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Centurion vs the Leopard 1


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Yes, but its not exactly the same as the Abrams or the Leopard2 is it? The Chieftain already exists, it was well regarded apart from the primitive engine.  It even won the Canadian Army Trophy at least once, so as far as firepower is concerned, it was fine. As far as steel armour is concerned, it wasnt bettered. Other than the engine, the tank was already proven.

Im just illustrating, if customers asked for different engines we were willing to deliver. Ive no doubt if Canada has asked for a Maybach engine or AVDS engine, we would have produced one. We certainly did the former in later years because a customer asked for it. A neat conversion it was too. Again, i think it was politics rather than it being an unrealistic contender that stopped it being considered.

I think, considering where they were operating, they should have gone with the M1, costly to operate though it would undoubtedly have been. I think the claim 'They were on their last legs' was a caveat by the Army to say 'DO something!', and were then undercut by an option they didnt ask for.

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49 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Everyone keeps knocking the choice of Chieftain but, you know, if someone had said 'I want that tank with a new engine' it seems entirely likely they would have stepped up. After all, Iran ordered Chieftain with a CV12 engine and that seemed to work out ok.

As far as armour and engine, Shir 1 was the best tank of that period in the West before Chobham armour came in. Yet people keep forgetting it was an option. They were ordered in 74 and already built by 79 when the Shah fell. Royal Ordnance was trying to get rid of them for several years.

Maybe RO wanted too much for them.

 

I feel that the Chieftain was an appropriate choice for some armies.  Particularly those faced with the need to defend, defend and defend.

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Just now, DougRichards said:

I feel that the Chieftain was an appropriate choice for some armies.  Particularly those faced with the need to defend, defend and defend.

It was a better option for, say , Israel, than Australia.

I think Leopard 1 was the perfect choice for Australia btw. For Canada, to me, it always seemed a bit of a strange one. Im not maligning it, I think it was a fine tank. But to me it seems rather like buying Chieftain in 1989, when its best days had gone.

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If the Canadians' task in the southern half of Germany was that of a fire brigade to rush to wherever WP formations managed to breach the US defense line, a faster tank offered shorter response times. So, maybe it wasn't such a bad choice after all, even for Canada.

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3 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yes, but its not exactly the same as the Abrams or the Leopard2 is it? The Chieftain already exists, it was well regarded apart from the primitive engine.  It even won the Canadian Army Trophy at least once, so as far as firepower is concerned, it was fine. As far as steel armour is concerned, it wasnt bettered. Other than the engine, the tank was already proven.

Im just illustrating, if customers asked for different engines we were willing to deliver. Ive no doubt if Canada has asked for a Maybach engine or AVDS engine, we would have produced one. We certainly did the former in later years because a customer asked for it. A neat conversion it was too. Again, i think it was politics rather than it being an unrealistic contender that stopped it being considered.

I think, considering where they were operating, they should have gone with the M1, costly to operate though it would undoubtedly have been. I think the claim 'They were on their last legs' was a caveat by the Army to say 'DO something!', and were then undercut by an option they didnt ask for.

What does being "well regarded apart from its engine" mean other than damming with faint praise? there are other factors against Chieftain, such as the ammunition and the fire control. It's clear that Canada wanted the an existing tank because they were not willing to fund the development of the changes needed to make Chieftain an alternative - for that, they can just buy Leopard 2

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Circumstances requ9ired an off the shelf buy or as close to one as made little difference.  After our experience with British automotive technology and the known problems of Chieftain, it just wasn't in the running.

 

As for new tanks just ten years after buying the Leopard 1, they were almost obsolescent when be bought them.  It would have been better if we could have waited, but we waited too long as it was and our timing was just screwed.

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5 minutes ago, R011 said:

Circumstances requ9ired an off the shelf buy or as close to one as made little difference.  After our experience with British automotive technology and the known problems of Chieftain, it just wasn't in the running.

Were the Chieftains equipped with Lucas electrics?

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7 minutes ago, Leo Niehorster said:

Were the Chieftains equipped with Lucas electrics?

Worse still: British Leyland engines.

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16 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

If the Canadians' task in the southern half of Germany was that of a fire brigade to rush to wherever WP formations managed to breach the US defense line, a faster tank offered shorter response times. So, maybe it wasn't such a bad choice after all, even for Canada.

In hindsight, the value of our brigade in Germany was political.  Any modern tank at all in reasonable numbers would have worked.  For the purpose of getting West Germany more willing to deal, the Leopard was a good choice.  That it happened to be a very good one was fortuitous.

