Forces of Valor 80019 British Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank - 7th Armoured Brigade, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 (1:32 Scale)
"We're going to cut off their head, then we're going to kill 'em."
- General Norman Schwarzkopf discussing plans for Operation: Desert Storm, January 1991
The Challenger 2 is the current main battle tank of the British Army. The hull is similar to that of the Challenger I, as is the powerpack, but the turret has been redesigned to fit updated armament, and the tank is in many ways a coompletely new tank. The first production versions appeared in mid-1994, boasting a carbon dioxide laser rangefinder, thermal-imaging and fully computerized fire-control systems, giving a high first-round hit probability. In addition, turret traverse is all electric and the gun is fully stabilized. It also has the capacity to be fitted with the Battlefield Information Control System (BICS) in future years, to give even greater combat capability. A dozer can be fitted to the front of the hull. Nearly 400 were ordered by the British Army, with 18 being exported to Oman.
This particular 1:32 scale replica of a British Challenger 2 main battle tank was attached to the British 7th Armoured Brigade and used during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Length: 12 inches
Width: 4.5 inches
Height: 3.75 inches
Release Date: October 2005
Original Issue Price: $39.99
Historical Account: "The Desert Rats" - According to Field Marshal Lord Carver, himself a former Desert Rat, the 7th Armoured Division's name and emblem were inspired by a pet jerboa kept by a regimental signaller. Seeing the beast, the division's then commander, Major-General "Hobo" Hobart, is said to have remarked, "This little animal should become our emblem. We must learn to live as he does, the hard way, in the desert."
And, having trained its men to fight and win battles in the vast Western Desert, the division played a crucial, and decisive, role in the North African campaign. Three times - in 1940, '41 and '42 - German and Italian forces attempted to take control of the North African coast. Three times they were driven back, by the UK's Eighth Army, the heaviest fighting taking place near Tobruk in Libya.
The German commander, Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel - the charismatic and respected 'Desert Fox' - promised his men that, if they took Tobruk, he would build a monument to commemorate the victory. If they lost, though, the Afrika Korps would bury its dead there. The German cemeteries still to be seen on the Libyan coastline bear mute testament to Rommel's failure and the Desert Rats' hard-won success.
But it was victory at El Alamein in October 1942 - which came after one of the biggest artillery barrages of the war - that sealed Rommel's fate in North Africa and brought the Desert Rats, the Eighth Army and its commander, General Bernard Montgomery, eternal fame.
Not surprisingly, the Desert Rats' war did not end there. They fought in some of the war's bloodiest battles; at Salerno, in Normandy. and crossing the Rhine into Germany. And they ended the war by marching in the victory parade at the very heart of the Third Reich, Berlin itself.