Chieftain Mk 3

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Chieftain Mk 3
General characteristics
4 peopleCrew
89 %Visibility
front / side / backArmour
86 / 37 / 37Hull
250 / 86 / 45Turret
54.4 tWeight
1 259 hp660 hpEngine power
23 hp/t12 hp/tSurface density
45 km/h forward
10 km/h back
40 km/h forward
9 km/h back
120 mm Ordnance BL Tk. L11 cannonMain weapon
53 roundsAmmunition
7.5 / 9.7 sReload
-10° / 20°Vertical guidance
12.7 mm L21A1 machine gunSecondary weapon
588 roundsAmmunition
0.5 / 0.6 sReload
3 roundsBelt capacity
300 shots/minFire rate
7.62 mm L37A1 machine gunMachinegun
2 000 roundsAmmunition
8.0 / 10.4 sReload
100 roundsBelt capacity
650 shots/minFire rate
7.62 mm L8A1 machine gunCoaxial weapon
6 000 roundsAmmunition
8.0 / 10.4 sReload
200 roundsBelt capacity
600 shots/minFire rate
180 000 Rp icon.pngResearch
490 000 Sl icon.pngPurchase
Sl icon.png5 300 / 7 987/3 870 / 5 832/4 000 / 6 027Repair
140 000 Sl icon.pngCrew training
490 000 Sl icon.pngExperts
2 000 Ge icon.pngAces
× (214) % Rp icon.pngReward for battle
× 1.8 Sl icon.png× 1.5 Sl icon.png× 1.3 Sl icon.png
Msg-info.png This page is about the medium tank Chieftain Mk 3. For other uses, see Chieftain (Disambiguation)


GarageImage ChieftainMk3.jpg

The Chieftain Mk 3 is a Rank VI British medium tank with a battle rating of 8.7 (AB) and 8.3 (RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.57 "Battle March" and established the series of end-game ground vehicle for the British tree. The Chieftain imposes a formidable force of reckoning on the battlefield with its heavily sloped armour and powerful 120 mm armament.

The Cheiftain series maintains the traditional UK lower front plate weak spot and strong turret armour of the Centurion series of tanks while increasing the firepower. Top speed increases from the Centurion line, but overall mobility is comparably worse.

The Chieftain Mk.3 suffers from poor a horsepower to tonne ratio. It is slow to reach its top speed of 41 km/h on almost any surface and will turn very slowly even when all mobility modules are researched. The Chieftain especially struggles up hill and when pivoting. It has a decent reverse speed (~9.4 km/h, compared to the 13 km/h reverse speed of tanks on the Centurion chassis).

A major improvement from previous British mediums is the Chieftain's thick, sloped armour. Reaching a compound-angled 152 mm on the turret and a respectable 86 mm at 71° on the upper front hull, the Chieftain can actually resist point-blank shots from some cannons it will face at 8.3. In an uptier, however, most of these benefits have less impact. This tank should avoid exposing its hull as certain tanks at (and most above) 8.3 can penetrate the hull with an APFSDS shot, knocking out the entire crew or detonating an ammo rack. Armour around the gun breach leaves something to be desired. Lower-tier APDS rounds (e.g. a T-54/55's APDS) can penetrate the right turret face at closer ranges, killing the gunner and commander. The lower glacis is 76 mm at 45°, leading to a significant disadvantage in close-range engagements. Even 7.3 tanks (and many below 7.3) will always penetrate the lower glacis. The Chieftain also has thin side armour, meaning that the tank is vulnerable to flank attacks. The thin side armour also means angling the hull is not effective. A Chieftain should remain hull down (at the very least covering the lower frontal plate) to best take advantage of its armor profile.

The Chieftain's 120 mm gun has access to APDS and HESH when stock, with no researchable ammunition. The APDS shell has a very good slope modifier compared to other APDS and will penetrate essentially any vehicle from 8.3 to 9.3, but has relatively weak post-penetration effects. HESH behaves similar to other HESH shells in game and is a more situational round. The cannon's reload rate is much faster than average for its calibre at its BR (7.5 seconds with a fully-trained crew).

General info

Survivability and armour

Armour type:

  • Cast homogeneous armour (Hull front, Turret)
  • Rolled homogeneous armour (Hull sides, Hull rear, Hull roof, Turret roof)
Armour Front Sides Rear Roof
Hull 70-127 mm (43-79°) Front glacis
76.2 mm (43-44°) Lower glacis
88-220 (8-30°) + 13 mm Front Top
50 mm (1-31°) Center Top
37 mm (30°) + 13 mm Rear Top
37 (10°) + 13 mm Bottom
37 mm (1-7°) 13-28 mm
Turret 125-250 mm (2-81°) Turret front
100-220 mm (1-53°) Gun mantlet
45-196 mm (1-65°) 45 mm (1°) 50.8 mm Front
25 mm Rear
Armour Sides Roof
Cupola 150 mm 25 mm


  • Suspension wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick.
  • Armour thickness throughout the vehicle is very complex and the tank relies more on sloping thickness to enhance its effective armour.
  • The metal boxes on the sides of the turret and hull are 13 mm of structural steel.


Mobility characteristic
Weight (tons) Add-on Armor
weight (tons)
Max speed (km/h)
54.4 N/A 45 (AB)
41 (RB/SB)
Engine power (horsepower)
Mode Stock Upgraded
Arcade 1,023 1,259
Realistic/Simulator 584 660
Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Mode Stock Upgraded
Arcade 18.80 23.14
Realistic/Simulator 10.73 12.13


Main armament

120 mm L11
Capacity Vertical
53 -10°/+20° ±180° Two-plane
Turret rotation speed (°/s)
Mode Stock Upgraded Prior + Full crew Prior + Expert qualif. Prior + Ace qualif.
Arcade 13.40 _.__ _.__ _.__ _.__
Realistic 13.40 _.__ _.__ _.__ _.__
Reloading rate (seconds)
Stock Prior + Full crew Prior + Expert qualif. Prior + Ace qualif.
9.70 _.__ _.__ _.__
Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration in mm @ 90°
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m
Shot L15A3 APDS 320 315 305 294 280 270
Shell L31A7 HESH 152 152 152 152 152 152
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
in m/s
Mass in kg
Fuse delay

in m:

Fuse sensitivity

in mm:

Explosive Mass in g
(TNT equivalent):
Normalization At 30°
from horizontal:
0% 50% 100%
Shot L15A3 APDS 1370 7.6 N/A N/A N/A +1.5° 75° 78° 80°
Shell L31A7 HESH 670 17 0.4 0.1 4,100 +0° 73° 77° 80°
Smoke characteristic
Ammunition Velocity
in m/s
Mass in kg
Screen radius
in m
Screen time
in s
Screen hold time
in s:
Explosive Mass in g
(TNT equivalent):
L34 670 17.0 20 5 25 50
Ammo racks
Ammo racks of the Chieftain Mk.3.
rack empty
rack empty
53  (+)  (+) No

Turret empty: 30 (+23)

Machine guns

12.7 mm L21A1
Coaxial mount (Ranging)
Capacity (Belt capacity) Fire rate
588 (3) 300 N/A N/A
7.62 mm L37A1
Pintle mount
Capacity (Belt capacity) Fire rate
2,000 (100) 650 -10°/+50° ±120°
7.62 mm L8A1
Coaxial mount
Capacity (Belt capacity) Fire rate
6,000 (200) 600 N/A N/A

Usage in the battles

Fundamental average for Chieftain: its rate of shooting and its penetration. With Chieftain there is few vehicle being able to resist to you, perhaps T95 or Maus, without your skill. Shoot anywhere at your enemy with L15A3 shells, you penetrate armour. Know where you shoot, you will kill all your enemies. That requires good knowledge of the enemy tanks. You have to know where are the shells, fuel tanks, crews. Don’t trouble about the shielding of adversary, your Chieftain is a knife for butter. If you don't know your enemy, look in top on the right during replay penetration to locate the strategic places.

In long range fight:
Your gun is very precise with all the shooting ameliorations. Do not forget to protect your frame, it is fragile. The turret protects you well. Invest in camouflage plants, 1 or 2 seconds lost by the aiming enemy is deadly for him.

An aggressive way to play:
Your best clients are the German “Leopards” and all the Russian series “T-xx”. Shoot it on front frame, where the shells are, for an assured popcorn effect. Don’t hesitated to try this on IS-3/4 or T-26/28/29, only shell place change (front side or turret rear). Other tanks could be easily knocked out with fuel tank, or disabled in aiming crew member. Dont forget that reload time is your best friend. Beware to the width of Chieftain, often you let appear vulnerable parts when you turn in a transverse street.


The first upgrades to head for is Parts and FPE for increased survivability. Once you got these two, everything is good, but get the rangefinder for enhanced RB or SB gameplay.

