- Panzer 58 90mm
- Panzer 58 20 Pounder
- Panzer 58 105mm
- I voted no to the first question
The mysterious Swiss Panzer 58 has been surrounded in misconceptions and misinformation from wargaming for a long time. The first domestically produced medium tank of Switzerland has an interesting history in the creation of the eventual 12 tanks that make up the Panzer 58 going from a 90mm concept with a pike nose to the famous 20 pounder prototype still on display and lastly the batch of 10 105mm Panzer 58’s.
The Aftermath of the Second World War left Switzerland in a predicament although neutral it’s government knew it only took one spark from the west or east and a new war would erupt it also knew that the foreign powers would try to get it to align to their side in the upcoming cold war. By the time of the 1950’s the Swiss government was in need of new tanks to replace it’s aging Panzer 39’s and also bolster it’s G13 tank force with a newer medium tank after seeing the Soviets introduce the IS-3’s in Berlin 1945. Since at the start of the 1950’s no medium tank to the requirements the Swiss government needed it sort to develop it’s own in the meantime. The idea was for a medium tank with good mobility, armour a good armament which proved to be a challenge to design from a nation that had previously only bought from the export market and only dabbled into minor tank destroyer designs of the Nahkampfkanone I and II. Initial designs for the project referred to as the 30ton Panzer or the KW 1950 which had a 600 horsepower engine a maximum width of 3 meters to navigate through the terrain of Switzerland and a maximum armour protection of 65mm thick in the front which was at a 65° angle designed in the similar pike fashion of the IS-3 meaning it was roughly as well protected as the IS-2 but not as well protected as contemporary medium tanks such as the American M48 Patton and the Soviet T-54 however for it’s weight it was adequately protected for it’s purpose. This design also sported the option of four different main armaments with two being the 90mm L/62 and the other the 90mm L/70 and the latter being the 105mm L/53 and 105mm L/60 and armed with a secondary 7.5mm machinegun. The sides of this design where only 20-40mm thick and the hemispherical turret would of been 65mm thick frontally and 45mm thick on the sides, the proposal design also showed the gun to have a -10 degree angle of depression however this design didn’t come to be.
KW 1950 (“30ton Panzer”)
Although the Swiss were not satisfied with the 1950 variant they quickly went back to the drawing board and came up with the KW 1952 which was produced and armed with the 90mm L/60 rifled gun and a secondary armament of a 7.5mm machinegun, the tank featured torsion suspension and had 4 crew. The tank lost it’s pike nose design in favour of a sloped 60mm frontal plate, the sides were increased to a maximum of 45mm of armour and the rear was 35mm thick, the turret was increased to 70mm of frontal protection whilst the sides were 45mm thick and the rear 35mm thick. The engine remained the German Maybach 600hp Diesel engine and the transmission also derived from the Tiger tanks. The weight of the tank remained roughly 30-33 tons giving the power to weight ratio of between 20-18.18hp/ton and the maximum speed of the tank was 45km/h. One prototype of the tank was built including a mock tank alongside however the Swiss were not satisfied and ordered the increase in armament and weight of the vehicle. This and all the later prototypes and tanks for the Panzer 58 project were built by Eidgenossische Konstruktionswerkstatte.
The KW 1952
Later on in the decade the next prototype the KW 1957 (also known as the first Panzer 58 prototype) was produced armed with a model 48 90mm and a secondary armament of a 20mm Oerlikon autocannon. The tank was rounded to the style of the M48 Patton and had side skirts. this prototype didn’t last long as it was evaluated alongside the M48 Patton in 1957. The second prototype Panzer 58 which still exists today was armed with a 20 pounder as the Swiss had been ordering and using Centurions since 1955 and tested their own prototype with the gun due to having spare parts whilst the side skirts were removed.
First Panzer 58 Prototype KW 1957
After these the Swiss had finally produced a batch of 10 Panzer 58’s between 1957-1958 all armed with the 105mm L7 whilst the 20mm remained however was removed later. the Panzer 58’s were powered by a Mercedes Benz 600hp engine and a battle weight of 35 tons, the tanks kept a crew of 4 and were much better equipped to deal with any tank of the time. The Panzer 58 is sometimes wrongly said to be influenced by the Indian Panzer, the Panzer 58’s development however despite looking similar and being developed around the same time period the Swiss designers had taken ideas from other tanks of the time period such as the IS-3 in their first concept to the Patton shaped hull on the Panzer 58’s. The later Panzer 58’s saw limited service in the army as all 10 of them would be converted into the Panzer 61 and eventually would loose their 20mm autocannons.
Panzer 58 105m in service
Dimensions (L-W-H): 9.45x3.04x2.65m (31’ x 9’11’’ x 8’8’’ ft)
Total Weight: 35 tons
Crew: 4 (Driver, Loader, Gunner, Commander/Radio Operator)
Propulsion: 8 cylinder V90° MTU Mercedes Benz 837, 600hp engine
Power to Weight Ratio: 17.14hp/ton
Suspension: Torsion Bar Suspension
Top Speed: 50km/h (31 mph)
Main Armament: 1st prototype: 90mm “Kanone 1948”
2nd prototype: 84mm QF 20 Pounder (Panzerkanone 1958)
Tanks 3-12: 105mm Royal Ordinance L7 (44 Rounds) (105 Panzerkanone)
Secondary Armament: 6x 80mm smoke grenades (2 rounds per tube)
1x coaxial 20mm Oerlikon 240 rounds
1x roof mounted 7.5mm MG 29 3400 rounds
Night Vision: N/A
Armour: 70-138mm front hull
120-193mm turret front
30-40mm sides/rear hull
65-40mm sides/rear turret
Production: 12 vehicles (2 prototypes + 10 production batch)