"In landing operations, retreat is impossible, to surrender is as ignoble as it is foolish. above all else remember that we as attackers have the initiative, we know exactly what we are going to do, while the enemy is ignorant of our intentions and can only parry our blows. We must retain this tremendous advantage by always attacking rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously, and without rest." - General George S. Patton, Jr.
Posted by ʇɐuʞɐʇǝp on Jan 18th, 2014
Conqueror MK II
The chassis for the new tank was taken from the A45 Infantry Support
Tank, started in 1944 shortly after that of the A41 Centurion. After the
war the project was relocated to that of the "Universal Tank" design of
the FV 200 series. The 200 series was to have used a common hull for
all uses (self-propelled artillery, armoured personnel carrier,
different varieties of tank, etc.). One tank type was to be the heavy FV
201 of 55 tonnes, armed with an 83.4 mm gun also known as 20 pounder.
In 1949 it was decided to bring the armament up to 120 mm. As
this delayed the project, in 1952 the FV 201 hull was combined with a 17
pounder-armed Centurion Mk 2 turret to give the FV 221 Caernarvon Mark
I. Twenty-one were built with the Mk III 20 pounder turret as the
Caernavon Mk II. The FV 221 may originally have been intended to be the
"Main Battle Tank" member of the FV 201 series, but with the success of
the A41 Centurion such a vehicle was no longer required. In either
event, the Caernarvon was only used for chassis development work serving
in troop trials. In 1955 the first Conqueror was produced. Twenty Mark 1
and 165 Mark 2 Conquerors were built including conversions of Caernavon
MkIIs. Production continued until 1959. It had lost much enthusiasm
once the Centurion was upgraded to an L7 105 mm gun.
The gun design was American, the same as used on the US M103
heavy tank; with separate charge and projectile, as would also be the
case in the Chieftain that followed. The charge was not bagged but in a
brass cartridge, which offered some safety advantages, but reduced shell
capacity to 35 rounds.
The armour was very heavy for the time, especially in the front,
where it was seven inches (178 mm) in the horizontal plane.
Unfortunately, this, along with the weight of the huge turret required
to house the large gun and the very large hull volume, made the vehicle
very heavy, giving it a relatively low top speed and making it
mechanically unreliable. Also, few bridges could support its weight.
However, rather like the Second World War Churchill tank, the Conqueror
had exceptional terrain handling characteristics and proved to be as
capable cross country as the lighter (and on paper slightly faster)
One feature of particular note was the rotating commander's
cupola, which was at the heart of the Conqueror's fire control system,
advanced for its time. The commander could align the cupola on a target
independently of the turret, measure the range with a Coincidence
rangefinder, and then direct the gunner on to the new lay mechanically
indicated to him by the cupola. In theory, when the gunner traversed to
the new lay he would find the target already under his sights, ready to
be engaged. Meanwhile, the commander was free to search for the next
target. (The Soviet bloc also used similar devices, such as the TPKU-2
and TKN-3, on all of their post–World War II tanks though theirs did not
use a rangefinder.)
The system may have been inspired by a similar device, without
range finder, installed in WII German Panzers which was apparently
highly successful, but was not repeated in subsequent tanks until an
updated electronic version of the same idea appeared in the American
M60A2 variant of the Patton series.
Conqueror MK I at the Bovington tank museum.
FV 222 Conqueror ARV Mk II
The variants of the Conqueror tank and developments directly related to its development are:
FV 214 Conqueror
- Mk I
- Mk II
- Mk II/I/H[verification needed] - rebuilt Caernarvons
- FV 215b
- Design study of Conqueror chassis with limited traverse turret mounting 183mm gun. Wooden mockup produced.
FV 221 Caernarvon
- Mk I – prototype
- Mk II - experimental series, 21 built
FV 222 Conqueror Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV)
- Mk I - 8 produced
- Mk II - 20 produced. Weight: 57 tons. Winch capacity: 45 tons (direct pull).
In the United Kingdom, Conqueror tanks are displayed at the Bovington
Tank Museum, and the Land Warfare Hall of the Imperial War Museum
Duxford. Other tanks are in the collections of the Musée des Blindés in
France, the Royal Museum of the Army in Brussels and the Kubinka Tank
Museum, Russia. One is privately owned in the United States as part of
the Littlefield Collection. There are also two MkII ARVs at the Military
History Museum on the Isle of Wight in an unrestored condition. A MkII
ARV is held by theREME Museum of Technology, although it is not on
display. There used to be a Conqueror at Base Vehicle Depot Ludgershall -
a gate guardian named "William". Now believed to be at the Isle of
Wight Military Museum. A Conqueror was used at the Amphibious
Experimental Establishment AXE, at Instow in North Devon UK, for beach
tank recovery practise.