The VT 1-2 tank
|Type||Main battle tank
|Place of origin||West Germany|
|Produced||1974 and 1975 (VT 1-1 and VT 1-2)|
|Number built||2 VTs and 5 GVTs|
|Variants||VT 1-1, VT 1-2, GVTs|
|Weight||43.5 tonnes (42.8 long tons; 48.0 short tons)|
|Crew||3 (commander, driver, gunner)|
|2 x 105 mm guns
2 x Rh 120 guns
|Engine||MTU MB803 Ra-500
1,500 PS (sustained )
2,400 PS (short time)
55 PS/t (short time)
|Speed||70 kilometres per hour (43 mph)
40 kilometres per hour (25 mph) offroad
The Versuchsträger 1-2 (abbreviated: VT, meaning "test-beds" or "experiment carrier") were two German prototype twin gun turretless main battle tanks. Since the early 1970s a number of West German companies have been working on conceptual designs for a successor to the Leopard 1. This project had the name Kampfpanzer 3 (KPz 3). The KPz 3 project was temporarily a British-German joint project, until the UK withdrew because they wanted a turreted tank. The Germans had already developed the Leopard 2 and therefore didn't see the need for another conventional tank. One of the companies involved was MaK, developing the VT 1-1 and VT 1-2. The test programme ended proving that a twin-gunned turretless tank could be created with enough technical effort, but had drawbacks in both practical and tactical use.
The first VT tank, VT 1-1, was built in 1974 by Maschinenbau Kiel (MaK). One year later they produced the second VT tank, the VT 1-2. For further testing of the mobility and the concept of a tank with two main guns, five Gefechtsfeldversuchträger (GVT, "battlefield test-beds") were designed and built in 1975 and 1976.
The VT 1-1 was based on the shortened chassis of the cancelled MBT-70 tank. Since the tank had no autoloaders, a crew of four was needed to operate it. All VT tanks followed in some extent the traditional design of German Jagdpanzers like the post war Kanonenjagdpanzer. The VT 1-2 featured a turbocharged engine, which was capable of 1,500 PS sustained and 2,400 PS for short periods of time. The tank had a three-man crew seated at the front, with driver between commander and gunner. A comparison with the Leopard 2 was held, which proved that the VT 1-2 tank wouldn't have any significant advantages over the Leopard 2. The engine of the Leopard 2 wasn't defining the concept and could therefore be replaced by the stronger 12-cylinder engine of the VT 1-2 if required. The Leopard 2 also had a high first round hit probability, due to its advanced fire control system, which corresponds to or even surpass the calculated first round hit probability of the twin guns.
The VT tanks were designed to:
- reach a higher weapon efficiency through short reaction times, higher hit probability and higher kill probability by using twin guns in a casemate structure.
- be more mobile by using a stronger engine and a new suspension.
- have a higher level of survivalability by reducing the crew compartment, using heavy frontal armour and the ability to use the Wedelkurs technique, i.e. driving sideward (like beating on land).
The VT 1-1 was armed with two 105 mm rifled guns, which were loaded manually. The VT 1-2 carried two 120 mm smoothbore guns equipped with 6-round automatic loaders. The GVTs were not fitted with guns, instead they mounted two gun simulators. For combat simulations they used Talissi laser fire simulators. The propellant gases were created with a 20 mm cannon mounted on the roof.
- VT 1-1 - 105 mm rifled guns with manual loading.
- VT 1-2 - 120 mm smoothbore guns with an automatic loader and an engine uprate.
- GVT 01 - GVT 05
- M50 Ontos - tank destroyer with six M40 recoilless rifles
- Type 60 Self-propelled 106 mm Recoilless Gun - tank destroyer armed with two 105 mm recoilless rilfes
- Stridsvagn 103 - turret-less main battle tank of the same era