Sten Guns Mk.1, Mk.3 and Mk.5

Sten Guns Mk.1, Mk.3 and Mk.5

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Sten Guns Mk.1, Mk.3 and Mk.5

Author's pictures from the Infantry Weapons Collection at Warminster, showing the very first Mk. 1 Sten Gun (top), a Mk.2 (middle) and a Mk. 5 (bottom).

The Lee-Enfield No. 5 Mk 1 Jungle Carbine

A Lee Enfield Mk 1 No. 5 Jungle Carbine. From Antique Military Rifles via Flickr

Let us return now to the thrilling days of yesteryear (in this case, the late 1950s). A couple of miles from where I lived in New Jersey, there was a discount store—today, I guess you’d call it a job-lot store—that sold damn near everything at low, low prices. One of the things they sold was guns. Real ones. My brother and I, who both liked guns a lot, bought at one time or another, a near-mint Argentine Mauser (and loads of cheap military ammo), a DEWAT Sten gun*, and a Lee-Enfield No. 5 Mk 1 Jungle Carbine.

Neither of us was old enough to have a driver’s license, and it was all perfectly legal, or at least six decades have gone by and neither of us has been arrested. We’d go to a local rifle range and blow away our hearing, because no one wore headphones, and have a fine time. I have no idea what happened to these rifles. I seem to recall we had to get rid of the Sten gun because the neighbors were frightened and complained.

I believe we paid about $15 for each of these rifles, which is $130 in 2017 dollars, so it was with a sense of shock and awe that I beheld a Jungle Carbine in Cabela’s Gun Library for $750. It was somewhere in the NRA Fair/Good range, and that is not a high price I see them on the Internet for $900.

It’s an interesting rifle. The term Jungle Carbine was strictly unofficial the No. 5 Mk 1 was designed in 1943 for Britain’s airborne troops in Europe, who were burdened by the long, heavy Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk 1, and the hideous Sten gun**. Rather than design an entirely new rifle (they would not have been able to produce it in any event), British armorers chipped and whittled at the No. 4. They shortened the barrel to 18.8 inches from 25 inches, lopped off part of the fore-end, hollowed out the bolt knob, and ground metal from the action.

The new rifle was considerably shorter and 2 pounds lighter than the original. But there were, as they say, problems, or as the late actor Victor Spinetti said, “Of course it doesn’t work it’s British.” The shortened barrel produced a massive muzzle flash. This was solved, mostly, by the addition of a conical flash hider. Because of the lighter weight and the change in balance, the No. 5 kicked like a mule. To prevent excess suffering, the Brits added a small, rock-hard recoil pad to the butt. It didn’t help much. As I recall, the carbine my brother and I bought was extremely unpleasant to shoot.

Then there was the “wandering zero” problem. It was claimed that the No. 5 could not hold its zero. There’s some dispute over this. One side claims that the action torqued because of lightening cuts in the receiver. The other side claims that there’s nothing wrong with the rifle, that Great Britain just wanted it off the inventory because everyone else was going to semi-autos.

All told, 251,368 No. 5s were built between 1944 and 1947. In fairness, the Mk 5 had some admirable features. It was, like all Enfields, indestructible, very fast to operate for a bolt action, powerful for its size, and quick to reload. It saw service in World War II, Korea, and the Malayan Emergency.

It had a fan in the person of the late George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote the wonderful Flashman novels. Fraser was an NCO (later an officer) in the British Army and served in the Burma Campaign in World War II. He used the Jungle Carbine in combat, and said it was an excellent rifle, and that if you aimed, as you were supposed to, you had no need of a semi-auto or a full-auto weapon. I will take his word for it.

*DEWAT stands for Deactivated War Trophy, and you don’t hear the phrase much any more. Back in the late ’40s and ’50s, DEWATS were imported by the ton and used for God knows what, since the barrels were plugged with solder near the breech. It was fairly easy to remove. A friend of mine was expelled from Yale, he says, for re-activating a DEWAT Sten gun in the Yale machine shop. He was simply invited to get his education elsewhere. I can’t imagine the hoo-hah if someone did that today.

**The Sten gun was called “the plumber’s delight” because it could literally be assembled by a plumber. It was inaccurate except at very short range. Also, it was unreliable. In 1942, the British sent a pair of Czech assassins to kill SS general Reinhard Heydrich. They planned to hose him down with a Sten as his car slowed for a turn, but the gun jammed and refused to fire. One of the pair threw a grenade, which drove horsehair from the car’s upholstery into Heydrich’s side. This caused an infection, which killed Heydrich a week later. His last words were, allegedly, Natürlich hat es nicht funktioniert, es ist britisch. (Of course it didn’t work, it’s British.)

In 1944, the British General Staff issued a specification for a new submachine gun to replace the Sten. It stated that the new weapon should weigh no more than six pounds (2.7 kg), should fire 9×19mm Parabellum ammunition, have a rate of fire of no more than 500 rounds per minute and be sufficiently accurate to allow five consecutive shots (fired in semi-automatic mode) to be placed inside a one-foot-square (30 cm × 30 cm) target at a distance of 100 yd (91 m).

To meet the new requirement, George William Patchett, the chief designer at the Sterling Armaments Company of Dagenham, submitted a sample weapon of new design in early 1944. [19] The first Patchett prototype gun was similar to the Sten insofar as its cocking handle (and the slot it moved back and forth in) was placed in line with the ejection port [20] though it was redesigned soon afterwards and moved up to a slightly offset position. [21] The army quickly recognised the Patchett's significantly increased accuracy and reliability compared to the Sten and ordered 120 examples for trials. Towards the end of the Second World War, some of these trial samples were used in combat by airborne troops during the battle of Arnhem [22] and by special forces at other locations in Northern Europe [23] where it was officially known as the Patchett Machine Carbine Mk 1. [24] For example, a Patchett submachine gun (serial numbered 078 and now held by the Imperial War Museum), was carried in action by Colonel Robert W.P. Dawson [25] while he was Commanding Officer of No. 4 Commando, during the attack on Walcheren as part of Operation Infatuate in November 1944. [26] Because the Patchett/Sterling can use straight Sten magazines as well as the curved Sterling design, there were no interoperability problems.

After the war, with large numbers of Sten guns in the inventory, there was little interest in replacing them with a superior design. However, in 1947, a competitive trial between the Patchett, an Enfield design, a new BSA design and an experimental Australian design was held, with the Sten for comparison. The trial was inconclusive but was followed by further development and more trials. Eventually, the Patchett design won and the decision was made in 1951 for the British Army to adopt it. [27] It started to replace the Sten in 1953 as the "Sub-Machine Gun L2A1". Its last non-suppressed variation was the L2A3 but the model changes were minimal throughout its development life.

Sterling submachine guns with minor cosmetic alterations were used in the production of the Star Wars films as Stormtrooper blaster rifle props. [28]

The Sterling submachine gun is constructed entirely of steel and plastic and has a shoulder stock, which folds underneath the weapon. There is an adjustable rear sight, which can be flipped between 100 and 200 yard settings. Although of conventional blowback design firing from an open bolt, there are some unusual features: for example, the bolt has helical grooves cut into the surface to remove dirt and fouling from the inside of the receiver to increase reliability. There are two concentric recoil springs which cycle the bolt, as opposed to the single spring arrangement used by many other SMG designs. This double-spring arrangement significantly reduces "bolt-bounce" when cartridges are chambered, resulting in better obturation, smoother recoil and increased accuracy. Additionally, the Sterling uses a much-improved (over the Sten) 34-round curved double-column feed box magazine, which is inserted into the left side of the receiver. The magazine follower, which pushes the cartridges into the feed port, is equipped with rollers to reduce friction. The bolt feeds ammunition alternately from the top and bottom of the magazine lips, and its fixed firing pin is designed so that it does not line up with the primer in the cartridge until the cartridge has entered the chamber. [29]

The Sterling employs a degree of what is known as Advanced Primer Ignition, in that the cartridge is fired while the bolt is still moving forward, a fraction of a second before the round is fully chambered. The firing of the round thus not only sends the bullet flying down the barrel but simultaneously resists the forwards movement of the bolt. By this means it is possible to employ a lighter bolt than if the cartridge was fired after the bolt had already stopped, as in simple blowback, since the energy of the expanding gases would then only have to overcome the bolt's static inertia (plus spring resistance) to push it backwards again and cycle the weapon whereas in this arrangement some of this energy is used up in counteracting the bolt's forwards momentum as well and thus the bolt does not have to be so massive. The lighter bolt makes not only for a lighter gun, but a more controllable one since there is less mass moving to and fro within it as it fires. [30]

The suppressed version of the Sterling (L34A1/Mk.5) was developed for covert operations. This version uses a ported barrel surrounded by a cylinder with expansion chambers. The Australian and New Zealand SAS regiments used the suppressed version of the Sterling during the Vietnam War. [31] It is notable for having been used by both Argentinian and British Special Forces during the Falklands War. [32] A Sterling was used by Libyan agents to kill WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in London, which sparked the 1984 siege of the building.

The Sterling has a reputation for excellent reliability under adverse conditions and, even though it fires from an open bolt, good accuracy. With some practice, it is very accurate when fired in short bursts. While it has been reported that the weapon poses no problems for left-handed users to operate, [33] it is not recommended without the wearing of ballistic eye protection. The path of the ejected cartridge cases is slightly down and backward, so mild burns can occasionally be incurred by left-handed shooters.

A bayonet of a similar design as that for the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle was produced and issued in British Army service, but was rarely employed except for ceremonial duties. Both bayonets were derived from the version issued with the Rifle No. 5 Mk I "Jungle Carbine", the main difference being a smaller ring on the SLR bayonet to fit the rifle's muzzle. When mounted, the Sterling bayonet was offset to the left of the weapon's vertical line, which gave a more natural balance when used for bayonet-fighting.

For a right-handed shooter, the correct position for the left hand while firing is on the ventilated barrel-casing, but not on the magazine, as the pressure from holding the magazine can increase the risk of stoppages, and a loose magazine can lead to dropping the weapon. The barrel-casing hold provides greater control of the weapon, so the right hand can intermittently be used for other tasks. A semi-circular protrusion on the right-hand side of the weapon, approximately two inches from the muzzle, serves to prevent the supporting hand from moving too far forward and over the muzzle.

The Sterling's magazine was designed in 1946 by George Patchett. While the Sterling was originally intended to take Sten magazines, however due to a lack of reliability, a new magazine was constructed, with many changes, including the implementation of rollers to reduce friction, a stamped metal construction, and the magazine was curved, which allowed the 9×19mm round to feed more reliably. The Sterling magazine is said to be one of the best ever designed. [34]

A total of over 400,000 were manufactured between 1953 and 1988. Sterling built them at their factory in Dagenham for the British armed forces and for overseas sales, whilst the Royal Ordnance Factories at Fazakerley near Liverpool constructed them exclusively for the British military. Production ceased in 1988 with the closing of Sterling Armaments [35] by British Aerospace/Royal Ordnance. ROF no longer makes full weapons, but still manufactures spare parts for certified end users. [ citation needed ]

A Chilean variant was made by FAMAE as the PAF submachine gun but was different externally as it had a shorter receiver lacking the barrel shroud. [36]

Canada also manufactured a variant under licence, called the Submachine Gun 9 mm C1 made by Canadian Arsenals Limited. [37] It is made from stamped metal instead of cast metal and is capable of handling a C1 bayonet, which is only used during public exhibition events and not for combat operations. [38]

A similar weapon, the Sub-Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 1A1, is manufactured under licence by the Indian Ordnance Factory at Kanpur in 1963, [39] along with a Sub-Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 2A1, manufactured in 1977. [39] In 2012, it's reported that 5,000 SMGs were made in India. [40]

  • British Armed Forces
    • Unassigned: Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1 (trials commenced in 1944)
    • Unassigned: Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1 & Folding Bayonet (same as above but with folding bayonet, never accepted)
    • L2A1: (Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 2) Adopted in 1953.
    • L2A2: (Sterling Mark 3) Adopted in 1955.
    • L2A3: (Sterling Mark 4) Adopted in 1956. Last regular version in service with the British Army, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment.
    • L34A1: Suppressed version (Sterling-Patchett Mark 5).
    • C1 Submachine Gun: Adopted in 1958, replacing the STEN gun in general service. [38] It was different from the British L2 in that it made extensive use of stamped metal parts rather the more expensive castings used by British production SMGs. [38] It also had a removable trigger guard for use with gloves in arctic operations as a standard option, and used a different 30-round magazine with a stamped metal follower. A 10-round magazine was also available for crews of armoured vehicles.
    • SAF Carbine 1A: Indian made Sterling L2A1.
    • SAF Carbine 2A1: Sterling Mark V silenced carbine.

    7.62 NATO variant Edit

    A prototype rifle in the 7.62×51mm NATO calibre was manufactured, using some components from the SMG. The rifle used lever-delayed blowback to handle the more powerful rounds and was fed from 30-round Bren magazines. [42] To prevent ammunition cookoff, the weapon fired from an open bolt. Only one model of the rifle was produced, possibly to test the concepts of a proposed new product. It was not put into production.


    At the close of the First World War in 1918, the British Army was equipped with two main automatic weapons the Vickers medium machine gun (MMG) and the Lewis light machine gun. The Vickers was heavy and required a supply of water to keep it in operation, which tended to relegate it to static defence and indirect fire support. The Lewis, although lighter, was still heavy and was prone to frequent stoppages its barrel could not be changed in the field, which meant that sustained firing resulted in overheating until it stopped altogether. In 1922, to find a replacement for the Lewis, the Small Arms Committee of the British Army ran competitive trials between the Madsen machine gun, the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun, the Beardmore-Farquhar rifle, and the Lewis itself. Although the BAR was recommended, the sheer number of Lewis guns available and the difficult financial conditions meant that nothing was done. Various new models of light machine gun were tested as they became available, and in 1930, a further set of extensive trials commenced, overseen by Frederick Hubert Vinden. [7] This time the weapons tested included the SIG Neuhausen KE7, the Vickers-Berthier and the Czechoslovak ZB vz.26. The Vickers-Berthier was later adopted by the Indian Army because it could be manufactured at once, rather than wait for the British Lewis production run to finish it too saw extensive service in World War II. [8]

    Following these trials, the British Army adopted the Czechoslovak ZB vz.26 light machine gun manufactured in Brno in 1935, although a slightly modified model, the ZB vz. 27, rather than the ZB vz. 26 which had been submitted for the trials. The design was modified to British requirements under new designation ZGB 33, which was then licensed for British manufacture under the Bren name. The major changes were in the magazine and barrel and the lower pistol grip assembly which went from a swivelling grip frame pivoted on the front of the trigger guard to a sliding grip frame which included the forward tripod mount and sliding ejection port cover. The magazine was curved in order to feed the rimmed .303 inch SAA ("Small Arms Ammunition") cartridge, a change from the various rimless Mauser-design cartridges such as the 8mm Mauser round previously used by Czech designs. These modifications were categorised in various numbered designations, ZB vz. 27, ZB vz. 30, ZB vz. 32, and finally the ZGB 33, which was licensed for manufacture under the Bren name. [ citation needed ]

    The Bren was a gas-operated weapon, which used the same .303 ammunition as the standard British bolt-action rifle, the Lee–Enfield, firing at a rate of between 480 and 540 rounds per minute (rpm), depending on the model. Propellant gases vented from a port towards the muzzle end of the barrel through a regulator (visible just in front of the bipod) with four quick-adjustment apertures of different sizes, intended to tailor the gas volume to different ambient temperatures (smallest flow at high temperature, e.g. summer desert, largest at low temperature, e.g. winter Arctic). The vented gas drove a piston which in turn actuated the breech block. Each gun came with a spare barrel that could be quickly changed when the barrel became hot during sustained fire, though later guns featured a chrome-lined barrel, which reduced the need for a spare. To change barrels, the release catch in front of the magazine was rotated to unlock the barrel. The carrying handle above the barrel was used to grip and remove the hot barrel without burning the hands. [ citation needed ]

    The Bren was magazine-fed, which slowed its rate of fire and required more frequent reloading than British belt-fed machine guns such as the larger .303 Vickers machine gun. The slower rate of fire prevented more rapid overheating of the Bren's air-cooled barrel, and the Bren was much lighter than belt-fed machine guns, which typically had cooling jackets, often liquid filled. The magazines also prevented the ammunition from getting dirty, which was more of a problem with the Vickers with its 250-round canvas belts. The sights were offset to the left, to avoid the magazine on the top of the weapon. The position of the sights meant that the Bren could be fired only from the right shoulder. [9]

    Second World War Edit

    In the British and Commonwealth armies, the Bren was generally issued on a scale of one per rifle section. [10] An infantry battalion also had a "carrier" platoon, equipped with Universal Carriers, each of which carried a Bren gun. [11] Parachute battalions from 1944 had an extra Bren in the Anti-tank platoon. [12] The 66-man "Assault Troop" of British Commandos had a nominal establishment of four Bren guns. Realising the need for additional section-level firepower, the British Army endeavoured to issue the Bren in great numbers, with a stated goal of one Bren to every four private soldiers. [13] The Bren was operated by a two-man crew, sometimes commanded by a Lance Corporal as an infantry section's "gun group", the remainder of the section forming the "rifle group". The gunner or "Number 1" carried and fired the Bren, and a loader or "Number 2" carried extra magazines, a spare barrel and a tool kit. [14] Number 2 helped reload the gun and replace the barrel when it overheated, and spotted targets for Number 1. [ citation needed ]

    Generally, the Bren was fired from the prone position using the attached bipod. [15] On occasion, a Bren gunner would use his weapon on the move supported by a sling, much like an automatic rifle, and from standing or kneeling positions. Using the sling, Australian soldiers regularly fired the Bren from the hip, for instance in the marching fire tactic, a form of suppressive fire moving forward in assault. A Victoria Cross was awarded to Private Bruce Kingsbury for such use at Isurava, New Guinea, in 1942, during the Australians' fighting retreat from Kokoda. [16]

    Each British soldier's equipment normally included two magazines for his section's Bren gun. The large ammunition pouches on the 1937 Pattern Web Equipment were designed around the Bren magazine. The Bren was regarded as the principal weapon of an infantry section, providing the majority of its firepower. As such, all ranks were trained in its operation. [17]

    The Bren had an effective range of around 600 yards (550 m) when fired from a prone position with a bipod. [13] or could deliver a beaten ground of 115 yds by 12 ft out to 1000 yds on the bipod. [18]

    For a light machine gun of the interwar and early World War II era, the Bren was about average in weight. On long marches in non-operational areas it was often partially disassembled and its parts were carried by two soldiers. The top-mounted magazine vibrated and moved during fire, making the weapon more visible in combat, and many Bren gunners used paint or improvised canvas covers to disguise the prominent magazine. [19]

    The 30-round magazine was in practice usually filled with 27 or 28 rounds to prevent jams and avoid wearing out the magazine spring. Care needed to be taken when loading the magazine to ensure that each round went ahead of the previous round, so that the .303 cartridge rims did not overlap the wrong way, which would cause a jam. The spent cartridge cases were ejected downwards, which was an improvement on the Lewis gun, which ejected sideways, since the glint of them flying through the air could compromise a concealed firing position. [20]

    In general, the Bren was considered a reliable and effective light machine gun, though in North Africa it was reported to jam regularly unless kept very clean and free of sand or dirt. [13] It was popular with British troops, who respected its reliability and combat effectiveness. The quality of the materials used would generally ensure minimal jamming. When the gun did jam through fouling caused by prolonged firing, the operator could adjust the four-position gas regulator to feed more gas to the piston increasing the power to operate the mechanism. The barrel needed to be unlocked and slid forward slightly to allow the regulator to be turned. It was even said that all problems with the Bren could simply be cleared by hitting the gun, turning the regulator or doing both. It was "by general consent the finest light machine gun in the world of its period, and the most useful weapon provided to the (French) "maquis" . accurate up to 1,000 meters, and (it) could withstand immense maltreatment and unskilled use. "Resistants" were constantly pleading for maximum drops of Brens". [21]

    Although they were generally well-liked, the high cost of £40 each gun was an issue for the British Army leadership. This became a greater issue when it was discovered that only 2,300 of the 30,000 Bren guns issued to the British Expeditionary Force came back to Britain after the defeat of France. As the result, cost savings and increased rate of production became two main goals for subsequent variant designs. The Bren Mk II design simplified production by replacing the drum rear sight with a ladder design, making the bipod legs non-adjustable, simplifying the gun butt, reducing the use of stainless steel, among other steps that reduced the cost by 20% to 25% Mk II was approved in September 1940 and entered production in 1941. While the Bren Mk III design also aimed at reducing cost, it also had the concurrent goal of being lightened for jungle warfare the final product weighed 19 lb 5 oz (8.8 kg), 3 pounds lighter than the original Bren Mk I design it was standardised in July 1944 and saw a production of 57,600. Also standardised in July 1944 was the Bren Mk IV, which was further lightened to 19 lb 2 oz (8.7 kg) however, it did not enter production until July 1945, and only 250 were built before the end of the war. While Enfield was able to produce only 400 Bren Mk I guns each month, with the various simplification efforts production numbers rose to 1,000 guns per week by 1943. Among the variant designs were two speciality prototypes that never entered production: The belt-fed Taden gun for stationary defence use, and the ultra-simplified Besal gun to be produced in case a German invasion of Britain actually took place (which would hinder British production efforts). Later designs of production Bren guns featured chrome-lined barrels that offered less resistance, preventing overheating and reducing the need for quick changes of barrels. [23]

    Bren guns were produced outside of Britain as well. In Canada, the John Inglis plant in Toronto began tooling its facilities for production in 1938 the first of 186,000 examples was completed in March 1940. Some of the Inglis-built Bren guns were chambered for the 7.92-mm Mauser ammunition these were destined for export to Nationalist Chinese forces rather than for British and Commonwealth forces. In Australia, the Lithgow Small Arms Factory in New South Wales began building Bren guns in 1940 a total of 17,249 were built. In India, the factory at Ishapore began building Bren guns in 1942 (it had produced Vickers-Berthier machine guns prior to this time), and would continue producing them for decades long after the end of the Second World War. Many of the Bren guns produced at Ishapore went to Indian troops, who had lost a great number of automatic weapons during the disastrous campaigns against the Japanese in Malaya and Burma 17th Indian Infantry Division, for example, found itself with only 56 Bren guns after ffleeing out of Burma in 1942. [23]

    A tripod mount with 42 degrees of traverse was available to allow the Bren to be used as an indirect-fire weapon, but this was rarely used in the field. The Bren was also used on many vehicles, the Universal Carrier was known as the "Bren Gun Carrier" (actually the name of a predecessor vehicle), and on tanks and armoured cars. It could not be used as a co-axial weapon on tanks, as the magazine restricted its depression and was awkward to handle in confined spaces, and it was therefore used on a pintle mount only. (The belt fed Vickers or Besa, the latter being another Czechoslovak machine gun design adopted by the British, were instead used as co-axial weapons.) An unfortunate problem occurred when the Bren was fired from the Dingo Scout Car the hot cartridge cases tended to be ejected down the neck of the driver, whose position was next to the pintle. A canvas bag was designed to catch the cartridges and overcome the problem, but it seems to have been rarely issued. [20]

