The only MK 3 Centurion in Australia
This is one of Tim Vibert's own personal Centurions
169136 It was one of the Hong Kong Centurions purchased by the Australian Army but never modified or used in anyway,
and is still in the Hong Kong paintwork. Tim started restoration in 1991 and is now working on her again. So far is looking great.
It has only done 300 miles since a major rebuild in the United Kingdom in 1957. It was a mate to 169133 which had a rebuild on the same date.
At this point I will again layout the difference between the MK3 - MK5 - and the MK5 /1 AUST.
All the other Centurions in the Australian Army were converted to MK 5's
This consisted of changing the Machine gun from a Besa to a Browning .30 cal. Contrary to popular belief this is the only modification necessary to convert to a MK 5
MK 5 Mantlet with only the .30 cal Browning Machine gun fitting The mantlet with the .30 - .50 machine gun drillings --- This is one of the modifications for a MK 5 /1 AUST
There were quite a few other modifications with mainly the Vietnam tanks being given the complete full modifications. But some of the local tanks had various mod's carried out but not all items were fitted.
The 100 gallon Aux. Fuel tank was one such item. Because they were in short supply they were fitted to only the Vietnam tanks and I believe one went over without the tank and it was fitted in Vietnam. The local tanks had the fitting straps installed and some had the tanks fitted as they became available. But many never received the Aux. Tank and two that I know of never even managed to obtain the fitting straps, these being 169034 and 169038.
169038 No fitting straps 169034 no fitting straps
Then there was the up armour of the Glacis plate. In the photo above just in front of the drivers hatch you can see a sloping section that has been cut away.
This was to give the driver better vision in front of the tank when driving, " closed down."
Also note the build up of armour around the towing bollards, this shows the thickness of the added armour
This is an un armoured Glacis plate, note the difference with the above photo
Another shot of the up armoured Glacis plate. The light and light protector bracket were fitted after Vietnam
All the tanks came with an "A" Barrel, but these were changed to a "B" barrel as the barrels were replaced. All the Vietnam tanks had a "B" barrel.
But again there are still a lot of the Australian centurions with "A" Barrels today, again not all got this modification
A "B" Barrel showing the mid barrel flume extractor with the balance weights to balance the fitting of the .50 cal machine gun
The "A" barrel has a counter weight on the end of the barrel
There were many other modifications, IR Light, IR Sights and IR Light mounting bracket, upgraded radio's and internal fittings for the .30 and .50 cal machine guns.
There were also upgraded radios installed.
This is the later setup
This shows the older sets that are now installed in Tim's tank, 169136
There were also many small mod's that were only fitted in a couple of tanks for testing. 169069 had a type of navigating system, this was tried on the Pucka Range and Rusty Dyson said it was in this tank in Puckapunyal. Another mod was a magneto cutout / test unit fitted in most but not all Centurions
Note the locking wire in the first photo. They were wired in place so as not to be used by mistake. Also note the first and second ones are in a horizontal position where as the third photo shows it in the vertical position.
You will note that on the right hand side of pic 2 and pic 3, there is a round plate that has been welded over a hole. The hole used to have a flick switch with a protruding toggle. Flicking this cut the low tension earth to the magneto's stopping the motor immediately. But the trouble was that it kept being knocked by the drivers and so it was removed. Everyone I have asked about this toggle switch say they have never seen one, many flatly stating it did not exist. But Rusty Dyson first mentioned it to me as he used it in Vietnam in an incident where the motor over heated. In time when I found his tank I was able to confirm its existence. Then when we had trouble with 169098 stopping for no reason, and all checks found nothing wrong, the driver said, "I think I may have knocked this switch"! I had a quick look, saw the toggle switch and flicked it up. The tank then started immediately. But again I have only ever seen two, why were these two not changed like all the others?
The manual shows this as an overheating warning. The crew commander can instruct the driver to over ride it by breaking the wire and turning the switch and the light will still glow but the tank can again be started and driven (Until it most likely seized the motor), The flick switch that is not shown here is connected directly to the low tension earth on the magneto's and stops the tank immediately. As the ignition switch and the master switch also does this I cannot see the point of the toggle / flick switch and can see why it was removed in most of the tanks ---- but not all!
As these three photos above were taken in tanks that were not running I am not all that sure of the correct position, my guess would be horizontal as the one in pic 1, has the wire fitted. the pic 3 one has what appears a different light and a left to right flick switch. I will drive down to Werribee to check out 169098 and take a photo of its position, in the running mode.
Picture 1: Old MK3 turret with the rear "Escape hatch". But I doubt anyone ever escaped from there. In fact it was used to withdraw the main gun barrel out through the rear of the turret unlike the 20 pounder which came out from the front of the turret mantlet.
