Hobby Master HG3514 Royal Australian Army Centurion Mk.5/1 Main Battle Tank - 1st Armoured Regiment, Vietnam, 1969 (1:72 Scale)
"Duty and honor"
- Motto of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps
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 Royal Australian Army Centurion Mk.5/1 main battle tank that was attached to the 1st Armoured Regiment then deployed to Vietnam during 1969.
Release Date: October 2019
Historical Account: "Aussies" - Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began with a small commitment of 30 military advisors in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australian personnel following the Menzies Government's April 1965 decision to upgrade its military commitment to South Vietnam's security. By the time the last Australian personnel were withdrawn in 1972, the Vietnam War had become Australia's longest war, and was only recently surpassed by Australia's long term commitment of combat forces to the War in Afghanistan. It remains Australia's largest force contribution to a foreign conflict since the Second World War and was also the most controversial in Australian society since the conscription controversy during the First World War. Although initially enjoying broad support due to concerns about the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, a vocal anti-war movement developed in response to Australia's programme of conscription.
The withdrawal of Australia's forces from South Vietnam began in November 1970, under the Gorton Government, when 8 RAR completed its tour of duty and was not replaced. A phased withdrawal followed, and by January 11th, 1973, Australian involvement in hostilities in Vietnam had ceased. Nevertheless, Australian troops from the Australian Embassy Platoon remained deployed in the country until July 1st, 1973, and Australian forces were deployed briefly in April 1975, during the Fall of Saigon, to evacuate personnel from the Australian embassy. Approximately 60,000 Australians served in the war; 521 were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.