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WORLD WAR 2


Cruiser Tank Mk VIII Challenger (A30)


Tank Destroyer (TD)


The Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser was a design of well-intentions, though never fully living up to expectations.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 4/18/2016
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Specifications


Year: 1943
Manufacturer(s): Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Company - UK
Production: 200
Capabilities: Anti-Tank/Anti-Armor; Infantry Support; Tank vs Tank; Frontline;
Crew: 5
Length: 26.25 ft (8 m)
Width: 9.55 ft (2.91 m)
Height: 8.73 ft (2.66 m)
Weight: 32 tons (29,093 kg); 64,139 lb
Power: 1 x Rolls-Royce Meteor engine developing 600 horsepower.
Speed: 32 mph (51 kph)
Range: 105 miles (169 km)
Operators: United Kingdom
The Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser was a British response to the very real and deadly threat being posed by German armor on the battlefields in World War 2. The system was a purpose-built design - intended as a tank destroyer by mounting a powerful 76mm main gun - though appearing in limited numbers and superceded by the Sherman Firefly in terms of usefulness and availability. In all, only some 200 or so Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser tanks were ever built from February 1943 to September 1944.

The Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser tank destroyer was based on the chassis of the A27 design. This newer design, called the A30, was intended to take on the heaviest of German armor after it was seen that the current crop of British tanks lacked the firepower to do so. This new design would fit an impressive 17-pounder main gun (76mm) and be fielded one per every three Cromwells. The A30 now became the Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser when going into production. Though utilizing the chassis of the A27, it was found that the A30 design required some customization to wield and fire the main gun and, as such, the hull was made larger in both length and width and a turret designed from scratch. Additionally, either track side received another road wheel to compensate for the added weight. As one can imagine, these changes directly effected the design's overall weight and the resulting turret gave the Challenger a high profile - making itself a larger target on any battlefield.

Additional standard armament included a Browning-type 7.62mm machine gun for self-defense. Crew accommodations amounted to five personnel and power was derived from a single Rolls-Royce brand Meteor engine of 600 horsepower. 42 total projectile rounds for the main gun could be carried onboard.

Once in production, the Challenger was in limited active use. Eventually, the design would give way to modified existing designs such as the Sherman-based "Firefly" of which many a British tank crew approved of. In the end, the Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser was nothing more than a stop-gap addition until more readily available and effective systems came online.






Armament



1 x 76mm (QF 17-pdr) main gun
1 x 7.62mm Browning machine gun

Ammunition:
42 x 76mm projectiles

Variants / Models



• A30 - Initial Series Designation; chassis utilized from A27 design.
• Challenger Mk VIII Cruiser - Official Production Designation.
• SP 17pdr, A30 (Avenger) - Related tank destroyer development with lighter, open-air turret assembly; 17-pdr (76.2mm) main gun; 250 examples produced.
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