FV101 Scorpion

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FV101 Scorpion
Scorpion CRVT (4119399295).jpg
Irish Army Scorpion CVR(T)
TypeReconnaissance vehicle, light tank
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1973–present
Used byOperators
WarsIran–Iraq War[1]
Falklands war
1989 Philippine coup d'état attempt
Persian Gulf war
Zamboanga City crisis
Production history
ManufacturerAlvis Vehicles, Coventry, England
No. builtca. 3,000 (1,500 for UK, ca. 1,500 exported)[2]
VariantsScorpion 90
Mass17,800 lb (8.074 tonnes)
Length5.288 m (17 ft 4.2 in)[3]
Width2.134 m (7 ft 0 in)[3]
Height2.102 m (6 ft 10.8 in)[3]

ArmourAluminium armour, Cast and 1318b plate
ROF 76mm L23A1 gun
90mm Cockerill Mk3 M-A1 gun (in Scorpion 90)[3]
Coaxial 7.62 mm L43A1 machine gun[3]
EngineCummins BTA 5.9-litre (diesel)[3]
190 hp (140 kW)
Power/weight22.92 hp (17.3 kW) / tonne[3]
TransmissionSelf Change Gears TN15X[3]
756 km (470 mi)[3]
Maximum speed 72.5 km/h (45.0 mph)[3]

The FV101 Scorpion is a British armoured reconnaissance vehicle, and also a light tank. It was the lead vehicle and the fire support type in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), CVR(T), family of seven armoured vehicles. Manufactured by Alvis, it was introduced into service with the British Army in 1973 and was withdrawn in 1994.[4][5] More than 3,000 were produced and used as a reconnaissance vehicle or a light tank.

It holds the Guinness world record for the fastest production tank, recorded doing 82.23 km/h (51.10 mph) at the QinetiQ vehicle test track in Chertsey, Surrey, on 26 January 2002.[6]


The Alvis Scorpion was developed to meet a British Army requirement for the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) or CVR(T). In 1967, Alvis was awarded the contract to produce 30 CVR(T) prototypes. Vehicles P1–P17, the Scorpion prototypes, were delivered on time and within the budget.[7] After extensive hot and cold weather trials in Norway, Australia, Abu Dhabi and Canada, the Scorpion was accepted by the British Army in May 1970, with a contract for 275, which later rose to 313 vehicles.[8] The first production vehicles were completed in 1972 and the first British regiment to be equipped with the Scorpion was the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry in 1973.[8][9]

Alvis built more than 3,000 Scorpion vehicles for the British Army, Royal Air Force Regiment and the export market. All of the CVR(T) vehicles were to be air-portable; and two Scorpions could be carried in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Another requirement of the CVR(T) project was the low ground pressure, similar to that of a soldier on foot; this would serve it well in the boggy conditions of the Falklands War.


L23A1 gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1973–present
Production history
ManufacturerRoyal Ordnance
Length2.157 m (7 ft 0.9 in)

Calibre76 mm (3.0 in)
Elevation+35 degrees/-10 degrees
Rate of fire6 rounds per minute
Effective firing range2,200 m (2,400 yd)

The Scorpion was armed with the low velocity 76 mm L23A1 gun, which could fire high-explosive, HESH, smoke and canister rounds. Storage was provided for 40 or 42 rounds. A 7.62 mm coaxial L7 GPMG (3,000 rounds carried) was also fitted, as were two multi-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers, one on each side of the turret.[3] The main armament has an elevation of 35 degrees and a depression of 10 degrees; the turret has a full 360-degree traverse.[10] The traverse was however hand-cranked, a cost-saving feature that made the turret relatively slow and laborious to traverse relative to other vehicles of its type.[11] This gun was later deemed to be unsatisfactory, as RAF testing showed that the lack of a fume extraction system caused toxic fumes to enter the fighting compartment, endangering the crew's health.[11]


