Inside the Tanks: Stridsvagn 103 – VR 360° – World of Tanks


Inside the Tanks Inside the Stridsvagn 103 Hello, welcome to Sweden! For any tank enthusiast,
when you mention certain countries, you think of certain tanks. As an example, for Germany
I always think of the Tiger. For America, it has to be
the most famous Sherman. For USSR, the T34. And of course for Great Britain, the Matilda. However, when we think of Swedish tank design, there is only really one tank
that springs to mind, and that’s the Stridsvagn 103, more commonly referred to as the S-Tank. An incredibly unusual design,
and very contemporary. We’re here now in Arsenalen,
the Swedish Tank Museum. It was a while before the Swedes
came up with the concept of a turretless tank. At first, the thinking
was to have something completely different, more like the French AMX 50. However, in 1951, they began work on a completely new project to replace the aging Strv 42. This project was named EMIL. One the results of the EMIL project was this: the Kranvagn or KRV. This turretless prototype,
like many other vehicles, became a test bed for the S-Tank. This was achieved by adding a suspension, and also mounting a gun to the front. Sven Berge, an engineer, used the design of the heavy tank
as a basis for developing his combat vehicle. Instead of an oscillating turret, he suggested making
the whole tank hull oscillating; so the turret was removed. Thanks to this, the tank’s silhouette
became much lower. The first designs of the future Strv series were ready in October 1956. And a year later,
the concept of the new tank was approved. The road to the S-Tank
was filled with prototypes. This particular one
is number 17 of the Strv-0 series, which began in 1963. This tank, number 17, poor old thing,
was actually subjected to a napalm attack. Just to see how it would cope. Initial production began in 1967, of the first batch
known as the 103 Alpha series. The Stridsvagen 103 B, that appeared in 1972, became the main modification. Compared to earlier versions, the armour saw some improvement. A more powerful engine was installed. And the vehicle’s combat weight increased. In 1988, these tanks were upgraded
to the Strv 103 C, which boasted numerous improvements, including new tracks and an enhanced engine. In this state, the tank served up until 2001. The appearance of the Strv 103
wasn’t accidental. The Centurion that’d been in service
in the Swedish army – although good – wasn’t ideally suited
to the local theatre of operations, due mainly to its sheer size and in particular its height. What we’ve got to remember is that Sweden was last at war 200 years ago and maintained a policy of neutrality. What it required was a tank really bespoke to its local theatre. The system developed by Sven Berge turned the tank into one big turret. The gun of the Strv 103 is fixed and the design
of the hydropneumatic suspension removed the need for gun laying devices. The horizontal aiming is done by traversing the tank to the required side. Another feature of the vehicle is that it can sit up and sit down due to its hydropneumatic suspension. This feature is yet another example of how this tank
is well suited to Swedish terrain. The tank can hide behind the natural cover of the ground and stone walls. Now the crew configuration of the S-Tank is really unusual. And certainly unlike anything
I ever served on. However to give us
a much better insight into it, I’d like to introduce you
to a very special person: Stefan Karlsson. Stefan isn’t only the director
of the Swedish Tank Museum, but he’s also a former Swedish
tank company commander. Can you give us more of an insight
into this unusual arrangement? Well it’s very unusual because we have a three-man crew with a driver, a commander and a rear driver. The driver is also the gunner for the tank. But the commander has also the possibility to drive and to fire the gun. Let’s go have a closer look. Yes, let’s! As you can see, it’s a very compact area. But it’s quite comfortable. And you have vision out of the vision block that is better than in any other tank that I have ever seen. You have a joystick to control the whole commander’s cupola over here, and you have your sight in front of you. You control the whole tank
with this sort of joystick and that’s something you won’t find
in any other tank in the world. You have the gearstick lever over here, break pedal, accelerator, and you control the machine gun
on top of the tank over here. So even if it’s not much space, it’s a very comfortable tank, and very easy to drive. The tank’s exterior is pretty unusual. The unconventional
technical design specifications led to the very strange tank layout. The power plant is at the front. The fighting compartment is at the centre. And the ammunition is stowed at the rear. What catches the eye
is not only the absence of a turret, but also the wedge-shaped hull. And there is a good reason for it too. Although the Strv 103 loses to all post-war tanks
in its class in armour thickness, the level of protection for its front
is in fact very high. Its upper glacis plate, angled at 8°, was a hard nut to crack for guns of the time. The Strv 103B has special welding
at its hull to stop shells. so the armour protection became even better. Also, a special grid-like system was installed, which was mounted on the hull front and protected the vehicle from HEAT shells. While the Strv 103 was one of the first
mass-produced turretless tanks, it was also the first to employ a gas turbine. Stefan, what can you tell us
about its power plant? On this side, we have the Diesel engine, a Detroit V6, 290 hp, it’s not very much. On that side, we have the gas turbine. A caterpillar, with 490 hp. Together, it’s 780 hp, which is quite powerful for this tank. I know you say it because obviously
it’s quite a small tank. In relative terms as well, it doesn’t weigh much,
which gives it a good top speed. Yes, 48 km/h. Which back in the day was a good top speed. Yes, and it’s forward and reverse. And of course this ability
to reverse a bespoke tank made for all the local theatre of operations
here in Sweden, where it was important
to be able to go backwards as fast as you could go forward. Correct. Intially, the British L7 105 mm gun
was considered the main gun. But during the prototype trials, it was replaced
with the more powerful Bofors L/74. Since the gun was mounted in the hull, the bow overhang was very small. The tank inherited
the autoloader from the KRV. The ammunition was stowed in three magazines, and there were 50 shells in total. Due to the automatic loading mechanism, the rate of fire reached
an incredible 15 rounds per minute. And after firing, the shell casing is ejected out
of a special hatch at the rear. The whole thing looks quite spectacular. There’s one other feature that you can’t leave out: the tank had an underwater driving system, that allowed it to swim over water obstacles. It took 15-20 minutes
for the crew to install the structure and it was similar
to the one used for the Sherman. The Strv 103 shows what can be achieved if you set out to design a tank
for a specific area of operation. It was in service for over 30 years in the Swedish army. You either love it or you hate it. But one thing you can never doubt about it: it is unique.

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