Post by DMZ on Aug 4, 2023 21:27:18 GMT
July - Following the mining of Luleå by the British and the repeated airspace violations by German bombers, Swedish government and high command fear an extension of the conflict.
With the rising of tensions in the late 1930's and the outbreak of the war, an ambitious plan to upgrade the defense had been launched, especially in the air with the decision to expand the number of squadrons from five to seven and to build new airfield, training schools and so on. In autumn 1938, the Royal Swedish Air Force Administration conducted a survey to inventory suitable areas for the construction of airfields. The results of which were presented in March 1939. Out of 180 sites identified, 95 were costed and 40 were proposed for a first phase, 20 of which authorised for construction.
The ongoing work was accelerated in the North to deny intrusions onto the Swedish border in the vicinity of the ongoing fight and in the South to protect Stockholm and malor cities from surprise attack. In the northern counties (Norrbottens, Västerbottens and Jämtlands) special attention was paid to the places closest to the border: airfield construction on Kalixfors (near kiruna) and Hemavan (facing Hattfjelldal) are speeded up and two squadrons are located there and an other one in Östersund at the latitude of Trondheim.
Despite flying obsolete Gladiators and and barely more modern Seversky P-35, fierce fightings, similar to those in Switzerland, toke place between Luftwaffe and Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force) until Göring forbad such violations but not before formal protests and veiled threats had been sent from Berlin without diminushing Swedish determination. Having ordered Vultee V-48V Vanguard (to be known later as P-66) to be delivered late 1941, Swedes realized that they need as soon as possible a transitional fighter. As neither Britain nor Germany accepted to sold modern fighters and more than 200 Curtiss H-75 (P-36) ordered by France was available or close to be, Swedes decide to chose this model to speed up the renewal of their air fleet.
In parallèle, the Army continued its developpment from 21 infantry regiments in five army divisions to 33 infantry regiments and 2 armored regiments in eight, then ten army divisions, and studies are launched to complement Landsverk L-10 and Landsverk L-60 light tanks in armored units with a more capable medium tank, the Stridsvagn m/42.
But the most intense discussions in the high spheres focused on the position to adopt towards Norway. The refusal to allow King Haakon VII to transit when he fled in the face of the German invasion has left tensions between the two countries, and King Gustaf V had sympathies for the Nazis. But Social Democrat Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson, although advocating strict neutrality, was well aware that the defeat of Norway would totaly isolate Sweden and left it at the mercy of Germany, which would be unable to supply the essential fertilisers and fuels the country needed.
The solution lay in a position similar to that of Switzerland: Sweden would continue to trade with all foreign countries, belligerent or not. This, incidentally, would allow them to officially supply their unfortunate neighbour with the Bofors 40 L/60 anti-aircraft guns they had been desesperately hoping for, as they did for Finland during the Winter War. The British were not happy about this compromise, which meant that Germany could continue to receive iron ore, but they could console themselves with the fact that Sweden and Finland remained out of Berlin's clutches. On top of that, United Kingdom would continue to have acces to Swedish military production, espacially AA guns.
With the fall of Narvik to Allies, Germans no longer used Swedish railways to supply Dietl to the great relief of Stockolm who knew that those "medical" trains was fraudylently transporting troops, artillery and ammunition. On the other side, Swedes still allowed Germans to use their telephone and telegraphe lines, as Swedish mathematician Arne Beurling succeeded in deciphering their messages, giving valuable informations on the Berlin intentions and strategy.