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Panzer 61



Overview


Pz 61

Side view of a Switss Pz 61 medium tank.
Source: Alf van Beem - © public domain

Origin
Switzerland
Type
Medium tank
Entered service
1965
Status
Out of service
Development
1950's
Developer
Switzerland - Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun
Production
1965 - 1967
Producer
Switzerland - Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun
Number produced
10 Pz 58
150 Pz 61
69 EntpPz 65
Designations
Pz 61 / Panzer 61
Notable users
Switzerland

Description


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

Forward view of Pz 61 medium tank before 20mm autocannon was replaced by 7.5mm machine gun.
Source: www.armor.kiev.ua - © copyright lies with original owner

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 closely resembles the Pz 68, which is an improved model.

Variants of the Pz 61

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.
EntpPz 68
Armored recovery vehicle based on Pz 61 chassis. Described in separate article.

Details


Facts Pz 61
General
Origin
Switzerland
Type
Medium tank
Crew
4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)
Dimensions
Weight
39 t combat load
Length
9.45 m (gun forward)
Width
3.06 m
Height
2.72 m
Main armament
Type
105mm PzKan 61 (L7) rifled cannon
Mount
Main gun in turret
Ammunition
56 rounds
Elevation
-10° to +?, powered
Traverse
360°, powered
Rate of fire
Up to 9 rpm
Stabilizer
No
Coaxial armament
Type
20mm Oerlikon 5TGK autocannon
Mount
Coaxial with main armament
Ammunition
240 rounds
Traverse
Traverse and elevation as main armament
Stabilizer
No
Secondary armament
Type
7.5mm MG51 machine gun
Mount
Pintle mount on turret roof
Ammunition
3.200 rounds, 100 ready to fire
Traverse
Manual traverse and elevation
Chassis
Chassis type
Tracked chassis, 6 roadwheels
Layout
Idler front, drive sprocket rear
Suspension
Belleville washer
Automotive
Engine
Mercedes-Benz MB 837 Ba 500 V8 diesel
Power output
630 hp at 2.200 rpm
Transmission
6 forward, 2 reverse
Mobility
Speed
55 km/h on road
Range
250 km on road
Power to weight ratio
16.2 hp/t
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.40 m
Protection
Armor type
Steel
Armor thickness
Up to 120mm over the frontal arc
Smoke system
2x3 80mm smoke grenade dischargers

Media


Related articles


EntpPz 65

The Entpannungspanzer 65 is an armored recovery vehicle based on the chassis of the Panzer 61.

105mm Royal Ordnance L7

The PzKan 61 is a license produced version of the British 105mm L7 rifled cannon.