British Army: 2300AD
By D Hebditch and Bryn Monnery
Above: Cavalier Mk.4 of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards pictured on active service on Beta Canum-4 during the Invasion.
The Cavalier is an ageing British Hovertank which once formed the bulk of Britain's hovermobile armoured force but is now being replaced with the more advanced Montgomery. The first of the 'Hover Battle Tanks' the Cavalier was designed to be on a par with the French AC-8 and proved to be generally superior to the LkPz-VIII and M-9. The Cavalier has received several upgrades during its life span and it is still a potent weapons platform and remains the main service tank of the Wellon Army.
The Cavaliers of F Squadron, 2nd Wellon Armoured Regiment shrieked across the barren, rolling hills of the Shorncliffeshire Breaks. Like water they kept to the low ground, following the folds of dead ground and avoiding the crests and ridgelines that would expose them to detection or direct fire. As they approached their objective they swung into line and wheeled left, armoured skirts biting into the arid soil as they manoeuvred hard, pulling G.
Charging the objective, the enemy were slow reacting and for 45 seconds the squadron ran riot. MDC's pumping out rapid fire at the startled artillery vehicles and their protecting light infantry. Smoke rose into the stunningly blue sky as vehicles shuddered to a halt.
Then the battle changed. A Cavalier was hit by a shoulder-launched missile, dirty grey smoke began rising from its rear deck. The left flanking troop killed an approaching recce vehicle, then themselves died in a split second as all three tanks took missile hits. The remaining Cavaliers took to their heels, running for the cover they had abandoned. Another died with shocking speed before they reached the dubious safety of the shallow valley.
Back in the Range Command Room the CO of 2 WAR watched his men fighting their mock battle on the display with a collection of other officers.
'I just hope that we're simulating the Bug OPFOR correctly. I hate to do all this training and then find out the data we're sending up arm to 6 WAR is completely wrong.'
Extract from 'Doing Our Part!: Wellon's Expeditionary Force and the Home Front' - Ministry of Defence Publications, New Camelot 2302.
The Cavalier HBT grew out of the increasing dissatisfaction with the Cromwell HCT following the introduction into service of the French AC-8 in 2257 and the trend it set for other militaries. Prior to this the British had only used the Cromwell with the Wellon based 3rd and 4th Armoured Divisions. The deployment of the robust AC-8 on Terra raised the spectre of the British Fuller MBT's being outmanoeuvred in any future conflict. The introduction of Cromwells into the 1st and 2nd Armoured Divisions was nothing more than a stop-gap.
The designers at Vickers came up with a HBT that was well armed and reasonably armoured. However it lacked both speed and armour protection when compared with the AC-8 that set the benchmark for the vehicles of the era. However the designers reasoned that in the likely battlefields of Europe the top speed was unlikely to be fully utilised, and the Cavalier had a lower, stealthier profile than the AC-8 and was able to bring its cannon to bear on any target. Nevertheless the Cavalier would soon have the first of a series of upgrades to its powerplant and armour.
The Cavalier was designed as a pure gun tank, being able to survive in the relatively close range gunnery battles that were seen as most likely in the urbanised European battlefield. Unlike its contemporaries elsewhere it had no missile armament at all, with dedicated missile armed tank destroyers taking on that role. An option to fit an ATGW in an exposed, external mount on the side of the turret was developed, however it adds little to the combat power of the vehicle and is rarely used.
Through enhanced automation and computerisation the Cavalier would also be the first Hovertank to have a two-man crew, by combining the gunners and commanders position. However other nations AFV designers have not taken on the general success of this in British service. The lessons of the Central Asian War would eventually bring about the Montgomery design, but also inspired a series of refits to existing vehicles and the defining Cavalier Mk.3. The new 75mm MDC, extra armour packs, powerplant and stealth materials would create a tank that could hold its own with any other in production at the time. The vehicle would also later receive a retrofitted heavy missile armament that would at last rectify this vehicles main deficiency.
