In the course of the last five years or so we have met some very interesting customers. One of our pals, Brian Slater (we call him Biggles because he’s one of our test pilots) sent us a present the other day. We were a bit mystified and asked him to explain…
“Between 17 January and 28 February 1991 operation “Desert Storm” took place to kick Sadam out of Kuwait, which he invaded in December 1990. Vickers manufactured the Challenger battle tank, and the army sent about 200 of them out to Saudi Arabia to be used in the assault on Kuwait (Sadam). We (Vickers) sent a team of engineers out there as well so we could make sure the tanks were properly maintained and fit to do battle. I was due to go out in March 1991 as part of our team, but fortunately it was all over by 28 Feb !!
At the time of the war, Vickers were developing a “Mark 2″ version of the Challenger tank called (would you believe ?) “Challenger 2″. One of it’s main “new” features was that it was designed to be almost invisible to enemy radar - what we call in the trade “low signature”…..and it had a new, and different camouflage ‘paint job’ to make it even harder to see – the technical term for this is “disruption pattern”.
Lots of folks in the UK were sending out ‘food parcels’ to the troops in the gulf, but they always forget the officers…..so….we decided that we could kill several birds with one stone. 1) a lot of the officers played golf, and had taken clubs out there, and needed a ball which would show up on white desert sand……2) we wanted to get across the message that the “new” Challenger tank was even better than the one they were using in the Gulf (at £2 million a ‘pop’ they needed to be !!)….3) we just wanted to give the officers a bit of fun – whilst re-inforcing the sales message.
We produced, and shipped, 22 balls that were hand painted with the ‘new’ disruption pattern, and given to the officers, and were very much appreciated and looked after.
Soon after the end of the war, the MOD ordered 256 Challenger 2 tanks – possibly the ‘feedback’ from people in the Gulf who got a golf ball helped the decision making – who knows ? The one thing I cannot tell you is……if you scratch off the ‘disruption pattern’…..WHAT the golf ball brand is underneath…..”