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Stridsvagn 103 (S-Tank) Main Battle Tank (1966)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/6/2010

The unique, but unproven Strv 103 tank.

The Scandinavian Strv 103 'S-Tank' was an extreme departure from conventional main battle tank design in post-war Europe, or the world for that matter. Tank doctrine in World War Two reserved this type of design for Assault Gun systems as opposed to full-time main battle tank systems.

The Strv 103 tank was built with a priority on defensive positioning doctrine in mind, thus the main gun was placed directly into the hull (as opposed to a positional powered-turret operated by the command and/or gunner).

To promote the defensive-minded thinking, a third crewmember was positioned in the rear hull, facing rear, complete with a full-driver system setup allowing the vehicle to be piloted in rearward action in the same way as the frontward action was accomplished. This owuld allow for a stable treat doctrine where the vehicle could still maintain a top speed and consistently have the main armament pointed at advancing enemy armor. Crew accomodations were for three - the driver/gunner, commander and radio-operator (doubles as rearward driver as well).

This type of thinking provided the vehicle an extremely low profile with the ability for the tank system and crew to safely 'dig in' (all Strv 103's were fitted with a dozer-blade) to a fortified position and await advancing enemy armored columns. Low profile - it was believed - would offer up the best in terms of visibility and crew protection.

The one obvious (albeit major) drawback to this groundbreaking design was that the entire tank system (hull included) must turn towards its intended target (the driver doubles as the gunner). But since this design was conceived as more of a defensive-minded one, it wasn't a major drawback as one might assume.

The Strv 103 weapon system was the result to replacing the aging British-produced Centurion post-World War Two main battle tank. It featured the British L7 105mm main gun.

All Strv 103 S-Tanks have been removed from service with the German-produced Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks (Strv 121 and Strv 122 in the Swedish inventory) becoming the frontline system for the Swedish Army. All current versions of the S-Tank are in storage.

The Strv 103 is fully amphibious requiring about 25 minutes of preparation time and features an auto-loading gun system. It should be noted, however, that the Strv 103 system has never seen actual combat service.

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Specifications for the
Stridsvagn 103 (S-Tank)
Main Battle Tank


Country of Origin: Sweden
Manufacturer: Bofors - Sweden
Initial Year of Service: 1966
Production: Not Available


Focus Model:
Crew: 3


Overall Length: 29.53ft (9.00m)
Width: 11.81ft (3.60m)
Height: 7.02ft (2.14m)
Weight: 46.8 US Short Tons (42,500kg; 93,696lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x Rolls Royce K60 diesel engine 1 x Boeing 502 turbine engine


Maximum Speed: 37mph (60 km/h)
Maximum Range: 186 miles (300 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
1 x 105mm main gun
1 x 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun
2 x 7.62mm fixed machine guns in front left hull


Ammunition:
Not Available.


Variants:
Strv 103


Strv 103B - More powerful powerplant introduced.

Strv 103C - Upgrade program

Strv 103D - Upgrade program (prototype - only 1 produced)


Operators:
Sweden