Note the wood between the road wheels - They had to cut the seized handbrake cables to move her and so had no brakes to stop her rolling, hence the wooden block!
The main idea behind
this C.D. was to locate and photograph as many surviving Centurions as it was
possible to find.
It was my hope that I
could see around 15 – 20, and as this was to be for my own use only, there was
not much thought put into it, just a photo and a bit of text below it stating
anything of interest or history of each Centurion I found.
was soon apparent that I was going to uncover more than my original estimate. I
also started to notice differences in the modifications, and configurations that
I was finding. This started an interest to know more, and the thought occurred
that maybe others would be interested in these items of interest as well, and
the whole agenda started to snowball.
is what started it all. This was
the Centurion I drove back in the early 50’s and I had a desire to see it
are two pages from a UK magazine The left one is 169007 named "Buka Boom Boom" and
carrying the call sign 22A
But as the tank above has the Serial No 169007 it was in fact24A
The name on 169007
The name on 169067
It all started at Puckapunyal.
As you enter Puckapunyal
AT THE ENTRANCE TO PUCKAPUNYAL
By this time I
was all fired up and my desire was two fold. To get inside a centurion with my
camera and to sit in the drivers seat again. This, after a lot of knock backs
from just about everyone, was finally achieved with the kind assistance of the
Vietnam Veterans Museum at San Remo Victoria. And a lasting friendship started
with both the Museum and many many Veterans.
It very quickly
became apparent that I was going to drive a Cent again before I passed away.
Just how this was to be achieved I had no idea. Never in my wildest dreams did I
imagine I would be driving most of the running Centurions in Australia over the
next three years.
But I am
getting ahead of myself. I quickly worked out that I needed a Centurion that was
running and located somewhere that there was enough room to have a decent drive,
although 100 yards would have been ok with me.
There are ten in the group of "Old Smokies" they have now gone to the scrap metal yards and been cut up
I was hoping
that this would quieten down my burning desire but instead it inflamed it
169078 The Dozer
and a Bridge Layer and an ARV
Following up a lead we called into Wangaratta on the way home and there found three more. A Bridge Layer, a Dozer and an ARV above. These three have now been moved to a property outside Wangaratta.
Dorrigo Steam and Railway Museum.
This Centurion was brought at auction for $33,000. The purchaser was the Dorrigo Steam and Railway Museum.
It was a runner and is started and moved regularly, which will no doubt keep it in better condition than a lot I have encountered. They own a flat car that was used to transport the Centurions around the country and also to the ship for transport to Vietnam. This Cent served in Vietnam on two separate tours, in April 1968 as C/S 32A. It also was C/S 22C in March 1969 and C/S 22b in April 1969
appears to be out of service from May 69 till Oct 70. In Nov 70 it appeared as
Forward Delivery And in Jan 71 till Sept 71 it has C/S 3.
cannot find any damage report on it, so it may have returned to Australia for a
Base Overhaul, and then returned to SVN
I spoke with the Crew Commander Sgt. Len Allen. Len now lives just up the road from me at Broadford. He told me of the action when on the way to Balmoral. They were fired on and replied with Canister. The result credited 169037 with the first confirmed kill for a tank since WW2. The search found the remains of two VC bodies. It was in May 1968 that 169037 was commanded by Sgt. Len Allen with the call sign 32Alpha and they were en route to FSB Balmoral when they achieved the first confirmed enemy KIA by Australian Tanks since the Second World War.
historical fact should be noted.
believe it had a Kookaburra painted on the barrel with a VC held by his hair in
Dorrigo Steam and Railway Museum I believe have the largest collection of
railway equipment in the world. They plan to build a seventy - mile rail track
for tourist train rides
idea on the Centurion was to have it static on a flat car, but I now believe
that it will give displays of driving onto and off the flatcar, which should
look quite spectacular. If you are in the Area it will be well worth a look,
when it opens. I might add that when I requested some photos, (Due to the
distance) they offered to supply film, take photos, have them developed and
posted to me. I rang back to offer money for costs and they refused to accept
any, really nice people.
This was about 2002,I was told in 2005 that it will be fully restored
This was about 2002,I was told in 2005 that it will be fully restored
I wanted to know why a Steam Train Museum would buy a Centurion MBT and how they would go about it. Also how they did it. I asked for a report on these questions and they were most helpful in replying to me with five pages which I will list here fully, makes great reading and they raised $33,000 in a couple of weeks!
