K.N.I.L. operated several types of full track tractors from the early thirties on. Artillery units used tractors for
hauling and positioning guns off road, while engineers had several other types of medium and heavy
tractors. During WW2 huge orders were placed in the US for Marmon-Herrington light and medium tractors.
This picture shows a scene during the testing of several types
of tractors around 1927. To the right a Citroen-Kegresse CK
half-track from France, on the trailer a light Cletrac tractor from
the US. Similar tests were held in the Netherlands for the Dutch
Army in the same period (picture Stabelan Magazine)
A Latil TL 4x4 tractor was also
purchased in France. It featured
dual-purpose wheels with spuds which,
when not in use, where folded round
the hub (picture from Bart
Vanderveen's pre-war vehicles book).
K.N.I.L. was not satisfied with the Latil
that was also serving with the French
We have discovered this
particular Latil tractor on a
picture in "40 Jaar luchtvaart in
Indie", dealing with the Dutch
East Indies aviation history.
It apparently started a second
career on Andir Airbase near
Bandung where the tractor was
probably used for towing
aircraft around.
The trials resulted in the purchase of a number of Caterpillar
type 20 tractors for the K.N.I.L. artillery units. Each Artillery
battery received one of these tractors for short distance
hauling and off-road positioning of the guns. The tractor on
this particular picture is hauling a Bofors 105mm Howitzer.
When the battery or battalion was on the march, the tractors
would be loaded on a trailer and brought along to the
destination (picture Stabelan Magazine).
Another shot of a Caterpillar 20 tractor
negotiating a hill while towing a Bofors
Howitzer (picture Stabelan Magazine).
There were also Caterpillar tractors of
other types in service in the Dutch East
Indies, mainly with engineer units.
Presently we have no info on types and
For towing the 72 Boehler 47mm anti-tank guns
ordered in Austria, the Dutch East Indies purchased
80 Vickers Utility B tractors in Belgium, where some
factories produced several types of Vickers tractors
under licence.
Only 30 Boehlers were delivered in time and only 20
or 21 Vickers tractors came available to haul them.
On the picture you can see a Utility B tractor towing a
Boehler gun with limber.
A good shot of a Batavia parade in 1941, showing the rear of
the Utility tractor (source Orient Magazine). Note absence of
the limber.The Belgian Army used a slightly different model to
tow its 47mm FRC anti-tank guns. Main difference was the way
the crew was transported. On the K.N.I.L. vehicles they sat
sideways, the Belgian type had two crew members facing the
rear (see the discussions and pictures on the Overvalwagen
The Vickers Utility were not only used as anti-tank
gun tractors but also as light anti-aircraft gun
tractors. These are towing Rheinmetall FLAK 30
20mm AA guns (of which K.N.I.L. had received 30)
during a parade in Bandung, 1940 (Picture from
Tanda Mata KNIL). On other occasions the tractors
were used in the tank training role.
A beautifully restored
K.N.I.L. Vickers tractor
(together with a K.N.I.L.
FLAK 30 20mm AA gun)
can be seen in Arnhem,
The Netherlands at
Bronbeek, K.N.I.L.'s
pensioners home.
The picture is from
Again, the outbreak of war in
Europe prevented full delivery
of the contract by
Vickers-Familleureux in
Belgium. The remaining
tractors were taken over by the
occupying forces. This picture
shows a German soldier
driving a ex-K.N.I.L. contract
Utility B. Note the closed crew
seats on the sides.
Another ex-K.N.I.L. order tractor has been sighted during
manouvres on Crete, in German service. It is towing a 5cm
PAK gun. The caption of the picture (from Werner Muller's
Captured tanks in German service) complains about the
tractor's lack of space for ammo. Very true, that's why
K.N.I.L. used a limber!
Czech tractors on
In the late thirties K.N.I.L.
organised several trials for its
next generation of artillery
tractors (see also the Wheeled
Artillery Tractor page).
