Centurion Observation Post, Royal Artillery (OPRA)

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by JT0475, Sep 17, 2012.

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  1. Evening all,

    Not sure whether to put this into the O&B, RA or here, so if people want it moved then feel free.

    Many moons ago, before I joined up, I had a book titled 'Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army' or something like that, around about 1980. In it, listed in the armour section, was mention of the RA using Centurion tanks as observation posts, under the title OPRA. Were these still prevalent around then - I never heard mention of them when I joined up in 82, despite working alongside the Arty types on a couple of occasions.

    If they were in service, were they still capable 'gun' tanks, or was it just a dummy tube, with more comms kit inside the turret. I've no real reason for asking other than idle curiosity.

    Cheers
     
  2. As far as I know they were still gun tanks since they were later used in the AVRE role, though retaining the 105mm gun. They saw action alongside the 165mm AVREs in Gulf War 1 1991.

    EDITED TO ADD:

    Here we go, article from 1993:

    http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Military-Vehicles-and-Logistics/Centurion-Mk-5-Assault-Vehicle-Royal-Engineers-AVRE-United-Kingdom.html

    The OPRAs/AVRE 105s were Centurion Mk 12s (ex Mk 9s ex Mk7s?) no difference in designation between them and those used by RAC.
     
  3. I served in 40 Field Regiment in 1980 and 38 Battery (and maybe 49?) had OPRA Cents. I didn't see either of 38's move.;)

    N Battery's MT Sergeant in 2nd had driven one in the 70s while 2nd were in Hamer or Dortmiund. He claimed that one year the Gunners won the tankl shooting competition. The Cheiftain laser sighted may have been better than the Cent's more primitive spotting MG, but only when they worked. (IIRC one of the most frequent reports on armoured Squadron nets in BATUS seemed to be "no ellipse!".)

    I suspect that during the 70s the expertise in maintaining these beasts had been lost while the Gunners had been a little focused on Op Banner.
     
  4. Thanks chaps. Feel a little more enlightened.
     
  5. 49 Bty's was taken for a short drive by one of our lads in C Bty RHA whilst out of his head one night... 28 Days Later... Mind you, it was parked next to our gun (Swingfire) park!