|This page is about the British medium tank Olifant Mk.1A. For the other version, see Olifant Mk.2.|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The Olifant Mk.1A is a rank VI British medium tank with a battle rating of 8.3 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update "Ixwa Strike".
The Olifant is an early South African modification of the legendary Centurion tank. The vehicle received an increase in firepower and mobility from the earlier British series, to match the needs of extended cruising capabilities and long-distance skirmishes within the dusty and heated African environment.
Fitted with a GT-3 cannon, the Olifant should be as persuasive as most NATO counterparts, due to the GT-3 being a variant of the popular British-made Royal Ordnance L7 gun. On the weak side, the armour layout can be described as obsolete against HEAT and APFSDS, which are quite common at Olifant's rank. This lack of armour simultaneously with a somewhat slow turret traverse and below average top speed, commits the Olifant to use distance, uneven grounds and marksmanship skills to endure the battles.
Survivability and armour
Describe armour protection. Note the most well protected and key weak areas. Appreciate the layout of modules as well as the number and location of crew members. Is the level of armour protection sufficient, is the placement of modules helpful for survival in combat? If necessary use a visual template to indicate the most secure and weak zones of the armour.
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull||___ mm|| ___ mm Top
___ mm Bottom
|___ mm||___ - ___ mm|
|Turret|| ___ - ___ mm Turret front
___ mm Gun mantlet
|___ - ___ mm||___ - ___ mm||___ - ___ mm|
|Cupola||___ mm||___ mm||___ mm||___ mm|
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
|105 mm GT-3||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (kg)
|Smoke shell characteristics|
| Screen radius
| Screen deploy
| Screen hold
| Explosive mass|
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|72||66 (+6)||61 (+11)||58 (+14)||54 (+18)||46 (+26)||32 (+40)||8 (+64)||1 (+71)||No|
- Shells are modeled individually and disappear after having been shot or loaded.
- Rack 8 is a first stage ammo rack. It totals 7 shells and gets filled first when loading up the tank.
- This rack is also emptied early: the rack depletion order at full capacity is: 8 - 1 - 2 - etc. until 7.
- Simply not firing when the gun is loaded will move ammo from racks 1 to 7 into rack 8. Firing will interrupt the restocking of the ready rack.
|7.62 mm L3A1|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
The Olifant Mk.1A is relegated to a support role as it lacks the armour to brawl or the mobility to flank. Players should get into a good position early in the game and use the powerful APFSDS shell of the Olifant to pick off hard targets.
Pros and cons
- Strong and accurate APFSDS and HEATFS; similar ballistics to guns found on Rooikat MTTD and the Rooikat 105
- Laser rangefinder and NVD for long-range/night operations + bonus of smoke screen and smoke shells
- Excellent gun elevation and depression angles
- The machine gun area on the turret can bounce some carelessly aimed shells
- Fuel tanks in the front and rear may protect the engine, crew and the ammo racks from HEAT shells
- Acceleration is adequate once fully spaded; keeping similar instant mobility to the Centurion Mk 3 or Centurion Mk.5/1
- Poor stock acceleration and top speed, compared to other MBTs at the BR; even inferior to the Chieftain Mk 5 when spaded
- APFSDS is a tier 4 modification: early module research must be done with the more unreliable HEAT shells
- Obsolete armour for the rank: unreliable against most APFSDS or HEAT rounds even with small calibre guns
- The ammo rack to the right of the driver is a major weak spot
- The engine roof is a weak spot for aircraft with large-calibre cannons
Predecessor: Olifant Mk.1
The Olifant Mk.1 was a South African conversion of Centurion Mk.3s tanks to a modified standard. Conversions began in 1979 and lasted until 1984; a total of 153 Olifant Mk.1s were converted from Centurion Mk.3 tanks. Not long after the Olifant Mk.1 entered production, T-55 tanks were obtained and tested which revealed flaws in the Olifant Mk.1 by comparison. Fortunately for the SADF, an upgrade of the Olifant Mk.1 was already under development.
The Olifant Mk.1A was an upgrade for the Olifant Mk.1 that began development in 1981. The main features were a new, fully stabilized 105 mm GT3B main gun, a new fire control system, and other improvements.
The Olifant Mk.1A has a crew of four, the driver in the hull and the commander, gunner, and loader in the turret. It maintains the base of the Centurion but with overhauls in most important aspects such as mobility and firepower.
The Horstmann suspension of the Centurion was retained on the Mk.1A, having never been changed on the Olifant Mk.1 or Mk.1A. Propulsion was provided by a Continental 29-litre turbo charged air cooled radial V12 engine, which could produce 750 horsepower. In order to prevent the dust from the environment from interfering with the engine's operation, new dust filters were added. Additionally, a new rail system was implemented that allowed the engine to be replaced in only thirty minutes with a crane. A new transmission was fitted with two forward and one reverse gear. The Olifant Mk.1A had a horsepower to ton ratio of 13.39 hp/t and could achieve a maximum speed of 45 km/h.
The fuel supply was increased from 458 litres to 1,240 litres, allowing the range of the Olifant Mk.1A to increase to 350 km at the maximum (the Centurion Mk.5 could only travel 190 km maximum). The reliability and ease of maintenance took precedence on the Olifant Mk.1A, reducing the amount of maintenance that needed to be done overall.
