.: Tony McGoldrick's AFV Club Australian Centurion Tank Mk5/1

AFV Club
Modelling Time:
12 hours
PE/Resin Detail:


Centurion Main Battle Tank    

•      The Australian Army was the first purchaser of the Centurion tank out side of the U.K. They first ordered it in 1949.

•      It was not until the September 1951 that the Australian Army finally received it’s first Centurion tanks. These first two tanks were given to Armoured Centre and the next few went to1st Armoured Regiment. The first tanks to arrive in Australia were Centurion Mk 3, equipped with 20 pounder guns and Besa machine guns. These machine guns were soon replaced, by American .30 calibre Browning’s. This changed the designation of the tank from Mk3 to a Mk5

•      The Centurion coped well with the Hostile environment of Australia as the Horstman suspension reacted well and reliably. Unlike the Leopard, which goes through spare parts at an alarming rate.

•      Altogether the Australian Centurion fleet comprised a total of 143 Centurion tanks (Army Registration Numbers (ARN) 169000 - 169138, 115541 - 115544) at its peak between 1972 - 77. This consisted of: -

•      60 Mk.3 medium tanks purchased in 1949 and delivered from September 1951 and were still being delivered after August 1952 were subsequently upgraded to Mk. 5 standard between 1957 and 1961. (ARN 169000 - 169059)

•      51 MK. 5 medium tanks purchased in late 1954 and delivered during 1955 - 56. (ARN 169060 - 169110)

•      4 Armoured Recovery Vehicles (ARV) Mk. 2 ordered in late 1954 and delivered in 1955 - 56. (ARN 169111 - 169114)

•      6 Mk. 5 medium tanks delivered in 1956- 57 (ARN 169115 - 169120)

•      4 Bridge Layer Mk. 5 delivered in early 1960’s, the first arriving in September 1961. (ARN 115541 - 115544)

•      8 Mk5 and Mk5/1 medium tanks were purchased from New Zealand during 1968. The medium tanks were cannibalised for spares, and while the ARV was taken into service, it only served in Australia. (ARN 169123) A small number of New Zealand hulls were used to replace mine damaged hulls and at least one tank, ARN 169017, returned to South Vietnam for a second tour fitted with a New Zealand hull.

•      15 Mk5/1 medium tanks purchased from UK stock held in Hong Kong arriving in 1972 (ARN 169124 - 169138).

•      Some of the damaged tanks returning from Vietnam were converted to Driver Training Vehicles by removing the turret and installing a superstructure with large windows and seats for the instructor and trainees. These vehicles were used to train drivers from 1974 until 1977. With out the weight of the turret these vehicles rode much higher than the gun tanks. The Centurion was eventually, phased out of service in the Australian Army in 1977, to be replaced by the German Leopard tank. Not all the Driver training tanks were ex Vietnam tanks.

•      The Dozer tank was to assist in the mobility of the Armoured Vehicles in Vietnam. It could dig firing positions and minor earth moving tasks. The blade was made in Newcastle UK by T B Pearsons It had a cutting edge and a hinged flap on top for scooping earth. The blade was hydraulically operated from the driver’s seat, with power coming from a main engine.

•      The Prototype Bridge Layer was first built in 1956, but it was not until 1961 that the vehicle went into full production in the U.K. The Australian Army received their four Bridge Layers in 1965. They were built on Mk5 chassis reworked to Mk7 standard. They were without a turret the resulting hole was plated over. The 100-gallon fuel tank was fitted as standard. The No. 6 tank bridge was constructed of Aluminium alloy and could carry a load of 80 tons over a gap of 13.5 metres. Two of these vehicles saw service in South Vietnam.

•      The ARV MK.1 was based on the Centurion Mk.1 and Mk.2 chassis with the turret removed and a slab sided superstructure added. This superstructure housed the winching mechanism. This winch had an 18 Ton pull. An earth spade was fitted to the rear of the vehicle this was found to be inadequate and was often reinforced in active service. A set of Hollebone drawbars, were provided for the towing of tank casualties. Crew access was by tow hatches on the roof. This is the only Mk.1 to be used in Australian service and was purchased from New Zealand in 1969.

•      The ARV Mk.2 first entered service with the Australian Army in 1956. This vehicle was very much different from the Mk.1. The earth anchor was much improved and the winch had a greater pull, of 30 tonnes. Up to 90 tonnes could be achieved with a 3 to 1 tackle layout. Two of these vehicles served in South Vietnam form 1968 until 1971. There were in fact, 4 ARV’s in Vietnam, but only two at any one time

The above information was sourced from http://battle-tank.tripod.com/battletank_page_1

Please go there for much more information...

Box art:

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(Tony was my first modeller to try the camouflage print background.....Like it?)

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