Chieftain info and banter

Forum for discussion relating to the Chietain MBT
Mark Heaps
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Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Sat May 04, 2019 5:12 pm

Topic started for the Old & Bold to pull up a sandbag and start swinging the lantern, and maybe stop their build topics getting de-railed.
Perfect place also for any info, stories, photos you may have of Marks not applicable to the one you will build but could assist others.
Also for comparisons and debate reference Chieftain, Challenger 1 & Challenger 2.

I knew that if Armortek did produce a Chieftain, it would sell well but it would be interesting to read why other people are purchasing it.
For me it was because I was trained as an ECE to fix them and supported them. Some of the electrical systems, such as control of the Ranging Machine Gun, I only ever saw during training.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Sun May 05, 2019 6:44 pm

REME support to the tanks
Not applicabe to building the Armortek model but may be of interest none the less.
On leaving training late 86, the fitter section vehicles were 24A ( an FV432 used as the command vehhicle ), 24B ( an FV434 ( FV400 variant with crane) ) , and 24C, ( a Chieftain ARV , Armoured Recovery Vehicle fitted with winch but no crane ). The ARRV (Armoured Repair & Recovery Vehicle) with crane was soon introduced replacing the FV434 and then the ARV. 24B then became 24D until we had to backload it.
Personnel consisted of the Tiffy (SSgt commanding the fitter section ), VMs ( Vehicle Mechanics ), the Recy Mech ( Recovery Mechanic ) who drove and operated the winch on 24C, the Gun fitter ( looked after all weaponry )and 2-3 ECEs ( Electronic Contol Equipment Technicians -we fixed all the electrics and electronics). Instrument Technicians ( looking after the sighting systems ) were part of the LAD Main and would come out when required.
Later, an Instrument Technician would become part of the fitter section.
Later still, 24B was a WR512 ( Warrior variant with crane but no winch ), freeing up the ARRVs for recovery taskings and allocation elsewhere and CHARRV ( CHieftain ARRV ) gradually got replaced by CrARRV ( Challenger ARRV ) enabling us better to keep up with the tanks we were supporting.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Wed May 08, 2019 5:29 pm


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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Stephen White » Wed May 08, 2019 6:35 pm

Thanks Mark, yes, you'll see I commented on the video a while back:

Good effort with the BATUS paint scheme and Fourth Tanks Chinese Eye but..... someone needs to let the driver into the secret about gear changing and oh, to see a Chieftain being moved without the gun on stab. It won't be long until the elevation gearbox needs replacing. Good to see her running and such fine photography but the operation could be so much more professional.

I suppose we should be thankful that there are Chieftains running in civilian hands and I don't underestimate the effort and expense involved but then to see such awful driving, to see the gun unstabilised and beating the hell out of the elevation gearbox and to see people standing in the turret or worse, sitting around the loader's hatch just speaks volumes about a pretty slack organisation. Pity. It could all be so much more professional.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Wed May 08, 2019 7:11 pm

A bit more info regarding points brought up in the Donkey Engine thread.

Both the battle link and the OMC lever were sealed with lock-wire and a lead seal to prevent unauthorised usage.
Normally in peace time, the seals would only be broken twice a year during REME inspections to confirm the systems would work when required and then they would be re-sealed till the next inspection. One ECE I knew calculated how many of the lead seals he would require for his 3-year attachment, came to about 190 so ordered 200 to be on the safe side. He did not spot that the DofQ was 100 so instead of getting 200 seals, he got 200 packs of 100.