    The Bren was also employed in the anti-aircraft role with the tripod reconfigured for high angle fire. There were also several designs of less-portable mountings, including the Gallows and Mottley mounts. A 100-round pan magazine was available for the Bren for use in the anti-aircraft role. [24]

    The Bren's direct ancestor, the Czechoslovak ZB vz. 26, was also used in World War II by German and Romanian forces, including units of the Waffen SS. Many 7.92 mm ZB light machine guns were shipped to China, where they were employed first against the Japanese in World War II, and later against UN forces in Korea, including British and Commonwealth units. Some ex-Chinese Czech ZB weapons were also in use in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Production of a 7.92 mm round model for the Far East was carried out by Inglis of Canada. The Bren was also delivered to the Soviet Union as part of the lend-lease program [25]

    Post-war Edit

    The British Army, and the armies of various countries of the Commonwealth, used the Bren in the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Mau Mau Uprising and the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, where it was preferred to its replacement, the belt-fed L7 GPMG, on account of its lighter weight. In the conflict in Northern Ireland (1969–1998), a British Army squad typically carried the L4A4 version of the Bren as the squad automatic weapon in the 1970s. [26] During the Falklands War in 1982, 40 Commando Royal Marines carried one LMG and one GPMG per section. Its final operational deployment with the British Army, on a limited scale, was in the First Gulf War in 1991. [27]

    When the British Army adopted the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge, the Bren was re-designed to 7.62 mm calibre, fitted with a new bolt, barrel and magazine. It was re-designated as the "L4 light machine gun" (in various sub-versions) and remained in British Army service into the 1990s. A slotted flash hider similar to that of the contemporary L1 rifle and L7 general purpose machine gun replaced the conical flash hider. The change from a rimmed to rimless cartridge and nearly straight magazine improved feeding considerably, and allowed use of 20-round magazines from the 7.62 mm L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle. Bren gunners using the L4A1 were normally issued with the 30-round magazine from the SAW L2A1.

    Completion of the move to a 5.56 mm NATO cartridge led to the Army removing the Bren/L4 from the list of approved weapons and then withdrawing it from service. [ citation needed ]

    The Mark III Bren remained in limited use with the Army Reserve of the Irish Defence Forces until 2006, when the 7.62 mm GPMG replaced it. The Bren was popular with the soldiers who fired it (known as Brenners) as it was light and durable, and had a reputation for accuracy. The most notable use of the Bren by Irish forces was in the Congo Crisis during the 1960s, when the Bren was the regular army's standard section automatic weapon. [ citation needed ]

    Bren guns were in service with the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Rhodesian Bush War, including a substantial number re-chambered for 7.62 mm cartridges similar to those examples in the British Army. [28] The Rhodesian Bren guns continued to see frequent action until the 1970s, when they were largely replaced by the FN MAG. [29] A few were captured and re-issued by the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA). [30] Some examples were still in service with reservists of the British South Africa Police in 1980, and were inherited by the Zimbabwe Republic Police upon the country's internationally recognised independence. [31] Zimbabwean policemen continued to deploy Bren guns during operations against ZIPRA dissidents throughout the early 1980s. [31]

    The South African Defence Force deployed Bren guns during the South African Border War alongside the more contemporary FN MAG as late as 1978. [32]

    Mark 1 Edit

    Introduced September 1937 the original Czechoslovak designed ZGB 33. Overall length 45.5 inches (1.16 m), 25 inches (0.64 m) barrel length. Weight 22 lb 2 oz (10.0 kg).

    • Drum-pattern rear aperture sight
    • Buttstrap for use over-the-shoulder when firing
    • Rear grip under butt
    • Telescoping bipod
    • Folding cocking handle

    An Enfield-made .303 Bren Mk 1 was converted to 7.92mm in 1938 due to the suggestion of a possibility of a British Army change over to a rimless cartridge for machine guns being mooted. [i]

    Mark 2 Edit

    Introduced 1941. A simplified version of the Mk1 more suited to wartime production with original design features subsequently found to be unnecessary deleted. [ii] Produced by Inglis of Canada and the Monotype Group through a number of component manufacturing factories. Sometimes known as the "Garage hands" model. Overall length 45.5 inches (1.16 m), 25 inches (0.64 m) barrel length. Weight 23 lb 3 oz (10.5 kg).

    • Folding-leaf rear sight
    • Buttstrap deleted
    • Rear grip deleted
    • Fixed height bipod
    • Fixed cocking handle

    The Bren Mk2 was much simplified in the body, which although still being milled from a solid billet of steel, required significantly fewer milling operations than the Mk1, resulting in a much cleaner appearance. The bipod was simplified in design as well as not having extending legs. Most Mk2 bipods resembled a simple A-frame and were more 'soldier proof'. The Mk2 also featured a slightly higher rate of fire than the Mk1.

    The woodwork on the Mk2 was simplified by being less ornate and ergonomic, which sped up the manufacturing process. The barrel was also simplified by means of a non-stepped removable flash hider and, in some cases, a barrel fore-end that was matte instead of highly polished. The buffered buttplate of the Mk1 was omitted and replaced with a sheet metal buttplate.

    A small number of Inglis-made .303 Bren Mk 2 were converted post-war to fire the .280 in (7 mm) Mk 1Z round used by the EM-2 rifle. [ citation needed ]

    The Inglis version of the Bren Mk 2 chambered for the .30-06 (7.62 mm) cartridge and known as the M41 was also manufactured in Formosa in 1952. [ citation needed ]

    Mark 3 Edit

    A shorter and lighter Bren made by Enfield from 1944 for the war in the East and for Airborne Forces. This was similar to the Mk2 but with the light weight features of the early Mk1. With the main distinguishing feature being a shorter barrel and serrated area in front of the barrel nut. Overall length 42.9 in (1.09 m), 22.25 in (0.565 m) barrel length. Weight 19 lb 5 oz (8.8 kg).

    Mark 4 Edit

    As with the Mk3 but this was a conversion of a Mk2. Overall length 42.9 in (1.09 m), 22.25 in (0.565 m) barrel length. Weight 19 lb 2 oz (8.7 kg).

    L4 Edit

    The Bren was converted to 7.62x51mm in the 1950s, and designated the L4. L4 Brens can easily be identified by their straight magazine. The British-issue L4 magazine retains the 30-round capacity and has a slight curve. The L4 magazine was interchangeable with the L1A1 SLR magazine, so the L4 Bren can be seen fitted with straight 20-round magazines from the SLR or with the straight 30-round magazine from the Australian L2A1 or Canadian C2A1 heavy-barrel SLR. The flash suppressor was changed from the cone type of .303 variants to a slotted type similar in appearance to that used on the SLR and L7 GPMG. The L4 remained in British service until the 1990s. [33]


    In 1943, the Directorate of Tank Design, under Sir Claude Gibb, was asked to produce a new design for a heavy cruiser tank under the General Staff designation A41. After a series of fairly mediocre designs in the A series in the past, and bearing in mind the threat posed by the German 88 mm gun, the War Office demanded a major revision of the design requirements, specifically: increased durability and reliability, the ability to withstand a direct hit from the German 88 mm gun and providing greater protection against mines. Initially in September 1943 the A41 tank was to weigh no more than 40 long tons (45 short tons 41 t) the limit for existing Mark I and Mark II transport trailers and for a Bailey bridge of 80 ft (24 m) span. The British railway loading gauge required that the width should not exceed 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m) and the optimum width was 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m), [14] but, critically, for the new tank this restriction had been lifted by the War Office under pressure from the Department of Tank Design. A high top speed was not important, while agility was to be equal to that of the Comet. A high reverse speed was specified, as during the fighting in southern Italy, Allied tanks were trapped in narrow sunken roads by the German Army. The modified production gearbox had a two-speed reverse, with the higher reverse speed similar to second gear. [15] [16]

