Specific: The Centurion MK III
(shown) was received as part of the MDAP program in 1953, some of them
allegedly after participating in the Korea War. Some were
mounted with the "A-gun" (shown) and the
remainder featured the "B-gun"
To compensate for the notorious fuel-consumption a fuel-trailer was delivered along with the MBT.
In 1954 the Besa MG was replaced by a Browning cal. 7.62 and
was designated MK V. In 1959 a 12.7 mm Browning turret MG was
mounted. In 1964 106 tanks with the "A-gun" was
modified with the British 105 mm L7A1 gun and the 7.62
cal. Browning was replaced by the German MG 62 (Mk
From 1973 the Danish Centurions used a Danish produced
track from Varde Stålfabrik A/S.
90 tanks was further upgraded with laser range finder and
night vision equipment in 1985 (Mk
V, 2 DK).
Some Centurions were equipped with dozer
Historical: The Centurion has its origin in the summer of 1943
as the A41, when the Department of Tank Design led by Sir
Claude Gibb were commissioned to develop a high mobility
cruiser tank. Outline specifications and general arrangement drawings
had been completed by November 1943.
A mock-up produced by AEC in mild steel was ready in May 1944, and the first pilot
Centurion was completed by ROF Woolwich in April 1945. At this stage the
pilot models were still being seen as experimental, and different
combinations of secondary armament were specified using either the
Polsten 20 mm canon or the 7.92 mm Besa machine gun. In May
a total of 6 prototypes had been produced by the Royal
Ordnance Factory and shipped to Germany, but too late to
see any action. They were tested at the Lommel range in Belgium and
shown to various armoured regiments in Europe before returning to
Britain in July.
The vehicle went into further development and trials and
was finally launched as the Centurion Mk I in November
1945. The first production vehicle appeared in February
1946. This was Britain's first post-war MBT.
Production was undertaken by the Royal Ordnance Factory
in Leeds, Vickers-Armstrong at Elswick and Leyland
Motors in Lancashire.
An up-armoured version (A41A) went into production as the
It was initially armed with a 17-pounder gun, but this
was replaced by a 20-pounder (Mk III) and eventually the
105 mm L7 series gun (Mk V/2) in 1959.
The last variant to be produced was the Mk X (which was
an up-gunned and up-armoured Mk VIII) from which the Mk
XIII was developed.
The chassis was used to construct a number of specialised
variants, including armoured recovery vehicle (ARV),
armoured ramp carrier (ARK), armoured beach recovery
armoured vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) and armoured bridge-layer (AVLB).
The Centurion first saw action in Korea, and proved
itself to be the best tank on the theatre, notable for
its astonishing cross-country ability. Later it saw
combat in the Middle East, South Asia and Vietnam.
The Centurion have been modified by several
countries. The Israelis equipped with a new diesel power
pack (Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-2A engine)
developing 750 hp coupled to an Allison CD-850-6
Jordan used the same engine as the Israelis and had the
Belgium SABCA fire-control system incorporating a laser
range finder mounted.
South Africa have modified their Centurion from the early
1970´s with the Skokiaan, Semel and latest the Olifant
programme. The latter comprised a new diesel power pack,
extensive upgrade of the Centurions subsystems and
inclusion of the British 105 mm L7 gun.
In total 4.423 Centurions of all marks were produced
between 1949 and 1962 (2.500 for export), through 13
Marks. The Centurion has been exported to Australia,
Canada, Denmark (216), Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel
(1.080), Jordan (293), Kuwait (10), the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Singapore (63), Somalia (30), South Africa
(300), Sweden (350) and Switzerland.
Length: 9.75 m (380 inches).
Width: 3.40 m (132 inches).
Height: 3.22 m (125 inches).
Weight: 50.800 kg (111.760 lb.).
Armour: 51 - 152 mm (2 - 6 inches).
Engine: V12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Meteor Mk IV B,
27.027 cm3 (1648 cubic inches) displacement, liquid
Horsepower: 650 at 2.550 rpm.
Transmission: 5-speed Merrit-Brown Z51R Mk. F
Transfer case: 2-speed.
Electrical system: 24 volt, negative ground.
without preparation: 1.40 m (54 inches).
with deep water fording kit: N/A.
Fuel type: Petrol.
Fuel capacity: 550 liter (121 gallons).
Range: 100 km (62 miles).
Armament: 84 mm gun with 64 rounds, Besa
machine gun, 2 x 6 smoke dischargers.
Additional: The MBT had a Morris Eight engine auxiliary
engine for use when the main unit was shot off, to keep essential
services running and to charge the batteries. Mounted with SCR-508 or
The CFE-treaty, the result of the Negotiation on
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe in 1990, stated that
Denmark were allowed to posses 300 MBT´s. As a result
146 Centurions have been destroyed from 1993 - 95. 18 of
the 146 MBT´s have gone to museums (2), static display
(8) and range targets (8).
Other members of the family are:
- Centurion Mk V (35 kb),
- Centurion Mk V, 2 (66 kb),
- Centurion Mk V, 2 DK (40 kb)
- Centurion ARV MK II (42 kb) and
- Centurion AVLB (34 kb).