Brief history of the trucks of the Swiss Army

The Swiss truck industry with the companies Saurer Arbon, Berna Olten and FBW in Wetzikon had an excellent reputation in the first half of the 20th century. In 1928, Saurer launched the first truly viable diesel truck, Saurer was a world leader in the development of high-speed diesel engines at that time and was very successful in exporting the vehicles all over the world.

The motorization of the Swiss Army began in the maneuvers of 1901 with rented vehicles. In the following years, more and more private vehicles were tested for army service. However, trucks specially designed for the army did not yet exist; standard civilian vehicles were used. Most of the vehicles both 1914 – 18 and 1939 – 1945 were civilian requisitioned.

At the beginning of ‘active service’ in 1939, the artillery was equipped with modern guns pulled by the excellent all-terrain 2,3 and 4-axle Saurer trucks.

In 1946, the “Aktion Surplus” (purchase of US Army vehicles no longer used after the war) allowed more than 1000 American GMC trucks to be purchased on favorable terms until the new generation of domestic 3.5 and 5 ton trucks could be procured from all 3 manufacturers.

The importation of foreign trucks into Switzerland was put under a stringent quota until 1964, but towards the end of the 1960s the Swiss truck market was finally opened up to foreign suppliers too. The army subsequently procured more and more foreign vehicles (Henschel, Steyr, etc.). Swiss truck manufacturers ceased production of trucks for both civilian and military use in the mid-1980s following various mergers. The Saurer 6 DM and 10 DM were the last Swiss-made army trucks in 1982.

As of 2000, the motto is as civilian as possible and only as ‘military’ as necessary, with as few special requests as possible.