FV101 Scorpion

FV101 Scorpion

Irish Army Scorpion CVR(T)
Type Reconnaissance vehicle
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service


(Retired in 1994 by the UK)
Used by Users
Wars Iran–Iraq War
Falklands war
Gulf war
Production history
Manufacturer Alvis Vehicles Ltd, Coventry, England
Variants Scorpion 90
Weight 17,800 lb (8.074 tonnes)
Length 5.288 m (17 ft 4.2 in)[1]
Width 2.134 m (7 ft 0 in)[1]
Height 2.102 m (6 ft 10.8 in)[1]
Crew 3[1]

Armour 12.7 mm welded aluminium
ROF 76mm L23A1 gun
90 mm in Scorpion 90[1]
Coaxial 7.62 mm L43A1 machine gun[1]
Engine Cummins BTA 5.9-litre (diesel)[1]
190 hp (140 kW)
Power/weight 22.92 hp (17.3 kW) / tonne[1]
Transmission David Brown TN15[1]
Suspension Torsion-bar
756 km (470 mi)[1]
Speed 72.5 km/h (45.0 mph)[1]

The FV101 Scorpion is a British armoured reconnaissance vehicle. It was the lead vehicle and the fire support type in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), CVR(T), family of seven armoured vehicles. Manufactured by Alvis, it was introduced into service with the British Army in 1973 and served until 1994.[2] More than 3,000 were produced and used as a reconnaissance vehicle or a light tank. It holds the Guinness world record for the fastest production tank; recorded doing 82.23 km/h (51.10 mph) at the QinetiQ vehicle test track, Chertsey, Surrey, on 26 January 2002.[3]


The Alvis Scorpion was developed to meet a British Army requirement for the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) or CVR(T). In 1967, Alvis was awarded the contract to produce 30 CVR(T) prototypes. Vehicles P1–P17 being the Scorpion prototypes were delivered on time and within the budget.[4] After extensive hot and cold weather trials in Norway, Australia, Abu Dhabi and Canada, the Scorpion was accepted by the British Army in May 1970, with a contract for 275, which later rose to 313 vehicles.[5] The first production vehicles were completed in 1972 and the first British regiment to be equipped with the Scorpion was the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry in 1973.[5][6] In November 1981, the RAF Regiment took delivery of its first Scorpions.[7]

Alvis built more than 3,000 Scorpion vehicles for the British Army, Royal Air Force Regiment and the export market.

All of the CVR(T) vehicles were to be air-portable; and two Scorpions could be carried in a C130 Hercules. Another requirement of the CVR(T) project was the low ground pressure - similar to that of a soldier on foot - this would serve it well in the boggy conditions of the Falklands War.


L23A1 gun
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1973–present
Production history
Manufacturer Royal Ordnance
Length 2.157 m (7 ft 0.9 in)

Calibre 76 mm (3.0 in)
Rate of fire 6 rounds per minute
Effective firing range 2,200 m (2,400 yd)

The Scorpion was armed with the low velocity 76 mm L23A1 gun, which could fire high-explosive, HESH, smoke and canister rounds. Stowage was provided for 40 or 42 rounds. A 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun (3,000 rounds carried) was also fitted, as were two multi-barreled smoke grenade dischargers, one on each side of the turret.[1] The main armament has an elevation of 35 degrees and a depression of 10 degrees; the turret has a full 360 degree traverse.[8]


The original engine was the Jaguar J60 4.2-litre petrol engine,[9] which was replaced by a Cummins or Perkins diesel engine.[1] The maximum speed was about 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) and it could accelerate from nought to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) in 16 seconds. The maximum speed on water (with the flotation screen deployed) was 3.6 mph (5.8 km/h).[10]

The Irish engineering company IED replaced the existing Jaguar engine in a successful re-powering process with a Steyr M16 TCA HD engine (6-cylinder, 145 kW), making the Scorpion more powerful and more reliable in critical environments.[11]


The FV101 was a very light armoured vehicle, weighing in at a mere 8 tons. This meant some compromises had to be made on protection. The vehicle had 12.7mm[12] of aluminum armour all around, giving it protection against small low velocity shrapnel and standard ball rifle rounds from cartridges such as 7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm, and 7.62x51mm. However, its light protection was a liability against anything heavier; for example, even standard M993 7.62x51mm AP rounds can penetrate 18mm of RHA steel at 100m.[13]

Other systems

The vehicle was fitted with a nuclear, biological, chemical protection system, image intensification sights for gunner and driver and a floatation screen.[1] A commode was located under the commander's seat, an internal water tank and a boiling vessel for cooking and heating water were also provided.[14]

Scorpion 90

The Scorpion 90 or Scorpion 2 was a version armed with the long-barrelled Cockerill Mk3 M-A1 90mm gun designed for the export market.[15]

Service history

The Scorpion was or is used by the armed forces of Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Chile, Honduras, Iran, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.[1]Iranian army acquired 250 Scorpions in the late 1970s and a number of them are still in use after being refurbished locally as the Tosan tank.

