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Sturgeon's House

The Swedish AFV Thread: Not Just Strv 103s


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  • 2 months later...

One of these days I will write a long ass post about how the Swedish army really thought the strv 103 was a tank and used it as a tank, and that the "shoot and drive backwards quickly in the forest" thing is a History Channel myth. I'll need to quote a bunch of field manuals in support of my thesis, so I've been acquiring some through various channels and scanning them. Since you gentlemen are some truly arcane nerds, I figure some of you might appreciate the illustrations at least, so here you go:

Tank gunnery manual, 1979 edition

Field manual for tank platoons, 1974 edition

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Anyone who had tanks, non-flat terrain and the wherewithal to test the damn things wouldn't have thought much of firing on the move until the late 1970s when the first gun-follows-sight fire control systems were introduced.


The two-plane stabilization systems could basically keep the gun pointed at-ish the target, which would reduce the amount of time the gunner had to take to get a shot actually lined up from a short halt.


But actually hitting targets at meaningful combat ranges while moving?  Forget it; the turret and the gun itself have too much intertia, so the point of aim is always wobbling vaguely around the target, but usually not exactly on it.

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I take it then the swedes didn't think highly of fire on the move?

The gunnery manual says:

"In general, main gun and fixed machine gun fire (fixed machine guns exist on strv 103 only) shall be opened from a stationary tank. With the strv 101/102 (Centurion) main gun, fire may be opened on the move at targets up to 800 meters away, for example if you unexpectedly come upon an enemy or during the storming of a position. With strv 103 main gun and fixed machine guns, fire may be opened on the move at targets up to 200 m away, provided that the ground is even and that there are terrain features behind the target (such as a treeline or a backslope) that can catch any misses.


With the turret machine guns on the strv 101/102 and the commander's machine gun on the strv 103, fire may be opened both from a stationary tank and on the move."


Further on, it says:

"The enemy is expected to use large numbers of AFV's against us. Therefore, we must fight in such a way that we can win even if we're outnumbered. This requires both firing fast, in order to increase the likelihood of disabling enemy targets, and firing well, in order to disable the enemy before he disables us while using the least possible amount of ammunition."


Then it emphasizes this even more, and has an outlined box with some particularly important maxims:

"In tank duels, the tank that fires first will win four times out of five.


The tank that gets the first hit is four times more likely to win.


All tank fire shall aspire both to hit with the first round, and to disable the target with the first hit.


A well trained tank crew shall be able to hit with their first round and disable the target within 10 seconds of opening fire."



In other words, the manual heavily emphasizes well aimed fire and discourages firing on the move. Firing on the move is something you may do under exceptional circumstances when surprised by the enemy, or at extremely short distances, or possibly in order to attempt to keep ATGM crews and the like suppressed.

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Was slow day at work today, so spent some time reading renhaxue's site and the ftr articles on Swedish tanks. (Being written by someone other than SS, they're actually pretty good.) Found out that Swedish tank procurement postwar was hilariously bad, and resulted in most of Swedens tanks up to the early 50s being armed with low velocity 75mm guns. Also, pz38t clones in TYOOL 1952.

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The Swedish pz38t was actually in service into the early 1960's. :V


Then they reused the chassis to make APC's (a temporary solution that lasted less than 10 years) and the turrets to make fixed fortifications at airfields and the like. I guess the 37mm could potentially be useful against trucks and things like BMD's even in the late cold war, maybe...?


There were several attempts by the army to just snag a bunch of surplus Shermans (they didn't really like the strv m/42 much, too unreliable) but it never came to anything. Instead political wrangling and a lot of debating about what the hell you're supposed to use tanks for now that HEAT rounds are such of a thing delayed actually buying something decent until 1951, when they finally went with the Centurion, mainly because it was there and could be delivered immediately (important, since they had delayed so much previously).


I can't confirm this with first hand sources, but I strongly suspect that a big reason they didn't buy anything after the war was that the procurement during the war was also a clusterfuck. They had to go with what was available, what was available wasn't very good and there was a lot of catfighting internally about whose fault it all was that it took so long to get tanks that were long obsolete by the time they had worked the bugs out of them. I think the army really wanted to sit down, test a bunch of foreign tanks (which they did) and figure out what the hell was going on before they committed to anything new.

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Got penetration figures (or, rather, distances) for all Swedish anti-tank weapons as of 1970 declassified today. Enjoy: http://imgur.com/a/RExzB

105 mm APDS L28 and L52A1 for the L7 gun (both the standard variant and the longer one mounted on the S-tank) are included.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Does anyone mind if I post some contextless tank porn? No? I photoed a several decimeters tall stack of photographs at the national archives this summer and I have no idea what to do with them. Should I just turn tanks.mod16.org into a photoblog in the style of Yuri Pasholok? In the meantime, have some samples:

People on tanks:


Strv m/42, Stockholm, April 1944.


Strv m/39, Strängnäs, 1942.


Strv m/41, Stockholm, 1943.


Strv m/42, 1944.

People pretty far above tanks:


Pvkv m/43 and Saab B17, June 1947.


Strv m/42 and Saab A21.

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