With certain Swedish Army modifications in place (mainly a standardized 37mm main gun), the Strv L-60 Light Tank became the refined Strv m/38 Light Tank. The original L-60 appeared in 1935 and saw limited export to Ireland while the Hungarians produced it under license as the "Toldi" series. The type was well-armed for its time and held great on-road/off-road capabilities thanks to its stellar suspension system. These qualities were passed on to the new m/38 Light Tank which gave the Swedish Army considerable armor-defeating firepower for its time. As the market for light tanks around the world grew thanks to their successes in World War 1, the Swedes were intent on profiting from the movement with their own thoroughbreds. There was a planned initiative to begin selling the m/38 on the export market but war in Europe derailed such endeavors, leading the m/38 to become a solely Swedish product.
The Swedish Army procured at least seventeen of the type in 1937 with deliveries commencing in 1938. At the time of their inception, the inherent firepower of these nimble machines gave Swedish tankers a capable stopping prowess against the then-available offerings of the Germans and Soviets as those generally were generally armed with machine guns. Deliveries continued into 1939 to which their battlefield usefulness would only suffice until 1941 when they became outclassed by newer and more powerful combat tanks coming online - now mounting cannons. Despite their neutral status during all of World War 2, Sweden's sovereignty was always under threat from two sides considering both Norway and Finland would eventually fall to the Germans and Soviets respectively. As such, Swedish authorities thought it prudent to be well-prepared for an inevitable invasion of their resource-rich lands and began developing indigenous weapons in response.
Design of the m/38 followed closely to that of the L-60 before it. The engine was situated in a rear compartment with the driver at the front left of the hull. The turret - containing the primary 37mm Bofors m/38 main gun, gunner and tank commander - was set at the middle-front of the hull roof atop a shallow hull superstructure. As in the L-60 before it, access to the turret of the m/38 was via a side hatch or roof-mounted hatch. Close-in defense was handled by a 7.7mm coaxial machine gun. The tank was propelled by a single Scania-Vabis 6-cylinder gasoline engine developing 142 horsepower. The track system consisted of four double-tired road wheels with two track return rollers, a rear-set track idler (held noticeable low to the ground) and a drive sprocket at the front. Top speed was 28 miles per hour with an operational range of 124 miles. All told, the vehicle weighed in at 9.7 short tons, slightly heavier than the preceding L-60 though certainly just as capable.
Amazingly, the Strv m/38 Light Tank served the Swedish Army up until 1957 and never saw export sales. Initial production forms served at Gota Livgarde and then were sent to Skovde and Strangnas by the end of 1939. Today, one preserved m/38 example is held for display at Pansarmuseet, Axvall, Sweden.
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