30th Anniversary of the Gulf War

24th February marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the coalition ground campaign to remove Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, during the First Gulf War.

The following article has been retrieved from the Tracklink magazine archives and was published for the 25th anniversary in 2016.

During the 68 hours of fighting, 7th Armoured Brigade advanced 300km and destroyed 90 Iraqi tanks, with only two men lost and fifteen wounded. The 4th Armoured Brigade destroyed 60 Iraqi tanks, losing ten men and wounding seven, mainly due to friendly fire. No Challengers or Warriors were officially lost to enemy fire.

We have delved into the Archive’s photographic collection and selected a small number of the photographs collated by Roddy de Normann, ex-Royal Hussars, and kindly donated to the Museum.

Click on the dots below to change image. 

The massed armour and support vehicles of 1st (BR) Armoured Division at a staging area prior to the commencement of Operation Sabre and the liberation of Kuwait. 1st (BR) Armoured Division operated as part of US VII Corps. The major ground offensive was launched on ‘G Day’ Sunday 24 February with 1st (BR) Armoured Division crossing their line of departure on Monday 25 February.
A Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Challenger 1, MkIII, festooned with extra stowage and kit. The red paint on the external 200 litre fuel drum was most likely intended to provide an additional air recognition signature supplementing the recognition sheet visible on the turret bustle.
Carrying on the fine tradition of the Desert Rats, a soldier of 7th Armoured Brigade applies the famous red Jerboa marking on the light stone base of his FV432.
Challengers from 14th/20th Hussars, 4th Armoured Brigade, await the order to move. Note the muzzle covers and the number ‘4’ stencilled on the side of the external fuel drums as well as the chevron. Two additional Challenger regiments in the 7th Armoured Brigade – Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars – completed the heavy armour arm of 1st (BR) Armoured Division.
Call sign ‘D14’ Brigadier Patrick Cordingley’s Challenger 1. Although it added a weight penalty, the addition of Chobham side armour plates on the hull and ERA on the front significantly enhanced the protection of Challenger 1 in theatre.
A British MLRS vehicle operated by 39th Heavy Regiment RA. Based on a stretched version of the M2 Bradley, the MLRS M270 self-propelled rocket launcher has a crew of three. The driver, gunner and section commander operate from a protected front cab, with the 12 self-contained warheads in no-maintenance rocket pods located in the hydraulically-assisted launcher loader module.
MLRS in action. Vapour trails fill the sky as an MLRS battery launches a rocket barrage. Each MLRS was capable of firing twelve M26 warheads in less than a minute, up to a range of 32km. On impact each warhead would deposit 644 M77 shaped-charge blast fragmentation bomblets saturating a target area of six acres.
A familiar sight for many visitors to The Tank Museum. However, rather than being employed as a rides vehicle around the Kuwait arena, this M548, was employed in Kuwait in a more serious role – that of Regimental Aid Post. A different view of this vehicle would suggest that this M548 may have had an RTR crew.
An M1A1 Abrams. The US had approximately 1955 M1A1s in theatre. Note the mix of desert and European theatre external stowage items. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003 external turret stowage like this proved vulnerable to catching on fire from detonating RPG rounds.
`SHAR – PAI’ a USMC M60A1. Although equipped with Abrams tanks the US Marine Corps also operated the venerable M60A1 and a small number of the more advanced M60A3s. Armed with an Americanised version of the British L7 105mm gun the M60A1 offered good penetration but was outgunned by the Iraqis T-72. Additional protection from the application of reactive armour was hurriedly introduced to the hull and turret after being declined by the USMC in 1989.
The crew of a USMC Amphibious Assault Vehicle AAV-7A1, still in its olive drab paint, mingle with a British mechanized unit. Fitted with applique armour plates to protect the sides of the vehicle from machine-gun fire and shell splinters, the AAV-7A1 was operated by a crew of three and could transport 25 fully equipped marines via a power operated ramp located at the rear.
Constructed from steel and tubing, these very basic efforts at producing a dummy tank were a forlorn attempt by overmatched Iraqi forces to deceive coalition forces into engaging the wrong target.
Being dug-in offered Iraqi forces little additional protection as this knocked out T-55 testifies.