Tank Chats #82 Challenger 1 | The Tank Museum


this tank chats going to be about the
British Army’s challenger tank what became the Challenger one tank when the
Challenger two came into service and bare with me because this story’s a bit
of a complex one what leads up to the actual adoption of the Challenger now
we’ve talked already about that idea in the post Cold War era if a tank goes
into service almost immediately another program is started for the replacement
of that tank in perhaps 10-15 years time and quite often other programs at the
beginning as soon as it goes into service to improve the tank whilst it’s
in service now back at the end of the 1960’s the British had the chieftain
tank in service the Germans had the leopard and they
were both going to be looking at a replacement to come into service
sometime in the early 1980s and what happens is Britain and Germany get
together and they form an alliance to come up with an idea that in early 1970
is going to be called the future main battle tank and off they go and start
researching about what might be required for that and some of the ideas they they
again start off by doing the classic let’s think outside the box do we need a
turreted tank shall we go for a casement vehicle with a gun without a
turret that sort of thing so that project goes on and lots of
technologically sort of investigative projects are started trying to find out
what would be the best way of doing this what else can we actually apply in a
range of different areas from automotive gunnery to protection now meanwhile in
the background Britain has also developed Burlington or Chobham armour
it’s named Chobham because the main place Chobham in Surrey where they did the
work on it now that new type of armour was they offered it to the Americans
when this future main battle tank program got going they also offered it
to the Germans as well but we hadn’t actually put it on a tank ourselves in
Britain so they came up with the idea of a fighting vehicle
FV4211 and that was going to be a chieftain automotive based
vehicle but we were going to add that new Chobham armour for the first time and
again this was really the first properly laminated armoured vehicle with the new Chobham and they did that in the early 1970 as a test vehicle as well to have a
look at it see how it might work on a on an actual tank this this brand new and
very very effective new armor system that they come up with up at Chertsey or
Chobham as the site is known so there’s another parallel going on there and that
vehicle we actually have it here at the Tank Museum that was kept secret it was
only actually admitted about until in 1976 because of the nature they wanted
to keep the nature of this new type of armor away from prying eyes obviously
now so different projects are going on another project that’s going on is the
idea of a of a gun that can fit on all NATO tanks what size should that be
should it be 120 105 or 110 that was another experimentation that
was going on there and back in Germany as well
the Germans are also doing they’ve started the leopard 2 project and
they’re looking at that is not just replacing leopard one but the rest of
our armoured vehicles that were still in their fleet and by 76 the Germans are
coming to the conclusion that actually leopard 2 and not this future main
battle tank program is the way they want to go
so in 77 the future main battle tank program is completely canceled but
technologies that have been developed for that and ideas are actually carried
forward into other projects which is why these are important ones to to know
about going on in the background so with the future main battle tank program
cancelled that left Britain in a position where it doesn’t have a
replacement tank lined up ready for the chieftain and so what are we going to do
about it though they start a new program that’s just a national program and that
program is going to be called MBT 80 main battle tank 80 and again they come
up with a number of requirements of what they want that tank to be and even
though MBT 80 doesn’t actually progress into a
physical tank it’s an important project because yet again the military are
coming up with specifications developing technologies that are then going to be
used further on in other vehicles now MBT 80 is a program it’s developed at
the again at the Chobham and the Chertsey site by the military vehicle
engineering establishment MVEE as it’s known and they’re looking at again what
is going to be the best way of creating that new replacement tank and they
actually go for the ideas behind it seem to be fairly traditional it’s going to
have a three-man turret driver at the front of the vehicle and probably a 120
millimeter again they like the idea of the smoothbore gun but in actual fact
they decide to go for a rifled gun for this tank because they think that with
rifled ammunition already in production for the chieftain stocks of it are going
to be out there they can’t predict exactly when an MBT80 would be ready
to go into production so isn’t it better that’s something that’s can that could
be compatible for both both tanks is kept on and that’s why they go for the
idea of the rifled gun for it now as that MBT80 program is going along in
the background Britain is trying to sell tanks to the Shah of Iran from the early
1970s the Shah of Iran’s been interested in buying tanks off of Britain that
program develops into a program that ends up with three types of tanks that
are going to be sold to the Shah and this project becomes FV4030 and each
individual type of tank becomes slash 1/2/3 and what we’ve got is the first
part of that project FV 4030/1 is really we’re just setting them a Chieftain
and with a few alterations on it about 125 of those are going to be sold
the second part of the project is a tank the Iranians wants to call Shir 1 its
FV 4030 / 2 and that tank is really a chieftain front end with a new
in the back rolls-royce diesel going in the back of the vehicle so the rear end
of that vehicle looks very different the front end looks very similar to
chieftain and again there’s going to be just under 200 – those tanks ordered the
real clincher though is they want one thousand two hundred and fifty of a
brand new tank they’re going to call Shir 2 – and that will be FV 4030 /
three and this is going to be a new tank that is going to have the chieftain gun
in essence some improved fire control systems that already Britain is
developing to upgrade its cheap stand they call that ifcs improved fire
control system it’s also going to have this new system of hydro gas suspension
which has got great play and gives a really smooth ride to a tank they’re
