Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

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ArmchairSamurai
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Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by ArmchairSamurai » 12 Oct 2020 06:25

Hello all.

I was researching Vickers' sales to the Baltic nations and I came across the photograph below. Despite my efforts, I have found nothing to explain its history except that it is a variation of the Light Tank sold by Vickers... to Switzerland. Most interesting is the side skirts, because if the frontal armor is as thin as I am lead to believe (likewise the armor below the turret on both sides and no doubt the rear too), what is the advantage of the skirts? I am curious as to what you all think.

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gebhk
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by gebhk » 12 Oct 2020 12:09

Hi Armchairsamurai.

My first impulse was that this was a photoshop of a World of Tanks fantasy because it seems to populate their pages quite a lot. However, it appears to have originated from the family collection of one Jakob Naf and was taken circa 1938. If real, it is a picture of the Swiss Army's second Vickers model 1933 and has been modified at least with a new commanders cupola and fender headlights as well as the skirts. The other model 1933 (Nr 7304) remains (at least externally) without any such modifications in a Museum, so the modifications to Nr 7305 most likely occurred in Switzerland - ie Vickers archives probably won't be of much help.

AFAIK the Swiss bought 2 Vickers model 33 (in 1934) and 4 model 34 (in 1935), naming them collectively Panzer 34/35 and although originally pleased with and planning to build lots of them, they quickly decided it wouldn't cut the mustard and set about looking for something better - ending up with the CKD-designed LTL-H (or LTH) in 1939. In short, the Swiss had given up on the Vickers very quickly and it seems odd that they would have been messing about with it to this degree. Also these skirts, while pretty much useless as armour as you point out, would have only hindered mobility in rough terrain (a priority for the Swiss - that's why they liked the CKD tank). Very peculiar all round. Good luck with your researches.
Last edited by gebhk on 12 Oct 2020 16:23, edited 1 time in total.

gebhk
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by gebhk » 12 Oct 2020 12:29

To add to the mystery, the word 'Renndere', seen in the background on what looks like a gate, I can find only in........ Norwegian (meaning 'runners').

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Helmut0815
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by Helmut0815 » 12 Oct 2020 21:23

gebhk wrote:
12 Oct 2020 12:29
To add to the mystery, the word 'Renndere', seen in the background on what looks like a gate, I can find only in........ Norwegian (meaning 'runners').
Well, I read "Rennvere" so it's lost likely the german word "Rennverein" = Racing club.


regards


Helmut

gebhk
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by gebhk » 12 Oct 2020 23:40

Now that make a lot more sense! Is a 'reinverein' a foot racing club (ie for human runners only) or can it be (as in English) a motor racing club?

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ArmchairSamurai
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by ArmchairSamurai » 14 Oct 2020 00:06

gebhk wrote:
12 Oct 2020 12:09
Hi Armchairsamurai.

My first impulse was that this was a photoshop of a World of Tanks fantasy because it seems to populate their pages quite a lot. However, it appears to have originated from the family collection of one Jakob Naf and was taken circa 1938. If real, it is a picture of the Swiss Army's second Vickers model 1933 and has been modified at least with a new commanders cupola and fender headlights as well as the skirts. The other model 1933 (Nr 7304) remains (at least externally) without any such modifications in a Museum, so the modifications to Nr 7305 most likely occurred in Switzerland - ie Vickers archives probably won't be of much help.

AFAIK the Swiss bought 2 Vickers model 33 (in 1934) and 4 model 34 (in 1935), naming them collectively Panzer 34/35 and although originally pleased with and planning to build lots of them, they quickly decided it wouldn't cut the mustard and set about looking for something better - ending up with the CKD-designed LTL-H (or LTH) in 1939. In short, the Swiss had given up on the Vickers very quickly and it seems odd that they would have been messing about with it to this degree. Also these skirts, while pretty much useless as armour as you point out, would have only hindered mobility in rough terrain (a priority for the Swiss - that's why they liked the CKD tank). Very peculiar all round. Good luck with your researches.
Very, very interesting gebhk! I appreciate it. I have since come up with another theory for the skirts, though it's a bit so so. I wonder if the Swiss were experimenting with an early application of the spaced-armor concept, in lieu of anti-tank rifle developments. If a round were to strike the skirt, it would lose its momentum and possibly not penetrate the belly of the tank. After all, the tank can still operate even without its commander and gunner, but less so without its driver. The hole in this theory is the lack of additional armor on the front and read, as we have already pointed out. Hmm. I agree, peculiar.
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gebhk
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by gebhk » 14 Oct 2020 00:50

I don't think it's as way-out as all that. The skirt would certainly give good protection against the type of round that the Polish A/T rifle fired - a sort of non-explosive version of the HESH principle. The bullet did not penetrate the tank. Rather it had a soft nose which was squashed against the armoured surface and transferred the bullet's energy to the armour plate either knocking out a plug in thinner armour, spraying the inside with shattered bullet and armoured plate fragments or causing flakes of armour to peel off the inner surface of thicker armour. Both eventualities highly unpleasant for the crew.

The skirt would also provide some welcome protection to the running gear which was very vulnerable to artillery fire, hand grenades etc

The turret was both a smaller target and, I vaguely seem to remember, slightly better armoured (but don't quote me on that) than the body.

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Helmut0815
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by Helmut0815 » 14 Oct 2020 12:14

gebhk wrote:
12 Oct 2020 23:40
Now that make a lot more sense! Is a 'reinverein' a foot racing club (ie for human runners only) or can it be (as in English) a motor racing club?
Rennverein, not Reinverein pls.
But I don't think it's a foot racing club, that would be called "Leichtathletik-Verein". If you google for "swiss rennverein" you'll find a lot of horse racing, but could also be automobiles, motorcycles, bobsleds, whatever you want.


regards


Helmut

gebhk
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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by gebhk » 14 Oct 2020 13:53

Apologies for mutilating your native (I presume) tongue - some sort of typo crept in. Thanks for the explanation. It may point to an explanation of the rather odd location of a tank outside a racing club. I wonder if, conceivably, motor racing clubs had racing tracks? If so, this might be a good place to carry out speed trials in a country which, virtually sans tanks and where larger areas of flat ground were (I presume, maybe wrongly) at a premium, perhaps did not have its own army tank-testing facilities ???

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Re: Swiss Vickers Light Tank Model 1938 -- Side Skirts?

Post by nuyt » 19 Dec 2020 23:13

Goodday all,
The Swiss order of Vickers light exports is briefly discussed in David Fletcher's Mechanized Force. Apparently there were more peculiarities. The original sprockets and idlers of one of the first tanks were fitted with teeth, possibly against packed snow (ice?) on the tracks. They seem to have been removed quickly though. The first two vehicles also came each with different suspension.

Anyway, would the skirts have helped in deep of blowing snow perhaps, to prevent it from clogging up the system? Just another guess...

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