  • Spare parts.
  • Tracks. (Critical for hull rotation speed. In the Chieftain, you'll need every little degree of speed.)
  • Extinguishers FPE.
  • Horizontal drive.
  • Adjustment shooting.
  • Elevation mechanism.

Pros and cons


  • Very good turret
  • Can bounce APDS and also HEATFS with the turret
  • Front hull armour is sloped very sharply
  • Excellent reload time for a 120 mm
  • Access to 400mm penetrating APDS shells and HESH shells immediately
  • 10 degrees of gun depression
  • Has access to a dual plane stabiliser
  • Unlike other British tanks, it has a respectable reverse speed


  • Weak hull armour overall
  • Lower frontal plate is very poorly armoured, and has an ammo rack behind it
  • Very weak side and rear armour
  • Ammo rack everywhere
  • Small ammo variety (APDS or HESH only)
  • APDS deals minimal damage
  • Slowest of all MBTs



The idea of a "universal tank" began in Britain in 1944 when Montgomery and other influential people began advocating for more standardized tank to replace the cruiser and infantry tank classes used on the field. Efforts did not start until after World War II under the General Staff designation A45, with development starting just as the new cruiser tank Centurion started to enter military service. The A45 was cancelled in 1948 after development troubles and its inability to be used as a "universal" platform. Ironically, the Centurion proved to be a better "universal tank" platform than the A45.[1]


The Centurion tank series was very successful in British and its allies' service, but development of new Soviet armour such as the IS-3 and T-54/55 caused the British tank arms race to take another leap forward. Development on the Centurion's successor began in 1951 under the name Medium Gun Tank No. 2. The project's priority was gun and armour, but with mobility to be equal to the Centurion's and a weight of less than 45 tons. The weight limit caused a program known as the Concept Study Programme to commence in order to find ways to keep the tank under that weight limit yet meet all the armour and firepower specifications. One of the concept that came out was the usage of bagged charges, which was already in use on naval ships, but was a new concept for tank ammunition. Thus, a gun using the bagged charge propellant system began development in 1954, along with a new specification by General Staff that the Medium Gun Tank No.2, now known as FV4201, uses a conventional four crew tank with a turret and a better gun and armour than the Centurion. Though the Conqueror heavy tank was one such response to the firepower requirement, limited production cut that to only 200 units built.[1]

The biggest bump to the firepower of the FV4201 was the recommendation of a 120 mm caliber tank cannon. Though the Conqueror used a 120 mm, the new one would incorporate more innovative features such as the bagged charges. Other design features added was the usage of a Rolls-Royce V8 engine, an auxiliary engine, an automatic gearbox, and a reclining seat for the driver. The reclining seat was a very new feature in tank design as it reduced the vehicle's hull height and thus gave it a lower profile. Leyland Motors was assigned to be the main designer for the tank despite their commitment to the Centurion production lines. The manufacturing process of the tank was decided to be cast rather than welded. In 1957, several specifications added to the FV4201 impeded its attempt to fit in the specifications. A bigger turret was designed and it mounted IR equipment for night fighting. Troops requested more frontal and turret side armour, which along with the turret change caused an increase in the tank's overall weight. A controversial decision was also made in 1957 by NATO that tanks should have multi-fuel engines. The FV4201 installed a new engine conforming to these standards in 1958, a German engine derived from a Junkers Jumo aviation engine. This extended development time since the engine compartment had to be redesigned to fit the engine, raising the total tank weight to 50 tons. The engine, designated the L60, was received with mixed reception by the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) and other users due to its novel features. Britain stayed as the only user of a multi-fuel engine in the Cold War as many other nations found the concept impractical and abandoned it.[1]

