FV101 Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (E1973.132)
In May 1970 Alvis Ltd of Coventry supplied the British Army with prototypes of a new tracked reconnaissance vehicle which was destined to make quite a name for itself. Known as Scorpion it was a three-man light tank built of welded aluminium and powered by a 4.2 litre Jaguar XK series engine. It entered production in 1972 and was an immediate success. Light weight resulted in a very low ground pressure (less than that exerted by a human foot) and the powerful engine, linked to a seven-speed transmission, made it highly manoeuvrable. Armed with a 76mm gun it was capable of firing a variety of ammunition with considerable effect.
A floatation screen fitted to early models enabled it to swim and it was also air portable; a single Scorpion could be lifted by a Chinook helicopter while two could be carried in a C130 Hercules. Scorpion has served with the British Army and Royal Air Force. It has seen action in the Falklands and the Gulf Wars in addition to internal security duties in Cyprus. It has been supplied to Belgium, the Irish Republic, Malaya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman and Venezuela.
Although it was phased out of service in Britain, Scorpion continues to be available for export. Improved versions have been developed mounting a 90mm Cockerill gun and the Perkins turbo-charged, six-cylinder diesel engine. Scorpion forms part of a family of light weight armoured fighting vehicles, some of which also form part of The Tank Museum collection.
A fast reconnaissance vehicle, powered by Jaguar.
In traditional terms Scorpion would be regarded as a light tank but in modern terminology it is Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked). It was the first fully tracked reconnaissance vehicle to enter service with the British Army since the light tanks of the thirties, armoured cars having dominated through the intervening period. Designed for close reconnaissance work in armoured regiments and is the tracked equivalent of the wheeled Fox.
Alvis Ltd. of Coventry obtained the contract and had prototypes running by 1969. The first production Scorpions entered service in 1973. It was considered revolutionary at the time, with hull and turret made from welded aluminium armour and powered by the Jaguar XKJ60, 4.2 litre engine. This made it one of the fastest and lightest tracked combat vehicles in service anywhere. It was also airportable, by Hercules or Chinook and amphibious, using a collapsible screen to make it buoyant and its tracks to move it through the water.
Scorpion became the first of a whole family of fighting vehicles including Scimitar, Striker and Samaritan. It served in the Falklands and the Gulf as well as being a success on the export market. Changes in British policy, and the international situation meant that surviving Scorpions were fitted with a new weapon, the 30mm Rarden Cannon, and renamed Sabre.
Precise Name: FV101 Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked, Scorpion
The FV101 Scorpion is fast (up to 80km/hr), light (made of aluminium) and powered by a Jaguar engine.
The Scorpion has its origins in a series of staff requirements and design studies produced during the 1950s and 60s. The requirement was for an air-portable reconnaissance vehicle that could also provide fire and anti-tank support. It became clear that a single vehicle could not meet the total requirement so it was decided to produce a family of armoured fighting vehicles. Size and weight was dictated by the need to fit two vehicles into a C130 Hercules aircraft.
A range of vehicles was produced called the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family or CVR (T). The family included the FV102 Striker tracked anti-tank missile launcher (see E1991.87), the FV103 Spartan Armoured Personnel Carrier, the FV104 Samaritan Armoured Ambulance, the FV105 Sultan Armoured Command Vehicle, the FV106 Samson Armoured Recovery Vehicle and the FV107 Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle.
Alvis Ltd. of Coventry were given the development contract in 1967 and had the first of 19 Scorpion prototypes running by January 1969. Alvis produced the prototype on time, within budget and at the specified weight. It was considered to be revolutionary with the hull and turret made of welded aluminium armour. It was armed with the L23 76mm gun whose primary ammunition was a High Explosive Squash Head round, (HESH), effective against ‘medium’ armour, buildings, concrete fortifications and troops in the open. Powered by a 4.2 litre Jaguar engine it was one of the lightest and fastest armoured vehicles in the world. It could be carried and airdropped by a C130 Hercules and also lifted by the CH47 Chinook helicopter. The Scorpion was amphibious, using a collapsible screen to make it buoyant and its’ tracks for propulsion. The British Army eventually removed the swimming screen.
The first production Scorpions entered service in 1972. Alvis subsequently produced 313 Scorpions for the British Army where they replaced the Saladin heavy armoured car (see E1970.17). Scorpions served with the British Army all over the world, notably in the Falkland Islands war (1982) and the Gulf war (1990/91). Scorpion was withdrawn from service in 1994 because of health and safety concerns about the 76mm gun. However, Scorpion hulls were given a new lease of life as they were fitted with the turrets from redundant Fox armoured cars (see E1971.43) to create a ‘new’ CVR (T), the Sabre.
By 1999 total production of AFVs in the CVR (T) family amounted to over 3,500 vehicles for use by the UK Armed forces and for export to 20 countries. The Scorpion was produced under license in Belgium.
Foss C.F., Dunstan S. and P. Sarson; Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle 1972-1994, New Vanguard 13; ISBN 1 85532 390 7, Osprey Publishing, London, 1995.
Foss C.F., (Editor); Jane’s Armour and Artillery, 1982-83, 3rd Edition; ISBN 0 7106-0747-4, Jane’s Publishing Company Ltd., London, 1983.
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0
Period of Service : 1972-1933