9 - 2110(1 kJ J
6th November, 2000 Dear Members and Associates,
many years our Museum has actively pursued the preservation of Freight Wagons.
As opportunities arise; we have also collected together a wide range of items to
be "carried" on those wagons in the Museum display. A few examples
being 6 Holden cars for the car carrier, wooden beer kegs in an "S"
truck, a steam roller on the well wagon, an old road grader for a flat wagon,
etc. These sort of educational and interesting displays are what will make our
Museum a "must see" attraction.
display that we have always been very keen to establish is the awesome sight of
a 52 tonne Centurion Army Tank on a Railway Flat Wagon. We tried to secure a
purpose built TE Flat Wagon, but alas they are gone. However, a very good
substitute is the recently purchased BME Flat Wagon. We have photographic proof
that Centurions were carried on BME wagons, so it is authentic to do so.
Centurions were used by the Australian Army in the Vietnam War and were brought
to and from the docks in Sydney by rail, for shipment to and from Vietnam. There
are photographs of them being lifted off the railway wagons straight onto the
at long last included an appropriate wagon in our collection; the obvious next
step is to obtain a Centurion Tank. We recently thought that we had secured one,
but we couldn't raise the necessary funds quickly enough and it slipped through
our fingers. We are now concerned that it is becoming increasingly difficult to
purchase a Centurion and every time one is sold; the price increases.
is an Auction of Military vehicles to be held in the middle of this month; only
2 weeks away, at which 2 Centurion Tanks (both in working order) are to be
auctioned. One of the tanks to be auctioned was used in Vietnam and actually has
some claim to fame in a battle. If we are to secure one for our display; we need
to be at this auction with no less than $25,000 in our pocket to offer a
realistic challenge to other collectors. The only way in which we can raise this
sort of funding in a few days, is for numerous Members to provide those funds on
an Interest Free Loan basis.
am therefore Appealing to Members who can visualise the massive bulk of a
Centurion Tank in full military colours sitting on our BME Flat Wagon, or
perhaps being driven on and off the flat wagon in public displays and are
inspired by the thought; to get behind this Appeal. The Appeal is off to a slow
start, but 4 Members have so far committed $3,500; a long way to go yet.
cannot emphasise strongly enough that this requires a big effort from a lot of
people; there is no point going to the auction at all unless we have raised
about $25,000. It is not really a big ask; $1000 each loaned by 25 Members, or 5
Members loaning $5.000 each, or dare 1 ,,,-ay 2 at $10.000, BUT the
need is extremely urgent ! As soon as you get this Newsletter; I need your
telephone call committing yourself to loaning (or Donating) an amount, closely
followed by a cheque in the mail.
you can help to provide funds for the Tank and we do not buy one at the auction;
your loans or donations will be refunded immediately.
IO - 2000 KJ:KJ
241h November, 2000
Members and Associates,
I suppose those of you who were inspired by the prospect of having the awesome
sight of a Centurion Tank sitting on an appropriate railway flat wagon in our
future museum display, are eager to find out if we own one. The great news is
that we did raise sufficient funds and we were successful in purchasing a Mark 5
Centurion Main Battle Tank (their full title).
I am greatly inspired by the purchase of the Tank and I know that many other
Members share that enthusiasm. The Tank will provide us with another major
drawcard in the museum display, especially because this particular machine has
seen active service with the Australian Army in Vietnam, indeed being involved
in battles of some note. It was carried to and from the docks in Sydney en route
to and from Vietnam on Railway Flat Wagons and it's inclusion in our display is
Terry Boardman has also pointed out that Centurions were moved by rail on
numerous other occasions. One example being; from military sidings at Seymour
(Victoria) to Rydalmere in Sydney and vice versa, for use by the Royal N.S.W.
Lancers. Another being from Seymour to Clapham in Queensland and return for
military exercises at Tin Can Bay, the route being via Cootamundra, Parker,
Binnaway, The Gap crossover at FVerris Creek, Telarah triangle near Newcastle
and up the North Coast line. The moves to and from Rydalmere only comprised one,
two or three tanks at a time, but the Tin Can Bay moves involved a complete
squadron and used every flat wagon the N.S.W. Railways had, that could carry
the 52 tonnes which the tanks weighed.
