The Stridsvagn 103 also known as S-tank was a Swedish post-war main battle tank and it is the only tank of any kind since World War II to dispense with a turret. It was a revolutionary design originally suggested by Sven Berge of Swedish Arms Administration. His idea was to reduce the overall height of the tank which could only be done by eliminating the turret and placing the main gun in the hull. His ideas were developed in the 1950s and resulted a very low-profile design with an emphasis on survivability and heightened crew protection level.
The Bofors AG of Sweden started the production and the first vehicles entered the service in 1960 – it formed a major portion of the Swedish armoured forces. It was never used in action so its actual value as a weapon was never proven. The tank was phased out of service in 1990s and was replaced by the German Leopard 2.
Strv 103 was one of the first main battle tanks which used a turbine engine. The vehicle was also fully amphibious. Only 20 minutes were needed for the crew to erect the flotation screen around the upper hull, and the tracks would drive the tank at about 6 kilometres per hour (3.7 mph) in water.
The S-Tank was designed to be operated by two men, a commander and gunner, but it was soon decided to carry a third man – a wireless operator who sat facing the rear. The commander, who was usually the driver and the gunner had duplicate controls so that either man could drive or operate the gun. The wireless operator also had a set of driving controls so that he could drive the tank backwards in an emergency.
In order to aim the gun, it is necessary to swing the entire vehicle on its tracks. The gun can then be elevated and depressed by adjusting the suspension’s angle. As the gun is fixed into the hull, it is equipped with an auto loader which gives it the ability to extreme accurate fire at the rate of fifteen rounds per minute.
The kit is one of the oldest sets from Trumpeter range because it was released back in 2002. Previously I did not pay attention to this model until I saw some nicely detailed miniatures on the internet which inspired me to build my own S-Tank. I started to find some good references but truly speaking it was not so easy. The walkarounds are not a problem but the service pictures are not so popular and easy to find. I managed to find some pictures of early versions and retired tanks in collections but it was not exactly what I was looking for. So I needed to use my imagination to create a somewhat more interesting model.
My planning notes
I planned to build this kit as my final project in 2016 so I started with it in November I had a lot of time and no need to rush – about a month was enough time.
inspired by the internet’s resources I wanted to add as much details as I would be using the big Eduard’s PE set, RB Model gun barrel plus antennas, Eureka XXL towing cable and single track links from Trumpeter. I also knew that a lot of wires, metal pipes and scratched plastic details would be needed.
before the building starts I planned to paint the kit with 4 toned hard-edged camo covered by white winter one but after some discussions and with the base colours applied I decided to omit the white. It was quite colourful with standard camo!
It was one of the least attractive model I ever built. But truly speaking because of its “ugliness” it is very interesting and I can say that it is a real eye catcher! The kit itself is not up to today’s standards and additional work is necessary but it was worth to spend so much time searching for good references pictures and building details which were omitted by the model maker.
Thankfully there are no other versions of this vehicle available in 1/35 scale so I do not need to say that I will have to build another one! The one ugly duckling is more than enough!