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Centurion MBT

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AVRE located outside the Land Warfare Hall, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire

The FV4007 Centurion was the British Main Battle Tank in service in the '50s & '60s. Though it was replaced by the excellent Chieftain in the MBT role, it continued to be used as a specialised vehicle, notably the FV4003 AVRE used by the Royal Engineers. The AVREs were equipped with a 165mm demolition gun and either a hydraulically-operated bulldozer blade or a mine plough.

They could carry fascine bundles, metal track rolls and tow the Giant Viper mine-clearance equipment or a trailer for another fascine. This variant had a five man crew. The vehicle was used in the Operation GRANBY of 1991 though they were retired soon after.

The Centurion was sold on to other countries including Australia and Israel - who used it to great effect during the Six Day War.

VM's who worked on Cent suffered from a little know medical condition known as "Centurian Arse". This was brought about by the shape of the gearbox top cover (it was a shallow triangle in profile, with the point at the top) splaying the unfortunate fitters butt-cheeks as he sat on the gearbox in order to repair the brakes or final drives. Older VM's with many years experience would even walk a bit funny as a result. Additionally, the Centurian ARV had a second, low-ratio reverse gear. The gearstick itself was situated between the drivers legs, gear changes were stiff at the best of times and needed a good shove the engage any gear. Selecting emergency reverse ensured that an unwary driver caught the gear-stick right in the love spuds. Always a fave joke to play on a newly-posted recce mech!!