    The Department produced a larger hull by adapting the long-travel five-wheel Christie suspension used on the Comet with the addition of a sixth wheel, and extending the spacing between the second and third wheels. The Christie suspension, with vertical spring coils between side armour plates, was replaced by a Horstmann suspension with three horizontally sprung, externally mounted two-wheel bogies on each side. The Horstmann design did not offer the same ride quality as the Christie system, but took up less room and was easier to maintain. [17] In case of damage by mines, individual suspension and wheel units could be replaced relatively easily. The hull was redesigned with welded, sloped armour and featured a partially cast turret with the highly regarded 17 pounder (76.2 mm/3-inch) as the main gun and a 20 mm Polsten cannon in an independent mounting to its left. With a Rover-built Rolls-Royce Meteor engine, as used on the Comet and Cromwell, the new design would have excellent performance. [16]

    But even before the Outline Specification of the A41 was released in October 1943, these limits were removed and the weight was increased from 40 tons to 45 long tons (50 short tons 46 t), because of the need for heavier armour and a wider turret (too wide for the tank to be transported by rail) with a more powerful gun. [18] The new version carried armour equal to the heaviest infantry tanks, while improved suspension and engines provided cross-country performance superior to even the early cruiser tanks. The War Office decided it would be wiser to build new trailers, rather than hamper what appeared to be a superb design. Historian David Fletcher states, "But was Centurion, after all, a Universal Tank? The answer has to be a qualified negative." [19] The design mockup, built by AEC Ltd, was viewed in May 1944. Subsequently, twenty pilot models were ordered with various armament combinations: ten with a 17-pdr and a 20 mm Polsten gun (of which half had a Besa machine gun in the turret rear and half an escape door), five with a 17-pdr, a forward Besa and an escape door, and five with a QF 77 mm gun and a driver-operated hull machine gun. [20]

    Prototypes of the original 40-ton design, the Centurion Mark I, had 76 mm of armour in the front glacis, which was thinner than that on the then current infantry tanks (the Churchill), which had 101 mm or 152 mm on the Churchill Mk VII and VIII being produced at the time. However, the glacis plate was highly sloped, and so the effective thickness of the armour was very high—a design feature shared by other effective designs, such as the German Panther tank and Soviet T-34. The turret was well armoured at 152 mm. The tank was also highly mobile, and easily outperformed the Comet in most tests. The uparmoured Centurion Mark II soon arrived it had a new 118 mm-thick glacis and the side and rear armour had been increased from 38 mm to 51 mm [ citation needed ] . Only a handful of Mk I Centurions had been produced when the Mk II replaced it on the production lines. Full production began in November 1945 with an order for 800 [21] on production lines at Leyland Motors, Lancashire the Royal Ordnance Factories ROF Leeds and Royal Arsenal, and Vickers at Elswick. The tank entered service in December 1946 with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment. [22]

    Soon after the Centurion's introduction, Royal Ordnance finished work on the 84 mm calibre Ordnance QF 20 pounder tank gun. By this point, the usefulness of the 20 mm Polsten had been called into question, it being unnecessarily large for use against troops, so it was replaced with a Besa machine gun in a completely cast turret. The new Centurion Mark III also featured a fully automatic stabilisation system for the gun, allowing it to fire accurately while on the move, dramatically improving battlefield performance. [23] Production of the Mk 3 began in 1948. [24] The Mk 3 was so much more powerful than the Mk 1 and Mk 2, that the earlier designs were removed from service as soon as new Mk 3s arrived, and the older tanks were then either converted into the Centurion armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) Mark 1 for use by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or upgraded to Mk 3 standards. Improvements introduced with the Mk 3 included a more powerful version of the engine and a new gun sight and gun stabiliser. [24]

    The 20 pounder gun was used until the Royal Ordnance Factories introduced the 105 mm L7 gun in 1959. All later variants of the Centurion, from Mark 5/2 on, used the L7. [16]

    Design work for the Mk 7 was completed in 1953, with production beginning soon afterwards. [25] One disadvantage of earlier versions was the limited range, initially just 65 miles (105 km) on hard roads, hence external auxiliary tanks and then a "monowheel" trailer were used. But the Mk7 had a third fuel tank inside the hull, giving a range of 101 miles (163 km). And it was found possible to put the Centurion on some European rail routes with their larger loading gauges. [26]

    The Centurion was used as the basis for a range of specialist equipment, including combat engineering variants with a 165 mm demolition gun Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE). [27] It is one of the longest-serving designs of all time, serving as a battle tank for the British and Australian armies from the Korean War (1950–1953) to the Vietnam War (1961–1972), and as an AVRE during Operation Desert Storm in January–February 1991. [27]

    Korean War Edit

    On 14 November 1950, the British Army's 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, equipped with three squadrons of Centurion Mk 3 tanks, landed in Pusan. The first recorded Centurion kill occurred in Busan against a North Korean captured Cromwell tank. [28] Operating in sub-zero temperatures, the 8th Hussars learnt the rigors of winter warfare: their tanks had to be parked on straw to prevent the steel tracks from freezing to the ground. Engines had to be started every half-hour, with each gear being engaged in turn to prevent them from being frozen into place. [29] During the Battle of the Imjin River, Centurions won lasting fame when they covered the withdrawal of the 29th Brigade, with the loss of five tanks, most later recovered and repaired. [30] In 1952, Centurions of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards were also involved in the Second Battle of the Hook where they played a significant role in repelling Chinese attacks. Centurions of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment participated in the Third Battle of the Hook [30] repelling the PLA and also were involved in the Battle of the Samichon River in 1953. In a tribute to the 8th Hussars, General John O'Daniel, commanding the US 1st Corps, stated: "In their Centurions, the 8th Hussars have evolved a new type of tank warfare. They taught us that anywhere a tank can go, is tank country: even the tops of mountains." [29] The lack of pintle-mounted machine guns on the turret meant that the Centurion was only able to fire in one direction and so was vulnerable to infantry attacks. [31]

    Deployment in Western Europe Edit

    By early 1952, with the Cold War heating up, NATO needed modern heavy tanks to meet the T-34 versions with the Warsaw Pact countries, and to deter Soviet forces by stationing them with the BAOR in West Germany, where the French had just the light AMX-13, and the Germans had none. America was keen to have Centurions supplied to Denmark and the Netherlands under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program, as production of the M48 Patton would not start until April 1952. A Mk 3 cost £31,000 or £44,000 with ammunition. [32] The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps deployed a regiment of Centurions to Germany to support the Canadian Brigade.

