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Although having excellent mobility, the Chieftain was the slowest of the three Cold War British MBTs.
The Centurion before and especially the Challenger after, were faster.
The final speed was around 48 km/h (30 mph) on road, but this was still below the Challenger performances and dictated a specific tactical use when operating in combination with the latter.
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And in 1966, when it entered service, the Chieftain was, indeed, the most formidable main battle tank in the world.
The Chieftain’s rifled Royal Ordnance L11A5 120 mm (4.72 in) gun was specifically tailored for it and also became the new NATO standard caliber.
It was eventually accepted for service in May 1963, officially designated the Chieftain Mark V MBT, accompanied by an order for the production of 770. Is entered fully active service with the tank units.
The Chieftain emerged from a brand new hull and turret design.
Design of the Fv4201 started in 1958, and the first prototype was built in 1959.
Six other prototypes and a pre-production series of 40 tanks followed from 1961 to 1963.
The Centurion itself was not seen as ideal in firepower since the arrival of Soviet heavy tanks armed with 120 mm (4.72 in) guns like the IS-3 and following models up to the T-10.
The British Conqueror heavy tank (1955) tried to respond with a high velocity, long 120 mm (4.72 in) gun, but not surprisingly failed on the mobility aspect.
Apart from the tracks and some elements of the wheel train and some mechanical parts linked to the new engine, nothing was shared with the Centurion.
The initial design combined some unique features, including a mantle-less turret, allowing superior depression angles.
The next tank had to have a heavier gun on a more mobile package.