The German Wiesel Is a Cute Mini-Tank
Robert Beckhusen
3910

Dear Robert Beckhusen,

first led me express that I like your articles and that I filed a lot of them away for further references. But knowing the Bundeswehr and having followed their armament programs (and some follies) for the better part of four decades I want to diffentiate : The Weasel is far from being a “tank” , it is only a very lightly armoured weapons carrier (“waffenträger” being the official german term). One could class it in the old category of “tankette”, such as the pre WWII french or british (Carden-Loyd) vehicles.

Yes, it adds speed, offroad-capability and some heavy punches to the airborne unit it is attached to, especially with the 20 mill cannon or ATGM-version. But that’s all of it. And it took the Bundeswehr much too long from the first idea to prototype to final delivery: It all began in 1969/70 with first study group by Porsche, the official go-ahead for practical development was given in 1973 but it took until 1986 that the first prototype was handed to the army for testing. Delivery of the full number of 343 vehicles Wiesel 1 took place between 1990–92. Development went one into the larger Wiesel-2-class which made a first appearence in 2004 as medevac and mortra carrier, later variations with AA missile and for various recce roles were added.

Still, to look for airborne tank support , you should better take the russian airborne APC, the BMD-3 or BMD-4 and their AB tanks, such as the 2S25 into consideration. They make much more sense, especially when the country in question has the required airlifting capabilities — which the small Bundeswehr never had.

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