On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

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[EUG]MadMat
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On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby [EUG]MadMat » Tue 21 Jan 2014 17:55

Hi,

I'm bringing the Chimera topic on the table again, not to start a new flame war, but for I've been in contact with one of its concept designer recently. Some people had repeatedly asked me, on the public forum or privately, for more details about this units, so with the author's permission I will re-post here the answers he gave me and he might even come here himself to answer more ... Although I had to warn him about the epidermic reactions such topic could bring back. ;)

So, this thread is meant to provide more informations about that "very special" unit, not throw lapidary WoT-related comments again. I'll make sure to personally keep it clear, clean and polite.

You'll discover that although the Chimera was indeed a serious project, it was not exactly how people (and that includes me whom researched the unit for ALB) came to see it through the lense of Corps '86 and Macksey's books.

Spoiler : "MESSAGE 1" :
I am a former British armoured corps officer. Chimera was in fact a concept developed as a result of a British Army interest in what it might be able to do with all of its Chieftain tanks after the introduction of the Challenger 1 in the mid-1980s. I was on something called the Long Armour Infantry Course (LAIC) Number 35 in 1984/85 and we were tasked with producing a concept taking the Chieftain hull and making use of what was the latest armour technology to create a relatively cheap and easily fielded SPAT (Self propelled anti-tank gun).

I was part of the team of students that worked on the SPAT - which we then called Chimera as it was a bit of a "fanciful dream". I did all the drawings and, since I was one of the few Chieftain trained officers, effectively laid out the whole vehicle whilst the rest of the team sorted details. I still have the sketches and drawing with me today - as well as all of my notes. I will try to attach some to this note : it is of my original drawing based upon initial sketches.

The model shown was made at the Armour School in Bovington, the HQ of the UK Armoured Corps. I do not know why it has a maple on its side - the original certainly did not have that marking. I was in charge of checking the work on the model and it was really quite exciting to see ones work turn into a large model.

We had a Canadian officer on the team which is why it might have appeared in your doctrinal papers.

I would be happy to provide more information to anyone interested - but I would say here that it was a fairly serious attempt to look at the provision of heavy hitting anti-armour forces at low cost and with minimal training given the numbers of former tank soldiers who might be called up in war. The slab armour used the then very new Chobham design - about which we knew very little and had to work off some basic principles given to us by those in the know. The hole in the front was a very real concern but we had no way of filling it to be honest.

Anyway - it was a fun project and led to some interesting discussions.

Spoiler : "MESSAGE 2" :
I am very clear in my mind that the model is the same as the one we designed in the UK when on the Long Armour Course (or an exact copy). I was responsible for the design and have the drawings beside me as I type this to you. Every detail of the model as shown is the same as on the final drawing expect where the model maker had to change or simplify aspects of the model to meet the tight production deadlines.

The team also thought of the name "Chimera" and I did not like it at the time. We presented it to a senior audience of army officers from the UK and overseas in June 1985.

The Chimera was never based upon the Leo 2 or Challenger. For one thing, the gun shown is the 120mm rifled gun with the early 1980s muzzle reference system mirror and shroud above the muzzle - it was a UK gun and not the 120mm smoothbore.

It also has the 7 roadwheels per side that I put on it to cope with the extra weight - the standard British suspension only had 6.

Macksey was wrong about the weight. It was very heavy as it had a huge amount of armour over the frontal arc. It is possible that we over estimated the weight of armour as we still did not know much about the new Chobham material in those days and had to provide a space envelope and then assume standard RHA densities.

I am also an artist and produced a sketch of the vehicle which I still have with me. I can get that to you as well if it would help.

To be honest, the graphics you show on your game should not really have a maple on the side ! I reckon the Canadians kidnapped the design !
[MadMat: :lol: ] Not that it maters very much - but it would be good to have the real provenance recognised somewhere.

I am still involved in armoured vehicle design and one of my recent projects is used in large number by the UK, US and many other armies (about 7,000 in service today).

Next messages also derailed on the topic of similar projects of JagdChieftain/JagdChallenger:
Spoiler : "MESSAGE 3" :
Regarding that Jagdchallenger - it was built as a Chieftain-based test rig as part of an Anglo-German project started in 1972. We were not aware of it at the time of the Chimera project and I think that it was still a bit secret in the mid-1980s (not sure why that was the case other than the fact that it used Chobham armour over the frontal arc and someone might have guessed its properties by looking at the dimensions of the boxes).

