Hobby Master HG3511 British Centurion Mk.3 Main Battle Tank - "Columbo", 8th Hussars Regiment, Korea, 1951 (1:72 Scale)
"Pristinae virtutis memores."
- Motto of the 8th Hussars Regiment
The Centurion was Britain's first attempt to produce a universal tank and do away with divisions between the infantry tanks, such as the Matilda, and cruiser tanks like the Comet. In 1943, after a succession of unfortunate tank designs, the British War Office commissioned a new specification calling for a tank weighing 40-tons that offered durability, reliability, and the ability to withstand a direct hit from a German 88mm gun. Six prototypes were developed before the end of World War II, all of which arrived too late to take part in the war.
It was soon recognized that the weight restrictions had to be lifted as the original specification could not be achieved within the 40-ton weight limitation. The early vehicles were equipped with a 17 pounder main gun and a 20mm Polsten cannon. They also featured frontal, glacis plate armour to deflect shots, a partially cast turret and a Horstmann suspension. However, modifications to the original design were quickly made and the changes resulted in the adoption of a 20 pounder, fully stabilized main gun and the replacement of the 20mm cannon with a Besa machine gun (thus allowing the turret to be fully cast). These changes resulted in the Mk IV version of the vehicle.
In order to maintain its combat effectiveness, continuing modifications have led to numerous other changes to the main gun armament (most notably the incorporation of a 105mm gun), the addition of fire control equipment and infra-red driving aids, a new diesel engine, and a semi-automatic transmission.
The Centurion first saw action in Korea during 1951 and soon proved itself to be the best performing tank in this theatre of operations, offering excellent cross country performance. It has also been exported to a number of client nations, particularly Israel, which used them with great effect in several of the Arab-Israeli Wars.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Centurion Mk.3 battle tank that was nicknamed "Columbo", and attached to the 8th Hussars Regiment, then deployed to Korea during 1951. Now in stock!
Length: 4 inches
Width: 1.5 inches
Release Date: May 2013
Historical Account: "Hussars" - In 1948, the 8th returned to Leicestershire, transferring to Tidworth as part of the Strategic Reserve in 1950 but when the Korean War broke out they were sent out as part of the 29th Independent Brigade under the command of Lt Col William Lowther OBE (Bart). Having trained flat-out to become familiar with Centurion MkIII tanks they sailed from Southampton to Korea on the HMT Empire Fowey on October 11th, 1950, docking in Pusan on November 14th. Having reached the front, north of Pyongyang, all squadrons found themselves in full retreat, regrouping on the Han River. Early in 1951, Recce Troop saw action on the Han River in an area known as "Compo Valley" and had twenty three soldiers killed or missing. During this action a Cromwell tank was captured by the Chinese and had to be knocked out several days later by fire from the Hussars own Centurions. Captain Donald Lewis Astley-Cooper who was in command of Recce Troop then put together a scratch force known as "Cooper Force" of Cromwell tanks borrowed from 7 RTR which assisted the hard pressed Royal Ulster Rifles who had been under attack by superior forces since January 2nd. Astley-Cooper was last seen dismounting his brewed up Cromwell and running away with his loader. His subsequent fate is unknown.
In February, the United Nations Forces took the offensive, helping the Glosters capture Hill 327. By April 1951, patrols were probing north of the Imjin River seemingly uncontested until a massive enemy assault started the Battle of the Imjin River on April 22nd, 1951. During the lull it had been decided to rotate the 8th back to the United Kingdom,. A & B Squadrons along with RHQ had already reached Kure in Japan when the Chinese Spring Offensive had broken out and were immediately ordered back to Korea. C Squadron, commanded initially by the one eyed veteran Captain Peter Ormrod and then by Major Henry Huth (flown in from Japan) was left to undertake the taskings given to the Hussars alone. The troops of tanks commanded by Capt Ormrod, Capt Murray, Lt Boyall and Lt Radford engaged the attacking Chinese over several days to try to prevent the loss of the important high features defended by the Glosters, the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles. The 8th were forced to make several sorties into overrun positions to rescue infantrymen cut-off by the advancing Chinese infantry.