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Centurion Mk. III (1.5:1 scale)

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Valkig_Rakblad avatar Valkig_Rakblad
Level 15 : Journeyman Engineer

The tank's concept was made in 1943 when the Directorate of Tank
Design, under Sir Claude Gibb, was asked to produce a new heavy cruiser
tank for the General Staff under the designation A41, which was
to become the standard of a British "Universal Tank" to replace the
separated "infantry" and "cruiser" tanks currently used. As World War II
progressed and the Germans unveiled their heavier tanks with an 88 mm cannon like the Tiger,
War Office made a revision to their design requirements to counter this
threat. The requirements now include an increased durability and
reliability, with the ability to protect itself against the 88 mm gun
and mines, an agility similar to the Comet tank and with good reverse speed, all while staying under a 40 ton weight.

Responding to these requirements, the department developed a
larger hulls by adapting the suspension on the Comet, lengthening with
another road wheel and spacing between the wheels. The standard Christie
suspension used on the previous cruiser tanks was replaced by the
Horstmann suspension, which uses coil springs on two-wheel bogies on
each side and is proven to be easier to maintain than the Christie
suspension. The hull used a welded and sloped armour with a cast turret
mounting the famous 17-pounder cannon. The speed of the tank would be established by using the Rolls Meteor engine previously used on the Comet and Cromwell.
Despite these changes, the department concluded that the weight
restriction would not allow the tank design to withstand the 88 mm
rounds. The weight restriction was done so the tank would be able to be
carried around in the Mk.I and Mk.II transport trailers, which had a
40-ton load. This restriction was rescinded to allow more freedom in the
tank design, which showed potential to War Ministry. The heavier tank
designs developed had armour equivalent to the heaviest infantry tanks
like the Churchill tank, yet with superior cross-country mobility due to improved suspension and engines.

The tank was given the name Centurion and the first
mock-ups of the design was made by AEC and was presented in May 1944.
After that, 20 pilot models were ordered with a various armament
combinations. After the Centurion Mk.2 was put into service, Royal Ordnance developed the successor to the 17-pounder, the 84 mm 20-pounder.
With this, the Centurion went through another upgrade to mount the
20-pounder. The 20 mm Polsten gun was removed and replaced by a BESA gun
due to its questionable utility. The new upgrade, now the Centurion Mk 3,
also featured an automatic stabilization system that improved firing
accuracy while on the move. The tank was first produced in 1948 and
overtook the previous Mk.1 and Mk.2 in service. However, the 20-pounder
also did not stay in service for long and were replaced by the more
powerful 105 mm L7 gun from Royal Ordnance Factories. All Centurions versions after Mark 5/2 used the L7 gun, including the Centurion Mk 10, which also featured additional armour with the new gun.

The Centurion first saw combat in the Korean war in 1950 in the
British 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars. The Centurion Mk.3 issued to
them had to be cared for in the winter conditions of Korea. Steps such
as parking the tank on straw, starting the engine every half-hour, and
keeping the gear engaged has to be done to keep the tank from becoming
frozen in place. The Centurions made a great impact in the battlefield,
covering the withdrawal of the 29th Brigade. In 1953, the Centurion saw
part in the battle of the Hook in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, repelling
the swarming Chinese infantry. General John O'Daniel from the US 1st
Corps praised the Centurion's mobility throughout the mountain terrains.

After the Korean War, the Centurions saw service again during the
Vietnam War in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps after complaints
were made on the thin armour of their armoured vehicles. The Centurions
landed on 28 February 1968. Headed by Colonel Donald Dunstan, he ordered
the Centurions to reinforce firebases at Coral and Balmoral. The use of
the Centurions by the 1st Australian Task Force helped them in the
Battle of Coral-Balmoral that caused massive casualties in two infantry
regiments among the enemy with no known tank losses. After the battle,
more Centurions landed into Vietnam, with a total of 58 Centurions in
the country at once in the span of three and a half years. In this time
period, 42 suffered damages, two were written off, and two crewmen were
killed in action.

The Centurions also made up the bulk of India's tank forces, to
which they used against Pakistan in the conflicts that occur in 1965 and
1971. In the middle east, the Centurions were supplied to Israel and
Jordan in the 1950s. At the time of the Six-Day war, Israel had 293
Centurion tanks and Jordan had 90 Centurions. Both countries used the
Centurions against each other in the war. Sometime in early 1970s, the
Centurions on both side were upgraded with the 105 mm L7 gun. Both
Jordan and Israel used the Centurion again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War,
where the Israel establish the Centurion's prowess in battle during the
Battle of Golan Heights, where 100 or so Centurions are able to beat
back 500 or more Syrian T-55
and T-62 tanks. While the Centurion still see use in Jordan today, the
Centurions in Israel were retired in the 1990s, only staying as armour
personnel carriers and armour recovery vehicles. In the middle east, the
British used the Centurions again during the 1991 Gulf War against
Iraq, though only as an AVRE in the 32 Armoured Engineer Regiment. Three
were lost in training incidents with no deaths among the crew.

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