The British produced 4,423 Centurions. The tank became one of the world’s longest-serving MBTs.

Introduced in 1945, too late to see combat action in World War 2, the Centurion later proved to be one of the most successful tank designs of the post-war era. It was still produced in the 1960s, and saw frontline combat in the 1980s. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles, and these have remained in service to this day. It was a very popular tank with good armour, maneuverability, and armament.

The British developed the Centurion because of the Second World War since their tanks were generally disappointing. The British produced 4,423 Centurions. The tank became one of the world’s longest-serving MBTs. Besides Britain and Canada, 17 other countries fielded the Centurion.

The latter centurion has a weight of about 51 tons, a length of 7.6 m, a width of 3.38 m, and a height of 3 m. Its crew of 4 includes: commander, gunner, loader, and driver.

The new design took the base 5-wheel suspended track system of the original Comet cruiser tank. However, the tracked component of the Comet for the purposes of a new design was further extended to include a sixth road wheel and the original Christie suspension system was dropped in favor of a Horstmann suspension system. An all-new hull was affixed between the track installations that was specifically designed in such a way as to help with ballistics protection against the newer threats of the modern battlefield.

Eventually, the British designed 13 marks of the Centurion as incremental updates were added. One major difference between the various marks was the calibre of the main gun. Centurions started with a 17-pounder (76.2mm) gun; the tanks were then quickly upgraded to the 20-pounder (84mm) and eventually the 105mm. The main gun was upgraded with a stabilizer, which meant it could fire on the move. Upgrades also included increased armour thickness, the addition of infrared sights for night vision, an external fuel tank and a .50 calibre ranging machine gun.

Centurion MBT
Centurion MBT

Centurion first entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950 in support of the UN forces. The Centurion later served on the Indian side in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where it fought against US-supplied M47 and M48 Patton tanks and it served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam.

Israel’s army used Centurions in the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1978 South Lebanon conflict, and the 1982 Lebanon War. Centurions modified as armoured personnel carriers were used in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Lebanese border. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurions, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973. South Africa deployed its Centurions in Angola during the South African Border War.


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