 

They did good work in Afghanistan while if we had chosen rebuilt Centurions we might not have had any there at all.  Helping get the trade deal was probably worth the extra money over the M60A1, which would have been a pretty good choice too.

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37 minutes ago, RETAC21 said:

What does being "well regarded apart from its engine" mean other than damming with faint praise? there are other factors against Chieftain, such as the ammunition and the fire control. It's clear that Canada wanted the an existing tank because they were not willing to fund the development of the changes needed to make Chieftain an alternative - for that, they can just buy Leopard 2

It means it was well regarded, not least by the Americans who wrote this article on it in armor magazine in 1970.

https://tankandafvnews.com/2016/02/23/from-the-vault-chieftain-articles-and-documents/

The fire control was fine, for the 1970's. Im not saying there wasnt better available because there was. Even the RMG gave good results, which is the setup that won CAT.

Yes, if the Canadian's wanted compatability with the Americans, its not the best choice. Im saying if it was based purely on the gun and armour performance, at that period in 1977, it was the best available that point. In 3 years, yes of course that completely changed, which is why im saying the Canadians should have waited for a true next generation tank.

 

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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18 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

It means it was well regarded, not least by the Americans who wrote this article on it in armor magazine in 1970.

https://tankandafvnews.com/2016/02/23/from-the-vault-chieftain-articles-and-documents/

The fire control was fine, for the 1970's. Im not saying there wasnt better available because there was. Even the RMG gave good results, which is the setup that won CAT.

Yes, if the Canadian's wanted compatability with the Americans, its not the best choice. Im saying if it was based purely on the gun and armour performance, at that period in 1977, it was the best available that point. In 3 years, yes of course that completely changed, which is why im saying the Canadians should have waited for a true next generation tank.

 

It was well regarded by Staff Sergeant Deveraux, that's hardly the Americans, Stuart.

Of course, if we take CAT as representative, then we must conclude that Challenger was the worst tank of its era then...? Even worse, if we are going to use it as a measure, then Leopard 1 rules in the era we are talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Army_Trophy#Winners since it won 4 out 5 between 1970 and 1979

 

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2 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Whoah, hang on. They buy a tank and then are trying to replace after only 10 years????

 

Pretty striking to hear that but it actually sounds similar to Japan. Type 74s were entering service only a few hears before Canada starting getting their Leo 1s yet both Type 74 and Leo 1 were already becoming old generation upon entering the 1980. Despite Japan having only been producing Type 74s for a few years, Japan started R&D for a new tank in 1977. So Japan had a new MBT only 15 years after starting production of the current tank in service at that time. I reckon for Canada, they could not know whether or not they would want to contribute a tank force at whatever time. So they probably wouldn't want to wait 10 years without procuring any tanks. Had the SU continued onwards well into the 1990s and 2000s, Canada may very well have also caught up to latest gen tanks for their tank force.

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Chieftain's thicker armor was irrelevant on the battlefield, as it was insufficient at stopping Soviet tank rounds, RPGs and ATGMs from the 1970. The gun was not really strong-point given the lack of ammunition suppliers (i.e. late adoption of APFSDS and HEAT-FS ammunition) and the FCS was primitive - the lack of improved night sights also didn't help.

The Chieftain might have been an option in the sixties (if the engine had worked better) or in the 1980s (after upgrades - and if the engine had worked better). It wasn't a good options in the 1970s.

4 hours ago, seahawk said:

Imho case can be made for new tanks for the Canadians  in the 1970ies (although the updated Centurions performed superbly in real life), the big question is why the chose the Leo, which was the worst tank to pick

The Leopard 1 was the best tank to pick. At the time the Leopard C1 with SABCA Cobelda TFCS was the most modern and capable tank in NATO!

 

In hindsight (given the bad intel NATO had on newer Soviet tanks) it was obviously not a perfect choice...

Edited by methos
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14 minutes ago, RETAC21 said:

It was well regarded by Staff Sergeant Deveraux, that's hardly the Americans, Stuart.

Of course, if we take CAT as representative, then we must conclude that Challenger was the worst tank of its era then...? Even worse, if we are going to use it as a measure, then Leopard 1 rules in the era we are talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Army_Trophy#Winners since it won 4 out 5 between 1970 and 1979

 

Check out who he was writing for. Its Armor magazine. And they rarely say anything positive about anyone elses tanks. You think he would have written that without expecting a substantial rebuttal if he was being overly effusive? The last paragraph is practically an excoriation of the whole MBT70 project after all.