Centurions are l l feet wide and when they were carried on railway flat wagons
they were well outside the normal loading gauge. They had to be centrally
positioned on the flat wagons to a tolerance of half an inch, the tracks hung
over the side of the wagons by nearly a foot each side. The trains conveying the
Tanks were "Out Of Gauge" trains and travelled very slowly under
"Single Line Out Of Gauge" conditions, with frequent stops to check
the chains securing them to the wagons. The Tanks were always accompanied by
representatives of the Loading Superintendent and Army personel.
safety reasons, the Tanks were usually carried with the barrels of the guns
pointed towards the rear of the train and elaborate routing was arranged to
avoid reversing the train. This involved the use of seldom used triangles and
The Gap crossover near Went Creek.
have been trying to secure both a Centurion and a wagon that could carry it, for
over 20 years so that our Museum can mount what will undoubtedly be a "must
see" for both railway and military enthusiasts, historians, school groups
and the general public. This sort of display within our Museum will earn us the
reputation World wide as being a place that must be visited. This of course will
convert into healthy financial income from public admissions to the display,
justifying the expense many times over. It is very hard to make profits from
train operations because the overheads are so high, but because we own our site
and the collection; overheads for the Museum display are minimal and the income
from admissions is therefore almost all profit. Displays such as the Centurion
on a wagon guarantee the patronage needed.
response to my urgent appeal for Interest Free Loan funds (or donations) to
enable us to go to the
auction with a realistic amount to spend, was inspirational. We raised $26,300
prior to the auction, mostly in Interest Free Loans, in a week ! Thankyou to
everyone for this magnificent support.
very long story, condensed for the purposes of avoiding boredom and using too
much space reads as follows. The auction was held on Saturday the 1 8th of
November commencing at I1 am. at Lue, just South of Mudgee, N.S.W. and was
precipitated by the closure of a military museum. There were approximately 500
lots in the auction, mostly small items, many of them not military related (land
rover parts, farm machinery, old cars, etc_).
main items of interest were 2 Centurion Tanks and as with all auctions with such
unusual, large, historic items; there were far more "sticky beaks"
than buyers present, but despite the incessant rain, the resultant muddy
quagmire and an unbelievable traffic jam of many bogged vehicles, the attendance
was large; perhaps 300 people.
Centurions were Lots 85 and 86. Lot 85 was the one that we preferred because it
was the one that had been purchased new by the Australian Army and had seen
active service in Vietnam. Lot 86 was a Mark 3 Centurion, purchased second hand
from Hong Kong by the- Australian Army, but not having been to Vietnam and not
having fired a shot in anger; had no additional historic value. Our Museum would
have settled for the second Lot (the Mark 3) but as luck had it; the one that we
preferred was auctioned first, so that's the one we concentrated on.
is a great thing (if only we could buy it at the hardware store). Because our
preferred Tank was auctioned first, I thought that was a good thing, because if
we missed out on the one we really wanted (die first one) we could then bid on
the other one. If it was the opposite way around, we would have been undecided
whether to bid vigorously on the first one, if we let it go and then couldn't
afford the second one; we could easily miss out on both of them. The underlying
factor being that Centurions are not available very often, indeed, rarely and at
increasing prices. It will soon be too late to get one.
bidding for Lot 85 was started at $5,000 by one chap, I bid $6,000, another
fellow bid $7,000 and then 2 of us were bidding $1,000 per second, until about
$25,000, then in $500 jumps it continued until I won the last bid of $30,000 1!
However, the G.S.T. componentt and commission added another S3,000 odd, so we
obtained the option to purchase the Tank for a little over $33,000.
was much clapping and hand shaking as a result of our success. The military
enthusiasts in particular were very pleased that tills particular Tank was to go
to a Museum, very pleased that it was not going overseas and greatly relieved
that it wasn't purchased by someone to become a joy ride machine for thrill
seekers to destroy it "scrub bashing" somewhere. It is complete, in
very good order, fully operational (except that it cannot fire shells and it's
machine gun has been removed!) and is a mammoth piece of machinery. One military
enthusiast at the auction told me that in his opinion it is the Centurion in the
best condition, in private ownership.
our Museum can demonstrate the loading and unloading of the Tank, to and from
the railway wagon, on special days, or perhaps just have it sitting
on the wagon with it's turret revolving.
