FV 4101 Charioteer Tank c.1955

As a bit of a smokescreen while I await some figures for my Leopard 1A1 project I thought I’d distract modellers by showing my Charioteer model; this is the Accurate Armour conversion using the Tamiya Cromwell kit. Whilst I made this some years ago I thought it might garner a bit of interest.

Just a bit of background to those unfamiliar with the vehicle: in the 50s - and being well aware of the Soviet threat - the British realised that they needed as much firepower as they could muster. As it happened the production of 20 Pdr guns (84mm) outpaced that of the Centurion Mk 3; the Army also had large stocks of Cromwell tanks which were still in good condition and so a turret was designed to take the 20 Pdr. The turret took only 2 x crew: Commander/Gunner and a Loader/Operator. The disadvantages of only a 2 man crew were originally acceptable but the obscuration made by the 20 Pdr round made observation very difficult at ranges under 1500 yards; a fourth man was therefore added to the crew and he travelled in what had been the hull machine-gunner’s place - the machine gun being removed and blanked off. When the Tank Commander dismounted to observe and correct fire from a flank, the fourth man took his place as Gunner.

By the time it was issued to the Army several organizational changes had occurred and it was never used by the Regular Army but went to the Territorial Army who as usual, were grateful for any scraps that fell from the Regular’s table.

The conversion was fairly straightforward and was in fact my first foray into resin; I baulked at the resin tracks though and ended up using those from a Taniya PzKw IV; they were a fraction short but by careful positioning feel I just about got away with it.

The model is shown as on the ranges at Lulworth during the second week of the unit’s (in this case the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) annual 2 week consolidated training period. The Commander is shown dismounted as per the description above. As is the norm on TA annual camps a senior officer - in this case a Brigadier - is visiting from HQ Southern Command. He has arrived by Jeep (Italeri), which although Austin Champs were in production at the time, were still in use by such HQs, units in BAOR taking priority of the issue of Champs. The Commanding Officer (Lieutenant Colonel) of the unit and his Regimental Sergeant Major (Warrant Officer Class 1) are worriedly making sure that the programme runs to schedule. The Officer Commanding the respective Squadron (sub-unit) the Charioteer belongs to is briefing the Brigadier and pointing out the hits - or not - on target; he has arrived by his scout car, which is the ancient Tamiya Dingo brought up to a more modernised version.

The figures were a mix of Ultracast, Hornet & Wolf (Brigadier) and Accurate Armour. The battledress they are wearing is still the WW2 issue as the 1949 version has not yet reached the TA. I excused the Brigadier (Regular not TA) wearing WW2 BD as perhaps he just liked it and in any case, it was perhaps a bespoke version.

The Jeep has a Driver but I have no pics of him at this time; the vehicle also contains the Brigadier’s stick and inevitable briefcase but these can hardly be seen I’m afraid. Ditto the cigarette ends I made on the far side of the jeep! Empty shell cases came from AFV Club and very good they are too - or at least I think so!

Please forgive all this preamble; I do so not to excuse any modelling shortfalls but merely to explain the existence of the Charioteer, which I suspect not all have heard of.



I love the figure interaction. Bloody good, old chap!:beer:

Very well done Brian. That is a classic " let’s put on a show and hope it all goes well " … the Commander is praying the the gunner can get on target within 2 rounds … The Lt Col is in a flap as the top table lunch in the mess is in 20min and the Brig is waffling to the Sqn Ldr because he went to Eton with his father and they served together at Dunkirk. The RSM is checking his watch because as soon as he drops the Brig and C.O at the mess, he is due to judge the inter squadron pace sticking competition…
And … The scene is brilliant … Totally believable… And great use of figures. The charioteer is a very rare beast to see. You did it proud. What was the resin like on that ?

Thanks both Mike and John - 'very kind and I’m glad it all seems to work.

John - you’re bang on of course! In my second bite at the military career cherry (as a TA gadger after my 22) I was the WO Visits at Banja Luka during an SFOR tour so I’m all a bit of a Ninja at visits (dare I say it) and that’s how Senior Officer visits go down. I made a rod for my own back in a way and went on to do similar jobs in several other locations including Iraq - all grist to my mill.

“Enough!” I hear you cry; the Accurate Armour kit was pretty good. I was a bit chary as I hadn’t worked with resin before but this was relatively straightforward and gave me the confidence to tackle full resin kits. I seem to recall I scrounged a metal barrel from somewhere but the resin version was perfectly acceptable. There was a little etch I think for the sighting vane and one of the antennae mounts and I think that was about it.