The original engine was the Jaguar J60 Mk 100b 4.2-litre petrol engine,[12] which was replaced by a Cummins or Perkins diesel engine.[3] The maximum speed was about 50 mph (80 km/h) and it could accelerate from standing to 30 mph (48 km/h) in 16 seconds. The maximum speed on water (with the flotation screen deployed) was 3.6 mph (5.8 km/h).[13] The Irish engineering company IED replaced the Jaguar engine in Irish Army Scorpions with a Steyr M16 TCA HD engine (6-cylinder, 145 kW), making the Scorpion more powerful and more reliable in critical environments.[14][failed verification]


The FV101 was a very light armoured vehicle, weighing in at a mere 8 tonnes. This meant some compromises had to be made on protection. The vehicle had 12.7 mm[15] of sloped aluminium armour,[16][17] giving an average effective thickness of 25 mm.[18]

The FV101 had all-around protection from shell fragments and 7.62 mm rounds,[19] and the heavily sloped frontal arc was designed to be resistant to 14.5 mm rounds fired from 200 m (660 ft).[20][21] The initial manufacture of the aluminium armour resulted, after time and effects of the environment, in failure; "Stress Corrosion Cracking" (SCC) which seriously affected all early builds.

Other systems[edit]

The vehicle was fitted with a nuclear, biological, chemical protection system, image intensification sights for gunner and driver and a floatation screen.[3] A commode[clarification needed] was located under the commander's seat. An internal water tank and a boiling vessel for cooking and heating water were also provided.[22]

Service history[edit]

The Scorpion was or is used by the armed forces of Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Chile, Honduras, Iran, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.[3] Iranian army acquired 250 Scorpions in the late 1970s and a number of them are still in use after being refurbished locally as the Tosan tank. The Scorpion was on occasion deployed to main UK airports as a measure against possible terrorist threats, e.g., Operation Marmion at Heathrow Airport in 1974.[23][failed verification] Similar operations in 2003 used the then-current Scimitar.

Combat use[edit]

small armoured vehicle alone in the desert. The flag of the United Kingdom can just be seen on the rear
Scorpion advancing across the desert during the first Gulf War.

B Squadron, Blues and Royals were airlifted and deployed into the Akrotiri and Dhekelia Sovereign Base areas, during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus 1974.

Two troops from B Squadron, Blues and Royals served in the Falklands War. One troop was equipped with four Scorpions, the other with four FV107 Scimitars. These were the only armoured vehicles used in action by the British Army during the conflict.[24] Scorpions also served in the Gulf War. The 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers deployed in the first gulf war (Op Granby) using all variants of the CVR(T) range carrying out the role of Force Reconnaissance for the British spearhead towards Iraq operating forward of other official green army units. The 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, a reconnaissance regiment, had 32 and the close reconnaissance troops of the armoured regiments each had eight.[25] They were also used by No. 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, which was attached to the British 1st Armoured Division.

Foreign users[edit]

Some small armies, such as the Botswana Defence Force, and some larger armies such as the Iranian Army and Nigerian Army, continue to use the Scorpion, in some cases up-armed with the 90 mm Cockerill.

The Iranian army used its Scorpion tanks in the Iran–Iraq War, with various degrees of success. Early in the war, Iranians used the Scorpions's "accurate fire" (alongside the Cobra attack helicopters) to hold back Iraqi 2nd Infantry Division's offensive towards the city of Ilam.[1] However, the Scorpions proved less effective when faced with Iraq's 9th Armoured Division:[1]

A second [Iraqi] column rushed to Susangerd, which it crossed without encountering any resistance, the city having apparently been left defenseless. The column continued in the direction of Hamidiyeh. It came into contact with the [Iranian] 92nd Armored Division's reconnaissance regiment, which met it with effective in-depth defense. Yet the Iranians eventually had to yield in the face of Iraqi pressure. Their Scorpions' 90 mm guns did not hold their weight against the T-62 tanks' 115 mm guns. The Iraqis thus took control of Hamidiyeh, then Bozorg.

The British government provided Iran (and Iraq) with limited parts for their Scorpions during the war:[1]

Regarding military matters, the British government imposed two strict rules: contracts signed before the war would be honored, but the sale of equipment likely to significantly increase either side's military capacities was banned. Interpreting these regulations loosely, the British government delivered both the Iranians and the Iraqis motors and spare parts for Chieftain and Scorpion tanks, which would allow the former to maintain tanks acquired under the Shah and the latter to repair tanks captured from the Iranian army.


