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Sweden Sweden (1953)
MBT – 212 built

The Swedish Centurion

In the early 1950s, the British Centurion was a big hit, already proven in Korea and precursor of the main battle tank new generation of “universal tanks”. However, if the Swedes approached the British Government but the latter then declined any exports, as it estimated that the needs of the British army had been satisfied first, which was deemed to take between five and fifteen years. Meantime, medium tank developments were led by the vehicle bureau of KAFT with the EMIL programme.

bargningsbandvagn_81_revinge_2012
Bärgningsbandvagn-81 ARV at Revinge in 2012.

This was dropped later and there was instead a full modernization of the ww2-era Strv m/42 as the Strv m/74. Meanwhile, attention also turned to the lighter innovative French AMX-13, with plans for license production as the X tank, but in 1953 the British Government agreed to allow the Centurion for purchases and negotiations were back on tracks. After purchasing two Marks (Strv 81 and 101), the former modernized as the Strv.102, the last were maintained in service in the 1990s as the Strv.104. One unit trained on these as recently as 2000 but it was demobilized as the Swedish Leopard 2 (Strv 122) has been a standard replacement.

strv-104-youtube
Strv-104 (Youtube)

Strv.81

The same year, 80(100?) Mk3 of the reserve were purchased, entering service in Skåne. It was classed as a heavy tank and designated Strv 81. The latter was unmodified apart for minor details proper to Swedish use. It was delivered all in imperial measurements and Pre-NATO threading made the screws incompatible with the later strv 101. It was then armed with the 90 mm ROF 20-pdr gun of the first generation and was relatively underpowered with a 640hp engine, for a top speed of 34-35 km/h on flat. In 1956, 150(160?) more tanks Mark 3/5 were purchased, all armed with the improved 20 pdr type B, also designated Strv.81. In both cases, the only change was the mounting of Swedish radios.

stridsvagn_102_revinge_2013
Strv-102 at Revinge, 2013. The Strv-101/102 were hardly distinguishable

Strv.101

In 1958 the third batch of about 110 Centurions was purchased, but this time of the Mark 10 type. They were all armed with the soon-to-be-legendary Royal Ordnance Factory L7 105 mm rifled gun. In addition, they had a more powerful engine, 120 mm of frontal armor and NATO-standardized equipment, Swedish instrumentation and Radios. Just like in Great Britain, sub-types appeared when it was decided to upgrade the older Mark 3 and 5s. In the 1980s also appeared the Stridsvagn 101R, upgraded with laser rangefinder equipment.

Strv.102

In the early 1960s, it was decided to standardize the Strv-81s to the 101 standard, starting with the main gun, the L7 105 mm, an operation performed in 1964–1966. Eventually, in the early 1980s, they were upgraded again to the late Mark 10 type, with a newly improved armor and at the same time appeared the Stridsvagn 102R upgraded with laser rangefinder equipment.

stridsvagn_102_revinge_2014
Strv-102 at Revinge in 2014

Strv.104

The last wave of upgraded came with the modernization of a batch of 80 Strv.102 with a brand new, more powerful diesel engine (see later) and upgraded laser rangefinder. But the biggest improvement came from the armor, over which was fit a series of ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) blocks.

Strv.105/106

Two prototypes were built: One Strv.102R (105) with upgraded suspension and other elements, and another of the 101R type (106).

strv_104_ointres-se
Strv-104 showing its ERA blocks, part of the 1980s REMO (“REnovering och MOdifiering”) package.

Specifications of the Strv.104

Since this was the last and most interesting model, with more proper Swedish modifications than the others of the series, this will be the focus of our attention. Configuration remained identical to the British Centurion, with a standard crew of four: commander, gunner and loader (turret) and front-left driver in the hull. Combat weight was 54 tonnes.

In 1983-1987, Centurions underwent a midlife renovation and modification (REMO) including a night vision equipment, targeting systems, laser range finders, improved gun stabilization, barrel thermal sleeves and exhaust pipes, and more importantly reactive armor.

