Thursday, October 6, 2011

Centurion Tank (a real one not a toy one)

Recently I went to a Public Display event at Roberston Barracks near Darwin. 1st Brigade is based at the Barracks and the 5RAR had a ‘Beating the Retreat’ parade at the conclusion of the event. It is based on an old tradition and not seen all that often these days by the sounds of it. What I recall from the narration is that it used to be a regular occurence observed at the conclusion of the days military activitys (must have been a time like in Naploean times when fighting ceased at sunset). The conclusion of the parade included the tradition of guns being fired that descends from the meaning that it will scare off the ghosts of the enemy dead. The noise from this was just incredible and they handed out earplugs if you wanted them.

Soldiers from Robertson Barracks have had a lot of overseas deployment in recent times including Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. It still strikes me as odd and I am not sure why, that so many young blokes (and not so young blokes) are now combat veterans and the amount of medals on display was testament to that. Heck even the bomb dogs me and my daughter patted had recently returned from active service. the ADF people who serve this wide flat red dirt nation now, in the past and into the future have my utmost respect.

On static display was Abrams tanks, Bushmasters, ASLAV and M113AS4. Mobile displays included Tiger helicopters doing a few fly bys, Abrams ran over some cars, Combat engineers did a rapid bridge build (and broke their record time), a small mock infantry attack, and an artillery gun race. I took a few pics so will get around to psoting more of them in the future. But for now here are some images of a Centurion that was being used as an adventure playground by hordes of kids.

The Plaque reads...

“This Centurion Tank was rebuilt from Tank Number 169041 which belonged to C Squadron 1st Armoured Regiment. On 14 Dec 1968 during operations with 1st Australian Task Force in Phuoc Tuy Province Republic of Vietnam it sustained extensive damage in a Mine attack and was returned to Australia. After being rebuilt it was returned to Vietnam in 1969.”
The Tank really is a huge beast.

I went and did a quick Google on Centurion tanks and came across this in Wikipedia which was a real surprise.

The Atomic TankAn Australian Army Mk 3 Centurion Type K, Army Registration Number 169041, was involved in a nuclear blast test at Emu Field in Australia in 1953 as part of Operation Totem 1. Built as number 39/190 at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Barnbow in 1951 it was assigned the British Army number 06 BA 16 and supplied to the Australian Commonwealth Government under Contract 2843 in 1952.

It was placed less than 500 yards (460 m) from the epicentre and left with the engine running. Examination after detonation found it had been pushed away from the blast point by about 5 feet (1.5 m) and that its engine had stopped working only because it had run out of fuel. Antennas were missing, lights and periscopes were heavily sandblasted, the cloth mantlet cover was incinerated, and the armoured side plates had been blown off and carried up to 200 yards (180 m) from the tank. Remarkably the tank could be driven from the site. Had it been manned the crew would probably have been killed by the shock wave.

169041, subsequently nicknamed The Atomic Tank, was later used in the Vietnam War and is now located at Robertson Barracks in Palmerston, Northern Territory. Although other tanks were subjected to nuclear tests, 169041 is the only tank known to have withstood atomic tests and subsequently gone on for another 23 years of service, including 15 months on operational deployment in a war zone.

1 comment: