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  • 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.

     Updated: 4/27/2017; 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.


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    Centurion (A41) Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 1945
    Type: Main Battle Tank (MBT)
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Leyland Motors / Vickers / Royal Ordnance Factory - UK
    Production: 4,423



    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)


    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 27.20 feet (8.29 meters)
    Width: 11.12 feet (3.39 meters)
    Height: 9.65 feet (2.94 meters)

    Operating Weight: 62 tons (56,000 kg; 123,459 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: No
    Nightvision Equipment: Not standard but can be applied if needed.

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance


    Engine(s): 1 x Rolls Royce Mk IVB 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled gasoline engine developing 650 horsepower at 2,550rpm.

    Maximum Road Speed: 21 mph (34.6 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 118 miles (190 km)

    Armament and Ammunition


    ORIGINAL:
    1 x 17-pounder (76.2mm) main gun
    1 x 20mm Polsten coaxial cannon
    2 x 6 Smoke Grenade Dischargers

    LATER:
    1 x 20-pounder (84mm) main gun
    1 x 7.62mm BESA coaxial machine gun
    1 x 7.62mm machine gun at commander's cupola
    2 x 6 Smoke Grenade Dischargers

    FINAL:
    1 x 105mm L7 main gun
    1 x 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun at loader's hatch.
    1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
    1 x 7.62mm machine gun at commander's cupola
    2 x 6 Smoke Grenade Dischargers

    Ammunition:
    64 x 105mm projectiles
    600 x 12.7mm ammunition
    4,750 x 7.62mm ammunition
    12 x smoke grenades

    Global Operators / Customers


    Australia; Austria; Canada; Denmark; Egypt; India; Iraq; Israel; Kuwait; Lebanon; Jordan; Netherlands; New Zealand; Singapore; Somaliland; South Africa; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom

    Model Variants


    A41 - Prototype Model Designation

    A41 (20mm) - Prototype fitted with 20mm Polsten cannon in coaxial position.

    A41 (Besa) - Prototype fitted with Besa tank machine gun.

    Centurion Mk 1 - Initial Production Model Designation; 17-pdr main gun

    Centurion Mk 1A - Improved V-12 diesel engine

    Centurion Mk 1B

    Centurion Mk 2 - 17-pdr main gun; improved armor protection; cast turret.

    Centurion Mk 2 ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle; spade at hull rear; winch for 31 ton pull capacity.

    Centurion Mk 3 - 20-pdr main gun; first South African Export (1953) model

    Centurion Mk 4 - Proposed close-support model; fitted with CS 95mm gun.

    Centurion Mk 5 - Upgraded to 105mm L7 main gun; upgraded South African model; 12.7mm machine guns at coaxial and commander positions.

    Centurion Mk 5/1 (FV4011) - Improved Armor Protection

    Centurion Mk 5/2 - 105mm main gun

    Centurion Mk 5A - South African model with updated V-12 engine.

    Centurion Mk 5 AVRE 165 (FV4003) - Armored Vehicle Royal Engineers; fitted with 165mm demolition gun.

    Centurion Mk 5 Bulldozer - Combat Engineer Vehicle with dozer blade.

    Centurion Mk 5 Bridgelayer (FV4002)

    Centurion Mk 6 - Based on Mk 5; upgunned; improved armor.

    Centurion Mk 6/1 - Based on Mk 6; fitted with IR equipment.

    Centurion Mk 6/2 - Based on Mk 6/1; fitted with ranging machine gun.

    Centurion Mk 7 (FV4007) - Revised engine compartment.

    Centurion Mk 7/1 (FV4012) - Improved Armor

    Centurion Mk 7/2 - Upgunned Version

    Centurion Mk 8 - Redesigned barrel base and commander's cupola.

    Centurion Mk 8/1 - Improved Armor

    Centurion Mk 8/2 - Upgunned Version

    Centurion Mk 9 (FV4015) - Based on Mk 7 Model; upgunned and improved armor.

    Centurion Mk 9/1 - IR equipment

    Centurion Mk 9/2 - Fitted with ranging machine gun

    Centurion Mk 10 (FV4017) - Based on the Centurion Mk 8 model; additional armor protection; 105mm L7 main gun.

