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Robert Bausch
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Chieftain, a tank that looks the part

November 20, 2013 · in Armor · · 16 · 7.1K

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 “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 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 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.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

4 additional images. Click to enlarge.

16 responses

  1. You're right...that DOES "look the part". You've done an outstanding job on the build AND the photography. Nice work.

  2. Very nice and it does indeed look the part. Goes to show how well those older Tamiya kits hold up. I have the old Tamiya Centurion kit in my stash and I intend to build it, rather than running out and purchasing the new AFV Club version.

  3. Currently building my first tank, a Sherman. This is a whole different world from doing aircraft. I sure like the finish you got on this Chieftain and it does look the part to me.

  4. Bob,
    This is absolutely outstanding. A marvelous job.

  5. Robert, Great looking model. Really like the paint job.

  6. Great build there Robert. Nice to see a post WW2 British tank put up.
    Nicely finished,

  7. Nice build, realistic paint and "weather" job. The gun barrel detail is excellent and makes the entire model stand out.

  8. Robert, I will join in with the others and compliment you on your build. The finish really stands out. Just enough wear to make it look like it's hard at work. As Mike said, the wrap on the barrel is well done and really adds to the model. The crew really gives it that "on the job" look too. Vehicles and figures! Nice skill set!

  9. Very realistic looking, I can almost hear the clanking.
    The weathering is great.

  10. That's a great looking tank model!

  11. As everybody else as said, Robert, you've got a great model here, and plain background really brings out the fine detailing and finish.

  12. Thank you all for your comments on my Tamiya Chieftain. That is an old kit, but it seems to be still available. The fact that it comes with 3 figures is a plus. I find that tank models can be somewhat of a "vacation" after a lot of aircraft ones. At least after you get past painting the road wheels! Then, of course, the weathering can take forever also. But tanks are fun.

  13. Dear Robert

    I hope this finds you well and that you’ll forgive the unsolicited email. I work as a commissioning editor for Pen & Sword Book in the UK. I contribute to their TankCraft series. We’re always on the lookout for tank modellers whose builds we can showcase in the books. Last year I worked closely with many modellers who offered images of their T-34s and various Panzers for the 2017 books. This year I am working on the Chieftain, among others, and came across your models. The books are aimed at the modelling community. I have attached the section on modelling for the panther so that you can see how the builds are featured.

    If you’d be keen on getting involved I’d love to chat further.

    Kind regards, Kerrin (kerrincocks at gmail dot com)

  14. Cracking job on the painting and weathering Robert! If you go on to YouTube and search for "Lionheart 84" you'll find some Lionheart Reports. There's some great footage of Chieftains and Challengers on there

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