Challenger 1 - TankCraft series number 21

Challenger 1 - TankCraft series number 21

ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
Rob Griffin joined the British Army in 1967 as a Junior Leader and served for many years as a crewman in Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards. He saw service in BAOR, BATUS, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, the UK and Bosnia. A recognised expert on post-war British Armour, he has written a number of books and articles on the tanks of the Cold War period, including FV-214 Conqueror, Chieftain, Challenger 1 and the FV 432 Armoured Personnel Carrier and it's variants.

During the last two decades of the twentieth century, the Challenger 1 main battle tank played a central role in Britain's armoured forces, achieving remarkable success in combat by destroying over 300 Iraqi Tanks in the first Gulf War. This success reinforced the trust the crews had in their tanks despite an embarrassing showing in the Canadian Army Trophy where Challenger 1 came last against it's NATO rivals! Re-modification and retraining commenced to turn this embarrassment into arguably the best tank in the world.

With it's advanced Chobham armour and revolutionary hydrodynamic suspension it was one of the most sophisticated and effective armoured vehicles of the time and, in a modified form, it is still used in service with the Jordanian Army as the All-Hussein. It is also a popular subject with military Modeller's, mainly due to the plethora of available models in various scales, with plenty of available after-sales parts. This is also why this book will be an invaluable aide to them.

Archive photos and extensively research coloured profile drawings show the Tank through it's operational life. A large part of the book showcases the available models, complemented by an outstanding gallery of excellently built models by award-winning artists. The book examines the technical details and in-service modifications, both during production and in the field, and provides all the modeller needs to present an accurate representation of the real thing.

The book follows the standard format of all Tank Craft books, being paperback, 64 pages and divided into useful sections. Following a longer than normal introduction, the book moves on to the Challenger 1 in detail. Griffin shows a superb insight into this tank with his own knowledge and some brilliant photographs. Moving on, the next subject covered is the Main Battle Tank variants and then the Specialist variants. Eight pages of full-coloured prints of the Tank in it's working dress show that after 20 books, the picture quality is still superb.

Pages 25 - 40 are the Model Showcase with the usual excellent models from some of the best modellers in the world. The photos are stunning and incorporate build details as well as showcasing the completed model. Modelling Products lasts almost as many pages, unsurprising really considering the wealth of products available. More on the Specialist vehicles such as Challenger Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle (CRARRV) and the Challenger Training Tank (CTT).

The final section details the Tank in Service and in Action. Unfortunately the whole sorry story of the failure at CAT 87 (Canadian Army Trophy) is told here, warts and all. Considering how bad the press notices were, it is surprising that the Tank went to Gulf War 1. Tank Crew morale was at it lowest, but once on station, the crews got themselves together and turned a dud into a star!

Excellently written from a man who has been there and done it! Rob Griffin pulls no punches and tells it how it was. For regiments to turn things around shows that in the right scenario, Challenger 1 could be a world beater. Let's face it, Tanks aren't built for competitions, they're designed to win wars!

This book will definitely appeal to the modeller and contains some excellent references to the Tank. I did find some of the photo captions seemed a little childish and there was no real indication of engine size or internal dimensions. It might have helped to show a few pictures with crew in situ showing lack of room.
For that reason, I will give it 3 out of 5


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