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L60 Fake News

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:50 pm
by John Clarke
I'd like to confront the elephant in the room called the Leyland L60, We all know now to be a problematic engine. But was it really that bad? or just bad propaganda.

It was a new power pack, as usual the tank got heavier and heavier, could it be Initial poor driving and maintenance training? Not enough spares? or just did'nt want to upset the balance of power in the middle east?. :D

I've been in the Chieftain tank fighting compartment, a cramp place, with lots of sharp edges, never lifted an engine deck. I bet their heavy, which is probably why the tankers pained faces when they have to check the oil and water.

I've remarked and made jokes about an engine, because of it's documented rep. But I have never seen one in the flesh, never started or driven one in reality.
Now that's a proper armchair pilot for you. :oops:

It became, by tank engine standards, a very reliable engine (1st gulf war) that in some cases surpassed it own successor.
Not bad for a 30 year old supposedly rubbish design.

There's a few clips showing Chieftain tank crews lifting the deck covers and the plummy commentary states, "Oh the L60's playing up again." maybe not, they maybe just checking the oil and water.

In comparison, when you see a clip of the Leopard 1 or 2 power pack removal. Instead of the "the MTU pack's packed up again", it's Wow! look how fast they can remove it. (plenty of practice one wonders). The Germans are always so upbeat.

So lets hear it for the small (19 liter), super powerful, super efficient (1.6 mpg compare, 3x more than Centurion's mpg), smokey (it's a two stroke).
A Leyland designed tank, seasoned builders of the Comet and Centurion, (not British Leyland designed as some would have you believe to increase it's bad rep). Rolls Royce were rumored to have had a hand in the L60 design and later built the successful K60 engine, a smaller similar design.

I'm sure hoping Armortek will have a great sound track and smoker to do it justice. 8)

And nice clip of Marksman too.

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:26 pm
by Mark Heaps
I am not sure what original purpose the L60 was designed for but the british army has took other successful engines, put them into military vehicles and then wondered why they had problems. Ie Jaguar engine in the CVR(T) series, I will not mention names but I am aware of a few military replacements going straight into civilian vehicles.
CV12 from Challenger 1, designed as a generating engine for Intercity 125s where it will be running at constant revs to drive a generator. Plonk it into a tank where the load is constantly changing and revs are going up and down and then they wonder why it had teething problems.

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:20 pm
by Phil Woollard
The L60 really was a piece of junk period 8)

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:29 pm
by Stephen White
Sorry gentlemen but unsubstantiated comments such as "piece of junk" are for World of Tanks. I'll just say that I lived with the L60 for nearly twenty years of operational service from troop leader to commanding officer and have a view on it. I'll just put up some of my opinions based on my experience.

- the British were in retrospect foolish to try to follow the NATO multi-fuel standard. I believe we were the only country to do so. L60 was a compromised design from the start
- the result was an engine which was never optimised for tank use.
- it is an urban myth that the L60 was based on the Junkers Jumo. It wasn't, it was a new design
- it was always envisaged that the engine would grow in power with development and it did, to quite a remarkable degree. We never felt Chieftain was underpowered and in comparative tests, Chieftain beat Centurion and Challenger 1 in acceleration tests at Bovington.
- it suffered from some critical issues such as liner robustness which could cause catastrophic failures but the rate of failure was manageable. The real issue underlying the reputation for unreliability was availability of spares. The inherent early unreliability of the engine was eventually designed out to a large degree.
- spares availability and inconsistent were the route cause of unreliability. Armoured regiments were deploying as infantry to Northern Ireland throughout Chieftain's life. We typically put the tanks under a long term maintenance regime for up to nine months at a time. The tanks in regular use in Canada had much higher serviceability rates.
- the final post Sundance build standard engines achieved acceptable rates of failure and were regarded by crews as reliable.
- the layout of the engine made for a very awkward installation and despite calling it a "power pack" it was far from as elegant an installation as Leo 1. The Bundeswehr used to demonstrate a pack change in 45 mins (they cheated a bit) whereas Chieftain took hours. That had an impact on availability in action.
- the UK Ministry of Defence knew that it should have replaced L60 with a diesel. The design was available from VDS long before Chieftain left service. They had put the Perkins diesel into Chieftain for export customers. The decision not to replace L60 was sensible, given that it was known as soon as the Shah of Iran fell, that the tank which became Challenger 1 would replace Chieftain. Chieftain with L60 served on for much longer than intended for various reasons, largely financial.

