UK and FRG cooperation (Not the MBT 80, Challenger etc)

uk 75

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I thought it might be helpful to tease out this aspect from the British centric discussion.

Originally the West Germans intended to replace their M48s with the MBT 70, a joint production
with the United States which ground to a halt because of complexity and high cost.

German sources on the development of the Leopard II usually concentrate on the evolution of that tank from MBT 70 via studies Eber and Keiler using Leopard technology. No mention is made of work with the British at any stage. However, it seems that the Germans and the UK tried to come up with a joint tank (later variants of which are covered in threads on MBT 80, Jagdchieftain and Leopard casemate).

Had MBT 70 not been a lemon and instead been like the Leopard II AV or M1 Abrams would the UK have continued to develop its own tank? How much overlap and exchange of ideas went on in the late 60s and early 70s?
 

JFC Fuller

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As a frame of reference, it ran from 1972 to 1976 and fills the void between FV4211 and MBT80. The emphasis seems to have been on turret-less tanks- at least up to 1974, I am still looking for information on this programme. There seems to have been considerable disagreement over who was going to build export tanks and considerable wrangling over the configuration, supposedly there were also arguments over weight (The Germans wanted sub 50 tons). Apparently work on the FMBT programme convinced Germany of the advantages of Chobham.


FV4211 was the UK developing its own tank, however it would probably have taken a different engine (and associated modifications) had it ever made it into production, the Leyland L60 was a joke and the establishment was pushing RR to develop new engines, a Wankel derivative to about 1974 (though work seems to have been all but stopped by 1972) and then the CV12 family. The CV8 came first and was a "private" venture whereas the CV12 was built in a government funded factory. CV12 was just a design in September 1974 but was running within about 18 months, a V12 was first proposed by the MVEE in 1968 and a V8 was planned for Chieftain prior to the multi-fuel decision.
 

uk 75

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Sealord

Many thanks for the info. There are various German language magazines on military affairs
and I may find something there.

UK 75
 

Grey Havoc

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Regarding the Rolls Royce Diesel Wankel Engine program:



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pDjwaqU0dU
 
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FMBT-"FRG Concept 2"

FMBT_FRG_2_1.PNG FMBT_FRG_2_2.PNG

Similar to MBT-70, but with the use of HEAT-Resistant "closely spaced" steel armor (with integral fuel tanks to achieve a quasi-NERA effect?) rather than the KE-optimized scheme of MBT-70. Also uses a 120 smoothbore rather than the gun-launcher.

Germans also explored an externally mounted gun design similar to UDES 19 for KPz 3/FMBT, but I don't have any good images of it right now.

Also attached is the comparison between the two concepts
 

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uk 75

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fascinating material which reveals how much was going on in those days.
Despite all the radical studies Leopard and Challenger remained the way ahead.
 

Grey Havoc

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Well, Challenger was more of an extremely ill-advised detour...
 

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Well, Challenger was more of an extremely ill-advised detour...
A necessary detour dictated by politics (overthrow of the Shah) and budgetary matters (no other tank as easily and as cheaply available). If the Shah had survived in Iran, Iran would have gotten the Shir Iran MBT. If the Shah had survived, treasury wouldn't have forced the Challenger on the Army... All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
 

Grey Havoc

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All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
Which they promptly then mostly squandered anyway by insisting on various idiotic design changes including deletions and/or sub-standard systems and components, the main gun & fire control system being just merely two of the most infamous examples. For instance, the barrels on the early Challengers were literally recycled worn out Chieftain ones! It was a miracle no one got killed because of that little 'cost efficiency'.

Even in the short term, the MBT-80 would have been still a far better investment.
 

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All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
Which they promptly then mostly squandered anyway by insisting on various idiotic design changes including deletions and/or sub-standard systems and components, the main gun & fire control system being just merely two of the most infamous examples. For instance, the barrels on the early Challengers were literally recycled worn out Chieftain ones! It was a miracle no one got killed because of that little 'cost efficiency'.

Even in the short term, the MBT-80 would have been still a far better investment.
Written with 100% foresight. The Challenger had the same gun as Chieftain. What was it meant to have? A German 120mm? No way, there were several thousand rounds of ammunition that were in stock and needed to be expended. Treasury was interested in value for money. Those barrels still had a life in them so they used them.
 

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I won't comment on the efficacy of Challenger but I find it impossible not to conclude that the entire FMBT exercise was a catastrophic waste of time and effort that resulted in a terrible outcome for both the UK AFV industry and the British Army. The combination of the aluminium chassis, Burlington armour, 110mm gun and CV12 engine (essentially the UK's MLC-60 Concept 1 submitted to the FMBT programme in 1972) should have produced a vehicle superior to Challenger but 6-8 years earlier (e.g. in the mid-late 1970s). None of those elements is outlandish, the gun had been built and tested, the engine under development (ultimately rolling off production lines for Iran in 1977), the aluminium chassis tested in FV4211 and Burlington available.

Instead, a good four years were squandered looking at various radical (to the point of obviously flawed at first sight in many cases) solutions only for the British to end up back where they started, looking at a national tank design using an aluminium chassis, a Rolls Royce CV series engine, Chobham armour and a British gun, in the form of MBT-80.

It would be interesting to know exactly where the decision to pursue FMBT collaboratively with the German's came from, or rather who made it. On the face of it, it seems like a very similar story to what happened to ASWE in the early 1960s, a very promising national solution was rejected in favour of pursuing an ultimately unsuccessful international collaboration that resulted in a poorer equipment solution for the Armed Forces and weakened UK industry.
 
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zen

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I won't comment on the efficacy of Challenger but I find it impossible not to conclude that the entire FMBT exercise was a catastrophic waste of time and effort that resulted in a terrible outcome for both the UK AFV industry and the British Army. The combination of the aluminium chassis, Burlington armour, 110mm gun and CV12 engine (essentially the UK's MLC-60 Concept 1 submitted to the FMBT programme in 1972) should have produced a vehicle superior to Challenger but 6-8 years earlier (e.g. in the mid-late 1970s). None of those elements is outlandish, the gun had been built and tested, the engine under development (ultimately rolling off production lines for Iran in 1977), the aluminium chassis tested in FV4211 and Burlington available.

Instead, a good four years were squandered looking at various radical (to the point of obviously flawed at first sight in many cases) solutions only for the British to end up back where they started, looking at a national tank design using an aluminium chassis, a Rolls Royce CV series engine, Chobham armour and a British gun in the form of MBT-80.

It would be interesting to know exactly where the decision to pursue FMBT collaboratively with the German's came from, or rather who made it. On the face of it, it seems like a very similar story to what happened to ASWE in the early 1960s, a very promising national solution was rejected in favour of pursuing an ultimately unsuccessful international collaboration that resulted in a poorer equipment solution for the Armed Forces and weakened UK industry.
Yes but then considering the timing, such political interference looks obviously like trying to show the Germans what good partners we are in the EEC.....
 

uk 75

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If memory serves, there was pressure from NATO , something called the Eurogroup, for the European countries to join forces and build a wider range of weapons than aircraft together.
Such gems as the NATO Frigate NFR90, the SP70 gun and RS70 MRLS, joined the UK/FRG tank.
Competing against the US industrial domination in the face of the post 1968 Czech Invasion threat seemed a reasonable even essential political goal.
A bit like the UK membership of the EEC-EC-EU I can only quote the old BBC TOP GEAR presenters: "That went well!"
 

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Were their not problems with the aluminium chassis of the FV4211, were these resolved with time and experience? Given that the problems with the newly manufactured Scimitar 2 is that being optimistic?
 

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AIUI, the problems with the Aluminium chassis of MBT80 was that it was only partially aluminium. The rear half was aluminium and the front was plain steel. There were problems associated with the two being welded together and the dissimilar metals caused problems with their differing resistance to oxidation.
 

Rickshaw

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If memory serves, there was pressure from NATO , something called the Eurogroup, for the European countries to join forces and build a wider range of weapons than aircraft together.
Such gems as the NATO Frigate NFR90, the SP70 gun and RS70 MRLS, joined the UK/FRG tank.
Competing against the US industrial domination in the face of the post 1968 Czech Invasion threat seemed a reasonable even essential political goal.
A bit like the UK membership of the EEC-EC-EU I can only quote the old BBC TOP GEAR presenters: "That went well!"
SP70 predates MBT80. It was abandoned about 5 years earlier. SP70's problem was teaming a regular MBT hull with a specialised SPG turret. The SPG placed too greater a reliance on autoloading and insufficient reliance on the fire control systems. The result was a system that was unreliable and failed to target things well enough. They would have been better off with a specialised SPG hull and turret and putting more into the fire control system than the autoloader. Electroncs were still in their infancy though and that showed.
 

JohnR

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If memory serves, there was pressure from NATO , something called the Eurogroup, for the European countries to join forces and build a wider range of weapons than aircraft together.
Such gems as the NATO Frigate NFR90, the SP70 gun and RS70 MRLS, joined the UK/FRG tank.
Competing against the US industrial domination in the face of the post 1968 Czech Invasion threat seemed a reasonable even essential political goal.
A bit like the UK membership of the EEC-EC-EU I can only quote the old BBC TOP GEAR presenters: "That went well!"
SP70 predates MBT80. It was abandoned about 5 years earlier. SP70's problem was teaming a regular MBT hull with a specialised SPG turret. The SPG placed too greater a reliance on autoloading and insufficient reliance on the fire control systems. The result was a system that was unreliable and failed to target things well enough. They would have been better off with a specialised SPG hull and turret and putting more into the fire control system than the autoloader. Electroncs were still in their infancy though and that showed.
How was the problem of an specialised SPG turret being mated with an MBT hull resolved on the French GCT combination which predated SP70?
 

Rickshaw

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If memory serves, there was pressure from NATO , something called the Eurogroup, for the European countries to join forces and build a wider range of weapons than aircraft together.
Such gems as the NATO Frigate NFR90, the SP70 gun and RS70 MRLS, joined the UK/FRG tank.
Competing against the US industrial domination in the face of the post 1968 Czech Invasion threat seemed a reasonable even essential political goal.
A bit like the UK membership of the EEC-EC-EU I can only quote the old BBC TOP GEAR presenters: "That went well!"
SP70 predates MBT80. It was abandoned about 5 years earlier. SP70's problem was teaming a regular MBT hull with a specialised SPG turret. The SPG placed too greater a reliance on autoloading and insufficient reliance on the fire control systems. The result was a system that was unreliable and failed to target things well enough. They would have been better off with a specialised SPG hull and turret and putting more into the fire control system than the autoloader. Electroncs were still in their infancy though and that showed.
How was the problem of an specialised SPG turret being mated with an MBT hull resolved on the French GCT combination which predated SP70?
The problem is that you are tied to the MBT hull for speed and fuel consumption and it is being used to tote around an artillery piece. The French and their customers where prepared to accept that but in reality they were doing themselves a disservice. It increased the cost of supporting the vehicle 'cause it was toting round all this extra armour that wasn't required.
 

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scale model of the "FRG Concept No. 2" designed by Krauss-Maffei
Where was the driver positioned on this design? Was he positioned in the turret, if so was he in a 'pod' like the MBT70?
He was in the turret. He wasn't in a "pod". The turret was limited in traverse - only 90 degrees to either side. So, in theory he wasn't going to be as discomforted as he would be in the MBT70 design. Also, he didn't need to be as high as the tank commander so the tank commander could overlook his cupola.
 

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When I read about driver being in the turret I always have visions of them having to duck when the turret traverses :D !
 

Grey Havoc

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All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
Which they promptly then mostly squandered anyway by insisting on various idiotic design changes including deletions and/or sub-standard systems and components, the main gun & fire control system being just merely two of the most infamous examples. For instance, the barrels on the early Challengers were literally recycled worn out Chieftain ones! It was a miracle no one got killed because of that little 'cost efficiency'.

Even in the short term, the MBT-80 would have been still a far better investment.
Written with 100% foresight. The Challenger had the same gun as Chieftain. What was it meant to have? A German 120mm? No way, there were several thousand rounds of ammunition that were in stock and needed to be expended. Treasury was interested in value for money. Those barrels still had a life in them so they used them.
The Shir 2 was supposed to use the then new L11A7 gun I believe, complete with an Electro Slag Refined Steel barrel. It was not intended to use the older L11A5. And it was most certainly not intended to use recycled worn out old gun barrels, which not only make a mockery of both accuracy and reliability, but are also actively extremely dangerous to the tank and crew. I will also note that If the Treasury had had any real reason to reject the Shir 2's planned gun, they could have always approved the MBT-80's EXP-28M1 (again with an ESRS barrel) instead. The fact that they didn't do that pretty much proves the Treasury's motivations in this matter. I think some of the earliest Challenger tanks even used completely recycled guns, including the breech, which is beyond insanely dangerous!

EDIT: On a side note, I have come across a possibility that the L11A7 also incorporated an autoloader first tested on the experimental L11A4 gun. Does anyone know for sure whether or not that was indeed the case? Never mind, it didn't. Thanks anyway!
 
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Grey Havoc

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It increased the cost of supporting the vehicle 'cause it was toting round all this extra armour that wasn't required.
On the other hand, Soviet counterbattery capabilities were becoming an ever increasing threat, not to mention that a Self-Propelled Gun directly supporting armoured & other front line units may occasionally have to get into the line of fire itself.
 

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All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
Which they promptly then mostly squandered anyway by insisting on various idiotic design changes including deletions and/or sub-standard systems and components, the main gun & fire control system being just merely two of the most infamous examples. For instance, the barrels on the early Challengers were literally recycled worn out Chieftain ones! It was a miracle no one got killed because of that little 'cost efficiency'.

Even in the short term, the MBT-80 would have been still a far better investment.
Written with 100% foresight. The Challenger had the same gun as Chieftain. What was it meant to have? A German 120mm? No way, there were several thousand rounds of ammunition that were in stock and needed to be expended. Treasury was interested in value for money. Those barrels still had a life in them so they used them.
The Shir 2 was supposed to use the then new L11A7 gun I believe, complete with an Electro Slag Refined Steel barrel. It was not intended to use the older L11A5. And it was most certainly not intended to use recycled worn out old gun barrels, which not only make a mockery of both accuracy and reliability, but are also actively extremely dangerous to the tank and crew. I will also note that If the Treasury had had any real reason to reject the Shir 2's planned gun, they could have always approved the MBT-80's EXP-28M1 (again with an ESRS barrel) instead. The fact that they didn't do that pretty much proves the Treasury's motivations in this matter. I think some of the earliest Challenger tanks even used completely recycled guns, including the breech, which is beyond insanely dangerous!

EDIT: On a side note, I have come across a possibility that the L11A7 also incorporated an autoloader first tested on the experimental L11A4 gun. Does anyone know for sure whether or not that was indeed the case? Never mind, it didn't. Thanks anyway!
Slight problem with using MBT-80 ordnance is that it was not a direct drop-in for the L11.
There were major changes in the cradle configuration, which allowed forward barrel removal, so the complete mount would need to be changed as well and hence turret modifications.
This may have impacted Treasury considerations.
 

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It increased the cost of supporting the vehicle 'cause it was toting round all this extra armour that wasn't required.
On the other hand, Soviet counterbattery capabilities were becoming an ever increasing threat, not to mention that a Self-Propelled Gun directly supporting armoured & other front line units may occasionally have to get into the line of fire itself.
Rarely has that happened. I can only think of the Israelis overlooking Beirut and firing downwards with M109s. The extra armour means that they carry fewer rounds for their primary mission - as artillery pieces. They are meant to keep up with MBT forces, not to lead them into battle.
 

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All the R&D had been done and paid for. Treasury wasn't willing to let that go to waste.
Which they promptly then mostly squandered anyway by insisting on various idiotic design changes including deletions and/or sub-standard systems and components, the main gun & fire control system being just merely two of the most infamous examples. For instance, the barrels on the early Challengers were literally recycled worn out Chieftain ones! It was a miracle no one got killed because of that little 'cost efficiency'.

Even in the short term, the MBT-80 would have been still a far better investment.
Written with 100% foresight. The Challenger had the same gun as Chieftain. What was it meant to have? A German 120mm? No way, there were several thousand rounds of ammunition that were in stock and needed to be expended. Treasury was interested in value for money. Those barrels still had a life in them so they used them.
The Shir 2 was supposed to use the then new L11A7 gun I believe, complete with an Electro Slag Refined Steel barrel. It was not intended to use the older L11A5. And it was most certainly not intended to use recycled worn out old gun barrels, which not only make a mockery of both accuracy and reliability, but are also actively extremely dangerous to the tank and crew. I will also note that If the Treasury had had any real reason to reject the Shir 2's planned gun, they could have always approved the MBT-80's EXP-28M1 (again with an ESRS barrel) instead. The fact that they didn't do that pretty much proves the Treasury's motivations in this matter. I think some of the earliest Challenger tanks even used completely recycled guns, including the breech, which is beyond insanely dangerous!

EDIT: On a side note, I have come across a possibility that the L11A7 also incorporated an autoloader first tested on the experimental L11A4 gun. Does anyone know for sure whether or not that was indeed the case? Never mind, it didn't. Thanks anyway!
Slight problem with using MBT-80 ordnance is that it was not a direct drop-in for the L11.
There were major changes in the cradle configuration, which allowed forward barrel removal, so the complete mount would need to be changed as well and hence turret modifications.
This may have impacted Treasury considerations.
Indeed it would have, if what you are saying is true. My question is, "how many burst barrels did Challenger suffer?" Any at all? Always remember, "the best solution is often the enemy of the good enough." The British Army was contending with not only the latest the Warsaw Pact might have but their traditional enemy, the Treasury who controlled their purse strings...
 

Grey Havoc

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Indeed it would have, if what you are saying is true. My question is, "how many burst barrels did Challenger suffer?" Any at all? Always remember, "the best solution is often the enemy of the good enough." The British Army was contending with not only the latest the Warsaw Pact might have but their traditional enemy, the Treasury who controlled their purse strings...
I believe that they suffered a full failure at least twice, though I am having trouble digging up the old reports (I keep getting directed to the 2017 Challenger 2 accident, even when I put in 1980s and early 1990s as part of the search terms!).

You are quite right about the Treasury being the Army's (along with that of the rest of the Armed Forces) traditional, indeed at times, greatest enemy!
 

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