Well we hear the Germans and Americans talk about how their tank won CAT, so its obviously great. The point is of course, that Chieftain won in 1970, won best platoon in 1973. Yes, we can all throw rocks at Challenger 1. The point that everyone misses is that the Challenger 1 what performed in CAT was NOT using the same fire control they were using in 1991. Im pretty sure I can prove that using the update section in the Challenger 1 manual. For one thing they modified it to carry out calculations faster. Not enough to fire on the move, but it fixed one of the worst problems of the CAT performance.

For the 1970's, in gun, in armour, Chieftain was  the best NATO tank had. Yes, the engine was crap, absolutely. The point that usually IS ignored, is that its mobility was actually pretty good in spite of having a bad engine. Read the section in the haynes book where the Aussie commander actually called it 'Fast'. Preselective gearbox presumably.

Ive also been reading up on the Iran Iraq war. Contrary to narrative here, few of the ones the British team inspected in Iraq were penetrated in the turret by 115mm gunfire. Any that had were point blank that the Iraqi's had been trialling. Yes, it could be penetrated by 125mm gunfire. But so could everything else on offer at that time.

This doesnt mean the Canadians should have picked Chieftain, it was clearly unsuitable for where they were deploying. Im just illustrating, if it was the best tank that could be bought at that time, they didnt buy it. But I think we have already established, it simply wasnt about that.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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2 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Ive also been reading up on the Iran Iraq war. Contrary to narrative here, few of the ones the British team inspected in Iraq were penetrated in the turret by 115mm gunfire. Any that had were point blank that the Iraqi's had been trialling. Yes, it could be penetrated by 125mm gunfire. But so could everything else on offer at that time.

That is not true.

Tu6W5eP.jpg

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7 minutes ago, methos said:

Chieftain's thicker armor was irrelevant on the battlefield, as it was insufficient at stopping Soviet tank rounds, RPGs and ATGMs from the 1970. The gun was not really strong-point given the lack of ammunition suppliers (i.e. late adoption of APFSDS and HEAT-FS ammunition) and the FCS was primitive - the lack of improved night sights also didn't help.

The Chieftain might have been an option in the sixties (if the engine had worked better) or in the 1980s (after upgrades - and if the engine had worked better). It wasn't a good options in the 1970s.

The Leopard 1 was the best tank to pick. At the time the Leopard C1 with SABCA Cobelda TFCS was the most modern and capable tank in NATO!

 

 

Was there ever a comparative trial between the 1A3 and 1A4 on performance against 115mm gunfire?

As pointed out, it was sufficient for combatting the rounds the Soviets were using at the time. It was insufficient against 125mm gunfire, but what wasnt in the 1970s?

And  once again, there was an option of Chieftain where the Engine wasnt a problem. It was already being built when the Canadians made their decision. I take the point that it wasnt NATO standard. But as we saw within 6 years, that tranmission and engine was being used by the rest of the British Army anyway.

shir1_03.JPG

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3 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Was there ever a comparative trial between the 1A3 and 1A4 on performance against 115mm gunfire?

As pointed out, it was sufficient for combatting the rounds the Soviets were using at the time. It was insufficient against 125mm gunfire, but what wasnt in the 1970s?

And  once again, there was an option of Chieftain where the Engine wasnt a problem. It was already being built when the Canadians made their decision. I take the point that it wasnt NATO standard. But as we saw within 6 years, that tranmission and engine was being used by the rest of the British Army anyway.

shir1_03.JPG

No, it wasn't in production in 1977:

FV4030/1 Chieftain Mk. 5/3 (P) « Persia »
Also known as "Project 4030 Phase 1" or "Improved Chieftain". The Mk. 5/3P featured the Tank Laser Sight (TLS), the Muzzle Reference System (MRS), a fully automatic controller for the TN12 gearbox, a 50 imp gal (230 l; 60 US gal) fuel capacity increase, thickened underbelly mine armour and shock absorbers fitted to the front and rear suspension units. 185 vehicles were built between August 1976 and late 1977/early 1978.
FV4030/2 Shir (Lion) 1
Also known as "4030 Phase 2". This tank formed Phase 2 of the Iranian contract for the supply of a new generation of MBTs (Phase 1 being for an Improved Chieftain). This project began in 1974. Shir 1 incorporated the Chieftain hull front and turret casting. The rear of the hull was reconfigured to accept a new power pack comprising Rolls-Royce CV12 1200 HP engine [xxx], David Brown's TN37 transmission and new cooling group. An improved bogie suspension (Super Horstmann), new final drives and tracks were included. The first vehicle-ran in April 1977 and no production deliveries had taken place when the project was cancelled in February 1979.
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Leopard 1A3 was not protected against 115 mm and 125 mm APFSDS rounds. By Bundeswehr estimates, the contemporary 115 mm APFSDS ammunition could defeat it at all ranges the T-62 was expected to hit - the same however would apply to the Chieftain:

