The British Centurion Tank

The British Centurion Tank Development

The original design request made by the British War office In 1943 to the Department of Tank Design, was for a tank capable of with standing an 88mm round as used by the German forces at the time and had to weight 40-ton’s as the transports used to deploy British tanks could not exceed this weight. The original Mk I was unable to with stand an 88mm round whilst below 40-tons, so the War Ministry on seeing that the Centurion was a superb design decided to replace its transports with heavier weight barring ones.

Known as the A41, the 1st prototype was completed in 1944 and 5 in total by 1945 which were sent to Germany but were to late in WW2 to see any combat.

The British Centurion Tank Description

The British Centurion Tank

It proved to be exceptionally up-gradable and through the years saw up-grades in fuel capacity and many in the armour & firepower of the vehicle and the Meteor V-12 petrol engine proved capable with the added weight.

The tank is run by a 4 man crew, the driver sits at the front of the all-welded steel hull on the right. The turret houses a number of external stowage boxes with re-supply hatch’s. The crew layout is standard with the commander & gunner on the right and the loader on the left.

the commander and gunner have a number of sights and periscopes with an effective range of 8000m (1.86miles). During the 1960’s, many of these as well as search lights were up-graded with Infa-Red by the British Army.

The power pack is at the rear of the vehicle behind a fire proof bulkhead.

The suspension is made up of 3 units along each side of road wheels (6 per-side) and protected by armour skirts, the first and last are fitted with shock absorbers.

The vehicle never had an NBC system fitted nor did it have amphibious capabilities, but a deep fording kit was developed as was a frontal dozer blade so it could dig in to firing positions. It’s only weakness was its operational range, which the Mk5 tried to solve by providing a small trailer of fuel.

The British Centurion Tank Variants

Mark 1 Armed with 17 pounder 76mm main gun
Mark 2 Armed with 17 pounder 76mm main gun
Mark 3 Armed with 20 pounder 83.8mm main gun
Mark 4 Close support model Armed with 95mm howitzer, never entered production
Mark 5 Armed with 20 pounder 83.8mm main gun coaxial Browning MG fitted and commander’s cupola, stowage bin on glacis
Mark 5/1 Up-armoured (glacis)
Mark 5/2 Armed with 105mm main gun
Mark 6 AKA 6/1 A Mark 5 with 105mm main gun & increased fuel capacity at rear, IR & night vision equipment & added stowage basket at the rear of the turret
Mark 6/2 12.7mm ranging MG
Mark 7 AKA FV4007, designed by Leyland it was armed with 83.8mm main gun with fume extractor & carried 61 rounds
Mark 7/1 Up-armoured Mk7 AKA FV4012
Mark 7/2 Mk7 with 105mm main gun
Mark 8 Resilient main gun mantel, canvas cover removed, commanders cupola is self rotating and new twin hatch
Mark 8/1 Mk 8 up-armoured
Mark 8/2 Mk 8 with 105mm main gun
Mark 9 Mk 7 up-armoured with 105mm main gun AKA FV4015
Mark 9/1 Mk 9 with IR night vision equipment & stowage basket at the rear of the turret
Mark 9/2 Mk 9 with 12.7mm ranging MG
Mark 10 Mk 8 up-armoured with 105mm main gun, increased storage to 70rounds AKA the FV4017. Added IR equipment, stowage basket rear of turret, re-designated Mk 10/1
Mark 10/2 Mk 10 with 12.7mm ranging MG
Mark 11 Mk 6 with 12.7mm ranging MG IR equipment, stowage basket rear of turret
Mark 12 Mk 9 with 12.7mm ranging MG IR equipment, stowage basket rear of turret
Mark 13 Mk 10 with 12.7mm ranging MG IR equipment

Production of the Centurion ended in 1962, by which stage 4423 had been manufactured by ROF Leeds, Vickers and Leylands, of which 2500 were exported. How ever most were replaced by former operators with German Leopard 1’s.

The British Centurion Tank Operators

Operators have included: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, & Switzerland.

The British Centurion Tank Combat History

It was used by the British in the Gulf War (as AVRE), Falklands War (1 Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle – Centurion hull) & Northern Island. By South Africa in the Angolan Civil War and Australia in the Vietnam War. Israel had used their upgraded Sho’t in several conflicts (see link bekow).

Australian Centurions during the Vietnam War

The British Centurion Tank operator vehicles…

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Sho’t

IDF Upgrade

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Former IDF Service

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Olifant

South Africa Upgrade

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In SAAC Service

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Strv 81

Swedish Upgrade

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Former Swedish Service