09 BB 33 was originally manufactured in in 1957 as a Mk 8 with a redesigned turret front and roof to accommodate the resilient gun mount and a new commanders cupola, the cupola had the facility of contra-rotation to assist in target acquisition by enabling the commander to lay the gun on a target without interrupting his observation of it. The cupola also incorporated two semi-circular doors which could be raised in the closed position to give umbrella protection while retaining the advantage of direct vision. A new design of gun control kit was also introduced.
In the early 1960’s 09-BB-33 went through her first major upgrade being up-gunned to a 105mm L7A1 gun, the fitting of a basket to the rear of the turret, infra-red driving lights and drivers sight, commanders and gunners infra-red gun sights, a 22inch infra-red 1KW search light mounted on the mantel. The major drawback to this was that any tank using such a system was readily visible to enemy equipped with similar IR system. This new tank was re-designated to a MK10.
The Final modification was the fitting of a .5in ranging machine gun offering the gunner a simple and accurate method of range finding over the complex optical instruments and the fitting of a thermal sleeve to the barrel, designation was now altered to a MK13.
Today the 09 BB 33 is used as one of Norfolk Tank Museum’ centre pieces for ARMOURFEST.
The Centurion Main Battle Tank Mk13 is fitted with an Ordnance 105mm L7A1 gun firing HE (high explosive) and APDS (armoured piercing discarding sabot) rounds. On the exterior of the cupola is a .30in No.7 MK 1 browning machine gun for use by the commander for defence against ground troops and low flying aircraft. The gunner also has a .30in browning mounted alongside the main gun and .50in M2 browning mounted co-axially with 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 to allow the vehicle to manoeuvre under smoke 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 Main Battle Tank Mk13 is fitted with the Rolls Royce Mk 4B, ‘V’12 cylinder, 27 litre water cooled petrol engine, producing 650bhp at 2500rpm, 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, petrol engine, 4 cylinder side valve, 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; 51.4 tons
Width; 11ft 2in
Height; 9ft 10in.
Length; 24ft 9.5in.(Hull)
32Ft 3in (gun forward)
28ft 3in (gun in crutch)
Range; 280 miles
Crew of four: Driver, Radio Operator / Loader, Gunner and Commander
Centurion Mk 1 – Initial Production Model Designation; 17-pdr main gun
Centurion Mk 2 – 17-pdr main gun; improved armour protection; cast turret.
Centurion Mk 3 Fitted with 20pdr, 2 stowage positions for track links on glacis
Centurion Mk 4 – Proposed close-support model; fitted with CS 95mm gun.
Centurion Mk 5 Browning machine guns fitted to coaxial and commander’s cupola mounts, stowage bin on glacis
Centurion Mk 5/1 (FV4011) – Improved Armor Protection
Centurion Mk 5/2 Up gunned to 105mm L7
Centurion Mk 6 – Based on Mk 5; up gunned to 105mm L7 ; improved armour.
Centurion Mk 6/1 – Based on Mk 6; fitted with IR equipment.
Centurion Mk 6/2 – Based on Mk 6/1; fitted with ranging machine gun
Centurion Mk 7 (FV4007) – Revised engine compartment.
Centurion Mk 7/1 (FV4012) – Improved Armor
Centurion Mk 7/2 – Up gunned Mk 7 Version to 105mm L7
Centurion Mk 8 – Redesigned barrel base and commander’s cupola.
Centurion Mk 8/1 – Improved Armor
Centurion Mk 8/2 – Up gunned Version to 105mm L7
Centurion Mk 9 (FV4015) – Based on Mk 7 Model; up gunned to 105mm L7 and improved armour.
Centurion Mk 9/1 – IR equipment
Centurion Mk 9/2 – Fitted with ranging machine gun
Centurion Mk 10 (FV4017) – Based on the Centurion Mk 8 model; additional armour protection; 105mm L7 main gun.
Centurion Mk 10/1 – IR equipment
Centurion Mk 10/2 – Based on the Centurion Mk 10 but with a ranging machine gun
Centurion Mk 11 – Based on Mk 6 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.
Centurion Mk 12 – Based on Mk 9 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.
Centurion Mk 12 AVRE 105 – Forward Artillery Observation Vehicle modified for AVRE.
Centurion Mk 13 – Based on Mk 10 model but with ranging machine gun and IR equipment.
FV4013 Centurion ARV Mk I – Armoured Recovery Vehicle
FV4006 Centurion ARV Mk II – Mk 1 / Mk 2 / Mk 3 hull with the turret replaced by a superstructure housing a winch. The winch is powered by an auxiliary engine and is capable of pulling of up to 90 tons using a system of blocks. Armed with a single .30 inch machine gun on the commander’s cupola.
Centurion AVRE 105 – Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers; combat engineer model fitted with 105mm demolition gun.
Centurion AVRE 165 – Combat Engineer Model fitted with 165mm demolition gun.
Centurion AVLB – Armoured Vehicle-Launched Bridge
FV4002 Centurion Bridge-layer
FV4018 Centurion BARV – Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle
FV4016 Centurion ARK – Armoured Ramp Carrier
Centurion Mk13 Restoration
Centurion Mk 13 FV4017, 09 BB 33 came into the museum collection in 2002 after spending the previous 20 years hidden and forgotten in the corner of a Kent farm’s orchard and an 11 year restoration marathon began.
An extensive cleaning program was the first requirement including the removal of a significant quantity of rotting apples from within the turret (the hatches had been left open) followed by the freeing off of all hinges and catches. All removable bins and equipment was taken out of the turret and drivers compartment, cleaned, given a coat of protective primer and re-fitted.
Externally, the bins and turret basket were removed, cleaned, repaired where necessary and given a coat of red oxide primer for protection. The hull and turret were ‘needle gunned’ back to bare metal and a coat of red oxide applied.
Now the hard work began. The main engine (Rolls Royce Meteor Mk 4) and GU engine were removed pending replacement and the engine bay was thoroughly cleaned. The fuel tanks were found to be heavily contaminated and, in some parts, corroded. (The decision was taken later in the program to remove these all together and replace the fuel system as a whole as the condition of the tanks ultimately proved too poor to be safely restored.) MOD reconditioned main and GU engines were obtained and fitted and the painstaking task of getting it all to work started, this wasn’t helped by the fact that the carburettors on the Meteor had not been correctly drained before the engine was crated up sometime in late 1980’s resulting in us having to remove, dismantle and fully service them before we could go any further.
Finally, in August 2013 ‘Boudicca’ (as she is now affectionally known) roared into life and after re-fitting the external bins, basket, searchlight and ancillary equipment a final coat of Bronze-Green paint completed the job and she is now the centrepiece of our collection.