Overall, Chieftain was undoubtedly the best tank of its generation and I say that because, having experienced M-60, Leo 1 and T-64 at first hand, I have no doubt which tank I would have preferred to take to war. I also served on Challenger 1, which was really a developed Chieftain and I stand by the same comment, notwithstanding that M-1 was coming on stream at the same time. My judgement is based on the overall balance of capabilities, firepower, mobility, protection and availability. In peacetime we struggled with the latter. In war, it would have been a different story, as the export customers proved conclusively.

Soldiers always knock their kit but it's also remarkable how attached so many of my fellow former tankies are to restoring and running Chieftain, L60 or not. And it was the most fun to drive and makes a great noise (which we will be recording in Bovington shortly.......).

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:53 am
by Phil Woollard
Now don't get me wrong the L60 made a beautiful noise and lots of signature smoke but it was a hunk of junk, just read the report in the Haynes manual. It was the Achilles heal of a great fighting system.
I'm not going to real off what the report and others have already said, maybe read the RARDE report titled "A development history of the L60 engine for Chieftain main battle tank"
This was a conscious decision to record the tempestuous history of Chieftains power plant, other reports are from REME and MVEE along much the same lines.
Basically from what i can gather the Leyland plant, it's TUC workers the labour movement, a power to weight ratio of 15.5bhp per ton with an expected weight of 45 tons (that didn't last long) and the choice of a multi fuel capability (diesel as the main fuel) power plant was its down fall!
God even the Tigers Maybach broke down less than the L60!
Another source of much trouble was the the TN12 gearbox based on the TN10 , the latter being a proposed design which was cancelled for FV300 light tank (that says it all) the talk on the tank park was that the guy who invented it went mad!
All this makes for great reading which of course is after all "research".

Can't wait to get get started on the chieftain model, I think a pack lift frame to go with the model might be a good idea! 8)

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:31 pm
by John Clarke
Thanks to Phil and Stephen, I think the point is It's all about what we read. Agreed that's one of main our sources of reference, but I think that reputation can be muddied for all sorts of reasons.

We know that during the 1950's Nato wished to have it's fighting force supported with multi fueled AFV's. Fuel supplies and power supplies would be the first targets in a third European war. I know, working in a power station, action to be taken in the event of war was effectively "get under a table and kiss your back side goodbye". :(

Tank manufactures building the next generation of AFV's dully obliged, 4 stroke compression ignition diesels can burn multi fuels, but efficiency can be severely reduced.
2 stroke compression ignition diesels on the other hand have the ability to remain efficient without the loss of too much power.

If tank manufactures of the time had no intention of following Nato guide lines, it would make sense to rubbish the opposition who did follow guide lines, either it be written or political. Not cricket you may say, but when your peddling poorly armored AFV's you've got to have an angle.
When world wide sales are up for grabs, it's not that unlikely for vehicle manufactures to tell the odd "porky pie" or two as we have seen recently. :wink:

I'm not saying the L60 was a great engine, I have no experience, but documentation states it did get better and better as investment and parts became available. Being a dirty engine did not endear it in anyway, but get past that and you have really good work horse. (30+ years in service)

If you wanted to, you could muddy the rep of any Tank engine.
Here's how.
The "wonderful" Maybach HL 210 TRM P45, it's upgrade and associated gearboxes, renowned for failure, Say it enough times and it becomes a folk law fable.
Under powered and prone to failure if run at it's designed 3000 rpm. (Not a great start, especially for trainees).

