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" Angie Baby"

169094

169094 was one of the first Centurions to be sold by Tim Vibert around 1987 and it was sold from the army storage yard at Bandiana. The owner Bob Boatwright asked his mate if he could put a tank on his property for awhile. His mate thinking it was a water tank said ok. He received a surprise when 169094 arrived at his doorstep.

She is a pretty clean tank . This Cent did not serve in Vietnam.

 169094 did not have the 100-gallon tank fitted , but does have the mounting bars.

The tank was in very good condition and Bob also picked up the radios for it. He owns a brand new motor still packaged as well. But as she runs quite well, some smoke but that goes when she has been run for awhile. Bob was working over seas and so she sat there for about 7 years. Which is not good, but hopefully she will fire up well.

Bob has a property quite close and now has a large shed installed which will hold 169094 as well as Bob's Train, yeah he also owns a train! I was speaking with Bob today and he hopes to very soon have the Cent up and running, small things like freeing up the gearshift, releasing the brakes and starting the motor. But then she will move into his shed, where work to restore her will begin in earnest.

She appears to have all the scopes fitted, and Bob is lucky indeed that they are still there! 

I first found Angie baby about two years ago after two trips to the area, but at that time the property owner was not available. I was able to take some photos but did not attempt to climb onto the hull. Bob has offered to let me know when the work is started and I will go up again with the trusty old camera.

 

Lets have a look at another old tank

I know its not a Cent but its old and nice

Brad Baker was invited up to see a Grant tank that was putting on a show for the day. Brad as you know owns 169109 and 169120. He was told of the whereabouts' of another Centurion and followed it up. Alas no Cent but a very nice Grant. This belongs to Rod Keyes. Below are some pics of the day and other items of interest that were also on the property.

Rods Grant nice and very clean looking

 

She looks clean and straight from every angle

Would be a cow to enter and exit

All kids love tanks even the little ones!!

It appears the general public finds an interest in them as well

 

The radial motor has an easy access setup.

An immaculate interior well set out.

 

A Mitilda which is next in line for restoration              Another Grant that may become a Gate Guard

 

A few spares around the place are always handy.

 

She will need a bit of tender loving care- but she appears to be all there.

Rod also has a missile Launcher / Armoured car and most of the parts for a 25 pdr. howitzer. Then in the shed he has a series 11 Landrover, a huge searchlight on trailer, and two 12" battleship projectiles about a metre high. Rod lives on the Sunshine Coast. 

All the above photos were courtesy of Brad Baker Qld.

 

 

THE ATOMIC TANK

When I first came to Puckapunyal in 1955 I can remember seeing the Atomic Tank or 169041, sitting beside the hangers at the School of Armour. There are a few stories of just where she was placed and they are many and varied. My memory was that we walked up through the lines (collection of Nissan huts) to the showers at the top of 1st Armoured Regiment lines. Then went left in a south - western direction passing the Armoured School hangers. Straight ahead were the Regiment Hangers. This has now of course all changed. As we walked past the Armoured School Hangers 169041 was sitting on our left. I cannot remember if the turret was intact but think it was! Some say it was just sitting there, others say it was in a fenced off yard. I cannot remember but think it was in a yard. Don Weedon said that many people used to sit on her when they had their lunch. Myself I never went near it thank God. Now read the article below

Bob Thompson sent me an article from the Geelong paper which I have placed below.

The Centurion Tank concerned was 169041 (The Atomic Tank).

Now Holding Ground at Palmerston N.T

 

Geelong Advertiser August. 199O

A lethal Maralinga left-over

By Km Gregson

A CENTURION tank exposed to nuclear tests at Maralinga, was later used by the Australian Army for driver training, an ex - serviceman claimed yesterday.

Mr. Bob Thompson, of Geelong, also claimed parts from the tank were transferred to other army equipment, and some were even sent to the Commonwealth aircraft factory in Sydney. Mr. Thompson, who had worked on the tank after the Maralinga tests of the 1950s and'60s, said that of the 16 soldiers in his regiment to be in contact with the tank, l2 had died of cancer.

And he feared other soldiers might also be suffering from cancer after being exposed to the tank, which he described as radioactive.

A Geelong secondary school teacher, Mr. Thompson has been diagnosed as suffering prostate cancer. But is in remission.

The 59-year-old former Warrant Officer Class One is not seeking compensation, but believes other ex-servicemen or their wives could seek some form of reparation.” It is just as easy to say nothing than say something. There are some men and women out there who may not realise they were exposed to radiation and could be suffering from cancer." he said.

A member of the First Armoured Regiment Light Aid Detachment at Puckapunyal during the joint Australian and British test’s, Mr. Thompson claimed guns, trucks and tanks were positioned near the centre of the blast area in outback South Australia to determine the effects from the nuclear explosion.

Former Warrant Officer Bob Thompson says that of the 16 soldiers that were in contact with the tank, only four are still alive. The others died from cancer- His cancer is in remission"

The Centurion Tank was later used for training manoeuvres, was placed close to the center of the explosion, he said. The tank was delivered back to Puckapunyal and converted to a repair vehicle for the Army Ranges Its turret was removed to make way for a three-ton canopy, and then remained idle in a yard at Puckapunyal. On a hot day soldiers, would lie on the turret, Mr. Thompson said. Many who sat on the turret contacted severe boils on their backs and legs. Mr. Thompson has also suffered the same fate.

Warnings from the CSIRO not to touch the tank did not come with an explanation of the dangers. “We did not leave the tank alone, because we needed it for parts. Parts for Centurion Tanks were scarce so Mr. Thompson removed the gearbox and fitted it to another vehicle.  The turret was stripped of its parts for distribution to other army equipment, and the tanks engine was overhauled and sent to the Commonwealth Aircraft factory in Sydney. “These parts were surely exposed to radiation and, unknowingly, we exposed others to it,” Mr. Thompson said. Mr. Thompson only linked the deaths to the tank after a recent Vietnam veterans Reunion in Melbourne. “I was asking questions about the fellows I worked with at Puckapunyal, and was told many of them had died. I worked it out that there were only four of us left,” he said.

The South Australian Government has called for urgent action by the Australian and British Governments, to remove the nuclear pollution from the test sites. It is six years since a Royal Commission revealed that a joint British and Australian test program had left the Maralinga area contaminated by millions of dispensed plutonium particles. The particles had lodged in the soil and dust, fused to metal fragments scattered about the surface and contaminated large qualities of debris in nuclear waste dumps.

Plutonium – lodged in the body through inhalation, ingestion or an open wound – is the deadliest natural substance on earth. Within the 400 square kilometre restricted access nuclear test zone, it has been estimated that 50 square kilometres was directly affected by the seven bombs and more than 700 smaller tests. About two kilometres of the test area, 800 kilometre's northwest of Adelaide, remains fenced off, due to the danger posed by high levels of radioactivity.

Asked if he felt guilty about possibly exposing others to radiation, Mr. Thompson said he did not feel anything. “We were never told of the dangers of the tank or of the nuclear tests. We never heard of the word radiation in the 1950’s,” he said.

The test which involved the Centurion took place at Emu Plains but everyone refers to it as Maralinga.