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Jagdpanzer SK 105 Kurassier Light Tank / Tank Destroyer (1971)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/1/2014

The Jagdpanzer SK 105 Light Tank is classified as a mobile tank destroyer mounting the 105mm rifled main gun in a unique oscillating turret.

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The Jagdpanzer SK 105 Light Tank was a tank destroyer developed by Saurer-Werke for the Austrian Army during the Cold War. Its design centered around a capable rifled 105mm main gun armament within a traversing turret assembly atop a lightweight tracked chassis. As a tank destroyer, the SK 105 would naturally be called upon to neutralize enemy armor at range and fill a void in the mechanized forces of Austria - the tank-heavy Soviet Army being the primary enemy of the period. Design work on the vehicle began in 1965 to which a prototype was then completed for testing in 1967 - essentially built up from the preceding Saurer 4K 4FA Armored Personnel Carrier of 1961. Saurer-Werke was then absorbed into the now-defunct Steyr-Daimler-Puch consortium in 1970. The formal designation of the tank became SK 105 "Kurraisser" (sometimes written as "SK-105") and authorized serial production commenced in 1971.

The SK 105 is a tank design of conventional configuration. It features a basic hull with a well-sloped glacis plate, shallow hull superstructure and rear-set engine compartment. The turret is fitted amidships for desired balance when traveling and firing. The hull sits atop a tracked system containing five road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket to the rear and the track idler at the front. Three track return rollers guide the track over the road wheels. The vehicle is crewed by three personnel made up of the driver, tank commander and gunner. The driver sits front-left in the hull with the remaining crew in the turret (commander to the left hand side with the gunner to his right). NBC protection is provided for the entire crew and infra-red equipment is located at the driver and commander stations. Armor protection is 40mm at its thickest to help counter the threat from 20mm and smaller fire. Overall weight is approximately 19.5 short tons.

What makes the SK 105 quite unique is its use of an "oscillating" turret design - the Fives-Cail Babcock FL-12 series based on the AMX-13 turret. Oscillating turrets are generally not commonplace in combat tanks but have been successfully utilized in the French AMX-13 Light Tank and Panhard EBR armored car series to name a few. The advantage of such a design lies in the turret being able to fit a heavy, large caliber main gun in a rather modest, lightweight hull configuration. The turret is basically completed as two individual portions - the upper half and lower half with the main gun armament fixed into the upper half, designed to absorb the recoil of the firing action as it moves with it during the process. The upper and lower portions of the turret are hinged with their connection area covered over in visible canvas. As the main gun is fixed to the upper portion, elevation is accomplished by pivoting the entire upper portion of the turret over the lower portion. For traversal, the turret swings to either side in a normal fashion for a complete 360-degree rotation. Turret response functions are powered though an emergency manual system is provided for worse case scenarios.


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Specifications for the
Jagdpanzer SK 105 Kurassier
Light Tank / Tank Destroyer


Country of Origin: Austria
Manufacturer: Saurer-Werk / Steyr-Daimler-Puch - Austria
Initial Year of Service: 1971
Production: 716


Focus Model: Jagdpanzer SK 105 Kurassier
Crew: 3


Overall Length: 25.36 ft (7.73 m)
Width: 8.20 ft (2.50 m)
Height: 8.27 ft (2.52 m)
Weight: 19.5 US Short Tons (17,700 kg; 39,022 lb)


Powerplant: 1 x Steyr 7FA 6-cylinder liquid-cooled 4-stroke turbocharged diesel delivering 320 horsepower @ 2,300rpm.


Maximum Speed: 43 mph (70 km/h)
Maximum Range: 311 miles (500 km)


NBC Protection: Yes
Nightvision: Yes - Infrared for commander and driver only


Armament:
1 x 105mm main gun
1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
2 x 3 smoke dischargers


Ammunition:
42 x 105mm projectiles
2,000 x 7.62mm ammunition
6 x smoke grenades


Variants:
SK 105/A1 - Base production model


SK 105/A2 - Modernized variant; updated automatic ammunition loader and fire control system.

SK 105/A3 - Proposed variant fitting American M68 105mm main gun for NATO projectile support; new oscillating turret; improved armor protection.

Greif ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle

Pioneer CEV - Combat Engineer Vehicle

SK 105 Trainer - Driver training vehicle sans turret.


Operators:
Argentina; Austria; Bolivia; Botswana; Brazil; Morocco; Tunisia