Categories
Cold War British Prototypes Prototypes

Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR) SPG

United Kingdom (1972)
Self-propelled Gun – 1 Prototype built

The Chieftain CTR ‘Jagdchieftain’

This prototype British Cold War self-propelled gun has received the popular nickname of the ‘Jagdchieftain’ because of its similarity to the WW2 German Jagdpanther anti-tank self-propelled gun (SPG). Its correct designation is the Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR). This is the name given to the vehicle by William Suttie in his book ‘Tank Factory.’ The Tank Museum, Bovington call it the ‘Concept Test Rig.’
It was a 1972 joint project between UK and the Bundeswehr (West German Army). In Germany, tank designers had been experimenting with the Panzer VT1-1 and VT1-2 Leopard 2 chassis SPG armed with twin 120 mm cannons. The Casement Test Rig (CTR) had a semi-fixed single gun. The gun was set in a casement hull superstructure on a Chieftain tank chassis. A lot of aluminum was used in an effort to reduce weight.
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
This prototype test vehicle is often called the Jagdchieftain but its correct name is the Concept Test Rig (CTR) – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
In the early 1970s, NATO believed that to deal with an overwhelming force of Soviet armor the Allies would fall back while inflicting as many casualties as possible until more troops and tanks could be shipped into Europe from America and Britain. The designers wanted to create an anti-tank SPG that had a low profile, a powerful gun and that could travel just as easily in reverse as forward. It was to be the ideal ambush weapon that could wait for the enemy to appear in a concealed location then open fire inflicting as much damage as it could before quickly reversing out of danger to its next preplanned ambush location. For survival, the front armor would be thick and sloped.
This was not the first time a British casemated self-propelled gun had been proposed. There were the class 40, 50, 60 tanks as well as rival Vickers A,B,C,D designs and the Alvis external concept. None progressed further than wooden mockups.

The Engine

Underneath the superstructure is basically a conventional Chieftain chassis, In order to conform with British and German requirements it could be fitted with the British Leyland L60 engine or the Leopard tank ten cylinder MTU multi-fuel power pack preferred by the Federal German Army of that time. The chassis was slightly widened to accommodate the MTU power pack.
The exhaust system was slightly different to that on the operational Chieftain tank in that it had a raised box on top of the chassis
The exhaust system was slightly different to that on the operational Chieftain tank in that it had a raised box on top of the chassis. The rear stowage boxes are missing – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011

The Armor

The front sloped glacis plate was to be heavily armored against all current and future anti-tank (AT) weapons in the 1980-90s. Had the ‘Jagdchieftain SPG’ entered production, it seems probable that the new Chobham armor would have been applied. This was not fitted to the prototype but was simulated by the addition of 5 tons of lead plate covered in sheet metal.
The prototype’s superstructure was fabricated from aluminum in order to try and keep the weight down but even so, the Mechanised Vehicle Experimental Establishment (MVEE) estimated the final weight would be 55 tons. The term ‘Chobham armor’ has become the common generic term for composite armor developed in the 1960’s at the British tank research center on Chobham Common, Surrey, England.
Front view of the Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR) SPG
Front view of the Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR) SPG’s sloped front armour plate prior to the gun being fitted
The Casement Test Rig SPG was based on the Chieftain tank FV4211 nicknamed the “Aluminium Chieftain”. After the project was canceled, the CTR was kept in storage to monitor the hull welds to gain information on deterioration of the aluminum armor.

The Gun and Crew

The main armament was intended to be the British 120 mm L11 rifled gun, although for trial purposes only a dummy tube was installed. Unlike the Swedish S-Tank, which had a fixed gun, the British CRT self-propelled gun concept allowed the gun to elevate from −10 to +20° and traverse +/− 2°, allowing fine tracking without moving the hull.
The crew of three comprised a commander and two driver/gunners. One of the drivers and the commander were able to drive the vehicle forward from their positions, while the second driver/gunner had a rear vision block to allow him to drive it backwards, so they could reverse away from the enemy after ambush without showing their rear. This enabled the vehicle to use the ‘Shoot and Scoot’ tactic.
Development of the Casement Test Rig SPG was inspired by Swedish S-tank that had the same driving configuration. Two of these Swedish vehicles had been tested at Bovington in 1968. During the development of the CRT a further ten S-Tanks were borrowed for a more intense assessment during a military Exercise called ‘Dawdle’ in Germany.

