Civilian Structures as Military Restrictions

The Sudden Transition to Heavy Tanks in Sweden

in Vulcan
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The military community is a secluded part of society and normally has to act on the conditions offered by its civilian surroundings. When heavy vehicles were developed for war, the civilian infrastructure presented a potential restriction to vehicular mobility. In Sweden, bridges were seen as a critical component of this infrastructure. It took two decades and the experiences of a second world war for the country to come to terms with this restriction. This article addresses the question as to why Swedish tanks suddenly became much heavier in the early 1940s. The country’s bridges play a key role in what happened, and the article explains how. It is a story about how a military decision came to be outdated long before it was upgraded.

Civilian Structures as Military Restrictions

The Sudden Transition to Heavy Tanks in Sweden

in Vulcan

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References

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Figures

  • View in gallery

    The relative number of lorries and their average weight in the Interwar period.

  • View in gallery

    The 1930s was a time for bridge building. The vertical axis represents the percentage of stone, steel and concrete bridges had been built by a certain year. In 1929 for instance, 85% of all stone bridges but only about 5% of all concrete bridges (existing in 1988) had been built. A steeply rising curve indicates a period of intense bridge building.

  • View in gallery

    A road-building machine and its crew in Sweden around 1930.

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    From slow, to fast, to heavy. Five decades of tank development in Sweden based upon data for the tank models found in Appendix i. The sudden weight transition discussed here occurred in the early 1940s between the 1941 and 1942 tank models.

  • View in gallery

    Illustrating the weight transition: a 1942 tank model about to lift a 1941 model.

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