Combat vehicles / Main battle tanks / Panzer 61

Panzer 61

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Medium tank

  • ORIGIN
    Switzerland

  • NICKNAMES
    Pz 61 (abbreviation for Panzer 61)

  • DESIGNED
    1950's

  • DESIGNER
    Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun

  • PRODUCTION
    1965 - 1967 (Pz 61)
    1968 - ? (EntpPz 65)

  • PRODUCERS
    Switzerland - Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun

  • QUANTITY
    A total of 219 Panzer 61 family vehicles have been built:
    10 Pz 58 medium tank
    150 Pz 61 medium tank
    69 EntpPz 65

  • UNIT COST
    Unknown

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Very powerful armament
    Moderate weight
    Moderate armour thickness
    Limited operational range

Introduction

The Panzer 61 is an early Cold War era medium tank of Swiss origin. It was developed domestically since it proved impossible for Switzerland to acquire relatively modern foreign tanks during the Korean War period. The Pz 61 was built in limited numbers since the improved Pz 68 was developed as its successor. Over time the Pz 61 upgraded until its characteristics closely matched the Pz 68.

Layout

The Pz 61 is medium tank with a conventional design. The driver is seated in the front hull, the turret is located in the middle and the engine and drivetrain are located at the rear. The four man crew consists of a commander, driver, gunner and loader.

Firepower

The Pz 61 is armed with a 105mm L7 cannon, 20mm coaxial autocannon and a 7.5mm MG51 machine gun for anti-aircraft use. The powerful cannon allowed the Pz 61 to engage all contemporary targets. A total of 52 rounds of 105mm and 240 pieces of 20mm ammunition were carried. The 20mm autocannon proved less useful and was replaced over time by a second 7.5mm MG51 machine gun, allowing for 57 rounds of 105mm to be carried.

Protection

The cast steel hull and turret armor is of moderate thickness in order to keep the weight low. Smaller caliber cannon may not penetrate over the frontal arc, but the Pz 61 is vulnerable to the ubiquitous T-55 with its 100mm cannon. A total of 8 smoke grenade launchers are fitted.

Mobility

The tracked chassis and limited weight provided the Pz 61 with reasonably good mobility for its era. The 630hp Mercedes-Benz V8 diesel engine provides propulsion and allows for a maximum road speed of 55 km/h. The operational range is rather limited with 250 to 350 km on road.

Users

The Pz 61 was only adopted by Switzerland and saw no export sales. A total of 150 have been produced and remained in use from 1965 to 1994. The armored recovery version was in use from 1968 to 2008. Nowadays the Pz 61 is no longer in use and all remaining vehicles have been scrapped.

Variants

Pz 61

The Panzer 61 is a conventional early Cold War era tank. It is most easily identified by the 20mm coaxial autocannon in a turret that is shaped different from the French AMX-30, but note that the 20mm autocannon was removed during the latest improvements. The Pz 61 most closely resembles the Pz 68, which is an improved model.

Panzer 58: Preproduction model of Pz 61. Fitted with British QF 20-pounder gun. A total of 10 vehicles were produced.
Panzer 61: Production version of the Pz 61. A total of 150 vehicles were produced. They were subsequently upgraded several times during their service life.

TypeMedium tank
Crew4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)
Length9.45 m (gun forward)
Width3.06 m
Height2.72 m
Ground clearance0.40 m
Weight39 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseTracked chassis, 6 roadwheels, idler front, drive sprocket rear
Turn radius?
EngineMercedes-Benz MB 837 Ba 500 V8 diesel, 660 hp
Power ratio16.9 hp/t
Transmission6 forward, 2 reverse
Speed55 km/h on road
Fuel?
Range250 km on road
Wall?
Trench?
Gradient?
Fording?
ArmorSteel, up to 120mm over the frontal arc
NBC equipment?
Night vision?
Smoke2x4 smoke grenade dischargers
Remarks-
Armament105mm L7 cannon
20mm coaxial autocannon
7.5mm MG51 roof MG
Weapon1105mm L7 cannon in turret
52 rounds
powered elevation
360° powered traverse
non-stabilized
Weapon220mm coaxial autocannon
traverse and elevation as main armament
240 rounds in total
non-stabilized
Weapon37.5mm MG51 machine gun
100 rounds ready to fire
manual traverse and elevation
non-stabilized
Weapon4-
Weapon5-
Weapon6-

EntpPz 65

The Entpannungspanzer 65 is an armored recovery vehicle based on the Pz 61 chassis. The chassis and drivetrain are identital to the Pz 61 but the superstructure is much larger and seats the five men crew. A dozer blade is fitted at the front which doubles as an earth anchor for the heavy winch. An A-frame is fitted at the front and is folded over the superstructure during travel.

Entpannungspanzer 65: Original production version. A total of 69 have been built.
Entpannungspanzer 65/88: Improved version converted from the original production vehicles.

TypeArmored recovery vehicle
Crew5 (commander, driver, 3 mechanics)
Length7.6 m (with dozerblade)
Width3.15 m
Height2.97 m
Ground clearance?
Weight39 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseTracked chassis, 6 roadwheels, idler front, drive sprocket rear
Turn radius?
EngineMercedes-Benz MB 837 Ba 500 V8 diesel, 660 hp
Power ratio16.9 hp/t
Transmission6 forward, 2 reverse
Speed55 km/h on road
Fuel?
Range350 km on road
Wall?
Trench?
Gradient?
Fording?
ArmorSteel
NBC equipment?
Night vision?
Smoke2x2 smoke grenade dischargers
RemarksDozer blade, 25 t winch, 15 t A-frame crane
Armament7.5mm MG51 roof MG
Weapon17.5mm MG51 machine gun
100 rounds ready to fire
manual traverse and elevation
non-stabilized
Weapon2-
Weapon3-
Weapon4-
Weapon5-
Weapon6-

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