Trials

The Concept Test Rig was assembled by the Fighting Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (FVRDE) at Chertsey but trials at Woolwich confirmed what had been seen in Germany on Exercise Dawdle: accurate gun laying was inferior to a turret in terms of speed of engaging targets and that it could not fire accurately on the move. The project was dropped and the vehicle was eventually sent to the Tank Museum at Bovington in 1990.
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
Chobham armor was not fitted to the prototype, but it was simulated by the addition of 5 tons of lead plate covered in sheet aluminium alloy – Photo – Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011

FV217 Conqueror self-propelled gun proposal

This design did not get past the wooden model stage. A prototype was not built mainly for the same reasons the Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR) SPG project was dropped. Some call it the JagdConqueror because of its resemblance to the German WW2 Jagdpanther but that was never its official name. It was called the Conqueror Casement Test Rig (CTR) Self-propelled gun (SPG). It was to be fitted with a 120 mm gun.
It seems a strange thing to do as the Conqueror tank was already armed with a 120 mm gun but this vehicle would have been simpler and cheaper to build (a factor that would appeal to politicians). It would also have had a lower profile and thus have been harder to target. It would have been an ambush weapon that would sit in wait for advancing Soviet tanks and fire at them from cover, when they came within range of its gun. It would not have been as adaptable as the tank version.
FV217 Conqueror self-propelled gun

CTR Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 24’6″ (without gun) x 11’5″ x 9’5″
7.51 (without gun) x 3.5 x 2.89 m
Total weight, battle ready 55 tons (11000 Ibs)
Crew Commander and two drivers who also serviced the gun.
Propulsion British Leyland diesel L60, 695 bhp or
Leopard tank ten cylinder MTU multi-fuel power pack
Speed 48/30 km/h road/cross-country (29.82 mph/18.64 mph)
Range/consumption 500 km (310.68 miles)
Proposed Production Armament British 120 mm L11 rifled gun
Proposed Production Armor Chobham Armor
Total production 1 prototype

Sources

Ed Francis – The FV3805 Restoration Project
Chieftain by Rob Griffin
Colin Rosenwould
Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset, England
Steve Osfield
Tank Factory, William Suttie, 2015

Gallery


Illustration of the Chieftain test rig by David Bocquelet
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
Side skirts were used to protect the side of the vehicle. If it had entered production, Chobham Armour panels would have been attached on top of the skirt panels – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
The gun and gun mantlet on the Concept Test Rig SPG were not real units – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
The front stowage unit behind the head light on top of the track guard is missing on the CTR prototype – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
The top mesh exhaust box was not used on the production models of the Chieftain tank – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
The downward pointing exhaust pipe and rear stowage box are missing – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Jagdchieftain Concept Test Rig SPG prototype
The rear skirt panel has been removed. You can see the support bracket – Photo: Colin Rosenwould Tankfest 2011
Handlebar steering system
The handlebar steering concept was used on the CTR. It was also tested on the FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier (FV432 APC) – Photo: Ed Francis
Chieftain Casement Test Rig prototype without the gun fitted
Chieftain Casement Test Rig prototype without the gun fitted
Top view of the crew hatches and engine covers on the Chieftain CTR
Top view of the crew hatches and engine covers on the Chieftain CTR self-propelled gun

Categories
Cold War British Prototypes

FV215 Heavy Gun Tank

United Kingdom (1950)
Self Propelled Anti-Tank Prototype

The IS Killer That Never Was

After witnessing the debut of the Soviet IS-3 heavy tank at the end of WWII, the western armies were, safe to say, a little bit worried. As such the British immediately began work on new vehicles that could combat this new threat. In 1950, work began on the FV215. This was a little known British Heavy Gun Tank project that never left the conceptual phase. It was set to be an IS killer, and would no doubt have sent a very cold shiver down the spine of Soviet tank crews.
This vehicle is known by many names, FV215 Heavy Anti-Tank SP No.2, Gun Tank No.2, or simply FV215. The design phase began November 1950 after a meeting was held by the War Office to determine just what vehicle would be suitable to carry the new QF 183 mm (7.2 in) L4 cannon. Morris were first to be given charge over development, but this was later handed over to Vickers-Armstrong.

Design

The design team chose to base the vehicle on the chassis of the FV200. The chassis underwent minimal modifications, the largest change being the repositioning of the turret to the rear of the vehicle. This was to avoid the extremely large main armament hanging over the bow too far. The driver also remained at the front right of the tank.

A small scale mock-up of the vehicle. Photo: – Courtesy of Ed Francis

This image displays the Commanders position inside the mock-up turret. Photo: – Courtesy of Ed Francis
The large box-like turret mounting the 183 mm (7.2 in) main armament, in theory, had a full 360 Degrees of traverse, but this was not recommended on sloping services. It could only fire through a 45 degree arc left and right. Despite its large size, there was still not enough room inside the turret for a working loading mechanism. As such, the predicted 6 rounds per minute would have been a hopeless fantasy. It is expected that this vehicle would need 2 loaders to service the weapon, but even so, the desired loading time would likely have gone un-reached. The vehicle had a limited ammunition load out, also likely due to space constraints, carrying only 20 separately loading rounds in total, 12 of which were “ready rounds”. The combined weight of charge and projectile was 104.8 kg. Not an easy task for the two loaders.
Defensive armament consisted of a Browning .30 Cal. (7.6 . 2mm) machine gun, supplied by 4000 rounds. It was mounted in a small structure on the forward right of the turret roof. It was able to aim up and down a few degrees. There was also one .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2HB on an AA mounting above the Loader’s hatch, on the right rear of the turret.

A Rare photo of the forward deck of the FV215. Photo: – Courtesy of Ed Francis
The armor thicknesses of the vehicle changed throughout its development. As it was intended as a relatively long range vehicle, its reliance on armor would have been minimal. None the less, it was given similar armor properties to the Conqueror. The upper plate varied from 125 to 152 mm (4.92 – 6 in) thick. The sides plates were 50 mm (1.97 in) thick, with spaced armor in front. The turret had the thickest armor on its front. It was 254 mm (10 inches) thick.
The vehicle was designed to be powered by an 810 hp Meteor Mk.12 engine, with a power-to-weight ratio of 12.3 Hp/t. This would’ve propelled the 65-ton vehicle to 32 km/h (19.8 mph).

FV215 Heavy Gun Tank

Dimensions
Total weight 65 tons
Crew 5 (driver, gunner, commander, x2 loaders)
Propulsion 810 hp Meteor Mk.12
Speed (road) 31.7 Kph ( mph)
Armament QF 183mm L4 Tank Gun
.30 Cal. machine gun.
.50 M2HB Machine gun.
Armor 125 to 152 mm (0.79-3.07 in) hull front, 50mm (1.9 in) sides, 254 mm (10 inches) thick on the turret face.

The mockup of the FV215, showing the monstrous cannon. This stage is as far as the FV215 project got. Source: warspot.ru
The mockup of the FV215, showing the monstrous cannon. This stage is as far as the FV215 project got. Source: warspot.ru

The QF 183mm L4

In 1950 work started on the QF 183 mm (7.2 in) L4 gun. At the time it was the largest and most powerful tank gun in the world. The cannon was based on the 183 mm BL 7.2 inch howitzer, a WWI era weapon. The gun itself weighed a mighty 4 tons, and when fired produced 87 tons worth of recoil force. A shell of this size would understandably produce a substantial amount of fumes and smoke inside of the fighting compartment. As such, a large fume extractor was added to the barrel, a relatively new feature at the time.

One of the Ammunition stowage areas inside the mock-up turret, the scale of the Shell can be appreciate from the size of the cut-out. Photo: – Courtesy of Ed Francis
The L4 was designed to be chambered for only one type of ammunition, HESH (High Explosive Squashed Head). One can only imagine the devastation an explosive shell of this size would cause to a hostile vehicle. Whether the shell penetrated or not, the concussive force of such and explosion on the crew inside would be deadly in its own right.
The 183mm was tested in live fire trials against a Centurion and a Conqueror. In 2 shots, the 183 blew the turret clean off the Centurion, and split the mantlet of the Conqueror in half.

Fate

Alas, the FV215 project never came to be. The Morris company was the first to be tasked with building a full-scale model, followed by two prototypes, one to test mobility, and for armor testing. In June 1954, Vickers-Armstrong became the owners of the contract and were given the same task.