The main armament of the Olifant Mk.1A was a 105 mm L7 or GT3B rifled cannon, which was fully stabilized. The ammunition initially consisted of the L52A3 APDS, M456 HEAT and M156 HEAT rounds. In the mid-1980s, M111 APFSDS rounds were acquired for use on the Olifant Mk.1A as the primary anti-tank ammunition. The ammunition stowage was redesigned and as such the total amount of 105 mm ammunition was increased from 64 to 72 rounds.
The turret rotation and gun elevation mechanisms were replaced with an improved electrical gun and turret drive, this allowed the turret drive to traverse the turret 360 degrees in 20 seconds. Also, the main gun was fully stabilized. A new fire control system (FCS) was fitted. The gunner's 6x zoom sight was replaced with an Eloptro 8x zoom sight which included a laser rangefinder accurate to up to 10 km.
Secondary armament consisted of a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm machine gun on the commander's cupola. At least 5,600 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition were provided.
The Olifant Mk.1A retained the armour of the Centurion Mk 3. Needless to say, the Olifant Mk.1A was incredibly vulnerable to the T-54/55 and T-62 tanks it would face in combat, and also to RPG-7 infantry anti-tank weapons. The Olifant Mk.1A had two banks of four smoke grenades each mounted on each side of the turret for a total of eight launchers.
Production and Service
The Olifant Mk.1A entered production in 1983 and entered service with the SADF in 1985. A total of 153 Olifant Mk.1As were converted from Olifant Mk.1s by the late 1980s and it was only adopted by South Africa.
The first combat deployment of the Olifant Mk.1A was during the South African Border War which consisted of Operations Modular, Packer, and Hooper from 1987-1988. During these operations, South Africa came to the aid of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) who were at risk of destruction by the People's Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (FAPLA), who were supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union (USSR).
Eight brigades and an auxiliary support force of the FAPLA (along with Soviet advisors) moved from Cuito Cuanavale to attack the UNITA forces at Jamba and Mavinga. The SADF sent Olifant Mk.1 and Mk.1A tanks in two squadrons - of 11 tanks and two command tanks each - to Angola to reinforce the Ratel 90 armoured cars that made up the rest of the anti-armour materiel there. During the conflict, Olifants and Ratel 90s faced off against 150 FAPLA T-54 and T-55 main battle tanks (MBTs) in a large-scale conventional war fought at incredibly close ranges of only 50 to 150 m.
The Olifant Mk.1A saw its first combat with E-Squadron during Operation Modular in 1987. During that operation the tank crews preferred to load HEAT rounds rather than APFSDS rounds because HEAT rounds are effective against light and heavy armoured targets, though they could detonate prematurely upon contact with the brush. Additionally, HEAT rounds made a more noticeable visual indication of a hit on an enemy tank, and there was also a fear that APFSDS rounds would ricochet off of trees. Due to the thick brush, tank engagements occurred at very close ranges due to reduced visibility.
The first knock out of a FAPLA tank by an Olifant occurred during the Battle of Chambinga against the FAPLA 16th Brigade during Operation Modular, with a kill credited first to Lt. Hein Fourie's Olifant on 9 November 1987 followed by another credited to Lt. Abrie Strauss' Olifant.
The SADF began Operation Hooper on 2 January 1988, with F-Squadron under the command of Major Tim Rudman taking the offensive against the FAPLA 21st Brigade which was holding at the River Cuatir. During the operation, Cuban forces counterattacked in an action that resulted in the loss of several Olifant tanks; one was damaged in combat, two were detracked by anti-tank mines. The SADF mounted multiple attempts to recover the tanks but had to retreat under heavy attack by enemy guns and artillery. This left the amount of Olifants lost at three with one more damaged. Additionally, a Ratel armoured car was destroyed and four SADF soldiers were killed. The FAPLA lost 21 T-54/T-55 tanks and suffered 480 casualties.
The two detracked tanks were never moved while the third Olifant was taken by the FAPLA. Its turret was sent to the Soviet Union while the hull remains at Menongue Airport in Angola.
Centurion tanks entered service with the South African armed forces already at the start of the Cold War in the early 1950s when South Africa purchased a few hundred Centurion Mk.3 tanks from the United Kingdom. However, operating the Centurions in the warm South African climate quickly turned out to be problematic as the tanks were prone to overheating. As a result, South Africa sold off many of its Centurions to Switzerland during the 1960s in order to acquire other equipment while many of the remaining tanks were relegated to reserve roles.
With conflicts in the region flaring up during the '70s, the South African armed forces were reminded of the importance of their armoured units and several projects were initiated to modernize the Centurions in service. These projects resulted in the creation of two interim models of domestic Centurions - the Skoikaan and Semel. In parallel however, the South African government formed a company in the private sector to develop a proper modernization package for the Centurion.
Work on the project began in the mid '70s, with South African engineers taking inspiration from the Israeli Sho't Centurions and applying similar upgrades to what would eventually become known as the Olifant tank. The first prototype of the Olifant rolled out of the factory in 1976 and underwent testing. Shortly afterwards, the Olifant Mk.1 entered production service in 1978, with production lasting until 1984. In the early 80s, the Olifant was upgraded to the Mk.1A modification, which featured a domestic version of the L7 cannon as well as other upgrades.
The Olifant Mk.1A remained in service with SANDF into the 1990s before being succeeded by the Olifant Mk.2. In total, over 150 Olifant Mk.1As were produced, some seeing action during the conflicts with Angola in the early 1980s.
- Vehicles with similar chassis
- Related service history
- Similar playstyle
|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"|