Until the arrival of the Russian made T-72 M tank, 150 Vickers Mk III Eagle formed the spearhead of the Nigerian army’s three amoured division. The tanks primary role is to provide fire support to Nigerian ground forces during the duration of a conflict.
The all-welded rolled steel hull of the Vickers Mk 3 MBT is divided into three compartments: driver’s at the front,fighting in the centre and the engine and transmission in the rear.
The driver’s compartment is on the right, with a single-piece hatch cover opening to the right. Forward of the cover is a single AFV No 44 Mk 2 wide-angle periscope for closed-down driving. This can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night. To the left of the driver 25 rounds of 105 mm ammunition are stowed.
The steel turret has a cast front welded to armour plate to give improved ballistic protection. It has an ammunition reloading hatch in the left side and a stowage basket on the rear. The loader sits on the left of the turret and the commander and gunner on the right.
The commander’s cupola has 360° hand traverse and has a rear-opening single-piece hatch cover. The commander has a Pilkington Optronics Condor combined day/night sight; this has day magnifications of x 1 and x 10 and a night magnification of x 4. Using the Condor, the commander can aim and fire the main 105 mm armament at night or in poor light. The sight has an injected ballistic graticule from the collimator, a range readout from the laser range-finder, and controls for operating the laser and for laying and firing the main armament. The commander also has six periscopes for observation.
The gunner has a British Aerospace Systems and Equipment-York L23 periscopic sight, with magnifications of x1 and x10, incorporating an Nd:YAG laser range-finder and a ballistic graticule. The gunner’s sight is linked to the gun by a temperature-compensated link bar and to a collimator in the commander’s cupola.
The collimator projects an illuminated ballistic graticule image into the field of view of the commander’s sight when the cupola and the turret are lined up.
The loader has a single-piece hatch cover that opens forward and an AFV No 30 Mk 1 observation periscope.
Optional equipment includes added passive night vision equipment, deep wading and flotation equipment, full NBC filtration and pressurisation, a heater, air conditioning, contrarotating gear for the commander’s cupola, and an automatic fire detection and suppression system.
The main armament is the proven Royal Ordnance 105 mm L7A1 gun which fires APFSDS, APDS, HEAT, HESH, HE, smoke and canister rounds.
A muzzle system is fitted which allows rapid compensation to be made for barrel movement due to changes in temperature. The tank is fitted with the then GEC-Marconi Radar and Control Systems, Defence Control Systems Division, EC620 gun control and stabilising system which has three modes of operation: non-stabilised, stabilised and emergency.
The 12.7 mm ranging machine gun is retained. It is a very effective heavy machine gun for use against lightly armoured and soft-skinned vehicles. It also provides a back-up in the event of failure of the laser range-finder or fire-control computer.
The secondary armament is a coaxially mounted 7.62 mm machine gun. A further 7.62 mm machine gun is provided on the commander’s cupola, in front of and to the left of the hatch.
This weapon can be elevated from -10° to the vertical, and can be mechanically cocked, aimed and electrically fired from under armour.
A spotlight is fitted to the cross shaft of the machine gun mounting. Elevation is achieved by the commander’s sight elevation gear; thus the machine gun and the spotlight follow the commander’s line of sight through all angles of elevation.
A 12.7 mm machine gun can also be fitted on the commander’s cupola in place of the standard 7.62 mm machine gun.
There are 50 rounds of 105 mm ammunition carried, 18 rounds in the turret below the ring, 25 stowed horizontally in the front of the hull and seven stowed vertically in the hull centre section.
Electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers are fitted on each side of the turret.
The engine, transmission, steering system and brakes are at the rear of the hull. The power pack consisting of the engine, radiators, coolant and oil filter can be removed as a complete unit.
All connections to the power pack are by means of self-sealing couplings, plugs and sockets so that the power pack can be readily removed from the vehicle for major overhauls. Power is provided by a Detroit Diesel 12V-71T, two-stroke, turbocharged diesel developing 720 bhp at 2,500 rpm. If required the complete power pack can be run outside the vehicle.