Hobby Master HG3503 British Centurion Mk.5 Main Battle Tank - "Big Bertha", 4 Troop, 'A' Squadron, 6th RTR, Suez Canal, Operation Musketeer, Nov. 6th, 1956 (1:72 Scale)
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow."
- Excerpted from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's "Sinews of Peace" speech delivered at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, March 5th, 1946
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 British Centurion Mk.5 Main Battle Tank known as "Big Bertha", which was attached to 4 Troop, 'A' Squadron, 6th RTR, then deployed to the Suez Canal during Operation Musketeer on November 6th, 1956.
Length: 4 inches
Width: 1.5 inches
Release Date: November 2008
Historical Account: "One for All" - Operation Musketeer (French: Operation Mousquetaire) was the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt to capture the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis.
Headed by British Army General Charles Keightley, it was conducted in October 1956 in coordination with the Israeli armored thrust into the Sinai, which was called Operation Kadesh. Egypt's government, led by President Nasser, was seeking political control over the canal, an effort resisted by the Europeans. Although landing forces quickly established control over major canal facilities, the Egyptians were able to sink obstacles in the canal, rendering it unusable.
Worldwide reaction against Musketeer was massive and negative. The United States led condemnations of the action at the United Nations and in other forums, which marked a sharp break in the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain. Due to political considerations, the Anglo-French forces were withdrawn in December 1956.