I had exceeded (he amount that was committed prior to the auction, but the
popularity of the Appeal told me that more funds would come in after the auction
and they have. Bidding at an auction can be a very nerve racking experience,
especially when one is spending R1,000 a second !! This is where the hindsight
part comes in; Lot 86 (the Mark 3) was sold for $19,000 ! Mind you, if we were
bidding for it, the purchase price would have gone much higher. Lot 85's vital
statistics areas follows:
5 Centurion Main Battle Tank. Serial Number 169037. Weight (fully laden): SO
tons (52 tonnes). Power Plant: Main Engine - Rolls Royce Meteor V12 cylinder
liquid cooled petrol engine. Charging Engine - Morris 4 cylinder side valve
Crew: 4. Maximum road speed 21.5 m.p.h.(34.6 km_p.h.). The first
Centurion to arrive in Australia was in 1952.
are no immediate plans to transport the Centurion to Dorrigo; we have sufficient transport commitments for the rest of this year
already. My thanks to Members Ken Davit and Steve Cotters for assistance at the
auction and to Board Member Andrew Hawk for background information on
photographs on page 4 of this Newsletter weir. taken in the gloom and rain at
Lee on the day of the auction. I therefore apologise in advance if they are not
up to scratch. The uppermost and middle photographs show our fully equipped Mark
5 Centurion, standing in the steady rain, not long after our successful bid for
it. The bottom image captures our Mark 5 Tank on the left and the Mark 3 on the
right. The most visible difference between the 2 versions is that the Mark 5 has
a fume extractor approximately half way along the barrel, whilst the Mark 3 has
a muzzle weight on the. tip of the barrel.
Obviously there is an Appeal open for Donations
to purchase and transport this priceless
piece of military history. I hope that
despite it not being a railway vehicle; Members will support it's purchase with
Donations, die Appeal for Loans was highly successful, please make the Donations
flow so that we can repay the Loans to our Members as soon as possible. Some
loans are strictly on a short term basis only. Your Donations are of course Tax
Museum's Centurion Main Battle Tank is now safely in Dorrigo A very small
opportunity to move the Tank from Lee near Muddle to Dorrigo,
became available, just before Christmas, so I seized it. Over dimensional Loads
are not allowed between about the 22nd of December and the 3rd or 4th of
Centurion is 11 feet wide and our low loader is 8 feet wide, however, when we
bought the low loader it was fitted with hinged "wings" on both sides,
that effectively widen the float to 11 feet, therefore allowing it to carry very
wide machinery like bulldozers and excavators (and Tanks!). We had removed all
of these seemingly unnecessary items to reduce the weight of the float and
therefore increase the weight that we could carry legally. In the preparations
for the trip to Lue we refitted these wings and made all of the other necessary
attachments work properly. We also found enough 3 inch thick timbers for use on
top of these "wings" to actually carry the tracks of the tank.
took the Museum's low loader empty from Dorrigo to Lue on the afternoon of
Wednesday the 13th of December, 2000. The next morning. Members Steve Cotterall
and Ken Davis also arrived to assist with the loading and other tasks. The
property from where we bought the Tank has a very good loading ramp that we
backed the low loader up to for loading. The former owner of the Tank gave us
the vital tips on starting and driving a Centurion Tank and then he proceeded to
drive it onto the float without incident.
heavy duty chains were applied to make sure that the Centurion stayed on the
truck and the mandatory Oversize signs, flashing lights and clearance flags were
put in place. Departure from Lue was achieved at 11.45 am on Thursday the 14th
and arrival in Dorrigo was at 4.45 pm on the Friday. No problems were
encountered en route, except that every time I stopped to check tyres or the
load, curious people would stop their cars to enquire where it was going, etc.
Several Vietnam Veterans pulled up to reacquaint themselves with what they said
were indispensable tools of War in Vietnam. They were very pleased that the Tank
was destined for preservation.
Dorrigo, I used our backhoe to tidy up a pile of loose dirt on the earthworks
site, so that I could back the low loader up to it. Then very cautiously
starting the tank for the first time and nervously driving it off the float
The interest that the Tank has created is
amazing. In a small town like Dorrigo (population 1200), the news of the arrival
of the Tank spread quickly and we were inundated with curious locals and
tourists wanting to see it. Even some of the Museum's local knockers just
couldn't avoid the temptation to come and have a stickybeak. The Coff's Harbour
Advocate newspaper (a long time critic of our Museum) did a very positive front
page (and page 9) story, with colour photograph of the tank. We can bring as
many trains to Dorrigo as we like and The Advocate is not interested, but bring
a Tank and they're here!
of this attention has strengthened my resolve that the Tank was a very
worthwhile addition to our future display, especially because it fought in
Vietnam under the Australian flag. We are currently obtaining more information
about our Tank's individual history and it is getting very interesting indeed.
