From the Vault: Chieftain Articles and Documents

Today we present our most substantial “From the Vault” post yet, consisting of several articles and archival documents pertaining to the British cold war era Chieftain MBT.

First we have a three page article about the Chieftain from the Jan-Feb 1970 issues of ARMOR written by Staff Sergeant Edmund L. Devereaux III.  The author of the article is a US tanker and is writing out his first hand experience with the then new Chieftain tank during a training exercise with the British.


Next up is an article from International Defense Review from 1970 titled “Chieftain-Main Battle tank for the 1970s.”


Next is a 1976 IDR article titled “The Combat-Improved Chieftain – First Impressions” by Geneva F. Schreier.


Our final IDR article is one from 1976 titled “Improved Chieftain for Iran.”  This piece describes the improved Chieftain offered to Iran and dubbed the Shir Iran meaning Lion of Iran in Farsi.  This vehicle would lay the groundwork for the later Challenger I tank accepted by the British Army in the 1980’s.


Archival Documents

We also have some archival documents relating to the Chieftain to present.  These contain quite a few more pages than the article posted above so we have posted them on their own separate pages.  The pages may be viewed by clicking on the links below.

WO 194-495 Assessment of Weapon System in Chieftain – 1970 report on the Chieftain fire control system and chances of first round hit with 120mm APDS.

WO 341-108 Automotive Branch Report on Chieftain Modifications – From 1969, a report on modifications to improve the automotive performance of Chieftain.

DEFE 15-1183 – L11 Brochure – A report describing the 120mm L11 gun of the Chieftain.

WO 194-463 – Demonstration of Chieftain Gun –  1962 report on results of test firing of 120mm gun against various targets.

WO 194-1323 – Feasibility study on Burlington Chieftain – 1969 study on equipping Chieftain with early version of Burlington armor.


Overlord’s Blog on Chobham armor

Over at Overlord’s Blog, contributor David Lister has written a nice summary of the history of Chobham armor.  Here is a brief excerpt:

overlords blogFirst things first, Chobham armour isn’t an accurate term, it’s like a family name for modern composites. It’s often used by the Press to describe the concept if not the exact detail to its readers, nearly all of whom couldn’t tell a Tiger from a Sherman reliably. Composite armours are nothing new. In the 1930’s Vickers designed some of its tanks with thin layers of high quality armour plate over thicker layers of much softer quality armour. Or in World War One some British tanks were tested with oak planking as backing to their steel armour. If you push back as far as the medieval period, chain mail and the padded jacket was technically a composite armour. However the post war composites were generally designed to defeat warheads, such as siliceous-core armour, which was great against HEAT warheads but was pretty useless against kinetic energy rounds.

Read the entire article here.

Also, be sure to check out this article that Lister links to in the piece.  This is a rather amusing newspaper clip from 1980 showing how wildly inaccurate some of the criticisms of the XM-1 were at the time of it’s entry into service.  It should be noted that Robert Icks, the first person quoted in the article, was one of the most knowledgeable tank experts in the US at the time this article was written.