    Centurion Mk 10/1 - IR equipment

    Centurion Mk 10/2 - Based on the Centurion Mk 10 but with a ranging machine gun.

    Centurion Mk 11 - Based on Mk 6 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.

    Centurion Mk 12 - Based on Mk 9 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.

    Centurion Mk 12 AVRE 105 - Forward Artillery Observation Vehicle modified for AVRE.

    Centurion Mk 13 - Based on Mk 10 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.

    FV4013 Centurion ARV Mk I - Armored Recovery Vehicle

    FV4006 Centurion ARV Mk II - Armored Recovery Vehicle with noticeable superstructure added.

    Centurion AVRE 105 - Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers; combat engineer model fitted with 105mm demolition gun.

    Centurion AVRE 165 - Combat Engineer Model fitted with 165mm demolition gun.

    Centurion AVLB - Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge

    FV4002 Centurion Bridgelayer

    FV4018 Centurion BARV - Beach Armored Recovery Vehicle

    FV4016 Centurion ARK - Armored Ramp Carrier

    FV3802 - Proposed Self-Propelled Gun System; fitted with 25-pdr main gun; never produced.

    FV3805 - Proposed Self-Propelled Gun System; fitted with 5.5" main gun; never produced.

    FV4004 "Conway" - Proposed Self-Propelled Gun System based on the Centurion Mk 3; fitted with 120mm L1 main gun; single production example.

    FV4005 - Proposed Self-Propelled Gun System fitted with 180mm main gun with auto-loader.

    FV4202 40-ton Centurion - Developmental Model

    FV4010 - Heavy Tank Destroyer (anti-tank missile launcher platform)

    Centurion (Low Profile) - Fitted with Teledyne low-profile turret system.

    Centurion (MMWR Target) - Radar Target Tank

    Centurion "Marksman" - Fitted with Marksman anti-aircraft turret system.

    Centurion Ark ( FV4016) - Assault Gap Crossing Equipment Model.

    Tariq - Jordanian Version

    Olifant Semel - South African Model fitted with 810hp engine; appearing in 1974.

    Olifant Mk 1- South African modified version featuring upgraded engine (750hp) and suspension; appearing in 1978.

    Olifant Mk 1A - South African upgraded version with locally produced 105mm L7 main gun; appearing in 1985.

    Olifant Mk 1B - South African rebuild model as an improved Oliphant Mk 1A; improved suspension; additional armor; V-12 950hp diesel engine; digital fire control system with laser rangefinder; appearing in 1991.

    Olifant 2 - South African version featuring 120mm LIW GT-8 rifled or smooth-bore main gun; improved fire control system.

    Sho't Meteor - Fitted with original Meteor V-12 petrol engine; based on Centurion Mk 5 models.

    Sho't - Israeli rebuild models; fitted with Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-2A diesel engine; increased speed and range; 105mm main gun; increased ammunition; covers Kal Alef, Bet, Gimel and Dalet models.

    Nagmashot -Israeli modified Centurion for personnel carrier role.

    Nagmachon -Israeli modified Centurion for personnel carrier role.

    Nakpadon -Israeli modified Centurion for personnel carrier role.

    Puma - Israeli Combat Engineer Vehicle

    Eshel ha-Yarden - Israeli Multiple Rocket Launch System; single prototype example.

    Tempest - Singapore Model developed with Israeli assistance

    Stridsvagn 81 - Swedish Centurion Mk 3; 20-pdr main gun.

    Stridsvagn 101 - Swedish Centurion Mk 10; 105mm main gun.

    Stridsvagn 101R - Swedish Centurion Mk 10 with laser rangefinder.

    Stridsvagn 102 - Swedish Centurion Mk 3 with 105mm main gun.

    Stridsvagn 102R - Swedish Centurion Mk 3 with laser rangefinder.

    Stridsvagn 104 - Swedish Centurion Mk 3 with laser rangefinder and diesel engine.

    Stridsvagn 105 - Prototype Swedish Centurion Mk 3 with revised suspension.

    Stridsvagn 106 - Proposed Swedish Centurion Mk 10 with revised suspension.

    Bargningsbandvagn 81 - Swedish Centurion ARV