The Cavalier first saw action in the 3rd Rio Plato War alongside the Brazilians and in spite of teething troubles proved very effective. Its accurate and rapid gunnery became well known, as did its robustness and the more infamous mechanical unreliability of its earlier models. Limited numbers of Cavaliers were also present in Central Asian War in the hands of British and Irish troops serving on secondment with the French.
The Cavalier saw combat again alongside its successor, the Montgomery HBT, during the fighting on BCV-4 in the hands of the 4th Dragoon Guards attached to the Light Division. The Cavalier proved adept at overcoming its heavier Kafer opponents by being able to exploit their tactical weaknesses. Skilful and rapid gunnery was also important when outnumbered and holding defensive positions. Whilst the Cavalier has now been replaced in British and Commonwealth front line units it still remains in some British units on Earth and as the mainstay of the Wellon Army armoured divisions.
The original Cavalier introduced into British service in 2272. It was under powered with only a 1.5 MW Rolls-Royce Sparrowhawk 31 turbine, and had a top speed of only 160kph. Although inherently a stealthy design it had poor masking of both its intakes and exhausts resulting in a disappointingly large positive detection radius.
The Cavalier Mk.1 was introduced initially into the UK's Earth based 1st and 2nd Armoured Divisions to replace the Cromwell as an urgent operational requirement, however the already planned Mk.2 upgrade resulted in few Mk.1's reaching service with other units. Export sales were also very poor, with most potential clients waiting for the Mk.2, a situation that led to serious financial difficulty for Vickers.
Small numbers of Mk.1's saw service with 7th Armoured Brigade during the 3rd Rio Plato War. Although the Desert Rats' armoured regiment was equipped with tracked Fuller MBTs, a squadron of Cavaliers from the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment was attached to provide more mobile support. Much was learnt about the effective use of HBT's and the small numbers of Cavaliers achieved a notable measure of moral superiority over their Argentine opponents manning an older, lighter generation of gunsleds that proved very vulnerable to the newer Cavaliers.
The Cavalier Mk.2 was in planning even before the Mk.1 reached front-line units and was intended to rectify the most glaring of the faults on that vehicle. The more powerful Sparrowhawk 45 engine was installed in the vehicle to increase speed and manoeuvrability and allow full use of the jump jet system. The woefully inadequate masking was also modified at this time.
New build Mk.2's would equip the remaining British units still using the old Cromwell and in-service Mk.1's underwent a modification program. For British and Wellon units in Tirane, Woolf Military Vehicles license built the Mk.2 in its New Birmingham factories using locally produced components. The Mk.2 also saw the first export sales, mainly to Iran.
Above: Cavalier Mk.2's of Support Troop, A Sqn, 3 ICR seen after their engagment with 2 IVF Cavaliers
Mk.2's were present with the 3rd Irish Cavalry Regiment and a squadron of the Blues during their involvement in the Central Asian War. One contact involving in the south of the CAR with Islamic volunteers was notable when the Irish knocked out two Islamic Volunteer Force Cavaliers (presumably obtained through Iran) in a prolonged gunnery duel.
The Central Asian War showed up many weaknesses in the existing generation of tanks, and a major refit program was launched in 2287 and applied across the fleet. The main structural changes were the upgrading of the MHD to Sparrowhawk 50, enhanced stealth masking and the installation of appliqué armour on the front angles of the hull. The weapon system received its first major upgrade with the fitting of the new 75mm MDC combined with the complete overhaul of the sensor suite and installation of the Black Arrow FVIS-5 system. Lastly the CAW had revealed the vulnerability of hovertanks to infantry man-packed anti-armour systems which the Manchurians deployed in large numbers. To counter this the Dutch Defender point defence system was procured and installed across the fleet.
