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PAGE 9

The only MK 3 Centurion in Australia

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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

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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.

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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.

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                                                        169038 No fitting straps                                                                                                            169034 no fitting straps

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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

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This is an un armoured Glacis plate, note the difference with the above photo

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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

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A "B" Barrel showing the mid barrel flume extractor with the balance weights to balance the fitting of the .50 cal machine gun

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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.

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This is the later setup

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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

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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.

 

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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    

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      Tim's MK3 Besa mount                                                                                                                                    The MG gun mounts in a MK 5 /1 AUST showing the .30 and .50 cal machine gun

 

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  The .30 and .50 cal machineguns installed                                         The escape hatch from inside, as stated its for removing the main gun barrel

 

 

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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.

 

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   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.

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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           

169009        

169010

Bison            

Beaver         

Bufallo

169109         Bedlan          22B

Blitzrieg        22

169041         Baby Doll

169095         Bullwinkle

169094         Angie Baby

169005         Ancient         12B    C/C Peter Branagan

169041         Angelique

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

169031         Bewildered 

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

169078         Ambush

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

169095         Bullwinkle

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

169124         Heartbreaker

169126         The Beast

169129         Armageddon

169080         AHUNKAJUNK                   These four in blue are bin names

169080         HANNABAL

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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