The upgrade Maybach HL 230 TRM P45. still had to be treated with kid gloves on the heavy weights. breaks down or runs out of gas.
Of the 184 Panthers that debuted at Kursk, 174 were unavailable after 5 days. Reliability pathetic ...... just keep repeating every failure and it just becomes so negative.
This same motor goes on to power other AFV's after the war quite successfully.

The only way know about something is to listen to experts who were actually there, worked and sweated over them, not a writer sitting at a desk churning out old folk law fables.
Haynes manuals :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: You'll be checking out the hyperdrive technology on the macmillian falcon next :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:13 pm
by Mark Heaps
Phil Woollard wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:53 am
I think a pack lift frame to go with the model might be a good idea!
I do not recall there ever being one for the L60 or if there was , we were never issued it and always lifted the pack using the adjustable chains.
I first saw the Universal Lifting Beam when our FV434 got replaced by a Warrior FV512 which came with it. A lifting beam for the L60 may have come later for Engineer units using the Chieftain variants AVRE & AVLB.

I concur with Stephen White that spares availability was a major factor affecting vehicle availability, I´ll come to that later. However less spares would have been required if the tanks had been reliable. For me, the main factor affecting reliability was that the tanks and other armoured vehicles were just not getting enough regular use to ensure that gaskets and seals were getting exercised and naturally lubricated to keep them in optimal condition. With the exception of BATUS in Canada, for the first week to 10 days of any exercise, us REME would get minimal sleep as we would be going from break-down to break-down, trying to fix them faster than they were breaking. Then we would have very little work till the end of the exercise.

The BATUS fleet were different, half were changed over each year and after 2 years they went back for base overhaul as they were worn out. If you had an early MEDMAN in the first year then expect the normal teething problems. Second half of first year and first half of second year, very reliable. Second year towards the end, you were doing your best to keep them going.

Spares availability - Queens Royal Lancers using Challenger 1 on a firing package at Grafenwohr. Down to under 60% availability due to no turret LRU´s being available. Within 24 hrs they went to over 90% and climbing. When the Colonel asked the Tiffies where these LRU´s were coming from as there were none available, their answer was "Colonel, please do not ask, we do not wish to jeopordise our source"

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:45 pm
by John Clarke
Another chance to meet the Chieftain

haynes Capture.jpg
haynes Capture.jpg (84.57 KiB) Viewed 2628 times
Apparently the flux capacitor could be unreliable with this vehicle too, luckily we have a Haynes manual :D :D :D :D

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:07 pm
by Mark Heaps
Haynes was not generally usefull when fixing the tanks.

Heinz was though, a good dollop of ketchup on the egg banjo and carry on working.

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:34 pm
by John Clarke
Mark Stephen

If it was recognized that the Chieftain and it's systems performed more reliably when it was used more often, how often would the vehicles get to stretch their legs say over a month during it's time at the BAOR?

Would it be common practice to run the Gue and L60 motors to charge the batteries circulate the oil etc on a daily or weekly basis?

Finally, I was also wondering how many miles would be put on the odometer on average per year?

Sorry for so many Question's. :oops:

As a young lad with my first car and first Haynes manual, I was always struck by the information it would give you of "what to do" but it rarely told you "how to do it". :x ...........Remove (A) but failed to tell you needed to remove (D),(E) and (F) first.