The last major change to the Cavalier came with the fitting of the Sky Streak missile system, a post War of German Reunification stopgap measure before the introduction of the Montgomery. The Cavalier had no internal room for a missile system the size of Sky Streak so an armoured box launcher and magazine was fitted to the rear deck. This finally gave the Cavalier a long-range capability to complement its fearsome close range punch, extending its useful life span.
Mark 4 modifications were rolled out across the fleet and today still equip British and Wellonese units of III Corps on Tirane. Additionally as British UK based units re-equip with the Montgomery, Cavalier Mk.4's have been passed down to the Yeomanry regiments of the UK defence forces.
The Cavalier 2 is the name for Vickers commercial venture aimed at the export market, especially Iran with its large fleet of Cavalier Mk.3's. The Cavalier 2 combines the Mk.4's sensor suite with the standard French 70mm MDC and an internally carried Manta-1 missile system. The Cavalier 2 has yet to find any takers although Vickers remains confident of a sale to Iran.
The Afanc is a variant of the Cavalier designed by Woolf Military Vehicles and aimed at the Wellon Defence Forces. The Afanc uses the avionics and turret of Montgomery and features a major re-design of the back end of the vehicle to allow for the inclusion of an internal launcher for the locally produced Viperelle missile system. Currently the Wellon MoD is considering either purchasing the Afanc or opting outright for the Montgomery. However due to the financial commitment required supporting the Wellon Expeditionary Force no decision has yet been made and will likely not be made in the near future.
Above: Cavalier Mk.4 of the 2nd Wellon Armoured Regiment on the ETA's close combat range. 2 WAR has a reputation for the quality of its gunnery, supposedly the best of any regiment, Wellonese or British, in III Corps.
Vickers L86A1 75mm Mass Driver Cannon
The Vickers L86A1 MDC is a progressive development of the L70A3 mounted on the Cavalier Mark 1/2 and late model Cromwell hovertanks. The L86A1 is a robust and efficient weapon system which has benefited from long years of evolutionary development. It is mounted on Cavaliers in service with British and Wellon Army units. Some thought has been given by Wellon's Ministry of Defence to refitting its Cavaliers with the L86A2 weapon used on the Montgomery, which would allow the use of some of the more advanced MARM ammunitions.
Verlet Defender 7.5mm Vehicular Point Defence Chain Gun
The Verlet Defender has arisen from a Dutch Army contract in 2285 to upgrade their LkPz-VIII fleet's point defence system. At the same time the British firm Eldon Systems Ltd was looking to provide upgrades for the popular Dragoon and Hussar family of vehicles in service with many colonial militaries. The result was the Verlet Defender that combines a heavy 7.5mm round with a integral Thermal and Millimetre Wavelength Radar seeker unit. The system provides excellent point defence against conventional ATGW and low-V cannon rounds, but is less effective against Hyper Velocity Missiles and high-V rounds. This unit is also highly effective against infantry.
In British service the Verlet Defender has been fitted to Montgomery and late model Cavalier Mk.4's HBT. The Dutch have also adopted this system for their Mechanised Brigades, but there has not been as large a take up amidst other users as was expected, a factor in the commercial demise of Eldon Systems in 2295.
BEx Sky Streak AV Missile
The Sky Streak was originally conceived as a low level air defence missile, but was adapted to anti-armour use after French forces engaged the Manchurian Type 27 in the Central Asian War. The changes were to the warhead package (to a tungsten penetrator suspended in liquid teflon) and the targeting software. The guidance system has 3 available modes, laser designation (gunner roll), optical target lock (automatic, following gunner lock on) or self targeting (automatic).
The missiles terminal velocity is in excess of Mach 12, it does however, take a significant time to boost up to it's attack velocity, thus the minimum range of this weapon is 1000m. Attacks below this range are possible, but at a reduced damage (reduce damage by 10% for each 100m below 1000m).