Mobility
The Strv.104 was given a brand new powerplant, in addition to the REMO package, this stands for Renovation/modification. This powerpack was also shared by the Sho’t Kal Alef, comprising a Continental diesel engine coupled with an Allison automatic gearbox.

Protection
Of course the Strv.104 inherited the Mark X improved armor, 120 mm thick, sloped armor (almost 200 mm of equivalent thickness)
The ERA bocks covered the glacis front, part of the ring, turret front and mantlet, turret roof, and sides over the metal side skirts. These were introduced in the 1980s with the REMO programme and were developed by the Swedish FFV Ordnance.
For active concealment, there were two banks of six-barrel smoke dischargers and two erectile illumination round dischargers on the rear of the turret roof.

The Strv-81-104 in active service

The Swedish Centurion was eventually retired for good in 1992, following specifications for a new MBT, followed by official comparative tests of the T-72, Leclerc, M1A1 and Leopard 2. The competition ended with the choice of the latter, with some local modifications (Strv-122). 350 Strv-81-104 Tanks has been in service covering most of the Swedish Cold War needs, together with the modernized Strv-74s and unconventional S-tanks of the same generation.

Links

The Swedish Centurion on part XIV
The Swedish Centurion on tanknudave
The Swedish Centurion on home4.swipnet
The Swedish Centurion on wikipedia
Walkaround on prime portal

Strv-104 specifications

Dimensions 9.6oa (7.7) x3.3 x2.9 m ( ft)
Total weight, battle ready 54 tons (xx Ibs)
Crew 4 (driver, cdr, gunner, loader)
Propulsion Teledyne Continental AVDS 1790 2DC V12
Suspension Torsion bar suspensions
Speed (road) 50 km/h (35 mph)
Range 480 km (300 mi)
Armament Main: 105 mm L7, 2x 7.62 mm m/39 LMG, 2 Lyran 71 mm light grenade launchers
Armor 120 mm frontal armour + ERA
Total production 80 (350)

Gallery

stridsvagn-104-ft
Strv-104

centurion-atgm
Strv-102R with ATGMs

Video

https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centurion_(stridsvagn)

strv-81-ss11-proto
Strv-81/102R prototype, with three SS-11 ATGMs. Normally this would be the other side.

strv-101
Strv-101

strv-104
Camouflaged Strv-104

Pansarbandvagn 302
Infanterikanonvagn 91
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16 Responses to Stridsvagn 104

  1. Mark Bevis says:

    Can you clarify a contradiction in your article.
    The photo at the top right says the REMO package of ERA was 1990s, whereas the text of the article says the ERA was introduced in the 1980s. Which is correct?

    • Joakim Åkerman says:

      Not sure if you still care, but the ERA was added in the REMO during the mid 80’s. The article is wrong.

      • Stan Lucian says:

        Hello Joakim,
        Of course we still care. We may be a bit slow, because we have a lot of stuff on our hands.
        Is this better?
        Lucian

        • Joakim Åkerman says:

          Well I was primarily aiming my comment to Mark above. I wasn’t sure if he had already gotten the answer by now or not.

          But to answer your question, the article still has a mistake. It’s this text here underneath the top right image; “Strv-104 showing its ERA blocks, part of the 1990s REMO (“REnovering och MOdifiering”) package.”

          As I said earlier the REMO was done in the mid 80’s which is when the ERA was added.

          • Stan Lucian says:

            Fixed

          • Mark Bevis says:

            Thanks Joakim, I got various answers from other forums, with no real consensus other than mid to late 1980s by the time it would have been available to troops in the field, so the best I ended with was 1988, with 80 vehicles so fitted.

            Mark

          • Stan Lucian says:

            Mark, I sent you an email. Looking forward to your reply.

  2. Joakim Åkerman says:

    Well my source (which is unfortunately in swedish) is from this site http://www.ointres.se/strv_81_101_102_104_centurion.htm

    It’s one of the best sources of information for swedish armoured vehicle.