    Suez Crisis Edit

    During the Suez Crisis, British ground commander General Sir Hugh Stockwell believed that methodical and systematic armoured operations centred on the Centurion would be the key to victory. [33]

    The Egyptians destroyed Port Said's Inner Harbour, which forced the British to improvise and use the Fishing Harbour to land their forces. The 2nd Brigade of the Parachute Regiment landed by ship in the harbour. Centurions of the British 6th Royal Tank Regiment were landed and by 12:00 they had reached the French paratroopers. While the British were landing at Port Said, the men of the 2 RPC at Raswa fought off Egyptian counter-attacks featuring SU-100 tank destroyers. [34]

    After establishing themselves in a position in downtown Port Said, 42 Commando headed down the Shari Muhammad Ali, the main north–south road to link up with the French forces at the Raswa bridge and the Inner Basin lock. While doing so, the Marines also took Port Said's gasworks. Meanwhile, 40 Commando supported by the Royal Tank Regiment remained engaged in clearing the downtown of Egyptian snipers. Lieutenant Colonel Norman Tailyour arranged for more reinforcements to be brought in via helicopter. [35] [ verification needed ]

    Vietnam War Edit

    In 1967, the Royal Australian Armoured Corps' (RAAC), 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) Squadron transferred to "A" Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment in South Vietnam. Although they successfully conducted combat operations in their areas of operations, reports from the field stated that their lightly-armoured M113A1 armoured personnel carriers were unable to force their way through dense jungle [36] limiting their offensive actions against enemy forces. The Australian government, under criticism in Parliament, decided to send a squadron of Australian Centurion tanks to South Vietnam. [36] The 20-pdr armed [37] Australian Centurions of 'C' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment landed in South Vietnam on 24 February 1968, being headquartered at Nui Dat in III Corps (MR3). [38]

    Colonel Donald Dunstan, later to be governor of South Australia, was the deputy task force commander of the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) in South Vietnam [39] Dunstan had quite possibly been the last Australian to use tanks and infantry in a combined operation during the Second World War, (as part of the Bougainville campaign), and the first since the war to command Australia's tanks and infantry in combat. [40] When he temporarily took over command during Brigadier Ronald Hughes's absence, he directed that the Centurions be brought up from Nui Dat to reinforce firebases Coral and Balmoral, believing that they were a strong element that were not being used. Besides adding a great deal of firepower, Dunstan stated, he "couldn't see any reason why they [the Centurions] shouldn't be there". [41] His foresight enabled 1 ATF to kill approximately 267 soldiers from the 141st and 165th North Vietnamese Army Regiments during the six-week-long Battle of Coral–Balmoral in May 1968, as well as capturing 11 prisoners, 36 crew-served weapons, 112 small arms, and other miscellaneous enemy weapons. [42]

    After the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, a third Centurion troop, which included two tankdozers, was formed. By September 1968, 'C' Squadron was brought to its full strength of four troops, each equipped with four Centurion tanks. By 1969, 'B' Squadron, 3rd Cavalry 'A' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment 'B' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment and 'C' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, had all made rotations through South Vietnam. Originally deployed as 26 Centurion tanks, after three and a half years of combat operations, 58 Centurions had served in country 42 had suffered battle damage with six beyond repair and two crewmen had been killed in action. [36]

    The Centurion crews, after operating for a few weeks in country, soon learned to remove the protective armoured side skirts from both sides of the tank, to prevent the vegetation and mud from building up between the track and the mudguards. Each Centurion in Vietnam normally carried a basic load of 62 rounds of 20 pounder shells, 4,000 rounds of .50 cal and 9,000 rounds of .30 cal machine gun ammunition for the tank commander's machine gun as well as the two coaxial machine guns. [43] They were equipped with petrol engines, which necessitated the use of an extra externally mounted 100-imperial-gallon (450 L) fuel tank, which was attached to the vehicle's rear. [37] [44]

    Indo-Pakistani wars Edit

    In 1965, the bulk of India's tank fleet was older M4 Sherman tanks, but India also had Centurion Mk.7 tanks, with the 20 pounder gun, and also AMX-13 and M3 Stuart light tanks. The Centurion Mk.7 at that time was one of the most modern western tanks. [45] [46]

    The offensive of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar on 10 September. Six Pakistani armored regiments were opposed by three Indian armoured regiments. One of these regiments, 3 Cavalry, fielded 45 Centurion tanks. The Centurion, with its 20-pounder gun and heavy armour, proved to be more than a match for the M47 and M48 Pattons. [47] On the other side, when Pakistani Army armoured division primary composed of M47 Pattons and M48 Pattons, they proved to be only able to penetrate a few of the Centurion tanks, as witnessed in the Battle of Chawinda in the Sialkot sector. A post-war US study of the tank battles in South Asia concluded that the Patton's armor could, in fact, be penetrated by the 20-pounder tank gun (84 mm) of the Centurion (later replaced by the even-more successful L7 105mm gun on the Mk. 7 version which India also possessed) as well as the 75 mm tank gun of the AMX-13 light tank. [ citation needed ]

    In 1971, at the Battle of Basantar, an armoured division and an armoured brigade of the Pakistani I Corps confronted two armoured brigades of the Indian I Corps, which had Centurion tanks. This resulted in a substantial tank battle, between the American-built tanks of the Pakistani Army and the Indian Army's mixture of Soviet T-55s and British Centurions. Casualties were heavily skewed against the Pakistani force, with 46 tanks destroyed.


    Once the Challenger was established as the latest MBT for the British army following the decommissioning of the older Chieftain tank, it entered service with the British Army in 1983.

    The British Army chose to test this newly designated tank in the Canadian Army Trophy (CAT) competition in West Germany, 1986. Once in the competition and despite having adequate scores, the Challengers were amongst the last in the score tables versus the equally powerful Abrams and Leopards. This proved to be discouraging results, as it was hoped the all-around better Challengers would provide excellent results this time unlike the older Chieftain - distinctly on the mobility and off-road abilities as the new Rolls-Royce CV12 provided almost twice the horsepower of the Chieftain's Leyland L60 Powerpack.

    The apparent complete failure on the CAT went further to the British Army withdrawing from the competition in 1987, leaving statements like the following:

    I do not believe that the performance of tanks in the artificial circumstances of a competition, such as the recent Canadian Army Trophy, is a proper indication of their capability in war. Challenger's gun gives the best penetrative performance against the tanks of a potential enemy. The tank itself is arguably the best protected in the world and has excellent mobility. It carries an advanced thermal imaging system which is much admired by our allies and ensures that Challenger can fight effectively by night and by day. Participation in international tank gunnery competitions is one useful option in the complete spectrum of training opportunities available in preparing our tank crews for war, but it is not on its own a basis for judgment of overall capability.

    — Ian Stewart, former Minister for the Armed Forces when asked if he is satisfied with the standard of British tank international gunnery demonstrated in recent competitions and if he will make a statement.

    Before the Gulf War, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) updated the Challenger 1 Mk.2 into the Mk.3 with even more armour protection, increased operational range, desert filters amongst other internal refits. This was the first mass-production use of the Royal Ordnance-made ROMOR-A, of over 250 armour sets were going to be used in the imminent Desert storm - These packages were also included in the Centurion AVRE deploying along with the Challengers 1.

    Numerous Challengers were up-armoured by to Mk.3 desert modification with packages of explosive reactive armour (ERA) ROMOR-A in the lower frontal plate and non-energetic reactive armour (NERA) in the sides - this NERA proved to be safer from accidental detonations for any possible friendly units adjacent to the tank. It was estimated the upgrades would increase the protection in these reinforced areas up to 95% against the performance of shaped charges or ATGMs of approximately 127 mm.

    The armour requirements were exponentially increasing because new lethal weaponry as the infamously portable Soviet RPG-7 became the most widely used anti-tank weapon in the world. The revolutionary and yet classified to this day Chobham armour proved extremely reliable against most possible frontal engagements. However, areas like the side armour or the lower frontal plate remained a weak spot against the powerful anti-tank armaments been constantly developed.

    3 days after of the US-designated Desert storm operation started, the vast miles of desert defended by Iraqi forces were damaged by French and American aerial and ground attacks but fiercely resisting. It was then the only UK armoured division, the 1st Armoured Division headed to combat under the British code name of Operation Grandby. They were equipped with Warriors acting as the mechanized infantry and Challengers leading the spearhead of the assault.

    Charging along with the US' 1st Calvary division, the Challengers Mk.2 and Mk.3 advanced with low visibility conditions and sand storm, during day and night. This advantage is granted to the technologically superior Thermal Observation Gunnery Sight (TOGS) system, that enabled the tank commanders to designate targets in complete darkness. The developing GPS technology also proved vital to increase the mobility of the tanks squadrons in the desert.