going to put that they’re going to get Chobham armor on this new vehicle so
it’s going to have stunning levels of protection and really all together this
is a brand new tank we’re not just talking about a chieftain derivative
there and lots of new things are going into the vehicle now they compress the
development of that vehicle to five years at MVEE up at Chertsey so this
development process is speeded up and again because it’s taking some of the
ideas from previous projects and being able to put them together now 1979 is
the crucial year in all of this because early in 1979 the Shah of Iran is
deposed and the project for buying these tanks is suddenly scuppered so what are
we going to do what’s going to happen about this how are we going to cover
things off so what happens is Jordan later in that same year steps forward
and says we would like to buy the shear one tank that’s basically that chieftain
tank with a new engine and rear end on it and that goes off into Jordanian
service and they buy the the ones that are being built already and they
actually order a few more the second part of the project is a real problem
for Britain because we’ve been lining up all the factories to build the shear to
tank all the work and developments gone into it
what are we going to do about this and they estimated
about 10,000 jobs are on the line to do with royal ordnance factory leads all
the subcontractors and suppliers so what happens is a quick shuffling of feet
discussions go on in the summer of 79 and what happens is a young major in the
British Army is put the task of coming up with a new general service
requirement his name is Patrick Cordingley we’ll meet him again a bit
later on and he is told to put together a paper to say how we could get what is
4030/3 in other words the Shir 2 tank could we convert it into
something that the British army can use instead of NBTA T and in the end that
decision is actually made MBA T is stopped some of the projects to do with
MBA T keep going in other words they keep development in some of the areas
and some of those projects will see returning later especially to do with
challenger 2 but the idea of MBA T is know that now won’t be the complete
replacement for the chieftain fleet we are now going to go in a different
direction and we’re going to get this tank that was first called in the
paperwork Cheviot and then it’s given later in the
summer of July of 1980 when it’s announced in Parliament they’re going to
call it challenger and that becomes the tank now challenger is not the tank that
the British Army had specified when it was dealing with MBT 80 in other words
it hasn’t got some of those features on it that it wanted yes it’s got that
wonderful new Chobham armor but not necessarily to the same levels as they
wanted on NBT 80 it’s got this new C v12 engine this new diesel engine that’s
been put together by rolls-royce that particular engine they up rate it to
1,200 horsepower from the old earlier version that had 800 horsepower so yes
it’s got a fair old bit of welly behind it in terms of engine power but in terms
of and again it’s got that new hydro gas suspension but the gunnery is not the
improvement the army were looking for because basically what they do
he’s taking in essence the chieftain gun and the gunnery and putting it on this
new tank so there were issues there so as the Challenger starts getting built
with one or two improvements on it things like straight away they’re going
to add togs thermal imaging on the side of the turret they’re going to add the
classic British Army CES kit all the stuff a normal British vehicle should be
taking with it so they do that anyway but they also start a program called
chip challenger and early days it was chieftain as well Improvement Program
and the idea is straight away even as they’re building the Challenger tank
they’re looking at projects to upgrade it a better-quality 120 millimeter gun
is top of that list so that program is going on in the background straightaway
1983 the very first tanks that are issued out to the Army Royal has ours of
the first ones to be equipped with it what do you get with the Challenger one
so the L 11 gun is really just a slight improvement on the gun that was on the
chieftain it would carry about 64 rounds inside the turret and again this is
still a very very impressive gun one thing they did manage to develop for the
Challenger is a new version of the armour-piercing fin-stabilised
discarding sabot round and that actually during the production run meant that
some of the bins inside the vehicles had to be changed and again like a lot of
tanks when they’re going about 420 challenger ones are actually produced
when they’re going through the production run there are slightly
different build specs and improvement so you can go up to sometimes they call it
mark 3 for example with the new bins in that gun has a thermal observation and
gunnery system the sight and one of the amazing things about that compared to
some of the earlier generation vehicles and certainly when we come on to
operation Granby the idea that this vehicle can see at night and can see
through haze a lot of the vehicles it was fighting against from the Iraqi army
didn’t have that capacity at all and that gave this vehicle tremendous
advantage so very good firepower but it certainly wasn’t the very latest
and type of weapon system that was being designed in Britain the Chobham armor
when you look at a challenger tank what you’re really looking at on the outside
is a skin problem when it’s developed is put into armor packs that are flat and
that’s why it doesn’t have the rounded shape there’s another advantage by the
way to this faceted shape and that’s to do with radar deflection and stealth so
you shouldn’t really necessarily have a right angle on the tank at all so what
goes on there is on under an outer steel skin that’s where the armor packs and
again mentioning operation Granby when in 1991 British tanks end up going about
260 them ending up going out to fight in the liberation of Kuwait those tanks
have extra armor added at the moment the tank we’re looking at here has got
normal bazooka plates or side skirts on extra armor was specifically put on the
side and added as well as atom explosive reactive armor or era armor was put on
the front of the tank for when it went out to fight and again in operation
Granby because there was a worry about this gun was it still up to it taking on
the latest t-72 model tanks they actually issued 12 extra rounds for each
challenger which were what they were called Jericho rounds they were
basically depleted uranium in the long world penetrator and that was thought to
