As the breaking dawn pushed back the morning rain showers,
the unfolding soft light reveals a Troop of Centurions of the
Australian 1st Armoured Regiment, as they prepare to depart
their first way point on another "In Country" operation.
In perhaps his best armour painting to date, artist Barry Spicer
has portrayed in his inimitable style, a Centurion patrol as it
prepares to set off into the Vietnamese bush on a perimeter
defence operation. One can almost smell the freshness of the
new morning that has been cleansed by early rain showers
and now infused with the first flush of the breaking dawn. As
the supporting infantry thread their way forward through the
wet vegetation, the tankies are getting ready to move out.
During the Vietnam conflict, as part of the Australian
commitment, a half squadron of tanks was sent to Sth Vietnam
in February 1968 with the remainder arriving later in the year.
The unit was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province and
served both in Australian operations and joint operations with
US forces. Officially, Centurions of the 1st Armoured Regiment
served in South Vietnam from 29th Jan 1968 to 30th Sept. 1971.
A and B Squadron completed one tour and C Squadron two.
Despite initial skepticism, the Centurion proved very effective
at fighting in the paddy-fields and jungles of Vietnam. Well
known battles in which they proved their worth included the
battle of Fire Support Base (FSB) Coral and the defense of
FSB Balmoral, during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and in fighting
around Binh Ba and Operation Matilda.
The Centurion tank was a 1943 British design to combat the
2nd generation WWIi German tanks such as the Panther and
the Tigers, but it was too late to fight in that conflict. The upgunned
20 pounder version became the mainstay of the British
and some NATO forces during the 1950s and 60s.
The Centurion first saw action in Korea in 1951[, where it
proved itself as the best performing tank in this tHeatre. It is
reported that a pair of Centurions had to be abandoned during
operations in the Imjin River area in Korea, and Ito prevent
them falling into enemy hands they were both pounded by
armour-piercing rounds from a range of only 50m. Dfspite this,
neither tank could be destroyed and both were subsequently
recovered and repaired.
It was also used extensively by the Israeli Defence Force in
both the 6 Day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The Indian Armoured Corps had great success with their
Centurions particularly in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
In 1949, the Centurion was ordered by Australia. However,
the initial consignment was instead sent to the 8th King's Royal
Irish Hussars at the outbreak of the Korean War, so the first
batch did not arrive into Australia until October, 1951. In all, the
Australian fleet consisted of 131 Centurions, including six ARV's
Mk2, four Bridge-layers and four Tank-dozers. These served
with the 1st Armoured Regiment and the Armoured Centre both
based in Puckapunyal, Vic. until replaced by the Leopard AS1 s
The Mk 5/1 (Aust.) mounted a 20 pounder main gun, a .50
inch ranging machine gun and a .30 inch co-axial machine gun
mounted in the mantlet as well as an L3A4 .30 inch machine gun
fitted to the commanders cupola on a flexible mount. Its 52 ton
bulk was powered by a Rolls Royce Meteor Mk IVB petrol engine
with an extra 100 gallon external fuel tank attached to the rear
and it was manned by a crew of 4 comprising the commander,
gunner, driver and loader.
Centurion - "In Country"
Limited to 200 Prints, Certificate of Authenticity provided
Full colour, 785mm (width) x 585mm (height)
Centurion - "In Country"
Limited Edition Print
signed by Artist and numbered
Limited to 200 Editions
Price: US$130.00 plus shipping