Cam nets - and you might like this - were made from a blob of Milliput, with gauze bandage wrapped around but with thin masking tape strips interleaved between the layers and finally added to the outward surface to try and replicate the Hessian strip-type net (ie those before the plastic scrim patches came in).

I forgot to mention that I used Hornet Heads throughout; the Ultracast ones weren’t that bad but the Hornet ones just had the edge.

Thanks again - to both - for your comments.


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What year were you at BL ? Was it the metal factory ? We had D Sqn there and A and B at other tours. I was down in Glamoc…

'Just had to go and check: I got there in Nov 97 and left Apr 98, and “Yes” - based in the Metal Factory in HQ MND(SW). I seem to remember the HCR somewhere in the scheme of things but also some Lancers (I think - memory’s getting a bit stretched!). I had a pretty interesting tour - always out and about arranging senior officer or ministerial visits - and nearly always by helicopter as the terrain didn’t lend itself to a decent road tour - as you well know. I’m sure a couple of visits included Glamoc but I’m afraid I can’t remember the details. Did our paths ever cross? There must be a possibility…

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Very possibly, I was there mid 96 to jan 97, and late 97 to early 98… Small world indeed…
I was emailing @AKirchhoff today about Bosnia and our Strikers and the one off GW range we built to fire the Swingfire ACLOS system BAE had developed…

It might be a bit smaller yet - you’re not at Bulford at the moment are you, with the Regiment? I ask as my gaff is about 2 miles away(!)

No sadly, and I was distraught when we had to leave Windsor… I almost cried…so much history gone. I did my 22 with them in 2005 and did 10months out then rejoined into the MPGS… I’m down in RAF St Mawgan at the mo working with the RAF. I’m due up early next year to see some old mates up there and have a look round the new Ajax family they are now using…maybe a brew could be arranged ?

It certainly could; we’ll keep in touch I’m sure and I’ll send you a grid in due course.

Brilliant! All Hail to Armorama yet again.

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Rodger so far lol… It really is a site that keeps on giving. Anyhows, great kit mate and it does look cracking. So well done again.

Egad he points but he isn’t German? Fantastic diorama Brian & thanks for the education I’d never heard of the Charioteer, very interesting. Gee with a sleek turret like that it’s hard to believe GB couldn’t sell ‘em by the boatload all over the world. I guess it was only 10 to 15 years earlier that sloping sides were discovered by the Germans & Russians, and big-gunned low-profile converted-chassis cheaper-to-produce tank-destroyers like the Jadgpanther clearly hadn’t been noticed on the battlefield. I like Fletcher’s take, “the fifth worst British tank produced” :tumbler_glass:

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Thanks Tim!

I think Charioteer is one of those anomalies in the AFV world which actually looks like it would/should work but in practice doesn’t, although arguably this is down to the gun’s characteristics and associated crew drills to try and make it work. I can understand the rush to get the 20 Pdrs into service given the preponderance in Europe of T-54s let alone the Soviet heavy tanks and heavy tank destroyers, but I can’t see it being much use if the Commander has to dismount to ensure accuracy. Tank destroyers almost by definition need to be fast and manoeuvrable and well versed in the deadly ambush.

Of course, I’m no armour man let alone a tactician and if soldiers don’t know any better they will train on and make any system work where possible. I note that Charioteer ended up equipping Finnish, Jordanian and Austrian armies so it must have had some utility.

Thanks again; I just wonder what the remaining 4 tanks were in David Fletcher’s list?

Brilliant stuff @BootsDMS! I have one of those Accurate Armour Charioteer conversion sets in my stash, that I’m planning to do as a Lebanese one.

The Charioteer was also sold to Austria, Finland, Jordan and Lebanon (who also aquired some of the Jordanian vehicles I believe) in relatively small numbers. It was considered something of a death trap because of the thin turret armour, necessary to keep the turret weight within the limits of what the chassis could accommodate.

Only used in combat in the Middle East and last known use would have been the Charioteers operated by various Lebanese militia during the 1980s.

Thanks Mick; I would recommend the conversion kit as even I managed to cope with it. It really is quite straightforward although as I say, back when I built it I wimped out on the resin tracks.

Good luck with your build when you get around to it.


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