- Diminishing Returns – The British Army and its Vehicles – Series Introduction
- Diminishing Returns – The British Army and its Vehicles – The Fifties
- Diminishing Returns – The British Army and its Vehicles – The Sixties
This series of blog posts is I hope a fair-minded and accurate history of the British Army’s armoured and protected mobility vehicles from the Post War period to early 2023.
Even the most optimistic person would be hard-pressed to call the British Army’s vehicle programmes of the last two decades an unqualified success.
Civil servants, military personnel, industry and politicians do not get up one morning and decide to create failure intentionally.
No, they work in good faith and try to make good decisions with the information they have to hand.
Those decisions may subsequently be judged harshly, but none of them is likely to be made with any malice.
It is far too easy to pontificate from the comfort of a keyboard whilst wearing the finest of 20/20 Hindsight Goggles, but it is hard to ignore the reality of a much-diminished industry and series of expensive failures.
If there is to be an improvement, criticism must be taken where it is due, and the evidence would suggest there is much room for improvement.
In many ways, the evolution of the British Army vehicle fleet is simply a mirror of historic world events, technological changes, politics and military thinking.
The current mainstay vehicles of the British Army are FV432, CVR(T)/Stomer, Warrior and Challenger 2.
Ajax, Boxer and CR3 are contracted, and all are due in service over the coming years.
Their story can be reasonably traced back to the post-war era, and this is where I will start.
As we all know, FV432 will still be in service when everyone else is riding around in anti-gravity tanks firing laser plasma cannons.
With such a broad timescale and subject matter, the document utilises two structural features.
First, and for the most part, it follows a relatively linear timeline in which multiple aspects are shown. The objective of this is to lay down a record of events.
Second, there are a number of thematic sections that look at a single subject with a less rigid timeline approach.
At the end of the document are a summary and a series of observations.
This series has roots in a number of blog posts dating back to 2008 and the following long-form content, which it now replaces.
As such, it is an evolution, and it may well evolve again in the future.
This document has been completed without any official involvement and only using open-source data.
Much of that data is from sources such as Hansard, Manufacturer’s websites, printed materials, web forums and other websites.
It is therefore a reasonable assumption that some data points and observations may not be 100% accurate or valid, this is not meant as an authoritative document and should be seen in the context of an attempt to produce an honest account, but no more.
Supporting the production effort have been a number of contributing editors and commenters, all providing valuable insight, information and error/spelling checking.
The list includes serving and retired military personnel, civil servants and industry employees, all with unique perspectives on the story.
Some wish to be known by usernames (Challenger 2, DejaVu, ArmchairCivvy, LostInTranslation, Ravenser, Chris, The Other Chris, Monty, Mr Fred), others their own names (Chris from the Defence with a C blog, Raymond Powell) and some others remain anonymous or named by a title such as the Chief Designer from Anglo Engineering Concepts.
I thank them all, I have no idea why there seem to be a lot of people named Chris!
Without their assistance, this document would have been much poorer.
The Fifties and Sixties