    On February 27, 1991, Battle of Norfolk part of the Battle of 73 Easting. One of the major battles for the Challenger 1 MBT took part. It allowed the British tanks to achieved over 200 Iraqi tank kills and other various vehicles kill with no losses. This ardent engagements at long and very close distances versus the sand-dug Iraqi T-55s and T-62s allowed the Challenger to prove its true combat capabilities.

    A Challenger 1 got the longest tank kill of all time, at a range of over 4.6 km, when it knocked out an Iraqi tank with an APFSDS round!

    Lt Col Tim Purbrick, Queen's Royal Irish Hussars Battlegroup for the Liberation of Kuwait recollects

    First, Gus's 4,700 m first round FIN kill. It was a supreme technical achievement for man and machine. 4,700m, a shade under 3 miles, is more than three times the 1,200 m battle range of the Challenger. The shot is written up in books, sometimes incorrectly, with one book saying it was a Depleted Uranium (DU) round, it wasn't, it was a normal service FIN round while another book said it was at longer range, it wasn't, it was 4,700 m. I believe that it is the longest range direct fire kinetic round kill ever achieved by a tank on the battlefield.

    The Challenger regiments were given several of the specially conceived depleted Uranium APFSDS L26A1 rounds also known as "Jericho". In case of facing the ultimate adversary, the Iraqi Republican's guard T-72M these engagements never occurred but the round was applied years later in the intended user, the Challenger 2.

    Despite the early perceived poor fidelity of the tank, the Challenger 1 fought till the end of the war without major losses but minor external damages. They travelled approximately 350 km in the desert till the final Gulf war objective the Basra Highway north of Multa Ridge on February 27, 1991.

    Challenger is a tank built for war and not for competitions.

    — Patrick Cordingley, Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade

    The Challengers 1 continued their British service until the 99's as part of the KFOR, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    Eventually with most of the 400 tanks being sold or gifted in the 2000s to Jordan, in which the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau innovated with newer technologies, a rebirth tank, known locally as Al-Hussein. The Jordanians developed an upgrade package prototype unveiled in 2003, adding a crew-less turret fitted with a powerful Swiss RUAG Defense Systems 120 mm/L50 smoothbore with auto-loader, hunter-killer system, laser warning system, thermal imaging and Soft-Kill Active Protection this variant is known as the Falcon turret.

    The Challenger 1 Mk.2 and Mk.3 were replaced by the Challenger 2 in the UK service but is still in service until this day in Jordan where the large fleet is being gradually replaced by the more modern French MBT, the Leclerc.

    Off-site Resources

    15 August 2008 - Benchmark
    17 January 2009 - Added picture of 14" (35.6 cm) shell being stowed
    19 January 2009 - Updated ammunition information
    15 September 2009 - Removed picture mislabled as "New York"
    26 November 2009 - Added axes measurement for two-gun turrets
    20 September 2010 - Added information on USS Texas turret arrangements, updated links to Tom Scott's website
    22 April 2015 - Redid photograph of USS New York
    11 July 2016 - Converted to HTML 5 format
    04 October 2018 - Reorganized notes

    General info

    Survivability and armour

    • Cast homogeneous armour (hull front, turret front half, cupola)
    • Rolled homogeneous armour (hull sides, hull rear, hull roof, turret rear half, turret roof, cupola roof)
    • Suspension wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick while bogies are 19 mm thick.
    • Armour thickness throughout the vehicle is very complex and the tank relies more on sloping thickness to enhance its effective armour.
    • The metal boxes on the sides of the turret and hull are 13 mm of structural steel.
    • The belly of the Chieftain Mk 3 is 15 mm thick (6°).

    A major improvement from previous British MBTs is the Chieftain's thick, sloped armour. Reaching a compound-angled 152 mm on the turret and a respectable 86 mm at 71° on the upper front hull, the Chieftain can actually resist point-blank shots from some cannons it will face at its battle rating. In an up-tier, however, most of these benefits have less impact. This tank should avoid exposing its hull as certain tanks at 8.3 and above can penetrate the hull with an APFSDS shot, knocking out the entire crew or detonating an ammo rack. The armour around the gun breech leaves something to be desired. Lower-rank APDS rounds (e.g. a T-54/55's APDS) can penetrate the right turret face at closer ranges, incapacitating the gunner and commander. The lower glacis is 76 mm at 45°, leading to a significant disadvantage in close-range engagements. Even 7.3 tanks (and many below 7.3) will always penetrate the lower glacis. The Chieftain also has thin side armour, meaning that the tank is vulnerable to flank attacks. The thin side armour also means angling the hull is not effective. A Chieftain should remain hull down (at the very least covering the lower frontal plate) to best take advantage of its armour profile.


    Game Mode Max Speed (km/h) Weight (tons) Engine power (horsepower) Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
    Forward Reverse Stock Upgraded Stock Upgraded
    Arcade 46 11 54.4 1,023 1259 18.81 23.14
    Realistic 41 10 584 660 10.74 12.13

    The Chieftain Mk 3 suffers from a poor power-to-weight ratio. It is slow to reach its top speed of 45 km/h on almost any surface and will turn very slowly even when all mobility modules are researched. The Chieftain Mk 3 especially struggles uphill and when pivoting. It has decent reverse speed (

    -9.4 km/h, compared to the -13 km/h reverse speed of tanks on the Centurion chassis).

    Modifications and economy

    The first upgrades to head for are Parts and FPE for increased survivability. Then prioritize mobility upgrades (the Chieftain Mk 3 needs all the mobility it can get) and gun accuracy upgrades (to further enhance its accurate fire).

    • Parts
    • FPE
    • Tracks (critical for hull rotation speed)
    • Adjustment of Fire
    • Elevation Mechanism
    • Horizontal Drive
    • Other mobility upgrades as needed

    Vickers Machine Gun (Gun, Machine, Vickers, .303in, Mk 1)

    Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 03/19/2019 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

    Like most other medium support machine systems born around the turn of the century, the British Vickers Medium Machine Gun originated from the revolutionary Maxim series of 1889 after the Maxim concern acquired competitor Nordenfelt (to become Maxim-Nordenfelt) in 1888 and, ultimately, became a part of Vickers in 1897 (as Vickers, Sons & Maxim). The Maxim type saw widespread acceptance, adoption and copy by many a world power during its operational tenure and appeared in varying forms. The Vickers copy - essentially an improved Maxim - was primarily differentiated from the original in its inversion of the toggle locking action. Vickers also took to reducing the overall weight of the original product and introduced aluminum in concert with the required steel fabrication process. The result was one of the most successful battlefield machine guns ever developed - a design that would see extensive combat service through two world wars and countless localized conflicts to follow. The type formally served with British forces from 1912 to 1968 while a plethora of global users were noted the world over.

    The original Maxim machine gun was developed by American Hiram Maxim of Maine who became a British citizen in 1900. The weapon relied on one of the first uses of recoil operation known with patents appearing as far back as 1883. Maxims served well into the 1950s despite their late-1880s origins even seeing action in the Korean War (1950-1953).

    The British Army adopted the new Vickers design in 1912 (as the "Gun, Machine, Vickers, .303in Mark 1") and it became its standard support machine gun thereafter. The weapon was initially categorized as a "heavy machine gun" though this designation later gave way to a medium classification upon the arrival of other truly heavy weapons. In the field, the design structure proved robust and the action was highly reliable. Key detriments lay in jamming at the feed and the generally slow rate-of-fire for a weapon of this class. As the Vickers Machine Gun was a complete weapons "system", the design was much more than the gun itself. The entire Vickers Machine Gun system consisted of the machine gun proper, the water condensing can containing the required water supply for cooling, the condensing hose running from the can to the barrel jacket, an optional integrated collimating sight at the rear of the receiver, a wooden ammunition box containing 250 rounds of .303 British cartridges served from fabric belts and the gun mount (Maxim-type sledge or - later - a collapsing tripod). A canvas jacket could be wrapped around the barrel jacket to reduce rising heat from blurring vision ahead of the sight. A muzzle booster could be fitted at the barrel business end for an improved rate-of-fire, providing additional recoil force to the firing action. The operator managed the firing action and traverse through a pair of spade grips fitted at the rear of the receiver. The hinged cocking handle was set to the right side of the body in a conventional fashion.