When it is all collated, l will publish the details in the Newsletter.
purchase of the Centurion has created some controversy within our Membership,
one Member has even resigned because of it. One of the arguments put forward
against the Tank's purchase is that the $33,000 paid for it would have been
better spent on one of the other major jobs confronting the Museum. In
particular, it was suggested that the funds should have been spent on a building
to house some of the collection.
to remember just how the Museum's fund raising works. Our Museum is somewhat
unique, in that Members can Loan or Donate funds for specific purposes and the
funds are used for those purposes. The Centurion was paid for using funds that
were Loaned or Donated to purchase the Centurion. Those same funds were not
available to build (a very small) part of the future static display building.
One of the reasons that our Museum s so successful in it's fund raising
is because Members can see where their money goes. A Member gets great
satisfaction out of seeing their funds achieving something that they wanted to
see done. A Member can walk past an exhibit and feel pleased that they helped
save that item. Generally speaking, the Members who contributed the funds for
the Centurion were not the usual contributors to appeals.
any case, the construction of the static display building is not yet on the
Museum's agenda. We could not even build the first stage of the building,
because the earthworks are currently about 60 metres wide and the building will
be 100 metres wide! The real bottom line is that if we didn't soon purchase a
Centurion, we may never get one because they are getting rarer and more
expensive, every time one is sold.
arrival in Dorrigo the Centurion has been started and moved around a little for
the benefit of visiting Members. The cost of Fuel, Oversize Permit and sundries
to get the Tank to Dorrigo runs to $865, which will be added to the Appeal for
funds to purchase it. Please don't forget to send in your Tax Deductible
Donations for the Tank, so that we can repay the loans advanced by the Members.
My thanks to Kim Broderick, Steve Cotterall, Geoff Rodway, David McKensey, Greg
Lunney, Shane Sawtell and Ken Davis for assistance in various ways with the
movement of the Tank to Dorrigo.
the round tube sloping inwards towards the center of the Turret situated to the
right of the Pressure relief valve. It does appear to swivel. I have
only seen it on two Centurions.
Discovered much later that it was a 2" bomb thrower, use was stopped after the Mk 3, so these are old turrets
This is the view from inside the Turret of 169040, one of the two tanks that have this fitting. One suggestion was it was a mortar discharger, if so how would you aim it and fire it from inside. I do think it has another job.
Saw, a reporter, discussed the Centurion Tank “Baby Doll” in an article in
the early 1960’s. The item sent to me is a photocopy. I am unable to find out
who Ron was or what paper this appeared in. I have retyped it as written and
hope Ron has no objections to my using his report.
hung lewdly over the side of the ship and I stood looking up at her with warm,
happy admiration. As long as I had known her she’d had most of the qualities
of a whore. She had been obstinate, tawdry, expensive and dangerous. Many men
had known her and many found her beautiful. I, as a voyeur, had seen her lose
her virtue. I as a lover had seen her regain it. Now, yesterday, she was up to
her old whorish tricks again. Baby Doll is a Centurion Tank. I first saw
her years ago when, for reasons which to this day remain inscrutable, the Army
decided to prove that the Centurion was not only big and dangerous but mobile;
that she could get herself around in the event of a running war. So they saddled
up Baby Doll and moved her from Puckapunyal to Singleton, and while I don’t
say Hannibal had it easier getting his elephants over the Alps, I’m certain he
did not have it much harder.
She smashed just about everything she touched. Her great steel tracks,
with 50 odd tons to press down on them, broke up roads and pavements. She
depressed so much of the Hume Highway, that for a while it seemed likely to be
more profitable, to forget about repairing it and to simply fill it with water
and rename it the Hume Ship Canal. She frightened the horses, the cattle, the
sheep and the hogs. Fowls fluttered screeching at her advance, farmers
threatened her with shotguns and their wives threw their aprons over their heads
and hid in the barns.
As my newspaper’s official tank watcher I dutifully reported every
tragic embarrassment: and at a time when I felt sure nothing more delicious
could possibly happen, Baby Doll got herself jammed, stuck fast on
Toole’s Bridge. An overgrown culvert five miles from Gundagai. What I wrote
about that was not, I suppose, great journalism, but it was to the point:
“Baby Doll, the Army’s wayward tank, suffered a fate worse than death on
Toole’s Bridge, five miles from Gundagai at 3.10pm yesterday”. Shortly after
that I left her. My editor told me to stay with Baby Doll – but he could not
see the faces of her crew
changing from pink to choleric crimson; he couldn’t hear the grinding
of their teeth.
I left her and forgot about her till March 1968, when I came out of an
operation in the Long Hai Hills of Vietnam, asked for and was given a bed and a
dish of coffee at a fire support base, and saw the tanks. They had not been
there long, but they’d done splendidly. There, where everything and just about
everyone was being smashed and trampled anyway, it did not matter much how much
damage they did to the fool roads and bridge’s. The country at that time of
the year was flat and dry and the tanks were mobile. Later, when the rains came,
they would take to the high ground—ground designed to drain into the paddies,
and keep moving. But just now they were giving artillery support to the diggers
who were slogging up the side of Hill 323 (drearily named so because it was 323
meters high). And there incredibly was Baby Doll.
A company from 3 RAR, under Major Ian Hands, of Brisbane, had come in
from the sea, killed a few VC, then gone on to take the hill. As they struggled
up the ragged, jagged, rocky slopes, Baby Doll had covered them, her
long, nosy 20-pounder laying 30 meters ahead of them, brassing up anything that
moved in their path. It was a marvellously accurate weapon, capable of putting a
shell into a four-foot square target at a range of 2000 meters. As the tankers
put it: “any closer and its like shooting fish in a barrel. That 20-pounder
can literally knock a man off a log). At one stage of the assault on Hill 323 Baby
Doll’s commander, a corporal Phillip Reeves of Toowoomba, say a movement
in a cave mouth above the diggers. At his order Baby Doll pointed her
long snout and gave a bellowing sneeze and the shell went straight into the cave
mouth. There was no more movement. Baby Doll and her girlfriends had what
one might call a distinguished tour of Vietnam. How many North Vietnamese and VC
they killed doesn’t really matter. Now, as then, it seems more decent to
report that they gave protection to the Infantry; and the Infantry loved them.
Last Friday they came home; on the Japanese freighter Harima Maru –
how one wishes that jolly old Jap fancier Sir William Yeo had been there to see
it – and yesterday the Army got around to unloading Baby Doll. Well,
they tried. I went back down to Balmain to welcome her, to hand her ashore. I
looked up and down the line of already unloaded tanks,
sitting on the flatcars, waiting to be rolled south (they’re going to the
ordnance depot at Bandiana, 180 miles north of Melbourne) I could not see Baby
Doll. And then they told me she was still in the hold. “She will not
start,” they said. “We need to start her up to move her a bit so we can get
the hoisting cables on her. But she will not start, the bitch. We will have to
get jump leads to her.”
Last Friday they came home; on the Japanese freighter Harima Maru – how one wishes that jolly old Jap fancier Sir William Yeo had been there to see it – and yesterday the Army got around to unloading Baby Doll. Well, they tried. I went back down to Balmain to welcome her, to hand her ashore. I looked up and down the line of already unloaded tanks, sitting on the flatcars, waiting to be rolled south (they’re going to the ordnance depot at Bandiana, 180 miles north of Melbourne) I could not see Baby Doll. And then they told me she was still in the hold. “She will not start,” they said. “We need to start her up to move her a bit so we can get the hoisting cables on her. But she will not start, the bitch. We will have to get jump leads to her.”
" Angie Baby"
169094 was one of the first Centurions to be sold by Tim Vibert around 1987 and it was sold from the army storage yard at Bandiana. The owner Bob Boatwright asked his mate if he could put a tank on his property for awhile. His mate thinking it was a water tank said OK. He received a surprise when 169094 arrived at his doorstep.
169094 did not have the 100-gallon tank fitted , but does have the mounting bars.
The tank was in very good condition and Bob also picked up the radios for it. He owns a brand new motor still packaged as well. But as she runs quite well, some smoke but that goes when she has been run for awhile. Bob was working over seas and so she sat there for about 7 years. Which is not good, but hopefully she will fire up well.
Bob has a property quite close and now has a large shed installed which will hold 169094 as well as Bob's Train, yeah he also owns a train! I was speaking with Bob today and he hopes to very soon have the Cent up and running, small things like freeing up the gearshift, releasing the brakes and starting the motor. But then she will move into his shed, where work to restore her will begin in earnest.
She appears to have all the scopes fitted, and Bob is lucky indeed that they are still there!
I first found Angie baby about two years ago after two trips to the area, but at that time the property owner was not available. I was able to take some photos but did not attempt to climb onto the hull. Bob has offered to let me know when the work is started and I will go up again with the trusty old camera.
Lets have a look at another old tank
I know its not a Cent but its old and nice
Brad Baker was invited up to see a Grant tank that was putting on a show for the day. Brad as you know owns 169109 and 169120. He was told of the whereabouts' of another Centurion and followed it up. Alas no Cent but a very nice Grant. This belongs to Rod Keyes. Below are some pics of the day and other items of interest that were also on the property.
All kids love tanks even the little ones!!
It appears the general public finds an interest in them as well
The radial motor has an easy access setup.
A Mitilda which is next in line for restoration Another Grant that may become a Gate Guard
She will need a bit of tender loving care- but she appears to be all there.
Rod also has a missile Launcher /
Armoured car and most of the parts for a 25 pdr. howitzer. Then in the shed he
has a series 11 Landrover, a huge searchlight on trailer, and two 12"
battleship projectiles about a metre high. Rod lives on the Sunshine Coast.
All the above photos were courtesy of Brad Baker Qld.
THE ATOMIC TANK
I first came to Puckapunyal in 1955 I can remember seeing the Atomic Tank or
169041, sitting beside the hangers at the School of Armour. There are a few
stories of just where she was placed and they are many and varied. My memory was
that we walked up through the lines (collection of Nissan huts) to the showers
at the top of 1st Armoured Regiment lines. Then went left in a south
- western direction passing the Armoured School hangers. Straight ahead were the
Regiment Hangers. This has now of course all changed. As we walked past the
Armoured School Hangers 169041 was sitting on our left. I cannot remember if the
turret was intact but think it was! Some say it was just sitting there, others
say it was in a fenced off yard. I cannot remember but think it was in a yard.
Don Weedon said that many people used to sit on her when they had their lunch.
Myself I never went near it thank God. Now read the article below
Bob Thompson sent me an article from the Geelong paper which I have placed below.
The Centurion Tank concerned was 169041 (The Atomic Tank).
Now Holding Ground at Palmerston N.T
Advertiser August. 199O
A CENTURION tank exposed to nuclear tests at Maralinga, was later used by the Australian Army for driver training, an ex - serviceman claimed yesterday.
Bob Thompson, of Geelong, also claimed parts from the tank were transferred to
other army equipment, and some were even
sent to the Commonwealth aircraft factory in Sydney. Mr. Thompson, who had
worked on the tank after the Maralinga tests of the 1950s and'60s, said that of
the 16 soldiers in his regiment to be in contact with the tank, l2 had died of
And he feared other
soldiers might also be suffering from cancer after being exposed to the tank,
which he described as radioactive.
A Geelong secondary school
teacher, Mr. Thompson has been diagnosed as suffering prostate cancer. But is in
The 59-year-old former Warrant Officer Class One is not
seeking compensation, but believes other ex-servicemen or their wives could seek
A member of the First
Armoured Regiment Light Aid Detachment at Puckapunyal during the joint
Australian and British test’s, Mr. Thompson claimed guns, trucks and tanks
were positioned near the centre of the blast area in outback South Australia to
determine the effects from the nuclear explosion.
Former Warrant Officer Bob
Thompson says that of the 16 soldiers that were in contact with the tank, only
four are still alive. The others died from cancer- His cancer is in
The Centurion Tank was later used for training manoeuvres,
was placed close to the center of the explosion, he said. The tank was delivered
Warnings from the CSIRO not to touch the tank did not
come with an explanation of the dangers. “We did not leave the tank alone,
because we needed it for parts. Parts for Centurion Tanks were scarce so Mr.
Thompson removed the gearbox and fitted it to another vehicle. The turret was stripped of its parts for distribution to
other army equipment, and the tanks engine was overhauled and sent to the
Commonwealth Aircraft factory in Sydney. “These parts were surely exposed to
radiation and, unknowingly, we exposed others to it,” Mr. Thompson said. Mr.
Thompson only linked the deaths to the tank after a recent Vietnam veterans
Reunion in Melbourne. “I was asking questions about the fellows I worked with
at Puckapunyal, and was told many of them had died. I worked it out that there
were only four of us left,” he
The South Australian
Government has called for urgent action by the Australian and British
Governments, to remove the nuclear pollution from the test sites. It is six
years since a Royal Commission revealed that a joint British and Australian test
program had left the Maralinga area contaminated by millions of dispensed
plutonium particles. The particles had lodged in the soil and dust, fused to
metal fragments scattered about the surface and contaminated large qualities of
debris in nuclear waste dumps.
– lodged in the body through inhalation, ingestion or an open wound – is the
deadliest natural substance on earth. Within the 400 square kilometre restricted
access nuclear test zone, it has been estimated that 50 square kilometres was
directly affected by the seven bombs and more than 700 smaller tests. About two kilometres
of the test area, 800 kilometre's northwest of Adelaide, remains fenced off, due
to the danger posed by high levels of radioactivity.
he felt guilty about possibly exposing others to radiation, Mr. Thompson said he
did not feel anything. “We were never told of the dangers of the tank or of
the nuclear tests. We never heard of the word radiation in the 1950’s,” he
A Glance at The Manual
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a manual
I share mine with anyone that needs it.
I have been saying MY manual, I did explain the story in my Cd's but have just realised that I have not done the same in the Web site, and so many people will not be aware of how this information has become available. The manual was donated to me and some time later when visiting David Hay I was shown a book he had converted to CD. This was a very big job and I was surprised at how well it turned out. David when I mentioned I had a manual offered to scan the book and put it onto a CD. I jumped at this chance and David spent months completing the job (that if I had been game enough would have taken me years)
We both decided that we would make it available free to people that needed it, as neither of us were interested in making it a commercial effort, we both felt that anyone that needed it would in fact NEED it.
So I have passed it on to all Centurion owners I know and a few R.A.E.M.E. chaps and the W.A Army Museum---the Vietnam Veterans Museum---The R.N.S.W.L. museum and a couple of other people that are helping civilian owners repair their Centurions.
BUT I have neglected to menton to many of these people, the effort and time that David Hay has donated, lets face it he did all the hard work. For those people that do not know David, he is a Vietnam Veteran and was most helpful to me in that he has provided a lot of other help as well, including his photograph album and some very interesting sound tapes.
Below are some pages from the introduction
You may need to copy to a document (Word) to expand the text--sorry about that.
Crew Commanders Seat Late
Crew Commanders Seat Early
Replacing a Clutch in a Centurion
Every nut is screwed back onto the bolt and all were placed in separate containers, a good idea.
At this time I had to leave as I had commitments for the evening. Stu later told me that they had a lot of trouble with the clutch itself. It would not slide out. I could see before I left that while the motor was rock steady (It was bolted in of course) the clutch itself would swing around quite a lot. At this point of time I left. Stu said that he had to undo 8 bolts in behind the clutch to remove it and while it was a rotten job, replacing them would be even worse. The next Saturday I was at Horsham at Ian Puls place (who owns 169055) and he also owns a stationary motor set up on a trailer. While looking at it I mentioned the clutch trouble, and he replied that the clutch should have slid out, there was no need to remove the 8 bolts. That's ok if it will slide out, which this one would not! Stu was hoping to replace the clutch the day I was at Horsham, so when I returned home I emailed the info to him, on the off chance that he had not done the job yet. In that case the offending item may be could be removed and bolted up outside, which would make the job a lot easier.
Tonight I received an Email from Matt McMahon who owns 169129. Matt has had a great amount of experience working on his Cent and this information is invaluable.
You must remove the engine oil seal by removing the small bolts around the sealing flange prior to removing the drive shaft.. The gear drive is larger than the shaft thus making it impossible to slide it out, with out removing the seal. This can be done quite easily via the inspection port in the floor and from over the top of the clutch.. A new felt seal should be installed upon re-installation.
Also you must support the clutch once disconnected from the gearbox or you run the risk of breaking the engine housing!!! This will/could ruin your day and result in a new engine also been installed!!!!
And the Gearbox must be aligned to the engine prior to the new clutch been installed using the special tool.... Tim Vibert has one and so do I. Other wise the drive will vibrate and you will feel it through the hull
My thanks to Matt for his help, without this information it could have become expensive. We knew about placing a block under the clutch but were at a loss of how the clutch was connected to the motor!
Bob Thompson from the RAEME site suggested the time (About 4 hours) for a first time civilian or even an Army mechanic was good, so all things considered Stu and his mate did a great job.
Unfortunately the replacement clutch that Stu was given when he brought the Cent, was worse than the one that came out. So now its being reconditioned and the replacement will take place a bit further down the track. At least I will be able to attend now. I will add this section when its done in a later page.ee.