The Swiss NKPz Main Battle Tank Background
The Swiss were using British Centurions after WW2 as they initially lacked the ability to develop their own tanks until the late 50’s when they came up with the Panzer 58, which was armed with a Swiss 90mm main gun.
The Pz 58 never entered production but was further developed in to the Pz 61. 150 were manufactured by RUAG Land Systems and entered service with only the Swiss Army in 1965. It was eventually replaced by the Pz 68.
The Pz 68 was an upgraded Pz 61 with a new higher turret. Manufactured by Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun, it entered service in 1971. It retained the same firepower and level of protection, but had an improved MTU MB-837, which generated 660hp.
A total of 390 were built, but hit the headlines due to some major defects of the vehicle and it was even deemed not fit for combat. The problems with the vehicle were ironed out when nearly 200 where upgraded to the Pz 68/88.
The Swiss NKPz Main Battle Tank Spec’s
The design utilized the Rheinmetall L44 120mm smoothbore (as used on the Leopard 2) with an autoloader. The autoloaders ammunition storage was set at the rear of the turret bustle, just like the French Leclerc and could reportedly store 44 rounds of various types. IT had a coaxial Machine Gun and second mounted on the commanders cupola.
The vehicle was fitted with a 1400hp engine and hydropneumatic suspension so that the ground clearance height could be altered.
Its not fully known what type of armour was used on the vehicle, though the engine was mounted in the front of the vehicle just like the Israeli Merkava. This served not only as a form of spaced armour, but a physical barrier for incoming rounds, but also meant the driver was off-set to the right of the vehicle, which was a much more safer position for him.
The vehicle design was by Swiss Firm Contraves in the 1970’s. The vehicle never entered production and Switzerland went on to licence manufacturer their own version of the Leopard 2A4, designated the Pz 87.