Chinese Eye Chieftain

Forum for discussion relating to the Chietain MBT
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Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:20 pm

This is the build log for my Chinese Eye Chieftain. The last model took five years and quarter of a million views before it's (almost) complete, so this is a long haul project, Chieftain being probably the most complex tank Armortek has yet undertaken. Thank you Kian and the team for having the courage to launch it.

This is my Chieftain:

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OOFCO5 was built as one of a batch of 47 by Royal Ordnance Factory Leeds as a Mark 3/3 under contract FVP/102/68 between Jun 71-Feb 72. By 1986, it had received all of the modifications under the TOTEM POLE programme, to bring it up to full Mk 5 standard. Mk 3/3 Chieftains with full TOTEM POLE became Mk8s. It was as a Mk 8, that I commanded 00FC05, as Officer Commanding, D Squadron, 4th Royal Tank Regiment, based as part of the British Army of the Rhine, in Imphal Barracks, Osnabrueck, West Germany in 1986-7.

TOTEM POLE introduced a wide range of upgrades, both automotive and gunnery but didn't include the addition of STILLBREW armour which was introduced to combat the capability of second generation ATGM and tube launched missiles which had been seen on T-64B in the East. I'll talk about TOTEM POLE and about the implications of T-64B in a later post.

The Chinese Eye sported by Fourth Tanks Chieftains can be traced back to the markings worn by the Mk 1 tanks of D Company, The Tank Corps, which were the first tanks in the world to see action at Flers on 16th Sep 1916 and later on the Mk IV. The Regiment has worn them ever since, now as The Royal Tank Regiment.

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4RTR The 1980,s 5.jpg

It has been suggested that certain officers of the Fourth proudly wear the Chinese Eye on their hind quarters. I remain silent on that matter but can confirm that my Chieftain certainly will have them.

27798056_10156001608224361_1434958166960599596_o.jpg

I never took a camera on operations or training, so have no photos of 00FC05. Some must exist somewhere and I'm now trying to track them down. I do know the tank name was Desert Rat, a name traced back to 4RTR in the Western Desert, 1940, which was by tradition the tank commanded by OC D Squadron. Frustratingly, this is probably 00FC05:

4RTR D Sqn 1980,s  McConnell Cpl Watson.jpg
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and possibly this one:

4RTR Cpl Gill SSm Beckworth Sgt McIntyre 1980,s.jpg

The photos don't help much.

I started collecting bits for Chieftain five years ago, as an act of faith that one day Armortek would offer it. I'm so pleased that my faith that it would sell well and it was worth lobbying for has been born out by the speed with which this first batch has sold. I bought an extra set of Steve Winstone's wonderful Centurion bin catches then and knew that the master I'd given him for the Cent bollards would also work for Chieftain. The rest includes the smoker for the barrel smoke and a one sixth GPMG which I'll convert to L37A1 standard as the commander's MG.

IMG_9961.jpg


All for now. More to follow.

Glad to be part of the Chieftain community. Let's hope for a great model and lots of interesting build logs.

Stephen

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:11 pm

It's time to confuse the hell out of ourselves. Chieftain must have had one of the most convoluted and complicated development programmes ever. It was complicated for a number of reasons. The threat kept developing, particularly with the identification of T-64B in Group of Soviet Forces Germany (GSFG). There were prolonged efforts to fix underlying shortcomings, notably with the L60 power pack. Then there were major upgrades to the the fire control system as new technology matured, laser rangefinders, thermal imaging, digital computing being the three most significant. Chieftain may have gained a reputation for automotive unreliability but in one respect it remained one of the finest tanks in the world - balance. Tanks are a compromise between firepower, protection, mobility and reliability. Chieftain excelled in having the balance just right and the development programme maintained that balance whilst dramatically increasing capability over a twenty year span. That's a remarkable achievement for any tank design.

If you want examples of a lack of balance, Tiger and King Tiger lacked mobility and reliability, Leo 1 lacked protection, AMX-30 lacked pretty much everything.....

What's this all about? Well, the Armortek model will be based on the Mark 5. Some may choose to model a different mark, perhaps some of the later marks with additional armour or thermal imaging. What was a Mark 5 Chieftain? Surprisingly, that's not easy to answer. Chieftain was progressively modified throughout its life. There were so many interim equipment fits that a simple mark number doesn't easily capture what was on a particular tank. Must have been a nightmare for REME fitters, Mark.

In order to make sense, I've set out how all the marks and modifications relate to each other. Don't have a go at me because the diagramme is too complicated, I've actually simplified things. I hope at least it helps make sense when you see reference to a particular mark.

There were four production batches (Marks 1-3 & 5). Batches two and three were brought up to the standard of the fourth standard through a monolithic modification programme called Totem Pole. With the whole fleet nominally at the same standard, four major upgrades followed: Sundance (getting the engine right), IFCS - digital fire control and a laser rangefinder, Stillbrew - up armouring and finally TOGS - thermal imaging. In another post, I'll offer some photos of each of the bits involved, at least those visible on the outside.

Visually, it's much more simple. Chieftains came in two varieties - those with and those without additional armour. Everything else is less obvious.

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 15.32.07 3 copy.jpg

Good luck with that....

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:23 pm

Chieftain Mark 5.

The Mark 5 was the final production variant. All Mark 5 Chieftains were built by Royal Ordnance Factory Leeds between Mar 72 and Apr 73 under three contracts:

- a batch of 46 with serials 00FD64-00FD99
- a batch of 6 with serials 08FD61-08FD56
- a batch of 45 with serials 11FD32-11FD76

The previous Marks 2 and 3 were brought up to Mark 5 standard, producing Marks 6-9 which were externally similar to Mark 5. Most of the fleet was thereafter progressively upgraded. Visually, the major difference is between Marks 2-9, which are broadly similar and Marks 10 & 11 which had the very noticeable Stillbrew armour. The basic hull and turret castings remained the same throughout:


Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.33.59.jpg

From Mark 3 onward, transmission decks were raised to accommodate a modified exhaust system required by the more powerful 700+ hp improved L60 power packs:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.34.18.jpg

Changes in main engine and generating unit engine exhaust configuration brought about by increasing power output:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.34.35.jpg

A more effective gun clamp replaced the earlier gun crutch:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.34.45.jpg

Introduction of the L11 A5 main armament on Mark 5, designed to fire the improved APFSDS (armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot - "fin") round involved a new barrel, with a modified fume extractor and the Muzzle Reference System (MRS) which gave crews a much more accurate means of establishing and maintaining the crucial relationship between the gun and gun sights. These improved both accuracy and lethality. Mark 5 also benefited from introduction of the digital ballistic computer fire control system (IFCS) but there were no external differences with the latter.

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.34.57.jpg

The MRS also required a light source to be installed on the turret roof. This reflected a point of light from the mirror at the muzzle end of the barrel back into the gunner's sight, allowing him to zero his sight to the axis of the barrel. He could do this in real time rather than having to dismount to install a telescopic bore sight into the end of the barrel.

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.35.08.jpg

While on lethality, the .50" ranging gun was replaced by the Tank Laser Sight (TLS). The aperture for the RG was welded up and and the TLS installed in the gunner's sight housing:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.35.23.jpg

The commander's cupola No 15 was standard on all Chieftains until the thermal system TOGS arrived. After trials in Israel, the No 40 episcopes and commander's No 37 sight head were angled to minimise reflections:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.36.00.jpg

Minor modifications to the hull front included twin Infra-red and white light headlights and a splash plate:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.36.18.jpg

Independent of mark number, digital Clansman radios replaced Larkspur in the late seventies. Externally, this resulted in new antennae mountings and the introduction of a large box housing the Tuning Unit Antenna Mounting (TUAM) on the turret right side:

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.36.24.jpg
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Final major modification to Chieftain was the introduction of true night fighting and poor visibility capability with a thermal imager - the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System, which had long been an aspiration for Chieftain crews. With TOGS, the remaining Mark 10s became Mark 11.

Screenshot 2019-04-15 at 19.36.32.jpg

Hope that's useful to understand what's what on Chieftain.

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Phil Woollard » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:58 am

Holy moley, we don't need any reference books 8) 8) that's some knowledge you have there, thanks for that comprehensive guide stephen!
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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by andymusgrove » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:25 am

Wow Stephen that's some great info there thanks so much for your posts as always

regards

Andy

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:50 am

Thanks guys, glad to help.

Don't you hate it when someone overdoes the chipping and weathering?