D7_UOh8XkAAfetm?format=jpg&name=medium

In Iraq-Iran War, 71 out of 88 hits with 115 mm APFSDS rounds penetrated (the none penetrating hits probably occuring at obscure angles at which the poor tip design of early Soviet APFSDS had troubles penetrating) - and that is with the poor Soviet export ammunition (1960s stuff).

 

There only was an unproven option were the engine wasn't as much of a problem. Overall reliability of the Chieftian still needed improvements in other aspects (e.g. when the British Army held a joint exercise with Sweden in 1973, several tanks had troubles with the commander's cupola).

Edited by methos
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21 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Check out who he was writing for. Its Armor magazine. And they rarely say anything positive about anyone elses tanks. You think he would have written that without expecting a substantial rebuttal if he was being overly effusive? The last paragraph is practically an excoriation of the whole MBT70 project after all.

Well we hear the Germans and Americans talk about how their tank won CAT, so its obviously great. The point is of course, that Chieftain won in 1970, won best platoon in 1973. Yes, we can all throw rocks at Challenger 1. The point that everyone misses is that the Challenger 1 what performed in CAT was NOT using the same fire control they were using in 1991. Im pretty sure I can prove that using the update section in the Challenger 1 manual. For one thing they modified it to carry out calculations faster. Not enough to fire on the move, but it fixed one of the worst problems of the CAT performance.

For the 1970's, in gun, in armour, Chieftain was  the best NATO tank had. Yes, the engine was crap, absolutely. The point that usually IS ignored, is that its mobility was actually pretty good in spite of having a bad engine. Read the section in the haynes book where the Aussie commander actually called it 'Fast'. Preselective gearbox presumably.

Ive also been reading up on the Iran Iraq war. Contrary to narrative here, few of the ones the British team inspected in Iraq were penetrated in the turret by 115mm gunfire. Any that had were point blank that the Iraqi's had been trialling. Yes, it could be penetrated by 125mm gunfire. But so could everything else on offer at that time.

This doesnt mean the Canadians should have picked Chieftain, it was clearly unsuitable for where they were deploying. Im just illustrating, if it was the best tank that could be bought at that time, they didnt buy it. But I think we have already established, it simply wasnt about that.

Sparky wrote articles for Armor Magazine.  It isn't in  itself much of an endorsement.  It was also written in 1970.  By 1076, the problems with Chieftain were very well known and no one in the RCAC would touch them with a ten foot pole.

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18 minutes ago, methos said:

That is not true.

Tu6W5eP.jpg

Ill have to type this out again, for some reason it ate my post. Bear with me.

This is page 56 and 57 of the Haynes book, which seems to be expanding on the report you have there.

'it was thought that most of the tanks had been abandoned before being hit and then hit at quite close ranges, and that the standard of servicablity and tactics employed by the iranians crews hadnot allowed the tanks to make use of their capablities.

Nonetheless, a worrying picture emerged. Of 88 strikes, from 115mm, 71 had penetrated the armour often on the sides, but some had got through the thickets protection at the fron. of seven recorded RPG7 hits, none had penetrated. it was estimated by the assessors that about 80 of the chieftains could be brought back into service after some minor repairs.

....

But what really focused the attention of the British staff officers, was the fact that Chieftain, proof against T55, was very vulnerable to the newer T62, and worse still, would need increased frontal protection to defeat the latest Soviet tank gun, the 125mm. the british assessment of the penetrative perfromance of the two Soviet guns when fired point blank at 'Normal' (perpendicular) against RHA was as follows.

 

                                                Steel Core                    Tungsten Core

                                                FSAPDS                         FSAPDS

115mm (T62)                            272mm                        360mm

125mm (T72)                             420mm                       475mm

Although this represented the absolute worst case -point blank- it presented worrying evidence that one of Chieftains two greatest attributes had fallen behind in the gun v armour race. This meant a consistent thickness of 500mm of armour was necessary to defeat these natures. Chieftain already had that amount in certain areas on the turret front, but the tickness varied, and the minium there was 240mm. On the hull the 18 inch sloped armour glacis casting gave and equivalent maximum thickness of 388mm.'

