The Self-Propelled Gun, Avenger, A30, was a tank destroyer armed with a 17-pounder gun and based on the Cruiser Tank Challenger (A30).
The Avenger was one of a series of attempts to mount the new 17-pounder tank gun in an armoured vehicle. The Cruiser Tank Challenger (A30) was probably developed from the Cruiser Tank Mk VIII Cromwell, and did actually enter combat in small numbers late in 1944, but there was also a desire to have a more lightly armoured tank destroyer that could carry the gun. An interim model was produced by mounting the gun backwards on a Valentine tank, to produce the Archer, but a better solution was required.
The obvious choice was to produce a lighter version of the A30. Early in 1943 Leylands was asked to develop a self-propelled gun version of the Challenger. This would have a fully traversing turret, as in most American tank destroyers, and use as many components from the Challenger as possible.
The Avenger used the same engine and transmission as the Challenger. The prototype used the same suspension, but later vehicles added some changes that were developed for the Cruiser Tank Comet (A34). The Avenger had a lower superstructure, and its height was reduced from the 8ft 9in of the Challenger down to 7ft 3in.
The Avenger had a rather odd turret, with an open top (as was often the case in American tank destroyers), but with a mild steel canopy suspected a short distance above it to protect the crew. Most of the space on this canopy was taken up with hatches. The gap between the canopy and the turret could be filled with canvas screens to keep out bad weather.
The pilot model of the Avenger was completed in 1944, but by that point the American M10 GMC was finally reaching Britain. Production priority thus went to the Comet tank instead. A total of 230 Avengers were completed by the time production ended in 1946, and they were used to equip two self propelled artillery battalions.
Hull Length: 28ft 7in (with gun forward)
Hull Width: 10ft
Height: 7ft 3in
Crew: 4 or 5 (commander, driver, gunner, one or two loaders)
Weight: 69,440lb battle weight
Engine: 600hp Rolls-Royce Meteor
Max Speed: 20mph cross country, 32.3mph road
Max Range: 105 miles road radius
Armament: One 17pdf OQF gun, one .303in Bren machine gun for anti-aircraft use