A quick look at some of the changes to the Centurion
First built in the late 1940's
MK1 Centurion with 17 Pdr Main gun and a 20 mm Polsten Cannon
MK2 Centurion with the later turret
United Kingdom Upgraded Centurion. Its had an AEC bridge laying kit fitted
Israeli Centurion---One of their later upgrades--Mine Sweeper
A Swedish Centurion on display in United Kingdom
The latest Centurion upgrade -belonging to the Swedish Army
This photo was given to me by Leigh Jukes a couple of years ago. No information was available and I just passed it on into the album, as a Centurion on fire in Vietnam. I later found out that the Crew Commander was Nev Callis, and not long after obtained the information that it was C/S 31A.
None of this was much help to me as my id on Centurions was by the serial number, where as in Vietnam, they knew their tank by the Call Sign of the Crew Commander, (with the exception of the driver, who climbed into the drivers compartment looking at the serial number, but even he referred the tank by the call sign).
Then in another album I saw another photo of interest, a 100-gallon tank that had taken a friendly fire .50 cal. At a much later time I was informed that both photos were of the same incident. The .50 cal started the fire. They repaired the hole by drilling it out and tapping a thread and fitting a bolt to the hole. But it always weeped a bit and there was always a dust stain around the repair. The hole was centre bottom of the tank below the mounting bolts for the Infantry phone box, as can be seen above.
Front on shot of 169073. They will not allow you to take a photo of it, but if you cross over to the Bandiana museum over the road you can take photos to your hearts content of Centurions. Strange. I was lucky that I had permission to enter the museum and take these photos, otherwise no go.
Now I have been able to find out that 31A was in fact 169073. This Centurion is now holding ground at the 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles Museum at Bandiana. (Not to be confused with the Bandiana Army Museum across the road). So on my next trip up that way I will call in and see if the bolt is still in the tank. Given enough time and effort you can trace a lot of stuff, and its fun doing it. In this case, Kev Hunter was most helpful in filling in the gaps.
Here is a shot of 31B in Vietnam The number can just be made out its 169007
To my knowledge 169007 was 24A in Vietnam and this started me looking. I found that 169007 was 36A in April 1968, when it arrived in Vietnam into Forward Delivery Troop, and feel this was the number she wore from Puckapunyal . She was marked as issued to a troop in Aug 68 till Feb 69 with no call sign listed? She then became 24A from March 69 till Sept 69 when she finished service and returned to Australia. It was my belief that she was 24A for her active service.
The above photo raises the question, was she just 31B for the day or that job or was she used in that troop for some time. My records show 31B as being 169066 from April 1968 to Dec 68?? Or have I read the serial number wrong?? Any help with the info regarding this would be appreciated
Notice the position of the single roadwheel in the centre, this is the only sighting of this position for a roadwheel I have seen. Was it more common??
Today I received contact from Steven Dietmann from the 1/15 RNSWL Museum with information on another Centurion. This is 169026 which belongs to Colin Brown at Rhylstone N.S.W. This was great news and the tank is in good condition and a runner. My thanks to Steven, for without his help I would never of found this one. I contacted Colin Brown and he is sending down photos and information for me, which I will add to the site and in a much larger format into the update CD.
Also today (It's been a good day) Brad Baker from Qld contacted me with the info that he had his Centurion running and he had his first drive in her, stating it was awesome.
I had been contemplating a trip up to NSW for awhile now, but decided today that I will now go up to Dorrigo, where I will meet up with Rusty Dyson and we will meet Brad at the Dorrigo Steam Train Museum for a drive in 169109
and maybe if my luck holds also 169037.
Then start home calling in on Peter Bailey at Gunandah to have a look at169102.
Next I would hope to see Colin Brown and 169026 at Rhylstone.
I also want to check out if the one at Cessnock is still there and id it.
Maybe call into School of Military Engineering at Holsworthy and see 169116
Then maybe the 1/15 R.N.S.W. Lancers Museum and see 169126 if time permits
Then it will be down to Oberon to see 169129 owned by Matt McMahon.
Next is Cowra to see 169092 and also 169043 belonging to Bruce Holt.
Then its down to Gerogery to see how the three scrap Cents are fairing
And last but not least, the museum of 8/13 VMR at Bandiana. and see if the bolt is still in the 100-gallon tank, of 169073
Then home to Kilmore
Anyway that is the plan, which in most cases goes wrong. Mainly caused by the lack of knowledge of how long it will take me to arrive at places, finding accommodation, and fitting in with other people time commitments. Allowing four days to get somewhere in a comfortable time allowance, and then finding it only took two, leaves you in some cases with nothing to do and nowhere to go. This then throws everything out. Also allowing one day to visit a site only to find its raining cats and dogs , and you take some photos and are on your way in half an hour can also be disastrous to a time table. But I start out with the best intentions and do as well as I can. Time will tell.
Well time has indeed told! One of the tanks is not a goer that I wanted to see and the owner does not live on the property in fact he lives in Sydney and would require me to give a exact arrival time, which he offered to drive up and meet me. This was indeed a very kind offer but as I would be lucky to be able to give him the day let alone the hour I had to pass on this one as well. Then I have not heard from another chap and it started to look like a long expensive trip, with the chance of not seeing a lot of what I wished to, so I have decided to fly to Brisbane instead, and make it a three day trip instead of eight to ten days.
A quick phone call to Rusty Dyson, who immediately offered to once again drive to Brisbane and pick me up from the airport supply a bed and what not and then drive me to Dorrigo, a trip of about 5 hours each way, and then the next day drive me back to the airport in Brisbane. These tankies are great guys!
Anyway I leave Melbourne on Friday the 12th November and arrive home the evening of 14th November, hopefully with more info and some pictures for the site.