I experienced two other situations in peace-time when the battle-link was thrown.
1) If the donkey engine was run for an extended length of time without the generator being on-line and loading it, the exhaust would coke up. Symptoms were grey to black exhaust smoke and the engine labouring when put under load, you would hear a significant change in revs. Normal cure was to connect another tank using a slave lead, throw the battle link on that second tank so you could switch all the systems on on that tank and put maximum load on the genny and burn out the soot. Big clouds of black smoke until the exhaust smoke cleared and the engine ran sweetly again.
Worked on all occasions I experienced except for one time in BATUS on a Challenger 1. I was tasked to stand behind the tank and report when no more visible exhaust smoke was present. From the start, no grey or black exhaust smoke was visible, and no matter how much we loaded it, we could not produce any although we could hear that the engine was severely labouring. I then held my hand under the exhaust pipe, it was not blowing out but sucking in. The engine had been timed 180 degrees out and was running backwards. Air filter black as hell on the inside and the exhaust manifold clogged with prairie sand. One new donkey engine, please !
2) Exercise on Höhne impact area, both generators on the FOO´s Warrior had failed ( FOO - Forward Observation Officer - our liasion to the artillery supporting us ), but no replacement generators were available. I was tasked by the tiffy to find a way to get the Warrior back in to action as the Squadron Leader was screaming out for it. I discovered the APU generator was totally shot but the main engine generator was still putting out 28.5 Volts, it had just lost it´s pilot line output to switch the relays. Solution was to throw the battle-link and brief the radio operator to monitor his battery gauge. If it started dropping then the generator had failed completely and a vehicle with slave lead would need to be on stand-by to provide an emergency recharge. The tiffy would not accept my judgement call. Three hours later he comes back with the Squadron Leader in tow and the following conversation ensues
Tiffy - " Well, Sgt Heaps, you have now had 3 hours to think about this problem. Have you come up with a method to get the Warrior back into action ?"
Me - " Same answer I gave 3 hours ago, 2 hours ago and 1 hour ago. I throw the battle-link and brief the radio-op"
Tiffy- "We cannot do that. It will burn out the Hull Main Junction Box ! "
Me - " Yes Tiffy. You said that 3 hours ago, 2 hours ago and 1 hour ago and each time I told you that you were talking b*ll**ks! "
Sqn Ldr - "Sgt Heaps - could it possibly under the remotest chances burn out the junction box ?"
Me - "Not a chance sir. If we were at war, that battle-link would have been thrown before we left barracks and we would not be having this conversation."
Sqn Ldr- "Tiffy, please throw the battle-link !!!. I think it would be best if Sgt Heaps briefs the radio-op, and do please come and see me later and explain why I was unneccessarily without that vehicle for 3 hours.!"

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Wed May 08, 2019 7:23 pm

Stephen White wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:35 pm
to see the gun unstabilised and beating the hell out of the elevation gearbox
Indicates to me the gunkit was either not switched on or non-functional. At about 4 MPH, the speed sensor should have kicked in and automatically enabled STAB in elevation ( Back-up system in case gunners forgot during the heat of battle ). But as you say, correct drills were for the gunner to activate STAB before movement even if you were only trundling a few paces on the tank park.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Thu May 09, 2019 6:54 pm

Saw this photo on Stephan´s thread
file.jpg
file.jpg (136.7 KiB) Viewed 3214 times
Can anyone shed any light on what that attachment plate directly in front of the drivers hatch was for ?
I do not recall it it being fitted on any of the Chieftains I looked after.
Two possibilities spring to mind. A retro-fitted mount for a SIMFIRE / DEFWES detector, or a one-off fit for a camera mount for filming traing videos.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Fri May 10, 2019 1:56 pm

And before Stephen corrects me that it is DFWES ( Direct Fire Weapons Effects Simulator ) and not DEFWES, it was generally pronounced def-wes rather than reciting the letters. Sometimes referred to by crews after a significantly good or significantly bad engagement as death-wes.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Fri May 10, 2019 3:26 pm

And before anyone starts thinking about how to re-produce the covers on the smoke-dischargers, I would say do not bother.
In my experience, they were a dust cover fitted during transit from / to manufacturer / units / Base Workshops and occasionally for parades. Otherwise they were fitted when the tank arrived at your unit, they were removed and stored in the troop cages, and re-fitted when the tank left the unit.

Other regiments that I did not serve with may have done things differently, but in a wartime situation they would definitely not have been fitted.

Mark

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Stephen White » Fri May 10, 2019 6:15 pm

MarK, that plate is like the two hooked plates on the upper hull slides, one of those things fitted but with no real purpose. I can’t now remember what it’s for but it certainly pre-dates DFWES. It’s on the pre-production series vehicles and was certainly on tanks in my Regiment although I’ve seen photos where it’s not present. My best guess, without being able to check my references at the moment, is that it relates to the wading kit which was never used in service. I may stand to be corrected but that’s my best guess for now.the two hooked plates were certainly related to wading. I believe they were for securing the commander’s tower.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Fri May 10, 2019 7:17 pm

Hi Stephen,
Mounting point for a strut to support the wading kit would make sense and explain why some vehicles had it and others didnt.
A later mark could have had it due to being an uprated earlier mark, whilst later marks never had them fitted.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Wed May 22, 2019 7:55 pm

