|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|In service||1945–1990s (derivatives still in service)|
|Weight||51 long tons (52 t)|
|Length||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Width||11 feet 1 inch (3.4 m)|
|Height||9 feet 10.5 inches (3.01 m)|
|Crew||4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)|
|Armour||6 in (150 mm)|
|105 mm L7 rifled gun|
|.30 cal Browning machine gun|
650 hp (480 kW)
|280 miles (450 km)|
|Speed||22 mph (35 km/h)|
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. It was a successful tank design, with upgrades, for many decades. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles.
Development of the tank began in 1943 and manufacture of the Centurion began in January 1945, six prototypes arriving in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe ended in May 1945. It first entered combat with British Army in the Korean War in 1950, in support of the UN forces. The Centurion later served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where it fought against US-supplied M47 Patton and M48 Patton tanks. It served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam. Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and during the 1975 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. Centurions modified as APCs were used in Gaza, the West Bank and the Lebanese border. South Africa used its Centurions in Angola. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurion tanks, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973.
It became one of the most widely used tank designs, equipping armies around the world, with some still in service until the 1990s. As recently as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as armoured personnel carriers and combat engineering vehicles. The SANDF still employs over 200 Centurions. The South African vehicles were modernised in the 1980s, and the resulting model is known as the Olifant.
- 1 Development
- 2 Service history
- 3 Variants
- 4 Operators
- 5 Combat history
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Development[edit | edit source]
In 1943, the Department of Tank Design was asked to produce a new design for a heavy cruiser tank under the General Staff designation A41. After a series of fairly marginal designs in the A series in the past, and bearing in mind the threat posed by the German 88 mm gun, the War Office demanded a major revision of the design requirements, specifically: increased durability and reliability, a maximum weight of 40 tons and the ability to withstand a direct hit from the German 88 mm gun.
Tank Design responded by extending the long-travel five-wheel suspension used on the Comet with the addition of a sixth wheel and an extended spacing between the second and third wheels. The Christie suspension, with internal vertical spring coils, was replaced by a Horstmann suspension with external horizontal springs. The hull was redesigned with welded, sloped armour and featured a partially cast turret mounting the highly regarded 17 pounder main gun and a 20 mm Polsten cannon. With a Rover-built Rolls-Royce Meteor engine, a version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin, the new design would have excellent performance.
Shortly after the programme commenced, it became clear that the requirement to withstand 88 mm artillery would be impossible to meet, within the permitted weight. The original specification had been set so that the A41 could be carried on the existing Mark I and Mark II transport trailers, which were limited to a 40-ton load. The War Ministry decided it would be wiser to build new trailers, rather than hamper what appeared to be a superb design. Even before prototypes of the original 40-ton design were completed, the design of a heavier version was well under way. The new version carried armour equal to the heaviest infantry tanks, and cross-country performance was superior to even the early cruiser tanks. The A41 was the first British tank that could "do it all", leading to the new designation "universal tank".
Prototypes of the original 40-ton design, the Centurion Mark I, had 76 mm of armour in the front glacis, thinner than the then current infantry tank designs such as the Churchill which had 101 mm, but the glacis plate was highly sloped and so the effective thickness of the armour was very high — a design feature shared by other effective designs such as the German Panther tank and Soviet T-34. The turret was extremely well armoured at 152 mm. The tank was also extremely mobile, and easily outperformed the Comet in most tests. The uparmoured Centurion Mark II soon arrived, featuring a new 118 mm-thick glacis and side and rear armour increased from 38 mm to 51 mm. Only a handful of Mk I's had been produced when the Mk II replaced it on the production lines. Full production began in November 1945 with an order of 800 with production lines at Leyland, the Royal Ordnance Factories at Leeds and Woolwich, and Vickers at Elswick. The tank entered service in December 1946 with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment.
Soon after the Centurion's introduction, Royal Ordnance finished work on the extremely powerful 20 pounder (84 mm) tank gun. By this point the usefulness of the 20 mm Polsten had been called into question, it being unnecessarily large for a man-killing weapon, so it was replaced with a Besa machine gun in a completely cast turret. The new Centurion Mark III also featured a fully automatic stabilisation system for the gun, allowing it to fire accurately while on the move, dramatically improving battlefield performance. Production of the Mk 3 began in 1948. The Mk 3 was so much more powerful than the Mk 1 and Mk 2 that the earlier designs were removed from service as soon as new Mk 3s arrived, and the older tanks were then either converted into the Centurion ARV Mark 1 armoured recovery vehicle for REME use or upgraded to Mk 3 standards. Improvements introduced with the Mk 3 included a more powerful version of the engine and a new gunsight and gun stabiliser.
