Vintage tank simulator driving through a miniature landscape

This 70s tank simulator drives through a small world

So you think your iRacing sim rig is pretty outrageous, huh? Sure it has a full moving base and it’s powered by a real hot rod from a pc but i’m here to tell you your rig is crap and the swiss built the ultimate sim rig in the 70s – to teach soldiers how to control tanks. I can’t say why they should (this is Switzerland after all), but it’s cool anyway.

So, because computers were bad in the 1970s, making a realistic training simulator using computer graphics wasn’t really an option. It would have looked like a worse Nintendo Virtual Boy, probably caused a lot of headaches and really benefited no one. Instead, those enterprising Swiss built a huge terrain model the size of a room and placed a small camera on a motorized portal. The tank driver in training sits in a replica cockpit and operates a steering wheel, pedals and switches, and the camera moves through the scale model landscape based on the driver’s input. The cockpit sits atop hydraulic cylinders that displace the driver as the tank travels over different terrains, making the experience more realistic.

This video from YouTuber Tom Scott shows how the system works and what the Swiss Military Museum team had to go through to get the simulator up and running again. Spoiler alert: it is powered by a Raspberry Pi. Wild, I know.

Best of all, you can go to the Swiss Military Museum in Full-Reuenthal, and they’ll let you try it out – throat mic, headset, and all. That they would let the public try this when it is the only functioning unit in the entire world is pretty wild.

Got to have some of those dope Alpenflage overalls too. Call me, guys.

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