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HS 30 mortar carrier

The picture shows the HS 30 mortar carrier.

HS 30 mortar carrier (Source: BWB / WTS)Größere Abbildung anzeigen

As a result of the experiences made in the Second World War only ten years earlier Germany had very concrete ideas concerning the requirements for an armored fighting vehicle as a West German defense contribution within NATO.

Based on the scenario of a tank battle in the North German Plain a large quantity of armored fighting vehicles were required, which were supposed to include, but not be limited to, the following features:

  • fully tracked armored vehicle with full cross-country mobility
  • power to weight ratio of at least 20 hp per ton vehicle weight in conjunction with an easy-to-use transmission which today would generally be called “automatic transmission”
  • all-round armor; the drop sides having a height of 160 cm, excluding turret
  • 10 man crew
  • armament: 20 mm machine cannon.

There was, however, no armored fighting vehicle available on the world market that could meet all these requirements. The French AMX 13-VTP came close to this vision, but at a price of around 250,000.00 DM/ea it was considered to be too expensive as the procurement of 10,680 vehicles was envisaged.
The domestic industry had no capacity for the envisaged quantity within the short delivery time required and in times of economic boom reportedly showed little interest in the development of an armored fighting vehicle, which at that time did not seem very profitable.
This provided the possibility for necessary government compensation deals with the former protecting powers Great Britain and France, which were in a much more difficult economic situation at that time. From 1957 onwards France delivered the larger part of the armored fighting vehicles (short) produced by Hotchkiss that were upgraded according to German ideas and primarily intended for use by the armored cavalry.

With a price of 170,000.00 DM per vehicle, the offer by the Swiss industrial group Hispano-Suiza to develop and produce the desired armored fighting vehicle in Great Britain must also have seemed like a low-cost offer and thus an appropriate solution to procurers.

The time pressure resulting from NATO’s requirement for a short-term military build up of the Bundeswehr and a significant exertion of influence by various lobbyists and advisors on decision makers, among them former German military officers from the Second World War now working for industry, resulted in a procurement directive of the Ministry of Defence already in March 1956 without prior testing and service trial.

In order to enable the domestic industry to design tracked vehicles in the future the companies Henschel and Hanomag were awarded contracts for production under license. The rash tasking of uncoordinated, inexperienced and partly inappropriate companies, some of which were primarily interested in participating in the profitable build-up of the Bundeswehr and in gaining economic advantages, would later lead to a unique debacle for the Bundeswehr in the field of armaments.

The prototype of a chassis built by the industrial group Hispano-Suiza which had been developed for this group by the SEAM design office, Paris, in the early 50s served as a basis for the design of the HS 30.
The German procurers apparently hoped to arouse the interest of the French Forces as this would have had a positive impact on the costs. However, procurement by the French Forces did not occur.
The design had considerable deficiencies, which were aggravated by the Forces’ requests for change during the trials and tests that were conducted when production had already commenced.
Considerable additional development effort, to a large extent by German companies, was necessary to guarantee sufficient stability of the vehicle. The ventilation, transmission, cooling, steering gear, braking and rubber suspension defects and their complex correction led to a bad reputation of a vehicle that, in principle, had a reasonable design.

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