The 20 pounder gun was used only for a short time[dubious ] before the Royal Ordnance Factories introduced the now famous 105 mm L7 gun. All later variants of the Centurion, from Mark 5/2 on, used the L7.
Design work for the Mk 7 was completed in 1953 with production beginning soon afterwards.
The Centurion was used as the basis for a range of specialist equipment, including engineering variants with a 165 mm demolition gun (AVRE-Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers). It is one of the longest-serving designs of all time, serving as a battle tank for the British and Australian armies from the Korean War (1950–1953) to the Vietnam War (1961–1972), and as an armoured engineer vehicle during Operation Desert Storm in January–February 1991.
About 4,423 Centurions were produced between 1946 and 1962, consisting of thirteen basic marks of the Centurion tank.
Service history[edit | edit source]
Korean War[edit | edit source]
On 14 November 1950, the British Army's 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, equipped with three squadrons of Centurion Mk 3 tanks, landed in Pusan. Operating in sub-zero temperatures, the 8th Hussars learnt the rigours of winter warfare: their tanks had to be parked on straw to prevent the steel tracks from freezing to the ground, with engines having to be started every half hour, with each gear being engaged in turn, to prevent them from being frozen into place. During the "Battle of the Imjin River", Centurions won lasting fame when their tanks covered the withdrawal of the 29th Brigade, with the loss of five tanks, most later recovered and repaired. In 1953, Centurions of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment were also involved in the second "Battle of the Hook" where they played a significant role in repelling Chinese attacks. In a tribute to the 8th Hussars, General John O'Daniel, commanding the US 1st Corps, stated: "...In their Centurions, the 8th Hussars have evolved a new type of tank warfare. They taught us that anywhere a tank can go, is tank country: even the tops of mountains."
Vietnam War[edit | edit source]
In 1967, the Royal Australian Armoured Corps' (RAAC), 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) Squadron transferred to "A" Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment Vietnam. Although they successfully conducted combat operations in their areas of operation(s) (AOs), reports from the field stated that their light-armour (M-113 ACAVs) were unable to force their way through dense jungle limiting their offensive actions against enemy forces. The Australian government, under criticism from Parliament, decided to send a Squadron of Australian Centurion tanks to South Vietnam. The 84 mm-gunned Australian Centurions of 'C' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment landed in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) on 24 February 1968, and were headquartered at Nui Dat in III Corps (MR3).
Colonel Donald B. Dunstan, later to be governor of South Australia, was the Deputy Task Force Commander of the Australian Forces in South Vietnam Col. Dunstan had quite possibly been the last Australian to utilise tanks and infantry in a combined arms operation during World War II, during the Bougainville campaign.[original research?] And, for the first time since World War II, Col. Dunstan would be commanding Australia's tanks and infantry in combat again. When he temporarily took over command during Brigadier R. L. Hughes' absence, he directed that the Centurions be brought up from Nui Dat, to reinforce the firebases at Coral and Balmoral, believing that they were a strong element that weren't being used. Besides adding a great deal of firepower, Col. Dunstan stated, he "...couldn't see any reason why they (Centurions) shouldn't be there..." His foresight in the coming battles enabled the 1st ATF to inflict approximately 267 enemy casualties during the six week long battle at Coral and Balmoral, as well as capturing 11 POWs, 36 crew-served weapons, 112 small arms, and other miscellaneous enemy weapons.
After the battles at firebases Coral and Balmoral, in which the 1st Australian Task Force defeated the 141st and 165th Vietnam People's Army (NVA) Infantry Regiments in May 1968; a third Centurion troop, which included two tankdozers, was formed. By September 1968 'C' Squadron was brought to its full strength of four troops, each equipped with four Centurion tanks. By 1969, 'B' Squadron, 3rd Cavalry; 'A' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment; 'B' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment; and 'C' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, had all made rotations through South Vietnam. Originally deployed as 26 Centurion tanks, after three and a half years of combat operations, 58 Centurions had served in country; 42, of which 6 were beyond repair, suffered battle damage, and two Centurion tank crewmen had been killed in action.