The Chieftain Haynes manual is pretty good, nice pictures etc something to gander over in a quiet place. :) I even emailed the publishers to ask the author a question. they said they'ed forward it on. .............................Still waiting :evil:

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:36 pm
by Mark Heaps
Hi John,

Allowable track milage was the limiting factor affecting peace-time use, but in my experience unless the unit had been tasked with other things such as a tour in Northern Ireland and the tanks were placed in a state of preservation, the vehicles would be first paraded on a daily basis ie checked for leaks, oil & coolant levels checked, engines started and run-up to circulate oils and keep the batteries topped up. Tanks generally moved out onto the apron in front of the hangar so the troops can then grab the brooms and sweep the hangar.
Although they were run-up and moved regularly, this could not replicate the vibration and other forces experienced when motoring at high-speed cross-country. Exactly the same as parking a car up in a garage and just starting it daily when compared to taking it out on a 20 mile drive each day.

I cannot provide any evidence to confirm it but there was a rumour that the Commanding Officer of one Cavalry regiment paid out of his own private income to have a test track installed just within the camp perimeter and personally paid for extra track mileage so that the vehicles went around it getting bounced about at least once a month.


Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:03 pm
by Stephen White
John, Mark has described the regime when we were in barracks accurately but there was never any such thing as a typical year. I went back to Fourth Tanks in 1976 and I can describe what we got up to as a Regiment for the next ten years.

- 74. Regiment did an "arms plot move" from UK to British Army of the Rhine, Germany. Both postings on tanks but four months disruption to training.
- 75 . Troop and regimental training - if there ever was such a thing, that was a typical year, three or four periods of two weeks each of intensive tank training on a training area such as Soltau.Mileage? probably 300-350 per tank.
- 76. Put tanks away on out of use servicing and whole Regiment go to Northern Ireland as infantry for four months with two months of training before and two months to recover and re-train afterwards. October - one of the four squadrons deployed to Canada to train on the tanks held there.
-77. Jun-July, intense period of special to arm and combined arms training before deploying to Canada as a battle group (leaving our tanks in Germany in out of use servicing).
-78. Put the tanks away, train and deploy the whole Regiment to Northern Ireland until May. Aug - short period of tank refresher training.
-79. Train in Germany before deploying to Canada as a Regimental Battle Group (minus our tanks, left in Germany). On return, deploy with our tanks on the major summer BAOR Field Training Exercise (EX KEYSTONE).
-80. Train in Germany before deploying on that year's major BAOR FTX, EX SPEARPOINT (a huge NATO exercise in the German countryside)
-81. Regimental training in Germany and FTX in the summer.
-82-84. Major arms plot move to UK. Deploy one squadron to Cyprus in armoured cars, deploy whole Regiment to Greenham Common on internal security duties as infantry. One squadron remained at Warminster as the Demonstration Squadron. They got to do consistent, regular exercises on Salisbury Plain and probably had the highest rates of serviceability the Regiment ever achieved, because they were using the tanks regularly.
-85-return to BAOR and retrain
-86 I took my Squadron to Northern Ireland as infantry.

So you get the idea. Bags of variety, little stability and having to cram tank and all arms training into the spaces between operational tours. Moving barracks every four or five years did cause disruption but the benefit was to give broader experience across the Royal Armoured Corps. I should also say that in most years, regiments would squeeze in their annual live firing training and tests, so our core skills were maintained. Service in BAOR could have become very boring and repetitive, so operational tours as infantry were looked on as a welcome change.

Mark, there is a flavour of urban myth about your test track story but there is the famous case of a CO sacked over the wrecking of asparagus fields by his Regiment who were geographically embarrassed. It's said he offered to pay out of his own pocket. Regiments did have considerable private welfare funds but a commanding officer who spent it on a test track would not have lasted long, when the housing and amenities in barracks were so in need of funds. Regiments did invest in ski huts and sailing facilities, adventure training facilities and subsidised sport but there was no mechanism for nor desire to spend regimental cash on more track miles or spares. That said, RAC regiments did try to improve training aids and may have used a little private money. We had a very knowledgable gunnery instructor, Ron Acquilina, who developed a gunnery training aid which was adopted by the Army as a whole.