 

Which sounds very alarming at first glance. Except its making the point, the tanks were usually not occupied, possibly not even operational, and the Iraqi's were firing at them point blank, possibly on operational trials. Even then they were not reliably penetrating the turret.

Yes, it could penetrate the turret, although it doesnt say how many penetrations there were from the front. The point ive always made, if they were using them as they were supposed to be used, which is keeping any T62 at least 1500 metres away, then the chance of them getting close enough with a smoothbore to score a hit were small. Isby relates the chance of scoring a first round hit with BR5 HVAPDS at 1500 metres was barely 50 percent. You would know better than I what its chances at peenetrating a turret from 1500 metres  would be, but I suggest they were not great. From 2500 metres to 1500 metres, you have a beaten zone where a T62 simply cannot reply effectively. I grant you this requires a Mk5 with a laser rangefinder and the IFCS fire control. i would not rely on the RMG. But the point is, it could be done. And the Kuwaiti's DID did it when they used the Chieftain as it was supposed to be used at the Battle of Jahra in 1990.

Perhaps I would have done better to have said 'frontally', but all the same, what I said is not inaccurate. The gist of the report I have is that  the shots they examined seemed to be penetration at point blank, not at a signfiicant stand off.

This clearly was not ideal, hence the reason for Stillbrew. OTOH, it does seem, with what we know of the accuracy of the 115mm gun, this was being overly alarmist, at least as far as T62 is concerned.

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20 minutes ago, R011 said:

Sparky wrote articles for Armor Magazine.  It isn't in  itself much of an endorsement.  It was also written in 1970.  By 1076, the problems with Chieftain were very well known and no one in the RCAC would touch them with a ten foot pole.

:D

Ok, I take your point.  :)

Yes, but once again, im not suggesting Chieftain as it was in the British Army at that time. Shir1 or an alternative engine was achievable, if anyone had looked past the problem with the engine. Other than that, there really wasnt a lot wrong with it.

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36 minutes ago, RETAC21 said:

No, it wasn't in production in 1977:

FV4030/1 Chieftain Mk. 5/3 (P) « Persia »
Also known as "Project 4030 Phase 1" or "Improved Chieftain". The Mk. 5/3P featured the Tank Laser Sight (TLS), the Muzzle Reference System (MRS), a fully automatic controller for the TN12 gearbox, a 50 imp gal (230 l; 60 US gal) fuel capacity increase, thickened underbelly mine armour and shock absorbers fitted to the front and rear suspension units. 185 vehicles were built between August 1976 and late 1977/early 1978.
FV4030/2 Shir (Lion) 1
Also known as "4030 Phase 2". This tank formed Phase 2 of the Iranian contract for the supply of a new generation of MBTs (Phase 1 being for an Improved Chieftain). This project began in 1974. Shir 1 incorporated the Chieftain hull front and turret casting. The rear of the hull was reconfigured to accept a new power pack comprising Rolls-Royce CV12 1200 HP engine [xxx], David Brown's TN37 transmission and new cooling group. An improved bogie suspension (Super Horstmann), new final drives and tracks were included. The first vehicle-ran in April 1977 and no production deliveries had taken place when the project was cancelled in February 1979.

1977, there you go. They had something like 125 tanks already built by 1979, when the Shah was deposed.

And the contract to have a reengined Chieftain had existed since 1974. Anyone who had a mind ot look could see it was on the way. But Chieftain already had the reputation of being a bad tank, without anyone studying in detail what precisely was wrong with it.

No, im not suggesting it was a realistic alternative. Im just illustrating, if anyone wanted Chieftain with an alternative engine, it was possible to provide one.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

From 2500 metres to 1500 metres, you have a beaten zone where a T62 simply cannot reply effectively.

That would apply not only to the Chieftain, but any tank with a suitably sophisticated fire control system and potent enough gun, including the Leopard 1. And that was quite the point of the Leopard's thin armor (note that the turret front actually was reasonably well protected) as you well know. If the Chieftain's much thicker armor didn't prevent it getting knocked out (would a modernized Centurion have fared better?), then what was the point of carrying that parasitic mass around when you could build a faster, more reliable and equally well armed tank instead?

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2 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

...he fact that Chieftain, proof against T55...

Except it was not. If T-55 used AP or APDS - yes. Vs BK-5M HEAT except if it failed to fuse (maybe on glacis...) it would penetrate Chieftain's armor. Also Chieftain's armor was not much thicker than M60A1, that were penetrated by anything remotely modern in 1973.

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