The Centurion crews, after operating for a few weeks in country, soon learned to remove the protective armoured side skirts from both sides of the tank, to prevent the vegetation and mud from building up between the track and the mudguards. Each Centurion in Vietnam normally carried a basic load of 62 rounds of 20 pounder shells (84mm), 4,000 rounds of .50 inch and 9,000 rounds of .30 inch machine gun ammunition for the tank commander's machine gun as well as the two coaxial machine guns; and were equipped with petrol engines, which necessitated the use of an extra externally mounted 100-imperial-gallon (450 L) fuel tank, which was attached to the vehicle's rear.
Middle East[edit | edit source]
|This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010)|
In the 1960s, the British needed money in order to complete the development of their new tank, the Chieftain, with its 120mm gun. In view of their financial constraints, they proposed a "package deal". According to this deal, Israel would buy hundreds of obsolete Centurion tanks. The UK would allow Israel to participate in the final stages of Chieftain development, would sell Israel Chieftains, and would help Israel build, in Israel, an assembly line for Chieftains. Israeli co-operation with the British lasted about three years. After the wikipedia:Six-Day War, however, Arab states intervened. They threatened Britain with sanctions, with pulling their monetary reserves out of British banks, and other actions. Demonstrations were held in Arab capitals and British embassies were attacked. In November 1969, Britain withdrew from its Chieftain deal with Israel.
The formerly British Centurion was renamed "Sho't" (Scourge/Whip) by the Israelis and upgraded to meet their demands in modern warfare. When the Six-day War (1967) broke out, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) had 293 Centurion tanks that were ready for combat out of a total of 385 tanks. During the war Israel captured 30 Centurion tanks from Jordan, when Jordan had only 44 Centurion tanks.
The Israeli version of the Centurion earned its legendary status during the Battle of "The Valley of Tears" on the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Less than 100 Centurion tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade defeated the advance of some 500 Syrian T-55s and T-62s. The Sho't became emblematic of Israeli armour prowess.
Original Centurions had 20 pounder main guns, but these were quickly up-gunned to the British 105 mm L7. The vehicles went through a number of both major and minor modifications culminating in the Sho't with blazer package seen in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and retired with honour during the 1990s. The biggest modifications were the upgrade of the engine, sights and blazer packages.
The engine has been changed to a more efficient diesel engine, fire control has been modernised, armour has been thickened, and an improved ammunition layout allows more to be carried. An improved fire extinguishing system, better electrical system and brakes, and an increased fuel capacity, complete the modifications. The Sh'ot can be distinguished from the Centurion by its raised rear deck, to accommodate the bigger engine. They either have the original 7.62 mm calibre on the commanders cupola or have it replaced by a 12.7 mm calibre HMG and American radios.
Many different variants were bought by Israel over the years from many different countries. Many components of these would find their way into the Merkava.
South Africa[edit | edit source]
|This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010)|
The Centurion tank was in use by the South Africans since 1957 – at first, 250 Mk 2 and Mk 3 Centurions bought directly from the UK, but later, South Africa bought Mk 5 Centurions from India and Jordan. Starting in 1970, the UN imposed ever-more-restrictive arms embargoes on South Africa, due to its apartheid practices and human rights violations. This forced South Africa to develop its own arms industry (with surreptitious help from Israel, France and the United States) and this included upgrading the Centurion tanks. Until the 1980s or so, South Africa’s enemies had nothing to compare to the tanks that the South Africans were fielding at any particular time. The South Africans improved and upgrade their tanks throughout the Border War.
The first upgrades made to the Centurions were simple, and primarily for test purposes. In 1972, the Centurion was fitted with a V-12 fuel-injected petrol engine developing 810 hp coupled to a new three-speed (two forward and one reverse) automatic transmission. This project was called the Skokiaan, but only eight conversions were made. This was followed by the Semel project in 1974 which involved fitting the eight Skokiaan vehicles and some unconverted Centurions with a modified engine and some other improvements and these were called the Centurion Mk 5A or Semel. A total of 35 of these vehicles was produced and some were used in the then-Southwest Africa.
