FV4017 Tank Medium, Centurion Mark 3 (E1984.235)
Vickers Armstrongs Ltd.
Royal Ordnance Factories, United Kingdom
Exhibit was originally a Mark 2, one of the first 400 Centurions made. It was converted to a Mark 3 and ended service as a Mark 5. The tank was then kept at Vehicle Depot, Ludgershall, where it deteriorated badly. It was restored to Mark 3 standard and sectionised at R.O.F. Barnbow, as part of an apprentice training programme.
Precise Name: FV4007, Tank, Medium Centurion Mark 3
This exhibit is a Centurion Mark 3. It is displayed in an unusual way, sectioned so that its’ interior and layout is easily seen. The Tank Museum has a second Centurion Mark 3 that is displayed in the markings of a tank that fought in Korea in 1953, (See E1970.151). Introduced in 1945 variants of the Centurion served with the British armed forces for 58 years: in 2003 two Centurion Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicles (BARV) were used by The Royal Marines in the Iraq War. (The early history of the Centurion is described in E1951.34 Tank, Medium Mark I).
The British produced the gun tank in 13 different versions. The main armament was repeatedly upgraded: the 17 pdr (76mm calibre) of the Marks I and 2 was supplanted by the 20pdr (83.4mm calibre) in the Mark 3, which was in turn replaced by the excellent L7 105mm gun in the Mark 8/2.
The Centurion was eventually superseded in the British Army as a gun tank in the mid 1960s by the Chieftain Main Battle Tank (See E1993.61.3 FV4201, Main Battle Tank Chieftain Mark 10). Eventually 4,423 Centurions were built; approximately 2,500 of which were exported to 17 countries
The Centurion Mark 3 entered service in 1947 and was the most produced Centurion variant; 2833 were built between 1947 and 1956. The main feature of the Mark 3 was the new 20pdr tank gun of 83.4mm calibre and its associated three axis stabiliser which allowed the gun to be fired accurately while the tank was moving.
This exhibit was produced as a Centurion Mark 2 and was originally fitted with the 17pdr (76mm) tank gun. It was then converted into a Mark 3 and eventually converted once more into a Mark 5. Many Centurions were rebuilt into later versions several times during their lifetime, for example Mark 2 into Mark 3 and Mark 3 into Mark 5.
This particular tank was withdrawn from service with the British Army as a Mark 5 and stored. During storage its’ condition gradually deteriorated. As part of an apprentice training programme between 1982 and 1984 at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Leeds the tank was restored as a Mark 3 and cut into two so that the interior could be displayed. Thought to be unique in the U.K., it is shown by The Tank Museum in this form, supported by an audio visual display.
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0