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FV4101 Charioteer

Tank Destroyer (1951)

Land Systems / Battlefield

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Jump-to: Specifications

The Charioteer was nothing more than the Royal Ordnance QF 20-pounder gun fitted to a new turret atop the World War 2-era Cromwell cruiser tank.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/10/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
After World War 2 (1939-1945), Germany was divided into an East and West half by the victorious powers, the east controlled by the communist Soviet Union and the West under the influence of Britain and its allies. The divided nation provided what many believed would become the focal point of a Third World War in Europe and this prompted military development and production to keep pace with the running threat. For the British, further development into capable armored tracked vehicles produced the "Centurion" - essentially the world's first Main Battle Tank (MBT) - which combining armor protection, mobility and firepower to counter the threat now posed by Soviet armor.

Despite the arrival of the Centurion, British authorities came to the realization that the tank would not be made available in the numbers required for the short term and this spurred a plan to produce an interim Tank Destroyer (TD) which could be used to close the gap while awaiting the expected stock of Centurions. The Cromwell Cruiser Tank, born in the later fighting of World War 2, existed in large numbers (some 4,016 were produced) and it seemed this chassis would serve a new TD design well. To this would be added the capable Ordnance QF 20-pounder (83.4mm) main gun with close-in defense provided by a coaxially-mounted 0.30 caliber machine gun.
However, the existing Cromwell turret presented a design challenge when mounting the more powerful weapon. An all-new turret design was ordered and this design had its armor protection reduced to help save weight - something of a fatal design flaw for a vehicle charged with countering enemy armor directly. Nevertheless, the need for a new TD remained and the "Charioteer" was born - known formally as the "FV4101 Cromwell Heavy AT Gun" - to which the concern of Robinson & Kershaw Ltd applied the conversion to existing Cromwell tanks. The vehicles were modified at a Dukinfield, Cheshire facility which ultimately produced 442 Charioteer vehicles.

All told, the Cromwell origins were clearly identified in the finalized Charioteer. There stood five double-tired road wheels to a hull side (through a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement) with the drive sprocket at rear and track idler at front (no return rollers were featured). The powerpack sat at the rear of the hull for maximum survivability with the crew of four manning positions in the middle-front sections of the vehicle. The Charioteer featured a maximum road speed of 32 miles per hour (in ideal conditions) while suspension was through an improved Christie arrangement. Twelve smoke grenade dischargers (two banks of six, one to either turret side) were featured for self-screening measures.

The Charioteer was fielded with the Territorial Army Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps of the British Army but only relatively briefly - indeed the service life of the vehicle spanned from 1951 to 1958 before being given up for good. Some examples were sold off to interested buyers in Austria, Finland, Jordan and Lebanon and these saw use well into the 1970s before being officially removed from their respective services. Some saw combat service in the 1978 South Lebanon War (March 1978) and the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).

A handful of examples remain as museum showpieces including a well-preserved specimen (in Jordanian colors) at Bovington Tank Museum, UK.


Service Year

United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom


Robinson and Kershaw Ltd - UK
National flag of Austria National flag of Finland National flag of Jordan National flag of Lebanon National flag of the United Kingdom Austria; Finland; Jordan; Lebanon; Palestine; United Kingdom
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Anti-Tank / Anti-Armor
Base model or variant can be used to track, engage, and defeat armored enemy elements at range.
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.

28.9 ft
8.8 m
10.2 ft
3.1 m
8.5 ft
2.6 m
63,841 lb
28,958 kg
31.9 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base FV4101 Charioteer production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Meteor 12-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 600 horsepower.
32.3 mph
(52.0 kph)
149.1 mi
(240.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base FV4101 Charioteer production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 83.4mm Royal Ordnance QF 20-pounder main gun
1 x 0.30 caliber coaxial machine gun
12 x Smoke Grenade Dischargers

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank cannon armament
Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of tank /armored vehicle smoke grenade dischargers

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
32 x 84mm projectiles (estimated)
2,500 x 0.30 cal ammunition (estimated)
12 x Smoke Grenades

FV4101 Charioteer - Base Series Designation

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