The Centurion AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers) FV4003 was designed as a replacement for the Churchill VII AVRE, and first entered service in 1962.
02 BA 58 served with the Royal Engineers from 1962 – 1997 and has now been returned by the museum to 1970’s Cold war era standards. 02 BA 58 was the very first centurion MBT to be converted to the AVRE specification and carried out all the pre-production trials work at the British Army Fighting Vehicle Research and Development establishment at Chertsey It was originally built as a Mk3 Main Battle Tank in the late 1940’s and is believed to have served in Korea, however, in the mid 1950’s it was converted to AVRE specification and re-issued to the British Army Royal Engineers in 1962.
It served during peace time in the U.K. and Germany and saw combat during the 1991 Gulf War, where it was fitted with additional reactive armour on the front half of the turret, in front of the driver and the first half of the bazooka plates each side. They were nick-named “The Antiques Road Show” since most of these vehicles were, by now, over 40 years old.
Today the Centurion AVRE is used as one of Norfolk Tank Museum’ centre pieces for ARMOURFEST.
The Centurion AVRE is fitted with an Ordnance BL 165mm L9A1 demolition gun firing a 64lb charge projectile up to 2000yds. This charge is equivalent to six rounds of 120mm HESH ammunition from a Chieftain MBT. On the exterior of the commanders cupola is a .30in No.7 MK 1 browning machine gun and is used by him for defence against ground troops and low flying aircraft, the gunner also has a coaxial .30in browning mounted alongside the main gun for ranging purposes. You will notice smoke discharges on both sides of the turret, which would provide a readily available smoke screen which can be used to allow the vehicle to manoeuvre under cover, the dischargers are designed to fire the No.80 grenade using electric No.F103 MK 2 and 3 fuse’s as propellant.
The Centurion AVRE is fitted with the Rolls Royce Mk Meteor 4BH ‘V’12 cylinder 27 litre water cooled petrol engine producing 650bhp at 2500rpm coupled to a Merrit-Brown Z51R Mk F gearbox giving the vehicle a top speed of 21mph and a fuel consumption of about 3-4 gallons per mile (depending on driving conditions). The vehicle is also fitted with a Morris USHNM Mk 2 water-cooled, 4 cylinder side valve petrol engine producing 20bhp to drive a 3kw Dynamo for charging the batteries and powering the turret.
The suspension is of the Hortmann type, a system that uses Coil Springs and has the advantage of a relatively long travel. Housed within a self-contained Bogie which is bolted to the outside of the hull it causes little or no encroachment on internal hull space, consequently, the entire suspension unit may be relatively easily removed and replaced if damaged, e.g., by Mine. There are six pairs of road wheels on each side with the drive sprocket at the rear and idler at the front, three track return rollers are fitted.
- Weight: 52 tons
- Width: 11ft 1in.
- Height: 9ft 10in.
- Length: 25ft 6in.
- Max Speed: 21 mph
- Power/weight 13hp/tonne
- Suspension Horstmann suspension
- Range: 280 miles
Crew of five: Driver, Engineer, Commander, Gunner, Loader/radio operator