The South Africans undertook a much more ambitious upgrade program in 1976, producing the Olifant (later the Olifant Mk 1 after further-upgraded versions were built). The Olifant Mk 1 entered service with the South African Armoured Corps in 1978. The Olifant program benefited greatly from the Israelis’ Sho't program (the Israeli rebuild of the Centurion). Olifant Mk1 had an upgraded engine, better suspension, turret drive, and night vision equipment. The commander had a hand held laser rangefinder.
The Olifant Mk 1 later received a major upgrade as the Mk 1A entered production in 1983 and entered service in 1985. This was because it was discovered, particularly in combats in Angola, that the Olifant Mk 1 and its 20-pounder main gun could not match the T-55. Production stopped in the mid-1980s. Nonetheless, despite the numbers produced and the fact that the Mk 1A was meant to be an interim solution for use until the advent of the Mk 1B version. The Mk 1A may in fact have been the most numerous SANDF tank in service.[original research?]
In the Mk 1A, the main gun was replaced with the 105mm L-7 rifled gun, eight smoke grenade dischargers were installed on either side of the turret. A new engine was installed and the armour was upgraded. The laser range-finder was incorporated into the gunner’s sight and the night vision equipment was upgraded.
The Mk 1B was a new production vehicle, instead of up-grading existing Centurions or Olifants. Development started on the Mk 1B in 1983 and entered production in 1991. The 105mm L7 rifled cannon main gun on the Mark 1B is fitted with a thermal sleeve and carries 68 rounds of ammunition. The tank is also fitted with a 7.62 mm general purpose co-axial machine gun and a 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. The driver's station is equipped with a day and night sight and the gunner's station is fitted with day and night sights and an integrated laser rangefinder.
Because of the high number of mines deployed in neighbouring African countries, its belly armour was doubled and new side skirts added. The glacis plate and nose of the hull have been upgraded with the addition of passive armour and the turret has been fitted with stand-off armour. The vehicle can generate a smoke screen by injecting fuel on the engine's hot exhaust and a fire suppression system was added to the crew fighting compartment. A computerised fire control system was added and a searchlight over the main gun. In October 2003, Alvis OMC was awarded a contract for the upgrade of a number of Olifant Mk 1B MBT's. It included upgrades in the power pack, fire control and training systems.
Up to the end of 1987, South Africa was involved in a full intervention in the Angolan Civil War, and Olifant tanks were sent into combat, participating with success against Angolan forces near the Lomba River. On September 1, tank combat occurred. Olifants ran across Angolan T-55s and T-34/85s, destroying some of them. At Cuito Cuanavale, Olifants and Ratels fought T-55s and T-34/85s, claiming that the only losses to the Olifants came from mines. The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces claimed that during the same battle 50th Cuban Division T-62s halted South African tanks at the Chambingi River.
The Mk 2 is an up-armoured and fire control equipment turret which can be fitted with a 120mm smoothbore cannon on the Mk 1B chassis.
Nuclear tests[edit | edit source]
An Australian Army Mk 3 Centurion Type K, Army Registration Number 169041, was involved in a nuclear blast test at Emu Field in Australia in 1953 as part of Operation Totem 1. Built as number 39/190 at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Barnbow in 1951 it was assigned the British Army number 06 BA 16 and supplied to the Australian Commonwealth Government under Contract 2843 in 1952.
It was placed less than 500 yards (460 m) from the epicentre and left with the engine running. Examination after detonation found it had been pushed away from the blast point by about 5 feet (1.5 m) and that its engine had stopped working, only because it had run out of fuel. Antennae were missing, lights and periscopes were heavily sandblasted, the cloth mantlet cover was incinerated, and the armoured side plates had been blown off and carried up to 200 yards (180 m) from the tank. Remarkably, though, the tank could still be driven from the site. Had it been manned, the crew would probably have been killed by the shock wave.
169041, subsequently nicknamed The Atomic Tank, was later used in the Vietnam War and is now located at Robertson Barracks in Palmerston, Northern Territory. Although other tanks were subjected to nuclear tests, 169041 is the only tank known to have withstood atomic tests and subsequently gone on for another 23 years of service, including 15 months on operational deployment in a war zone.
