British Centurion vs Chieftain

Discussions on other historical eras.
User avatar
von thoma
Member
Posts: 4237
Joined: 10 Jul 2010 03:40
Location: Spain

British Centurion vs Chieftain

Post by von thoma » 21 Apr 2019 01:42

Which was better ? Two British tanks close in time
Hard to say ? Thank you for your answers
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

Adrian B
Member
Posts: 23
Joined: 26 Jun 2015 00:41
Location: United Kingdom

Re: British Centurion vs Chieftain

Post by Adrian B » 22 Apr 2019 19:24

Actually, comparing the two is like trying to compare the M26 Pershing and the M60A1, as the Centurion and Chieftain are about as far apart in time as they are. OK, the Centurion was upgunned (twice) and slightly up-armoured as the years went by, but was still basically the same tank in 1967 with the Aussies in Vietnam or the IDF on the Golan Heights as it was when it first went into action in Korea in 1950.

Having said that, I'd have to say that on balance, the Chieftain was the better tank, as it had a better gun, thicker armour, better fire-control and many other improvements over the Centurion. However, the Centurion had a few advantages over the Chieftain, such as its legendary ability to climb hills most other tanks found impossible, and better cross-country mobility generally. Also, once up-gunned for the second time with the 105mm L7, the Centurion was much better from the logistical point of view than the Chieftain as 105mm rifled ammo was much more widespread and easier to come by than ammo for the 120mm L11, which was of course unique to the Chieftain and its export versions.

Compared to its contemporaries, such as the T-54/55 and the M48, the Centurion was a great tank, although not without its faults. But if you're looking to compare the Chieftain to other tanks, then you really should be comparing it to the M60A1 and T-64.

Comparing with contemporaries, I'd say that both the Centurion and Chieftain score well thanks to the thought British tank designers put into the vehicles, plus some of the particular requirements of the British Army. One very important case in point is the requirement that, unlike US tanks, all ammo in British tanks has to be stored below the turret ring, which makes things much safer in the event of a penetrating hit on the turret.

Which would I prefer to go into battle in? While I love the Centurion, my choice (if they won't give me a Merkava IV or Challenger 2!) would be a late-model Chieftain with Stillbrew, IFCS and TOGS, and a full load of L26 "Jericho" rounds for the main gun.

User avatar
von thoma
Member
Posts: 4237
Joined: 10 Jul 2010 03:40
Location: Spain

Re: British Centurion vs Chieftain

Post by von thoma » 24 Apr 2019 22:00

A very good developed answer, Thank you !
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 625
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: British Centurion vs Chieftain

Post by Steve » 28 May 2019 19:05

There used to be (maybe still is) an annual NATO tank competition and I remember reading in the late 70s that until then no Chieftain had completed the course because they all broke down. The original engine can only be described as rubbish being hopelessly unreliable and underpowered for the weight it needed to shift. There were other problems with the tank and there is an extensive Wikipedia article on it among others. No NATO or commonwealth country bought the tank they mostly bought German Leopards. The Shah of Iran bought it in large numbers. In the Iran Iraq war the tank performed badly, something else the Iranian people can blame the Shah for. The British are lucky the Soviets never attacked before the tanks problems were fixed by which time it was becoming obsolete. However, as long as the tank broke down in a good position it would have made a fine pillbox.

On paper early Chieftains were clearly better than the Centurions they replaced. However, in the real world the Centurion was better because you knew you were probably going to arrive at your destination. If a tanks engine regularly does not work when needed then no matter how good the rest of the tank is it is of limited use in combat. In 1987 the Chieftains successor the new Challenger took part in the Canadian Armys Trophy competition in which tank teams competed and finished last. The successor to the Challenger the Challenger 2 did not sell and now the the British no longer make tanks.

User avatar
Robert Rojas
Member
Posts: 2611
Joined: 19 Nov 2002 04:29
Location: Pleasant Hill, California - U.S.A.

RE: British Centurion Versus Chieftain.

Post by Robert Rojas » 12 Sep 2019 19:16

Greetings to both citizen von Thoma and the community as a whole. Howdy von Thoma (or Wilhelm if you so prefer)! Well sir, in reference to your introductory posting of Saturday - April 20, 2019 - 4:22pm, old yours truly is reluctant to involve myself with this purely technical discussion since I do NOT have any hands on experience OR experiences with either the British Centurion Main Battle Tank OR its successor the Chieftain Main Battle Tank. Now with that disclaimer out of the way, I was wondering why you had omitted the Israeli Defense Forces modified and quite battle proven British Centurion upgrade known as the SHO'T KAL. Whether you know it or not, within the State of Israel, the SHO'T KAL is also affectionately known as "THE TANK THAT SAVED ISRAEL". As far as I know (and that's not saying much), the SHO'T KAL has been retired from service and has been subsequently replaced with the MERKAVA Main Battle Tank. Now with that said, one of my staunchly Anglophilic contemporaries has often joked with me that, at least in terms of outward appearances anyway, that the United States Army / United States Marine Corps ABRAMS M1A2 Main Battle Tank is little more than a design borrowed from the venerable and vintage British Centurion Main Battle Tank. Well, that's my initial two Yankee cents worth on this technical matter - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the Iberian Peninsula. Adios!

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

Return to “Other eras”