57006292_10161983741790571_1624306728122187776_n.jpg

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Adrian Harris » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:02 am

I saw those when they were posted and wondered what the crews would think if they saw their old rides looking like that :cry: :cry: :cry:

I suppose each new generation practices on the vehicles of the previous one.

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by andymusgrove » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:15 am

Stephen that's funny --- NOT :wink:

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:00 am

And this is one of the options for what did the damage:

IMG_3490.jpg

120mm tungsten carbide APDS penetrator. The bit that flies to the target after the sabot and petals have fallen away. Weighs a few kilos. Harder than Ross Kemp.

Adrian, you're quite right. We had Centurions to fire at. On the first Medicine Man exercise, our REME were in seventh heaven because they could go out at night and rob the Cents of spares for their ARVs. Operational crews had nowhere other than Canada to fire APDS. From memory, we got to fire 12 rounds per crew and it was a real eye-opener, far more impressive than the DS(P) training round. That said, the Israelis reputedly used 105mm DS(P) and it was very effective against Russian armour.

I don't know now whether Challenger 2 crews get to fire APFSDS (fin) in Canada.
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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Phil Woollard » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:25 am

That target does not have chipping, it is chipped! So's this one below. 8)
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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:46 am

Now you've got me started on 120mm ammunition. Here is the full range of ammunition for the L11 gun:

Firstly the armour penetrators, high velocity rounds which rely on kinetic energy to penetrate armour.

From the left, APDS (armour piercing, discarding sabot), DS(P), Discarding Sabot (Practice) and a drill round for loading simulators.

MVC_737S.jpg
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On this you can see the penetrator on my post above:

l15a5_apds.jpg
l20a1_practice.jpg

APDS was replaced with the introduction of the L11 A5 gun with the even more effective fin round - APFSDS (armour piercing fin stabilised and you know the rest).

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l32a1_apdsfs.jpg

And then the dual purpose rounds. UK has been unique post war in sticking to the rifled gun, for two reasons. Firstly rifled tends to be more accurate but perhaps more importantly, you need rifling to fire low velocity high explosive. The UK recognised the threat from infantry anti-tank guided weapons, particularly after the mauling the Israelis took from SAGGER. To defeat ATGW crews, you needed artillery but if that wasn't available, the UK doctrine was to give tank crews their own HE capability. Hence the HESH round - High Explosive Squash Head. This is a dual purpose round, which is capable of defeating significant thickness of armour. The round compacts like a cow pat when it hits armour and the base fuze then explodes the charge. The round works by setting up shock waves through the armour, which knocks off large scabs inside, to the detriment of the enemy crew. It is also a very effective HE round.

Other nations favoured HEAT (high explosive anti-tank), which forms a jet of molten metal to penetrate armour. This can easily be defeated by spaced armour or explosive reactive armour. For that reason, UK traditional favoured rifled guns firing HESH. I think this was the right policy. I see now though that the Challenger 2 upgrade will have a smooth bore gun, I suspect because interoperability with other nations trumps effectiveness.

There was also a very effective smoke round which we used both to obscure and to mark targets.

In this photo, L-R, you have HESH, 120 Smoke and SH(P) (squash head practice, the inert training round):

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l32a5_practice.jpg
l31a7_hesh.jpg
l34a1_wp.jpg

Finally, the charge. Chieftain was again unique in another respect. The UK drew lessons from the WW2 loss of tanks from ammunition explosions when penetrated. Traditional brass cased single piece ammunition is notoriously combustible in a turret fire. Chieftain overcame this vulnerability by using separated ammunition, in which the propellant was encased in cloth or a composite material and stored, crucially, below the turret ring in wet lined charge bins, so that if the turret was penetrated, the wet liners of the charge bins would disrupt and protect the charges from detonation. If you see film of Russian T-72 going up in Syria, you'll see the devastating effect of ammunition fires. Abrahms and later Russian tanks store ammunition in the turret and it makes them vulnerable. The designers of Abrahms were so worried by it that they provided armoured shutters which are supposed to close off the ammunition in the turret bustle, which would then blow off, separating the ammunition from the crew....... Detractors claim that separated charge ammunition is slower to load. That's rubbish. With a well trained crew, we could get six rounds off in a minute. With CR2, the gun returns to a loading position after each round and is even faster. And manual loading doesn't break down or try to load the loader's arm into the breech as do some autoloaders.

