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FV214 Conqueror Heavy Tank (1955)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/14/2014

The British Conqueror Heavy Tank proved to too cumbersome for its own good and was produced in just 185 total examples.

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The British-produced Conqueror Heavy Tank (FV 214) was designed as a counterpart to the hugely successful Centurion Main Battle Tank in service throughout post-World War 2 Europe and as a direct counter to the Soviet IS-3 series heavy tank. By this time in history, the Soviet Union had grown to become the free world's primary enemy, residing in a divided Germany, across Poland and the Ukraine and applying its influence throughout many other nations worldwide. The Conqueror was classified as a "heavy tank" and would be charged with long-range fire support on the battlefield, wielding its large-caliber 120mm rifled main gun situated in a heavily armored traversing turret. Despite its rather promising scope, the Conqueror was ultimately doomed to history by its large and heavy design, unfit for the environment that would become "Battlefield Europe" in the event of another World War. Additionally, these inherent limitations of the vehicle were coupled with dwindling interest in the project brought about by the success of the Centurion worldwide which resulted in only 185 production forms during the span of three years before the vehicle was retired in 1966. As such, the vision of a Centurion tank force backed by Conquerors never truly materialized.

By this time in history, there proved general concern by NATO parties in the capability of existing Western guns when penetrating the IS-3's stout armor protection at range and, thusly, the United States and Britain both undertook programs to remedy the situation, this providing the basis for the "M103" and "Conqueror" designs respectively. IS tanks (generally referred to as "Josef Stalin" tanks) were born from the fighting of World War 2 which pitted Soviet armor against an invading German force. The IS-1 combined heavy armor protection with a massive 122mm main gun and proved more than a match for all available German tanks of the time. The IS-1 was debuted in 1943 and this was followed by the improved IS-2 in April of 1944. The IS-3 represented a late-war upgrade to the IS-2 line and saw its armor configuration revised for the better with a new cast hemispherical turret instituted. However, availability of the IS-3 during the waning months of World War 2 was restricted and, thusly, the tank missed out on combat actions in Europe altogether. Regardless, the IS-3 remained the staple Soviet heavy tank in the early Cold War years that followed. A modernized version appeared in 1960 as the "IS-3M".

The Conqueror was derived from a British Army design direction that sought use of a logistically-friendly "universal chassis" intended to form the future of British armored forces. The universal family concept was designated as "FV 200" and would have incorporated several combat tank forms, a self-propelled gun design and a turretless armored personnel carrier. To go along with the universal chassis, a new heavy turret was developed to house a powerful 120mm main gun. Manufacturer of the vehicle was undertaken by the Royal Ordnance Factory out of Dalmuir beginning in 1955 as the "Tank, Heavy No. 1, 120mm Gun, Conqueror, Mk I". Only twenty Mk I vehicles were completed before production switched to the revised "Mk 2" and these saw deliveries peak at 165 units, The final Conqueror Heavy Tank was completed in 1959 and many were shipped to Europe to serve in the "British Army of the Rhine" (1945-1994) stationed in Germany during the Cold War (1945-1991).


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Specifications for the
FV214 Conqueror
Heavy Tank


Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Royal Ordnance Factory - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1955
Production: 185


Focus Model: FV214 Conqueror
Crew: 4


Overall Length: 37.99ft (11.58m)
Width: 13.09ft (3.99m)
Height: 10.99ft (3.35m)
Weight: 71.7 US Short Tons (65,000kg; 143,300lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Meteor M120 engine developing 810 horsepower.


Maximum Speed: 21mph (34 km/h)
Maximum Range: 96 miles (155 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
1 x 120mm L1 rifled main gun
1 x 7.62mm co-axial machine gun
1 x 7.62mm machine gun (turret roof/commander's cupola)


Ammunition:
35 x 120mm projectiles
2,500 x 7.62mm ammunition


Variants:
FV 214 Conqueror - Base Series Designation


Tank, Heavy No.1, 120mm Gun, Conqueror - Formal Designation.

FV 214 Conqueror Mk I - Initial production model; 20 examples produced.

FV 214 Conqueror Mk II - Revised Variant; 165 examples produced.

FV 215b - Proposed Heavy Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun based on the FV200 chassis; never produced.

FV 222 Conqueror ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle

FV 222 Conqueror ARV Mk I - Armored Recovery Vehicle based on the FV 200 chassis; 8 examples produced.

FV 222 Conqueror ARV Mk II - Revised ARV form; 20 examples produced.


Operators:
United Kingdom