I recently did an unboxing video for the new Centurion kit from Battlefront and one of the things I noticed was that there was a lot more bits in the box than was strictly needed for the three versions covered by World War Three: Nordic Forces.
Now, this didn’t come as a great surprise, Battlefront had hinted that it would be a big sprue, but it still impressed me. The only issue was that the instructions in the box didn’t explain what everything was on the sprue. So I spent some time working out what was what and what built what. It’s best to use this article in conjunction with the one I recently wrote on Centurion variants here.
Let’s take a look.
List of Parts
Firstly, lets look at all 43 parts on the sprue.
Yes. Forty Three separate parts. I’m pretty sure this sets the record for the most populated Battlefront sprue to date.
Note: Where “left” or “right” is mentioned this is always from the driver’s position. I.e. left track is the track to his left when he is sat facing forward in the driver compartment.
“*” denotes a part common to all variants
“**” denotes a part common to all variants save the Mk.1 or 2
There is one assembly common to all the Centurion variants, the hull.
Consisting of the lower hull(14), upper hull(16) and left(8) and right(7) track, this assembly is needed for all variants and we’ll refer to this as “Common Hull Assembly“. The side skirts (9 & 10) can also be fitted on all but the Australian version as photos of non ‘Nam Centurions without them seem rare.
The next common assembly is not quite as universal; the turret. There are two turrets buildable in the kit, though you can’t build both simultaneously as they use the same base plate(19). The Mk.1 turret is covered below as its only used on one variant. All other use the “Common Turret Assembly“.
I also grouped the engine decks into two sub assemblies.
The Meteor powered versions (until the Mk.7) use Engine Deck (24) and Rear Plate (17). Mk.7 onwards use Late Rear Plate (31).
The Continental Diesel uses Engine Deck (25) and Late Rear Plate (31).
It is possible to make this part swappable. Its of questionable use but the option is there!
The Common Turret Assembly consists of the common base plate (19), common upper turret (23), left and right stowage bins (2&3) then the choice of a buttoned or unbuttoned late cupola (5&11). We’ll add more bits to this depending on variant but this is our base line “Common Turret Assembly”.
Assembly by Variants
This section will now combine our “Common Hull”, “Common Turret” (save Mk.1) and one of our Engine assemblies with the relevant extra parts to build our desired variant
Used in: So far only “World of Tanks”. I suspect it will also be in the “Late War Leviathons” book that is being rumoured and hinted at by Pete S!
Mk.1 Turret. This consists of the turret base (19), Mk.1 turret (43), left(44) and right(40) Mk.1 sides and Mk.1 turret mantlet (42). We then add the early style cupola (35 or 37) and the 17pdr barrel (27).
At this point we have a choice: If we are building an early example then we also fit the Polsten cannon () over the MG nub on the front plate. I assume this nub is meant to represent the BESA on a later Mk.1 turret. It’s a little undersize in terms of the MG barrel (though there does appear to have been an armoured cowl fitted over the BESA which does make it look stubby) but it also seems a bit over elaborate to be just a locating feature for the Polsten. If you are building a late pattern Mk.1 then I’d suggest finding a spare hull BESA from a Comet or Cromwell and adding that in place, if so desired.
The Mk.1 uses the Early Meteor Engine assembly.
Finally, we add the spare track (6) to the Glacis plate.
I’m skipping the Mk.2 as it doesn’t really serve any game purpose so far:
Used in: Fate of a Nation (Egypt). If Checkpoint Charlie ever appears then it could appear for the likes of the Swedes and Danes amongst others. It would also be used by the British in any Korean War game that appears. Danish Tank Hunter Centurions are also Mk.3s with late pattern 20pdr. The Centurion DK started life as a Mk.3 but will cover that in a moment as a subset of the Mk.5.
Firstly we add the Early Meteor Engine sub-assembly to the rear of the Common Hull assembly. We can also add the spare tracks (6) but its worth noting that some Mk.3, especially British ones during the Suez Crisis, only have the tracks on the driver’s right hand side. The left hand side appears to have a stowage bin of some sort that could be scratch built from styrene.
Turret wise, we take the Common Turret assembly and add the Canvas Mantlet (18) plus the Early 20pdr (22). Some Mk.3 also received the Late 20pdr (21) with its fume extractor.
For additional flavour, Korean deployed Centurions appear to acquire a M1919 pintle gun (4).
There is also at least one photo of one sporting a whitelight searchlight. This can be represented by building the search light (28 & 34), chopping off the guide pole and gluing the searchlight centrally on the tank.
Mk.5 (and Mk.6)
Used in Fate of a Nation (Jordon and Israel) and ‘Nam (Australia). Will also likely appear for large parts of NATO in Checkpoint Charlie, including the British (also used in Suez Crisis)
Much like the Mk.3 we add the Canvas Mantlet (18) to the Common Turret then add a Late 20pdr (21). I thought all Mk.5 had the fume extractor but some captions indicate a Mk.5 but still show an early 20pdr so it may not be as universal as I thought. Certainly all Australian Mk.5 have the fume extractor.
We add the Early Meteor Engine Seb-Assembly to the Common Hull Assembly.
Israeli and Jordanian Examples
Build with the late pattern 20pdr (21)as the main gun.
Both countries appear to have fitted pintle 0.5″ to their tanks and these, being absent from the kit (unless you really kit bash the bore sighted 0.5″ (36) that is present) will need to be acquired from the bits box.
Both countries carried one or two jerry can racks on the back of the turret. These will need a dive in the bits box. Israeli Centurions also sport a stowage bin for the US style searchlight on the rear left of the turret. I’m not sure if this appeared as early as the Mk.5s but can’t see why it wouldn’t. I’ll discuss scratch building that in the Sho’T section below.
Israeli examples appear with the two track links (6) on the glacis plate. Jordanian examples either have the two track links or, much like the British Suez ones, have a single track link on the driver right and a stowage bin on the driver left.
Australian ‘Nam era Centurion Mk.5
For this sub-variant we add the following additional parts:
To the turret, we fit the turret bustle rack (13 and 15) and can either have the searchlight (28 and 34 mounted or housed in the small compartment of the stowage bin.
A pintle Browning 7.62mm (4) should also be fitted (there are a few photos that show no pintle present but the majority are so armed).
On the Common Hull Assembly we leave the side skirts off (the Centurions arrived with them but quickly removed them as they just trapped mud and foliage). Track links appear to be rarely present on the glacis plate but its very common to see two spare road wheels(12). It’s a shame we only get one per tank!
Bonus Points – drill a hole to the driver’s right of the co-ax for the spotting .50 cal.
Bonus Points – all Australian Centurions in ‘Nam appear with a large auxiliary fuel tank fixed to the back plate. I’m pretty sure that this could be easily made from plasti-card and should really be present.
Danish Centurion Mk.5 DK
This started life as a Mk.3 but were upgraded to a Mk.5 standard later before being further upgraded with a 105mm and Danish unique night fighting apparatus (an early thermal system).
We build a Mk.5 but fit the non-sleeved 105mm (20) as our main gun in place of the 20pdr. Danish Centurions were fitted with pintle 0.5″ (absent from the sprue and the stats!) and this can be scratch built using one of the myriad spare 0.5″ a player picks up over the years (or use Skytrex).
Bonus Points – it would remiss of me not to shout out Morten Vang Alrø efforts to accurately model the Centurion DK including its night vision fitting. Check it out on facebook.
Mk.7, 8, 9 and 10
I’m combining these together because they are all basically the same set of upgrades, with the Mk.8 (and its related Mk.10) mainly differing in cupola detail.
The Mk.7 revised the hull to add extra fuel, always a shortcoming of the thirsty petrol Centurion. This was achieved, most noticeably, by revising the lower hull, ahem, giving it a bigger bum. This can be reflected by building as per the Mk.5 but using rear plate (31) in place of the normal (17). Whilst (31) is listed as being used with the Diesel engine, I believe the lower hull form is similar. The Mk.7 initially had the 20pdr (21) and was then upgunned to a 105mm(20) later.
The Mk.8 added a new No.4 cupola with a split hatch. This is not reflected on the sprue. It also added additional armour to the lower hull. It was similarly up-gunned later.
The Mk.9 designation was used for Mk.7 that had been both up-armoured and up-gunned.
The Mk.10 designation was used for Mk.8 that had been both up-armoured and up-gunned.
Sweden used the Mk.10 as the basis for its Stridsvagn 101, albeit with some Swedish specific kit. Its earlier 20pdr Mk.3 would be upgraded to similar standard, making is the Stridvagn 102. Both would reactive reactive armour and a new engine to make it the Stridsvagn 104. To build the 104, follow the instructions on the Team Yankee website, adding the sleeved 105mm (27), ERA armour (32 and 33) and the Diesel engine 25 and 31).
Jordan ordered the 105mm gun after the September crisis, realising its Mk.5 were somewhat dated compared to the Israeli and Syrian tanks it had had to fight. Fate of a Nation refers to these as being Mk.10 but other sources say they were Mk.7. I haven’t found a tie breaker, yet. Either way, without the revised cupola and manetlet, they will look much the same. The Mk.10 is built much like the Jordanian Mk.5 above except the early version of the 105mm (20) is fitted, along with the fatter rear plate (31) mentioned in the Mk.7/8 section above.
And now, to finish this article off, let’s look at the 105mm armed Israeli Sho’T.
Within the Fate of a Nation period, you have two versions. The 20pdr armed Mk.5 and 7 Centurions and the 105mm armed Sho’T. The Sho’T was an in-country upgrade of Mk.5, 7 and a handful of Mk.8. By the start of the Six Day War, most Centurions had been upgraded to this initial Sho’T standard, though some 20pdr Centurion Mk.5s (discussed in the Mk.5 section above) were used around Jerusalem,
The major change for the initial Sho’T Meteor to the Mk,5 was the addition of a 105mm main gun (20, plus a stowage bin for the US style search light. As such to build a Sho’T Meteor we need to do the following:
Turret – we start with the Common Turret Assembly. To this we add the un-sleeved 105mm (20). The Israeli’s, at this point, used a pintle 0.5″ MG that was mounted on an arm to one side of the cupola front. We can achieve this by finding a suitable 0.5″ MG on a pintle posting it and mounting it just to the commander’s left. I used a Skytrex 0.5″ with a long pintle post, glued it directly to the cupola and then built up a “arm” out of greenstuff.
We add two Jerry cans to the immediate rear of the turret. We also need to make a stowage bin for the searchlight that gets fitted behind the left side stowage bins. Its a fairly off shape, not being a simple box but having a wedge shapes front face.
The easiest way to build this is to take a Blue Stuff imprint mould of the old resin model. I had a box of the old resin centurions so was able to do this. Failing that we can just make it from scratch with green stuff.
The US style searchlight itself can be built by taking the larger part of the UK searchlight (28), cutting it down in depth by about half and cutting the guide rod off, then gluing the lense (34) on. This is then mounted on the top of the mantle cover, offset to the left (from the gunners perspective) of the barrel.
Hull – we build our Common Lower Hull Assembly (with skirts) and then add the Meteor engine deck (25). We then add our choice of rear plate; (17) for a Mk.5, (31) for a Mk.7 or 8. We can add the track links (6) to the front of the hull. They are quite a common addition but its not uncommon to see photos of the tank without them.
After the Six Day War, the tanks went through another modernisation phase, receiving a new engine. The Meteor had always been a thirsty, somewhat underpowered engine and so Israel went through a process of upgrading the Sho’T to use the same Diesel engine and transmission as its US tanks. This was called the Sho’T Kal and a number of them would see action in the Golan Heights, most famously in the “Valley of Tears”.
At the same time, it appears that some of the Kals received a new stowage bustle rack. This looks similar to the ones on the British tanks, but cut back to accommodate the US searchlight box. I found it was possible to modify the plastic parts of the stowage rack to match the shape of the Israeli version.
To build a Kal variant, we modify the turret of the Sho’T to delete the two fuel tanks and add the cut back stowage bin. The Lower Hull gets modified to replace the Meteor deck with the Continental Deck (25) and Rear Plate (31). We also use the combined driver light and track link piece. (30)
I followed the guide above to build a troop of Six Day War era Sho’T Meteor. These can be seen here:
Hopefully, this article helps shed some light on what all the pieces are for and provides some guidance on building the different variants used by the Battlefront games.
Of course we have only scraped the surface of options here. We haven’t touched the later versions of the Sho’T with ERA, nor the Indian and South African versions. No doubt we may see some of these in the future,
I am by no means an expert on the Centurion. If I have made an error on any of the above, or you have an interesting source that may clarify some of my assumptions then please let me know in the comments below.