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Centurions - In Country


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 in 1977.

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.

Print Specifications

Main Print:

Centurion - "In Country" Limited Edition
Limited to 200 Prints, Certificate of Authenticity provided
Full colour, 785mm (width) x 585mm (height)

Standard Edition

Centurion - "In Country"
Limited Edition Print

signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 200 Editions
Price: US$130.00 plus shipping





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