Drive an Abbot SPG (Tank)

The British-designed FV433 "Abbot" was designed for long-ranged bombardment, technically making it a Self-Propelled Gun rather than a tank. Now that it's no longer in military use, most people who see it won't have any terminology complaints about this massive vehicle. Several Abbots are available to drive at tank-driving entertainment services, if you're lucky enough to find one near you.


Starting the FV433 Abbot

  1. Drive only under supervision. If you are not trained to drive a tank or self-propelled gun, have an experienced driver ride with you. Drive only in open areas with no bystanders.
    • There is a standard procedure for checking equipment before starting any tank or SPG. Let someone qualified check the panel lights and gauges, and make adjustments to the seat or accelerator pedal to match your size. Further adjustments may be necessary in freezing temperatures.[1]
  2. Enter the driver's compartment. Climb onto the vehicle and lower yourself through the hatch near the front right corner.[2] Sit down against the backrest, with your right foot near the gas pedal and your left foot on the footrest. Secure the safety harness.
    • The compartment to the rear is intended for the three crew members that operate the turret and the machine gun cupola.[3] This guide does not cover controlling these weapons.
  3. Operate the periscope (optional). The hatch has a spring-loaded catch that will keep it in open position, which may be the most convenient option for vision.[4] If you do need to close the hatch, look through the wide-angle periscope in front of you.[5] The periscope has wipers to use in wet weather.[6]
  4. Put the Abbot in neutral. A gearbox with six positions is located on your left. You must place the Abbot in neutral before you can start the engine.[7] This operates similarly to a normal Drive-Manual.
  5. Start the engine. Look for the switch labeled "START" on the switchboard in front of you. Toggle it to the ON position.[8]
    • The rear compartment of the Abbot also has a start switch. Either one will start the engine, even if the other is in the off position.
  6. Select a gear. Once the engine is running, move the gearstick to select a gear based on the difficulty of the terrain. You can adjust this at any time during the drive, without any other actions required.
    • The self-propelled gun will automatically move down in gear if you climb a steep slope.[9]
  7. Disengage the brakes. Hold both steering sticks in front of you. Release the brakes by pushing down on the buttons on top of both sticks, until they click.[10]
    • The Abbot may begin rolling. Do not do this until all bystanders have left the area.
  8. Move the sticks forward. The left stick controls the left tread of the Abbot, while the right stick controls the right tread. Keep them in parallel and push them forward if you wish to move forward without turning.

Driving the FV433 Abbot

  1. Press the gas pedal. Push down gradually with your right foot, exactly as you would in a car. This may feel surprisingly smooth and quiet, but be aware that you have much less control over acceleration than you are used to.[11]
  2. Brake by pulling back on the sticks. Pull back both sticks in parallel and release your foot from the pedal. This will lock both treads, causing the tank to gradually come to a stop. Try this on open ground to get a sense for your stopping distance.
  3. Turn by pulling back on one stick. Turning is as simple as pulling one stick back, locking that tread while the other tread continues to move. Pulling back on the left stick will turn the Abbot left, and pulling back on the right stick will turn it right.[12] Return both sticks to parallel forward positions when you are done turning.
    • Again, practice on open ground before you move into areas with obstacles. This has a much larger turn radius than a smaller vehicle.[13]
  4. Know the numbers. Do not let the smooth suspension and easy controls fool you. Your instincts as a car or truck driver will not be enough to accurately judge safety. These numbers may help you evaluate the situation:[14][15]
    • Your maximum speed is about 50 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour).
    • The steepest slope you can climb is 30º.
    • The vehicle's width is 2.64 meters (8 ft 8 inches), mostly on the driver's left. The height is 2.49 meters (8 ft 2 inches).
  5. Use caution around water. The Abbot is only amphibious after a flotation screen has been attached. Do not attempt to enter a deep body of water without training.
    • The Abbot is rated to cross ditches and streams up to 2 meters (6 ft 9 inches) across, and up to 1.2 meters (4 ft) across. However, entering one too rapidly will splash the driver through the open hatch, or through drainage holes in the floor.[16]
  6. Engage the brakes and turn off the engine. When you are done driving, pull the sticks back and press in the buttons. The sticks should remain in the central position. Turn off the engine switch and confirm the Abbot has stopped moving before you get out.


  • If the Abbot will not start, let a trained operator examine it.
  • The Indian armed forces manufactured a cheaper version of the gun. This uses the same controls, but the lack of rubber on the treads may lead to a bumpier ride.[17]


  • Needless to say, driving a sixteen ton artillery piece is dangerous. Always have a qualified instructor with you.

Related Articles