Centurion (A41) Main Battle Tank (MBT)
Undoubtedly one of the most successful tank designs of the immediate post-World War 2 world - the British Centurion MBT.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Though requested as early as 1943 and entering production in January of 1945, the British Centurion Main Battle Tank arrived too late to see combat actions in World War 2. The war in Europe had ended in May of 1945 to which only six complete pilot vehicles were stationed in Belgium to undergo British Army evaluation. Despite missing the global conflict, the new British tank went on to see its fair share of actions in subsequent wars spanning the globe and became one of the most successful Cold War-era tank designs for the West. In terms of combat, the Centurion became the most experienced tank in the Western inventory, being used in more wars than any other comparable frontline main battle tank system. The chassis also proved highly suitable for a myriad of other battlefield oriented designs that extended the Centurion family line for decades to come - some seeing use as recently as 2006.
The Centurion Arrives in War Torn Europe - Too Late
With war across Europe in full swing, the British War Office issued a requirement - under the designation of "A41" - for a new heavy cruiser tank in 1943. The excellent German "88" flak gun - at this point in the war now being used just as effectively as an anti-tank gun - forced the British to rethink their tank design formula and request a combat system that could withstand a direct hit from such a weapon. Additionally, the requirement called for a reliable battlefield implement with a maximum weight no greater than 40 tons to operate in conjunction with the 40-ton transport trailers available to the British Army at the time. As such, the new tank design would have to be well-protected along its critical facings with an appropriate displacement of armor which, in effect, would make for a heavier tank. Due to the carrying limitations of existing transport trailers (designated Mark I and Mark II) in the British Army inventory, the original 40-ton weight limit proved somewhat unfeasible for the armor requirement and was thusly expanded. Instead of limiting the design of their new tank proper - a tank the War Office believed would be a complete success from the beginning - it was decided to build all-new, heavy-class trailers instead.