Variants[edit | edit source]
UK variants[edit | edit source]
Centurion production mark numbers[edit | edit source]
- Centurion Mk 1
- 17pdr armed version
- Centurion Mk 2
- Fully cast turret
- Centurion Mk 3
- Fitted with 20pdr, 2 stowage positions for track links on glacis
- Centurion Mk 4
- Projected close-support version with 95 mm CS howitzer
- Centurion Mk 5
- Browning machine guns fitted to coaxial and commander's cupola mounts, stowage bin on glacis
- Centurion Mk 5/1 aka FV 4011
- Increased glacis armour, two coax machineguns: one .30 Browning & one .50 caliber Browning for ranging the 84mm (20 pounder) main gun
- Centurion Mk 5/2
- Upgunned to 105 mm
- Centurion Mk 6
- Upgunned and uparmoured Mk 5
- Centurion Mk 6/1
- Mk 6 fitted with IR equipment
- Centurion Mk 6/2
- Mk 6/1 fitted with ranging gun
- Centurion Mk 7 aka FV 4007
- Revised engine decks
- Centurion Mk 7/1 aka FV 4012
- Uparmoured Mk 7
- Centurion Mk 7/2
- Upgunned Mk 7
- Centurion Mk 8
- Resilient mantlet and new commanders cupola
- Centurion Mk 8/1
- Uparmoured Mk 8
- Centurion Mk 8/2
- Upgunned Mk 8
- Centurion Mk 9 aka FV 4015
- Upgunned and uparmoured Mk 7
- Centurion Mk 9/1
- Mk 9 with IR equipment
- Centurion Mk 9/2
- Mk 9 with ranging gun fitted
- Centurion Mk 10 aka FV 4017
- Upgunned and uparmoured Mk 8
- Centurion Mk 10/1
- Mk 10 with IR equipment
- Centurion Mk 10/2
- Mk 10 with ranging gun fitted
- Centurion Mk 11
- Mk 6 fitted with IR equipment and ranging gun
- Centurion Mk 12
- Mk 9 fitted with IR equipment and ranging gun
- Centurion Mk 13
- Mk 10 fitted with IR equipment and ranging gun
Prototypes[edit | edit source]
- A41 [20 mm]
- Centurion prototype with coaxial Polsten cannon
- A41 [Besa]
- Centurion prototype with coaxial Besa MG—later fitted with experimental CDL
Fighting Vehicle numbers[edit | edit source]
- FV 3802
- Self-propelled 25-pdr artillery prototype based on Centurion—engine at rear as in gun tank—no production
- FV 3805
- Self-propelled 5.5in artillery prototype, again based on Centurion—engine at front—no production.
- FV 4002 Centurion Mk 5 Bridgelayer
- (1963) – Mk 5 chassis with a No 5 Tank Bridge. The bridge can be launched in less than two minutes, can span a gap of 45 feet and can bear up to 80 tons.
- FV 4003 Centurion Mk 5 AVRE 165
- (1963) – AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers) vehicle with 165 mm demolition gun and a hydraulically operated dozer blade or a mine plough. Can carry a fascine bundle or a roll of metal Class 60 Trackway; and tow the Giant Viper mine-clearance equipment or a trailer for another fascine. This variant had a five man crew. The vehicle was used in the Gulf War (1991).
- FV 4004 Conway
- "FV 4004 Self-propelled gun, 120 mm, L1 gun, Mk 3" prototype based on Centurion 3 with a larger calibre 120 mm L1 gun. To be an interim design until Conqueror tank entered service. One built
- FV 4005 Stage 2
- An experimental tank destroyer with a 183 mm gun, developed in July 1955. It was using a lightly armoured, fully enclosed and traversable turret on a Centurion hull. By August 1957 the tank destroyer was dismantled.
- FV 4006 Centurion ARV Mk 2
- (1956) – Mk 1 / Mk 2 / Mk 3 hull with turret replaced by a superstructure housing a winch. The winch is powered by an auxiliary engine and is capable of pulling of up to 90 tons using a system of blocks. Armed with single .30 inch machine gun on the commander's cupola.
