Make your own free website on



Page 12

Centurion Engine Covers

Some more information on how the engine covers / transmission covers are opened / held open

I am afraid these thing are beginning to haunt me --much like when I had to raise and lower the blasted thing so many times

This is 169005 owned by LT.Col. Peter Jarratt (retd)

The covers are all up The two radiators are in the upright position-- the transmission covers have been opened and then laid back on the radiators when they were raised, the transmission covers are the ones with the air deflection fins fitted.. Then the solid engine covers have also been opened and laid back onto the transmission covers. I this position both engine and transmission can be serviced or removed .

In this shot, the engine covers only have been opened and laid fully back onto the transmission covers, that are still in the closed position.

The radiator in the upright position the swivel connectors on the radiator can be seen on the bottom of the radiator. The Radiator Header Tank is left bottom with the filler cap removed

This shot of the radiator header tank shows a pretty simple container with an inlet and outlet and a sender unit fitted at either end. This is where the simple bit finishes, inside is a maze of piping and fittings that would amaze you. I could never imagine anyone rebuilding one of these. To remake one would require an engineer and he would need complete drawings. In fact if your header tank stuffs up you are in big trouble. A replacement (Ha Ha Ha) is just about impossible to locate, and if you do, it is indeed very costly to purchase, I am talking many hundreds of dollars.

 I hope this clears up any questions. I do realize that many readers have never been in contact with a Centurion MBT, so many descriptions would be hard to understand---Please keep asking, I am only to happy to help where I can.

Another question I have received is what protection does the Crew Commander have when in action and using the flex .30 machine gun, as he would be quite exposed. The answer is very little! At the best his head and shoulders would be exposed to enemy fire. But one guy told me that it took a pretty game enemy to stand up in front of a Centurion loaded with either Canister or H.E. But then there were a lot of game guys amongst the enemy, and I for one would not have been to impressed with being a Crew Commander. But there was an item that would allow the flex .30 to be fired from some sort of safety, and this was an extension to the machine gun.

This fitting could be attached to the .30 cal in either a left or right hand combination, and it allowed the Crew Commander to fire it from inside the Turret using the Crew Commanders Binos to view. The button at the bottom was the firing button and the round knob mid right was the means of locking the fitting to the gun. The handle sticking out to the left could be swiveled to the other side, it was not a firm fitting. I believe the extension arm  was not used all that much.

This is the position on the Cupola ring where the base mount for the .30 cal flex is attached--two bolts either side.

This is the base mount, you can see the barrel rest fitted on one side. This can be upright to rest the barrel in when not i use and also dropped down flat when not required

This part is the base of the gun mount that drops into the base mount shown above

The gun mount with the liner holder on the left of the picture

The gun mount looking down on the top-liner holder is top right--the clip top center holds the extension firing arm when not in use.

John Langley removes the .30 cal flex from one of his Centurions, you can see the extension arm folded back out of use at Johns right arm


169039 - Note the towing plate - this would allow a better towing position when towing backwards as against a left or right connection. Also of note are the rubber guard extensions. The Centurion carried large amounts of dirt from the rear of the tracks to the front where it threw it quite a distance in front of the tank. If the wind was blowing from the front or either side  (which it managed to do on most occasions) the driver was showered with fine dust for most of the day, hence the need for goggles. This did in fact mean the drivers body and clothing absorbed dust all day long (or mud) at the end of a days driving he was quite a mess and would not have been invited home for dinner. There were a few different setups tried and most metal ones worked but were prone to damage. The ones on 169039 are rubber and I would imagine they could catch in the tracks in reverse, but they would sure make the drivers job a lot more comfortable! I believe this particular tank was used by Vince Ryan to move the tanks around on his property, and so speed would not have been a worry.

This shows the extension fitted to the Hong Kong Tanks that the Australian Army purchased. The army did not use these extensions, in fact in Vietnam they would not have lasted a day. But I wish we had their use on the Puckapunyal Range.

Do you need some spare parts for a Centurion

Well there are still some available both in Australia and also the United Kingdom, but believe you me they cost!

Tim Vibert at Wangaratta has quite a collection of items

Need any suspension stations?

Front track guard extensions

Want a barrel or a 100 gallon tank--this fuel tank was 169041 and is now on 169040

Need some new final drive sprockets?

Another point that has been brought up more than once

Many people are of the opinion that to upgrade to MK 5 you need either a .50 cal conversion, the up-Armoured glacis plate, the IR setup and the 100 gallon fuel tank, or the Flex .30. This opinion is very wide spread and I myself agreed with it for a long time. But in actual fact all that had to be done to upgrade from Mk 3 (Mk 4 did not enter service) to Mk 5 was replace the Besa machine gun with the Browning .30 cal machine gun. The other upgrades were the up Armoured glacis plate to make it Mk 5 /1. The other items made it a Mk 5/1 Aust.


Old Tracks

Today I was looking through my old copies of the 1st Armoured Regiments magazine called Tracks 

This copy was August 1955 The first copy printed.

I came across a section describing the crews and so have copied it here





The Centurion Tanks in general were not a highly prized item outside the Armoured Regiment. 

We were in the main called the Koala Bears---

Not to be laughed at –shot at—or sent overseas

This situation changed in time in Vietnam

 It was the Infantry’s way to tread carefully, quietly and slowly, and this was the reason that our troops succeeded in what they undertook and also saved many lives, so it was understandable that they did not feel that 56 tons of lumbering, squeaking, growling Centurion MBT in their midst would be all that appreciated.

This was to change and it happened at the Battle at Fire Support Base Coral.

I quote in part from a report from Major A.W. Hammett

Who was the OC D Coy 1 RAR

“ I found a certain degree of tension and apprehension amongst the troops as they were far from convinced that the tanks would serve their best interest as ‘they would draw the crabs’ and give away surprise.

Major Hammett later recorded in the same report

I did not have a tank liaison officer moving with the Company H.Q. as firstly we had excellent communications with the tanks, and secondly Lt. McCormack assured me with a much pained expression, that none of his fellows really liked walking, and that he could not spare anyone anyway!

Even from my position about 50 metres ahead, had I not known, I would not have had any ideas as to how many tanks there were, which way they were going, and how far they were away. The forward section reported that the tanks did not affect their hearing, nor did they present any other problems.

After the action, that is much too long and detailed for here, Major Hammett commented,

The feeling of elation amongst the company as they returned was indescribable and unforgettable. They, as did the tank crews, ‘felt 10 feet tall’ and the infantrymen of D Coy were completely unstinting in their praise for the excellent job done by the tanks and their crews. Not one of our own troops received a scratch during the three and a half hour battle and for this we thank the tanks


The above extract was taken with thanks from a report in IRONSIDES 1994 

The magazine of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps