The history of Swedish tank building owes a lot to Germany's GHH company (which stands for, ahem, Gutehoffnungshütte Aktienverein für Bergbau und Hüttenbereich Oberhausen). GHH purchased a majority stake in the bankrupt AB Landsverk after WWII. The Germans, who weren’t allowed to build war machines for their homeland, instead created innovative light tank designs for other countries, including Sweden. Though completely new to the industry, the Swedes proved to be quick learners and produced several classic (for the era) medium tanks themselves, plus a line of innovative heavy tank concepts. However, all these pale in comparison to the Swedish turretless tanks, often considered the most innovative (and controversial) post-WWII armored vehicles.
Update 9.17 marks the debut of nine tank destroyers based on Swedish designs. Swedish vehicles were known for excellent gun depression paired with solid mobility and decent firepower, and these TDs have all that mixed with typical TD advantages of high speed and small size. In real life, they would rush in, fire off a few shells, then flee before their enemy can return the favor.
The UDES 03, Strv 103-0 and Strv 103B (sitting on the tree at tiers VIII–X) boast unique hull configurations: no turrets and rather thin but extremely well-sloped frontal armor—the UDES 03 has 20mm armor at 81°, and the Strv 103 with 40mm and 79° for the upper front plates. That means great mobility and strong up-front protection. What’s more, these three can adjust their gun traverse and gun using their hulls and introduce two unique gameplay modes: Siege and Travel.
Named for the army research project headed by Sven Berge, the engineer behind the Strv.103, the UDES tank designs were created to provide the army with a cheap, compact vehicle in a 20-ton class packing a solid gun (preferably with an autoloader) and capable in an anti-tank role. These specs led to a few concepts developed by the companies Bofors and Hägglunds. The UDES 03 took after the Strv 103, but weighed a lot less, and the UDES 14 resembled the M56 Scorpion. The former made it to the prototyping stage, but was never put into production, while the 14 only remained on paper.
Though it was built after the Strv 103 in real life, the UDES 03 sits a tier behind it in World of Tanks. The combination of good gun depression and hydraulic suspension make it a fine training vehicle to get battle-ready for the Siege/Travel gameplay of the upper-tier TDs. It introduces the two modes, but without the abrupt change in combat parameters of the Strv 103-0 and Strv 103B.
An impressive forward and backward speed in Travel mode (70km/h forward, and 50km/h backward) makes it virtually impossible to predict where it may fire from next. So, securing an advantageous position in Travel, then going into Siege proves to be the most efficient option.
In the 1950s, the Cold War was on the brink of becoming a real military confrontation. The Swedish Army set out to develop a mobile vehicle with armor to protect against HEAT rounds and solid firepower to fight back. They began with studying the Anglo-American and French-German tank design schools. In the end, the military committee chose a newly invented Swedish concept: a turretless tank with highly-sloped frontal armor patented by an engineer at the Army Ordnance Administration, Sven Berge.
This model—which would eventually become the Strv 103—combined the best traits of the two tank building schools: the protection of British and American vehicles with the low weight and the high power-to-weight ratio the German and French were known for. It was the first-ever tank with two engines: one diesel and one gas turbine, giving an impressive speed (50km/h in-game).But that was not all: it also had hydropneumatic suspension and thrived in the region’s hilly landscape. With the gun fixed to the hull, it had to move its hull when aiming and couldn’t accurately move and fire at the same time.
Update 9.17 deploys two versions of this iconic tank: the early Strv 103-0 and a more advanced version, the Strv 103B, which both feature the completely new Siege/Travel gameplay. Both are natural born ambush vehicles. Thanks to great speed (which comes at the cost of armor) and camouflage values they can secure the best firing positions in no time. A low profile, sloped hull armor and fearsome gun parameters turn them into dangerous adversaries in long-range duels. They can dismantle even thickly-armored enemies, while their highly-sloped frontal armor makes them an unstoppable force in head-on combat, though poor maneuverability in both Travel and Siege means that the Strv 103-0 and Strv 103B are easy targets at close range. Plus, the Strv 103 has a view range of only 360m. Overall, their abilities change significantly between the firing modes:
As with any new tank branch introducing different tactics, you’re not going to jump in the gunner’s seat and be a pro right from the start. These TDs will take some time to master, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, then you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.