- FV 4007 Centurion Mk 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8/1, 8/2
- FV 4010 aka Heavy Tank Destroyer G.W. Carrier
- Malkara Anti Tank Guided Missile launcher vehicle
- FV 4011 Centurion Mk 5
- FV 4012 Centurion Mk 7/1, 7/2
- FV 4013 Centurion ARV Mk 1
- (1952) – Based on Mk 1 / Mk 2 hull. Turret replaced by a superstructure housing a winch driven by a 72 hp Bedford QL truck engine. About 180 units were built, some of them were used in the Korean War. After 1959 were used as training vehicles only.
- FV 4015 Centurion Mk 9
- FV 4016 Centurion ARK
- (1963) – Armoured Ramp Carrier. Can span a gap of up to 75 feet, can bear up to 80 tons.
- FV 4017 Centurion Mk 10
- FV 4018 Centurion BARV (1963)
- Beach armoured recovery vehicle. The last Centurion variant to be used by the British Army. As of 2003, one vehicle was still in use by the Royal Marines. Now being replaced by the Hippo based on Leopard 1 chassis.
- FV 4019 Centurion Mk 5 Bulldozer
- (1961) – Centurion Mk V with a dozer blade identical to that of the Centurion AVRE. One such tank was usually given to every Centurion-equipped squadron.
- FV 4202 40 ton Centurion
- Used to develop various concepts subsequently used in Chieftain
Specialist variants[edit | edit source]
- Centurion [Low Profile]
- Variant with Teledyne Low-profile Turret
- Centurion [MMWR Target]
- Cobbled together radar target tank.
- Centurion Marksman
- Fitted with Marksman air defence turret
- Centurion Ark aka FV 4016
- Assault Gap Crossing Equipment (Armoured ramp carrier)
- Centurion ARV Mk I
- Armoured Recovery vehicle
- Centurion ARV Mk II
- Armoured Recovery Vehicle with superstructure
- Centurion AVLB
- Dutch armoured vehicle laying bridge
- Centurion AVRE 105
- Combat Engineer Version armed with 105 mm gun
- Centurion AVRE 165
- Combat Engineer Version armed with 165 mm gun
- Centurion BARV
- Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle
- Centurion Bridgelayer aka FV 4002
- Class 80 bridgelayer
- Centurion Mk 12 AVRE 105
- Ex-Forward Artillery Observer vehicles converted to AVRE role.
Non-UK variants[edit | edit source]
- Centurion tanks redesigned and rebuilt by South Africa with the help of Israel, considered the best indigenous tank design on the African continent.
- (1974) 810 hp fuel-injected petrol engine, three-speed semi-automatic transmission.
- Olifant Mk 1
- (1978) 750 hp diesel engine, semi-automatic transmission.
- Olifant Mk 1A
- (1985) Retains the fire control system of the original Centurion, but has a hand-held laser rangefinder for the commander and image-intensifier for the gunner.
- Olifant Mk 1B
- (1991) Torsion bar suspension, lengthened hull, additional armour on the glacis plate and turret, V-12 950 hp diesel engine, computerised fire control system, laser rangefinder.
- Olifant Mk 2
- redesigned turret, new fire control system. Can mount LIW 105 mm GT-8 rifled gun or 120 mm smooth bore gun.
- Sho't Meteor
- Centurion Mk 5 tanks with the original Meteor engine purchased in 1959.
- Sho't Kal Alef/Bet/Gimel/Dalet
- Modernised Centurion tanks with 105 mm gun from 1963, a new powerpack (the Continental AVDS-1790-2A diesel engine and the Allison CD850-6 transmission). Entered service in 1970; by 1974 all Israeli Centurions were upgraded to Sho't Kal (Mk 13 armour) and had a pintle mounted .50 cal HMG. Subvariants indicate upgrades received by Sho't Kal tanks during their operational life, including a new turret rotating mechanism, a new gun stabiliser, a new fire-control system and preparations for the installation of the Blazer ERA.
- Nagmashot / Nagmachon / Nakpadon
- Israeli heavy armoured personnel carriers based on Centurion tank's chassis.
- Israeli combat engineering vehicle on Centurion tank chassis.
- Eshel ha-Yarden
- A quadruple tubular launcher for 290 mm ground-to-ground rockets mounted on Centurion tank chassis. The project was cancelled after a single prototype was built. Both this vehicle and an earlier version based on Sherman chassis are often referred to as MAR-290.