Cavalier Mk.1, C Squadron, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 7th Armoured Brigade Group
Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 15th October 2278
3 RTR provided a Cavalier squadron for 7 Armoured Brigade during its 18 months of service with the Brazilian Army. Initially this was from C Sqn, then D and then C Sqn rotated back for the final six months. 7 Armd Bde was a Corps reserve force for most of this time but fought as a rearguard for part of the retreat following the successful Argentine break-in battle until the armistice.
C Sqn operated as a heavy screening force in conjunction with A Sqn, 1st Light Dragoons. It clashed numerous times with Argentine hover cavalry, most notably the Groupo Caballeria Aero-Blindada 18 'San Javier' who came to fear the squadron's excellent gunnery from ambush and aggressive local counter-attacks. C Sqn lost 6 Cavaliers in the fighting, 50% were from mechanical failures, one of which is on display in the Army Museum in Buenos Aires.
3 RTR's Cavaliers were given a neutral green paint scheme and retained it throughout their service in South America. The high-visibility Desert Rat insignia (C) was applied to the side of all the vehicles in the brigade. 3 RTR also carried the Royal Tank's silver commando dagger (B). Applied to the Cavalier's main optics barbette is a popular, if unofficial, British Expeditionary Force sticker (D). Lastly Union Flags and 3 RTR (A) standards were popular additions to the radio antennas.
Cavalier Mk. 2, Support Troop, A Squadron, 3rd Irish Cavalry Regiment, 4e Division Légère Blindée de Marche
Turkmen Province, Central Asian Republic, Earth 1st September 2286
The Irish government was generally more eager than its British neighbour to support the French effort in the Central Asian War and two Irish units served under French command. 3 ICR was deployed under the command of the ad-hoc 4e DLBM, a formation raised from French African and colonial troops as well as one or two foreign service units. 4e DLBM operated in the south of the CAR against sometimes heavily armed guerrilla forces, and was generally regarded as a successful formation. Possibly because of the presence of Muslim Algerians and Nouvelle Provançal, the division's less hard-line attitudes made them popular with the local population.
3 ICR served with the 4e DLBM for six months, forming the 2e Demi-Brigade with the I/9e Régiment de Chasseurs de Tirane. 3 ICR displayed their Irish heritage prominently, both with tricolours (A) and harp motifs (B). The regiment also used several images playing on the theme of the Wild Geese (C), exiled Irish soldiers who fought for the French and the Spanish following the defeat of the Stuart monarchy in the British Isles.
This particular Cavalier, Killkenny Kat Killer! (D), was involved in the famous action when A Squadron was engaged by two, allegedly Iranian, Cavaliers in the hands of Islamic volunteers. The presence of a Cavalier silhouette kill marker (E) on the turret suggests this was responsible for the destruction of one of the attackers.The name of the vehicle is probably taken from some incident which occurred whilst the unit was undertaking pre-deployment training on Wellon.
Cavalier Mk. 3, 1 Company, Black Angels, Milice Populaire
Bonne Chance, Elysia, Joi, 2nd February, 2298
The Black Angels are an Anglophone mercenary unit based in Wellon, specialising in armoured and manoeuvre warfare training cadres. The unit has a dubious reputation, predominantly based on its relationship with the Wellonese government. Several of its senior partners are former members of Wellons intelligence community, and the unit is notable for its ease of expansion (with seconded Royal Wellon Armoured Corps personnel) when large contracts are won and its acquisition of relatively modern armoured vehicles. The Angels have undertaken contracts in Freihafen immediately after its independence, as well as an ill-fated contract on Elysia. However more often than not they have training/OPFOR support contracts with British colonial defence forces.
