Chieftain MBT

Chieftain MBT (Main Battle Tank) MK 2/3 FV 4201 02 EB 05 was originally built by Vickers Armstrong, at their Elswick works in Newcastle as a FV4201 Chieftain MBT (Main Battle Tank) Mk2. It would be rebuilt into Mk2XY, Mk 6 and Mk 9 standard during its service life. We know it went on to become an SP (Special Projects vehicle) for RARDE where she was used as a test bed for research into stealth technology and other projects we are not privileged to know about.


The Chieftain Main Battle Tank Mk 2 is fitted with Ordnance 120mm L11 gun firing HE (high-Explosive) and APDS (Armour-Piercing Discarding Sabot). On the exterior of the commanders cupola is a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) for use by the commander for defence against ground troops and low flying aircraft. The gunner has control of a second 7.62mm GPMG mounted alongside the main gun. As originally made 02 EB 05 would have been fitted with a 0.5 in Browning MG adapted for ranging purposes alongside the main armament, this would later be removed following the fitment of a Tank Laser Sight (TLS) to the gunners station. You will also notice smoke dischargers on both sides of the turret, which would provide a readily available smoke screen to allow the vehicle to manoeuvre under its cover.


The Chieftain Main Battle Tank Mk 2 is fitted with the Leyland L60 MK4A, 19 litre, 6 cylinder 12 piston, vertically opposed, water cooled, 2 stroke diesel engine, producing 650bhp at 2100rpm giving the vehicle a top speed of 25.3mph, an electrical generator rated at 28.5 v 150 amp was fitted along with hydraulic and electrical starter motors. This engine was subject to numerous modifications throughout its life to improve power output and enhance reliability


The vehicle is also fitted with an H30 No.4 Mk7A 3 cylinder, 6 piston vertically opposed, 2 stroke Diesel engine, producing 27bhp and used to drive a 28.5v 350 amp generator for charging the batteries and powering the turret electrical systems. This auxiliary engine also drove a hydraulic pump to power the Main Engine Hydraulic starter. Some examples were also fitted with small alternator, in line with the main generator to provide a small ac current to trickle heat the vehicle batteries during cold conditions.


David Brown TN12 Merrit-Wilson type gearbox, semi automatic electrical selection, giving 6 forward speeds, and 2 reverse speeds with a mechanically selected back up of one forward and one reverse gear.


Horstmann Suspension

Horstmann Suspension Unit

The suspension is of the Hortmann type, a system that uses Coil Springs and has the advantage of a relatively long travel. Housed within a self-contained Bogie which is bolted to the outside of the hull it causes little or no encroachment on internal hull space, consequently, the entire suspension unit may be relatively easily removed and replaced if damaged, e.g., by Mine. There are six pairs of road wheels on each side with the drive sprocket at the rear and idler at the front, three track return rollers are fitted.


  • Weight; 53.5 tons
  • Width; 11ft 2in.
  • Height; 9ft 5in.
  • Length; 24ft 8in.(Hull)
  • 35Ft 5in (gun forward)
  • 32ft 3in (gun in crutch)

Crew of four; Driver, Gunner, Commander and Radio Operator / Loader

Service History of 02 EB 05 Chieftain Mk 2

22.01.1967 Date into service

April 1970 Delivered via Antwerp as Mk2 to 2RTR (2nd Royal Tank Regiment), Caen Barracks, Hohne.

July 1970  Queen´s Own Hussars, Caen Barracks,  Hohne.

1973/4 Probable Base Overhaul to Mk2XY standard, 23 Base Wksp REME, Wetter.

April 1974 The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own), Athlone Barracks, Sennelager.

1978 -1982 Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Athlone Barracks, Sennelager.

1982/3 Probable Base Overhaul to IFCS (Mk9) standard, 23 Base Workshop, Wetter.

1983-1984 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, Imphal Barracks, Osnabrück.

1984-1987 4RTR (4th Royal Tank Regiment), Imphal Barracks, Osnabrück.

1987 – 2000 FVRDE Chertsey (fighting vehicle research and development establishment)


Chieftain Mk 1 40 training vehicles for 1965–1966. Issued to 1 RTR and 5 RTR for troop trials.

Chieftain Mk 2 First service model with 650 hp engine

Chieftain Mk 3 Extra equipment fitted giving rise to several sub-marks. New cupola.

Chieftain Mk.5 Final production variant, with upgrades to the engine and NBC protection system.

Chieftain Mk.6 is essentially the Mk.2 Chieftain upgraded as a part of the “Totem Pole” program (or “Exercise Totem Pole”) to more or less Mk.5 standard. The entire program is rather convoluted and was actually split into three parts: X, Y and Z. Part X dealt with the new improved sighting system, part Y dealt with some improved automotive characteristics and commander’s control system (the commander was now able to fire the main gun for example) and part Z included improvements to the engine and gearbox.

The Mk.6 was the Mk.2 with X, Y and Z improvements built in (whereas only partially improved versions would be called Mk.2 (X) or Mk.2 (Y)). To make matters more complicated, there were actually several Mk.6 variants:

  • 6/L included the “L” kit for the Tank Laser Sight (TLS) Mk.1 No.1
  • 6/1 included the TLS No.1 Mk.2 or TLS No.3 Mk.1 and the Muzzle Reference System (MRS)
  • 6/2 was essentially Mk.6/1 with the ranging machinegun removed (please note that some sources claim the ranging MG was merely modified, not removed)
  • 6/3 was like the Mk.6/2 but featured a new and improved fire control system among other things, such as commander’s sights
  • 6/4 was like the Mk.6/3, but with ammunition stowage modified for the needs of the L23 APFSDS round and with further modifications made to the sights

There are even more similar subtleties. The Mk.6/4 variant for example was split into the Mk.6/4 with sight modifications and the Mk.6/4/1 with ammo rack modifications. Another example would be the Clansman radio set that added the “C” suffix to the tank designation. There are many more details like this, but their full extent is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.

Chieftain Mk.10 Mark 9 upgrade, addition of Stillbrew Crew Protection Package to the turret front and turret ring.

Chieftain Mk.11 Mark 10 upgrade, searchlight replaced with the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System (TOGS), manufactured by Barr and Stroud.

Chieftain Mk.12/13 Proposed further upgrades, cancelled when the Challenger 1 was introduced.

Chieftain ARV – Armoured Recovery Vehicle

Chieftain AVLB – Armoured Bridge-layer

Chieftain AVRE – Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineer

Chieftain ARRV – Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle.

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