ARM: Review - Centurion in Canadian Service

Book Review: "Weapons of War" Series; The Centurion in Canadian
Service by Don Dingwall; Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,
2005; 24 pp. with B&W photos and one painting diagram; price CDN $9.95;
ISBN 1-894581-20-2
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Advantages: covers the user's history of this popular tank in Canada
Disadvantages: Alas, still no decent kits of one on the market to use
this information in building!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all "Cent" fans and Canadian armor buffs
Over the years the Canadian Ministry of Defence found itself stuck
quite often between a rock (the US) and a hard place (the UK) when it
came to picking weapons systems. While in peacetime it was better to
"buy American" for servicing and compatibility, in wartime they
found themselves, as part of the Commonwealth, fighting as part of UK
formations with different kit. What to do?
In 1952 the Canadian Army began to take delivery of some 274 Centurion
Mark 3 tanks, and from that point on began a 38 year attachment with
the type. This was initially something of a shock as the tanks had a
steep user learning curve, especially the gunner.
Over the years the tanks were upgraded, first to Mark 5 status and
later to Mark 5/2 with the L7 105mm gun replacing the 20-lber. Next
came the Mark 6 with IR sights and lighting, and finally the Mark 11.
Radios were changed from UK pattern to Canadian pattern and finally to
US sets in 1968.
Even with the complex gunsights, the Canadian Centurion crews were
among the best in NATO, maintaining excellence with the tank up through
at least 1975. The highwater mark of the tank in Canadian service was
probably 1971 with over 315 gun tanks in service. But by June 1977 the
Centurion was on its way out, leaving first-line service in Canada in
1979 in favor of the new Leopard. Tanks were scrapped, quite often as
"hard targets" on gunnery ranges. A handful survive as memorials or
museum pieces today, such as a Mark 5 at CFB Borden in Worthington
This book is an indispensable aid to anyone wanting to do up a
Canadian "Cent" and has a good selection of photos and some general
information on unit markings and paint schemes.
Overall this is a handy aid. One thing not mentioned was that, due to
the excellence of their gunnery, one of the premier NATO competitive
events in Germany was the Canadian Army Trophy Shoot, or CAT. It is
probably most fitting to note that the trophy itself was a large-scale
sterling silver model of a Centurion Mark 5.
Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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IIRC much British training with Cents was done in Canada and possibly that of some other Commonwealth/NATO countries as well.
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