Chieftain, a tank that looks the part
November 20, 2013 in Armor
While helicopters may not be my favorite aircraft type, tanks are one of their main targets, and I like tanks. Maybe that explains my feelings?
The British Chieftain “main battle tank” is the first tank that earned that definition, and has always been one of my favorites. I’m happy to have seen one at the late Jacques Littlefield’s Pony Tracks Museum, now that I’ve learned this collection has been given to the Collings Foundation, and is going “back east”. They plan to sell off, from what I understand, everything but the US vehicles, so maybe the best that can be hoped for the Chieftain is that it may wind up back in England! I hope so.
In its time, the Chieftain was probably the most feared tank in the world. In spite of its Leyland L60 opposed piston (5 cylinder, 10 piston) 2-stroke multi fuel engine, which gave it a less than startling power to weight ratio, and reduced its mobility, compared to some of its contemporaries. An engine oddly enough based on a WW2 Junkers high altitude aero engine, hard to believe.
But its 120 mm gun, and unapproachable protection, made it the outstanding tank of its time. It is one of the first tanks, in my mind, where the external equipment covered the turret and part of the hull structure to such an extent that it was hard to make out what the actual shape of them was. Very much like present day tanks. A tank ahead of its time, perhaps.
Anyway, I had the old Tamiya kit of the Chieftain Mk.5, and decided to finally build it a couple of years ago. I imagine there are some errors in this kit. There usually are by the time I decide to build something, or a better kit available! In the case of the Chieftain, Tamiya’s old kit seems to be the only choice in 1/35 right now. I have read it is more like a Mk.3 than a Mk.5.
The new Kagero Photosniper book “Chieftain Main Battle Tank”, by Robert Griffin, is an excellent source of info on the Chieftain.
4 additional images. Click to enlarge