A face on photograph of the smaller scale mock-up with gun elevated. Photo: – Courtesy of Ed Francis
January 1957 marked the end of the road for the SPG, even though the requested scale model was finished, and 80% of the blueprints were ready and waiting for further development. The intended role of the vehicle had been over taken by increasing development of ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles). These granted the same, if not better, anti-armor capabilities, with the experiments ultimately culminating in the Malkara and Orange William missile systems.
The only 183mm armed vehicles to reach prototype phase were the FV4005 Stage I and Stage II. Both vehicles were based on the Centurion MBT. The Stage I featured an exposed gun with an automatic loading system, on a limited traverse ring. The Stage II featured a fully enclosed turret, with a full 360-degree traverse. As the loading system wouldn’t fit in the turret, it was removed.
Just one vehicle was used for both prototypes. The Stage II now sits outside the Tank Museum in Bovington.

Busting a Myth, The FV215b

This vehicle has showcased in Wargamming’s “World of Tanks” for quite some time now, but it is almost certainly a fake vehicle. It is a FV215 with a rear mounted Conqueror turret and the 120 mm L1A1 gun.
The vehicle was thought to have come into existence because of a confusion with the designation FV215 heavy gun tank. It was interpreted as a second separate project but was, in fact, one and the same. Even the designation of FV215b is somewhat of a misnomer.
A blueprint of the FV215 from the 1950s. Source: Ed Francis
An original schematic of the FV215 from the 1950s. Source: The Tank Museum

An article by Mark Nash
Originally published on 6 November 2016

Links & Resources

The Tank Museum, Bovington, England
Mr. Ed. Francis
The Heavy Gun Tank on warspot.ru (Russian).
English translation of the above.


Tanks Encyclopedia’s own rendition of the FV215 by David Bocquelet

Categories
Cold War British Prototypes

FV3805 Centurion SPG

United Kingdom (1956)
Self-propelled Gun – 2 Prototypes built

The Design

The vehicle itself started back in the late 1950’s based upon the idea of using the hull of a Centurion tank and fitted with a BL 5.5 inch QF field gun (140mm howitzer) in a built up casemate on the hull. The idea was a good one offering commonality of automotive parts with the Centurion tank which was the main tank in service with the British Army at the time. A wooden mock-up of the vehicle had met with approval and two prototypes P1 and P2 were manufactured and underwent testing.
FV3805 Wooden mock up
This is the wooden mock-up of the Centurion FV3805 Artillery SPG prototype
The project eventually lost out by the early 1960’s to the FV433 self-propelled gun known commonly as the ‘Abbot’ and both prototype Centurion FV3805 SPG P1 and P2 were thought to have been sold for scrap. The Abbot was chosen because the FV3805 SPG was not air-portable and with NATO standardization of 105mm and 155mm guns the British 5.5 inch gun (140mm) was being made obsolete. With a limited traverse of the gun it was an inferior design to the smaller, lighter and more capable Abbot anyway.
The vehicle is built ‘backwards’ very similar to the WW2 Archer 17pdr SPG. The engine and gearbox are at the front and the superstructure built over the front of the machine but facing over the engine deck so would have been driven with the gun facing backward. The driver position was moved to the center of the vehicle on the left side.
wooden mock-up of the Centurion FV3805 Artillery SPG prototype in firing position
Wooden mock-up of the Centurion FV3805 Artillery SPG prototype in firing position
Following the unsuccessful trials P2 had its 5.5 inch gun and mounting removed and a steel plate with vision port welded over the hole in the front of the superstructure. Centurion FV3805 SPG P2 lived on in service as an Artillery Range Observation vehicle sporting the name ‘Major Picton’s Palace’ until sometime in the 1970’s when again it has vanished from military records. Research is still trying to locate the fate of P1 which is still lost. (Information – Andrew Hills)
Centurion FV3805 artillery self-propelled gun prototype
Centurion FV3805 artillery self-propelled gun prototype

The British BL 5.5 inch Artillery Gun

This artillery field gun was produced between 1941 to 1945. It weighed 13,647 lbs (6,190kg) and had a barrel length of 13ft 9in (4.19m). Its caliber was 5.5 inch (140mm). It fired a high explosive HE shell that weighed 100 lbs (45.5kg) and a smaller one that weighed 82 lbs (37kg). The 100 lbs shell could be fired at a maximum range of 9.2 miles (14.81 km). The lighter 82 lbs shell could be fired at a maximum range of 10.28 miles (16.55 km). The letters BL stand for ‘breach loading’.
FV3805 Centurion Artillery SPG gun crew
FV3805 Centurion Artillery SPG gun crew
It was fitted with a Welin breech and Ashbury mechanism with a hydro-pneumatic recoil system. It had a rate of fire of two rounds per minute. The 100 lb shell was fired at a muzzle velocity of 1,675 feet per second (511 m/s) and the 82 lb shell was fired at 1,950 feet per second (590 m/s).
It fired two part ammunition. The high explosive HE shell was loaded first followed by the propellant charge canister that would have the correct amount of powder bags in it for the range of the target. It could also fire 100 lb smoke or colored flare marker shells. The normal HE fuze was No 117. In late 1944 a VT fuze T100 became available.
This gun was first used in the deserts of North Africa in 1941. Most British, Polish and Commonwealth forces were equipped with this gun. The normal organization was an artillery regiment of 16 guns organized into two batteries. It continued to be used during the cold war in conflicts like Korea. It was purchased by many different nations. Both Pakistan and India used this gun in their border wars. In the British Army it was replaced by the L121 FH-70 155mm towed Howitzer. It remained in UK service with Territorial Army regiments until 1980.
The 5.5 inch QF gun fitted inside
The 5.5 inch QF gun fitted inside the enclosed casement on the top of the Centurion tank chassis

Ammunition

The following information was found in an original document covering the ammunition stowage on the FV3805 SPG.
(a) At least 25 HE rounds (fused) and 5 HESH (fuzed) are to be carried in the SP. It is desired to carry 35 HE and 5 HESH.
(b) Provision shall be made fro the stowage of:-
12 Bulk packed VT Fuzes
5 Cartridges charge 2 (7 if 35 rounds HE are stowed)
12 Cartridges charge 4 (17 if 35 rounds HE are stowed)
18 Cartridges charge super (27 if 35 rounds HE are stowed)
40 Tubes P.S.A
768 rounds .303 ball SAA
288 rounds .303 tracer

The 105mm gun

At one point in 1964, the Centurion FV3805 SPG was tested with a 105mm gun. The following reference was found on official records “16.2.64. Abbot mounting fitted to 5.5in SP (P2). Proofed at K Battery at 7½°. Recoil at 14 in – steady’”

MOD Shoeburyness

The following account is from Roger Walton who actually drove the Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG prototype whilst he was in the British Army: – In 1977 whilst serving in Northern Ireland I noticed a posting requiring a driver of tracked vehicles. I loved driving so I put my name down. In February 1978 I arrived at the Army MOD Shoeburyness and Foulness Defence Evaluation and Research Agency [DERA]* weapons testing complex, near Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
It was not a glamorous posting. I was in a team of 3 drivers, a Lancer from the 16/5th, one from 3rd Royal Tank Regiment RTR and myself being Queens Own Hussars, plus REME and 120 gunners.
It was my first time in a weapons proofing establishment and I was expecting to see loads of Chieftain tanks. My first Monday at the tank workshops I was horrified to learn that they only had one Chieftain, a rare mark one which was being used to calculate various things which the civilian boffins thought we didn’t need to know.
FV3805 being driven at the MOD Shoeburyness
The FV3805 being driven at the MOD Shoeburyness and Foulness Defence Evaluation and Research Agency weapons testing complex, near Southend-on-Sea in Essex
Back at the workshops, I was introduced to a number of AFV ‘funnies’ used for towing, recovery and as gun platforms. The Centurion FV3805 SPG was sat in yard. Never having seen this vehicle before I was keen to find out more so I asked after the beast.
It was explained that it was a prototype and had been intended for the artillery. At this time it was a none runner fitted with a 105mm gun from an Abbot Artillery SPG.
It was soon sanctioned by the powers that be to get it running so it could be used as an ammunition carrier whilst out on the sands firing range.
It did not take long to get her back in a running condition. I soon learned the quirkiness of this vehicle. The engine and gearbox were what I normally found in an old Centurion tank, except the drive was all reversed.
The gun was on a fixed/limited traverse facing over the engine decks. The driver sat to the left of the gun. The drivers control sticks, gear stick had all been shortened.
It didn’t drive any differently to a normal Centurion tank, but I do remember having a limited view to the front. I was totally blind due to the gun being on my right. You could see bugger all to the right. Also due to the higher than normal driving position obstacles had to be carefully negotiated. As a driver you had a small hatch which you had to be careful using due to the height from the ground.
The only obstacle on the base at this time was the sea wall. As you crested this we had to turn right to go onto the beach drive 100 yards or so to get onto the ramp onto the sands.
It was being used to carry and store ammunition for other vehicles being tested at the base. I remember one time it being used to take ammunition onto the beach to supply an American M110 that was being put through tests. After delivering the ammo the FV3805 withdrew back down the beach during the live firing of range safety rules.
*DERA is now known as QinetiQ (pronounced kinetic)

Artillery Observation Vehicle

At some point, the 5.5 inch gun was removed from the prototype FV3805 and the vehicle was converted into an artillery observation vehicle to be used on the firing ranges. The holes left by the removal of the gun were blanked off with armor plate and an observation glass panel was added instead. It was painted light blue instead of the traditional British Army olive green so it was noticeable on the firing range. It was eventually transported to Duxford when it was no longer needed where it stood out in the rain, sun and snow for a number of years.
FV3805 Centurion Artillery observation vehicle
The FV3805 Centurion (on the right) was painted light blue and used as an artillery observation vehicle after the 5.5 inch gun was removed. On the left is the FV207 Conqueror SPG prototype fitted with a 4.5 inch naval gun. Other guns were tried. The protective armoured casement has not been constructed yet.(MOD Shoeburyness beach firing range 5th June 1984.)

The Centurion FV3805 SPG P2 restoration project.

FV3805 P2 reappeared on the Isle of Wight, in Southern England at the Military Museum. Here she has sat outside in the salty air rusting away quietly and becoming rather sorry looking until 2015.
Phase 1 of the restoration; moving the vehicle under cover to dry out has been completed. The next steps will be to organize the stripping of the paint and components from the tank for restoration.
Phase 2 is getting the vehicle running. The biggest hurdle being the Rolls-Royce Meteor MkIVB engine which on inspection appears to be completely seized and likely is unrepairable. The gearbox is intact but needs an overhaul. The wheels and tracks are all complete.
Phase 3 is fitting the gun. The gun itself is problematic. There is a lack of 5.5 inch guns for sale at the moment.
The focus at the moment is on restoration of the running components so she can be shown to the public. The FV3805 Restoration Project is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FV3805
(Information – Andrew Hills)
FV3805 awaiting restoration
FV3805 awaiting restoration on the Isle of Wight, England (Photos: The Mighty Jingles)

Ammunition stowage

At least 25 high explosive HE rounds (fused) and 5 HESH (fuzed) rounds are to be carried in the self-propelled gun. It is desired to carry 35 HE and 5 HESE.
Provision shall be made for the stowage of:-
12 Bulk packed VT fuzes
5 Cartridges charge 2 (7 if 35 rounds are stowed)
12 Cartridges charge 4 (17 if 35 rounds HE are stowed)
18 Cartridges charge super (27 if 35 rounds HE are stowed
40 Tubes P.S.A.
768 rounds .303 ball SAA
288 rounds .303 tracer.

Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 7.82 m without gun x 3.39 m x 3 m
(25ft 7in x 11ft 1in x 9ft 9in)
Total weight, battle ready 50 tons
Crew 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader).
Propulsion Rolls-Royce Meteor; 5-speed Merrit-Brown Z51R Mk. F gearbox 650 hp (480 kW), later BL 60, 695 bhp
Speed 48/30 km/h road/cross-country (29.82/18.64 mph)
Range/consumption 190 km (118 mi)
Armament British BL 5.5 inch Artillery Gun
Gun depression 3 degrees
Gun elevation 70 degrees
Gun traverse 30 degrees left and right from centre line
Rate of fire 3 rpm for 10min or 1 rpm for 3 hours.
Armor 35mm-195mm (17mm-58mm on cab)
Ammunition used 100 lb HE shell, 82 lb HE shell, 100 lb Smoke shell, 100 lb coloured flare shell.
Ammunition Stowage 76 shells and 96 charges
Total production 2 prototypes

Sources

Ed Francis – The FV3805 Restoration Project
The Wight Conflict and Remembrance Museum
The National Archives, Kew Memorandum TR 4/57, TR 1/58 Effect of 5.5 inch gun-muzzle blast on FV 3805
The Centurion and variants on Wikipedia
BL 5.5 inch Medium Gin on Wikipedia

Gallery

Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG
Wooden mock-up of the Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG. Notice the drivers escape hatch and vision slit to the left side of the 5.5 inch gun.
Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG prototype
Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG prototype with limited travers ‘turret’ built inside a fully covered casement.
Centurion FV3805 SPG with the 5.5 inch gun at full elevation.
Centurion FV3805 SPG with the 5.5 inch gun at full elevation.
Centurion FV3805 SPG ammo storage racks on the right side of the vehicle
Centurion FV3805 SPG ammo storage racks on the right side of the vehicle.
Centurion FV3805 SPG ammo storage racks on the right side of the vehicle
Centurion FV3805 SPG ammo storage racks behind the drivers position
Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG in firing position
Centurion FV3805 artillery SPG in firing position at MOD Shoeburyness.
The only photo of the Centurion FV3802 SPG to show the top/rear hatch intact and open
A photo of the Centurion FV3805 SPG showing the top/rear hatch intact and open.
Another photo of the FV 3805 rear hatch
Another photo of the FV 3805 rear hatch – Credits: Ed Francis

Artillery observation vehicle

Artillery observation vehicle centurion FV3805
Artillery observation vehicle centurion FV3805 with the 5.5 inch gun removed. An observation window was inserted into armour plate to fil0e the gap left by the gun’s removal

Restoration project

This photo confirms that the last remaining FV3805 Centurion PG was the P2 prototype
This photo confirms that the last remaining FV3805 Centurion PG was the P2 prototype. It is not known what happened to the P1. P2 was nicknamed ‘Major Picton’s Palace’. For many years Major Ian Picton was in charge of ‘A’ Section Trials and normally involved with Sands Shoots at MOD Shoeburyness. It was warm inside and was a good place to lurk on a rainy day.
This photograph was taken of the Centurion FV3805 SPG at IWM Duxford before it was moved to the Isle of Wight
This photograph was taken of the Centurion FV3805 SPG at IWM Duxford before it was moved to the Isle of Wight. (Photo – Ossie)
Centurion FV3805 rear hatch
Because the Centurion FV3805 rear hatch is so large it is hoped that when the vehicle is restored to a running condition it will be the first AFV that can offer ‘tank rides’ to veterans and members of the public in wheelchairs.
The Centurion FV3805 SPG was originally painted British Army Green.
The Centurion FV3805 SPG was originally painted British Army Green.
Centurion FV3805 SPG P2 under restoration on the Isle of Wight.
Centurion FV3805 SPG P2 at The Wight Military and Heritage Museum 2015.

May 2019 Update

Tanks Encyclopedia writer Mark Nash visited the Wight Military and Heritage Museum in May 2019 to inspect the progress in the restoration of the Centurion FV3805 self-propelled gun P2. Unfortunatly there has not been any work undertaken on the vehicle for the past four years and, in the words of a staff member “has all but ground to a halt”. It is left out in the open without any covering and spider webs cover the hull. Its condition is deteriorating. This is very sad as it is the only surviving example of this vehicle. The owner has offered to sell it but the price he is asking is very expensive. (There is also an ownership dispute that has not yet been settled). The vehicle used to run but the engine has now seized due to water getting into the engine via the exhausts. Any useful engine parts have been cannibalised.

Looking in through the rear hatch, you can see the Drivers position in the front left corner of the superstructure. (Photograph: Mark Nash Photography)

This tattered piece of tarp weight down by a pallet and old tyre is the only protection the vehicle has from the elements. (Photograph: Mark Nash Photography)

A view of the cannibilised engine through the vehicle’s rear hatch. (Photograph: Mark Nash Photography)


Illustration of the FV3805 Centurion Self Propelled Gun (SPG) prototype by Jarosław Janas