PICT0083 copy.jpg
PICT0083 copy.jpg (106.97 KiB) Viewed 2969 times
For anyone thinking of doing a Mark 11, you need both of these armoured "bins" on the left hand side of the turret. The front one housed the TISH, Thermal Imaging Sensor Head, which was on a mount which electrically followed the gun in elevation and depression. The rear one housed the Bottle Pack and Compressor Pack to supply the high pressure pure air needed for cooling the sensor in the TISH.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Mark Heaps » Thu May 23, 2019 8:17 pm

Barrel-scrim
with scrim 2.jpg
with scrim 2.jpg (133.72 KiB) Viewed 2882 times
or no barrel-scrim
without scrim.jpg
without scrim.jpg (106.83 KiB) Viewed 2882 times
The scrim ( parts of cam-nets ) to break up the outline of the barrel looks good, but in my experience attached to four different cavalry units 1987 onwards, it was not used except for tanks that were playing as the enemy. I stand ready to be corrected by Stephen.

The general expectation during the time I served was that the Russians would have hit us with chemical weapons before going to nukes. The physical nature of the cam nets would have them absorbing and then off-gassing any chemical agent. Training was to ditch the cam-net, cut away any hessian side-skirts and any other fabrics exterior to the vehicle before going into the decontamination area.

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Stephen White » Fri May 24, 2019 4:21 pm

Mark Heaps wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 8:17 pm
The scrim ( parts of cam-nets ) to break up the outline of the barrel looks good, but in my experience attached to four different cavalry units 1987 onwards, it was not used except for tanks that were playing as the enemy.
Mark, I checked in RAC Training Vol 1 Armour and there is no comment to that effect, nor about any additional risk associated with chemical or nuclear contamination. The manual does however talk about the importance of breaking up the visual outline of the vehicle, which was the purpose of scrimming the barrel.

I thought perhaps that it was common practice in BAOR to scrim the barrel on exercise but to remove it for any live firing, except perhaps for demonstrations but then I found this picture of 4 RTR on the ranges with scrim:

IMG_3251 (1).jpg



It's possible this was preparation for a big demo, I can't now remember.

If there was ever a consistent RAC policy on scrim, I've not yet found it. I believe the use of scrim was very much a matter of regimental choice (and in this there was certainly no consistency across the Regiments, whether Cavalry or RTR). To prove that point, this is a Cavalry squadron with and without.

Screenshot 2019-02-21 at 14.32.42.jpg

1 RTR:

IMG_5583.jpg

and 4 RTR preparing for exercise:

4RTR Tpr Porter Camming up the gun barrel ready foe exercise.jpg

and to make the point about NBC, a Chieftain with the crew in NBC kit with scrim:

IMG_5523.jpg

My conclusion is that in modern speak, the reduction of the visual signature was always a greater concern than any additional risk of NBC contamination and, as you say, the net would have been cut away before decontamination. The gun barrel on Chieftain was so large in relation to the vehicle that it was the first and easiest part to recognise at long distance and therefore any measure to make it more difficult to detect was very important. Believe me, trying to detect, recognise and identify tanks in cover at long ranges in poor light was never easy. Is there something there (detect)? Yes, is it a tank (recognise)? Yes, it's a main battle tank. What tank is it (identify) - it's pouring out white smoke and it's got an effing big gun, it's a Chieftain. No, it's a bush with a pipe smoker hiding in it, no, it's a Chieftain with scrim, trying to look like a bush with a pipe smoker in it....

The current plan to give Challenger 2 a life extension programme is very actively considering visual and electronic signature reduction as this image of Megatron shows:

Challenger_2-Megatron_MOD_45161542.jpg

The tank is wearing the SAAB Barracuda multi-spectral Camouflage System, which reduces the visual, near infra-red, thermal and radar signatures, increasing the vehicle protection on the move and static.

Of course, this is all academic unless someone can find a way of replicating the British Army camouflage net in scale:

british-army-old-style-woodland-camouflage-netting-coating-for-vehicles-JGDGR5.jpg

Not to be confused with the hessian nets of WW2:

IMG_4653.jpg
IMG_4653.jpg (199.42 KiB) Viewed 2806 times

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Re: Chieftain info and banter

Post by Stephen White » Fri May 24, 2019 4:23 pm

If anyone wants to see it in the flesh, the Tank Museum has this:

50792649_10157157699411907_8195632898892627968_o.jpg

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