Immediately to the development of the new Leopard 2, work began on a combat vehicle designed for the more distant future. In the early 70's the company Maschinenbau Kiel (MaK) in an active manner began consideration of the prospects of modern tanks. It was assumed that the developed machine will be ready for the time of its "contemporary» Leopard 2 will become obsolete. In an analysis of the existing structures MaK engineers and analysts have concluded that the current assembly of the tank with a rotating turret and only one instrument is no longer able to provide the desired characteristics of fire. Vpribavok this affected the success of the Swedish reckless Strv tank 103, which failed to cooperate enough fire power (105-mm cannon) and the excellent characteristics of speed, agility and protection. However, rigid fixation guns require complicate suspension: vertical aiming by tilting the whole body. German engineers have decided to adopt the idea of a tank without a turret, but with all this, not to split hairs with cannon-fire. Immediately, the group of engineers led by Wolfgang Matos concluded that a setting on the tank immediately promising 2-guns. According to the views of designers to achieve a significant increase in combat capabilities by other means did not seem likely.
As a base for the newest experimental design was chosen the most experienced tank MBT-70. For mass production of this armored car was not suitable, but liked to use in experimental work on VT1. In accordance with reckless build the future of the tank chassis was shortened, which is why instead of 6 road wheels on board was the only account for 5. Suitably was refined hydro-pneumatic suspension. Native diesel engine Continental AVCR-1100-3 tanks MBT-70 was replaced with a diesel engine MV873Ka-500. The new engine can run constantly, giving power to fifteen hundred horsepower, and for a little time, "accelerate" to 2,175 hp With all of this at an emergency operation 38-ton tank had a power density greater than 50 hp ton weight. This is approximately two times higher than most of the tanks. One reason for the highest power density was comparable light weight design. Given the experimental nature of the project, MaK engineers did not experienced tanks made of special steel armor, and of lighter "normal" types. So Makar was saved about 2-4 tons of weight. On the modified chassis of the MBT-70 tank was installed armored cockpit. Is noteworthy that the internal volume is comparable bolshennom she had not really huge dimensions. Total height of VT1 was little more than a 2-meters, which was 80 cm less redundant with the initial MBT-70.
In 1972 he finished assembly of the first prototype tank VT1. The first instance with the index VT1-1 equipped with 2 105-mm rifled gun L7. Both guns had an autoloader. Tank VT1-2, in turn, received a 120-mm smoothbore gun Rh-120. With all of this, only one gun was equipped with an autoloader. The fact is that during the development of the new tank designers Maschinenbau Kiel could not make a mirror version of this unit. Because one tool charge the gun, and in the second shells and cartridges were fed the crew manually. Fascinatingly design mounting guns on tanks VT1-1 and VT1-2. On both machines guns were able to only vertical lay. Moving the guns in the horizontal plane was not provided. In addition, they established a small corner of descent: the bands overlap aiming at a distance of 1,500 meters.
2-tests of prototypes lasted until 1976. During this time the tanks drove through the landfill thousand kilometers and fired hundreds of shots. First, it became clear that in view of the very VT1 own concept is not able to lead a more or less accurate fire on the move. When fired from the 1st gun recoil unfolded little tank around a vertical axis, it was necessary to fend off the turn of the whole tank. This problem only exacerbated by the lack of sights from the driver. Periscope sights Carl Zeiss PERI R12 was only the commander and gunner. Of course, coupled with the lack of guns traverse it very difficult to maintain the fire. In addition, restrictions on the strength of the structure is not allowed to fire at once from both guns. So Makar, the only way to exclude somehow turn the tank with the shooting was "denied" the structure itself. Is noteworthy that the above-mentioned Swedish tank aiming Strv 103 produced a driver. To do this, he had sight and controls tilt housing.
Measured impossibility of shooting on the move has become a prerequisite for a huge number of oscillations relative to the prospects of the construction. But in defense of the tank reads accuracy when firing from a place with small stops. NATO standard target for the tank (size 2,3 x2, 3 meters) from a distance of a kilometer amazed with a probability of about 90%. For the mid-70s this number is very good indicator. In addition, two guns with automatic loading tangibly increased the rate of the tank. Yet, in 1976, the project was abandoned VT1. For service went Leopard 2 and the need for dvuhpushechnoy combat vehicle during disappeared.
First, the 80 huge number of decision-makers in the field of German tank design and command of ground forces were committed to thinking about the absence of prospects for adopted for service "Leopard" the second model. In their opinion, this tank, although it was modern and almost the best in the world, very much linked to past war machines and as a result, did not have sufficient capacity in terms of modernization. As history will show later, they were wrong. But first, the 80 project VT1, as the most unusual and fascinating, was renewed. It was at this time for him at all stuck unofficial nickname Leopard 3. In connection with neuvvyazkami the sequential firing of the cannon 2-MaK engineers in the development of the latest modification of VT1 (GVT) increment width of the body. In addition, the guns were moved closer to the center of the cabin, which resulted in a change in the shape of the latter. As a result of these improvements has been achieved in the reduction of the unfolding moment of the shooting. But, unfortunately, two new experimental tank for his fighting qualities were not able to get closer to the available technology. In the end, the management of the Bundeswehr has come to the conclusion that further upgrades Leopard 2. Because of this, by the mid 80's GVT project was initially suspended and later closed.
Practically, VT1 and GVT were little tanks and self-propelled anti-tank guns, and not the most successful. A fascinating idea with 2 guns in practice turned low stability when driving and the inability to shoot on the go. Also on the fate of the project affected the placement. VT1, almost as tank destroyers, initially served as a new tank. Naturally design machines do not allow one hundred percent fit the accepted requirements for the latter, and promote it as a self-propelled anti-tank, apparently, no one or even not going to. Because the development Maschinenbau Kiel failed become Production tanks or self-propelled guns.
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