THE SWISS PANZER 68 - NOT SO FIT FOR COMBAT


The Panzer 68 was the logical next step for the Swiss main battle tank (MBT), development started almost immediately after the introduction of the Panzer 61. The tank was to be an improvement on the earlier 61 model, consisting of wider tracks, a stabalized gun and the removal of the 20mm coaxial - replaced with 7.5mm machine gun.

Unfortunately a commission found the tank was plagued with serious problems, some of them, extremely dangerous. After the report was published it became a national scandal and led to the suspected resignation of the minister of defence, Rudolf Gnägi.

  • The tank would not allow shifting into reverse while the vehicle was in forward motion, meaning the crew had to stop the tank before being able to access the reverse gear.
    • Nuclear, biological and chemical protection systems were found to be insufficient to protect the crew, forcing them to wear protective equipment inside the tank, lowering their preformance and making movement difficult; but wait it gets worse!
    • The radios installed in the tank would interfere with the turret control systems, resulting in uncontrolled movement of the turret whenever the radios were used at max output.
    • To make things even worse, switching on the heating system could cause the main gun to fire if it was loaded. This problem was caused by the electrical systems, many of the internal systems shared the same electronic circuits. Thankfully no one was ever hurt.

    In a sarcastic headline, Swiss tabloid newspaper 'Blick' commented: "The Panzer 68 is much more dangerous than it seems!". I guess they were not wrong. The Panzer 68 would later be refitted and the 68/88 upgrade would fix these serious issues.

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