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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War II > Armor in World War II

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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #76  
Old 09 Jul 17, 05:57
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
One irony is that in the post-war period, the British faced the same dilemma as the Germans had during WW2 - how to deal with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks. In consequence, the British did what the Germans had done - concentrate on armour and firepower at the expense of reliability and durability.

The result was the Chieftain, which was at least as unreliable as the Panther, and possibly even more so.
Having worked with REME when the Chieftain was the British MBT I can say that the real problem was how difficult even minor maintenance was. Many small jobs still required taking the engine out, something that the Chieftain was not designed to make easy or quick. The result even in peacetime was a backlog of tanks at the forward workshops (heaven knows what a war situation would have brought). It wasn't that the tank was more prone to break down that was the problem it was that when it did it took excessive time and effort to fix it. As a result the BAOR's actual OOB was much weaker than the theoretical one on paper as far too many tanks were queued up waiting to be fixed. One of the systems I was reviewing contained the returns from the forward workshops. It was a problem of poor maintainability rather than poor reliability.
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  #77  
Old 09 Jul 17, 06:11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
One irony is that in the post-war period, the British faced the same dilemma as the Germans had during WW2 - how to deal with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks. In consequence, the British did what the Germans had done - concentrate on armour and firepower at the expense of reliability and durability.

The result was the Chieftain, which was at least as unreliable as the Panther, and possibly even more so.
Do you mean the Conqueror rather than the Chieftain? The Chieftains failing was its L60 engine, nothing else afaik?
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  #78  
Old 09 Jul 17, 06:18
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Do you mean the Conqueror rather than the Chieftain? The Chieftains failing was its L60 engine, nothing else afaik?
No I think he means the Chieftain - see my earlier post.
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  #79  
Old 09 Jul 17, 08:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Having worked with REME when the Chieftain was the British MBT I can say that the real problem was how difficult even minor maintenance was. Many small jobs still required taking the engine out, something that the Chieftain was not designed to make easy or quick. The result even in peacetime was a backlog of tanks at the forward workshops (heaven knows what a war situation would have brought). It wasn't that the tank was more prone to break down that was the problem it was that when it did it took excessive time and effort to fix it. As a result the BAOR's actual OOB was much weaker than the theoretical one on paper as far too many tanks were queued up waiting to be fixed. One of the systems I was reviewing contained the returns from the forward workshops. It was a problem of poor maintainability rather than poor reliability.
During the war, tanks like the Cromwell and Comet had to pass a 3000 mile acceptance trial prior to entering service. These trials measured defects as "major" (requiring 3+ hours to repair) or minor (-3 hours to repair). Too many major defects (generally around 10), and the tank failed.

I don't know what the acceptance procedure was by the time of the Chieftain, but it almost certainly wouldn't have passed the acceptance trials that existed in WW2, as poor maintainability would have increased the number of major defects.
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  #80  
Old 09 Jul 17, 11:46
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
During the war, tanks like the Cromwell and Comet had to pass a 3000 mile acceptance trial prior to entering service. These trials measured defects as "major" (requiring 3+ hours to repair) or minor (-3 hours to repair). Too many major defects (generally around 10), and the tank failed.

I don't know what the acceptance procedure was by the time of the Chieftain, but it almost certainly wouldn't have passed the acceptance trials that existed in WW2, as poor maintainability would have increased the number of major defects.
No poor maintainabiliyy in this case meant that a minor fault took as long to fix as a major one when you had to take the engine out to get access to it.
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  #81  
Old 09 Jul 17, 12:25
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Ease of maintenance may not have been high, but the Chieftain was actually mechanically unreliable, at least until the late 1970s. It wasn't until December 1978 that a 4,000-mile engine life was achieved.

Rob Griffin:
Quote:
Meanwhile field exercises carried on, but they were still plagued by problems with the L60; in fact the situation became so bad in the early seventies that all Chieftains were grounded...Later on the MoD laid the blame on the drivers, accusing them of poor maintenance; but this was no more than an easy way out for the government, and to save face, and quite rightly they were to be proved wrong.

Following on from this episode, in 1978 a sub-committee of the House of Commons technical committee made a report that praised the range-finding and gun on Chieftain as first class, but confessed to being greatly dismayed that such a potent system should be continually let down by the engine. Following this report a programme code-named Sundance was drawn up to rectify the major problems, namely the failure of cylinder liners, gear casing and fan pulley casing. To a great extent this programme did sort out most of the problems and a few more besides, and produced a fairly reliable engine; as mentioned elsewhere, the author had one of the first 13A packs fitted, and it ran with no leaks or problems for two years.

It is interesting to observe that at the time Leyland, who manufactured the L60, brought out a sales brochure advertising the Sundance pack as a 'new engine', and extolling its virtues to the extent of stating that 'its use in Chieftain MBT has proved it ot be the most reliable MBT powerplant currently in service.'
Simon Dunstan:
Quote:
The next major variant, the Chieftain Mark 3, first rolled off the production line at ROF Leeds on 16 September 1969. It featured an improved life L60 Mark 5A engine of 650bhp and many other enhancements. Even so, the Chieftain remained underpowered for a tank now weighing 53 tons and even more worryingly the L60 engine was increasingly plagued with problems of reliability. It was apparent that attempts to increase the engine output had resulted in reduced reliability. Furthermore, whenever one problem was solved, another component within the power train began to suffer repeated breakages. There were four main aspects of engine failure: cracking of the cylinder liners; failure of the cylinder lip seals; piston fire ring breakages; and cracking of the rear gear cases.
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  #82  
Old 09 Jul 17, 12:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Ease of maintenance may not have been high, but the Chieftain was actually mechanically unreliable, at least until the late 1970s. It wasn't until December 1978 that a 4,000-mile engine life was achieved.
:
Most of the problems were minor faults which in most tanks could be fixed in the field often by the crew but with the Chieftain required recovery and a trip to the workshops
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  #83  
Old 09 Jul 17, 13:25
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No poor maintainabiliyy in this case meant that a minor fault took as long to fix as a major one when you had to take the engine out to get access to it.
The WW2 FVPE definition of a major fault was precisely that it took three hours or over to fix, regardless of its nature. If it took three hours to replace a single screw, it was a major fault. Hence the emphasis would have been to improve access.
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  #84  
Old 09 Jul 17, 15:48
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No I think he means the Chieftain - see my earlier post.
I actually started my military training at Catterick Garrison, where the RAC was based. They practised on Chieftains and later Challenger 1's. By the early 80's any defects were certainly ironed out, except the engine. This needed to be heated slowly to maintain reliability, but otherwise the tank was reliable in everyones opinions at that time. The best course of action would have been to keep the engine continually running iirc, but this was not always the most practical solution.

OTOH, the Conqueror had Panther like reliability.
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