Whether during war or at peace, main battle tanks and other armored vehicles can heavily rely on armored support vehicles—and for the British Army’s MTBs, it’s the CRARRV, Challenger Armored Repair and Recovery Vehicle.
This 70-ton behemoth is the “pocket healer” of all mechanized equipment on the battleground, tending to repair and recover during critical combat moments. It was developed alongside their main battle tanks when Brits were looking for equipment that could pull their heaviest armored fighting vehicles to safety.
A Mechanic Workshop On Wheels
As we all know, the British Army was the inventor of the tank on the battlefields of WWI, which other nations were quick to imitate. But like all machines, it is prone to malfunctions, getting bogged down, and, of course, damage from hostile and even friendly fires. So, they thought of something that could carry out the repair and recovery duties and could follow the combat vehicles wherever, whenever on the field. During the WWII, American tank units had entire battalion strength units dedicated to recovering and repairing damaged tanks and getting them back into the fight.
They initially thought of wheeled vehicles to play this essential role, but it wasn’t fit to traverse rugged terrain. Likewise, it wasn’t strong enough to tow the heaviest tanks they had, and it provided little-to-no cover for the mechanical crew. They need something that could navigate tough terrain, be armed to defend themselves and the mechanics, and drag vehicles back to base for proper repair or disposal. Then, a light bulb lit up. What better way to carry a heavy tank than a tank itself?