I would certainly be interested in looking at your video-game and would be happy to provide some input if it was of any help to you. I have some 24 years military experience and have designed several vehicles including the Cougar MRAP (Mastiff in UK service) etc.

Spoiler : "MESSAGE 4" :
Thought this might be of interest.

The "Jagd Chieftain"

“This was the British part of an Anglo-German project that began in 1972 to investigate the feasibility of a collaborative future MBT project. Many original tank design concepts were produced and this experimental vehicle was manufactured to evaluate the problems associated with a semi-fixed gun or casemate design. The vehicle was to have a three-man crew (Commander, Driver, Loader) and a gun with elevation and depression only but no traverse. This would be achieved by swinging the entire vehicle; all three crew members had steering controls which were hydraulic and either commander or driver could fire the gun. The loader was also provided with facilities to drive the vehicle in reverse.

The hull was made of aluminium armour and as it was a collaborative project with Germany was designed to take either the L-60 engine/TN12 transmission power pack or the German MTU power pack from Leopard with Chieftain running gear. The result is a very wide hull as the German power pack is designed to fit into a vertically-sided hull with torsion bar suspension whereas Chieftain hull has sloping sides with external suspension, so the hull needed to be wide enough at the floor level to accept the German power pack. The gearbox was modified to accept hydraulic steering in order to make traversing and laying the gun smoother.

The prototype was constructed at FVRDE Chertsey and was only ever fitted with a dummy gun tube and sloping front plate which, in a final version would have been clad with Chobham armour. Trials at Woolwich revealed that accurate gun laying was not achievable and the project was abandoned.”

Drawing attached to this email in case the other one did not get to you.

Spoiler : "MESSAGE 5" :
I do not think that our project was a competition to the Jagd Chieftain - it is possible that no-one outside a few people knew about it by 1984. At no time did anyone mention the Jagd Cheiftain to the project team and we were visiting the UK research and development workshops fairly frequently at that time.

The big difference between our projects was that we were looking at converting a fleet of some 600 semi-redundant tanks to the TD role, whereas the Jagd Chieftain was based upon a new hull and engine etc.

After I left the army, I never came across the Jagd Ch project when I was doing research for a series of articles.


EDIT: And here is one of the original drawing (december 1984):
http://i.imgur.com/ftWFTeJ.jpg

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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby solaris » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:00

Thank you for the info!
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby trotskygrad » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:07

pretty interesting. Did the designer even think the Canadians had a chance at acquiring such a vehicle, as it appears to be an entirely british project
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby orcbuster » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:13

so basically the UK got screwed again :lol: (I kid, I kid)
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby Graphic » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:15

My guess of how it ended up with a leaf on it is that when the Canadians kidnapped the idea, the British simply gave the model to them, I guess to help sell the idea as part of Corps 86.
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby [EUG]MadMat » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:17

orcbuster wrote:so basically the UK got screwed again :lol: (I kid, I kid)

Their concept got kidnapped by evil Canadians, you can't do anything against that ... but this. :lol:

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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby GBNATO » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:21

We demand reparations! :evil:

Like France after WWI :lol:
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby Yakhont » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:21

This is completely awesome

Now the Chimera has the documents to prove that it could have been reality in a continuing Cold War

Thanks so much for posting this

So.. incoming Chimera for Britain?
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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby orcbuster » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:26

[EUG]MadMat wrote:
orcbuster wrote:so basically the UK got screwed again :lol: (I kid, I kid)

Their concept got kidnapped by evil Canadians, you can't do anything against that ... but this. :lol:


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Re: On Chimera again ... (designer's notes)

Postby [EUG]MadMat » Tue 21 Jan 2014 18:27

Yakhont wrote:So.. incoming Chimera for Britain?

It was kidnapped at its younger age and raised by a Canadian family. Now there's nothing you can do anymore: he's listening to Justin Bieber, drinking mapple syrup from the bottle and think a hockey cross is the most leathal weapon in the world ...
It's over, it'll never be the same again ...

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