Had we enjoyed stable, predictable and regular training schedules, such as the Bundeswehr had, our Chieftain serviceability would no doubt have increased substantially. The downside is that we would have been bored to tears. And you won't find that in the Haynes Manual, despite Dick Taylor's best efforts. By the way, John, if you haven't had a response from Haynes, fire the question at me and I'll ask Dick.

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:17 pm
by Mark Heaps
I was not suggesting that welfare or PRI funds were diverted or spent incorrectly, but that certain Commanding Officers may have paid for it out of their own pockets.
In my experience Cavalry officers had to have a substanstial private income "subsidised by daddy" to afford the life-style. And I know of a few cases where the fathers insisted their sons had to serve in the armed forces before they would be be able to inherit the family fortune.

"Frog" Freeman, ex-CO of RDGs, adressed by everybody in the unit as such in a respectful tone unless we had high ranking visitors or you were in front of him on a disciplinary matter and then he he would be adressed as "Colonel !!". In the second case you had let him down, and had to re-earn the right.
At a Sgts Mess dinner shortly after being posted there, I introduced my wife to him saying this is the CO of the Regiment. He immediately replied to my wife "Welcome to the Regiment. I am Frog!. How are you settling in ? "
Evidently he got the nickname from the other young officers at the time when he turned up at the Regiment stright out of Sandhurst driving a bright green Frogeye Sprite and he turned it into a mark of respect.

When he and his wife were to be dined out of the Sgts Mess on leaving the Regiment, he got max attendance. All Regimental personnel who were on external postings came over for it. I did submit a return saying that neither myself nor my wife would be attending and was called in front of the RSM the following morning to explain myself. My explanation was that the RSM himself had scheduled me for Guard Commander on that evening and as we lived 25 miles away from camp and no transport available, my wife had no chance to get in and get home safely afterwards. After a quick "Ooops !", it was "Sgt Heaps, if we put in one of the senior corporals to do Guard Commander on that evening, would you and your wife be available to attend ?"

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:00 pm
by John Clarke
Mark, Stephen, thanks for all the wonderful information.

There's probably enough details there for a book. A few new unpublished pictures, editorials, I'm sure 50 copies would fly off the shelf instantly. :D

The future: Opposed Piston Diesel Engines Are Crazy Efficient

I sincerely believe there has been miscarriage of justice given to the L60, once the Mk5 came on line, there was very little to touch the Chieftain on the battle field.

You have to consider that the German and French AFV's during the 1960's were not much better than the Panther in the armor department.
Having armor so thin they should have been termed tank destroyers.

If you don't like your crews, put them in the AMX30, the Leopard 1 or the dreadful AMX13 and confront a regiment of T64's. Good luck with that :lol:

To quote" Chieftain has been well suited to it's role as armored guardian of the British forces in northern Germany"
The best Armor, The best gun and pretty good mobility. Which of course would have given the British crews the best survival chances.

And what's the most important part of the tank?.....The experienced crew.

As for the question I wished ask Dick Taylor, I wondered if he'd ever come across the 1/5 scale Chieftain model I used to own during his time researching of the book. It used to reside at Chertsey MVEE/FVRDE.

Re: L60 Fake News

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:08 pm
by Stephen White
You have a point John. We used to say that you could get through the armour of a Leo 1 with a Black and Decker drill. AMX 30 was a joke. M-60 was a good tank but far too tall and M-1 was a fuel guzzler and had a significant vulnerability with ammunition stowage in the turret. The Chieftain 120mm was in a class of its own in lethality and the Chieftain fire control system with laser and ballistic computer was also way ahead of its time. I had personal knowledge of T-64 and T-72 and although they were automotively sound, had a very low profile and a good gun, they were ergonomic disasters, a three man crew is a non-starter in intensive combat and they both had a critical vulnerability with the ammunition stowage, as we've seen in the Middle East recently. If I'd had to go to war, Chieftain was my chosen tank of its generation.

Re your model John, I did ask Dick if he knew of it when you first showed it and he said not. I think we had an exchange about it at the time.