Alvis Sabre CVR(T)
Design and service history:
The development of the Sabre possesses a rather interesting development history compared to other Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) derivatives, as unlike the majority of its kin, it was created as a stop-gap measure, without the intention for a potential export market. The doctrine that created it was firmly rooted in the 1970s, when the FV101 Scorpion light tank and FV107 Scimitar entered service with the British Army as scout and Recce vehicles. Both vehicles were based on the same CVR(t) chassis, and as time went on further derivatives would enter service like the Striker ATGM carrier, Spartan APC and the Samaritan armoured ambulance. This ubiquity resulted in the main differences between variants being armament, with the majority of the components shared between the family of armoured vehicles.
The scorpion was armed with the short 76mm L23A1 cannon, though it would be phased out of service in 1994, due to the demilitarization at the end of the Cold War, along with the ageing condition of the fleet. At around the same time the FV721 Fox armoured car was also being phased out of service creating a large quantity of Fox turrets and Scorpion hulls in storage. This left the Scimitar as the sole armoured reconnaissance vehicle in British service, and it quickly became clear there was a shortage of vehicles for scout units. Sensing an opportunity to repurpose equipment, due to the Fox having the same 30mm RARDEN autocannon as the Scimitar, it was decided to refurbish the Scorpion hulls and Fox turrets to a zero-hour state, and mate them together to create a cheap stopgap to fill the gap without the expense of creating more Scimitars. This vehicle was like the rest of the CVR(t) family was developed by Alvis and christened the Sabre.
This design was not as simple as slapping the turret on the hull and calling it a day though, and the project was mired in several set backs. The first was adjusting the turret ring of the Scorpion hulls to accommodate the fitting size of the fox turret. A second issue was the more squat nature of the Fox turret, which necessitated an armoured collar being fitted that sat on the top of the hull to serve as a cradle for the turret. This change slightly elevated the turret, somewhat diminishing the low profile nature of the Fox turret, but in this state the tank was operational and ready for service.
In terms of Armament, it varied slightly from the normal Fox configuration, as though the 30MM RARDEN was retained, the standard British 7.62 L37 machinegun was replaced by a more modern 7.62 L94 chaingun, which had been developed by Hughes specifically as a coaxial weapon for armoured fighting vehicles, and it had already proven itself in British service with the well known Warrior AFV. The main advantage offered by this change was an ease of reloading, reducing workload whilst maintaining combat effectiveness.
In terms of powerplant, the Sabre retained the Cummins BTA 5.9 litre 190hm diesel, which had replaced the older 4.2-litre Jaguar J60 engine in Scorpion production. These slight changes to armament only negatively increased the weight of the Sabre, allowing it to retain the majority of the Scorpion’s mobility, which allowed a top speed of 50mph (80 kph).
With the mobility deemed sufficient, protection was found to be lacking, as like the two armoured vehicles that were combined to create it, the Sabre was relatively thin-skinned and vulnerable to all manner of danger on the battlefield. Slight changes were made to the design to compensate for this, including the introduction of a new smoke grenade launcher system, but the main thicknesses of the aluminium hull and turret were unchanged, but due to the nature of the doctrine that created it, armour thickness was secondary to mobility and speed. Another slight change to the hull was the addition of extra stowage bins to both the hull and turret, with the ability to jettison the turret-mounted ones in the event of an emergency.
Content with the design, the Sabre was accepted into British service in 1995, where it would ultimately serve for 9 years before being phased out in 2004, with its true successor the Scimitar MK II not manifesting until the early 2010s, which was not bad seeing as the components that had been used to make it were knocking on 40 plus years old. The Sabre would see limited service in the Iraq war, and also during peacekeeping missions in the former Yugoslavia, but its service was rather limited as unlike the scimitar or Scorpion, it was never exported to third parties and remained solely operated by the British army…
Mass 8.1 tonnes
Length 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Width 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in)
Height 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in)
Main armament 30 mm L21 RARDEN cannon
Secondary armament Co-axial L94 7.62 mm chain gun
Engine Cummins BTA 5.9 diesel 190 hp (142 kW)
Suspension torsion bar
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
- Sabre (tank) - Wikipedia (Wiki page for the Sabre)
- http://norfolktankmuseum (Additional info)
- In Development: Sabre | Armored Warfare - Official Website (More info)
- Alvis and the CVRTs (history of the CVR(T)
- Alvis Sabre (more info on sabre)