- Operated by Singapore, modernised with Israeli assistance, similar to Israeli variant, with diesel engine and new main gun, and possibly reactive armour. "Tempest" is the English translation of "Sho't".
- Stridsvagn 81
- Swedish Army designation for its 240 Mk 3 Centurions (20 pdr gun) with Swedish radios, etc.
- Stridsvagn 101
- Swedish Army designation for its 110 Mk 10 Centurions (105 mm gun) with Swedish radios, etc.
- Stridsvagn 101R
- Swedish Army designation for Stridsvagn 101 upgraded in early 1980s with laser range finder, etc.
- Stridsvagn 102
- Swedish Army designation for Stridsvagn 81 upgunned in early 1960s to 105 mm.
- Stridsvagn 102R
- Swedish Army designation for Stridsvagn 102 upgraded in early 1980s with laser range finder, etc.
- Stridsvagn 104
- Swedish Army designation for 80 Stridsvagn 102 modernised in early 1980s with laser range finder and diesel engine, etc. (along the same lines as the Israeli Shot Kal).
- Stridsvagn 105
- Swedish Army designation for Stridsvagn 102R upgraded with new suspension, etc. Prototype only.
- Stridsvagn 106
- Swedish Army designation for Stridsvagn 101R upgraded with new suspension, etc. Not built.
- Bärgningsbandvagn 81
- Swedish Army designation for Centurion ARV.
Operators[edit | edit source]
- Australia Replaced by Leopard 1.
- Austria Fixed in bunkers.
- Canada Replaced by Leopard C1. Many of the tanks were sold to Israel which converted them to diesel. Some are still in use as variants.
- Denmark Replaced by Leopard 1.
- Egypt Replaced by T-55s, T-62s, M60A3s and M1A1s.
- India Retired
- Iraq Retired
- Israel Gun tanks retired, many hulls converted to Nagmachon APCs, Nakpadon ARVs or Puma CEVs.
- Jordan Chassis re-used for the modern Temsah APC
- Kuwait Retired
- Libya (Free Libyan Army)
- Netherlands Replaced by Leopard 1
- New Zealand 12 Retired without replacement.
- Singapore 63 Centurion Mk3 and Mk7s bought from India in 1975 and more from Israel in 1993-4, all upgraded to Israeli standard with new main guns and diesel engines It has since been replaced by the Leopard 2SGs.
- South Africa In service as the indigenously developed and upgraded Mk1A/B and Mk2 Olifant
- Sweden Replaced by Stridsvagn 121 (Leopard 2 A4)
- Switzerland Replaced by Leopard 2
- United Kingdom Replaced by Chieftain
Combat history[edit | edit source]
- Korean War – United Kingdom
- Suez Crisis – United Kingdom
- War of 1965 – India
- Six Day War – Israel, Jordan
- Liberation of Bangladesh/War of 1971 – India
- Yom Kippur War – Israel, Jordan
- Vietnam War – Australia
- Angolan Civil War – South Africa
- Operation Motorman – United Kingdom, 165 mm AVREs with dozer blades were used to destroy barricades set up by the IRA in Northern Ireland, the 165 mm demolition guns were pointed to the rear and covered up
- Falklands War – United Kingdom, single Centurion BARV
- Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm – United Kingdom as Centurion AVRE's
References[edit | edit source]
- Dunstan & Sarson, Centurion, p. 8
- Antill, P. (23 February 2001)). "Centurion tank". historyofwar.org. Retrieved on 23 October 2011. Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name "Centurion" defined multiple times with different content
- Munro, Centurion, p. 40
- Munro, Centurion, p. 46
- Starry, Mounted Combat in Vietnam, p. 113
- "Big British Tank Aims on the Run." Popular Mechanics, April 1952, pp. 142-143.
- Munro, Centurion, p. 48
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- Tanks a Lot Home of MK 5 AVRE Fosgene
- Centurion armour/technical data
- British Imperial War Museum
- Australian Centurions
- Redoubt Fortress Museum Home of an example of a Mark III Centurion Tank
- Dutch Cavalry Museum has 2 Centurion tanks in its collection.
- Olifant Mk1B details on Army-technology.com.
- centurion mk 5 and 5/1 details on Australian mk. 5 and 5/1