The bag charges were pretty inert. In the breech, they burnt rather than exploded. It was possible to remove the combustible rods and break them up. I'm told they could then be ignited to produce a very satisfactory nighttime fire to keep warm......not that there were spare bag charges around.

The other significant advantage of separated ammunition is that you don't get a smoking, large, hot, heavy shell case back into the turret, taking up room and suffocating the crew. With the British L11, the charge is ignited by a vent tube, a cartridge case the size of a .50" round, loaded in a magazine below the breech. That's all that you get back into the turret. No fumes either.

The charge for Sabot/fin, is twice the size as the charge for the lower velocity HESH and smoke rounds:

MVC_743S.jpg
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Hope that's of interest. Anyone going to make some rounds?
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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Phil Woollard » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:58 pm

Hope you don't mind one of my videos Stephen high jacking your thread but then you have brought up this fascinating subject of the projectiles. Armortek models firing and being fired at on my range in Cornwall. You guys can make up your own mind which type of shells I'm simulating here using Stephens listed examples above.

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Mark Heaps » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:50 pm

I was too busy fixing tanks to see what they bombed up with, but I have two contacts I can ask, ( both served on Chiefy, one QRIH, the other 17th/21st ) to establish whether APDS was ever fired in Germany.

APFSDS certainly was but AFAIK it was an unusual occurrence and I am unaware as to why, but two tanks ( Challenger 1 ) from a Sqn I was attached to were taken to a seperate range at Hohne for a fin shoot. Possibly they had just had barrel changes and it was a confirmatory shoot to prove they were fully combat capable. I do not remember APFSDS being part of a regular range package.

On a side note, Challenger 2 increases the rate of fire because the gunner does not have to wait for the gun to offset according to the ballistic calculation, wait for the gun and sight to settlle around the target, and then hit the fire button. The system on Challenger 2 allows the gunner and commander to select the target, the computer calculates the offset needed and sends the fire signal whilst the barrel is still moving.

Mark

PS I do not care what the man from Del Monte says but Mummy has said yes ! I am getting 3 pairs of GREEN coveralls for my Chiefy crew :lol:

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:22 pm

Mark, as ever, I was trying not to overcomplicate but you're quite right. APDS and APFSDS were fired on Hohne Ranges in Germany but only under controlled circumstances by the RAC Gunnery wing for commissioning firing and possibly VIP demos. From memory, it was on Range 20 but I may be wrong on that (I have a dim memory of a dedicated commissioning range (Range 12?). Regiments were not allocated APDS or APFSDS on Annual Firing during Chieftain and CR1 time. The first time we fired APDS was in Canada.

I was sorting through photos today and dug out photos of my first APDS shoot in 1975, which I mentioned above. You can see here the lack of head and ear protection, which is why my beret disappeared out of the turret when the next door tank fired. The tanks are lined up so closely to each other because even in BATUS the range template was such that the firing point was very constrained. In the second photo, you can see the results of one of my engagements, with a strike on target at about 1200 metres.

PICT0033_edited-1.jpg
PICT0035_edited-1.jpg

This photo was taken in either 1986 or 87 and shows the crewman's helmet, which did give head and hearing protection but was not very comfortable.

PICT0005 copy.jpg

A couple of random photos.

My Chieftain when commanding D Squadron, 4th tanks:

PICT0021 copy.jpg

D Squadron night shoot with flare illumination. This was pre-TOGS.

PICT0028.jpg

Exercising in Germany (gun barrel raised whenever close to another tank):

PICT0020 copy.jpg

Squadron leaguer in Canada:

PICT0040_edited-1.jpg

Happy tank crew - probably means the exercise has just ended.:

PICT0003 copy.jpg

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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Post by Stephen White » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:49 am

4RTR B Sqn Gen Foote.jpg

Good photo for showing the anti-slip paste applied to the hull and turret upper surfaces. Not to be confused with Zimmerit, which was an anti-magnetic paste.

Subject is also interesting, it's not often you get two living VCs on your tank. Captain Pip Gardner VC, MC in the driver's cab and Major General Bob Foote VC, CB, DSO on the glacis. They both won their VCs serving with 4th Royal Tank Regiment in the Western Desert. They were the only Royal Armoured Corps VCs of WW2 and both in the same regiment.

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