Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers

Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers

Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) is a title given to a series to armoured vehicles operated the Royal Engineers (RE) for the purpose of battlefield engineering support. These vehicles have been either purpose built or have been post-production modifications of existing tank based armoured vehicles. A common feature of all AVREs to date has been the retention of a high calibre main gun or the addition of a higher calibre weapon. The most recent vehicle to be called an AVRE is the Challenger based Trojan, however this vehicle breaks the trend by not having a large caliber weapon. [ [ RE museum article] ] . With the multitude of functions now required of the RE new vehicles have come into use which are given alternative names, but which are for all intents and purposes AVREs.


World War One

The first AVRE that can be considered are the Heavy RE tanks developed shortly after the first world war by Major Giffard LeQuesne Martel RE [ [ RE museum article] ] . These vehicles were modified Mark V tanks. Two support functions for these AVRE were developed - bridging and mine clearance. The bridging component involved an assault bridge, designed by Major Charles Inglis RE, called the Canal Lock Bridge, which had sufficient length to span a canal lock. Major Martel mated the bridge with the tank and used hydraulic power generated by the tank's engine to manoeuvre the bridge into place. For mine clearance the tanks were equipped with 2 ton rollers.

Between The Wars

Between the wars various experimental bridging tanks were used to test a series of methods for bridging obstacles were developed by the Experimental Bridging Establishment (EBE).Captain SG Galpin RE conceived a prototype Light Tank Mk V to test the Scissors Assault Bridge. This concept was realised by Captain SA Stewart RE with significant input from a Mr DM Delany, a scientific civil servant in the employ of the EBE.MB Wild & Co, Birmingham, also developed a bridge that could span gaps of 26 feet using a complex system of steel wire ropes and a travelling jib, where the front section was projected and then attached to the rear section prior to launching the bridge. This system had to be abandoned due to lack of success in getting it to work, however the idea was later used successfully on the Beaver Bridge Laying Tank [ [ RE museum article] ] [ [ Canadian Defence Force Website] ] .

World War Two

Once the World War Two had begun the development of armoured vehicles for use by engineers in the field was accelerated under Delaney's direction. The EBE rapidly developed an assault bridge carried on a modified Covenanter tank capable of deploying a 24 ton tracked load capacity bridge (Class 24) that could span gaps of 30 feet. However, this never saw service in the British armed forces and all vehicles were passed onto allied forces (Australia and Czechoslovakia) [ [ RE museum article] ] [ [ Czechoslovakian Service] ] .A Class 30 design superseded the Class 24 with no real re-design, simply the substitution of the Covenanter tank with a suitably modified Valentine tank. [ [ RE museum article] ] As tanks in the war got heavier a new bridge capable of supporting them was developed. A heavily modified Churchill tank used a single piece bridge mounted on a turret-less tank and was able to lay the bridge in 90 seconds, this bridge was able to carry a 60 ton tracked or 40 ton wheeled load. [ [ RE museum article] ] The first bridge to equip an AVRE Churchill Tank was the Tank Bridge, Box Girder. This bridged gap spans of 30 feet, but could also be used to cross 12 foot seawalls or other similar obstacles.The Churchill ARK (Armoured Ramp Carrier) was a flexible design, where the tank itself was the "bridge". Multiple vehicles could be used to span gaps in both the vertical and in the horizontal. The Churchill tank had the turret removed and trackways fitted to the hull of the tank, ramps were attached at each end of the trackways extending the bridging potential and allowing its use in difficult terrain. The tank would need recovery from the location it was providing bridging as required. [ [ RE museum article] ]

List of AVRE vehicles used operationally

*Mark I tank Heavy RE tanks variants:
**Bridgelayer tank, a Mark V tank, with canal lock bridge.
**Mine clearing tank, a Mark V tank, with mine rollers.

*Light Tank Mk V
** Bridgelayer tank, scissors assault bridge.

*Covenanter tank
** Bridgelayer tank, deploying a Class 24 scissors bridge.

*Valentine tank
** Valentine Mk II, deploying a Class 30 scissors bridge.

*Churchill AVRE numerous variants.
**Churchill Mk III was armed with a 290 mm Petard Spigot mortar, it's turret was of welded construction.
**Churchill Mk IV had a cast turret. Post-war the Churchill AVRE was re-armed with a short barrelled L9A1 165 mm demolition gun which fired a 64lb (29 kg) HESH projectile [ [ RE museum article] ] .

*Centurion variants:
**FV4003 Centurion AVRE, Mk 5. Armed with a short barrelled L9A1 165 mm demolition gun entered service in 1963 replacing the Churchill AVRE [ [ RE museum article] ] .
**FV4203 Centurion AVRE, Mk 12. Modified observer vehicle armed with the conventional 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 rifled gun.

* Chieftain variants:
**Willich Chieftain AVRE, entered service in 1987. This vehicle was designed by Capt D Clegg MBE of the RE. The vehicle itself was built by 32 Armoured Engineer Regiment and 21 Base Engineer Base Workshop of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers under the direction of Lt Col JF Johnson RE based in the German town of Willich, hence it name [ [ British Army] ] .
** Chieftain AVRE, entered service in 1994. 48 units were produced by Vickers Defence Systems.

*FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (CET), 143 units supplied [ [ BAE brochure on Armoured Engineer Vehicles] ] , entered service in 1977.

*Warrior variants:
**FV512 Mechanised Combat Repair Vehicle, 105 units supplied.
**FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle, 39 units supplied. As of 2004 those units operating in Iraq have additional Bar Armour added.

*Shielder Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System, this armoured vehicle is a modified BAE Systems Land Systems Stormer with the Alliant Techsystems Volcano mine delivery system, 30 have been delivered [ [ Hansard] ] [ [ ATK product page] ] [ [ DSEi News] ]

*Challenger variants:
**Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle, 81 units supplied [ [ Hansard] ] .
**Trojan Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV), a Challenger 2 variant. Based on the Challenger 2 chassis, the Trojan will be equipped with an articulated excavator arm, a dozer blade and rails for fascines. 33 units have been ordered from BAE Systems Land Systems.
**Titan AVLB Challenger 2 variant. Based on the Challenger 2 chassis, the Titan Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge, 33 units have been ordered from BAE Land Systems.

*Terrier CET in development to replace the existing FV180. Substantial COTS usage is included in the design of the vehicle, such as the use of a Caterpillar drive train (C18 diesel engine and X300 series automatic transmission) and excavator, and using the alloy road wheels from BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 program. The Terrier is armoured using steel rather than aluminium alloy of its predecessor [ [ BAE brochure on Armoured Engineer Vehicles] ] .


External links


Further Reading

* Crusader and Covenanter Cruiser Tanks 1939-45, David Fletcher, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1 85532 512 8
*The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War Two, Editor Chris Bishop, Metro Books. ISBN 1 58663 762 2

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