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SP 70 / PzH 155-1

cador

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I read long time ago in Armies & Weapons the prototype of the SP-70, a cancelled self propelled howitzer but nothing on the web.
Do you have something about it ? ;D
 

Apophenia

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The SP 70 (or PzH 155-1) was a 1973 M109 replacement for West Germany, Britain, and Italy. Obviously, the howitzer used was the FH 70.

The SP 70 began on a Leopard 1 chassis but moved to the Leo 2. Production models were to have aluminum hulls and turrets (like the M109). Power was by MTU MB 871 diesel.
 

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Apophenia

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And a bit more ...

From Brassey's Artillery of the World (1977)

"155mm gun SP 70
Tri-national: Fedreal Republic of Germany, Italy, United Kingdom

Calibre: 155mm, Barrel length: 39 calibres, Muzzle brake: double baffle, Ammunition type: separate, Charges: 8, Ammunition options: HE (43.5kg); Smoke BE; Illuminating, Muzzle velocity: 827 m/sec, Maxium rnage: 24,000 m, Traverse on carriage: 360, Detachment: 6, Chassis type: individual.

SP 70 is a project being undertaken by Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom in parallel with the FH 70 towed gun project. SP 0 will be the FH 70 ordnance mounted on a purpose designed chassis. The breakdown of development work is:

Italy: Recoil system; Loading system; Some chassis elements,
Germany: Chassis and running gear [KMW],
United Kingdom: Turret; Sights

Performance will be directly comparable with the FH 70. Existing 155mm ammunition and a purpose-built type (HE, smoke and illuminating), will be used. The rocket assisted projectiles which are under development will increase range to 30,000 m."
 

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PMN1

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Became known as the SP-80, then the SP-90.....

Amazing how quickly the participating countries could knock up a replacement when the project was cancelled, does suggest 'the will' wasn't really there.
 

smurf

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PMN1 said
does suggest 'the will' wasn't really there.
Perhaps, but designing the different bits in different countries always seemed to me to be asking for trouble. There have been several other "cooperative" tank failures.
 

Apophenia

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And doesn't the PzH 2000 seem like a better thought-through system than the SP 70? :)
 

Red Lancer

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Thought I'd post some info on why SP70 failed.

As a multi nation project I recall the responsibility for the ordnance was british, the turret italian and the main body german. Each country chose what they thought was best - a bit like a camel being a horse designed by a committee. As you can see from the photos the germans went with the tried and tested Leopard chassis. The problem was that with the engine at the rear and the turret in the middle a complicated ammo handling system was required to move the shells and charge bags from the ground up. This system had about twenty microswitches in series that all needed to be in the correct position for the system to work. As each microswitch had about a 2% chance of not correctly aligning then the chance of the thing working was tiny. In fact it didn't so it was cancelled.
 

Pioneer

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As a kid looking through military books and mags - I thought this program would have been a winner! What being a joint nation project utilizing the FH-70 155mm howitzer and the Leopard 1 MBT chassis - I was admit it would be a cost effective system. How naive I was (mind you in 1977, I was only 6 years old!)

Does anyone have any idea of what the cost were to have been per vehicle?
Does anyone know if the SP-70 made it to test firing status?
And finally is there any footage of the SP-70 showing mobility and firing???


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Pioneer
 

uk 75

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Another of those 70s weapons that looked cool but wasnt. I can imagine the turret on the
MBT 70 driver version (developed by the Germans for their Flak tank version) as a really silly
but smart looking bit of kit.

UK 75
 

Red Lancer

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Pioneer said:
Does anyone know if the SP-70 made it to test firing status?

It certainly made it to test firing. There is one still in existence at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, UK or was a few years ago. A salutory lesson on how not to procure equipment.
 

red admiral

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Red Lancer said:
It certainly made it to test firing. There is one still in existence at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, UK or was a few years ago. A salutory lesson on how not to procure equipment.

It still survives at Shrivenham as of about 6 months ago; they've got a good little museum of vehicles and weapons going on there. They've got some AS90 bits as well - including one barrel that blew up under test. Unfortunately I didn't think I'd be allowed to take photos so didn't take a camera along.
 

uk 75

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A rare drawing of the SP 70 taken from an 80s edition of Encyclopaedia of the
British Army by Terry Gander
 

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Old_ROF

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The turret (internal fitments and and main structure) was done in the UK; RARDE, the ROFs and VSEL were all involved in different aspects of the design, manufacture and system trials.

The photos attached are of a prototype SP70 at ROF Nottingham, Cold weather trials in Norway, and the Charge Replenisher gear on turret rear of the Shrivenham SP70 vehicle.
 

