.: Frank Spinosa's Trumpeter 1/35 B1 Centauro LAV

The Centauro is a wheeled tank destroyer designed for light to medium territorial defense and tactical reconnaissance. It was developed by a consortium of manufacturers, the Società Consortile Iveco Fiat - Oto Melara (CIO). Iveco Fiat was tasked with developing the hull and propulsion systems while Oto Melara was responsible for developing the turrets and weapon systems.

The vehicle was developed in response to an Italian Army requirement for a tank destroyer with the firepower of the old Leopard 1 main battle tank then in service with the Italian Army but with greater strategic mobility. The main mission of the Centauro is to protect other lighter elements of the cavalry, using its good power-to-weight ratio, excellent range and cross country ability (despite the wheeled design) and computerized fire control system to accomplish this mission. Centauro entered production in 1991 and deliveries were complete by 2006.

Armament
The main armament consists of the Oto Melara 105 mm / 52 caliber gyro-stabilized high-pressure, low-recoil gun equipped with a thermal sleeve and an integrated fume extractor, with 14 ready rounds in the turret and another 26 rounds in the hull. The gun can fire standard NATO ammunition, including APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) rounds.

Secondary weapons are a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and another 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun with 4,000 rounds of ammunition.

Aiming is provided by Galileo Avionica TURMS fire control system (the same fitted to the Italian Ariete tank) and is equipped with a muzzle referencing system and a fully digital ballistic computer. The gunner sight is fully stabilized and comes equipped with a thermal imager and laser rangefinder. The commander's station is equipped with a panoramic stabilized sight, an image intensifying night sight and a monitor displaying the image from the gunner's thermal sight. This allows Centauro to engage targets while stationary or on the move against stationary or moving targets day or night.

Armour
The Centauro hull is an all-welded steel armoured hull which is designed to withstand in the baseline configuration 14.5 mm bullets and shell fragments with protection against 25 mm munition on the frontal section. Protection can be increased by the addition of bolt on appliqué armour which increases protection against 30 mm rounds.

The Centauro is also equipped with an NBC (Nuclear, Chemical and Biological) warfare protection system which is integrated with the vehicle's air conditioning system. The vehicle is also equipped with a four-barreled smoke grenade launcher mounted on each side of the turret and a laser warning receiver.

Propulsion
Centauro is powered by an Iveco V6 turbo-charged after-cooled diesel engine delivering 512 hp (382.2 kW). This drives a ZF-designed automatic transmission which is manufactured under license by Iveco Fiat. The transmission system has five forward and two reverse gears. This drives 8 wheels which are each equipped with an independent suspension system and is furthermore equipped with run-flat inserts and a Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS). Braking is provided by 8 disc brakes. Steering is provided on the first and second axles and at slow speed with also the fourth axle. Together, this allows Centauro to achieve road speeds in excess of 100 km/h, negotiate gradients up to 60%, ford water up to a depth of 1.5m without preparation, and have a turning radius of 9m.

Combat History
Centauro was deployed in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, where the design proved successful. Centauro was usually used to escort motor convoys, for wide area control and for road patrols. Centauros were also deployed during operation Antica Babilonia, the Italian involvement in the Iraq War. During this operation, a Centauro troop took part in the battle for the bridges of Nassiriya, destroying a building with enemy snipers inside. It is currently deployed as part of UNIFIL forces in Lebanon.  

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