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Panzer 61

Panzer 61Description : The Panzer 61 was a Swiss Cold War era medium tank later reclassified as a second-generation main battle tank. The tank had a weight of 36.5 tons and was powered by a 630 hp diesel engine, which gave it a top road speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). The primary armament of the Panzer 61 was a 105 mm main gun.During the early 1950s the Swiss Army tried to buy modern tanks to reinforce the armoured forces which, due to the war in Korea, proved to be impossible. As a stop-gap solution... Page:p

Panzer 61
Pz 61 Seite - Schweizer Armee - Steel Parade 2006.jpg
TypeMedium Tank
Place of origin  Switzerland
Service history
In service1965–1994
Used bySwitzerland
Production history
Designed1950s
ManufacturerEidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun
Produced1965–1967
Number built150
Specifications
Weight39 tonnes
Length9.45 m (31 ft 0 in)
Width3.06 m (10 ft 0 in)
Height2.72 m (8 ft 11 in)
Crew4

Armourup to 120mm RHA
Main
armament
1 × 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 with 56 rounds
Secondary
armament
2 × 7.5mm Swiss Machine Gun with 3200 rounds
EngineMercedes-Benz V-8 diesel engine
630 hp
Suspensionbelleville washer
Ground clearance400 mm
Operational
range
250 km (160 mi)
Speed55 km/h (31 mph)
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The Panzer 61 was a Swiss Cold War era medium tank later reclassified as a second-generation main battle tank. The tank had a weight of 36.5 tons and was powered by a 630 hp diesel engine, which gave it a top road speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). The primary armament of the Panzer 61 was a 105 mm main gun.

History and development

During the early 1950s the Swiss Army tried to buy modern tanks to reinforce the armoured forces which, due to the war in Korea, proved to be impossible. As a stop-gap solution, the Swiss army purchased AMX-13 light tanks from France and decided to develop a domestic medium tank.

The first prototype and production vehicles were designated Panzer 58. The first Panzer 58 prototype was armed with a domestic 90mm rifled gun, the second Panzer 58 was fitted with a British Ordnance QF 20 pounder. and the third prototype as well as the production model was fitted with a Royal Ordnance L7 105mm rifled gun. The Panzer 58 served similarly to a preproduction model of the improved Panzer 61, and in 1961 the Swiss parliament approved production of 150 Panzer 61s. The vehicles were delivered between 1965 and 1967, produced at the Eidgenoessische Konstruktionswerkstaette (today RUAG Land Systems) facility at Thun.

From 1967 to 1994 (when the last Panzer 61 battalion was re-equipped with more modern tanks) Panzer 61 vehicles were upgraded and retrofitted with technology found on the more advanced Panzer 68 (its successor). Among other improvements, the Panzer 61's original coaxial 20 mm autocannon was replaced by a coaxial 7.5 mm machine gun in the Panzer 61 AA9 variant.

  • Panzer 61 at the Tank Museum in Thun, Switzerland

  • Swiss Panzer 61 MBT in Yad La-Shiryon Museum, Israel.

Legacy

The chassis formed the basis of the Tank gun 68, the prototype of the Entpannungspanzer 65 armoured recovery vehicle, and for the initial prototype of the Brückenlegepanzer 68. Wheels and tracks from the Panzer 61 were also used on the Zielfahrzeug 68.

In popular culture

Two Panzer 61 tanks were mocked up as Panzer III tanks in the film Enemy at the Gates. These replicas would be re-used in All the Queen's Men and Defiance.

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