The men and women who defend the United Kingdom and fight wars overseas.
The British Armed Forces (as a professional fighting force) began to appear during the English Civil War (1641-1651) with the New Model Army (with two regiments—the Coldstream Guards and the Blues and Royalsnote —in the present able to trace their roots to the force) and has since fought in many wars such as The Napoleonic Wars, The Boer War, The First World War, the Second World War, both Gulf Wars, and many others. Historically a home for "spare" male heirs to the throne, nearly every male member of the House of Windsor has served in some capacity, with several (most famously Princes Andrew and Harry) seeing action. The last time the monarch actually fought with their soldiers was at Dettingen in 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession, when King George II led the Pragmatic Army's breakout from Bavaria. He won.
There is a widespread feeling and by now unfortunately confirmed element (Lack of Maritime patrol Aircraft for example) that the armed services are underfunded despite having the fourth largest military expenditure in the world. However, one should never think of them as underequipped but rather that they simply don't have as many as they would like, or in some cases need, to handle all the British military's myriad of requirements.
However, the British are generally right to be proud of their military. Well equipped, well trained and globally capable, the British Military has throughout history innovated and forged a legacy for itself that still continues to this day. If not in the numbers they once were (the Royal Navy, for instance, no longer outnumbers the next two largest navies combined), man for man they are still considered in the top tiers of worldwide militaries. It's not for nothing that when in 2015 a top American general was asked who the number two military power in the world was, he replied "Probably the UK". In truth, the real answer nowadays is probably the Chinese, at least in areas which they are interested, but Britain does still punch well above its weight.
Both Labour and the Conservatives pledged not to cut defence expenditure if elected, a promise that was reneged when the coalition government's Defence Review went through the military like an industrial laser, with some very questionable decisions being made - the most prominent of which is the construction of new aircraft carriers while retiring the Harrier, meaning that there won't be anything to launch from them until the Joint Strike Fighter (now called Joint Combat Aircraft) comes online.
Of course, participation in Iraq and Afghanistan is starting to look like it might change that, with newspaper stories of servicemen being heckled in the street when wearing their uniform and a decline in sales of The Poppy attributed to anti-war feeling. The government has attempted to combat this with "wear your uniform to work" days for the Territorial Army (volunteer reservists) and various other pro-military propaganda campaigns. This attitude has recently changed as both the UK and the US are both becoming more pro military. The work the servicemen and women did at the Olympics probably had something to do with that too, as did the general "good guys" feeling of averting a massacre in Libya, and the channelling of the explosion of pure rage from everywhere north of Calais after the Paris Bataclan attacks into punitive bombing raids on ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria.
Has a collective liking for a chap called Jeremy Clarkson.
There are three branches to the UK military...
- "Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that's the style.
What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile!"-"Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag", a WWI marching song.
Self Explanatory. Home to all the squaddies and squadettes. Their main weapon is the L85A2 assault rifle (some military people will look at you funny if you call it the SA80 as the SA80 refers to a family of weapons including the standard issue rifle, carbine, light support weapon and cadet rifle), which is rather short and can't be fired left-handed unless a face full of hot cartridge casings is your idea of fun. Despite this, since recent upgrades by HK the rifle has been noted as one of the most accurate and reliable service rifles around. Note: Not named the "Royal Army" because it is descended from the institutions established by the "New Model Army" which fought for Parliament against the King in the seventeenth century civil wars, unlike the navy. There are "Royal" units in the Army, but they are regiments, divisions, even corps, rather than the Army as a whole, e.g., Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery, and the Royal Flying Corps in bygone days. 110,210 regulars, 33,100 territorials and 121,800 regular reserves. Because of this factor, and the historical reality that sea borders with all major rivals in the modern era mean that it's not exactly the first line of defence, the Army is often portrayed as The Un-Favourite in the view of the establishment, together with the fact that having a standing army has historically (and even to some degree today) made British people nervous (the British Constitution of 1688 specifically states that no army shall exist except by direct consent of Parliament). While this was true in the Napoleonic Wars (where the Navy was feted and the Army often ignored) it is less true today, as aside from the Falklands War most of the conflicts Britain has been involved in recently are land wars.
In general, British soldiers tend to be particularly well respected and very highly trained (Basic is 24 weeks, 26 for Guards and 28 for Paras) with a lot of chances to operate alongside a myriad of allies (normally American, French or Canadian amongst many others) and in many conditions from the hills of Scotland to Arctic conditions in Norway. This is nothing new, either, as historically Britain's relative lack of manpower compared to most of its opponents means that they rely on a relatively small but highly trained and effective force to complete objectives in as short a time as possible, one example being the BEF, the British Expeditionary Force of the First World War which stopped the German advance in its tracks with rifle fire so fast that the Germans thought they were being attacked by machine gunners. When they tried it again in the Second World War, it didn't turn out quite so well. They still train bayonet practice for every serving soldier and have been known to carry out bayonet charges with rather frightening (for the enemy) regularity in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There was a lot of controversy during the Iraq War over how badly kitted they were with mismatching camouflage, little ammo, somewhat restrictive rifles and outdated radio equipment. However by far the largest controversy was the CBA. This was effectively a flak jacket with a tiny ceramic plate over the heart and offered so little protection that it became known as the 'Can't be arsed' among the troops.
These days however, the situation is vastly improved. Full ceramic body armour called Osprey along with new Mk 7 Helmets and a wider variety of squad weapons including significantly upgraded rifles, new sights, Glock 17 sidearms, Sharpshooter Rifles, Super M4 shotguns, underslung grenade launchers and even explosive resistant underwear.
A core feature of the British army - or at least of its fighting arms - is the Regimental system. The Regiments (typically one or two battalion formations) play a far greater part than they do for many foreign armies and are a soldier's primary point of attachment. A man belongs to his regiment first and foremost, wears its (usually historic) distinctive uniform and frequently adopts its traditions and rivalries. Whilst he remains a private then his job title may also depend on which regiment he belongs to - titles include Trooper, Rifleman, Fusilier, Kingsman and Guardsman. Other ranks may also be renamed in some rare casesnote . TA personnel in frontline combat roles are divided between several regiments, usually forming one battalion. The advantage of the Regimental system is that it promotes a strong espirit de corps amongst its members, but it has a disadvantage in that inter-regimental relationships can resemble football rivalries - an anecdotal saying is that the British Army is made up of regiments opposed to one another, but united in loyalty to the Crown. Having said that, much of the tension fades away once the bullets start flying.
The most famous regiments are (current names if they're still around):
- The Special Air Service (SAS) regiment: The original Special Forces unit; the people who rescue hostages from embassies and look cool doing it, as well as other, more sneaky, activities. Started out in the North African desert in WWII. With two former members both in the novels business, they get a lot of coverage. Their motto "Who Dares Wins" is used a lot by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. They were the world's first Special Forces (as we would use the term today) and are still considered the best; all other Special Forces groups in the world are trained by the SAS or use the methods they developed. Despite their fame, very little is actually known about them and they like to keep it that way - their mere existence wasn't confirmed until the Iran Embassy crisis, forty years after their formation, and that was because even the British establishment couldn't deny their existence with a straight face. Occasionally fulfil a similar role to the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, but contrary to popular belief, they only provide VIP escort duties under exceptional circumstances - though they can sometimes be found as part of close protection teams for senior British diplomats and their families in particularly dangerous areas. Once described by famed BBC war correspondent Kate Adie as being like Martians: quiet, watchful and wearing a lot of strange weaponry. Applicants are only allowed in after at least 3 years of good service with another regiment and undergoing an absurdly brutal Selection process, the very first phase of which (Six weeks of endurance training in the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in North Wales. It's referred to as 'the Hill phase'. Yes, these people see mountains as hills. This tells you quite a lot about them) has been known to kill people and usually weeds out 15-20% of applicants. Only 30 out of about 200 applicants remain at the end, and even after, they spend a year on probation.
- The Parachute Regiment: AKA The Paras. Jump out of planes for a living. Wear burgundy headgear. Getting in is seriously hard, and is by invitation only. Have a reputation for unnecessary violence, whether directed at the enemy, fellow soldiers, civilians or each other, and varying degrees of criminality. Particularly infamous for the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972 (yes, there was more than one).
- Also includes the Pathfinders who are special forces in all but specific name. They have a very similar selection and training to the SAS and a disproportionate number of SAS troopers come from the Pathfinder Platoon.note Noted for using a different service rifle than most line infantry in the British Army, the Diemaco C8 Carbine, a Canadian rifle which is also the standard rifle of the Canadian Military. Have something of a dislike for American ammunition.
- The Foot Guards (Grenadier/Coldstream/Scots/Irish/Welsh Guards): Five regiments. These are the ones who usually wear the bearskin hats, stand outside Buckingham Palace and get many an American tourist trying to make them smile in fiction. Don't annoy them too much though, those rifles are real, are loaded and can fire full auto. Also, at the very least, they will give you a solid kick up the arse. The Irish lot recruit mostly from Stroke Country and from the Irish diaspora in Great Britain (the major English and Scottish cities all have big Irish populations), but also do so from the Republic (unofficially). Definitely not just ceremonial units, they have fought in many areas around the world such as North Africa, Italy and western Europe in WWII, and managed to hold the Hougoumont farmhouse at Waterloo against 14,000 Frenchmen; All Guard Regiments have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, including receiving battle honours in 2005. They can be distinguished via their button designs.
