A recent video by World of Tanks on Swedish tank history makes the claim that the Swedish Stridsvagn 103, also referred to as the S-Tank, was intended to function as a tank destroyer. The blog Swedish Tank Archives has taken issue with that assessment in a well researched rebuttal titled Stridsvagn 103 Was Not A Tank Destroyer.
We have taken the liberty of reprinting the first couple paragraphs of the article followed by a link to the Swedish Tank Archives where the entire piece can be viewed.
Stridsvagn 103 Was Not A Tank Destroyer
In internet arguments and popular culture, it is frequently claimed that the stridsvagn 103 (strv 103, “S-tank”) was a defensive tank, or basically a modern tank destroyer. It was, claims the common wisdom (perpetrated and repeated in media such as History Channel), meant to dig down in a forest, take a few shots at attacking Soviet tanks and then retreat, using its rear driver to its advantage. In the recently revealed Swedish tree for World of Tanks, it is indeed classified as a tank destroyer (although mainly for game mechanics reasons). Even in the Swedish army, some officers (although mainly ones who had no experience on the tank) thought it was worthless for traditional tank work – that is, offensive tasks. In this essay, I will show that this is simply not true: the Swedish army set out to figure out how to build a good tank, came up with the S-tank idea, developed and built that idea as a tank, which it then proceeded to use operationally as a tank.
The origins of the strv 103, or “alternative S”
In 1957, the Swedish army initiated a study of the future of warfare, in order to determine what weapons technology it should pursue during the 1960’s – as well as many other things. One of the sub-committees of this study was tasked with studying direct-fire infantry support weapon systems, such as tanks, anti-tank weapons, direct-fire crew-served weapons, etc. The central question that the sub-committee was tasked with answering was: “How should our system for direct fire (both anti-tank and anti-personnel fire) work around 1970 and in the time immediately thereafter?”