This particular vehicle is one of the most spectacular colour schemes ever seen on a Cavalier. This matt black finish was used to promote the Black Angels' winning of a contract with the Elysian Army. Notable is the large Black Angel logo (A) on the side of the vehicle, and the go-faster stripes. Eyebrows were raised in the press about how the Angels had managed to obtain four Cavalier Mk.3s in addition to the eight Hussar AFVs the squadron brought with it to Joi. The crew markings on the port side of the hull (B) credit a Sergeant Endecott, a former Royal Wellon Marine and Wellon Recce Regiment soldier, and a Major Kennedy. However their are no records of a Major Kennedy from the WDF, journalistic investigation revealed it was the nom de guerre of a Major Ranulph Reese on secondment from the Royal Tank Regiment.
The Elysian contract went badly wrong when the squadron found itself embroiled in Elysian politics. Then three members of the unit were found murdered in a brothel in Esperance under very unusual circumstances. A stand off over the investigation of this incident and contract breaches ended in a confrontation with elements of the Légion Verte. The incident escalated to diplomatic levels before the unit was shipped to New Cornwall where it soon gained a contract working as OPFOR to 79 Armoured Brigade. It is believed the squadron shipped to BCV with 79 Armd Bde during the Invasion, but was broken up to provide reinforcements for that formation. This led to several AFVs in a number of units being photographed bearing the Black Angel crest during the fighting.
Cavalier Mk.4, B (Duke of Fulton's Own) Squadron, The Royal New Scots Hussars, 2 Armoured Brigade, 13th (Wellon) Armoured Division
Eastern Training Area, East New Albion, Wellon, Tirane, 23rd October 2302
The Cavalier remains the primary AFV of the Wellon Army. This image is of one of the RNSHs Cavaliers on exercise in the ETA in late 2302. At this time 11th Armoured Division had deployed to the French Arm to become the Commonwealth Armoured Div HQ. To replace this a new Division HQ was formed to control the remaining two brigades of 11 Armd Div. 13 Armd Div, like any new formation required a major shakedown exercise in which the RSNH took part.
The Royal New Scots Hussars are one of the older Wellonese regiments and they have a reputation in recruiting their officers from the highest strata of New Scots society. The rank and file of the regiment are mostly recruited from the north of the island and are, by and large, devout members of the Reformed Free Presbeteryian Church.
This camouflage is standard for units based at the New Shorncliffe garrison. The squadrons Cavaliers carry two flags on its radio antenna, with the B Sqn RNSH flag (A) flying above the flag of New Scotland (B). The flag carries the crest of the Duke of Fulton in its right corner. The Cavalier's callsign is displayed in the blue facing colour of the regiment. 2 Armd Bde has an insignia displaying a stylised feral terran dog (C), and is found on almost every vehicle in the brigade. The Cavalier also carries a standard Anglo-Wellonese serial plate (D).
Cavalier Mk. 4, Support Troop, D Squadron, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, New Africa Manoeuvre Force
Fedren Valley, New Africa, Beta Canum Venaticorum-4, 2nd March 2302
4 DG was the medium recce regiment assigned to 1st Light Division HQ. On its arrival in New Africa it was combined into the New Albion Manoeuvre Force with 79 Armoured Brigade and during the early stages of the conflict worked very closely with that force. The recce superiority that 4 DG and the squadron from 10th/11th Hussars achieved over the Kafers was a major factor that prevented New Africa from being overrun like the French and German colonies.
At this stage in the war British vehicles carried very few identifying marks beyond those standard ones carried by most vehicles. The Cavaliers, newly arrived from Alicia, received a field modified camouflage pattern which did not totally conceal the red hued pattern used on Beowulf. This Cavalier and others like it carried two camouflage netting systems to conceal the vehicles when they were at rest from the Kafers ubiquitous orbital surveillance systems.
This HBT carries a small old-style Ulster flag (A) on the barbette and its callsign markings in the regiment's blue facing colour. Atop the Defender sensor unit is a unit specific tactical marking system (B). The usual small Union flags are visible on the front and rear plenum armour but the aft number plate has either been removed or lost. Lastly the kill rings on the barrel denote that this crew has destroyed no fewer than eight enemy vehicles.