|This page is about the British medium tank A30 Challenger. For other uses, see Challenger (Disambiguation).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
By early 1942, the new 17-pounder anti-tank gun had been developed, and was quickly found to be the most powerful armour-piercing gun of the Allied arsenal. A number of projects were initiated looking to fit the new gun into self-propelled mounts, resulting in designs such as the Sherman Firefly and Achilles. One such project was the A30 Challenger, a medium tank-style design utilising the chassis of the Cromwell; however, compromises had to be made, particularly in the design of the turret to fit the larger gun and an additional crewmember, as well as a lengthening of the hull and reduction in armour, leading to both reduced mobility and protection. Production began in March 1944, and the tank participated in the later stages of the Normandy landings and beyond, operating alongside Cromwells and Shermans to counter the German Tiger I heavy tanks. While the 17-pounder performed to expectations, the tall turret in particular presented a large and weakly armoured target for opposing tanks, though it was still shorter, more mobile, and generally preferred over the Firefly. The Challenger was also issued to Allied forces such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, the latter of which purchased a number of Challengers after the war and operated them until they were scrapped in 1959.
Introduced in Update 1.55 "Royal Armour" along with the initial British ground tree, the main draw of the Challenger is its powerful gun. It is able to easily penetrate any vehicle it may encounter, particularly with the addition of a new, even more penetrating, APDS round to crack the heaviest of targets, allowing it to perform well as a sniper, or as a flanker alongside its reasonable mobility. However, the Challenger should not be used to brawl with opponents: the tank has poor armour protection, a large profile, and terrible reverse speed. It should also be noted that, other than the dedicated HE shell, the ammunition of the 17-pdr still lacks any explosive filler, so critical components such as the crew and ammo racks should be aimed for to maximise the damage potential.
Survivability and armour
The armour on the Challenger is not to be relied on as it is both very thin and poorly angled. The turret armour is capable of bouncing or absorbing a few shots, however this is not to be relied upon. The hull has the same poor armour as the Cromwell, but due to the vehicle's neutral steering capability, should an enemy go for the front plate you can angle it adequately against contemporary medium cannons, however exposing your side is a death sentence, especially against APHE projectiles.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 63.5 mm (1°) Front plate
30 mm (73°) Front glacis
57.15 mm (19-35°) Joint plate
25 mm (65°) Lower glacis
| 29-50.8 mm Top hull
14 + 14 mm Lower Hull
| 51 mm Turret base
38 mm Top hull
38 mm (19°), 20 mm (57°) Lower Hull
| 20 mm Front |
14 mm Engine deck
|Turret|| 63-102 mm (0-1°) Turret front
102 mm (4-12°) Gun mantlet
|40 mm||40 mm (1°)||20 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 15 mm thick, suspension bars are 10 mm thick, and tracks are 20 mm thick.
- 5 mm RHA plates between the engine compartment and crew, as well as separating driver from turret and ammunition.
- Lower side hulls are spaced with the suspension springs lined up in between.
- A 25 mm RHA bar line up in front of the turret to protect the turret ring.
The lengthened Cromwell chassis provides the Challenger with excellent mobility. The vehicle is able to reach its top speed of 52 km/h fairly quickly. The Challenger is responsive both at low and high speeds. The centre of gravity is quite high, to the point that one track will lift up when making a significant enough turn. The Challenger has an awful reverse speed, it should not be relied upon. In most situations it's more viable to use the neutral steering capability of the vehicle to completely turn around and drive in the other direction.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
The Challenger features the 76 mm QF 17-pounder, a weapon more than capable of dealing with all adversaries the Challenger will encounter, even Soviet heavy tanks (IS-1, KV-85, etc.) and German tanks like the Panthers and Tiger Is.
|76 mm QF 17-pounder||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
While the highest penetrating round available to the Challenger is the Shot SV Mk.1, this round is both inaccurate and does very little spall damage. Because of this it is recommended to use the Shot Mk.8 the majority of the time as its penetration is sufficient, and as it is able to knock out enemies with a single shot due to great spalling. The Shot SV Mk.1 can still be brought for long range engagements.
- Shot Mk.6: - Standard penetrating round, use until better rounds are unlocked.
- Shell Mk.1: - It is ideal for destroying SPAA and lightly-armoured tanks, but useless against anything else.
- Shot Mk.4: - Cap for better grip against sloped armour.
- Shot Mk.8: - Like Shot Mk.4 but with a ballistic cap for improved flight path, as well as better penetration.
- Shot SV Mk.1: - Highest armour penetration of any shot, but has worse spalling effect.
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Shot SV Mk.1||APDS||269||264||246||226||207||189|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|Shot SV Mk.1||APDS||1,204||2.48||-||-||-||75°||78°||80°|
|Smoke shell characteristics|
| Screen radius
| Screen deploy
| Screen hold
| Explosive mass|
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|17pdr Shell SS Mk.1||229||8.44||13||5||20||50|
|48||46 (+2)||43 (+5)||40 (+8)||37 (+11)||35 (+13)|
|32 (+16)||30 (+18)||24 (+24)||19 (+29)||1 (+47)||No|
- As they are modeled by sets of 2 or 3, shells disappear from the rack only after you've fired all shells in the set.
- Turret empty: 35 (+13) shells.
|Which ones||Default magnification||Maximum magnification|
|Main Gun optics||x3||x6|
Uses now default x6 scope of the British. As of rank III, this scope is slightly or moderately superior to most medium and heavy tanks, but do not expect to outsnipe German SPG as they have same optics or even better.
With Challenger being on the edge in between rank III and IV it is possible to get into rank IV battle with full up-tier. In that case, the tank optics are no longer superior to most opponents.
In particular, do not let Japanese medium tanks ST-A1 get an upper hand at all costs, as they have optics eclipsing these of Challenger at long ranges and might as well snipe Challenger from 2 km away, if they have accuracy modifications.
|7.62 mm M1919A4|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
This tank has a high penetration gun (with APDS), great manoeuvrability, and good speed. However, it has extremely weak armour, terrible reverse, and quite a high profile. As such it requires some skill to use. It excels as a sniper or an ambushing tank destroyer, waiting for the enemy to come into its sights and firing from a point of advantage. It is also a good flanker due to its speed and manoeuvrability getting around the enemy and hitting them from the side or back.
Do not attempt to brawl or use this vehicle as a front line tank. The Challenger cannot afford to take even a single hit from enemy tanks, and it will be up against German 88 mm and Soviet 85 or 122 mm guns which will easily take it out in one shot. The poor reverse speed also makes hit and run tactics a bad choice.
When in its stock form, this tank will be quite frustrating to play. The stock AP round bounces often and does very little damage, it is also quite hard to aim at range. The first aim upon getting this tank should be to unlock the better AP shell and the APDS as soon as possible. With these rounds, the Challenger can easily penetrate most of the tanks that it faces.
Pros and cons
- Armed with the 17-pounder with APDS rounds available
- Able to deal a lot of damage in a very short amount of time
- Fast tank that is capable of reaching 50km/h on even ground
- Responsive neutral steering capability
- Fast turret traverse
- Wide gun depression and elevation
- Plays similarly to the Comet I and Avenger, albeit with a higher profile and less armour on the turret
- Turret armour is still about 102 mm thick in certain areas
- Ammo is stored in a strategic location, lowering the risk of ammo detonation
- Very low risk of fire due to rear mounted transmission and fuel tanks
- APDS has high muzzle velocity
- Paper thin hull armour (glass cannon)
- No explosive filler in any AP shells
- APDS shot causes only punctual damage (aim carefully)
- Turret is very tall compared to hull profile, making it hard to hide behind obstacles
- Suffers from an awful reverse speed
- Four man in the turret, an APHE shot will disable the tank for good
- The Challenger requires a very high skill cap to perform adequately
- Traversing the hull, especially on sloped angles, might be hard due to its long hull
The development of the Cromwell tank due to the implementation of the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine helped Roy Robotham from Rolls to become the Minstry of Supply on the Tank Board, despite his lack of experience around the development of tanks. With the Cromwell in service with the British military, attempts were made to upgrade the armament on the tank from its 6-pounder and 75 mm gun. The first attempt was by Vickers with a "high-velocity" 75 mm gun, but the Cromwell turret ring proved too small for the adaption. While these attempts were made to upgun the Cromwell, improved tanks to replace the Cromwell was underway as the Comet and the Centurion tank. The General Staff specification for a 17-pounder armed cruiser tank was A29, but this was changed to A30 for any 17-pounder tank. The first order for such a tank came in 1942 to the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company to build the 17-pounder tank from the components of the A27M Cromwell tank. While responsibility of the turret and gun mounting went to Stothert & Pitt, Birmingham was responsible for modifying the Cromwell hull for the new turret.
The resulting tank from the design team was completed in 1942. Compared to the Cromwell, the hull machine gun was removed for more stowage space for the longer 17-pounder ammunition. However, the stowage location and ammo size facilitated the need for two loaders in the tank to keep the firing rate stable. A larger turret was needed for this requirement, the larger turret thus caused the Cromwell hull to be lengthened with another road wheel on the suspension, but the track width was not modified to fit this so the tank's mobility was reduced. The total armour is reduced to save on weight, especially the turret area, which gave the crew inside the turret a sense of vulnerability. The turret ring of the turret was unprotected and was thus given a jacking feature to clear any jams that forms from combat situations.
The tank, named the A30 Challenger, was tested at Lulworth and was criticized for having a slow firing rate and thin armour, but its long range effectiveness against German tanks was satisfactory. An order for 200 Challengers was made in February 1943. The order was finished, but it was announced that no more were to be ordered on November the same year.
The Challenger was criticized and generally unpopular in its service, the crews complain that the tank throws its track, the armour was too thin, and the profile was too tall. The Challenger had no provisions for deep wading and was thus unable to participate during the D-day landings during Operation Overlord, thus the Challenger deployment was delayed until the artificial mulberry harbors and ports were captured before able to be delivered.
Though the Challenger saw some modifications to fix the track throwing issue, it was found that the equipping of the 17-pounder onto the American M4 Sherman tank into the Firefly was faster and easier than the production of the Challenger, thus production lines were stopped after the initial orders. Both tanks saw use in the same role in the British tank forces, accompanying the tank squadrons into enemy territory and firing at enemy armour from a long distance. The Challenger saw more use with Cromwell units due to interchangeability in parts. Some perks of the Challenger was its speed and agility compared to the Firefly, but the vehicle's initial bad reputation still struggled due to the low number produced in the war.
An attempt to improve on the Challenger was the A30 SP Avenger, which used a different open-topped turret to save weight on the tank design. However, due to priorities on the Comet tank in the Vauxhall Motors plant, they were not being built until 1945 and weren't used until after the war in Europe is over. 250 unit were built and formed part of the British Army of the Rhine stationed in Germany after the war.
The Challenger saw use with other Allied forces as well, with the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade using the tank during the assault on Dunkirk and the 1st Polish Armoured Division receiving them by mid-1945. After the war, Czechoslovakia wanted to buy 22 Challengers to equip its army, which it did until 1959.
Two Challenger survive in intact condition today. One is at the Overloon War Museum in the Netherlands and the other is currently in storage at the Isle of Wight Military Museum to be restored, when it will then be displayed at the Bovington Tank Museum.
- Avenger - Tank destroyer spin-off also using the Cromwell chassis to carry the 17-pdr.
|Britain medium tanks|
|Valentine||Valentine I · Valentine IX · Valentine XI|
|Cromwell||Cromwell I · Cromwell V · Cromwell V (RP-3)|
|Cromwell derivatives||Challenger · Avenger · Comet I · Comet I "Iron Duke IV" · Charioteer Mk VII|
|Centurion||Centurion Mk 1 · Centurion Mk.2 · Centurion Mk 3 · Centurion Mk.5 AVRE · Centurion Mk 10 · Centurion Action X · FV4202|
|Vickers MBT||Vickers Mk.1 · Vickers Mk.3 · Vickers Mk.7|
|Chieftain||Chieftain Mk 3 · Chieftain Mk 5 · Chieftain Mk 10|
|Challenger 1||Challenger Mk.2 · Challenger Mk.3 · Challenger DS|
|Challenger 2||Challenger 2 · Challenger 2 (2F) · Challenger 2 TES · Black Night · Challenger 2E|
|Australia||A.C.I · A.C.IV · Centurion Mk.5/1|
|South Africa||Olifant Mk.1A · Olifant Mk.2 · TTD|
|India||Vijayanta · Bhishma TWMP|
|Israel||▄Sho't Kal Dalet|
|Sweden||▄Strv 81 (RB 52)|
|USA||Grant I · Sherman II · Sherman Firefly · Sherman IC "Trzyniec"|