give it that extra edge to get through whatever is on the front of a t-72 in
the back we’ve mentioned 1200 horsepower engine that would give this a speed up
to 35 miles an hour and with extra fuel on the back as well that was another
thing they did for operation Granby they did some experiments is it wise carrying
extra cans of diesel on the back extra drums and when they were doing
experiments shooting them up even when they did catch fire they were still you
could jettison them and they were still in a position where the vehicle didn’t
seem to suffer at all so extra drums you’ll see were added on the rear to
extend the range of the Challenger ones in Granby and again from the point of
view you’re doing over 200 miles as a as a standard fuel tank on these tanks
and that was one of the other great things about Challenger one is if you
put it in x-ray brooms actually it can do about double the distance without
refueling to refuel and again in actual times of combat because refueling a tank
is not an easy task and it can take quite a while as well because these
things take such a lot of fuel so that idea that was another advantage that
challenged your hand so the power is great you can see on the side the hydro
gas suspension giving it a smooth ride and that added to the gunnery issues
because from the point of view of that gun if it’s on a smoother platform
firing on the move again it means there’s a better chance it’s going to
fire accurately and get a first-round hit inside the turret
you’ve got the classic crew of three that there you’ve got the commander
you’ve got the loader who’s putting him first of all the projectile then the
bank charge and they often call it three-part ammunition because there’s a
charge that actually detonates that on the end of the gun the driver of the
Challenger is right down at the front of the vehicle and underneath his seat
which our positions he can drive with his head out he can drive in a what they
call a supine position almost laying back looking out of his scope there and
that can be changed so he can have a night driving vision scope and he’s also
got a way of collapsing the sea and he can reverse back underneath the main gun
and exit through the turret should he need to in an emergency so for example
if you’re in combat you’re the tank gets knocked out with a gun barrel over his
hatch he’s still got a way of exiting the vehicle this particular challenger
one tank was actually under the commander of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur
denaro traditionally as a CEO of his unit the Irish is ours
this tank is called Churchill and this was one of the tanks that went out in
the Gulf War and again the crew bit like pilots nowadays as well on the side have
got their stencils of their names and we had the great pleasure of bringing the
crew back reuniting them with this tank and it actually went in the Lord Mayor’s
pride some years ago and that’s one of the advantage we’ve got where we’ve got
a tank that’s fairly recently in service lots of people can give us their
opinions they can give us their accounts and their memories have actually
serving on a challenger tank so an operation Granby one of the issues
before operation Granby was we’ve already discussed the idea was this tank
really what the army wanted there was nervousness about reliability they did
look at the fact that they were thinking hang on a second I mentioned these extra
Jericho rounds is the firepower going to be up to it and cording Lee Brigadier
packed accordingly is put in charge of what becomes the armored element of the
first UK division that goes out and to help liberate Kuwait and one of the
things he was really adamant about his afterwards he went to me v back up to
church he’s saying to the people who who put this tank together and also saying
to the people that built it that at the end of the campaign he had got 98% of
his vehicles were still in full working order the challengers took Horn and
knocked out 400 Iraqi tanks with no losses to themselves at all and actually
in February of 1991 a challenger one fires and armour-piercing fin-stabilised
discarding Sabu round two point nine miles and knocks out an Iraqi tank and
that is still recognized as a longest tank on tank kill recorded so what he
was basically trying to say to people was actually come the day this tank
worked very well for the troops that were in it and why he was so keen to
emphasize that is a person that was involved very early on in the project
in 1987 the Challenger ones went out to Germany to take part in something called
the Canadian Army trophy or cat 87 as it became known and that’s a basically a
gunnery competition it’s a series of tanks from different nations line
themselves up and they do different types of target shooting and they’re
graded and judged challenge one came last there was a bit
of a balls-up there’s no other way of describing it in what happened there and
challenge one came last and so calling Lee who was obviously disappointed about
this as someone involved in the project was able to say afterwards actually with
great conviction and evidence that look challenger is a tank for war not for
competition and he meant it because really that tank
did its business when we needed it now it comes out of service of very last
ones in British service come out of the service in 2001 something called the Al
Hussein project they’re gifted and some are sold to the Jordanian army so the
Challenger one was then put into service in the Jordanian army whilst challenges
sue came into service with the British Army and those challenging ones by the
very clever Jordanian can’t be Bureau have been upgraded in a number of
different ways so some of them have now got a cruellest turret put on them and
some of them are being used again like so many countries instead of disposing
of what is a very well protected hull they’ve actually upgraded them and using
them for other two functions as well so of those four hundred and twenty there’s
probably about 20 left in the UK the rest of them ended out going out to
Jordan of the challenge of one story and we’re very pleased we’ve got not only
this tank that saw service in and that first Gulf War in operation Granby here
but we’ve got some other examples here and also a plethora of those other
vehicles that not only helped develop the Challenger but also the other ones
that were put into place such as rag armoured recovery vehicle and we’ll
probably do a separate tank chat to look at those ones well I hope you enjoyed that and please
do subscribe to the tank museums channel on YouTube and support us on patreon so
that we can make even more videos like this

100 thoughts on “Tank Chats #82 Challenger 1 | The Tank Museum

  1. I remember seeing some of these rolling around the desert back in '91 (I was with the US 1st ID). I do want to note that Challenger only had a range advantage over Abrams when using the external tanks. Of course, it's impossible to mount similar tanks on the back of an Abrams due to the high heat in that area.

  2. Where does he get that a Chalanger can do double the distance of an Abrams? Because they strapped a couple of crude 55 gallon drums to the back? From what I can gather the Challenger 1 can do 280 miles and Abrams 265. So with those additional drums it will do 530 miles?

  3. Excellent presentation and outstanding detail! Mr. Wiley, did you tell all that from the top of your head? That would be amazing!

  4. I didn’t know that the British shared the Chopham also with the Germans. So did the Chopham get implemented on the Leopard 2 as well? all the flat surfaces on the Leopard 2 make that assumption not unlikely.

  5. Fantastic video, not only did I really enjoy it, I learned quite a few things. Particularly around the history of the program.

  6. Loved the comment, that challenger is built for war not competition. It has been battle tested and it passed which is the sign of a good tank

  7. It's nice to know that as a lowly research and development fitter at MVEE, working on the transmission and suspension of MBT80, that it went on to something as good as this.

  8. hi from germany I love youre videos (and the British english just sounds amazing) nice video the Challenger I is one of my favorit tanks at the world thx for youre work 🙂

  9. Although my main interest goes to older stuff, I enjoyed watching this bit of more recent history. Thanks of rtaking the effort making those stories. I suppose a 20 odd minute talk probably requires hours and hours to prepare the narrative.
    All I can say: keep them coming  David and  David.

  10. Doesn't this along with Abrahams have high tech composite/ceramic Chobham armor? How do you they handle that once it goes to a museum? I mean it's like built into the armor, the ceramics encased within the steel I'm assuming? I'm also assuming it's only the front armor?

  11. It seems to me rather strange that in competitions for sales etc the Challenger was supplied with the wrong ammunition. Are ther any lobbies who could help out with this?.

  12. Thank you David Willey for properly pronouncing the word "sabot".

    Absolutely great video, quite possibly the best so far. Please keep them coming!