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robunos

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Found this via Wiki...

http://sill-www.army.mil/famag/1983/MAY_JUN_1983/MAY_JUN_1983_PAGES_26_31.pdf

cheers,
Robin.
 

batigol

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The 1980s book Modern Land Combat by Christopher Foss and David Miller has a really neat, 2-page drawing of the SP-70 alongside the French GCT 155mm. The authors seemed to be quite convinced SP-70 would be a true world-beater :D
 

Rickshaw

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SP-70 came along at just the wrong time it seems. It was also overly complex in my opinion. Putting it all in relatively small turret on a stretched tank chassis must have made it even harder. It was stretching the envelope but did provide useful development work for the PzH-2000 and the AS-90.
 

acorning

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A case of 'possibly good idea, but'.

As I understand the workshare Gemany was responsible for the ordnance and vehicle, UK for the turret.

The vehicle was 'based on' Leo, but it was slightly wider and the engine had a couple of cylinders chopped off. It was definitely not an actual tank chassis, a common myth. I'm not sure if it had an aux gene.

Using a tank based chassis was plain daft, UK knew this but the Germans thought they knew better. The basic problem was no ground level door into the fighting compartment and hence all ammo had to go in through some contrivance. It was the inability to make this mission critical contrivance sufficiently reliable that in the end killed it.

The prolonged gestation period meant it was also somewhat out of date by the time the plug was pulled. For example in the mid 70s its sights were considered very clever by eliminating the need to cross-level, by the late 80s it was clear that fully digital sights were the only way to go, technology had moved on.

One tale from one of the early days project members was about direct fire sight. Since the 1930s UK artillery at least had movable graticules in their direct fire telescopes, this meant that the layer positioned the cross hairs at the range and lead. The Germans refused point blank to agree to this. Fixed graticules and train ze soldiers.
 

moin1900

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Here the successor of the SP-70 program and the predecessor of the PZH-2000

WegmannMaK
Combat vehicle, especially armored howitzer
http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=4oAiAAAAEBAJ&dq=Combat+vehicle,+especially+armored+howitzer

Krauss-Maffei Porsche KUKA
http://www.jedsite.info/companies/romeo/rheinmetall/archive-document/Rheinmetall%20Artillery-Systems.pdf
http://www.modelarmour.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=821:tankograd-panzerhaubitze-2000&catid=38:books&Itemid=60

SP-70 turret
http://www.panzer-modell.de/specials/ontour/unterluess/gal1.htm
Another SP-70 model
http://www.diethelm-glaser.net/militaer/BWB/BWB-Samml-225.jpg
SP-70 chassis with Taurus turret
http://www.hartziel.de/index.htm?/_typen/pzh2000.htm
 

Jemiba

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Another photo of this project from „Typenkompass Artillerie-, Panzer- und Luftabwehrsysteme der Bundeswehr“, by
K.Anweiler and M. Pahlkötter. In Germany it was designated as "PzH 70" (Panzerhaubitze 70).
 

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Pioneer

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acorning said:
Using a tank based chassis was plain daft, UK knew this but the Germans thought they knew better. The basic problem was no ground level door into the fighting compartment and hence all ammo had to go in through some contrivance. It was the inability to make this mission critical contrivance sufficiently reliable that in the end killed it.

An interesting and valid point my friend. One I did not seriously consider until you mentioned it!!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Abraham Gubler

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The ‘contrivance’ isn’t just a bypass for not having hull rear door but part of the automatic loading concept. The idea being you can have a ground pile of ammunition and only need one act of manual loading to fire this ammo. Unlike an M109 or AS90 in which ammo from the ground pile needs to be passed through the rear door and then manually loaded into the breech.

An SP gun with a hull rear door and an automatic loading capability like the PzH2000 isn’t exactly mechanically simple in the way that it gets the ammo from the rear of the hull into the magazine and then into the breech. It has two internal rotating carousels and is a lot more complex than a relatively simple loading arm. Others like the K9 are even worse in that the ammo is passed into the rear door then has to be manually placed onto its internal loading arm which will then automatically put it into the magazine.

The external loading arm approach can actually be quite effective and works well on various other systems like the G6-52, Sholef, MSTA. The biggest problem of course with such turret based loading systems is if the gun has to fire to off axis targets and the turret rotates. Not such a problem with the G6 because of limited firing arcs but you’d be much better with the Pzh2000 loading from a ground pile in non-linear battlefields than the SP70, Sholef, MSTA, etc.

It’s not the general concept that failed in this regard but the particular technical solution.
 

acorning

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Not sure about the 'one act of loading' bit. The ammo was separate loading, ie proj and cart are separate items. IIRC SP 70 did have internal ammo stowage, for various obvious reasons (starting with Quick Actions and ending with the need to operate fully closed down in NBC conditions). I doubt that direct loading from external to breach would be the usual practice, for a start the time required would probably not achieve the required burst fire rate. Where it would be useful would be sustained low rate of fire, ie 2 rpm. By 'off axis' you obviously mean 'off centre of arc', the vehicle axis is irrelevant.
 

