A lot of the pleasure I get from our hobby comes from research.
So ahead of a Cent build blog, here is some of the stuff I've found on the way to re-creating a Royal Australian Armoured Corps Centurion Mk 5/1 which served in Vietnam in 1969.
In June 1969, a combined arms force fought one of the three major engagements of the Australian war in Vietnam, at a village called Binh Ba. The action lasted over three days and resulted in the defeat of a North Vietnamese Army regiment. Two troops of Centurions were involved and the vehicle I've chosen to re-create is ARN 169007, callsign 24A of Four Troop, B Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment,named "Buku Boom Boom".
A good summary of the battle is here:http://www.5rar.asn.au/narrative/Battle-of-Binh-Ba.pdf
and a short film made by the Australian War Memorial is here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK8TJFMs51c
This is a schematic of the action:
and here, some photos of the action:
One of the 2 Troop Cents hit by RPG-7 rocket:
The Australian War Memorial has a lot of material and I've been able to download the actual War Diaries for the units involved, including the complete After Action Report from the infantry, 5 Royal Australian Regiment. They give a real feel for the operation:https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm95/
Here is the Australian tactical map of Binh Ba:
Two weeks ago, I was in Hanoi and in the Vietnamese Army Museum I found by chance a large NVA tactical map, which in an amazing coincidence had this detail of the same area:
The most rewarding part of this research has been talking via email to Bob Ferrari and other members of 4 Troop and to other knowledgeable members of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, who have all been marvellous. Almost by return of post to one of my early messages, I received a disc with two collections of photos and I've selected a few of Buku Boom Boom below. Bob and his mates have kindly offered to help with getting the detail right and I'm already indebted to them for their kindness.
A roadside mine that was discoverd:
The Aussie Cents were progressively modified in theatre and it's a challenge to establish the build standard of a vehicle at a particular time. Shortly after Binh Ba, Buku Boom Boom suffered a hit from a 30lb Chicom mine and was replaced. This adds complication because its replacement appears in a number of photos but was of a later build standard.
The main mods to convert Mark's supreme Mk 5/2 will be:
- 20 pdr gun barrel
- 100 gall external fuel tank
- additional glacis plate armour
- modification of hull catwalks to Vietnam standard
- deletion of smoke grenade dischargers, cable reel and re-position Inf/tk telephone
- addition of .50 ranging machine gun and .30 cal ammunition stowage on turret.
- addition of IR searchlight and modified stowage basket
- addition of spare roadwheel stowage on glacis
Roll on delivery and thanks to Mark for the excellent blog.
Any other Aussie Cents out their? Anyone for a bridgelayer or ARV?