This book demonstrates why the Tank Craft series has become so very popular. There is a concise analysis of the tank’s design, development and variants with in-action photographs and specially commissioned full colour drawings and exhibition grade models of a selection of available kits. – Very Highly Recommended.
NAME: Tank Craft 21, Challenger 1, British Main Battle Tank of the Gulf War FILE: R3056 AUTHOR: Rob Griffin PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Tank Craft BINDING: soft back PRICE: £16.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Cold War, Gulf War, armour, main battle tank, column warfare, tank battles, deserts, armour upgrades, fire control, mobile engagements, air superiority, Op Granby, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Army, Republican Guard, Liberation of Kuwait
IMAGE: B3056.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/sfbhqvm LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This book demonstrates why the Tank Craft series has become so very popular. There is a concise analysis of the tank's design, development and variants with in-action photographs and specially commissioned full colour drawings and exhibition grade models of a selection of available kits. – Very Highly Recommended. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Prime Minister Thatcher was quick to commit British troops to protect Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States before preparing to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders. She was also effective in working with the US president to build a very wide series of Alliances with countries that would not normally fight alongside each other. However there were many challenges. Logistics were to be a major challenge, both in finding available aircraft and ships to ferry out troops and all of their weapons and supplies, and in managing this huge operation. The British Army was a long way behind where it should have been in adopting integrated computer systems to enable fast armoured forces to be supplied on the move and a crash program was put in stream before the end of the first day of the Iraqi invasion. The Prime Minister authorised unusual procurement and where MODPE had suggested it might be able to shorten procurement to only 12 months, new systems were built in days and weeks with the Army users participating directly in the functional specification and for those soldiers, helping to explain what they needed, being trained to train their comrades. The result was that for the first time, the Army got what it needed very quickly at a fraction of the normal procurement costs, making it difficult to understand why the politicians forced the Army after the war to return to the same old flawed procurements. The Army actually fought back when deployed to the Balkans, taking Op Granby systems with them and leaving the newer less capable equipment behind in barracks. New computer systems and communications, including many extra international Internet cables and nodes, which helped the explosion of the Internet through the 1990s, and some very creative logistics actions, saw what could have been a disaster becoming a huge success. That still left many challenges particularly in finding functional armour to ship out. The Challenger 1 was a brilliant design and potentially the finest tank of its generation. It packed innovation into the armoured hull and inevitably that resulted in more than a few teething problems. These were made worse by the low annual mileage for the fleet. On the day of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait there was only one fully functional Challenger 1 in the entire British Isles. There were a few more in Germany and a larger number in Canada. At the time, and in the after battle wash-up meetings, there was much debate of the reasons for their sorry state. The primary difficulty was that armour was already being seen as outdated on what was considered likely to be a nuclear battlefield and vulnerable in non-nuclear conflict with precision anti-tank weapons. The Main Battle Tank was coming to be seen as a large target, rather than a battle winning asset. That meant the tanks that had been built were available in inadequate numbers and these numbers were further reduced by serviceability issues. The result was that most Challenger Is were in Germany, or on training ranges in Canada. In Germany they covered very few miles each year, tiptoeing around German cabbage patches trying to avoid upsetting the natives. In Canada the training ranges gave Challengers a good work out but with fewer training hours each year than should have been conducted. There were priorities to keep an adequate number of tanks in full operational condition for training, but there were servicing limitations in Germany and the UK. One example of this was a problem that was common and addressed by replacing a component that had failed, when one was available. Spares availability often mean engineers robbing one tank to keep another operational and also operating tanks below desirable levels of functionality. That was clearly a problem that should not have been allowed to occur but it was not fairly a fault of the tank crews, or of REME. Essentially it was a result of budget cuts with the troops working around problems of other peoples making. It did however mean that symptoms were often responded to, rather than trying to find the source of the problem, or simply working with a much reduced fleet of Challengers. Once the armour had arrived in the Gulf, a series of intensive training exercises were undertaken to adequately prepare for what could well be a very difficult conflict. Iraq had a large army and large quantity of modern, mainly Russian, weapons. That included a substantial air force and a great quantity of modern armour. Very quickly vehicles were breaking down and typically a year of use in peacetime Germany was exceeded in a single day, sometimes in a matter of hours. It was a great credit to British soldiers that they managed as well as they did at this stage. A great deal of effort was put into getting to grips with the issues and a new engineering management computer system, that had been designed and built in less than a week, began to come up with some interesting results. A problem that had affected the Challenger 1 frequently was identified as a steel bracket that broke and then affected other components. The failed components were replaced eventually but not the bracket that caused the problem. A bracket costing a few pounds could be replaced under urgent preventive maintenance, saving hundreds of pounds on other components. Equally important was that it dramatically increased Challenger availability. What was never fully tested was the ability of the Challenger 1 in a fully equal conflict. On paper, Iraq had the numbers of planes and tanks of modern design to present a very real challenge for the Allies. In reality, Allied air power almost immediately achieved total superiority and this meant two factors followed. The first was that Allied armoured formations could strike rapidly without the enemy having adequate intelligence of their position and numbers. The second was that air power was rapidly reducing the number of available Iraqi tanks. Trained in Russian tactics of the 'hedgehog' position, Iraqi tanks were dug in around a central hub that accommodated resting crews and command personnel. That looked good in a desert landscape with much protection but it had a serious weakness. Allied aircraft circling at around 17,000 ft only had to look for heat blooms when the tanks started their engines, which they had to do about every two hours to ensure they were always ready to move out quickly. The aircraft then dropped 1,000lb smart bombs on the heat blooms and at the centre of the circle. From 17,000 a smart bomb did not even need to explode because the kinetic energy was sufficient to cut through the armour of the day. That greatly reduced the number of Iraqi tanks available for the Challenger 1s to attack and it seriously damaged Iraqi morale. This book captures the Challenger 1 as it was continued to be upgraded and there are many full colour drawings and photographs to show both the Challenger 1 in service and the available model kits. As with other books in this very popular series, the author has included photographs and details of the specialist add-on and replacement parts that enable a model maker to turn a good facsimile into an exhibition grade model.