As the FV4201 finalized its prototype stages, General Staff sent a revised specification for it. The tank was to have the firepower of the Conqueror with the mobility of the Centurion, an armour that maximizes the protection-weight ratio, a weight limit at 45 ton with a top speed of 26 mph and an operating range of 300 miles. The first wooden prototype was made in March 1959, with full prototypes ordered in June 1959 for troop trials. Vickers-Armstrong and Royal Ordnance Factory shared the manufacturing process and the first prototypes were built in January 1960. The first two prototype FV4201 was trialed in Germany alongside their new Leopard 1. The greatest issue with the FV4201 was the engine, which caused many failures due to vibration, a result of the flawed multi-fuel concept. Trials were delayed due to lack of parts to fix broken pieces and redesigns were requested to fix problems. After a lengthy trial period in 1962, the FV4201, now named the Chieftain, was sent to the operational unit in Germany for service and combat trials. The Chieftain was finally accepted for service in 1st May 1963, despite the many faults in the design. The first deliveries of the improved and redesigned Chieftains began in mid-1965. These were the Chieftain Mk.1's, which further revealed problems with the horsepower that the Mk.2 was designed and sent in April 1966. The Chieftain Mk.3 rolled out of the production lines in September 1969, it now weighed 53 tons and the L60 engine was producing 650 hp, still underpowered for the weight. Engine failures were still frequent and left the Chieftain with a sour note until the Mk.5 variant fixed these pressing issues with a new engine and NBC protection. The Mk.5 would be the main variant of the Chieftain in British service. During its production life from 1965 to 1985, a total of 2,265 Chieftains would be built by Britain, with about 1,000 used by the British Army.[1]


The first British units to receive the Chieftains was the 1st and 5th Royal Tank Regiments back during the trials. The Chieftain, despite its initial engine flaws, proved to be combat-proof and could be upgraded to fit new requirements. Some of these upgrades were the addition of composite add-on armour to fight off new anti-tank technology such as the HEAT rounds. The Chieftain earned the title "most formidable tank in the world" during the 1960's Cold War period and also redefined the specifications of a "main battle tank". Its success is due to its novel main gun and heavily sloped armour, as well as a satisfactory mobility and speed able to compete with the Leopard 1. The Chieftain stayed in use by the British Army On the Rhine on the German border with the Warsaw Pact, which caused the Soviets to in turn station their best tanks such as their T-64's against the Chieftains. The British retained the Chieftains all the way until 1995, when it was replaced by the Challenger I.

The Chieftain was also successful on the export market, primarily in the Middle East to the hands of Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, and Oman. Another user of the Chieftain was Israel, with Britain initially agreeing to help set up production for locally produced Chieftains. Two Chieftains were sent for trials among the Israeli Defense Force in 1967. After two years of trials and deliberation for the acquirement of the Chieftains, Britain ultimately refused to offer the Israelis the Chieftain for political reasons. The Israeli trials benefit Britain with data on desert combat with the Chieftain however, and the refusal did jump start Israel's tank program that would become the Merkava.

Despite that, sales to the Middle East soared, with Iran being the major buyer of the Chieftains with at least 887 of mostly the MK3 and MK5 variants sent to them before their revolution in 1979. The Chieftain saw prolonged combat in the Middle East in the Iran-Iraq War, including Operation Nasr which was the largest tank vs. tank battle of the war where the Iranian Chieftains and M60A1 Pattons fought against the Iraqi T-62s. After that war, the Chieftain in Kuwait then saw combat fighting the Iraqis during their invasion in 1990. Kuwait eventually replaced their Chieftains with the Yugoslavian M-84 tanks, which are a variant of the Soviet T-72s.

The Chieftain is still in service Iran, Jordan, and Oman in varying numbers, about 100 in Iran, 350 in Jordan, and 27 in Oman. The Chieftains underwent local upgrades to keep them up to date against modern threat, which resulted in the Iran Mobarez Chieftain upgrade.


An excellent addition to the article will be video guides, as well as screenshots from the game and photos.


Review: Chieftain Mk. III
War Thunder Video Tutorials
The Chieftain at Bovington
Bovington Tank Museum Tank Chats: Chieftain


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dunstan Simon. Chieftain Main Battle Tank 1965-2003 Great Britain: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2003

Read also

[Devblog] The Chieftain tank: A very British warlord!


Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:

  • topic on the official game forum;
  • other literature.

Britain medium tanks
Valentine  Valentine Mk I · Valentine Mk IX · Valentine Mk XI
Cromwell  Cromwell I · Cromwell V · Cromwell Mk.V (RP-3)
Based on Cromwell  A30 Challenger · Comet I · Iron Duke IV
Foreign  Grant I · Sherman II · A.C.IV · Strv 81 (Rb.52)
Firefly (M4)  Sherman IC "Trzyniec" · Sherman Firefly
Centurion  Centurion Mk 1 · Centurion Mk 3 · Centurion Mk.5 AVRE · Centurion Mk 10 · FV4202
Chieftain  Chieftain Mk 3 · Chieftain Mk 5 · Chieftain Mk 10 · Vickers MBT
Challenger  Challenger Mk.2 · Challenger Mk.3 · Challenger 2