Challenger 2, British MBT...

 

...a new Images of War book from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Challenger 2, The British MBT

Author: M P Robinson and Rob Griffin

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-665-9

The current British Army MBT, the Challenger 2, is the subject for this new release in the Images of War series.  The two authors are well known for their knowledgeable work on AFVs, and British AFVs in particular.  What we have here is the story of this in-service MBT, how it got to where we are today and considers what the future might hold as well.  As they mention at the start, there is lots of information about the tank, though not including anything which might give away anything to compromise sensitive security details .  A sign of that is that among the super collection of photos there are none of the interior.

The opening 7 chapters tackle how we got to the Challenger 2.  Starting with the Chieftain and the plans for MBT 80 and the Shir tank designed for Iran, going on to Challenger 1, the Vickers Mk 7, the issue of General Staff Requirement (GSR) 4026 along with the poor performance of the Challenger 1 at CAT 87 (Canadian Army Trophy), the NATO gunnery competition which demonstrated a need to improve on Challenger 1 and all along with the impact of the end of the Cold War.  It takes Chapter 8 to start with the Challenger 2 prototypes through the service life of Challenger 2 and the two variants built on the same chassis Titan bridgelayer and Trojan engineer vehicle) through to Chapter 16 which considers the Future for the British Army MBT.

As ever with Images of War books, the heart of it comes in the collection of photos which provide a great spread of coverage of the Challenger 2 in service.  They include it from the early prototypes through to the latest configuration including the new Mobile Camouflage System (MCS).  In peacetime operation the tanks are in basic configuration with the distinctive side plates, which are exchanged for the changing styles of TES (Theatre Entry Standard) extra armour packages.  The changing face of the MBT, from a design originally for tank v tank combat on the Central European Plain to counter-insurgency and urban operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not only the external configurations and appearance, but the colour scheme variations will also attract the modellers among us.  Not just green, black/green, sand/green and overall sand, but how about the multi-colour scheme seen on an example that was (unsuccessfully) proposed for the Greek military.  A number of the pictures also show us the changing faces of Megatron, a Challenger 2 used by the Armour Trials and Development Unit at Bovington, and a tank which makes regular appearances at the annual Tankfest event held at the Tank Museum each year.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin