British Challenger Mk III Main Battle Tank:


When the Mega-Damage revolution overtook the World in the Twenty-Thirties, many countries looked towards upgraded versions of already existing designs to replace their combat units instead of completely new designs. Budgets were generally tight and even with the increase in lethality of weapon systems, the World was seen to be generally at peace. Even though Russia had declared itself Communist, it was not seen as a large threat at the time. As a result, radical designs were not promoted. The United States developed an upgraded version of their M1 Abrams and the German Military deployed an upgraded version of the venerable Leopard Main Battle Tank.


The British Military had successfully deployed the Challenger Mk I and Mk II tanks in various hot spots around the world although its combat service was far less than the American Abrams tank. Its is natural that the British would look to the Challenger design for a new battle tank and it was chosen as the starting point for the new tank program. Old Challenger Mk II tanks were upgraded with new armor as a stopgap until the new tanks could enter service. The first Challenger Mk III rolled off the production line in the mid Twenty-Thirties but enjoyed only a relatively brief service as a front line tank. The tank was upgraded in the mid Twenty-Forties to the point where it should have been listed as the Challenger Mk IV but still remained the Challenger Mk III in designation. These upgrades included a new main gun and a new power plant. Even though the tank went through multiple upgrades, it was considered underpowered by many in the beginning of the Twenty-Fifties. It was later replaced by the Conqueror Heavy Tank, a huge tank which many crews though was too heavy for effective service. Some preferred the Challenger in is latest versions to the Conqueror. In addition to British service, the Challenger Mk III was sold to a variety of other nations and remained in production for export even after the introduction of the Conqueror. It remained in front line service in many of those nations along with remaining in British second line units.


As a result of the British tank's worldwide dispersion, a good number of these tanks survived to the coming of the Rifts and many have found their way into the hands of mercenaries around the globe. The Triax Company in the New German Republic produces repair parts for the Challenger Mk III and many components, most notably the cannon, are shared by the Leopard III and Panther tanks. The Challenger is well armed compared to many post Rifts designs and the tank has done well in battles it has fought in. Like many Pre-Rifts designs, the combat service after the coming of the Rifts has been far more extensive that it was prior to the destructive event. The British tank's only real weakness is that it is a bit slower than American and German designs which were developed around the same time as the Challenger Mk III.


Initial models of the Challenger Mk III were powered by a fuel cell system similar to those mounted on the early Leopard III models although top speed was less in the British design. Top speed was 70 kph on roads and about 55 kph when traveling off-road. Still, this speed is greatly improved over the Challenger Mk II Main Battle Tank. Range is greatly improved with the fuel cell system having a range of around 800 kilometers but is still less than German and American tanks using fuel cell systems. The fuel cells operate by pulling the electrons off of an H2 molecule, splitting it into 2H+ molecules and 2 electrons. The electrons pass through the "load" (engines, weapons, avionics, etc.) creating current and powering the systems. Meanwhile, the 2H+ molecules pass from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. At the other "end", the electrons then recombine with the 2H+ molecules and Oxygen (from the air) and are release as water from the rear of the vehicle. The upgraded version, introduced in the middle of the Twenty-Forties, replaced the fuel cell system with a high efficiency fusion reactor. While top speeds were not improved, the fusion reactor gave the tank virtually unlimited range. Armor on the Challenger was not up to the standards of later designs but was still much improved compared to earlier tanks. It is lighter armored than the German Leopard III tank but is heavier armored than the American M1A5 Abrams tank. As a result of the high tech alloys and composites used in the construction, the new tanks were virtually immune to corrosion, resist general wear, and have an extremely long life expectancy. Like most new tanks, the Challenger Mk III mounted a variety of advanced electronics and was also NBC and EMP protected. Still, it does not have the full systems of later tanks and robot vehicles.


When the tank first rolled from the factory, it was armed with a 140 mm standard cannon. Instead of spending a huge amount on developing a new British 140 mm cannon, the cannon mounted the same cannon which was developed for the German Leopard III tank and the same cannon was also mounted on the American M1A5 Abrams tank. The cannon had been designed at the end of the Twentieth Century and did not require huge development costs. Payload was cut down compared to the 120 mm rounds carried on the Challenger II design but the British tank still carried more rounds than the American and German tanks armed with the 140 mm cannon. Instead of having a separate loader, an auto-loader system was developed and the tank crew was reduced from four to three. Similar modifications were made to the tank designs of the Germans and Americans. The upgraded version of the Challenger III replaced the 140 mm standard cannon with a 140 mm electro-thermal cannon along with the fusion reactor require to provide power to fire the main cannon. The 140 mm electro-thermal cannon has a similar range and velocity to the standard cannon but payload was increased. This cannon was also mounted on the German Panther tank but the Americans decided to develop a new 150 mm electro-thermal cannon with a much higher velocity for their new Jackson Main Battle Tank. Some British tank crews wanted a slightly larger version of the Challenger III armed with the new American cannon and carrying improved armor over the Conqueror. Unlike the American M1A5 Abrams and German Leopard III tanks, the British tank mounted mini-missile launchers on the turret. This gave the tank a considerable defensive punch although payload was limited. For secondary weapons, the tank initially mounted two 7.62 caliber machine-guns, one which was mounted Coaxial with the main gun and the other fired by the commander. Like other medium machine guns, the weapon was found to be completely inadequate even though new ammo had been developed for the weapons. Due to some bad experiences with liquid propellant weapons, it was decided that conventional weapons would be retained but the top medium machine-gun was replaced by a 12.7 mm heavy machine-gun. The coaxial medium machine-gun could not be replaced without a major redesign and was retained until replaced by a pulse laser. In the final years of production, both cannons were replaced by pulse laser weapons on fusion powered tanks even though they have shorter range than the heavy machine-gun. As well, fusion powered versions of the Challenger already in service had their machine-guns replaced by pulse lasers. The mount was small enough to take the place of the coaxial machine-gun without redesigning the mount. Fuel cell system simply did not produce enough power to support the energy weapons and most retained the heavy machine-guns. Many post Rifts crews have replaced the machine-guns with rail guns and/or energy weapons and simply use energy clips to power the weapons. For self defense, two banks of smoke dispensers are mounted on the tank. In addition to smoke grenades, a variety of other specialized aerosols including tear gas grenades, prismatic aerosol grenades, radar decoying grenades, and thermal decoy grenades.


Model Type: Vickers Defense Systems "Challenger III" Main Battle Tank
Vehicle Type: Main Battle Tank
Crew: Three (Driver, Gunner, and Commander).


M.D.C. by Location:

[1] Tractor Treads (2):100 each
[2] Turret:300
Conventional 140 mm smooth-bore gun (Fuel Cell Version):100
Electro-Thermal 140 mm smooth-bore gun (Fusion Version):120
[3] Coaxial 7.62 Medium Machine Gun (1):10
[3] Commander 7.62 Medium Machine Gun (1, Early Versions):10
[3] Commander 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun (1, Replaces earlier weapon):20
[3] Coaxial LMG-60 Automatic Pulse Laser (1, Later Fusion Versions):50
[3] Commander LMG-60 Automatic Pulse Laser (1, Later Fusion Versions):50
Mini Missile Launchers (4, turret):30 each
Smoke Dispenser (2):20 each
[2] Reinforced Crew Compartment:100
[4] Main Body:520


Notes:
[1] Depleting the M.D.C. of a tread will immobilize the tank until it is replaced. Replacing a tread will take 1D6x10 minutes by a trained crew (2 replacements are carried on board) or three times as long by the inexperienced. Changing the tread is only advisable when the vehicle is not under attack.
[2] The turret IS manned by the crew, notably the commander and the gunner. Destroying it knocks out the weapons, although a ammunition fire/explosion will blow out of the top of the turret, since it is designed with blow-out panels. Since the commander and the gunner are separated from both ammo and cannon they are not endangered until the reinforced crew compartment is also destroyed. without otherwise damaging the vehicle. This makes the tank very survivable, and it can retreat and have a new weapon's turret fitted relatively quickly.
[3] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a "called shot," but even then the attacker is -4 to strike.
[4] If all the M.D.C. of the main body is depleted, the vehicle is completely shut down and is unsalvageable.


Speed:
Ground: 43.5 mph (70 kph) maximum road speed; 34.2 mph (55 kph) off-road. The vehicle is designed to traverse virtually all terrain and can climb at up to a 60% grade although at a much slower speed (About 10% of maximum road speed). It can also climb barriers and ford trenches. The vehicle can also handle side slopes of up to 30%.
Underwater: Can be equipped with snorkel to run underwater down to 15 feet (4.6 meters)
Maximum Range: Fuel Cell Models: 497.2 miles (800 km) Nuclear Models: Effectively Unlimited (5 years.)


Statistical Data:
Height: 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) to top of turret.
Width: 11.8 feet (3.6 meters)
Length: Main Body: 27.6 feet (8.4 meters) and with Gun Forward: 42 feet (12.8 meters).
Weight: 75.5 tons (68.5 metric tons) fully loaded.
Power Source: Fuel Cell System or Nuclear fusion turbine (Must be refueled every five years, otherwise effectively unlimited)
Cargo Capacity: Minimal, enough for equipment with crew
Black Market Cost: Fuel Cell Models: 2,500,000 Credits to built. Nuclear: 8,250,000 Credits to build. Add 250,000 if mounting pulse lasers. Each model usually costs double to triple that to buy one today. If fitted, any extra weapons systems will add to the cost of the tank; Challenger IIIs are sometimes found very heavily modified, though the main cannon is seldom replaced.


Weapon Systems:

  1. Main Gun: The Challenger III enjoys a +3 to strike for the main gun using the laser targeting sights and radar, and because of its gyrostabilisation the gun can be fired without penalties "on the move". The cannon can angle from -10 degrees to +20 degrees up, and the turret can rotate through 360 degrees.
    1. 140 mm Smooth Bore Cannon: Mounted in the tank's turret and fully automated, this was a rather old (and refined) weapon capable of knocking out any tank then in service. It fires a variety of ammunition with combustible cases, meaning there is no need to eject spent casings. The cannon is mounted of fuel cell versions of the tank.
      Maximum Effective Range: Direct fire range is 8202 feet (2,500 meters) for HEAT or Plasma, but 14763.7 feet (4,500 meters) for APFSDS. Indirect fire for all rounds is 36089.2 feet (6.8 miles / 11,000 meters).
      Mega-Damage: (HEAT): 3D4x10, blast radius of 10 ft. (APFSDS): 3D6x10+20 (optional rule is that cannon gets a critical on a natural 18, 19, or 20 due to its high penetration). (PLASMA): 3D6x10, blast radius of 30 ft. Fragmentation: 6D6, blast radius of 40 feet.
      Rate of Fire: Three times per melee.
      Payload: 38 gun rounds. An additional round can be stored, ready to fire, in the main gun. If they are available, this is usually a plasma round so that the tank can deal with a surprise attack of any type. Also note that plasma only became available just before the Rifts, and before that the tank carried Fragmentation rounds.
      Bonuses: +2 to strike at all times with cannon shells from the laser sight and fire control computer, including when on the move. For indirect long-range fire has a +1 to strike, but only when standing still.
    2. 140 mm Electrothermal Smooth Bore Cannon: Mounted in the tank's turret and fully automated, this was a rather weapon was mounted on fusion powered versions of the tank and still very capable of knocking out any tank then in service when introduced. The projectile is loaded into the barrel, behind which there is a "propellant", which is a dot of light metal. A powerful electromagnetic force is applied to the metal, which causes its atoms to "switch" directions. This happens so violently that the metal turns to plasma, and this expanding gas then drives the projectile forward.
      Maximum Effective Range: Direct fire range is 8202 feet (2,500 meters) for HEAT or Plasma, but 14763.7 feet (4,500 meters) for APFSDS. Indirect fire for all rounds is 36089.2 feet (6.8 miles / 11,000 meters). Indirect fire for all rounds is 11,000 meters.
      Mega-Damage: (HEAT): 3D4x10, blast radius of 10 ft. (APFSDS): 2D6x10+20 (optional rule is that cannon gets a critical on a natural 18, 19, or 20 due to its high penetration). (PLASMA): 3D6x10, blast radius of 30 ft. Fragmentation: 6D6, blast radius of 40 feet.
      Rate of Fire: Three times per melee.
      Payload: 46 gun rounds, all one single type (APSFDS, HEAT, Frag or Plasma). Also note that plasma only became available just before the Rifts, and before that the tank sometimes carried Fragmentation rounds.
      Bonuses: +2 to strike at all times with cannon shells from the laser sight and fire control computer, including when on the move. For indirect long-range fire has a +1 to strike, but only when standing still.
  2. Coaxial Mounted Weapon: Mounted beside the main gun and fires in the same direction as the main gun. This limits it to the same firing arcs as the smoothbore, but since it uses the same targeting systems as the main cannon and is mounted very stable it is more accurate than its counterpart on top of the turret. +2 to strike due to better fire control.
    1. 7.62 mm L94A1 Chain Gun (1): A similar weapon was initially carried on the M1A5 Abrams as well but was quickly replaced on most tanks by liquid propellant weapons on the American design. Was retained on the Challenger III until replaced by a pulse laser on fusion powered versions. Some crews did not carry ammunition for the weapon, considering it to be useless. Engineers developed Ramjet rounds for the 7.62 machine-gun but they were found to be ineffective.
      Maximum Effective Range: 2,000 feet (609.6 m)
      Mega Damage: One round does 1 M.D.C. to M.D.C. targets or 3D6x10 S.D.C. to soft targets. Twenty round bursts do 2D4 M.D.C.
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
