A41 Centurion Mark 13 Main Battle Tank

Last updated on February 19th, 2019 at 08:34 pm

The A41 Centurion Mark 13 Main Battle Tank was built by the British at the end of World War II. It was used by the Australian Army during the Vietnam War.

The AEC Company in Middlesex began developing the Centurion Mark 13 main battle tank in 1944. Six prototypes were finished before World War II ended, but by the time they were shipped to Germany, there was no more need for them in combat.

Mass production of the A41 Centurion Mark 13, which was taken on by Vickers Limited at Keswick, Leyland Motors at Leyland and the Royal Ordnance Factory at Leeds, continued from 1945 to 1952.  Over 4400 Centurions were built.

The Centurion Mark 13 weighs 510 tons (51,820kg) and has armor that is 5.98 inches (152mm) maximum thickness.

Australian soldiers with A41 Centurion Mark 13 Main Battle Tank in Vietnam
Originally, the Centurion had a 17 pounder gun. This was replaced with a 20 pounder gun and then a 4.13 inch (105mm) L7 series gun.

There are also three 0.3 inch (7.62 mm) machine guns, one is coaxial, one is in the commander’s cupola and one is a ranging machine gun.

The Centurion Mark 13 has smoke dischargers as well.

A four man crew operates the Centurion MBT, with the driver sitting in the front of the tank, the commander and the gunner sitting in the right side of the turret, and the loader sitting in the left side of the turret.

The engine and transmission are located at the rear of the hull, which is made of all welded steal.

The turret is made of cast armor.

Six road wheels are on each side of the tank. The drive sprocket is in the rear and the idler is in the front.  The Centurion uses a Horstmann-type suspension.

There have been 13 basic variants of the Centurion main battle tank.

At first, the Centurion was criticized for being very slow and not being able to travel very far. The earliest models had a range of only 65 miles (104 km).

Various changes were made to different variants of the Centurion MBT to allow it to carry more fuel so that it could go further. These including adding fuel drums to the back of the hull. However, these fuel drums could be damaged when the tank was traveling cross country. In addition, they were a fire hazard.

Version Mark 5 carried an armored trailer with extra fuel.

Eventually, variants that allowed the Centurion MBT to carry enough fuel for it to travel a distance of 118 miles (190 km) were built.

British forces used the Centurion during the Korean War.

The Royal Australian Armoured Corps used the Centurion Mark 13 main battle tank during the Vietnam War.  

The Centurion saw action during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

It was used by the Indian Army during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, and by the Indian Army when Bangladesh was liberated in 1972.

The South African Army used the Centurion during the Civil War in Angola. The South Africans called the Centurion the Olifant.

The Centurion was used by both Israeli and Jordanian forces during the Six Day War and during the Yom Kippur War. In Israel, the Centurion was known as the Sho’t.

British forces used the Centurion during the 1982 Falklands War and during the 1990/1991 Gulf War.

The Centurion has been by the British used against the IRA.

Great Britain

A41 Centurion Mark 13 MBT

Active: 1945
Crew: 4
Weight: 51 tons (51,820kg)
Length: 25ft 7in (7.82m)
Height: 9ft 10in (3.01m)
Width: 11ft 1in (3.39m)
Weapons: Main – 4.13 inch (105mm) L7 series gun, Secondary – 1 x coaxial 0.3 inch (7.62mm) machinegun, 1 x 0.3 inch (7.62mm) machinegun in commander’s cupola, 1x ranging 0.3 inch (7.62mm) machine gun
Armor Maximum – 5.98 in (152mm)
Engine: Rolls Royce Mk IVB 12-cylinder Gasoline, 650hp
Speed: 21 mph (35kph)
Range: 118 miles (190 km)