Was the S-Tank a tank destroyer?

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”

Bofors-FB-P-30304In 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?”

Read the full article here.

Leichttraktor pictures and documents from Swedish Tank Archives blog

leichttracktorRen Hanxue, creator of the Swedish Tank Archives blog, recently posted a PDF of documents and pictures from the Swedish Archives pertaining to the German Leichttraktor.  The documents are of course in German so we are not entirely sure what they contain.  However, the pictures are very interesting, providing shots of not just the vehicle but also of some of the automotive components and subsystems.  The Leichttraktor is a fairly obscure vehicle, being a German post WWI design that never saw mass production.  It is most widely known as the tier one German tank in the World of Tanks video game, where it is commonly referred to as the “Loltraktor.”

The PDF is available here.

We highly recommend Swedish Tank Archives.  People with an interest in Swedish tanks will find it a valuable resource.  The site also contains documents relating to Swedish evaluations of foreign vehicles such as the Chieftain, AMX 13, and T-80U.  Ren Hanxue also maintains a youtube page with some videos if Swedish tank terrain trails including Centurion, Strv 104, T-72 and T-80 tanks.

Report on British S-tank trials

164Swedish Tank Archives has posted an interesting piece concerning a report from British Strv 103 (S-tank) trails from 1973.  In the Summer of that year the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) sent several tank crews to Sweden to train on the S-tank for four weeks. These crews were then sent to Germany along with the S-tanks to be tested. The Swedish observers of the test considered the results of the evaluation to be highly dubious, claiming that they were conducted in a haphazard and unscientific manner.  They also are quite harsh in their criticism of the BAOR.

Here is an excerpt on the quality of British Tank Gunners:

At the end of the gunnery training, there were two tests with a gun camera, one against a fixed target and one against a moving one, as per usual Swedish standard. The results were bad. The first time these results may possibly be explained by the gunners not taking the trial seriously, but even after they had evaluated their own results and re-did the test the results were very bad. It is possible that more training could have improved the results somewhat, but the more likely explanation is that a large portion of the British gunners simply weren’t suited to their job as gunners. In some cases, problems with bad eyesight were apparent. It should be noted that British tank personnel is not tested in the same way as Swedish personnel before being assigned as tank gunners.


To read the full piece, please go to the Swedish Tank Archives blog.