Fighter tanks MOWAG Taifun
The heyday of tank destroyers of the classic reckless layout fell on the years of World War II. Similar anti-tank self-propelled guns were massively used by Hitler Germany and the USSR, where such successful machines as the SU-85 and SU-100 were created. After the war, interest in such machines almost disappeared. Tank destroyers were developed, but on a limited scale, the main battle tanks entered the battlefield, which solved all problems independently. All the more surprising is the attempt by Swiss designers to release a classic tank destroyer in the early 1980s.
Switzerland post-war tank park
Tank forces were never a strong point of the Swiss army. But in the country of mountains and alpine meadows, they followed global trends and tried to purchase various armored vehicles. In the early 1950s, the Swiss army was armed with obsolete vehicles, for example, Panzer 39 tanks, which were the Swiss version of the Czech pre-war light tank LT vz.38. The Swiss version was distinguished by an unusual weapon - a 24-mm long-barreled 24 mm Pzw-Kan 38 cannon with a magazine feed. Thanks to the store food, the tank was notable for its high rate of fire, up to 30-40 rounds per minute. True, the designers had to make a special protrusion in the roof of the tower especially to accommodate such a gun with the top location of the store.
Another rarity in the arsenal of the Swiss army were Panzerjäger G 13 tank destroyers. These combat vehicles were Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer self-propelled anti-tank self-propelled guns purchased in Czechoslovakia after World War II. Outwardly, these two self-propelled guns were no different. In service with the Swiss army Panzerjäger G 13 remained until 1972, it was then that they were finally withdrawn from service. To upgrade the fleet of armored vehicles, Switzerland also purchased 200 AMX-13/75 tanks from France, designated the Leichter Panzer 51.
Attempts to update the tank fleet were made regularly. At the same time, Switzerland collaborated in this area with Germany. Swiss companies, together with German ones, worked on a tank project for India - Indien-Panzer. Taking into account the experience and developments on this project, the first Panzer 58 main battle tank was developed in Switzerland, which quickly transformed into a Panzer 61 (Pz 61). The latter were released immediately 160 units. For a small Switzerland this is a lot. The combat vehicle was equipped with a 7 mm British L105 cannon running in Europe and a 20 mm automatic cannon paired with it. In the course of further modernization, such a pair was abandoned in favor of a more traditional 7,5 mm machine gun.
At the same time, a tank destroyer project was being developed in Switzerland. Large specialists worked on it armory MOWAG. This company is known today to many thanks to its bestseller - the wheeled armored personnel carrier MOWAG Piranha, which has been widely distributed around the world and is in great demand in the market.
And if the company is doing fine with wheeled armored vehicles, then the Swiss were definitely not lucky with the caterpillar. Specialists of this company in the early 1960s participated in the Bundeswehr competition to develop a tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer-Kanone). The presented version of the Mowag Gepard, armed with a 90-mm cannon, did not suit the German military. The Swiss army also did not need a car, and the project of a 24-ton self-propelled gun was safely forgotten for 20 years.
MOWAG Taifun Tank Fighter Prerequisites
The idea of re-building a classic turretless tank destroyer arose in Switzerland in the late 1970s. Apparently, the experience of the long-term operation of the "Hetzer" has long been ingrained in the consciousness of the designers of this country. The second attempt to reincarnate the Hetzer anti-tank self-propelled guns followed 20 years after the debut of the Gepard tank destroyer. It is worth noting that this, apparently, was the last in stories attempt to create a similar tank destroyer. For example, the main battle tank Strv 103, also characterized by a reckless layout, many rightly classified as a tank destroyer. This combat vehicle was mass-produced in Sweden from 1966 to 1971.
It can be argued that such military equipment simply died out at the turn of the 1960-1970s and was considered obsolete, so the Swiss project stands out from the general list. It is believed that the prerequisites for the development of the MOWAG Taifun tank destroyer were the widespread dissemination of new armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber shells (BOPS). Such shells were distinguished by good penetration and could hit all existing tanks even when they hit the frontal projection.
BOPS in flight, the separation of pallets from the projectile M829A2
The first such serial munitions were developed in the USSR in 1961 for the T-100 12-mm smooth-bore anti-tank gun. And already in 1963, the T-62 tank with a 115-mm smoothbore gun entered the arsenal, in the arsenal of which there were also new ammunition. In the West, with the creation of such shells somewhat delayed, but in the 1970s they began to appear in large numbers. In the United States introduced the M735 shell for the 105-mm gun M68A1, which was a licensed copy of the famous English L7A1. And in Israel, they created the M111 Hetz BOPS, which from a distance of 1,5 kilometers pierced the frontal armor of the T-72 tank hull. Both shells had a tungsten core.
Switzerland reasonably believed that throwing “scrap metal” into enemy tanks instead of using expensive anti-tank guided missiles from anti-tank systems was a good idea. And with great enthusiasm began to create a tank destroyer, which again became relevant. True, looking ahead, we say that, besides the MOWAG designers, so few people thought so.
The project of an anti-tank self-propelled gun with a casemate arrangement of guns in an armored wheelhouse, the company's engineers began to develop independently on their own initiative, the first prototype was shown in 1980. At the same time, the Swiss expected to promote a new project both for export (a cheap means of combating enemy tanks) and for the domestic market. The new Typhoon self-propelled guns seemed a possible replacement for the French AMX-13 tanks being withdrawn from service.
MOWAG Taifun Tank Fighter
Work on the new tank fighter, designated MOWAG Taifun, lasted from 1978 to 1980. The company's engineers took into account the experience in the development of self-propelled guns Gepard and improved the machine in accordance with the requirements of the time. The resulting low-profile anti-tank self-propelled gun was based on the chassis of the Tornado tracked armored personnel carrier developed by the same company. The combat weight of the car did not exceed 26,5 tons, which can be attributed to the advantages of the model. Light weight could play into the hands in the conditions of operation of a combat vehicle in Switzerland.
It is known that at least one instance of such a self-propelled gun was built in metal. The only machine built was armed with the same famous British 105-mm L7 gun. The same gun was installed on the Leopard-1 tanks and the first version of the M1 Abrams tank. At the same time, the dimensions of the conning tower made it possible to establish a more powerful 120-mm smooth-bore tank gun Rheinmetall Rh-120 / L44. In the future, this weapon, and later its improved version with a barrel length of 55 calibers, will be registered on all Western tanks. In addition, the Swiss engineers planned to equip the gun with an automatic loader and reduce the crew of self-propelled guns to three people.
The only MOWAG Taifun tank destroyer built in metal received a 105-mm gun and a crew of four: driver, commander, gunner and loader. The gun’s pointing angles in the vertical plane ranged from -12 to +18 degrees; in the horizontal projection, the gun was directed at 15 degrees in each direction. At the same time, the working conditions of the crew and the same loader were not the most convenient. The car was distinguished by a low silhouette, the height of only about 2100 mm (excluding machine gun installation), while the clearance was 450 mm. The space in the case was not so much.
Booking a combat vehicle was not impressive, but for a self-propelled gun that was supposed to hit enemy armored vehicles from long distances from an ambush or from shelters, it was not so critical. The thickness of the frontal armor reached 50 mm, from the sides the self-propelled gun was protected by 25 mm armor. Body armor plates were located at rational angles of inclination, which increased the security of the machine. The crew, components and assemblies of self-propelled guns were reliably protected from being hit by fragments of shells and mines and from fire from automatic guns of 25-30 mm caliber in the frontal projection. Partly the insufficient reservation of the car was compensated by the power of the installed weapons.
The car turned out to be small, with a combat weight of 26,5 tons, a fairly powerful Detroit Diesel 8V-71T diesel engine was installed on a self-propelled gun, which produced a maximum power of 575 hp This combination of characteristics provided excellent power density - 21,7 hp per ton. The maximum speed of the Typhoon tank destroyer reached 65 km / h.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the construction of the times of World War II, albeit at a completely new technical level, still looked like a revived archaic. Despite the fact that the project had a simple design, and the self-propelled gun was distinguished by good maneuverability and invisibility at a low price, the military was not interested in the military in Switzerland and other countries.
The machine was still losing to the main battle tanks with a tower. Among other things, the tower allowed the tanks to use the terrain more efficiently, you could shoot from the back of the hills or hide in the folds of the terrain. Attack helicopters also became a problem. Any such helicopter appearing over the battlefield was a much more effective means of combating enemy armored vehicles. For these reasons, the MOWAG Taifun has remained just a prototype and, possibly, the last tank destroyer of the classic layout in history.