Wheeled as well as tracked
tractors were tested, the latter
destined for towing the heavy
Brandt 120mm mortars of
which 30 were ordered around
1939. Tracked tractors
(rupstrekkers) that were tested
were Saurer (Austria),
Praga/CKD T3 (Czecho-
slovakia), Renault (unknown
type), Marmon-Herrington T30,
Vickers (Artillery, Fighting and
Utility types). The Praga/CKD
T3 (picture top right, from
Vanderveen - the next two pics
show the T3 during the trials
on Java, source Indisch MIlitair
Tijdschrift) was chosen and 40
were ordered. Though the
Vickers artillery tractor passed
all tests very well, it was
considered "luxurious". The
Praga T3, to be selected,
would need some
improvements, among which a
more powerful engine (these
were ordered with Volvo of
Sweden), "open" tracks, a
higher placed exhaust pipe
and a waterproof floor as well
as a DAF winch. The Praga's
would not just tow the Brandt
heavy mortars, but also
replace the Caterpillars in the
artillery battalions (they were
to be transported on trailers
towed by Trado-converted 6x6
Maple Leafs). The T3s would
not be delivered in time (just
like the heavy mortars by the
way) and ended up serving
with the German Forces in
WW2. The Marmon-
Herringtons were rejected
among other reasons for their
rubber tracks. All other tractors
had steel tracks. Of the
Vickers tractors three different
types were tested: the Fighting
tractor (some sort of
forerunner of the Bren Carrier
- see pictures number 4 and 5
to the right, courtesy Hans
Heesakkers), the Artillery
tractor and the Utility tractor
(picture number 6 - courtesy
Hans Heesakkers). Off course
the Utility tractor was similar to
the Tractors already in use
with K.N.I.L. Picture number 7
(source Indisch MIlitair
Tijschrift) shows the Vickers
Artillery Tractor, a Vickers
product that is very similar to
the Dragon (from "drag gun")
tractors of the British Army in
the 1930s. These were built by
ROF (Royal Ordnance
Factory) and came in different
types. In fact many of these
tractors were in still service
with the BEF (British
Expeditionary Force) in France
in 1940. The last picture (from
the Belgian Cegesoma site)
shows a ROF Light Dragon
MKII entering Belgium during
an ill-fated counter-attack in
May 1940. It is towing a 2
pounder anti-tank gun and
mounts a Bren gun for AA
purposes (for more pictures
see also The Overvalwagen
Forum). As stated above, the
Vickers Artillery Tractors
proved to be excellent
products during the trials.
This picture from the Dutch
Navy magazine Marineblad
shows a rather naked
K.N.I.L. Vickers tractor
during the Indonesain
Independence War in the
Surabaya area, serving
with the Dutch Marine
Brigade stationed there.
Courtesy John Bom.
Hans Heesakkers provided
this mysterious picture of a
Vickers Utility Tractor at
Savaneta Barracks, Dutch
Antilles a few years after
the war. It is a mystery how
the vehicle got there, but
Savaneta is a Marines
Barracks, so did they bring
it from Surabaya?
In late 1940 the Netherlands Purchasing Commission obtained
approval of the US authorities to purchase 285 light tractors
from Marmon-Herrington, destined for towing K.N.I.L.'s new
National Forge 37mm anti-tank guns as well as light AA-guns.
The tractors had Ford V8 engines. All would be delivered in
1942, some to the Dutch West Indies. Note collapsable crew
seats to the sides as in the Vickers Utility B treactors.
The picture (source
Westerhof) shows a
Marmon-Herrington TBS30
tractor (to the right) in the
late 1940's with the Dutch
forces on Java. The
tractors now ordered had
steel tracks, as opposed to
the tractors tested some
years back.
Medium tractors were also ordered with
Marmon-Herrington. This one, a "track laying"
tractor TBS45, is shown here (with trailer) on a
picture from a 1944 Marmon-Herrington brochure.
The medium tractors were mostly meant for
hauling guns and for towing bridging equipment.
Total orders to Marmon-Herrington numbered 330
This picture (from H. Heesakkers'
history of the M-H tanks) shows a
Marmon-Herrington TBS45 medium
tractor (with Hercules engines) of
which 45 were envisaged. All were
delivered, probably just a handfull the
Dutch West Indies. This one was
serving with the tank unit in Surinam.
This picture (for March 2005) is taken from Paul
Handel's article on Marmon-Herrington tanks in
Australian service (2005 update): the Experimental
Tank Workshop in Melbourne. Next to the pillar in
the centre of the photo is a Marmon Herrington
TBS Series tractor. The vehicle is not mentioned in
any Australian documentation of the period, and
appears only in that one photo. Was this vehicle
the only one of its type to arrive in Australia? Was
a quantity of these tractors brought to Australia in
addition to the tanks?