VN065-KC The Aussie Centurion Tank
The Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-Second World War period. First introduced in 1945, it is widely considered to be one of the most successful tank designs of the second half of the 20th Century. The Centurion remained in production well into the 1960’s and took part in combat operations around the world until the 1980’s. During its long service life more than 15 countries utilized it and it saw combat in Korea, the Middle East, Northern India and, of course, Vietnam.
IN AUSTRALIAN SERVICE
By the mid 1960’s almost 150 Centurions were serving with the Australian Army. February 1968 saw the first deployment of Aussie Centurions to South Vietnam in support of Australia’s expanded military commitment there. Over the next four years all three of Australia’s 1st Armoured Regiment’s squadrons would fight in Vietnam, providing close fire support for the Aussie Infantry.
The Centurion’s size, mobility and weaponry provided a powerful tool in both offensive and defensive operations.
ON ACTIVE DUTY
‘Vietnam’ Centurions were modified ‘in country’ to better suit the actual conditions of operating in a lush and tropical environment. The tank’s distinctive side skirt panels were removed to prevent local vegetation and mud building up between the tracks and the mudguards. At the same time an externally-mounted fuel tank was added to the rear end of the Centurion providing an extra 100 Imperial-gallons of fuel.
This particular Centurion, call sign ‘32’ belonged to 2nd Lieut. ‘Mick’ Butler and helped defend ‘Firebase Balmoral’ against repeated North Vietnamese Army assaults between 26-28 May 1968.
Almost 60 different Centurions fought in Vietnam with 42 of them suffering varying degrees of battle damage, only 6 however were total ‘right-offs’, and just two crewmen were actually killed in battle. An amazing safety record and a tribute to the tank’s sturdiness and reliability.
This King & Country ‘Centurion’ is dedicated to all Australians who fought and died in Vietnam and a magnificent main battle tank.