Abraham Gubler

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acorning said:
Not sure about the 'one act of loading' bit. The ammo was separate loading, ie proj and cart are separate items.

It is not an issue of separate loading of shells and charges. It’s about loading of shells from a ground pile. The shell weighs 45 kg and even a full charge weighs around 10kg. You can easily manipulate and load the charges manually because of their low weight compared to the shell.

If you have a ground pile beside an M109 it takes two separate acts of human work to load it into the breach of the gun. One act to lift it up and into the rear of the SP gun and another act to then lift it from the floor of the SP gun and into the breach or loading cradle. If you have a mechanical loading arm like on the SP 70 it only takes one act to load the shell from the ground pile and the mechanical system does the rest. Which therefore obviously requires less crew to match the same rate of fire.

acorning said:
IIRC SP 70 did have internal ammo stowage, for various obvious reasons (starting with Quick Actions and ending with the need to operate fully closed down in NBC conditions). I doubt that direct loading from external to breach would be the usual practice, for a start the time required would probably not achieve the required burst fire rate. Where it would be useful would be sustained low rate of fire, ie 2 rpm.

It’s actually standard practice for a number of SP guns with similar equipment (PzH2000 in Afghanistan for one). The onboard unit of fire in the internal magazine is retained as long as possible in case the gun has to manoeuvre away from the gun limber. Rate of fire is not affected because the mechanical loading arm can match the rate of effort of the mechanical breech loading system inside the SP gun.

acorning said:
By 'off axis' you obviously mean 'off centre of arc', the vehicle axis is irrelevant.

The vehicle axis is important because of the relationship with where the ground pile is located. Which is at the rear of the vehicle. So if the gun has to train 90 degrees to the left for a target of opportunity the mechanical loading arm will move away from the ground pile and now be located on the vehicles right side. This will require the gunners to port the shells from the ground pile to the loading arm. The PzH2000 which has an external loading system located in the hull does not have this problem as shells are always feed to the rear of the vehicles hull so if the turret has to train away from the vehicle’s axis it does not effect the loading from the ground pile (except for muzzle blast).
 

acorning

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Getting a complete round from the ground into the breech and completing the laying, would be some fairly fast moving mechnical bits for a burst rate of fire of 6 rpm. As I said, not much of a problem working from the internal magazine, particularly since high rates are generally limited to 3 mins for thermal management reasons.

Double handling doesn't seem to worry UK with AS-90 (or the M109 users). The person(s) outside is there anyway (to open the ammo packaging) as is the one in the turret.

If you are concerned with 'off-axis', or more accurately covering a wide arc of fire, then the solution is in the way you package and handle ammo. Use ULCs (17 complete rounds) and have RTFLTs in the battery to move the ULCs off the flatracks to exactly where they are needed.
 

robunos

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Some images of the SP-70 at Shrivenham, from the link here :-

http://forum.worldoftanks.eu/index.php?/topic/284739-shrivenham-trip-pt1/

posted here on the forum :-

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,19912.msg214853.html#msg214853

(h/t moin 1900)

cheers,
Robin.
 

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Pioneer

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Just stumbled across this in my files
"Model of the SP70 in the 1984 prototype B version"


Regards
Pioneer
 

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TsrJoe

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Between 1976 & 1979 I was involved in the control systems and protocols for the SP80. Whichever prime mover and ordnance was ultimately chosen the principle was a semi-autonomous artillery platform.
the FOO with GPS and Laser Rangefinder would deploy to overlook the target area.
The SP80 would be driven by the driver to a location as indicated by an onboard GPS system (early Satnav).
The control system would know to 10 digits thd location of both the FOO and the gun it guns which need not be co-located. The FOO pointed the Rangefinder at the target and made a designation, troops in open, dug in armoured vehs etc. From the point of the FOO it’s easy to calculate the precise location of the target ( Direction, distance, elevation etc). this data was squirted back to the guns and the fire control center.
The gun, preloaded with modified FACE data and Met, works out its own targeting data including ToF as well as using the FOOs tgt designation it selected appropriate ammo and calculating ToF and Reqd ToT lays onto the tgt and fires.
The yanks caused one hell of a ruckus going on about the morality of a gun firing on its own and machines killing people etc. So it was proposed to put a gun commander in the hatch, when the gun had done the work and was ready to fire a red light would go green and the monkey in the turret would press a button allowing the gun to fire.
The details and programming was still in motion when due to difficulties with partner nations made worse by constant negative pressure injected by the Yanks the project was pulled. I went in to command & control communication protocols.
This was all heady stuff in the days when the main battlefield radios were the C45 etc pre clansman pre ptarmigan though it was in the air. People don’t fully understand how much this country has been held back by American influence and greed. Nowadays of course UAVs fly around selecting and engaging targets often without the monkey pressing the button but they’re all American systems.
 

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