    “Beslut togs därför att låta 80 stycken av 102:orna (24 ur 1953 års leverans och 56 ur 1955 års leverans) även genomgå en modifiering av chassiet i perioden 1983-1987”

    Translates into something like: “Decision was made to let 80 of the 102’s (24 from 1953’s delivery and 56 from 1955’s delivery) also go through a thorough modifcation of the chassis in the period of 1983-1987”

    “Med uppgraderingen 1983-1987 av de äldre vagnarna till en konfiguration som fick beteckningen Stridsvagn 104, förlängdes den tekniska livslängden till år 2000. ”

    Translates into something like: “With the upgrade 1983-1987 of the older vehicles to a configuration that received the designation Stridsvagn 104, the technical life expectancy/lifetime was extended to year 2000.”

    It’s under this REMO that the ERA plates was added. I hope this helps.

  3. Joakim Åkerman says:

    On a side note (apologies for the double post) I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing entries on some of the other post-war armoured vehicles Sweden designed and adopted. There’s quite a few entries that could be made, I think.

    • Stan Lucian says:

      We do have some Swedish vehicle posts in the over.

      However, if you’d like to see a particular vehicle published, why not take matters into your own hands and write it? We’ll provide the illustration!

      All the best,
      Lucian

      • Joakim Åkerman says:

        I’d like to, but I’m not quite that knowledgeable on the subject I’m afraid and even if I were I don’t really have the necessary writing skills in english to put it together well. In the off-chance that you’re not sick of my nagging, I saw an error in your page on the L-60 series of tanks.

        You seem to have erroneously come to the conclusion that Stridsvagn m/38 was armed with a 20mm autocannon in Swedish service, but in reality all Stridsvagn m/38’s were armed with 37mm Bofors guns, same as the m/39. There’s a comment already stating this on the page and he’s right about it. It also says they had a second MG added later on, but I don’t believe this to be the case. Only the m/39 and after were equipped with 2 MG’s in Swedish service.

        • Joakim Åkerman says:

          Oh and one more thing, ksp (kulspruta) m/39 is a Swedish M1917 Browning machine gun, not a Madsen. The Madsen was never adopted into Swedish service as far as I’m aware. Sweden primarily used Swedish versions of M1917 and M1919 Brownings during WW2.

        • Stan Lucian says:

          Hello Joakim,
          Nobody expects to know these things by heart. The most important part of writing an article is taking the time and doing the research properly.
          As for the English, I’ve got a couple of editors who would gladly straighten up any mistakes or errors you might make in that department.

          Also, rephrased that section on the gun a bit

          • Joakim Åkerman says:

            I’m still not entirely sure I have the necessary writing skills to do it well. That said, I might still try my hand on making one on Stridsvagn 74. I’m unsure on how I go about creating a new article though, so any help there would be appreciated. Another thing I would like to do is to edit some of the existing articles for minors errors that I see pop up here and there, though I don’t see an option to do so.

            For example on the Stridsvagn m/42 page it says this: ” Later on, some were converted into Strv m/74s, and the others into Infanterikanonvagn 72s, prolonging their active life well into the ”

            Ikv 72 should be 73. Ikv 72 was an entirely different lightly armoured spg with open roof and a gun fixed gun in the hull. It should also be Stridsvagn 74 and not m/74 as Sweden changed their naming system shortly after WW2.

            I don’t mean to be rude, but the articles have quite a few smaller errors like these. It also says it had “no less than four 8 mm (0.31 in) m/39 machine guns, one in the nose and three in the right section of the turret’s mantlet” when in actuality it was one in the hull (this is stated correctly), 2 coaxial next to the gun and 1 in the turret rear, as can be seen on the images in the same page. Technically they’re not mounted in the mantlet either as they’re mounted in the turret front, off to the side of the gun mantlet.

            These are minor errors and typoes I’d love to fix but I don’t want to keep being a bother to you about it.

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