The world first missile launching tank was an experiment in 1960, based on the Hispano-Suiza HS-30 chassis, and designed the carry the French SS-11 antitank missiles produced locally under license and also used by the AMX-13. The prolific HS.30 also called Schutzenpanzer Lang SPZ 12.3 developed as an IFV had been already derivated into mortar carriers, recoilless AT gun platform, or artillery observation vehicle. Tactically the idea was sounded. It was a suitable response to the problems of the threat of dozens of thousands of Soviet tanks, a massive conventional force which had no equivalent in the west. These shaped-charge missiles were able to defeat an equivalent of 600 mm of RHA, sufficient against the T-54/55.
The hull of this vehicle was more spacious to accommodate four crewmembers, each with their own single-piece hatch opening on the sides of the hull. The two rear ones were in charge of the reloading process and operated the wire-guided missiles by TV by electrical signals on the vectoring controls. The ten missiles and launchers were located right behind. Two extended arms/launchers were extended and retracted by means of an electro-hydraulic system housed into the casemate.
Each time the arm was extended, ready to fire, the other was reloading inside, helping for a good rate of fire. A tall periscope helped to steer the missiles on the target by all weather. The wire-guided SS-11 also steered by thrust vectoring control, was at that time a standard NATO AT missiles, also deployed by helicopters. Designed in 1953, it had a 190 m/s speed, 500 to 3000 m range, and a Type 140AC anti-armor 6.8 kg Warhead, and was deadly accurate with a normally trained operator.
At the rear was located a new engine, the Rolls Royce B81 Mk 80F engine. This power unit could develop 235 hp@3,800 rpm, ensuring a comfortable cross-country ride and a top speed of 51 kph. The RaktJgpz had a practical fording depth of 0.70 meters, could climb a 60° slope, clear vertical obstacles 0.60 meters high, or cross trenches 1.60 meters wide.
The Bundeswehr acquired the Raketenjagdpanzer-I from 1961 to 1962, for a total of 95 machines. It was followed by the Raketenjagdpanzer-II based on the heavier Kanonenjagdpanzer chassis. However, this vehicle also inherited the faults of the original HS.30 which had to be corrected, meaning a lot of teething problems in service.
This was nevertheless the first weapon system of this kind in the world and triggered the development of other AT missile dedicated tanks. This development led later to the Jaguar I and II in the 1970-80s which replaced both early models, now equipped with HOT missiles.
Sources/Links about the Raketenjagdpanzer-I
|Dimensions||5,56 x 2,25 x 1,70 m ( 18.2 x 7.4 x 5.5 ft)|
|Total weight, battle ready||13 tons (26 000 ibs)|
|Crew||4 (Driver, commander, operator, loader)|
|Propulsion||Rolls Royce B81 Mk.80F, 8-cylinder petrol 235 hp (175 kW)|
|Suspension||Independant torsion bars|
|Speed (road)||51 kph (32 mph)|
|Range||270 km (170 mi)|
|Armament||10 SS-11 AT wire guided missiles|
|Armor||30 mm front (1.2 in)|
|Total production||95 in 1961-62.|