The Centurion Main Battle Tank 5, 6, 7, and 8 models were successively up-armored and up-gunned with the 105mm L7 series of guns.
The final version, the Centurion 13, was equipped with the 105mm L7A2 gun, the same one used on the West German Leopard 1; the Israeli Merkava; the American M-48A5, M-60, and M-l Abrams; the Japanese Type 74; and the Swedish Strv 103B Main Battle Tanks.
The Centurion Main Battle Tank's hull was divided into the usual three compartments. The driver's compartment was in front; the fighting compartment was in the center.
The engine compartment was in the rear and separated from the other two compartments by a fireproof wall. The engine and transmission drove the rear sprockets.
A Horst-mann-type suspension system was used, in which three units on a side each hold two road wheels on one set of concentric springs. Six return rollers were employed, but these were hard to see on the later model tanks since skirt armor for protection against high-explosive, antitank projectiles covered most of the tread.
The commander and gunner were seated on the right side of the turret; the loader on the left. The commander had a cupola that could be turned in a complete circle independently of the turret.
The gunner's station had a periscope sight with aiming devices that were linked to the commander's station. The loader's station had twin hatch covers and a periscope.
Infrared searchlights and driving lights were installed on later variations. Maximum armor thickness was 6 inches on the turret front and 4.6 inches on the hull glacis plate.
The L7A2 main gun had an effective range of 1,968 yards when using armor-piercing, discarding sabot rounds and 4,374 yards when using high-explosive squash head rounds. Trained crews could fire up to eight rounds per minute.
The main gun was aimed using a coaxially mounted .50-caliber machine gun that fired tracers in three-round bursts up to a range of 1,968 yards. The gunner watched the tracer rounds through a periscope gun sight and set the range on a drum device linked to the main gun.
Two 7.62mm NATO machine guns were also carried, one mounted on the commander's cupola and the other coaxially to the left side of the main gun for use against unarmored vehicles and enemy personnel. Later variations of the Centurion had 12 smoke dischargers, six mounted on either side of the turret.
The 13 models of the Centurion were built by four manufacturers: Leyland Motors, the Royal Ordnance Factory at Leeds, the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich, and Vickers, Ltd.
Five other vehicles based on the Centurion have also been built. These include two Centurion Mk 5 Bridgelayers, the Centurion Mk 2 and Mk 5 Armored Recovery Vehicles, and the Centurion Beach Armored Recovery Vehicle.
Although the Centurion went out of service with the British Army, it continued to be a potent punch in the arsenals of Denmark, Israel, Jordan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Somalia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
To learn about Centurion Main Battle Tank specifications, see our final section.