Throughout its three decades of service in Britain, the legendary Chieftain Main Battle Tank has seen action in several Middle-Eastern conflicts and evolved from the early service Mk.2 to the ultimate British variant, the Mk.10.
The Mk.6 is essentially the Mk.2 Chieftain upgraded as a part of the “Totem Pole” program (or “Exercise Totem Pole”) to more or less Mk.5 standard. The entire program is rather convoluted and was actually split into three parts: X, Y and Z. Part X dealt with the new improved sighting system, part Y dealt with some improved automotive characteristics and commander’s control system (the commander was now able to fire the main gun for example) and part Z included improvements to the engine and gearbox.
The Mk.6 was the Mk.2 with X, Y and Z improvements built in (whereas only partially improved versions would be called Mk.2 X or Mk.2 Y). To make matters more complicated, there were actually several Mk.6 variants:
- Mk.6/L included the “L” kit for the Tank Laser Sight (TLS) Mk.1 No.1
- Mk.6/1 included the TLS No.1 Mk.2 or TLS No.3 Mk.1 and the Muzzle Reference System (MRS)
- Mk.6/2 was essentially Mk.6/1 with the ranging machinegun removed (please note that some sources claim the ranging MG was merely modified, not removed)
- Mk.6/3 was like the Mk.6/2 but featured a new and improved fire control system among other things, such as commander’s sights
- Mk.6/4 was like the Mk.6/3, but with ammunition stowage modified for the needs of the L23 APFSDS round and with further modifications made to the sights
There are even more similar subtleties. The Mk.6/4 variant for example was split into the Mk.6/4 with sight modifications and the Mk.6/4/1 with ammo rack modifications. Another example would be the Clansman radio set that added the “C” suffix to the tank designation. There are many more details like this, but their full extent is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.
But enough about this, you just want to take the Chieftain Mk. 6 out for a spin and shoot everything that moves! Well, her you go, get your codes now and shoot them all!