  13. I remember joining 2 RTR in 1988 and I had to Top Secret security clearance just to work on the Challenger. I wonder if the secret of the Chobham armour is known to the Russians yet. It does seem to be best armour in the world

  14. Creates amazing Chobham armor. 👨‍🔬

    🙂Gives new armor design to it's allies Germany and USA. 🤲

    🤗 Thank you friend. 😊

  15. Why was this retired? Did the T72 and T90 suddenly gain the capability to defeat this tanks armour? I though that Chobham armour was still used on C2?

  16. Fantastic video , wonderful info . Just wondered why it hasn’t been an export winner compared to the German Leopard ?

  17. This vid is going on my "saved" playlist. I will watch it again and again. I was about thirteen and already a tank nut when the FV4211 project and Chobham armour were starting to get the odd ,discreet mention in the press. Those pictures of it are gems!
    Many thanks to all involved.

  18. I was going to complain that your chobbam armor was a US invention….But you're right. The US made their own version and put it on the M1 Abrams.

  19. could you guys do a Tank Chat on the (seeming unloved) FV4005?

    also why do you keep it outside? is it just too big or something?

  20. I really enjoy these tank chats and need to figure out how to donate to keep this stuff rolling. Does anyone know if that green tank behind the narrator (in the middle) is a Challenger too?

  21. "Challenger is a tank for war, not a tank for competitions". Fantastic chat…fantastic AFV, if not the best. Thank you, I loved this one.

  22. Excellent video on a much underrated tank.
    I'd really love to know how Challenger 1 underperformed at the CAT competition. Maybe the 2 stage munition and less accurate ballistic computer/gunner' s site were part of the explanation?
    Have there ever been British hussars on exchange to German Panzer Battallions that can testify on the differences between Leopard 2 and Challenger 1 in this respect?
    I've seen RNL Army Leopards 2 firing on the move (fast) , scoring roughly 97% instant hits at approx. 3 km range. Bloody impressive. I always thought Challenger 1 was compareable. Was it?
    Either way, an impressive behemoth still.

  23. "Sometimes you dint get what you want, but get what you need" Hadn't known half the story behind this tank, this was excellent. Thanks!

  24. This is probably my favorite tank when graded by looks, it just looks mean and ready to kill anyone dumb enough to challenge it (pun not intended).

  25. Hard to see why there was any risk of jobs being lost… the Iranians had already paid us for the tanks, we just didn't deliver them

  26. Yet another reason why the gangsters that overthrew the Shah should have been drowned at birth. Still time yet for them to have their Gaddafi moment though…

  27. Again, a brilliant video with so much information on the development, technical advancement and detailed history of the Challenger 1 and 2.

    Outstanding presentation David.

    Hat doffed to you.

  28. I worked on the Shir 2 as an MOD vehicle engineering apprentice at MVEE Chertsey . Lovely tank , if they had had to use the Chieftain they would have been buggered , the engine was junk .

  29. Good to see footage from the TOGS fit there. Probably the outstanding feature of the tank. The thermals on Abrams at the time were practically stone age in comparison.

  30. 16:57 dropping the seat down so the driver can egress into the turret – as one Fijian driver did in Iraq in 2003 when he tried to make an unorthodox and panic-stricken exit from the turret, breaking the loader's wrist in the process.

  31. When the Royal Hussars got their first Challenger it was parked on the parade square outside the guardhouse when the vehicle wasn't being checked by the REME it was sheeted up for secrecy. only 2 REME personnel were trained on challenger so they were the only ones allowed access to the challenger, I know this as I was one of the REME allowed.
    was quite funny when the Hussar officers used to come over and try to get on it, we told them to bugger off [politely of course].

  32. The way I heard it was that the engine was put together so that it required excessive maintenance… to require the locals to pay for our maintenance contractors….
    Then we got lumbered with it…..

  33. CAT ‘87. Just meant Challenger crews needed to spend more range time. That’s Parliament not providing sufficient funds for training, not a fault of the military if they don’t get the funding they need to do basic training.

  34. Great tank to have in support when on live ops. It has helped me on two distinct occasions, and I am grateful!

  35. The fuel drums on the rear and the super long turret make this tank even more formidable than the current one.

  36. had the pleasure to meet David at the Dutch National Military museum at the Summer Offensive event. great guy, cant wait to go to bovington sometime!!

  37. Nice to talk with you last tankfest David Willey….and thanks for the photo woth us.

    All the people of the museum were very attentive.

    Greetings from the basque country.

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