Fahrer im Turm


There was a German-American project for a joint main battle tank development in between the Leopard and Leopard 2 development. It was too technologically ambitious, too expensive and the two countries could not agree on a common approach or even type of main gun. The project failed by about 1970 already (the Soviets were much more successful with their technologically daring tank project, which became the T-64).


The turret is so huge for a serious reason: The driver was in the turret. This solves some problems (especially how he gets out through the hatch real quick in case of fire and main gun just above the hatch) and added huge problems.

I suppose that modern technology with all-round cameras has largely overcome those added problems, albeit maybe not for  all kinds of battlefield vehicles.

A self-propelled gun (SPG) is a category of vehicles that does not require much line of sight combat capability, especially not on the move. So I suppose a tracked (nowadays continuous composite bandtracks) SPG could make use of a driver in the turret. SPGs have the gun in a certain travel position (usually straight forward) during almost all movement anyway.

The further crew could be two men for loading (one for shells, the other for propellant modules). Manual loading with just some power ramming is fairly cheap (unless you insist on active duty personnel all year round), very reliable, low maintenance, very adaptable and there's more personnel for maintaining and securing the vehicle than with a more or less extreme autoloader concept. The driver would be busy driving while on the move, but could be the commander while in firing position. One of the loaders could watch the flatscreens and make decisions for crew on the move. A fourth person would increase volume and weight for allow for a conventional (permanent) commander function and would also add much (but likely not important) combat capability on the move.

Drive-by-wire was extremely ambitious during the 1940's to 1960's, but today it's nothing special any more. A driver in the turret could steer the vehicle easily with drive-by-wire.

What's the benefit of having a driver in the turret? You get rid of some ergonomics issues (see the driver escape hatch problem of Boxer SPG) and the vehicle can be a lot (almost 1.5 m) shorter. The vehicle would be reduced to frame, suspension, wheels, bandtracks, a front engine compartment and a big turret. A shorter vehicle is a lighter vehicle, but it would also be less comfortable on rough ground (more pitching movement).






  1. What are the chances for removing much or all of the crew and directing the vehicle remotely via something like Starlink?

    1. Starlink will sooner or later be jammable as well (from a nearby jammer). The Russians just don't have dedicated jammers for it yet.

    2. So remote operation by a system like Starlink could work where a jammer can't get close or with limited autonomy to kill any jamming system?

  2. Hi Sven is it possible to use vertical tight beam to thwart jamming? Like 94 GHz or 1054 nm?

    PS do you have contacts in Bundeswehr? It'd be a shame if interesting discussions here go to waste.

    PPS are Sven and Olaf common names in Germany? It's like Sweden has invaded!

    1. The beam of the emitter on the ground may be narrow. That doesn't really matter, though. The satellite's receiver needs to be open to signals from a large area. Its algorithm may choose do ignore signals from a part of the area where it suspects a jammer, but multiple jammers should very well be able to jam/saturate it in a kind of DDOS attack.
      And in worst case a country like Russia could come up with simply damaging such satellites with intense radiation / EMP hitting the receivers.
      They're just not equipped for it yet.