Vickers MBT

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Vickers MBT Mk 1
AB133 - Vijayanta MBT.JPG
Vijayanta MBT, a variant of the Vickers MBT.
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1965–present
Used by See users
Wars Iraq-Kuwait War
Production history
Manufacturer Vickers Defence Systems
Produced 1963–1994
Weight 38.6 t (42.5 short tons)
Length 9.79 m (32 ft 1 in) overall gun forward
Width 3.17 m (10 ft 5 in)
Height 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)
Crew 4

Armour Glacis: 80 mm
Hull sides: 40 mm
1 x 105 mm L7A1 gun with 50 rounds
1 x 12.7 mm ranging MG with 700 rounds
1 x 7.62 mm MG (pintle mount) with 1,300 rounds
1 x 7.62 mm MG (coax) with 1,300 rounds
Engine Leyland L60 (multifuel 2-stroke opposed-piston compression-ignition)
650 hp (480 kW) 6 Cyl, 19 litres.
Power/weight 16.84 bhp/t
Transmission TN12 semi-automatic
Suspension Torsion bar suspension
530 km (330 miles) on roads
Speed Road: 50 km/h (31 mph)
Off road: 30 km/h (19 mph)

The Vickers MBT is a series of main battle tanks (MBTs) developed as a private venture by Vickers-Armstrongs for export. The design makes use of proven components such as the L7 gun of the Centurion, and the Leyland L60 multi-fuel engine, transmission and fire control system of the Chieftain. A large number of tanks were also built by India under licence as the Vijayanta.

Design and development[edit]

The Vickers MBT followed on from a 24-tonne 20-pdr gunned tank design intended for export.[1] This would be as well equipped as Centurion but substantially cheaper and with Vickers Vigilant missiles as effective. However with the appearance of the 105 mm L7 gun into the British, US and German tank designs, this light tank would have been less powerful while too large for the reconnaissance role, and so a new design was required. With armour twice that of the light tank design, it would still be 12 tonnes lighter than Centurion and hence more mobile. The design would use the new engine and transmission of the Chieftain tank then being developed. The development coincided with an agreement with India in 1961 to produce a tank design and help set up a factory there to produce it.

The Vickers MBT Mk 1 was designed to be a simple, low-cost, but effective tank.[2] The first prototype was completed in 1963.[2] In 1964 one of the prototypes was sent to India.

The Vickers was made of welded rolled homogeneous armour plates. It weighed 38,600 kg, carried a 105mm gun with 44 rounds and had a top speed of 48 km/h.[2] 70 tanks were sold to Kuwait and a large number of a modified version were made in India where the tank was called Vijayanta.[2]


  • The prototype of the Vickers MBT Mk 3 was completed in 1975 and the tank was designed to meet the same requirements as the Mk 1 while offering better performance.[3] Improvements over the Mk 1 include better armour, a new diesel engine Detroit Diesel 12V-71T and a more modern fire control system EFCS 600 from Marconi with a Pilkington PE Condor commander's day/night sight, NANOQUEST L23 gunner's sight and Simrad LV352 laser rangefinder.[4] Production started in 1978 and a number of tanks were sold to Kenya and Nigeria. The tank is armed with the same 105mm main gun L7A1 with 50 APFSDS, APDS, HEAT, HESH, HE, Smoke and Canister rounds. Sub-variants were the Vickers MBT Mk 3(I) with newly developed power train and suspension system, and the Vickers MBT Mk 3(M). The latter one was developed for Malaysia and had a number of improvements, for example ERA and an enhanced fire control system.[4]
  • The Vickers Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle is based on the Mk 3 and is equipped with a main winch, pulleys, cables and towbars. Some vehicles have a crane capable of lifting 4,000 kg.[4]
  • The Vickers Armoured Bridgelayer or Vickers AVLB is also based on the Mk 3 and is equipped with a hydraulically operated launch and recovery system for an MLC 60/70 scissors bridge with a length of 13.41 m.[4]


  • A Vickers MBT Mk 2 version was planned, to be equipped with four Swingfire anti-tank missiles in addition to the main gun, but this did not enter production.[1] Other changes included a new turret design and tracks that could sustain running at 56 kilometres per hour (35 mph).[5] Only one prototype was built.[4]
  • The Vickers MBT Mk 4 Valiant was designed in 1977. It mounted a "Universal Turret" which was offered with different gun options such as the rifled 120mm Royal Ordnance L11A5 from the Challenger, the 44-calibre smoothbore 120mm Rheinmetall L44 or the smoothbore GIAT CN-120 F1. The fire control system was Marconi's "Centaur". The hull was made of aluminium which proved to be too weak for the turret. This was only a prototype.
  • The Vickers MBT Mk 7, developed in the 1980s, was a further development of the Mk 4 and was offered to the British Army and to a number of potential export costumers. In the end, only one prototype was built. The Mk 7 had the same "Universal Turret" but the hull and chassis came from the Leopard 2.[6] The tank was fitted with Chobham armour and had a fire control system with a Marconi digital computer, a SFIM day sight and a Philips 2nd Gen thermal imager.[7]
  • There was also a Vickers Anti-aircraft Tank, equipped with the Marksman turret,[4] as well as a self-propelled 155mm howitzer with the GBT 155 turret.[8] The GBT 155 was unveiled in 1982 and was armed with the same 155mm ordnance as the AS-90. It was designed primarily for existing tank chassis'.[9]


Map of Vickers operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

  •  Kenya - 76 MBT Mk 3 and 7 ARV delivered in 1979–1982[4]
  •  Nigeria - 136 MBT Mk 3, 12 ARV and 26 AVLB delivered in 1983–1995[4]
  •  Tanzania - 4 ARV delivered in 1989[4]

Former operators[edit]

  •  Kuwait - 70 MBT Mk 1 delivered in 1970–1972, probably no longer operational[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ogorkiewicz, R M (1973). Vickers Battle Tank, Profile Publications, August 1973.
  2. ^ a b c d Gelbart, Marsh (1996). Tanks main battle and light tanks. Brassey’s UK Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 1-85753-168-X. 
  3. ^ Gelbart, Marsh (1996). Tanks main battle and light tanks. Brassey’s UK Ltd. pp. 109–110. ISBN 1-85753-168-X. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jane's Armour and Artillery 2003–2004
  5. ^ Foss, Christopher F; McKenzie, Peter (1988). The Vickers tanks From landships to Challenger. Patrick Stephens Limited. pp. 185–186. ISBN 978-1-8526-0141-6. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ International Defence Equipment Catalogue 1988–1989 Volume II
  8. ^ Tanks of the World (1990) ISBN 3-7637-5871-2
  9. ^ Jane's Armour and Artillery 1993–1994
  • Orgorkiewcz, R M AFV Profile No. 45 Vickers Battle Tank, Profile Publishing