The Centurion tank was designed and developed towards the end of the Second World War to combat the newer German Tiger and Panther tanks. Prototypes of the Centurion arrived in Europe one month after the Second World War ended, too late to see active service.
With the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Centurions were deployed with British forces to Korea, where they quickly gained a reputation as reliable anti-armour and anti-personnel vehicles. From late 1951 until the armistice in July 1953, Centurions were used as direct-fire support vehicles, most notably in the battles at the Hook in May and July 1953.
Australia purchased 150 Centurion tanks from the United Kingdom in 1950. Over 140 vehicles, including bridge-layer and Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) variants, came directly from the UK. The remaining vehicles – one ARV Mk 1 and seven gun tanks – were acquired from New Zealand. The gun tanks were not registered, but were instead dismantled for use as spares.
Centurions were sent to Vietnam, arriving in early 1968, where their firepower and offensive capabilities were great assets to the Australian Task Force. The tanks remained in Vietnam until September 1971.
Centurion tanks remained in service with the Australian Army until 1977.
Armament: 20-pounder gun, a coaxial .50 calibre ranging machine-gun, a coaxial .30 calibre Browning machine-gun, and a flexible mounted .30 calibre machine-gun mounted on the crew commander’s cupola.
Armour: 152 mm
Power plant: Rover Meteor V12 liquid-cooled petrol engine
Speed (max): 34 km/h
Length: 7.6 m hull only (An Armoured Auxiliary Fuel Tank could also be fitted, which would further lengthen hull measurements. Australia operated tanks with both configurations, but only those fitted with the armoured auxiliary fuel tanks went to South Vietnam.)
Height: 3.01 m
Width: 3.39 m
Weight: 52 t (unloaded, main battle tank variant)
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