5RAR Tiger Logo armour in support of 5RAR

Mk V Centurion Tank

MK V Centurion Tank

This was Australia's battle tank During the Vietnam War. Weighing 50 tons it was initially thought the tank would be too heavy for the jungles in the Republic of South Vietnam, but the tank stood the test and the men of 1st Armoured Regiment fought many courageous battles and supported 5RAR on many occasions and in particular during the Battle of Binh Ba.

From Colin Fitness, ex Armoured Regiment:

"The Australian army purchased Centurion Tanks which were a MK 3. The mistaken belief that the up grade to MK5 consisted of all the items added for Vietnam. In fact the MK 3 had a Besa machine gun and it was replaced with a .30 cal Browning. This was the total upgrade to make it a MK5 and nothing more. Later most of the Centurions were up graded to Centurion MK 5 /1 (Aust) This was the configuration that went to Vietnam."

  • 100 gallon rear fuel tank. 

  • 50 calibre machine gun mounted beside the .30 calibre and co - axel with the 20 pounder main gun (Where the main gun pointed so did the .30 and .50)The .50 was restricted to three rounds all rounds were tracer. Its use was as a ranging gun for the 20 pounder to save 20 pounder rounds. 

  • three tracers were fired - where they landed was the point of impact for the 20 pounder. On obtaining correct point with the .50, a 20 pounder was fired. In most cases, one shot one hit. 

  • A .30 calibre flex was mounted on the cupola of the turret for the crew commander, this was flexible up and down and left and right. 

  • A B Barrel was fitted to the main gun, which had a fume extractor in the middle of the barrel. 

  • A heavy up armoured plate was installed on top of the Glacis plate in front of the driver.

I R (Infrared) spot light and crew viewing scopes were installed. Also a rear turret carry cage for the spotlight and other spare items.
This basic setup was the Centurion MK 5 /1 (Australian)

There were many other modifications made in Vietnam by LAD (Light Aid Detachment) and crews, Cut down guards to stop damage from jungle, removal of smoke dischargers from the turret (same reason).

Road wheels placed on the Glacis plate in front of the driver, removal of the side plates over the road wheels / tracks. Mud scrapers fitted on front and rear guards to stop most of the mud being carried into the turret and drivers compartment (which would have to be removed when servicing the tank.

To view Colin's website dedicated to the Centurion Tank see the links page.