      Payload: Carries 3,000 rounds for the Coaxial mount.
    2. LMG-60 Coaxial Automatic Pulse Laser (1): Basically the Squad Automatic laser rifle mounted above the cannon barrel and linked directly to the Challenger`s power pack. It`s special cooling system allowed for extended bursts which, in combination with a unlimited payload, made up for the somewhat low range of this weapon. The weapon replaced the medium machine-gun on later versions of the fusion powered versions of the Challenger.
      Maximum Effective Range: 2,000 ft (610 m)
      Mega-Damage: 2D6 per single shot, 6D6 for a rapid fire three shot burst, or use machine gun burst rules for higher burst setting (See Machine Gun burst rules).
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
      Payload: Effectively unlimited.
  3. Top Weapon Mount (1): The tank has a spindle to mount a weapon on the top of the turret which is normally controlled by the commander of the tank. The weapon is designed for use against troops assaulting the tank and against aircraft. Originally the weapon carried was a 7.62 machine-gun but was later upgraded to a heavier 12.7 mm machine-gun. Later fusion powered versions replace this with a pulse laser. Weapon mount is designed to be able to be controlled from within the turret.
    1. 7.62 mm L37A2 Medium Machine-gun (1): The British initially preferred a lighter machine-gun to the Americans but is was found to be inadequate. The mount was replaced by a 12.7 mm machine in most models and many crews did not even carry ammunition. Engineers developed Ramjet rounds for the 7.62 machine-gun but they were found to be ineffective.
      Maximum Effective Range: 2,000 feet (609.6 m)
      Mega Damage: One round does 1 M.D.C. to M.D.C. targets or 3D6x10 S.D.C. to soft targets. Twenty round bursts do 2D4 M.D.C.
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner (commander)
      Payload: Carries 1,000 rounds for the Commander's mount.
    2. 12.7 millimeter Browning M2HB Heavy Machine-gun (1): Machine is a copy of the standard American Machine-Gun as was less expensive than developing a new weapon system. Replaced the medium machine-gun originally mounted and while not as effective as rail guns or energy weapons, was still powerful enough to penetrate body armors and was consider far more effective than the 7.62 machine-gun. Special Ram-Jet style rounds, similar to those developed by Wellington after the coming of the Rifts, were developed for the weapon in an attempt to keep the weapon effective. Still, not considered truly effective and replaced by a pulse laser in most tanks.
      Maximum Effective Range: 3,000 feet (914.4 meters)
      Mega Damage: Single shot does 1D4 and 40 round burst does 5D6.
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner (commander).
      Payload: 600 rounds (15 bursts).
    3. LMG-60 Coaxial Automatic Pulse Laser (1): Basically the Squad Automatic laser rifle mounted in the commander's position and linked directly to the Challenger`s power pack. It`s special cooling system allowed for extended bursts which, in combination with a unlimited payload, made up for the somewhat low range of this weapon. The weapon replaced the machine-gun on later versions of the fusion powered versions of the Challenger.
      Maximum Effective Range: 2,000 ft (610 m)
      Mega-Damage: 2D6 per single shot, 6D6 for a rapid fire three shot burst, or use machine gun burst rules for higher burst setting (See Machine Gun burst rules).
      Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
      Payload: Effectively unlimited.
  4. Mini Missile Launchers (4): Two mounted on either side of the turret. These look suspiciously like smoke grenade launchers, but the canisters are really mini missiles. These missiles are supposed to be used to protect the Firefly from enemy missiles, and as such fragmentation warheads are standard issue. Enterprising crews have been known to switch some or all of the fragmentation rounds for AP or Plasma rounds, giving the tank a considerably enhanced anti armor punch at the expense of defensive capability.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, mini-missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega-Damage: Varies with missile types, mini missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), six (6), or twelve (12) missiles.
    Payload: each launcher carries 6 mini-missiles for a total of 24 Mini-missiles.
  5. Smoke Dispenser (2): Mounted on either side of the tank and launches smoke grenades. Some testing has been done using prismatic aerosol grenades to reduce the effect of lasers against the tank. As well, tear gas grenades can be used for special purposes.
    Effect: Creates a cloud of smoke 40 ft (12 m) in diameter (see other grenades for their effects)
    Maximum Effective Range: 1,200 feet (365 m)
    Rate of Fire: Two per melee
    Payload: Carries 6 smoke grenades per launcher (12 grenades total).


Sensory Equipment

Special Notes:



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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).


Copyright © 2003 & 2009, Kitsune. All rights reserved.



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