Schützenpanzer Lang HS.30

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Schutzenpanzer Lang HS.30
Schutzenpanzer Lang HS.30.jpg
Type Infantry fighting vehicle
Place of origin  West Germany
Specifications
Weight 14.6 tonnes
Length 5.56 m
Width 2.54 m
Height 1.85 m
Crew 3 + 5 troops

Armor 30 mm at 45°
Main
armament
20 mm L/86 HS 820 autocannon
Secondary
armament
7.62 mm MG3 machine gun
Engine Rolls-Royce B81 Mk 80F 8-cylinder petrol
220 hp (164 kW)
Power/weight 15.3 hp/tonne
Suspension Torsion Bar. Three Bogie, Five road wheels
Operational
range
270 km
Speed 58 km/h

The Schützenpanzer Lang HS.30 (also Schützenpanzer 12-3) was a German infantry fighting vehicle developed during the 1950s. It was a Swiss Hispano-Suiza design, with a Rolls-Royce engine. After some early mechanical problems only some 2000 were built of the 10,000 planned. It was armed with a 20 mm cannon which was an unusually powerful weapon for an armoured personnel carrier of the period. Its design proved to have many flaws and drawbacks and the construction was followed by a great political scandal in West Germany in the 1960s. 2176 SPz 12-3 and variants were built until 1962, for which the German government paid 517 million DM, or about 238,000 DM per vehicle. The SPz 12-3 was first deployed in 1958 and was replaced by the Marder infantry fighting vehicle from 1971.

Design and doctrine[edit]

Rejecting American doctrine that an armored personnel carrier should serve as a "battle taxi" and not as an assault vehicle, the Germans developed the SPz 12-3 as a vehicle to fight alongside tanks and from which their mechanized infantry could fight from under cover. The German military came to this decision as a result of its Second World War experience with Panzergrenadiere (armored infantry). German doctrine saw the SPz 12-3 as part of the squad's equipment and the squad was trained to fight with the vehicle in both the offense and the defense. Unlike the American M113, the SPz 12-3 could not float, but as German doctrine envisaged the SPz 12-3 as a component in operations combined with main battle tanks that also lacked such a capability this was not seen as a grave disadvantage.[1]

Schützenpanzer (lang) Hispano-Suiza HS 30.jpg

The SPz 12-3 mounted a small turret with a Hispano-Suiza HS.820 20 mm autocannon and a 15x15 periscopic sight. The role of the 20 mm autocannon in German doctrine was to engage helicopters, antitank weapons, and light armored vehicles, thus freeing tanks to concentrate their fire against other tanks. Even with the turret, the SPz 12-3 was fully two feet lower in height than the M113 - no small advantage on an armored battlefield. The vehicle had an on-board supply of 2,000 rounds of 20 mm ammunition.[2] Frontal armor provided protection against 20 mm projectiles, which was stronger than comparable vehicles of other nations. The additional armor made the SPz 12-3 four tons heavier than the M113, even though the SPz could only carry half as many troops. For the squad members to fire their personal weapons while mounted, roof hatches had to be opened with the soldiers sticking up out of the hatches. The Germans considered this a significant disadvantage as their likely opponent, the Soviet Army, was expected to use chemical agents in any war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Despite the German army's insistence on a true infantry fighting vehicle rather than just an armored personnel carrier, the Panzergrenadier brigades included an infantry battalion that was carried initially on trucks and later with M113 APCs. This force composition likely resulted as much from cost considerations as it did from doctrine that called for one third of the Panzergrenadiere to be a motorized force.[3]

The SPz 12-3 and its contemporaries[edit]

Comparison of the SPz 12-3 and similar vehicles[4]
Vehicle Main weapon Frontal armor Height Infantry carried
SPz 12-3 20 mm HS-820 30 mm at 45° 1.85 m 5
AMX-VCI 12.7 mm M2 HMG
(later 20mm autocannon)
15 mm at 45° 2.1 m 10
M113 12.7 mm M2 HMG 38 mm aluminium at 45° 2.5 m 11
BTR-50P 7.62 mm SGMB MG
(some with 14.5 mm heavy machine gun)
11 mm steel at 60° 1.97 m 20
FV432 7.62 mm FN MAG 12.7 mm steel 2.28 m 10

Reliability issues and service period[edit]

Because of a short development period, teething issues dominated the reputation of the SPz 12-3 in its early years. Problems were found with the motor, cooling system, transmission, and suspension.[5] These problems were corrected by the mid-1960s and the SPz 12-3 remained in German service until the early 1980s, with its last duty being with reserve units.

The failures were so many, that the SPz 12-3 was seen unfit for Service by many German Officers. "When i want to find my SPZ-Bataillon, i simply follow the track of broke down tanks." German Brigade Commander 1962.

The motor was too small, having been designed to support a nine ton vehicle and not the 14.6 tons of the SPz 12-3. Additionally, the motor could only be accessed from underneath the vehicle which meant the vehicle had to be brought to an area with maintenance pits in order for engine work to take place.

Starting in 1974, the Marder IFV replaced the SPz 12-3 in German armored infantry units. Peru received around 20 SPz 12-3's during the 1970s. Finally, some SPz 12-3's were used as armored targets on gunnery ranges.[6]

Scandal[edit]

The reliability issues and the initial order for 10,000 vehicles (far above the needs of the Bundeswehr) led to investigative reporting by the Frankfurter Rundschau and Deutsches Panorama (a news magazine that was published in Germany during 1966-67). These investigations revealed that key personnel associated with the procurement of the SPz 12-3 had accepted bribes as high as 2.3 million Deutschmarks (DM). Other witnesses asserted the Christian Democratic Union political party received campaign donations totaling some 50 million DM as a result of its support for SPz 12-3 procurement. The scandal resulted in a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the affair in 1967, with the scandal being known in Germany as the HS-30 Skandal.[7]

Variants[edit]

Schützenpanzer (lang) HS 30.jpg
Panzermuseum Munster 2010 0649.JPG
  • Schützenpanzer lang, Gruppe. The standard IFV.
  • Schützenpanzer lang, FüFu. Command and control version.
  • Schützenpanzer lang, LGS M40A1. Antitank version with 106 mm M40A1 recoilless rifle.
  • Schützenpanzer lang, Panzermörser. Self-propelled mortar version. Initially fitted with an 81 mm mortar and later with a 120 mm mortar.
  • Schützenpanzer lang, Feuerleitpanzer. Artillery forward observer version.
  • Raketenjagdpanzer 1. An anti-tank vehicle, also built on HS-30 chassis, equipped with Nord SS.11 guided missiles.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Haworth, p. 39.
  2. ^ Janes, p. 250.
  3. ^ Haworth, p. 40.
  4. ^ Data from Janes and M113
  5. ^ Janes, p. 249.
  6. ^ panzerbaer.de page on the SPz 12-3.
  7. ^ www.sueddeutsche.de

Sources[edit]

  • Haworth, W. Blair. The Bradley and How It Got That Way, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. ISBN 0-313-30974-4.
  • Foss, Christopher (ed.) Jane's Armour and Artillery 1981-82, Jane's Publishing Company Limited, 1981. ISBN 0-7106-0727-X.

External links[edit]