Now it's time to have a look inside the turret
I would like at this time to describe the conditions inside the turret.
You have three people in there and the gunner sits forward and down in the bottom right hand side.
He mostly has his head pressed against the forehead foam rest and is looking out through his scopes/gunsight.
His left hand is on the elevation wheel and his finger on the firing button of the 20 pound main gun.
The right hand is on the travis control and his feet are on one of the machine gun firing controls either the .30 Cal or the .50 Cal , or both.
The Crew Commander sits directly behind him and when opened up his seat is extended upwards and he sits with his feet just about in contact with the gunners head. This allows him instant contact with the gunner via a kick in the head.
On the other side the operator has about 18 inches by about 4 ft to work in and not all that much to do, only watch, control and use two and sometimes three radio's, keep them netted in and as well he looks after the loading and the working (Clearing stoppages) of two machine guns and the twenty pound main gun. He must also keep the empty cases controlled and has to throw many out of the tank as he goes along. Then of course the driver will call him to make a brew!
Add to this the noise of the motor and guns, dust and water (if its winter) Petrol fumes, hot oil fumes and the cordite fumes from the firing guns, most of which enter the tank when the shells are exited from the guns.
If the cupola lid happens to be open when the 20 pounder goes off the blast will blow your beret out the cupola lid, at the same time causing every bit of dust, dirt and muck to try and do the same thing via the crew. It then settles down for the next shot which repeats the process. At the end of the day you have no idea how dirty and dusty you can become, and if you are living in the bush for a couple of weeks you can imagine what you are like when you arrive back at camp and showers. For this reason alone all tanks have portable showers that are hung from the main gun for crews to shower under. Another reason why so much water is carried on the back in jerry cans. The poor old infantry men could not believe it when they have to carry about six water bottles just as drinking water and then walk past a Centurion in the bush with a crewman having a shower.
It took three men to have a shower, one to have the shower, another to stand on the back of the Cent and refill the shower from the water containers, and the third to traves the gun to the rear to refill the container and then traves it again over the chap having the shower. Then it was swap around for the next guy.
I did mention that in the winter it could get wet in a Centurion
I have not mentioned crews body odour or perspiration, I will leave that to your imagination.
Showing the .50 and .30 ammo feeds from the liners (Liner is the name for the box that the ammo is stored in) Note the tube and chain on the right of the .30 cal, this is the cocking handle, as the .50 stops you reaching the normal handle. In the early Centurions the .30 was where they put the .50, so a new mount was setup for the .30 and room was in short supply.
Note the white X's. One X is the operators periscope.
Two XX's, is the feed roller for the .50 Cal
Three XXX's is the feed roller for the .30 Cal
The breech block for the main gun---not a place to be careless with your fingers ---you will lose them.
The crew commanders cupola and seat (Old type)
Note storage spaces - everything has its place
Opposite side. The back of the operators compartment. Note radio rack and more storage bins
Looking across the gun from the operators side to the gunners side
The left hand side of the operators compartment Note .30 and .50 cal storage boxes on right
The lever opens the pistol port where empty shell can be pushed out.
Storage bins for .30 and .50 cal liner boxes LHS operators compartment
These are the same one's shown in earlier picture - in this case they are empty
The top of the main gun
The gunners position note the headrest (Top right) when viewing through the Sights / Scope (not in place )
The black handle beside the turret Indicator is the elevation control with a red firing button for the main gun
Bottom right is the hand travis control for traversing the turret, left or right
Right hand side of gunners compartment
Another shot of the radio rack
Storage bins behind the crew commanders seat
View from the operators side to the gunners side the power travis control is mid photo
Just clasp it and turn either left or right and away you go. Used by the crew commander when closed down
He has another control on the cupola when opened up.
Closed down means the lid is locked and everyone is inside the tank, using scopes to view.
Opened up the driver has his head out as does the Crew Commander. The operator can also have his hatch open
Showing the operators position - scope, light and .30 and .50 cal machine gun position
Empty basket case The empty shell is extracted and hits the back plate and then drops into the basket
in action this will fill quickly and the operator has another job as loose cases could jam the turret
He has to throw them out the pistol port or if the hatch above is open, out there they go.
THIS SHOWS THE GUNNERS SEAT WITH THE BACKREST REMOVED
This book was given to me by Neil McLean of Perth Neil runs a Rolls Royce and Bentleigh dealership in Perth. The book was put out by the Australian Army for the sale of the Centurions and the spares. Its about one inch thick and very good condition. One great value was that it lists all the Centurions by number, and for the first time states just exactly how many were sold. (The Army did not sell them all and kept about 30 for museum and displays as well as some Hard Targets on Gunnery Ranges ) I am now able to work out exactly which ones went where, except for one small item which I cannot write about here.
I think this is 169012 Holding ground at the 1st Armoured Regiment at Palmerston, Darwin, in the early days
Any info on this photo would be appreciated as I am unaware where it came from.
This is a shot inside the Horseshoe in South Vietnam
In any sort of wet conditions you can see how the tankies have to deal with mud.