Friday, March 20, 2015


Development of the 17pdr anti-tank gun started in late 1941 and it was approved for production by mid-1942, by which time the first pilot model of the A30 Challenger was nearing completion as an adaptation on the A27 design to take this new weapon. The Germans were by this period making wide use of "tank destroyers"-large calibre guns in limited traverse, armoured self-propelled mounts-and the British General Staff thought it desirable that vehicles on similar lines, mounting the largest practicable anti-tank gun, should be produced to equip the anti-tank battalions of armoured divisions. It was hoped to acquire the American M10 GMC tank destroyer at first, but this vehicle was only just going into production for the US Army and no deliveries could be promised for Britain before the end of 1943.

Alternative designs were therefore investigated involving the mounting of a 17pdr in existing tank chassis. The Crusader chassis was clearly too small and underpowered, but the chassis of the Valentine tank (qv), the only readily available alternative, could be adapted. This involved a rear-facing mount for the 17pdr, which was not entirely satisfactory, but the Valentine SP, known as the Archer, could be got quickly into production as a "stop gap" design while something better was evolved.

The obvious choice was an adaptation of the A30, and early in 1943, while the Archer pilot model was still being built, Leylands, the "parent" company for the A27 series, were asked to produce an SP variant of the A30. The size of the A30 chassis allowed the desirable facility of all-round traverse as featured in the US MI0 and in all mechanical respects the A30 SP was identical to the A30 tank. However, Leyland were concurrently working on the A34 (Comet) design as a development of the A27 series, and the return rollers featured in the A34 suspension were also incorporated in the A30 SP design. The prototype vehicle, however, had the same suspension as the Challenger. Named Avenger, the A30 SP also differed from the Challenger in having its superstructure height reduced to lower the overall height of the vehicle.

The turret had a mild steel canopy (incorporating hatches) for crew protection. By the time the pilot model A30 SP was ready in 1944, the M10 was coming into service with British "tank destroyer" battalions, and priority was being given to Comet tank production. An order for about 230 Avengers was not fulfilled until 1946 and the type briefly equipped two SP artillery battalions after the war.

Tank destroyer
1 x 17pdr OQF 77mm
1 x ·303 cal Bren MG
Min 10mm - Max 101mm
Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 petrol engine 606hp
230 ordered
Year of production

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