Stridsvagn m/42 (Strv m/42)
The Strv m/42 was the culmination of Swedish tank work begun in the 1920s and evolved throughout World War 2.
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The culmination of Swedish tank work prior to, and during, World War 2 became the Stridsvagn Strv m/42 introduced in 1943. The Swedish tank industry was initially helped along in the prewar years by the Germans and so their designs largely mimicked that as seen in the famous Panzer I and Panzer II light tank models. The Swedish line began in 1932 with the Strv m/31 and this initiative then begat the improved L-60 of 1934 which sought to make Sweden a stand-alone tank-producer. Another prewar refinement then emerged with the arrival of the Strv m/38 in 1938 and this then led to the further refined wartime Strv m/39 appearing in 1940. From this then came the Strv m/40 of 1941 which proved the first Swedish Army tank to be produced in mass quantity.
Like all other Swedish tanks before it, the Strv m/42 was produced by AB Landsverk and 282 examples were completed from April 1943 to January of 1945.
The final wartime development of the line arrived in the Strv m/42 which proved a major rewrite of the earlier offerings. This vehicle was largely based on the preceding m/40 model though it was given a more modern appearance with a lengthened hull and new, redesigned turret of a lower profile, and running gear incorporating six wheels to each hull side. The drive sprocket was at front with the track idler at rear and a third track return rollers was introduced. The crew was increased from three to four to better handle the workload and combat weight reached 25 tons - in comparison, the earlier m/40 was a 10-ton pup. Dimensions of the new tank included a running length of 16 feet with a width of 7.3 feet and a height of 5.2 feet.
One major, and rather key, quality of the m/42 was its installation of a 75mm m/41 L/34 main gun. Earlier forms all fielded the venerable 37mm Bofors as primary armament though the armored combat of World War 2 quickly showcased the limitations of this caliber against the growing thickness of armor witnessed in late-war German and Soviet tanks. The move to the 75mm caliber proved a wise and prudent one in a war which eventually saw the Soviets mounting calibers of 122mm and the Germans calibers of 88mm. Anti-infantry support was through 4 x Ksp m/39 machine guns - two mounted coaxially next to the main gun, the other in the bow, and the final one fitted to the rear turret facing to protect the vulnerable rear of the tank.
First forms were fielded under the m/42TM designation which fitted a Scania-Vabis 603/1 twin-engine arrangement of 325 horsepower mated to an electromagnetic transmission system. Production spanned from 1943 to 1944 and numbered 100. The m/42TH then followed and also showcased the twin-engine machinery but was instead delivered with a hydraulic transmission system. First vehicles appeared during 1944 and totaled 125 examples. From 1944 to 1945, the m/42EH model was introduced with single Volvo A8B engines of 380 horsepower mated to a hydraulic transmission system. Volvo-engined production numbered 57. In 1948, the m/42TV mark was formed which reverted the design back to a twin-engine arrangement favoring a hydraulic transmission system. All forms used a torsion bar suspension system and featured a road speed up to 26 miles per hour.
The Strv m/42 went on to set the foundation for the upcoming Strv 74 Main Battle Tank (MBT) making up the spearhead of the Swedish Cold War tank force. These served from 1958 to 1984 and saw 225 fielded. The ikv 73 Infantry Support Vehicle (ISV) was built from existing m/42EH hulls with units totaling 56.