Dutch Royal Navy.

Dutch Marines Even circa 1963, this unit of Dutch Marines in Curaçao were using CJ-3Bs rather than the NEKAF M38A1 which had by that time become the primary quarter-ton of the Dutch military (see below.)

Photo from the collection of J.W. Eenhoorn, courtesy of the Mariniersmuseum Rotterdam on Flickr.

The Next Jeep

As of 1952 the Dutch government was apparently still happy to rely primarily on used vehicles from MDAP. A May 1952 letter (180K JPEG) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed with a U.S. Department of Defense assessment that the assembly of new military Jeeps in Europe was unnecessary.

Test However, the Army was soon testing the Willys CJ-3B, the Land Rover, the Delahaye VLR, the Fiat Compagnola, and a prototype of the Mighty Mite.

They also tested the DAF YA 054 (right), designed by the Dutch company DAF with the requirements of the Landmacht in mind. But in the end the DAF prototype was not an option because the Defense Production Board (advisor of NATO) didn't approve production. See more on the DAF Light Terrain Vehicle.

Evaluation of the CJ-3B reportedly took place in June 1954. The Army registration number of the test vehicle was 60107, the engine number 4J16592 and the chassis number 16372, so this would have been a 1953 model. It was selected as the first choice for a new 1/4-ton vehicle, and the Army prepared an order for 2,000 CJ-3B Jeeps from NEKAF. But modification to meet NATO standards was time-consuming, and eventually the order was cancelled.


NEKAF 1955The U.S. State Department agreed in 1954 to approve assembly of the new M38A1 in the Netherlands, and that was enough for the Dutch Army to choose it without even holding tests of the already NATO-approved Jeep.

A January 1955 article (120K JPEG) in the Toledo Blade announced the initial sale of 4,000 M38A1s, to be assembled at the Nederlandse Kaiser-Frazer (NEKAF) factory in Rotterdam. The contract was signed on 21 January 1955, and the first of what became known as the "Nekaf Jeeps" was delivered on 28 May 1955, as seen in this photo.

Arnhem 1958

According to the contract, parts for the Dutch M38A1 Jeeps were to come from the US, but eventually some 24 percent of the parts would be delivered by local suppliers. This increased the price of a Nekaf to 12,670 Dutch guilders, which made it a very expensive vehicle at that time.

NEKAF had contracts for over 5000 Jeeps. Initially they delivered about 55 units per week, but this went down to 27 per week by 1957, and stopped in 1959 when the factory was unable to deliver within the time frame stated in the contract.

The new Jeeps are seen here on parade in Arnhem on 30 April 1958. Photo by Wouter Hagens under CC 3.0.

Kemper & van Twist plant Kemper & van Twist Diesel (K&T) took over production from 1959 to 1963 at their plant in Dordrecht, with contracts for over 2000 units.

The Willys M38A1 serial number tags had an "R" (for "Rotterdam") stamped following the chassis number, and the K&T units can be recognized by a local serial number beginning with "T" added to the plate (170K JPEG).

Nekaf M38A1The Nekaf Jeep was basically an M38A1 (Willys MD) with a few additions needed to comply to Dutch traffic regulations of the time: extra reflectors on the front fenders, low-intensity "city lights" added to the grille, and turn signals mounted to the left and right sides of the tub just behind the seats. The Nekaf was equipped with a canvas roof; provisions were made for mounting a hardtop but these were not used in the Dutch army. Photo by Alf van Beem.

HurricaneAll of the Nekaf Jeeps were built with the Willys F-head Hurricane engine. This photo by Cor Streutjens shows details of the engine in his Nekaf. See also his photo of the driver's side interior (70K JPEG).

Ambulance Alongside the standard issue Jeep used for general purposes, the Nekaf was used as a radio Jeep, snow plow, ambulance (right) and fire engine.

Dutch National Reserve

This photo shows Nekafs in service with the National Reserves. The photographer is unknown, but also took a front view (60K JPEG) of the same group of Jeeps, and an interior view (60K JPEG) showing another Nekaf with a trailer in the background. Trailers used were produced by Bantam, and by Dutch factories like Pennock, Roset and Polynorm.

In serviceAfter 1959 the Jeep was also used as a weapons carrier equipped with the 106mm M40 recoilless rifle (in Dutch, Terugstootloze Vuurmond or "TLV"). With the use of American part sets, 355 Nekafs were converted to M38A1C TLV carriers. In order to be able to carry the extra weight of 217 kilograms, heavier springs were mounted. The windshield had separated window panes, a gun barrel support was mounted, and ammunition storage racks were added.

From 1983 until 1989, forty M38A1Cs were equipped with cable-guided TOW missiles.

The End of the Nekafs

When the Ministry of War decided to acquire the Nekaf, its life was expected to be twenty years; ten years in active duty and the remainder in storage. During the 1960s and beyond, changed priorities meant the Ministry spent a large part of its budget buying tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles for the mechanization of the Royal Army. There was no money left to replace the Nekaf, and therefore the Jeep remained in active service much longer than originally intended.

In the 1960s the army tried to replace some of the Nekafs with the Munga (20K JPEG, photo by Alf van Beem), built in Germany by DKW. This was not a success; the Mungas were worn out before their planned 10 years' service had passed, and the Nekafs were back in use.

Rotterdam, 1979

Jeeps were among the first equipment to be sent to Lebanon in 1979 for Dutch UN peacekeeping troops. This one is embarking from Keilehaven in Rotterdam on 13 February 13 1979. Photo by Fernando Pereira via the Nationaal Archief.

See some of the Nekafs in service in 1980 as UN Jeeps in Lebanon on CJ3B.info.

Kaiser CJ-6 Starting in the late 1970's, the Nekafs were finally replaced. A militarized Kaiser Jeep CJ-6 (seen here) was tested, but the Army purchased the Leyland Land Rover and the Mercedes diesel-powered G-series.

BeskoAfter being taken out of active duty, most of the Jeeps were sold by the government, with the last Nekafs apparently being sold in 2000.

The majority of the Jeeps were bought by dealers who spray paint them, renew upholstery, and check engine and brakes. This photo shows Nekafs in stock at a dealer who advertised: "The vehicle is capable of driving through 1.90m deep water, further it has 24v electrics, is radio-suppressed and has wartime lighting."

Thanks to Jan Hogendoorn, who has done extensive research in the archives of the Dutch Department of Defense, and has provided detailed information which has not previously been published in English. Thanks also to Bob Westerman, Harold Bergers, Kees Blijlevens, Cor Streutjens, Erik van de Peppel and Hanno Spoelstra. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 4 March 2022 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond