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Vivkers Mark 1 Tank
United Kingdom

Vickers Mark 1 Tank

Vijayanta Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
1964
Kuwaiti Vickers Mark 1 Tank
Status
Retired
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Table of Contents

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Introduction

The Vickers Mark 1 is a former Medium Battle Tank developed for the export market. Vickers had been one of the UK manufacturers of the Centurion Medium Battle Tank for the British Army and had identified a gap in the market for a low cost, relatively light weight tank that could operate in hot environments.

The lower price tag came through the use of existing components used on other British tanks, namely the Centurion and the new Chieftain Main Battle.

Vickers was aware the transport network of many of its potential clients was limited, such as low weight bearing bridges and roads, so the tank would have to sacrifice armour to save on weight.

Background

Initially developed as the 46.200T, its design was completed by Vickers in 1961, with two prototypes completed in 1963. One prototype was trialled by India and the other by the British Army. After some modifications, the definitive 51.025T design became the Vickers MBT Mark 1 in 1964.

Weighting in at roughly 39 tonnes, the Mk1 hull was manufactured out of rolled steel and the turret of welded armoured plate, which was 80mm thick.

The Mk1 used an all-electric gun control and stabilization system for the L7 105mm rifled main gun, as used on the Centurion tank. The gunner had a fully stabilised sight and relied on a .50cal Machine Gun, coaxial mounted with the main gun for ranging targets. It would fire a burst of x3 tracer rounders to gage distance and wind speed.

The Mk1 used the same Leyland L60 engine and Merritt-Wilson TN12 transmission from the Chieftain Main Battle Tank with torsion bar suspension. The driver did not sit in a reclining chair, but upright like the Centurion, with 105mm rounds stored to his left. He also had an IR vision block he would use for night-time driving.

A slave engine to power the turret whilst the main engine was off was also installed, a feature that is still lacking in many modern Main Battle Tanks.

Vickers offered a number of optional equipment to improve protection, mobility and firepower: Night Vision Infra Red search light, NBC filtration and floatation screen.

Operators

India

Designated “Vijayanta” (Victorious) the first 90 vehicles were built in the UK, whilst the 2000 were built in India following an agreement between Vickers and the Indian government whereby Vickers supplied technologies with the new AFV manufacturing facility “Heavy Vehicles Factory” in Chennai (HVF- now called Armoured Vehicles Nigam Ltd).

Delivery’s from Vickers started in 1965 with production in India starting in 1967 (this date varies in different publications) and ending in 1986. READ MORE

Kuwait

Already operating the Centurion Mk9, Vickers received an order for 70 Mk1 tanks in 1968. Designated the “Al Jahra Tank”, deliveries started in 1970 and were completed in 1972.

Combat History

India operated the Vijayanta in:

  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
  • Kargil War 1999
  • Operation Parakram 2001-2002

1991 Gulf War:

Following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, photographs emerged of captured Al Jahra Tanks and a significant number in open air storage.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
L7 105mm Rifled
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Coaxial 50. cal Machine Gun, Loaders 7.62.mm Machine Gun
Ammunition Storage
105mm x 44, 7.62mm x3000, .50 x600
Engine
Leyland L60 Diesel 535 bhp
Transmission
N12 semi-automatic gearbox
Top Road Speed
50 km/h
Road Range
530 km
Fuel Capacity
?
Vertical Obstacle
?
Water Capability
?
Trench Crossing
?
Gradient
?
Side Slope
?
Length Gun Forward
9.78m
Length Hull
7+m
Width
3.16m
Height
2.71m
Ground Clearance
?
Weight
39 Tonne
NBC Protected
no
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver