Last Years Challanger Tank Fatality during Firing

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mick burgess
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:08 pm
Service Details: Joined Boy's Sqn RAC Sepy 1956
Joined B Sqn Berlin Dec 1958
Joined C Sqn Celle Feb 1960
Posted Hohne Regt came together1961
Benghazi, Cyprus, Perham Down, Lulworth,
Tidworth, Herford, Manchester, Lulworth,
Catterick, Munster 1992 KRH Lulworth.
Retired Dec 2006 after 50 years/6 months
Real Name: Mick Burgess
Location: Dorset

Last Years Challanger Tank Fatality during Firing

Post by mick burgess » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:26 pm

Thought you ll might be interested in this sad event on Castlemartin Ranges last year.

Subject: RTR Inquest On The Two Soldiers Killed Last Year
An inquest into the deaths of two soldiers killed in an explosion has been told there had never been a similar incident involving the British Army's main battle tank in nearly 20 years of service.

Corporal Matthew Hatfield and Corporal Darren Neilson, of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), died after an explosion in a Challenger 2 tank at Castlemartin firing ranges on June 14 2017.

Cpl Neilson, 31 and a father of one, from Preston, was the tank commander and was thrown from the vehicle in the blast, while Cpl Hatfield, 27, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, was loading ammunition.
Two other soldiers, Warrant Officer Stuart Lawson and Trooper Michael Warren, survived the blast.

The coroner's court in Solihull, West Midlands, heard that a critical airtight seal in the tank's barrel preventing explosive gases up to 3,000C getting into the crew turret was not in place before the blast.

A senior coroner also heard that the tank's ammunition, known as "bag charges", may have been "incorrectly stowed" outside boxes in the turret.

The two corporals, both highly trained gunnery instructors with combat experience, were only in the tank because they were taking another soldier out for a "guest shoot".

An Army training officer, Sergeant Alexander Ahtom, told the coroner he "never thought it possible" the gun could be fired without the seal being in the barrel.

The Challenger 2 specialist also told the hearing he disagreed "completely" with a finding of the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) joint service inquiry panel, which looked into the blast.

On Tuesday, the inquest heard there had been no similar incidents on this tank model since its introduction in 1998, despite thousands of rounds being fired, including during high-tempo combat operations action in Iraq.

Sgt Ahtom said no one had ever raised the potential issue of the tank's main gun being able to fire without the airtight seal being present.

On the first day of evidence on Monday, the coroner heard the bolt vent axial (BVA) seal had not been present when the gun was fired, allowing heated gases into the turret, where high-explosive charges were stored.
Simon Antrobus QC, for BAE - which built the tank - addressed Sgt Ahtom: "The tank has gone through, both before and after service, a whole series of rigorous development trials to look at reliability, firing and manoeuvres. During which thousands of rounds were fired.

"And then the tank has been in active service since 1998. It saw direct action in Iraq against Iraqi tanks, so it's had to fire many rounds, under the stress of battle.

"And you, giving your evidence, you're not aware of there being any prior incident where the gun has been fired or attempted to without BVA present?"

Sgt Ahtom replied: "I'm not aware of any former incident like this before."

Asked if anybody had raised it "as a possibility or concern", he replied: "Absolutely no-one has." Senior coroner Louise Hunt was told by Sgt Ahtom that there was no regulation to recheck the tank barrel - known as proving the gun - when one crew was handing the vehicle to another.

The dead soldiers' tank had been used by a previous crew that morning, before Cpl Neilson and Cpl Hatfield took it to the firing area that afternoon.

Sgt Ahtom said that, in the previous six weeks, training drill procedures were changing to include a more frequent gun-proving drill - including checking for the BVA.

Ms Hunt said: "Were you concerned people might not be doing the prove-the-gun drill in the way you had anticipated?"

Sgt Ahtom replied: "Yes, I was concerned."

He agreed that what Ms Hunt called a "misunderstanding" was possible, where a new tank crew took over a vehicle which already appeared set up to run.

Mr Antrobus asked whether Sgt Ahtom agreed with an MoD inquiry panel "proposition" that it could be possible to miss the fact the airtight seal was not present, when checking for another key part - the tube vent electrical.

Mr Antrobus said: "That's the conclusion the service inquiry panel reached - but you disagree with that?"

Sgt Ahtom said: "Yes, I completely disagree with what's written there."

He confirmed the service inquiry panel had not spoken to him before delivering its findings.

The inquest, scheduled to last three weeks, continues.

Here is my understanding
Having done two stints as an instructor at Lulworth unless they have changed the procedure in the turret, the only indication you would get is the pintle on the obturator seal being severed thus allowing one arm on the part to fall down which would prevent the bag charge being loaded. No obturator fitted the breach could still be closed

As you Chieftain wallers would know you would have the next projectile in your hands as you shouted loaded but the bag charge came next out of its container after loading the projector.

However after all these years I could be wrong

mick burgess
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:08 pm
Service Details: Joined Boy's Sqn RAC Sepy 1956
Joined B Sqn Berlin Dec 1958
Joined C Sqn Celle Feb 1960
Posted Hohne Regt came together1961
Benghazi, Cyprus, Perham Down, Lulworth,
Tidworth, Herford, Manchester, Lulworth,
Catterick, Munster 1992 KRH Lulworth.
Retired Dec 2006 after 50 years/6 months
Real Name: Mick Burgess
Location: Dorset

Re: Last Years Challanger Tank Fatality during Firing

Post by mick burgess » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:15 pm

More info on this tragic accident latest reports.

A soldier fatally injured in a tank blast “would have survived” had he not been forcibly ejected from the vehicle, an inquest has heard.
Cpl Darren Neilson, known as “Daz”, was thrown 20ft as he was seen trying to climb from the turret of his Challenger 2 on an Army live-firing range on June 14, 2017.
Consultant plastic surgeon Prof Steven Jeffrey said the father-of-one’s injuries “would have been much less severe and probably survivable”.
Cpl Neilson suffered patchy burns to both legs, on the front side, and a severe burn to his neck, but also a significant facial injury, with witnesses describing him landing head-first.

Corporals Matthew “Hattie” Hatfield and Neilson, both of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), died of their injuries after an explosion in their tank at the Castlemartin ranges, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Cpl Neilson, 31, from Preston, Lancashire, was the tank commander, while Cpl Hatfield, 27, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, who was loading ammunition, was severely burned.
Two other men, Warrant Officer Stuart Lawson and Trooper Michael Warren, also suffered burns but survived.
The inquest in Solihull, West Midlands, heard previously that a key piece of equipment, which forms an air-tight seal stopping hot gases escaping into the crew turret, known as the bolt vent axial (BVA), was missing from the Challenger 2’s barrel, when fired.
Prof Jeffrey, who has treated WO Lawson’s injuries since the incident, was asked about injuries suffered by Cpl Neilson.
Senior coroner Louise Hunt asked: “If he hadn’t been expelled from the turret you think he would have survived?”
“Yes, I think so,” he replied.
“I also heard he seemed to land pretty heavily on his head and face, which could have caused those injuries.”
Ms Hunt asked: “So to summarise, Cpl Neilson’s burns were not sufficient to kill him, it’s the other injuries that caused his death, while for Cpl Hatfield it is the full extent of his burns that caused his death?”
“That’s correct,” he added.
He was unable to definitively state whether Cpl Neilson had been ejected by the first explosion, or a second flaming blast, though witnesses have spoken of how he was thrown from the turret hatch before flames were seen.

But when asked if fire-protective clothing would have prevented Cpl Hatfield’s injuries, Prof Jeffrey replied: “No ma’am, I don’t think that degree of fire retardness has been invented.”
The inquest also heard on Monday how a total of four high-explosive bag charges, used to propel shells out of the barrel, were unaccounted for in the damaged tank.
A senior coroner has previously heard testimony there was a “culture” of soldiers not correctly storing the charges inside armoured heat-protected “charge bins” in the turret, before the incident.
Witnesses described seeing the tank preparing to fire but instead hearing a “hissing” sound, a puff of white smoke, and then seeing Cpl Neilson ejected.
A “ferocious” fire then burst from the tank’s open hatches, lasting up to eight seconds, and described by one soldier as looking like a fighter jet’s afterburners on take-off.
On the sixth day of the inquest, ammunition expert Warrant Officer Stephen Gelston, with the Royal Logistic Corps, was presenting a likely sequence of events in the incident.
He said: “In this instance, we believe there was not a full gas-tight seal to the rear of breech because BVA had bot been fitted.”
WO Gelston added that, as the gun was fired, the “propellant starts to burn but because there’s a large hole that the BVA would normally take up, the build-up of pressure and heat will not have occurred as rapidly as if BVA was fitted”.
“So the hissing sound described by witnesses, I suspect, is when the propellant charge first started to burn,” he said.
He said: “There will have been a build-up of pressure .
“Clearly, it builds to a point the breech was unable to sustain the pressure and there was a failure of the breech, and the top half of the breech was projected and came to rest in the rear of the turret.

Ms Hunt asked: “Can you give us an estimate of heat likely to come back into the turret.
He replied: “2,586C is probably the best I can do.”
Ms Hunt then said: “On any level, that’s very hot?”
“Yes,” he replied.
He added the release of hot gases from the shattered breech would have been “unequivocally” capable of igniting any unstowed bag charges, and also account for several “cooked-off” rounds of 7.62 calibre machine gun rounds found inside the turret.

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Re: Last Years Challanger Tank Fatality during Firing

Post by PINKY » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:56 pm

On one of the 1420H Fb pages an ex KRH soldier admitted that " to speed up the loading process often loaders would prepare bag charges by taking some out of the containers" I was shocked to read that...……..

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