Status Report: The development of the KW 30 and the Panzer 58
As many of you know Wargaming released the Panzer 58 ‘Mutz’ back in January/ February and which is one of the better Premium vehicles they’ve added so far. Well,while I should be happy for WG to add the Panzer 58 into WoT since I’m a proud Swiss guy and I do love all things Swiss; Watches, Utility pocket knives, Chocolate, Cuckoo clocks, and a highly secretive banking system etc.
The problem here was it was in the German Tech tree. That is what got me into researching because it was very upsetting and somewhat upsetting for my Swiss player*friends and myself to see our neutral country lumped in which a country we classed as a threat during the War. Certainly adding a Swiss tank like that didn’t add a lot of Swiss interest as far as I can tell. Researching it though I’ve been looking at the KW 30 and the Panzer 58, and I can tell you that WG messed things up quite a bit.
So to start off I don’t wish to attack WG quite yet but instead, we take a look at the Rumour that the Panzer 58 program was influenced by the ‘Indien Panzer’ project which is a reasonable proposition as these two tanks look similar and were planned in more or less the same time period.
The design of the Panzer 58 started back in 1950 when the Swiss government quickly noticed that the AMX 13s that they had ordered were insufficient and that they needed a medium tank as well. The political situation all over the globe meant that getting a foreign medium tank would have been difficult, which meant that designing their own tank was necessary. As a result, they designed a 30ton Tank which was the great grandfather of the Panzer 58. This was first shown by me a few days ago in my article about the Swiss tanks, mainly the unknown projects.
The 30t Tank, the Great grandfather of the Panzer 58
This vehicle sadly never made it even though it would have been a mobile, well-protected medium tank with a big punch.
30 tons, with a 600hp engine, having a front hull with 65mm of armour at a 65° angle which additionally is sloped backwards to create a pikenose, very likely influenced by the IS-3s design. The turret armour is not listed at the front but from the blueprints measures out as about 200mm and 270mm at the gun mantlet.
In addition, it gets 4 guns which give it it’s punchy nature:
-a 90mm L/62
-a 90mm L/70
-a 105mm L/53
-a 105mm L/60
There is some confusion over the layout of the vehicles as it appears only a single hatch is visible in the turret over the breech which would be a very inconvenient location for the whole crew to use. From that blueprint we have a rather squashed front position for two crew, one driver and the other presumably being the radio operator in a sort of ‘lean-forward’ position which would have been very uncomfortable but helps keep the dimensions of the vehicle very small. As it stands I have never seen any mention at all of any development from any German project let alone the Indien Panzer specifically. This 30t Panzer design though never left this stage of development and was subjected to refinement until it became the KW30/52 which is the first official KW30 design.
Well these are the only pictures known so far of this vehicle and I haven’t yet found the blueprints either but this is what is known so far:
Weight: 30 tonnes, with an engine producing 600hp, later improved to 800hp giving it between 20 and 26.7 hp/t.
A document of mine mentions that due to the low weight of the tank it’s armour would have been rather poor with the turret at 70mm frontal, 45mm thick sides and 35mm thick rear and the hull thinned down to just 60mm frontal (albeit sloped well), 45mm thick sides and 35mm rear. This tank design as functional as it may well have been was no use as we already had a couple hundred AMX 13 tanks, which were already badly armoured, so another weakly armoured tank was not desirable.
A military officer, therefore, proposed to increase its weight by 10 tonnes and to give it better armour but so far I have not located the details of this plan or the drawing. It is on my next archive shopping list though for this mystery ‘KW40’. I will obviously let Rita and you guys know if and when I located this vehicle.
Going further there was eventually a second prototype of the KW 30.
which already looked a lot like the Panzer 58 most of you know.
This previously unseen image is of this second KW30 vehicle being towed by a Swiss M.47 Patton which had been purchased for evaluation. *
Up close on this vehicle we can see the absence of a cupola, the presence of armoured side skirts and that the 6 smaller road wheels are closer together.
This vehicle is often referred to the Panzer 58 First Prototype and this is where WG starts to become unravelled.
Firstly there were just 12 Panzer 58s built. One of which had a 90mm gun, the second one had a 20pdr gun, and the last 10 vehicles had the 105mm L7 gun. (One tank with a 90mm, just one, a single vehicle. ONLY one. Not TWO)
It was prototype one which had the 90mm gun and is the very vehicle in the last two photographs.What WG has done is to create a fake hybrid of the Panzer 58 second prototype hull and turret, with the gun model of the Indienpanzer and the Panzer 58 first prototype in mind. But this vehicle as they showed NEVER EXISTED. It is made up.
Panzer 58 First Prototype used the 90mm and was built in about 1955/56 which is also when Switzerland purchased some Centurion Tanks from the United Kingdom which was equipped with the 20pdr gun. In order to make any logistic work as easy as possible, it was decided to use the 20pdr gun for the Panzer 58 as well to keep the same spare parts and ammo for both the Centurions and the Panzer 58s and thus the 20pdr was mounted on the Panzer 58 second prototype hull and turret.
Panzer 58 second prototype with the 20 pdr gun located in Thun
I don’t actually blame WG for that mistake, as they just had none yet to do the research and thus assumed the hull and turret looked like the same as the second prototype located in Thun, which was used as the reference.
The same goes for the armour, which brings me to my second complaint. The armour on the side of the hull behind the storage boxes *was 40mm thick in real life and not the 30mm as WG made us believe. The front of the hull is also slightly off (not so much as to make any meaningful difference) and the turret sides are also thicker in real life too. In a nutshell:
Panzer 58 Programme:
Panzer 30t mit 9cm L/62
Panzer 30t mit 9cm L/70
Panzer 30t mit 10.5cm L/53
Panzer 30t mit 10.5cm L/60
KW30/ Panzer 58 First Prototype mit 9cm
Panzer 58 Second Prototype 58 mit 20pdr
Basically, if WG would change the ‘Mutz’ to its historical form you would get a better-armored version of the tank with side-skirts, one turret tumour less and potentially worse ground resistance due to the higher ground pressure. In addition, the Swiss tech tree would lose a tank for the future tree and I don’t want that. Basically WG made a series of errors in the Pz.58 Mutz and created some kind of fake tank as a premium. Fine, they made it and made their errors; I now am working hard to prevent them ruining any further Swiss vehicles with preventable mistakes.
Well, that’s it again for now. Since I’ve got some help now I should get a lot more information soon for maybe another article as we work towards a fleshed out Swiss tree. *To do this we need the support of you guys out there. Ask WG about a Swiss tree, pester them for it and push for it. I do not want Swiss tanks in some German tech tree, we aren’t Germans we are Swiss and WG is really annoying some Swiss players with the idea that Swiss vehicles will just go into the already large German tree. As I go through the tree with these articles hopefully it will become clear that the Swiss can and should be given a full tree in World of Tanks. We are not some backwater nation unknown to tank fans and historians, we too have our iconic tanks as some very capable tanks to be added to this game.