- Or the plumes on the bearskin: Grenadiers white, Coldstream red, Irish blue, Welsh green and white, Scots none.
- The Household Cavalry: Comprising the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals. When in London they ride horses, carry sabres, and wear breastplates. When on deployment they ride tanks. This was Prince Harry's unit until he switched to the Army Air Corps.
- Royal Gurkha Rifles - They're from Nepal, a legacy of the British Empire's presence in India and there is a serious gruelling recruitment program, comparable to that of the SAS, simply because so many Nepalis want to join, primarily because Nepal is extremely poor and even the fairly low wages for a new recruit (less than 2/3 of the British average income) make it a highly lucrative career by comparison. They always carry large knives called kukris and they're very good at their jobs. Do not mess with a Gurkha - they may look small and friendly, and they probably are small and friendly, but if it comes down to it, they can still carve you into salami without breaking a sweat. Seen a lot of press coverage recently regarding rather shoddy treatment of retired veterans. Thankfully this was changed thanks a pressure campaign spearheaded by actress Joanna Lumley. She was awarded a Pride of Britain award by the Gurka who saved her father's life.
- In The Falklands War in 1982, the Argentine conscripts fired back at the British soldiers, but fled instantly when the Gurkhas attacked.
- In Afghanistan, one Gurkha soldier took on 30 Taliban alone. He won, even if he was reduced to beating the last one to death with his 18-kilogram tripod.
- An off duty Gurkha was on a train when it was robbed by forty men and they took a girl hostage. The Gurkha was armed only with his kukri. A few minutes later, several of the robbers were dead and the rest were running for their lives. It's safe to say that pretty much every single member of this regiment is a Pint Sized Power House and a One-Man Army on a scale that makes Rambo look pathetic.
- Another thing of note is that Gurkhas tend to be rather humble about their badassery. Bishnu Shrestha, the soldier who attacked the train robbers above, was contacted by the family of the girl he saved, who wished to reward him. He refused, saying that saving the girl was his duty as a human being.note
- The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland: Now part of the controversial super-regiment that is the Royal Regiment of Scotland, they have retained their traditions. Wear kilts in their dress uniform and are another regiment you do not want to mess with. Germans during World War I ran away merely hearing them playing their pipes. Recently bailed the SAS out of a rather tight spot. Article here
- Well, wouldn't you want to get as far away from a bagpiper as possible?
- Well... that, and historically, if you hear Bagpipes, it means you're going to get your arse kicked very quickly.
- The Germans also nicknamed them "The Ladies from Hell" and "The Devils in Skirts" referencing both the kilt and the fact that they were terrifying to fight.
- Well, wouldn't you want to get as far away from a bagpiper as possible?
- The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland: Suffering the same amalgamation as the Black Watch. Most notable because one of their precursors, the Sutherland Highlanders, was the source of the now-ubiquitous military cliché "The Thin Red Line," which became their nickname after they stood in line to stop a cavalry charge (tantamount to suicide according to then-current military doctrine) in the Crimean War. Most recently, they were downgraded from being even a battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland and reduced to a single "public relations" company that performs only ceremonial duties.
- The Rifles: another super-regiment formed by the merger of several older ones, The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets. Wears Green berets and black buttons and uses the old spelling of Serjeant. Has its own traditions separate from Infantry of the line as rifle regiments used to use a radically different drill. By standing strength is the largest regiment of infantry. The name dates back to when rifles were a relatively new weapon and only issued to elite units, meaning that they were the special forces and sharpshooters of their day - a reputation they lived up to, with one rifleman successfully scoring a kill during the Napoleonic Wars at 800 yards, four times the supposed range of the Baker Rifle. It's been well over a century and a half since the last smoothbore muskets were retired and rifles became something that all Infantry units have, but the name remains as a matter of tradition. Made famous by the fictional exploits of a certain Richard Sharpe
- 7th Armoured Brigade: AKA "The Desert Rats" (and later, in Burma, "The Jungle Rats", they are a very good tank brigade, used by Montgomery to torment Rommel's armies, ultimately winning him the Second Battle of El Alamein (the famous one). Part of 1st Armoured Division, they are based in Germany.
- Note that the 7th Armoured contains elements of several regiments - as of 2008 they included Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, The Highlanders (4Bat RRS), 9/12 Lancers, Royal Regt of Fusiliers and the Royal Anglians, plus artillery, engineer, logistic and other units. It also has the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, the same regiment (by direct descent) which first used the tank, EVER, at the Somme.
- Used to be the 7th Armoured Division, but they'd been downsized over the years and one of their constituent units, the 7th Armoured Brigade, took over the mantle.
- Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment: Amalgamated from the Queen and Hampshire regiments, this unit is the senior infantry regiment of the line. Earliest battle honours, and the most VCs!
The regimental system is less strong in the support arms (the Corps) where a man (or woman, since they're allowed to join "non-teeth" formations) is typically a member of his Corps (e.g. Logistics, Royal Engineers, Adjutant General's) first and can be moved between regiments fairly freely. Notable corps:
- The Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. AKA the Gunners and the Sappers. Traditionally, the only part of the army where officers were promoted on technical skill, rather than ability to buy promotions, these two corps therefore have their own kind of snobbery and a fierce (but fairly friendly) rivalry. Unlike conventional regiments, the Gunners and Sappers have no battle honours. Instead they share the Latin motto "Ubique", meaning Everywhere. Because they pretty much are.
- The Royal Logistics Corps tends to be overlooked, because their main role is making sure that everyone gets what they need, which is hardly glamorous. They're also the parent Corps for 11 EOD Regiment, the British Army's Bomb Disposal experts.
Writers should be careful in assigning a character to an existing formation - unless they are prepared to do a lot of research it's usually easier to make one up.
Below you will find folders detailing the British Military's various equipment elements.
- The British Army currently has the rather cool Challenger 2 in service as its Main Battle Tank. It has a major advantage over its US counterpart, the M1 Abrams, in that it has an inbuilt kettle for making tea, because of course it does. Unique amongst NATO tanks for still possessing a 120mm rifled gun instead of the more common smoothbore.note However if the Challenger 2 has any one major claim to fame, it is the armour. Dorchester Composite is widely reputed to be the strongest armour on any main battle tank in the entire world and the encounters in Iraq definitely seemed to prove it. The Chally was known to shrug off RPG-7 attacks without even noticing, in addition to withstanding Iraqi tank fire with such little effect on the crew they had to be told by a flanking tank they had been hit. In one situation withstood 14 RPG hits on all angles as well as a MILAN anti-tank missile to the top of the turret (generally a weak point in tank armor, at least relative to the front and sides of the turret). Another survived over 70 RPG strikes alone in one day. This is a seriously hard tank.
- There was a brief crisis of faith when its armour was apparently penetrated by an RPG-29, however. On closer inspection it was discovered that the charge had detonated under the tank and send shrapnel through the lower glacis and underbelly, both of which were unarmoured. The British Army's solution? Slap both sides with more Dorchester! No penetrations from any type of weapon have been reported since.
- To give an idea of just how strong that upgrade (Called 'Streetfighter') is, you only need to look at what they did. The Challenger 2 already had massively thick armour plates on all sides (bar underbelly and lower glacis) made of the still unbeaten Dorchester. 'Streetfighter' then added Dorchester plates to the underbelly, the lower glacis, two more full layers of Dorchester armour to the side of the turret and flanks of the tank, Israeli ERAnote on the sides and turret, cage armour on the rear and bomb disruptor systems. All this led the tank to become over 75 tons (!) in weight.
- The British Army have the Warrior as their main Awesome Personnel Carrier. A reliable workhorse that is getting a little long in the tooth if we're being honest. A bit of a finnicky bugger (In tankie talk) to load and can't fire on the move. All this is to change soon however as its 30mm cannon is being replaced by a fully stabilized CT-40 turret. This comes with a 40mm gun that packs some seriously big grunt behind the round. (Currently, the force with which it strikes is in the same velocities as a 90mm cannon) With the ability to fire armour piercing, HE and various other rounds alongside being able to target helicopters and even airbust its rounds this gun is set to be an immense upgrade. The Warrior will continue to be the distinctly uncomfortable but well trusted IFV for the ongoing future, it seems.
- The planned upgrade will be fixing many of the older problems such as its ageing digital elements and sights as well. The new Warrior post "CSP" as they say, will be an entirely new beast from the old. Most are of the belief they'll somehow still fail to make the seats comfy though.
- Unlike nearly every other nation's IFV, the Warrior doesn't include anti-tank missiles in its armament, as the British Army felt that an IFV has no place trying to fight tanks, and equipping them with anti-tank weapons would just encourage the crews to take risks that they ought to be avoiding.
- The Scimitar Light Tank is a reconnaissance vehicle known for being the fastest tank on the planet. (If not in max speed, certainly for agility thanks to some nifty track mechanics) Armed with a 30mm RARDEN cannon, it tends to snipe off insurgents these days rather than do much scouting on account of its Cold War era thin armour. Very popular with troops, it will be a sad day when it is replaced by the upcoming Scout SV, described below.
