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Tamiya's 1/35th
British Centaur
C.S. Mk. IV

Cruiser Tank Mk. VIII, A27L

MSRP: $33.00

GREATMODELS PRICE $24.74

By Ray Mehlberger

 

History

Designs were requested by the British Army, in July, 1940, for a new heavy cruiser tank to replace the A15 Crusader. Three designs were proposed, the A23, A24, and A27. The A23 was rejected; the Nuffeld Mechanisation & Aero Company's A24 would later become the Cavalier. The Birmingham Railway Carraige & Wagon Company proposed A27 was powered by the Rolls Royce Meteor engine, which was based on the Merlin Mk.III airplane engine. Unfortunately, the Meteor engine couldn't be mass-produced at the time. Due to this shortage, Leyland Motors proposed a new tank named the A27L that could be powered by either Liberty or Meteor engines. The A27L was renamed the Centaur and the A27 renamed the Cromwell. The prototype arrived in July 1942. Production started one month later. The prototype revealed a serious flaw of the Liberty engine; it shook apart at high revolutions, relegating the Centaur to training duties. The Centaur Mk. I was equipped with a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. The Mk. II rode on wide 15.5 inch tracks. The Mk. III used the 75mm gun, but the Mk. IV close support tank employed the 95mm tank howitzer Mk. I. The howitzer used three types of ammunition, smoke, high explosive, and high explosive anti-tank. The effective range of this weapon was 2,500 meters. These tanks were the only tanks to have been used by the Royal Marines and the only centaurs to go into battle.

The Centaur Mk. IV At Normandy

After the 1942 Dieppe raid, the Royal Marine Division refined the techniques for combined operations, such as assault landings on enemy fortified beaches. The division was later disbanded, but the Armored Support Group it proposed was formed in early 1944. The ASG was responsible for providing fire support to the infantry units used in the initial assault on the Normandy beaches. The tanks would fire their guns while offshore in their landing crafts; they would then land and continue their work from the beach. To assist the fire support, white degree markings were placed on the turrets. The markings could be read by binocular equipped spotters, this helped align the turrets even if smoke obscured the direct line of sight to the target. The ASG was dispersed along the three landing areas of the 2nd British Army, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. The Centaurs were used to destroy beach-obstacles, pill-boxes, and other strong points that dotted the beaches. The ASG were ordered to stay on the beaches, but the Royal Marines ignored the order, re-grouped and were soon driving inland attacking targets of opportunity. Forces engaged were the German 711th and 718th Infantry Divisions. There were also some clashes with the 21st Panzer Division. As the beachhead was consolidated, many of the Royal Marines , including the ASG, were withdrawn back to Britain. All were reported to have left Normandy by the end of June.

What Is In The Box?

 

This kit comes close on the heels of Tamiya's earlier Cromwell Mr. IV kit no. MM 221. This new version has a different turret and gun on it, housing the 95mm mentioned in the above history. It also features a second tank crewman figure. There is no hedge cutting device in this new kit like there was in the Cromwell kit. There is even a nice gun breach for inside the turret - but other details will have to be added there.

The kit consists of approximately 229 dark green plastic parts. The molding is crisp and sharp and no flash is evident anywhere on the parts. Also included are 18 rubber polycaps for retaining the road wheels, a small square of plastic screen material for the air intake on the rear of the Centaur, a length of white string to fabricate tow cables from, and a tree of clear parts that are labeled as 'G' tree - but I fail to find these parts anywhere on the instructions??? Some of these clear parts look like they could be goggles for the crewmen, but the rectangular pieces puzzle me - periscope lenses???

The decals consist of two different vehicles . . both sporting the degree marks on the turret, that are mentioned in the above history.

One marking is for a tank of the RMASG, 1st Armoured Support Regiment, 2nd Battery, H Troop (Normandy, France, June 1944)

The second decal marking is for a tank of the RMASG, 5th Independent Battery (Normandy, France, June 1944)

This vehicle can be built with many of the hatches either open or closed. The boxart is a excellent color guide and has profiles of the Centaur printed in color on the side panels.

 

Summary

I highly recommend this tank to armor modelers that enjoy tanks used by Britain during WWII.

This kit is being sent to our Junior Armor Reviewer, Juho Ala-jaaski in Finland, for a future full build review.

I want to thank Greatmodels excellent on-web hobby shop for providing this review sample.




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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM
87199-0933
USA

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