Sweden's Magnificent S-Tank
Tankograd In Detail: Fast Track 20
by Andreas Kirchhoff
- 8.25" x 11.5"
Landscape Presentation, Glossy Stock
- 8 B&W In Action and 72 Color Walk-Around Images
Extras - No Tables, Diagrams, or Drawings
Text - English Only
Tankograd In Detail: Fast Track #20, Stridsvagn 103
is the latest release in this fast growing series from Tankograd. The book consists of a title page, a copyright page, an in-depth historical and technical description, and thirty-five pages of photo coverage. In all, there are seventy-two color photographs including the front and rear covers, plus eight black and white photos. The crisp, clear, color photographs were taken by Kirchhoff himself. They are all captioned, and aimed squarely at the modeller and AFV enthusiast alike. The images are presented in large format with a good number of full page reproductions. All in all, Tankograd have struck a nice balance of both detail and full vehicle photographs. From a modelling perspective, the stapled binding allows it to lay flat when open, thereby making it perfect for the bench when building that Trumpeter Strv 103 many of us have lurking somewhere in our stashes.
I make no bones about the fact that I've always had a fascination with the Strv 103 series dating back to June 1972 when I bought Ogorkiewicz's 'S-Tank' AFV Profile #28. Soon after, I built the Aurora 1/48 scale kit and in more recent years, added the 1/35 scale Trumpeter kits to my collection. Throughout the intervening years though, the appearance of additional reference material on this unique MBT has been sparse and for that reason, this new Tankograd book is most welcome.
Originating as a design to supplement the Strv 81 (Centurion MBT) with an AFV equipped with an automatic loading anti-tank gun, the designers were confronted with requirements that demanded a low silhouette, strong firepower, and heavy frontal armour; all in a vehicle that weighed significantly less than the Strv 81. To achieve this requirement the Swedish AFV Development and Procurement Agency began to evaluate the concept of a revolutionary turretless MBT design. Their evaluation determined that the advantages of a low, compact hull, integrated main gun served by an automatic loader, and a hydropneumatic suspension outweighed the two major disadvantages of the vehicle. Those disadvantages were its inability to fire on the move, and the need to develop technology to enable the main gun to be aimed in the horizontal plane by moving the vehicle laterally in very small increments. Elevation and depression of the main armament didn't pose such a large problem as it was accomplished by the hydropneumatic suspension. Studies showed that the limited usefulness of weapon stabilization systems in the early 1960s still required turreted MBTs to come to a full stop to have a good chance at achieving a first round hit so that left the other major problem of having to move the vehicle laterally to aim the main gun in the horizontal plane. To eliminate that issue, a system was successfully developed to enable slight movements of the tracks to facilitate exact aiming. With the major and minor issues in the design resolved by 1964, AB Bofors was awarded a production contract for 70 vehicles designated the Strv 103A which were delivered in 1966-67. This was followed by 220 improved vehicles designated the Strv 103B. All of the A series vehicles were eventually brought up to this standard. The B series itself (including upgraded As) was eventually modernized and improved and designated the Strv 103C. A single Strv 103C was further upgraded and designated Strv 103D but this enhancement was never applied to the rest of the fleet. While the Strv 103 was evaluated by a number of other countries, it was never exported, remaining only in Swedish service. The last of the Strv 103s was withdrawn from service in 1997, having been replaced by the Leopard 2 Strv 121 and 122.
begins with an in-depth two page history of the development and employment of the series and this text portion of the book ends with a useful explanation of the differences between the various production variants.
Following the two page historical and technical treatment is a three page selection of black and white 'in-service' photographs, followed by three pages of 'walk-around' style images. The book then moves on to the real meat and potatoes for modellers with photo 'chapters' illustrating the following vehicle components: Suspension, Hull, Loading the Main Round Magazines, Auto-loader, Secondary Armament, Engine, Interior, Dozer Blade, Mine Roller, and Swim Screen. These images are a goldmine of information and touch on virtually everything you'll need to build an accurate Strv 103.
As always in a Tankograd 'Fast Track' publication, the photo captions throughout the book are exceptionally valuable. They include a wealth of detail information and are an excellent complement to the photographs.
Tankograd's 'In Detail: Fast Track' books are reasonably priced slim volumes, uniformly packed with useful information for modellers. This new book on the Stridsvagn 103 series continues the tradition as an informative, professionally produced publication. As a reference source, it's all encompassing and it complements the other scarce material available on the MBT quite nicely. As a modelling resource, it gets full marks for the scope of its crisp photographic coverage and accompanying captions. If you have an interest in unique MBTs and Swedish armour in general, this publication certainly deserves a place on your bookshelf. All in all, a very valuable resource
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
My thanks go out to Tankograd Publishing for this review sample, and to AMPS for affording me the opportunity to review it.
Reviewed by: Chris Johnson
AMPS Canada Region
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