Panzerstahl PS89009 British FV 214 Conqueror Mk. II Heavy Tank - British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), West Germany, 1959 (1:72 Scale)
"After [El] Alamein, we never had a defeat."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
The FV 214 Conqueror, also known as "Tank, Heavy No. 1, 120 mm Gun, Conqueror" was a British heavy tank of the post-war era. It was developed as a response to the Soviet Joseph Stalin IS-3 heavy tanks and carried a larger 120 mm gun compared to the 20-pounder (83.4 mm) gun carried by its peer the Centurion. Its role was to provide long range anti-tank support for Centurion tanks. They were issued at nine for each regiment in Germany; usually grouped in three tank troops.
The chassis was from the A45 Infantry Support Tank, started in 1944 shortly after that of the A41 Centurion. After the war the project was relocated to that of the "Universal Tank" design of the FV 200 series. The 200 series was to have used a common hull for all uses (self-propelled artillery, armoured personnel carrier, three varieties of tank, etc.). One tank type was to be the heavy FV 201 of 55 tonnes, armed with an 83.4 mm gun.
In 1949, it was decided to bring the armament up to 120 mm. As this delayed the project, in 1952 the FV 201 hull was combined with a 17 pounder-armed Centurion Mk 2 turret to give the FV 221 Caernarvon Mark I. Twenty-one were built with the Mk III 20 pounder turret as the Caernavon Mk II. The FV 221 may originally have been intended to be the "Main Battle Tank" member of the FV 201 series, but with the success of the A41 Centurion such a vehicle was no longer required. In either event, the Caernarvon was only used for chassis development work serving in troop trials. In 1955 the first Conqueror was produced. Twenty Mark 1 and 165 Mark 2 Conquerors were built including conversions of Caernavon MkIIs. Production continued until 1959. It had lost much enthusiasm once the Centurion was upgraded to an L7 105 mm gun.
The gun design was American, the same as used on the US M103 heavy tank; with separate charge and projectile, as would also be the case in the Chieftain that followed. The charge was not bagged but in a brass cartridge, which offered some safety advantages, but reduced shell capacity to 35.
There was no cupola for the commander who had instead a flat hatch with the periscope mounted through it. The main armament was balanced so the gunner could control its elevation by hand rather than using gearing. This fitted well with the British doctrine of firing on the move.
When it was understood that there would be delays in the introduction of successor heavy cruiser tanks - what would become the Cavalier, Centaur and Cromwell the Crusader was adapted to use the 6 pounder gun.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a British FV 214 Conqueror Heavy Tank.
Length: 6-1/4 inches
Width: 2-1/4 inches
Release Date: November 2014
Historical Account: "Heavy Duty" - The Conqueror's armour was very heavy for the time, especially in the front, where it was seven inches (178 mm) in the horizontal plane. Unfortunately, this, along with the weight of the huge turret required to house the large gun and the very large hull volume, made the vehicle very heavy, giving it a relatively low top speed and making it mechanically unreliable. Also, few bridges could support its weight. However, rather like the Second World War Churchill tank, the Conqueror had exceptional terrain handling characteristics and proved to be as capable cross country as the lighter (and on paper slightly faster) Centurion tank.
One feature of particular note was the rotating commander's cupola, which was at the heart of the Conqueror's fire control system, advanced for its time. The commander could align the cupola on a target independently of the turret, measure the range with a coincidence rangefinder, and then direct the gunner on to the new lay mechanically indicated to him by the cupola. In theory, when the gunner traversed to the new lay he would find the target already under his sights, ready to be engaged. Meanwhile, the commander was free to search for the next target. (The Soviet bloc also used similar devices, such as the TPKU-2 and TKN-3, on all of their post World War II tanks though theirs did not use a rangefinder.) The system may have been inspired by a similar device, without range finder, installed in WWII German Panzers which was apparently highly successful, but was not repeated in subsequent tanks until an updated electronic version of the same idea appeared in the American M60A2 variant of the Patton series.