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Madurai

Rejected Weapons--SP70

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The need for a replacement for the British Army's Abbot SP howitzer, and for the collection of aging US-surplus weapons in the arsenals of several NATO armies led to one of many multinational European efforts in the late Sixties to develop a new, homegrown system that could be affordably produced. The prosed SP70 was a trinational project, with Italy, Germany, and the UK all contributing.

The desire was to use as many existing components as possible. The gun was going to be largely the new FH70 towed 155mm howitzer, the chassis was a stretched and widened Leopard 1. New sights, a new automatic breech, and other minor components were regarded as minor risks.

Unfortunately, as often happens in both multinational projects and efforts to adapt off-the-shelf weapons, the entire thing never quite jelled. While the French had been using a SP howitzer with a center turret for years (the GCT), none of the potential end users were enthusiastic about the configuration. Loading was accomplished via an extensible rail from the side of the turret instead of the usual rear doors. It required the gun crews to perform overhead lifts of the rounds and charges, greatly slowing and complicating the ability of the piece to resupply in the field. Changing the overall configuration would have meant a total redesign of the chassis and turret, and would eliminate the economies of commonality with the proven Leopard.

As delays and expenses mounted, no partner was either willing to move forward at their own expense, nor pull out of the program unilaterally. It wasn't until 1986 that the effort was formally dissolved by all three nations.

sp70.jpg

Mockup of the SP70 (aka PzH155-1) from the 1972 Brassey's Artillery of the World

One tiny part of the project lives on: the flick-rammer and automatic breech developed in Britain were used in the AS90 Braveheart, begun as a private venture when the handwriting was largely on the wall for the SP70.

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The artillery, even self-propelled, has been slowly phased out worldwide for almost half a century.

One more sad example of that above.

I like dinosaurs.

The artillery platforms of the XX century were often beautiful and pleasing the sore eyes of people with engineering background, tired of the box- and tubular- shaped rocket/missile launchers.

Battlecruisers "Derflinger" class forewer!

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The gun isn't quite finished just yet. Guided projectiles will keep them around for a while yet, both on land and sea.

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Passive ballistic systems will always be useful in intense-RF-countermeasures environments.

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If two completely modern armies went head to head, the first thing they would do is use passives against each other to damage or destroy computer and electronic equipment.

The ability to hurl unguided chunks of steel, lead or stone will ALWAYS be required.

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Artillery ammunition is a lot cheaper than rockets/missiles.

As you are writing this, germany has just introduced the new PzH2000 and the US has stalled on a new SP artillery, but I imagine they'll build something sooner or later.

A lot of countries are buying the PzH2000, too.

In the last 20 years, accuracy, fire rate and range has been improved a lot.

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