    Of note here is the water-cooled nature of machine guns like the Vickers. These weapons relied on a steady water supply pumped into a barrel jacket that surrounded the barrel assembly. During firing, this action served to cool a hot barrel and prevent it from overheating and fracturing or deforming. The condenser can used in water-cooled machine guns - while supplying the barrel jacket with water - also served to condense some of the steam being generated by the heat of the barrel. If this were not so, the position of the machine gun and crew would be quickly given away to the enemy with the rising steam being the primary indicator. For the Vickers series, the water surrounding the barrel in the jacket would start to evaporate after roughly 750 rounds had been fired. A fresh water supply was as necessary as was an ammunition supply.

    The Vickers fired the .303 British cartridge from a 250-round canvas belt. The cartridge was developed in 1888 and first adopted in the Lee-Metford service rifle series before becoming the standard British and Commonwealth cartridge around the world. The cartridge itself was a rimmed design with a noticeable bottleneck and a proven manstopper. The Vickers machine gun action itself revolved around a recoil operation with gas boosting capable of a sustained rate-of-fire of 450 to 500 rounds per minute. Muzzle velocity was rated at 2,450 feet per second with an effective range out to 2,190 yards - maximum ranges out to 4,500 yards though with less accuracy. Sighting was primarily through iron mountings but a collimating sight could be used for long-range service (introduced in 1943). The weapon weighed between 33lbs and 50lbs which required multiple crew for its operation and transport.

    Due to the need for multiple components to make the Vickers an effective fighting tool, at least three personnel were required in its management. The primary operator managed the firing function while the secondary operator managed the ammunition supply and feed while helping to clear jams as needed. The third operator supported the initial two and managed the critical water supply during combat. For transport, the weapon was broken down into gun, mounting, ammunition and water supply before relocating to new positions. As such, the Vickers was a cumbersome and heavy breed of weapon but this was somewhat offset by her tactical value and her repeating firepower were well appreciated in warfare. While the weapon could be traversed from left to right in the normal sense, it could also provide plunging arc fire as an ad hoc light "artillery" weapon if need be.

    In practice, the Vickers reliability was showcased through all types of abuse and fighting environments. The weapon could get wet, dirty or muddy and remain as capable as the day it left the factory lines and in the brutal, unforgiving nature that was trench warfare, this reliability was very much respected. Furthermore, it could be used as an offensive or defensive minded weapon as needed - supporting allied troop actions or defending key positions with equal fervor and no modification required. The type prove so effective that it was adopted for use in all manner of aircraft, naval surface ships and vehicles. As a battlefield support weapon during World War 1, the Vickers gave an excellent account of herself and was well-liked by her crews - considered by many to be the best machine gun of the conflict.

    During World War 2, leftover stocks of Vickers guns came into play once more. Large quantities were lost in the Dunkirk evacuations and thusly production ramped up to meet demand - now incorporating time-saving measures to produce guns in quantity. Early versions of the Vickers Machine Gun thusly featured corrugated jackets while these later streamlined forms now sported smooth jackets. The Mark 8Z "boat-tailed" cartridge was also introduced during the war to provide increased ranges out to 4,500 yards and keep the turn-of-the-century weapon viable for one more World War.

    The initial production model became the Mk 1 form which served until 1968. The Mk 1* was an air-cooled aircraft derivative mounted to fighters beginning in 1916 (World War 1) with reduced weight (28lbs) and revised barrel jacket. The Mk 2 was brought online in 1917 and based on the airborne Mk 1* series with further reduced weight (22lbs). The aircraft-bound air-cooled Mk 2* soon followed in 1927 and was highly based on the Mk 2 before it though with a revised feed mechanism - feeding from either the left or right side - producing the Mk 2*(a) and Mk 2*(b) subvariants respectively. In 1928, the Vickers Mk 3 was unveiled and this was based on the Mk 2* with a longer flash hider for use on aircraft. The Mk 4 was developed during the span of 1929-1930 as a vehicle weapon but only completed as working prototypes. The Mk 4B was similar in scope and fitted to vehicles with a redesigned barrel jacket. The Mk 5 of 1932 was another aircraft-mounted version based on the Mk 3 with redesigned receiver access. The water-cooled Mk 6 of 1934 was based on the Mk 4B and intended for vehicular use as was the similar Mk 6*. The mount was improved as was the barrel jacket. The Mk 7 was another vehicle-mounted machine gun system and based on the preceding Mk 6. This sported a reinforced mounting system with a heavier barrel jacket. Many Vickers aircraft machine guns were replaced by other more capable types before World War 2. The Vickers, as anti-infantry machine guns on heavy-class tanks, were largely replaced by the Besa series marks though it saw extended service on light- and medium-class types until the end of World War 2.

    A large heavy duty version of the Vickers design existed in 12.7mm form and known rather informally as the "Big Vickers" or "Vickers .50". These were produced in marks Mk 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and utilized by the United Kingdom and Ireland from 1932 onwards. The Mk 1 proved the developmental model while the Mk 2, 4 and 5 were base support and vehicle-mounted versions until largely replaced by Besa machine guns. The Mk 3 was a navalized variant for use on ships.

    As the Vickers Machine Gun soldiered on into the Cold War with British Army forces, it was not until the arrival of the L7A1 General Purpose Machine Gun of the mid-1960s that the Vickers design was formally removed from frontline service. British Royal Marines continued use of the type into the 1970s. When the Vickers Machine Gun was offeredfor overseas purchase it saw large-scale success. To coincide with local requirements, the Vickers system was applicably chambered. As such, the type also existed in 6.5mm Arisaka (Japan), 7x57 Mauser (Germany), 8mm Lebel (France) and 7.62x54R (Russia) calibers to name a few. During the Cold War, it was modified to take the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.

    The United States Army utilized the British design as the "US Machine Gun, Caliber .30in, M1915" with local production under license through Colt, seeing service in World War 1 with American troops. These were naturally revised to accept the US-standard .30-06 cartridge (M1906). The Mexican Army procured the American version in 1922 and knew these as the "Ametrallador Modelo 1915". In 1925, Lithgow of Australia began localized production of the Vickers Mk 1 series and were more or less direct copies utilizing the same .303 British cartridge. In Australian Army use, the Vickers was later replaced in service by the MAG 58 series. India and Pakistan were long-time users of the Vickers series and still hold many in active reserve today (2012).

    Plot [ edit | edit source ]

    The Events all happen during the Landings on Normandy on June 6,1944.

    1 Story where you play as Sgt.Ethan Robbins of the 101st Airborne,He & his fellow paratroopers are to jump into normandy,

    Another Story where you play as Cpl.Keith Rogers of the British 6th Airborne,where & his fellow paratroopers ride in a glider

    Another Story where you play as Cpl.Danny Kendall of the S.O.E.,where he & some S.O.E. Lads,led by Cpt Douglas Joyce,were to go to Normandy a bit early,to meet up with the French Maquis,

    Another Story where you play as Pfc.Nick Knuckle of the American 3rd Rangers,where they are to land on Ohama beach,

    Another Story where you play as Sgt.James Hornbuckle of the British 79th Armoured Division,as well as 1 time,Cpl.Percy Morgan Jr,from same unit,the British 79th made a landing on Gold Beach,

    Another Story where you play as L/Cpl.Jack Edmond Clarke of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division,where they made a landing on Juno Beach,

    Last Story where you play as Sonia Le Tueur of the French Maquis,maquis HS Located in Avion,Pas-de-Calais (Hauts-de-France),France,

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