While Canada never operated the Scorpion, its original turret was married with the MOWAG Piranha I chassis to create the AVGP Cougar fire support vehicle, which was used by the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Scorpion on occasion deployed to main UK airports as a measure against possible terrorist threats, e.g., Heathrow Airport in 1974.

Combat use

small armoured vehicle alone in the desert. The flag of the United Kingdom can just be seen on the rear
Scorpion advancing across the desert during the first Gulf War.

Two troops from B Squadron, Blues and Royals served in the Falklands War. One troop was equipped with four Scorpions, the other with four FV107 Scimitars. These were the only armoured vehicles used in action by the British Army during the conflict.[16]

Scorpions also served in the Gulf War. The 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards, a reconnaissance regiment, had 32 and the close reconnaissance troops of the armoured regiments each had eight.[17] They were also used by 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, which was attached to the 1st British Armoured Division.

Foreign users

Some small armies, such as the Botswana Defence Force and the Irish Army, and notably the larger Philippine Army and Nigerian Army continue to use the Scorpion, in some cases up-armed with the 90mm Cockerill.

The Iranian army used its Scorpion tanks in the Iran-Iraq War. It seems they were not very successful and losses and lack of spare parts soon meant all of them were out of service.


The Scorpion has been withdrawn from British Army service and the refurbished hulls have been mated with surplus turrets from the FV 721 Fox CVR(W) wheeled reconnaissance vehicle to form a composite vehicle—the Sabre reconnaissance vehicle.[18]


A small number of converted Scorpions are in use at British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada as part of OPFOR. With the main armament barrel replaced with a dummy they represent 125mm gun armed T-80-type vehicles.


Map of FV101 operators in blue with former operators in red
Scorpion at Aldershot military museum

Current operators

1500 units.
20 units.
60 units.
16 units.
30 units ; in service with the Chilean Marines Corps.
19 units.
130 units.
90 units.
14 units.
80 units.
26 units.
150 units.
120 Units.
65 units.
128 units.
40 units.
12 units.
76 Units.
78 Scorpion 90, 4 or 6 FV-104 Samaritan, 2 FV-105 Sultan and 4 FV-106 Samson.[1]

Former operators

701 units (this total consists of all seven variants of the CVR(T)).
26 units.
17 units on service until 2009 on the Spanish Navy, (Infantería de Marina Española). Sold to Chile. There are a couple of units on static display as of 2011.

See also

The Scorpion/Scimitar in the US Army field recognition manual.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 "Scorpion". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo060704/text/60704w0003.htm#06070447001554 |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. July 4, 2006. col. 912W–913W.
  3. "Fastest tank". Guinnessworldrecords.com. 2002-03-26. Retrieved 2014-05-31.
  4. Foss & Sarson, p. 9
  5. 1 2 Foss & Sarson, p. 10
  6. Foss & Sarson, p. 4
  7. Foss & Sarson, p. 20
  8. Foss & Sarson, p. 14
  9. Christopher Chant A compendium of armaments and military hardware. Retrieved 2014-05-31.
  10. Foss & Sarson, p. 12
  11. Application Gallery: Steyr-Motors.com
  12. Thailand Army Weapon Systems Handbook.
  13. "Nammo Ammunition Handbook", page 23. Nordic Ammunition Company. 2014.
  14. Foss & Sarson, p. 11
  15. Foss & Sarson, p. 37
  16. Foss & Sarson, p. 21
  17. Foss & Sarson, pp. 41–44
  18. Foss & Sarson, p. 34
  19. 1 2 3 4 "Spartan and Other CVR(T) Vehicles". MOD. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  20. "Scimitar Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle". MOD. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  21. "Starstreak High Velocity Missile Vehicles". MOD. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  22. "Shielder Anti-Tank System". MOD. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  23. "Background – Armoured Vehicle, General Purpose – Cougar DFSV". Canadian American Strategic Review. September 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03.


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