M113 MRV in Puckapunyal Camp
  • Scorpion 90 — The Scorpion 90 or Scorpion 2 was a version armed with the long-barrelled Cockerill Mk3 M-A1 90mm gun designed for the export market.[26]
  • Sabre — The Scorpion has been withdrawn from British Army service and the refurbished hulls have been mated with surplus turrets from the FV 721 Fox CVR(W) wheeled reconnaissance vehicle to form a composite vehicle—the Sabre reconnaissance vehicle.[27]
  • Salamander — A small number of converted Scorpions are in use at British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada as part of OPFOR. With the main armament barrel replaced with a dummy they represent 125mm gun armed T-80-type vehicles.

Turret only

During the late 1960s, as a result of its experiences in the Vietnam War, the Australian Army perceived a need for a hybrid, tracked fire support and reconnaissance vehicle.

Experiments in which existing M113 APCs were fitted with Saladin (not Scorpion) turrets, wielding a 76 mm M1 gun, were successful. The vehicle entered service as the M113A1 FSV (Fire Support Vehicle).

A very similar, subsequent vehicle, attaching the turret from the Scorpion to the M113, was also known as the FSV. (This re-purposing of the turret was to be the only use of any part of the Scorpion by the ADF.) Entering service in 1976, it was later redesignated the M113A1 Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle (MRV). Its development also obviated interest in acquiring brand new, purpose-built vehicles (such as a variant of the UK CVR(T) or the M2/M3 Bradley). All of these vehicles were retired in 1996.[28]


Map of FV101 operators in blue with former operators in red
Scorpion at Aldershot military museum

Current operators[edit]

25 units.[29] Purchased second-hand from Belgium and retrofitted with diesel engines as requested by Botswana.
16 units.
27 units; currently 15 in service in the Chilean Marine Corps. Ex-British vehicles and re-engined with diesel motors.
19 units.
Iran contracted for the supply of 250 vehicles in 1978, expanded with an additional order for 110 Scorpions shortly thereafter. Participated in the Iran-Iraq War. By 1997, the Iranian army had approx. 80 vehicles in working order.
Indonesian Scorpion 90 on IIMS 2014
90 units.
26 units. Likely sourced for Iraq.
150 units. In 1983, 33 vehicles were selected to be upgraded with an improved 90 mm Cockerill Mk III gun replacing the 76 mm cannon. These vehicles were also equipped with a Belgian-sourced OIP-5 fire control system.
120 Units. Scorpion light tanks replaced the Saladin armoured car. Deliveries were carried out in several stages and included Sultan, Spartan and Samson vehicles as well as a command vehicle built on the Stormer chassis, and which were to be used in units alongside Oman's Chieftain main battle tank. The Omani vehicles are equipped with external mounting points for fuel cans and special mud flaps designed to suppress the amount of dust kicked up during travel. The NBC filtration system and heaters were removed and replaced with an air conditioning system and the vehicles received a warning siren indicating engine overheating. The hull floor was also reinforced with a 20 mm plate for increased mine resistance.
Philippine Army FV101 Scorpion
Philippine Army: Original delivery of 41 units; Current active 7 units,[30] to be replaced by the Sabrah Light Tank.[31][32]
100 units.[33]
40 units.
12 units. Including one FV-106 Samson, one FV-104 Samaritan and one Fv-105 Sultan.
76 Units.
78 Scorpion 90, 4-6 FV-104 Samaritan, 2 FV-105 Sultan and 4 FV-106 Samson.[3] The vehicles were ordered in 1988 with a contract value of $85 MM USD with a stipulation for diesel engines; delivery realized in 1992.

Former operators[edit]

Belgian Scorpion
701 units (this total consists of all seven variants of the CVR(T)). Ordered in 1971 based on studies that showed the light tank was most suitable for the nation's topography; Belgium was the second nation to adopt the Scorpion following the British Army. First deliveries commenced in February 1973 with the vehicles assembled in Mechelen from knock-down kits supplied from the United Kingdom. The order was filled in 1980. Between 1981-1983, both Scorpion and Scimitar models were upgraded with mounting points for add-on armour modules, an on-board armour repair kit and other minor improvements to enhance crew comfort and ergonomics. 36 Scorpions were later sold to Botswana in 1994.
Limited number captured from Iran during Iran–Iraq War[34]
14 units.[35]
26 units. Ordered between 1982-1983; the vehicles lack NBC protection, night vision sights and do not have provisions for erecting flotation screens. The engines were upgraded with electronic fuel injection and US-made radios. In the second half of the 1980s, New Zealand opted to use the turrets to upgrade their M113 armoured personnel carriers.
17 units in service until 2009 with the Spanish Navy, (Infantería de Marina Española). Sold to Chile. There are a couple of units on static display as of 2011
1,500 units ordered. Withdrawn from active service in 1994.

See also[edit]

The Scorpion/Scimitar in the US Army field recognition manual.


  1. ^ a b c d Razoux (2015).
  2. ^ Staff Writer, "Alvis FV101 Scorpion: Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (1973)", Military Factory, retrieved 10 October 2021
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Scorpion". Jane's Information Group. Archived from the original on 21 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  4. ^ "MV Spotlight: The Scorpion CVR(T)".
  5. ^ "FV101 Scorpion: Keeping the Light Tank Relevant". HistoryNet. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Fastest tank". Guinnessworldrecords.com. 26 March 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  7. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 9.
  8. ^ a b Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 10.
  9. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 4.
  10. ^ Foss & Sarson, p. 14
  11. ^ a b "Tank Chats #109 Scorpion & TV15000". The Tank Museum. Retrieved 19 February 2021 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Chant, Christopher (January 1987). A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware. ISBN 9780710207203. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  13. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 12.
  14. ^ Application Gallery: Steyr-Motors.com
  15. ^ Thailand Army Weapon Systems Handbook.
  16. ^ "Alvis FV107 Scimitar". militaryfactory.com. Military Factory.
  17. ^ Bocquelet, David. "FV101 Scorpion". tanks-encyclopedia.com. Tank Encyclopedia.
  18. ^ "FV 101 CVR(T) Scorpion". fas.org. Federation of American Scientists.
  19. ^ "Scorpion CVRT FV101 Light tracked armoured reconnaissance vehicle". armyrecognition.com. Army Recognition.
  20. ^ "FV101 Scorpion". military-today.com. Military Today.
  21. ^ Cooke, Gary W. "FV101 Scorpion Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)". inetres.com. Inetres.
  22. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 11.
  23. ^ Hughes, Geraint (2011). The Military's Role in Counterterrorism: Examples and Implications for Liberal Democracies. US Army War College, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute. p. 91. ISBN 978-1584874898. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017.
  24. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 21.
  25. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), pp. 41–44.
  26. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 37.
  27. ^ Foss & Sarson (1995), p. 34.
  28. ^ "50 years service for M113 - Australian Army". Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  29. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (2021). The Military Balance. p. 451. ISBN 9781032012278.
  30. ^ "SIPRI arms transfer database". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 17 June 2011. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  31. ^ Dominguez, Gabriel; Cranny-Evans, Samuel (26 January 2021). "Elbit Systems awarded contract for Sabrah light tanks and direct-fire support vehicles". www.janes.com. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Philippines awards contract for light tanks and wheeled APCs to Elbit Systems of Israel". www.armyrecognition.com. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  33. ^ "China tank deal opens old wounds for wary". Bangkok Post.
  34. ^ "Former Equipment of Iraqi Army". Archive.org. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  35. ^ Mark Nash (7 June 2018). "FV101 Scorpion in Irish Service". Tank Encyclopedia. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  36. ^ "Scorpions to be Retired - Malaysian Defence".


  • Foss, Christopher F; Sarson, Peter (1995). Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle 1972-94. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-390-7.
  • Razoux, Pierre (2015). The Iran-Iraq War. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674088634.