- The Samaritan, Samson and Sultan are ambulance, engineering and command variants respectively. They are often overlooked by crucial elements for any British excursion, with the Samaritan being well loved for its ability to get an injured soldier where he needs to go for treatment at 80km/h. Mostly seeing back line use these days. They don't like IED's very much. It makes the REME unhappy.
- The Stormer is a more modern one that joined later on. It has a lengthened chassis with an extra road wheel compared the rest of the CVRT family. Originally an APC, it now fulfills the role of close air defence with the wonderful Starstreak High Velocity Missile system on top. Due to its partial manual aiming method it is immune to all countermeasures and rips off out its launcher at a mind boggling Mach 3.5 within a half second. Many operators have a saying: "Starstreak doesn't fire, it just fucks off."
Some of the older variants no longer in service are thus:
- The Scorpion Light Tank. The UK used to maintain thousands of these things at one point. Essentially a Scimitar with a 76mm cannon instead of a 30mm autocannon (Or rather, the other way around, the Scorp came first) this emerged as the very first CVRT platform out of the TV-15000 prototype. Although good at what it did, the weapon system just became too "middle range" for today's world. As in, it was too powerful for low intensity but not powerful enough for high intensity and as such has now passed out of service.
- Striker was an ATGM carrier using the Swingfire missile system. Retired only fairly recently it is a huge point of controversy given it had numerous capabilities that will be dearly missed. (Not to mention taking the UK's last and only vehicular ATGM completely out of service) The Swingfire system had a unique capability in that you could remote control the launcher from 100m away from the tank and that the missile could swerve 90 degrees seconds after leaving the launcher. This allowed the Striker to be a very potent ambush tank hunter.
- Spartans were thankfully not destroyed on creation if they suffered a failure to start first time, but they were a specialised little APC. Simply a Scorpion without the turret, they carries a few men at very fast speeds and proved popular with fire support teams to get them to where they were needed extremely quickly. It is rumoured that a few are still in service in highly particular roles but they are certainly gone for the most part now after being replaced by things such as Mastiff and the upcoming FRES UV platform.
- The true workhorse of the British armoured fleets, the FV 432 APC (Often called the Bulldog, despite that only being a particular upgrade's name) is, despite being developed separately, essentially the same vehicle as the American M113. They look the same, function the same and perform the same despite not being related in the slightest.note It has had many variants from APC (obviously) to ATGM carrier (for Swingfire missiles), Ambulance, 81mm mortar carrier, command post, repair and recovery, recoilless rifle mount and even was once equipped with old 30mm RARDEN cannons from the Fox Armoured Car after it went out of service. A true multipurpose vehicle, the FV 432 will no doubt to doggedly serve for many more years.
- The aforementioned 'Bulldog' upgrade came post Iraq Invasion to help counter enemy fire. This resulted in equipping them with additional layers of armour, slanted reactive plates and remote weapons systems. After all that it looks so different that even some troops genuinely thought it was a completely new vehicle until they got inside.
- The Viking is the Royal Marines' go to transport for amphibious operations. Based on the BvS10 All-Terrain APC, this strange vehicle actually has two completely separate compartments. (In effect, one tows the other on a separate track system) This allows it to move across almost any terrain from sand, marsh, snow, jungle, mud and even swim in the ocean. To give an idea of its sheer manoeuvrability; it can climb 45-degree sand dunes and snow covered hills, tilt 45-degrees either side without tipping and even climb up and over a three-foot step. All terrain indeed! They were recently used to make a 'wet work' incursion into Somalia, swimming to shore then crossing the harsh Somalian coastline, inland across all sorts of terrain to snatch someone the MOD did not like very much and then carry him all the way back.
- The Warthog is the Viking's bigger, uglier and more heavily armoured Singaporean cousin. Bought for use in Iraq when the Viking's armour was feared not enough to combat larger explosive devices, it has since garnered a confidence amongst the men. While much better armoured, it is also a lot slower than the Viking when it comes to amphibious landings. As such, they tend to hop from one to the other depending on the mission.
- Fuchs is a highly specialised vehicle for the British. While ze Germans use them in their masses as an APC, the British only possess 11. These 11 however are extensively modified to fulfil the role of CRBN, which is the British Army and RAF's joint response teams for any chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear affected fallout zones. Some of the most advanced in the entire family they were rather stupidly cut from service until being recently reintroduced for pretty obvious reasons.
- The primary troop transport is the Mastiff 3. This is essentially an American Cougar 6x6 but with the firing ports removed and additional armour added to protect against rocket propelled grenades and roadside penetrators. Since its induction has been, bar none, the most successful vehicle of any ISAF force in Afghanistan at protecting its occupants. (Given the Cougar for the Americans is sharing the same reputation and the Mastiff 3 is just a Cougar with more armour on it...yeah you can see where we're going here, right?)
- It possesses the cream of Britain's wartime technology these days as well, with variants such as Praetorian and Protected Eyes projecting reconnaissance and observational control for massive distances and also being adapted with many mine plows, rollers, exterior cameras and remote weapon systems alongside bomb jammers. The British really spared no expense in getting this vehicle to do everything it could for the effort.
- Very much related to the Mastiff 3 is the Ridgeback. Sharing the same forumla this is an American Cougar 4x4 only with additional armour. Doing the same job as the Mastiff 3, these lighter vehicles are used to chase off insurgents should a convoy of Mastiffs and Ridgebacks be contacted and also to go inside towns thanks not being quite as wide as the immense Mastiff.
- For more utility purposes, the British turn to the Wolfhound. Once again it shares the same chassis as the Mastiff, only this one features a skip instead of a troop carrying compartment and is used for goods transit, additional ammunition and supplies alongside heavier kit that troops can't take with them inside the vehicle such as additional Javelin launchers or complex communications kit. Also carries artillery rounds to batteries. By all standards though, this is just as protected as the Mastiff, only for goods instead of men.
- In a role similar to the Wolfhound, Husky (The British name for the American MXT-MV) is a multipurpose utility protected vehicle. With varients adapting to rapid recovery (that was designed by the REME in theatre), artillery towing, supply hauling and counter explosive duties, the Husky is an underappreciated vehicle that does a lot of thankless tasks in environments others wouldn't dare tread.
- Panther, a British title for the Italian Iveco Lince, now forms the mobile command vehicles of the modern British Army. Very heavily protected against IED attacks in a solid little bunker upon wheels it also mounts remote weapons and battlefield logistics technology inside. Sometimes used to ram doors down on account of its huge engine block.
- The new Jackal and Coyote light reconnaissance vehicles. The subject of much non-military confusion for its strange open top, it is however a much loved vehicle for the troops. It is very fast at 80MPH (Although once a squaddie is behind the wheel, that is only the 'advised' top speed), very agile and handles rough terrain like a dream. Jackals are the speedy weapons platforms of recce missions, with the Coyote carrying heavier kit and providing longer ranged fire support. Both are now known for being quick, heavily armed and surprisingly tough to take out thanks to new armour plating and IED resistant designs. Just hold onto your helmet if they floor the accelerator off road...
- The special forces love these things, as they are basically giant jeeps with loads of armour, loads of speed and loads of dakka. They even strapped twin-linked GPM Gs to them i na version that is rumoured to be called the Pitbull. Apparently the Australian, Canadian and even American special forces are interested in these after travelling with the British in them.
- Before the Jackal there was the Land Rover WMIK. A cut down and open topped Land Rover mounting as much guns as they could weld to its chassis then taken for a spin until they got shot at. Although great fun to drive and as reliable as a Land Rover always is, the Jackal was a much needed replacement. These days they are mostly used by the Army Reserves in a light recce or fast attack role similar to the American Light Strike Vehicles.
- Soon to be is the Scout SV. Based on the ASCOD 2 chassis, it has been pimped out to barely even resemble its original platform with a much more powerful engine (capable of pulling 95 tonnes in its ARV configuration), a CT40 turret with a fearsome 40mm cannon as mentioned on the Warrior above and an ISTAR suite in excess of any other mounted upon a vehicle right now. With modular armour and bomb proofing to the level of a Cougar 2/Mastiff 3 MRAP it will be no pushover to hit back at either.
- The old and reliable Land Rover Snatch is still around, with many of them upgraded to the Snatch-Vixen standard. (New drive trains and enhanced chassis with electronic countermeasures) Protected against small arms and basic explosives, it was originally designed for The Troubles in Northern Ireland, and has become iconic with British deployments in many theatres since the end of the Cold War. After a huge backlash in public opinion over its failings to protect its occupants, the Government soon made plans to replace the vehiclenote . To be fair, this is not a failing of the vehicle (it was never designed to deal with anything more that stray shots and shrapnel) but simply a problem of the Government underfunding the military and not allowing them to get the vehicles they really wanted until public opinion forced Labour's hand to start spending in Defence again. Resulting in...
- The Foxhound. It's a fully mine resistant jeep packed with enough technology to make your head spin and yet small enough to fit in thin streets and still maintain a good top speed. With a huge V-shape to the chassis and the ability to drive on three wheels or change the engine in 30 minutes it is a huge step up over the old Snatch. Furthermore, it is loaded with night vision cameras, side mounted cameras, electronic countermeasures, rollover protection, open ended digital hardware and a whole host of other gadgets. It also looks very snazzy. James Bond drove one on a visit to Camp Bastion, if any more evidence of this being a stylish vehicle was needed.
- The Vector. Another utility vehicle, this ubiquitous lorry has done everything from transport to ambulance with a few specialised varients in there as well. Based on the Pinzgauer chassis, the British upped its protection levels and even use it as a lighter alternative to the Mastiff 3 should the situation allow for it. Capable of resisting small arms fire and even mounting a MILAN ATGM on it should the situation call, it's a surprisingly adaptable machine. Albeit it looks boring.
- The AS-90 self propelled gun is the primary big gun of the British Army. With a 155mm howitzer it may not stand out amongst the worldwide impressions of such things but it is just another one of those tough old proven designs that the British Army is rather happy with. Capable of launching projectiles many dozens of kilometres with unerring accuracy is still has a place today. The lack of any official nickname for the AS-90 resulted in an end to the WW 2-era tradition that self-propelled artillery be named after church officials (Priest, Deacon, Abbot, etc).
- Had an upgrade concept called 'Braveheart' at one point which extended the gun to a 52 calibur length. This would have dramatically upgraded the range and enabled cross compatibility with the Navy. Unfortunately, this was during Labour's "a penny spend on defence is a penny wasted" stage and the upgrade was cancelled other than an export sale of the turret design to Poland for their Krab SPG
- The L118 Light Gun marks another legacy item that the British have possessed for yeeeears now, a field howitzer of 105mm size that has been upgraded time and again to remain pinpoint and frighteningly consistent in its shots. A huge export success, it even gets used by the Americans for being light, easily moved and quick to set up. The British use this as their ceremonial gun now on the Edinburgh Castle one o'clock gun.
- The GSRS. More commonly known as the M270 MLRS to most other countries. In the UK, it stands for Grid Square Removal Systemnote for its ability to kill everything in a 1 square kilometer area (the standard size of a grid square on metric maps). Also called the '70km Sniper'. This is every bit as deadly as the American version and carries the same nightmarish capabilities for anyone unfortunate enough to be on the recieving end.
- The recently declassified Exactor system is technically not artillery but is operated by the Royal Artillery and has such a long range that it effectively counts as one anyway. By any other name this is an M113 with an Israeli Spike-NLOS mounted on the top. Capable of hurling a very large anti-tank guided missile a mind bending 25kmnote with pinpoint precision to slam into vehicles through their top armour or wipe out an entire bunker with its tandem charge, it an unseen, high accuracy, killer. Kept classified because the British didn't want the Taliban knowing they had such a capability, it was only recently that the existence of the machine was confirmed officially.note
- The AH-64 Westland Apache. No, that isn't a typo. The British version of the iconic Apache gunship is a very different beast to the American one and if anything only similar in that it has the same gun, anti-tank missiles and fuselage. The boffins at Westland installed more powerful engines (allowing it to take off with a full load of fuel, weapons and the Longbow radar, something the normal Apache cannot do), gave it folding rotors, more powerful 70mm rockets, an expanded defensive suite, additional storage space for crew weapons, arctic conditioning treatment and the capability to operate off of ships as well (a capability that's gotten good bit of use in recent years). The pilots are very picky about reminding you of this should you hint that their rides are similar to the normal varients. Prince Harry previously flew one.
- The Lynx Battlefield helicopter. The Yanks have the Blackhawk. The Brits have the Lynx. This helicopter has done it all. Battlefield transport, attack helicopter, support gunship, recce, maritime attack, sub hunting, airborne control and special forces insertion. (Its role in the maritime front with the Royal Navy has been its speciality) It is very fast, currently the world record holder for the fastest helicopter in the world and capable of backflips and barrel rolls. As such, it is a widely loved bit of kit and the helicopter most pilots are eager to get their paws on. Due to be replaced by the Wildcat. Essentially a Lynx that can carry more weight and has an even more powerful engine to increase the range dramatically, very useful improvements as the Lynx is smaller than the typical utility helicopter (by weight about half the size of a Blackhawk). Also features a brand new ISTAR(Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) suite. The Wildcat was formerly called "Lynx Wildcat", but was deemed a large enough upgrade to be considered an all-new helicopter.
- The Chinook is a common sight amongst the British deployments just as much it is for America. In fact, they have the second largest Chinook fleet in the world. Unique to the British ones though are the MERT teams. America has shown great interest in this idea, where instead of sending a little helicopter to pick up a casualty and bring him back to hospital, the British instead fly the hospital to the casualty inside the massive Chinooks. Packing everything a crash room and emergency department might contain, they have even performed emergency surgery inside a Chinook after pickup to save someone's life. There are many British, Americans, Danish and Afghan soldiers serving in the UK's area of Afghanistan that owe their lives to this practice.
- The Merlin is a medium lift transport helicopter. Often seen carrying artillery pieces and many troops, its less known but actually more iconic role is in maritime submarine hunting. In this regard it is a very modern and very capable helicopter, often cited as being (in combination with a Type 23 Duke Frigate) the most lethal combo in the world for a sub to encounter. The sub-hunter version carries four torpedoes (twice as many as most other anti-submarine aircraft) and one of the best dipping sonars of any helicopter.
- Old but still handy, the Gazelle performs its role as a light recce chopper admirably in the limited roles it still holds. (Mostly training these days, frankly) Designed for the Cold War, this helicopter was surprisingly stealthy due to its low noise, agility and small size. Can also perform a light attack duty and did just that in the Falklands.
- Approaching retirement as more Merlins come into service, the Puma is still around, doing just the same job as it always has. Doggedly carting men and munitions to and fro all around the battlefield. That is, unless they decide to put the 20mm cannon it can mount on to go have some fun...
- Last but certainly not least is the icon of British helicopter history. The great, the ugly, the glorious, the saviour, the best thing many stricken sailors and mountineers ever saw...the Sea King .This is, hands down, by far one of the most iconic helicopters ever created and yet you'll never have seen them on the big screen doing epic dawn assaults or heroically charging into fire above one of their crashed numbers. This helicopter...this helicopter has saved more lives than can be counted. It is the definitive search and rescue helicopter by which all others are measured and it is on watch, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anybody who might need its help. Time and again they have flung themselves into Sea State 7 conditions to try and rescue fishermen who capsized. Hundreds can remember the sight of the orange and grey with a club card hovering above them at the last possible moment when all hope was lost for being found. The stories of Seaking crew leaping twenty feet into a heaving storm ocean to catch someone and winch them back aboard when there were waves higher than the helicopter's hovering height on either side. One might say this is lavishing, but that is the legacy of this legendary aircraft. Prince William served as an RAF Sea King pilot at the end of his military career. Formerly was also used the anti-submarine before the Merlin took that over. Remaining in service is an airborne early warning version with a massive radar hanging off the right side of the fuselage, developed when the Falklands War showed the Royal Navy had inadequate ability to detect low-altitude anti-ship missiles. These will remain in service even on the new Queen Elizabeth-class supercarriers, rather than being replaced by a fixed-wing AEW plane.
Apart from the Gurkhas, roughly 8-9% of the army is made up of non-British personnel, the largest chunk from Fiji and other poorer Commonwealth nations such as Jamaica. However, it also includes servicemen from more affluent nations such as South Africa, Australia and Ireland. Yes, despite The Troubles there are several hundred Irishmen serving in the British army—probably because the Irish Defense Forces provide less opportunity for adventure/combat/exotic postings than the British forces (asides from the occasional United Nations peacekeeping operation, the Irish military mostly stays in Ireland). Northern Ireland is still part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland allows its citizens to join any service; it's just active recruiting that's not allowed.
Note also that the US and British rank structures differ markedly in non-commissioned ranks and Warrant Officers are something altogether different.
Royal Air Force
- "The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Just called that because it's The Royal Air Force. Created from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service just before the end of World War I. Home of Biggles. Famous for the Battle of Britain. Currently the smallest it has been since the First World War, due to the end of said conflict, as well as the major downsizing shared among the other major powers after the Second World War, and finally at the end of the Cold War; it is one of the largest air forces in the world. Operates at peak roughly 1,100 fixed and rotary-wing craft of all roles. The key attack aircraft of the RAF is the Panavia Tornado (with ground-attack, reconnaissance and fighter-bomber versions) which has served for a long time and only recently withdrawn from an interceptor role with the Tornado F3. (The ones remaining being the GR4) Known for low level bombing and packing the unimaginably deadly Brimstone anti-tank missiles, they are the simple and unelegant workhorse that does its job modestly and yet to a very high standard.
Alongside it has come the Eurofighter Typhoon. At last. Mostly carrying out the interceptor and air superiority role, it has also begun to dabble in ground attack lately as of the Libyan Intervention. The Typhoon has quickly become something of a preferred pick amongst pilots to get their hands on its insane agility and ability to supercruise. Designed to be as easy as possible for the pilot to fly, it not only has the most comprehensive countermeasures suite of any plane in the world and can even track what you're looking at, lock on and fire at a target you merely glance at without even having to point the plane at it! Through various combat exercises, the Typhoon is forging a lethal legacy for itself on its status as a premier line dogfighter with features such as this.
Many compare it to the F-22 Raptor. These people know very little about planes. Raptor and Typhoon are two different aircraft with the one pilot to fly both comparing them to apples and oranges. They have two different purposes and are both likely the best at what they do (even if it isn't very nice). Let that be the end of it, please.
The RAF are also famous for the Red Arrows aerobatics team, who fly red-coloured Hawk trainers.
The RAF has had some very famous aircraft throughout its history:
- Sopwith Camel - Biggles! (The real thing looks nothing like a doghouse).
- S.E.5a - Although less well remembered than the above, the average victories per month per squadron of S.E.5a was 16.59, compared to 9.07 for the Camel. Due to being easier to fly, it suffered fewer accidents. Furthermore, it was the fastest Allied fighter of WWI, which allowed it to catch up to the German Fokker D.VII, unlike the Camel, which was slower and had to be relegated to Close Air Support duty.
- Supermarine Spitfire - the pride of the RAF during the Battle of Britain and indisputably the most iconic fighter of the war. Any work of fiction mentioning the Battle, or even World War II in general, will name-check this plane. Impressively, while the components and weaponry were improved, the Spitfire's basic design was not changed throughout its entire operational history, a feat unheard of in aviation of the World War period, and it consistently equalled each opponent it faced. The Mark IX even proved capable of downing the Me 262, the first jet aircraft to see combat.
- Hawker Hurricane - this was actually around more during The Battle of Britain and credited with more kills than Spitfires in the Battle of Britain. Generally speaking, Hurricanes would target bombers while Spitfires attacked enemy fighters, although these weren't exclusive roles. The night-fighting capacity of the Hurricane helped considerably during the war.
- Hawker Typhoon - although unsuccessful as a high-altitude fighter, it inherited the high rate of turn of the Hurricane, and its Sabre engine had excellent low-altitude characteristics, which gave it the ability to fight the deadly German Fw 190 interceptor with ease. Later, it was used as a fighter-bomber, able to carry 8 unguided rockets or a pair of 1000-pound bombs, the former of which had a significant psychological effect on German tank crews.
- Hawker Tempest - developed as a fighter version of the Typhoon, using the filterless and more powerful Bristol Centaurus, but had to use the higher-drag Sabre due to a lack of supply. Tempests were able to destroy over 600 V-1 jet bombs in 3 months, and in Europe, they were able to shoot down 30 Me 262 jet fighters.
- Hawker Sea Fury - although not strictly RAF, the Sea Fury was a further upgrade, finally using the Centaurus, as well as vastly lighter wings. This made the Sea Fury one of the fastest propeller planes of all time. Furthermore, a Royal Navy Sea Fury shot down an MiG 15 in Korea.
- Hawker Tempest - developed as a fighter version of the Typhoon, using the filterless and more powerful Bristol Centaurus, but had to use the higher-drag Sabre due to a lack of supply. Tempests were able to destroy over 600 V-1 jet bombs in 3 months, and in Europe, they were able to shoot down 30 Me 262 jet fighters.
- De Havilland Mosquito, aka "The Mossie" aka "The Wooden Wonder", a twin-engine, two-man high-speed interceptor/escort fighter/ground attack/photoreconnaisance/light bomber. Was equipped with everything from four 20mm cannons to a 57mm anti-tank gun to a 4,000 bomb affectionately called a Cookie. And yes, it was made mostly of wood, which gave it a very weak radar signature, effectively making it the first stealth aircraft, and served as everything from day fighter to night-fighter to bomber, to fighter-bomber... pretty much everything that could be thought of, really. This led to Goering loudly complaining that despite the fact that British had more aluminium to hand than the Germans, they created one of the best (and most cost effective) fighters of the war out of wood. Had the lowest losses of any aircraft in RAF Bomber Command due to its blinding speed - while German interceptors were faster, by the time they reached interception altitude, the Mosquito usually had enough of a lead that they ran out of fuel before catching up. Ironically, the Germans regarded it as the ultimate evolution of their own "Schnellbomber" concept, or fast tactical bomber.
- Avro Lancaster - what dropped the "bouncing bomb," and the main aircraft of the night bombing offensive against Germany. Also responsible, in the hands of the Bouncing Bomb guys in 617 Squadron mentioned above (The Dambusters) alongside 9 Squadron, for sinking Germany's last big battleship, the Tirpitz. One attempt at doing this necessitated flying to a base in the USSR, in the days before in-flight refuelling. The attack failed to sink her, though it did damage the ship enough have the Kriegsmarine brass to have it shuttle towards a more southerly base, making it easier for the RAF to hit her, and two months later, 617 and 9 Squadrons finally did her in.
- Gloster Meteor - the first Allied jet fighter, it was mostly deputised to chase down V1's.
- English Electric Lightning - a very fast interceptor from the 1960s, with a climb rate that rivals the F-15, a plane a generation newer. The very first aircraft capable of supercruise. Even when its light armament and outdated sensors had rendered it hopelessly obsolete, the Lightning was the fighter everybody wanted to fly because of its sheer speed.
- Avro Vulcan - a British nuclear bomber, famous for its unmistakable delta-winged shape and the eerie 'Vulcan howl'. During The Falklands War, pulled off what was then the longest-range bombing raid in history, via a lot of tanker support. The history book Vulcan 607 covers the first of these.
- Appears in Thunderball.
- Parts were used to make the dropship for Aliens. Fun fact: the person who designed the interior of the Vulcan in Thunderball was Peter Lamont, production designer on Aliens.
- They also hold the rather cheeky reputation of having flown from the UK, "bombed" the USA cities on the East coast and then escaped to Canada during Exercise Skyshield. Twice.
- The Blackburn Buccaneer- A very low level attack aircraft designed for counter shipping above all purposes. Often confused OPFOR ships who were watching the skies for it... only for it to tear by their carrier below the level of the flight deck.
- The Hawker Harrier - the famous 'Jump Jet', the first combat jet with VTOL capability, first commissioned in the late 60's, it served with distinction for forty years. Its retirement was met with mass dismay, because if there was one thing this jet was, it was cool. That, and its replacement was still years away from coming online. Because of the cool factor, it's featured in a number of fictional works, including as the morph for several Transformers, and in The Living Daylights. They are still flown by the Spanish and Italian Navies, as well as the US Marine Corps.
Notable units include:
- 1 (F) Squadron: The first RAF squadron, participating in every conflict the RAF has turned up in, currently operating Typhoons in a close-air support role.
- 9 Squadron: Formerly based in Germany and once a nuclear Vulcan squadron, their Second World War before that basing saw a lot of firsts and also getting the first bomb hit on Tirpitz.
- 617 Squadron: AKA "The Dam Busters", as they were the unit who performed that famous mission and also contributed to sinking Tirpitz. Today fly Tornado GR4 strike aircraft. Carry the very appropriate motto Apres moi, le deluge - literally, "After me, the flood".
- The Royal Air Force Regiment - not as well known as the rest of the military, these are an Infantry unit, "affectionately" nicknamed "rock apes" for their deployment in Gibraltar and after the plentiful Barbary Macaques - the place is positively infested with the damn things. They get a lot of stick from the army (for not being a "proper" infantry unit as they seem to spend a lot of time guarding RAF bases) and from the rest of the RAF (for allegedly being thick). They were formed by a very angry Winston Churchill because many RAF bases in World War II were captured by comically small enemy forces because the personnel at these bases had no idea how to fight ground battles.
- No. 1435 Flight: Who guard The Falkland Islands. Have four aircraft (Typhoons) named Faith, Hope, Charity and the reserve Desperation (the names come from the history of another island commonwealth of the British Empire, Malta, which defended itself against bombing raids with just three Gloster Gladiators, obsolete biplanes, of the same names).
- There were actually more than three planes, but only three in the air at any one time.
- The various Eagle Squadrons that served during World War II, manned by foreigners who traveled to Britain either to get back into the fight after their homelands had been conquered (such as 303 Squadron, manned by Polish airmen) or who had come from neutral countries to help Britain or to get at the Germans (such as the Trope Namers, 71, 121, and 133 Squadrons, manned by Americans before the US entry into the war.)
One last note: Like most modern air forces, planes of the Royal Air Force traditionally carry a circular emblem (called a Roundel) to identify their nationality similarly to how a flag on a ship would be used. The RAF uses a Bullseye. Cheeky bastards.
Actual last note: as of 2019, RAF servicemen are now allowed beards (previously, the most they could have was moustaches).
- "Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
"Britons will never,never,never be slaves."The chorus of ''"Rule, Britannia!""Wherever wood can swim, I find this flag of England!"-Napoleon Bonaparte, as he surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon at Rochefort in 1815
The Senior Service (so called because it's the oldest of the three, tracing its founding to 1546). Named as the RAF is. Home of Horatio Hornblower. Quite simply, for the longest time, the most powerful navy in the world. For more or less the entire nineteenth century, and most of the first half of the 20th, the Royal Navy was deliberately maintained at a size and power large enough to defeat the next two largest Navies in the world, simultaneously (this 'two power' strategy was enshrined in law in 1889), and even after this fell into practical disuse, the Royal Navy remained the largest navy in the world until 1944, when the US Navy surpassed it. Legend has it that the captain of a US battleship cheekily announced this to his British counterpart when the two met on patrol in the Atlantic by sending a message saying, "greetings to the second largest navy in the world." The immediate response was apparently, "greetings to the second best".
As a result of this, the Royal Navy is practically synonymous with any mention of British military might and many a potential invasion of the British Isles would have had to cross through a wall of steel (or wood, depending on era). Being an island nation allowed the Brits to concentrate virtually all their military resources in their Navy, rather than having to expend vast sums on massive standing armies and frontier fortresses as well, as their European rivals were compelled to, which had the side benefit of allowing them to establish the most extensive empire in history and mercantile supremacy for nearly two centuries.
It also helped that their reliance on local native forces to defend their colonial possessions also reduced the need to maintain a huge standing army, but that's another story...
Unfortunately, the power of the Royal Navy declined with the Empire and is considerably less impressive than before. In addition to a number of destroyers and frigates, it has just two small VTOL carriers (well, four, one of which is currently mothballed pending scrapping and another is an amphibious-landing support vessel that normally carries only helicopters), but two full-length ones are on order. After delays thanks to budget issues and the F-35 development problems, as of June 2017, the absolutely colossal HMS Queen Elizabeth of the class of the same name is undergoing sea trials. With a displacement of over 70,000 tons, this leviathan is second only to the Nimitz class. However, it is not expected to be fully functional until 2020, along with its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales.
Its Vanguard class nuclear submarines carry the UK's Ultimate Defence of the Realm. It just doesn't carry the moxie it used to, though the Vanguard submarines make one pause for thought, since along with the vast (i.e. a hemisphere) range of its missiles, there's always one at sea and no one has any idea where it actually is at any given moment. The inherent Paranoia Fuel of this is not helped by the fact that the Navy recently had to discharge nine crew members, including the Captain, from one Vanguard submarine, after inappropriate relationships and drug usage were discovered. Not a comforting thought.
However, it remains one of the six 'blue-water navies' in the world (the others being the US, Russia, China, India and France) and one of the most powerful. And make no mistake: while Britannia may no longer rule the waves, like its sister branches of the British Military, the Royal Navy has a very long history of thrashing forces it logistically should not have been able to beat and punches well above its weight. One could say that, nowadays, it's bit of a Pintsized Powerhouse. Britons shall never be slaves indeed.
Famous for Horatio Nelson, dubbed by Lord Byron 'Britannia's God of War' who got a very tall column for beating the French (with a column) and being fatally shot in the process. Also notable for losing an arm, sight in one eye, and chronic seasickness while in the service. Today a statue of him sits on top of the aforesaid very tall column in the middle of Trafalgar Square (named after his last battle), honoured over the years by scores upon scores of pigeons. They also played a major role in ending the slave trade. * The West Africa Squadron, a task force created at great expense by the British Parliament set out to end the Atlantic Slave Trade. Although it started with two ships, and might not have had totally altruistic motivations (it gave the Navy a very good excuse to poke around more or less any ship, and effectively control the Atlantic), it nevertheless grew to contain a sixth of the entire naval fleet, blockading the entire West coast of Africa, and between 1808-1860, it captured 1600 slave ships, freeing 150,000 slaves. Moreover, it was virtually alone in policing the Naval Blockade on slavery - while America had abolished the slave trade (although not slavery itself), its primitive navy and local political pressure meant that its efforts were highly limited (it captured 19 ships in the same period). This is considered, with good justice, to be the great humanitarian triumph of the Royal Navy.
Also famous for H.M.S. Dreadnought, arguably the only ship known to history that instantly rendered every other warship on the planet worthless the moment it was launched (for reference, she was, individually, and by a considerable margin, faster, more heavily armed, and more heavily armoured than any other warship anywhere). To give you an idea of exactly how important Dreadnought was to the development of the battleship, every single type of battleship built before her has been retroactively referred to as a "pre-dreadnought" because the Dreadnought was so revolutionary.
Even before Dreadnought was HMS Devastation from 1875. The first ocean-going capital ship without sails and with all main guns mounted above rather than in the hull, the Devastation-class ships were the most powerful in the world at the time of construction and would remain competitive for 15 years, at a time when new technologies could often be rendered obsolete within a decade.
You do not want to fight these guys; historically they have beaten anyone and everyone in rather dramatic style. note note There are some battles where the Royal Navy have been outnumbered, outgunned, and outmanned, and have sailed away without one ship sinking. The famous Battle of Trafalgar had them outnumbered by a factor of around 25% with less 'ships of the line' than their foe. Yet with a direct two pronged attack the Royal Navy completely obliterated the combined French and Spanish fleets without losing a single ship. It also effectively won a naval war on the other side of the planet in the 1980s, fighting just off the coast of a nation throwing their entire military into the fight while only having a task force available to them. After the first Brit sub got on scene on April 19th the Royal Navy proceeded to sink, damage or disable ten Argentine ships and forced the entire Argentine fleet (including an entire aircraft carrier) to flee by May 2nd out of fear of the British subs in the water, effectively stranding the Argentine invasion force.
You are allowed to have a beard if you're in the Royal Navy, unlike in the US... unless there's the possibility of making an acquaintance with war gases, since the beard prevents you getting a good fit with your gas mask. You're also allowed to raise a glass and toast your crowned Head of State and Commander in Chief while remaining seated, a privilege dating back to the days of wooden ships, where the wardroom ceilings were generally too low to permit anyone to stand to attention in a suitably dignified fashion. The traditional and much-loved rum ration, however, was abolished way back in 1970note .
Is in a little bit of an embarrassing rut right now, after the SDSR 2010 removed their Harriers and left their aircraft carriers with only helicopters. Oh dear.
Thankfully, this is changing very soon with the building of two 70,800 ton supercarriersnote known as the Queen Elizabeth Class. These are to mount (after a large degree of political arguing and U-turning) the F35-B STOVL jet of which 48 are confirmed to be coming initially. The first of these ships is already nearing completion (as of June 2017, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is performing sea trials in the North Sea) and they will be the largest ships in the Royal Navy's history when complete, second only to the Nimitz Class for raw size. The Empire strikes back indeed.
In additional to them coming, the Royal Navy maintains a selection of very high quality ships.
- Type 45 Daring-class destroyer - The current pride of the Navy and rough equivalents of the US Arleigh Burke Class. Often known as the "Billion pound ships" (despite only the first costing that) they were designed due to the lessons learned in the Falkland Islands, to that extent, they are often thought of as the most advanced anti-air ships around right now with a frankly absurd capability to individually target, lock and shoot down 48 planes... in less than twenty seconds. This number, strangely enough, is precisely how many planes the Argentinian Air Force had at the time the first destroyer was launched. The newspapers were, of course, very fast to point this out and it is probably no coincidence that they were launched during a time period when the Argentines were making noises about the Falklands, making the deployment of the Dauntless to the Falklands seem like a very pointed 'fuck you' by Britain.
- This ship also is one of the stealthiest vessels on the seas for its size, thanks to its signature-reducing features.
- Has become another member of the 'Fitted for but not with' brigade trope amongst the Royal Navy. Originally launched without CIWS, anti-ship missiles or its full silo design, they have at least received the first by now. The anti-ship missiles will arrive soon (taken from the Type-22's) and the larger silo is likely for the future upgrade that has been rumoured to focus on anti-ballistic missiles.
- These ships have an absolutely colossal growth potential for the future, which is one of the main reasons why the British went their own way from the more reserved and smaller Horizon class program with the French and Italians. A potential future Type 45 Daring class would have 72 strike length missile silos carrying Aster 30, Aster 15 and Tomahawk missiles, two quad-Harpoon launchers, two dual-Stingray Torpedo launchers, a 127mm gunnote , two Phalanx CIWS, two 30mm Autocannons, two miniguns, six GPMGs, a Command and Control war-room for total war scale actions and anti-ballistic missile defence systems, 72 Royal Marine Commandos with two deployable raiding boats and three maritime Wildcat helicopters. "Destroyer" indeed.
- Unfortunately also known for being bug prone, at least in the early days, having trouble getting from Southampton to Plymouth (159 nautical miles), much less across the Atlantic. These problems seem to have been resolved, but it's still a little embarrassing.
- Type 23 "Duke-class" frigate - Originally designed as an anti-submarine vessel by specialisation, these vessels were quickly redesigned to be more multipurpose and currently form the backbone of the fleet. Despite this retasking, they still maintain their seriously advanced sub hunting technology with the Sonar 2087 system. This has been the embarrassment of many an allied submarine during exercises. Set to be replaced by the more modern but not vastly different Type 26 Global Combat Frigate. Once they figure out what it's to actually be like anyway.
- HMS Ocean - The primary helicopter carrier. Designed on the cheap to fill a gap, she has ended up being the surprise star of recent years by being far better than anyone ever expected she would be. Having performed combat missions in Libya, she successfully launched Apache gunships to cause significant trouble for Gaddafi.
- Sold to Brazil in 2017 and commissioned into the Marinha do Brasil as PHM Atlântico in 2018, to replace an surplus French aircraft carrier they'd previously been suckered into buying despite it being too worn out to ever become operational.
- Trafalgar-class submarine- A multipurpose design for sub hunting, land attack and general fleet duties. Beginning to slowly phase out as the long delayed Astute class comes online, the Trafalgar has had a surprisingly modest life for a Royal Navy submarine despite participating in many theatres and routinely causing some distress to Argentina any time they go near the Falklands. The Argentine Press still hasn't quite worked out that she doesn't carry nukes, you see. That, and what happened the last time an Argentine ship had an encounter with a British submarine.
- Astute-class submarine- The replacement and what a replacement. Well, depending on who you ask. This troubled project has had everything from incredible exercise reports to immense press slander for failure for the simple reason that the technical knowhow on building this sort of project just didn't exist before they came to be. Thankfully, the end result has been a case of long winded bug correction into a truly stellar program if you look past the problem child that was the firstborn HMS Astute herself.
Has the Special Boat Service (SBS), which James Bond was a member of in the revised continuity for Casino Royale (2006). This unit has actually amalgamated with the SAS in all but name, which should tell you all you need to know.
- Basically everything the SAS is, except water navigation and combat swimmer capability added. SAS just gets more global publicity.
- Originally (in WW II) they were part of the SAS.
Includes the Royal Marines: These are the dudes who do beach landings and stuff like that. Wear green berets. In the past, like the British Army, they wore red coats. In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Keira Knightley's character disguises herself as a Royal Marine. She looks rather good in the jacket as well... Have a fierce rivalry with the Paras. Unlike the US Marines, the Royal Marines are Commandos and are used for specialist deployment. Their recruiting campaigns focus on their toughness and exclusivity: they used to use the slogan "99.9% need not apply". The Royal Marines have two battle honours from the siege of Gibraltar and the capture of Belle Isle. The rest of their service is represented by the Globe in their cap-badge, representing that they've served all over the world and are ready to deploy all over the world. Their motto is Per Mare, Per Terram meaning By Sea, By Land.
- Ironically, they're part of the reason for US Army Special Forces being associated with (and called) "Green Berets."
- Also in The Incredible Hulk, Emil Blonsky (The Abomination) was retconned from a KGB agent into a Royal Marine of presumably Russian ancestry, due to being played by Tim Roth. The Royal Marines are implied to be pretty badass by American standards in this movie, and accounts from both USMC and Royal Marines indicate a great degree of mutual respect.
- One of the Royal Marines units is the FPG (Fleet Protection Group) whose task is to guard the UK's naval assets. Their primary task is guarding the nuclear weapons but they are also stationed on ships to act as defence and boarding parties.
Also despite the name of this page, not only does Britain not operate battleships anymore, but there aren't any intact examples of a British battleship outside of wrecks. This is because Britain retired most of her battleship fleet after the second world war when it was too strapped for cash to turn down all that potential scrap metal money.
But on a lighter note, the oldest joke in the British military: Why does the Army rugby team wear red jerseys? So the blood won't show when they're injured. Why does the Royal Navy rugby team wear blue jerseys? Same reasonnote .
The UK Armed Forces in fiction:
- Crime dramas will sometimes have the armed forces involved, either dealing with veterans or active military-connected deaths (i.e. a murder at an Army base):
- If it involves veterans, the military will be pretty much invisible. They'll just be the people who send you the service files.
- It involves active duty military personnel or property, often the military will not be particularly nice. This will range from being uncooperative to actively covering the thing up. This behaviour will largely be done by the upper ranks.
- Squaddies (the enlistees) will often be somewhat violent when violence isn't called for, and a couple may do drugs (it was recently revealed the British Army was kicking out the equivalent of a battalion a year for narcotics use). Brushes with the civilian authorities for public drunkenness are few and far between, however, or at least seldom committed by the same soldier twice. Nevertheless, one is advised to be careful in pubs in garrison towns.
- Any British Army officer up to 1945, and quite a few afterwards, will display all the characteristics of an Officer and a Gentleman to the letter. Any non-coms in the same series will have a regional accent and a 'Heart of Gold'.
- The 1942 classic In Which We Serve is the most famous British war movie of all time and is about the British navy. The plot is partly based on the the Battle of Crete (1941), where the destroyer ship "HMS Kelly" with Lord Louis Mountbatten on board was sunk.
- No discussion of this subject is complete without the World War II RAF pilot, who will have a moustache, a leather flying jacket and silk scarf, and use several of the expressions in Stock British Phrases. They're also often prone to skirt-chasing.
- Not forgetting the RFC Lord Flashheart.
- Call of Duty features British forces in all four instalments (SAS in 1, 3, and 4; 7th Armoured Division in 2).
- But not the fifth, sadly.
- Dummied Out game models revealed that they planned to include a British campaign, but dropped it for unknown reasons.
- Modern Warfare 2 features the return of Captain Price and Soap MacTavish, who were SAS in Call of Duty 4 and have been requisitioned by Task Force 141 in MW2.
- But not the fifth, sadly.
- A major component of the European Federation's armed forces in Tom Clancy's Endwar consists of British forces on loan to the Enforcer Corps.
- In The Salvation War, the British (in conjunction with the Iranians) are up front for the Battle of al Badiyah al Janubiyah, where they break a flank of Abigor's army against their guns, mines, and razor wire, killing a notable portion of Abigor's cavalry and driving the survivors of that flank towards the main body. Over time the British military seems to revert to a supporting role, though because of the destruction of Sheffield the RAF is granted the courtesy of "opening" the Battle of the Phlegethon River with a bombing run, killing several hundred harpies before takeoff. In chapter 76 of Pantheocide however, it's heavily implied that the SAS are the first First-Life humans to enter the Eternal City, because of course the sneaky bastards are.
- British military forces appear in The Patriot; unlike most of these other examples, they are presented as the antagonists. Then again, it was a film about The American Revolution. And a notoriously inaccurate one at that.
- Subverted in 28 Days Later: the survivors encounter what appears to be a functioning unit of the army. We later learn they've gone rogue, although they maintain some semblance of military protocol. They were at least paranoid enough to surround their safe-zone with landmines, mortals and snipers... which couldn't exactly be said for their American counterparts in the sequel.
- The novel and movies (of which the most recent came out in 2002) The Four Feathers focus on the British efforts to fight the Mahdist Rebellion in late 19th-century Sudan, and as such naturally features the British Army (including the death of Major-General Charles George "Chinese" Gordon).
- Afrika Korps vs. Desert Rats
Media involving the UK Armed Forces in a major way (we are not counting series where they turn up for a story or two as guests):
- Redcap (1964-66) and Red Cap (2001-4): Although different shows, with no character links and the latter set in Germany - they both feature the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police. They Fight Crime!. And wear scarlet covers on their caps.
- Soldier Soldier, essentially a long-running drama. Popular enough for two of the stars to have a novelty hit single.
- Doctor Who with UNIT, an ostensible United Nations force made up of British Army soldiers - New Who also depicts American and Chinese UNIT members and bases, indicating that the Doctor's mostly dealt with the British branch. While depicted as somewhat Mildly Military in Old Who for reasons of budget and the Doctor being the hero (though they were occasionally very effective), they Took a Level in Badass in New Who, going through famed Proud Warrior Race the Sontarans (who once successfully captured Gallifrey) like a hot knife through butter once they figured out a way round the Sontarans technology that was preventing their guns from working, and jury rigged a functional teleporter from reverse engineered Sontaran tech in Project Indigo (albeit one that by Captain Jack's account, shouldn't have worked). It also had a colossal Airborne Aircraft Carrier in the Valiant - unfortunately, it couldn't hold up against a full scale Dalek invasion - and by the account of the Zygons, with the alien technology in their vault in the Tower of London, they could take over the planet in a day (though odds are they don't know what half of it does). That would be why there's a tactical nuclear warhead underneath, capable of wiping out London.
- The leader of UNIT (the British branch, at least) and the Doctor's employer for most of the 3rd and 4th Doctors' respective runs, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, became an Ensemble Dark Horse and a close friend of the Doctor, despite the Doctor's severe distaste for soldiers and authority figures in general. He was also just about the only one of the latter who could actually reliably corral the Doctor, and has the distinction of naming two tropes: Five Rounds Rapid and Immune to Bullets.
- His daughter, Kate Stewart runs the British branch these days. She dropped the Lethbridge to try and avoid accusations of nepotism and rise on her own merit, though the Doctor figured out who she was in about five seconds.
- Also appeared in other stories. Once, the RAF tried to nuke a nuclear power station; it didn't work.
- "The War Machines", "The Web of Fear", and "Remembrance of the Daleks" are set pre-UNIT and feature regular Army soldiers. (The middle incident, in which an Eldritch Abomination occupied and caused the evacuation of central London, is in-canon the main reason why UNIT was formed.) "Resurrection of the Daleks" also features regular Army rather than UNIT soldiers: in-story because the events weren't recognised as extra-terrestrial in nature until the proverbial hit the fan. Out-of-story because Eric Saward thought UNIT was childishly Mildly Military.
- "The Curse of Fenric" is set on a WWII Naval base in north-east England, although in that story the British military figures in charge are almost as evil as the Eldritch Abomination attacking them.
- "The Empress of Mars" is about a group of Victorian regular army soldiers and officers who were taken to Mars by an Ice Warrior. Some of them are decent, others are full-blown would-be Evil Colonialists.
- Ultimate Force, a TV series about the Special Air Service.
- The film Dog Soldiers, when not mucking about with werewolves, presents a relatively accurate portrayal of the way squaddies talk and act with one another.
- Making Waves, a British TV series from 2004 about a warship. It was cancelled because of poor ratings (The viewing figures weren't much better).
- The British military in various forms plays a role in many of Tom Clancy's works, usually in a supporting role to the US Army/Navy, but is itself almost always portrayed as highly competent. One of his most famous novels, Rainbow Six, had the SAS as major players, representing around half the Rainbow staff, including their intelligence, and most of the Rainbow troopers are British SAS and various American special forces.
- In The Hunt for Red October, given the deployment of various forces, a RN carrier group is tasked with covering the US east coast while shuffling forces around to intercept the titular submarine. As the admiral commanding the carrier group notes, with humor, they're covering the US coast for the first time since the American Revolution.
- Rainbow Six Siege has four playable Operators from the SAS in the form of Sledge, a 2m tall Scotsman who breaches walls with a sledgehammer; Thatcher, a 50 year old veteran of the Falklands war who can throw an EMP grenade to disable electronics; Smoke, who can detonate toxic gas charges to deny areas; and Mute, who can disable remote detonated gadgets. They all wear blue jumpsuits and gas masks in reference to the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.
- Battlefield 1942 and its Road to Rome and Secret Weapons of WWII expansions featured the British army, air force, and on one limited occasion, its navy as the Allied nation on some maps, though in the original game they almost always use standard (read: American) equipment and weapons, though they grow more diverse in the expansion. One or two of the multiplayer maps are the second time the British-Japanese front in India during WWII has ever been depicted in a video game.
- As well as Hidden and Dangerous 2, which featured the Japanese theatre of war in one of the campaigns. Also in H&D you play as, up to four, British SAS soldiers all throughout the game.
- World War II Online prominently features the British Expeditionary Force, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy fighting alongside the French.
- The Strategy game Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, the Stand-alone sequel of Company of Heroes, largely is a homage to the British Armed forces, who saw action in europe after 1943, alongside the Americans from the original game. It features the 2. Army in the campaign, and further also the Royal Engineers (Sappers too), Royal Scots, Royal Commandos, Royal Artillery, and the Canadians, as well. Not to mention the various lieutenants, captains and The Major. This Troper guesses, that this is the advantage of having a Canadian developer's studio. After all, they were and still are part of the commonwealth...
- Dad's Army has the Home Guard which, while not an official part of the armed forces, had a lot of ex-servicemen in it's ranks and was eventually equipped with the same small arms.
- Present in Victory In The Pacific, although they usually have a hard time affecting the game much due to their limited range of action, and due to generally being stuck anchoring in Ceylon on the far edge of the map. But if the Allies can hold onto the port of Singapore then the British fleet becomes a serious threat.
- Sharpe involves numerous regiments and battalions of the army during The Napoleonic Wars.
- Horatio Hornblower is a naval officer during the Wars of French Revolution and The Napoleonic Wars. Due to the series' popularity amongst American readers, the author was careful to avoid having the hero involved in any of Britain's conflicts with the United States (for example, sending Hornblower to help the Russians fight a French invasion in 1812). A Retcon in later books established that he was born on July 4th, 1776.
- The Navy Lark radio sitcom centred on the most incompetent crew in the Royal Navy.
- The radio series Deep Trouble, set on an accident-prone nuclear submarine with a zoned-out captain and neurotic weapons officer, gives it a run for its money.
- The fourth season of the Brit Com Blackadder puts main character Edmund Blackadder in the trenches during World War I. Once there, here receives the full payload of one Upper-Class Twit (Hugh Laurie), the Royal Flying Corps led by good old Flashheart, and General Melchett, stupid but perilous, meaning that he is willing to put the lives of millions of his own soldiers in danger with each attack.
"Where is this battle plan?"
"We have a battle plan, sir?"
"Of course we do. How else do you think our battles are directed?"
"Our battles are directed, sir?"
- In the British Fantasy series Redwall, there is not much resembling a real army. Still, occasionally an organized force consisting of hares makes an appearance (they resemble an army by far more). It is an obvious parody to the British Army; the soldiers are uniformed, and have a typical I say - lifestyle. According to the Author, Brian Jacques, they should resemble the light-headed characteristics of British Airmen from WW2 (Royal Air Force). Additionally, they have a very detailed hierarchy, ranging from Runners to Generals. They even have one specific rank, found in the British army only: Colour Sergeant. Interestingly, also a typical American rank appears: Master Sergeant.
- The 1955 film The Dam Busters, a mostly-historical account of the exploits of the above-mentioned RAF 617 Squadron during World War II. Quite famous in its own right, it also served as inspiration for the Star Wars "trench run", and appeared several times in the background of Pink Floyd The Wall.
- One of the favorites to use as a model for a Space Navy. Honor Harrington being a fine example - while initially based on Hornblower, it's grown far beyond that.
- Lawrence of Arabia is of course about T. E. Lawrence, who was a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army (serving in the intelligence division of the Middle East command). His work with the Arabs was intended by the Foreign Office's Arab Bureau and the Army to help Britain take Ottoman Syria, and we see the British forces come in late in the movie.
- Some Call of Duty games feature a British campaign. The protagonists of Modern Warfare are two SAS commandos.
- They are a playable faction in World of Tanks having thirty five playable tanks in their tech tree. Notable for starting with very specialized vehicle lines that evolve into well-balanced machines as the research progresses. Tend to have better armour than other tanks of their tier in exchange for being slower, particularly for their heavy tanks. Also notable for preferring guns with low damage outputs but good accuracy and very high rates of fire.
- The British Armed Forces is a playable NATO country in Wargame: European Escalation and AirLand Battle.
- Bluestone 42 - a British bomb-disposal team in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick.
- Heavily featured in the Sandokan novels, in which their combination of heavier firepower than their opponents (Indian armies and criminals of the 19th century and Indian Ocean pirates of the same era) and massive amounts of cunning, Combat Pragmatism and fully justified paranoia make them near undefeatable (the only time they really risked being defeated was the novel The Two Tigers, featuring the Mutiny of 1857 in which they had to face their own mutinous troops from the Presidency Armies, and even then they swiftly gained the upper hand as soon as they brought in reinforcements).
- A good half of the Village Tales series relies on this: it is after all set in Wiltshire, Home of the British Army, and full of old soldiers who decline to fade away. Main character the Duke of Taunton is a decorated, retired Majorly Awesome Intelligence Corps officer; the landlord of the pub is Falklands-vintage; one of the curates (he came to Holy Orders late in life) was a Major in the Blues and Royals (and has the M.C.); the local Headmaster was a subaltern
in 1 PARA, the retiring Maths master has the nickname "Sapper" for a reason, and his replacement is a retired brigadier (R SIGNALS); the local quarry is managed by a former Warrant Officer.... Even the trendy Bishop is an ex-chaplain RN. And their responses to events are
- In the second volume of the series, Evensong, the Duke has to get naïve local councillor Teddy Gates out of a Community-Threatening Construction crisis by finding a way to fulfil his pledge to put up social housing in the district despite every square foot's being scheduled at least Grade II*. The crafty solution? Get some old buildings back (derelict since 1945) under the Crichel Down rule, spent plenty of narrative time nobbling the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Estates, run up Retraux Georgian housing in place of the old huts, and move in retired Gurkhas and their families. No politician dare oppose that. Least of all when the Duke creates a Trust to do the job, which brings together a bunch of old Sappers, Signallers, and other Forces retirees to train FE students and recently demobbed and wounded squaddies who need to learn new trades.
- Many regiments of Warhammer 40,000's Imperial Guard regiments are very strongly based on historical British forces. The Tallarns are an army of Lawrence of Arabia clones, while the Praetorians are Zulu War-era soldiers with lasguns. It helps, of course, that Games Workshop (the publishers of the game) are based in Nottingham.
- George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series is an excuse to have one character be present at pretty much every major event of the Victorian Era — Harry Flashman serves (unwillingly) in Afghanistan, the Crimea, the Mutiny, the Opium War, the Zulu War, and the Boxer Rebellion, snarking about famous figures all the way.
- His McAuslan is a not-quite-fictional series about life in the Gordon Highlanders between 1945-47 in North Africa and Edinburgh. It successfully invokes the culture of the Scottish regiments of the period as well as their rich history. Its Spiritual Prequel Quartered Safe Out Here is a nonfictional memoir of the Border Regiment in Burma during 1945.
- Forces of the British Army of the Rhine are playable troops in several Flashpoint Campaigns scenarios.
- Morning Departure is about the surviving crew of the RN submarine HMS Trojan stranded in a crippled sub on the sea floor.