Picture 2: shows the bomb thrower that was later removed from the turret
Picture 3 shows the internal view of the bomb thrower this shot was taken inside 169040 last year. Again not all had the item removed
Tim's MK3 Besa mount The MG gun mounts in a MK 5 /1 AUST showing the .30 and .50 cal machine gun
The .30 and .50 cal machineguns installed The escape hatch from inside, as stated its for removing the main gun barrel
Sliding (ready) bins holding four ready rounds
The wine rack which was not all that hard to access, but often the turret had to be traversed. Looking down into Tim's operators hatch. Note angled hatch and Mortar throw
This shot above also shows the Besa machine gun mount in the MK 3 The hatch pads are as new, like everything in this tank A Beautiful Job.
The under floor storage for the 20 pounder ammo, hard to access, hard to access, and the turret again had to be traversed back and forth.
But now back to Tim's Hong Kong Tank, which had not been touched in any way since arriving from Hong Kong and is the only genuine MK 3 in Australia today.
I will arrange with Tim to call in one day and take some more photos of this and Tim's other Tanks.
This list contains some Tank and Barrel names, which is just the tip of the iceberg.
B Sqn 1950’s
169006 Bear C/S 3A Sgt. Sailor Howell C C, Trevor Bence Driver, Spider Webb operator. (Sexy) Rex Harrison Gunner, won the Paratus Cup under Lt. A D Wells
169109 Bedlan 22B
169041 Baby Doll
169094 Angie Baby
169005 Ancient 12B C/C Peter Branagan
169129 Armageddon Civilian Names
169005 Armageddon Civilian Names
1952, 1 Tp B Sqn
169029 Tp Ldr 2nd Lt Selbie (Scabby) Adams, BASHER.
169028 Tp Sgt Bill Reynolds, BREAKER.
169037 Tp 2nd Sgt, Sgt Bill Greig, BUSTER.
169041 Tp Cpl, Cpl Bill (W.C.) Jones BOMBER
B Sqn 60's
4 Tp had Bandit, Buccaneer & Bushranger, as Ldr, Alpha & Bravo
Four Troop B Sqn in 1969
4 Troop were involved in the Battle of Binh Ba
24 Been Seen and Done
24A - Buku Boom Boom (1 & 11) 169007 C/C Sgt Jock Browning, Tpr. Bob Ferrari operator, Tpr. Java Jones Tpr.
24B – Uptight 169104 Crew were C/C Cpl Graham Munsell , Driver Ken Wilson, who was replaced by Barry Hodges, Gunner was Stew Clements and the Operator was Laurie Sullivan
24C 169041 Sweet Fanny This was the Atomic Tank
The other tanks involved at Binh Ba were a composite Troop
C/S 21 169049
C/S 22 169110
C/S 21C 169096
C/S 22B 169064
???? Charlotte 1 C Sqn. Vietnam
???? Charlotte 11
???? Colonel Clink 1
???? Colonel Clink 11
???? Chuckles 11 23C
???? Crater Critter
C/S 2 Cromwell
169076 Cannibal IV C/S 32A Cpl Mick Rainey
169091 Castrater 2A ????
???? Harlot Harlot
169122 Costa-Bower C/S 38B ARV C. C. Sgt P. De Jong. RAEME ARV
169076 Contractor ????? and 169
???? Canned Heat C/S 2A
169007 Buku Boom Boom 1 C/S 24A
169067 Buku Boom Boom 11 C/S 24A
169013 The Jinx C/S 21B
169029 Sancho Panzer C/S 1
169??? One Two C/S 1C
169030 Clitoris Pubis / Lolita C/S 4C
169030 Iron Outlaw C/s 4B
169037 D.K’s Death Dealer
169039 Pussy Eater C/S3C
169041 Sweet Fanny C/S 24C
169041 Baby Doll
169064 Phuoc Me C/S2A
169067 Up Tight Out of Sight C/S 4A
169068 Warlord C/S 4
169072 Birth Controller 11 C/S 22C
169073 C/S 31A – Cong Hater C/S 31A
169076 The Born loser C/S 33B & 32A Sgt. Mick Rainey
169077 C/S 24 - Been Seen and Done
169091 The Castrator C/S 2A
169093 Beats Walking
169096 Cong Eater C/S 31C
169101 Burcel Bangers
169103 Raqhels Belch C/S 4A
169104 Claymore Sgt. John Ward
169108 The Very Diabolical C/S 4C
169108 Birth Controller C/S 2A
169109 The Bitch
169117 Blood Sweat and Tears
169126 The Beast
169080 AHUNKAJUNK These four in blue are bin names
Most barrels were repainted on arrival back to Australia. Also barrels were changed when their service time had expired. Hence most names are no longer in existence