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The Centurion Log Book Story


All Centurions were issued with a log book and an ARN (Australian Registration Number). Both were to stay with the tank for life. In the case of Centurions damaged, BER (Beyond Economical Repair) and they had been stripped down and another hull fitted, and then rebuilt, the rebuild took the ARN from the damaged tank and the log book.

The 105 Centurions brought by Empire Trading were sold without Log Books. This caused quite a lot of trouble, just repainting the ARN on the front and rear was enough to change the ID of the tank.

The other means of identity was the Brass plate in the driver’s compartment but these had all been removed by crews before the sale.

In effect there was only a couple of other ways to id a Centurion, and these items were, in the main, unknown to the general buyers.

The log books of the remaining army tanks were kept in them even if they sat for years as a gate guard or held ground on army establishments. The log books in the main are now in possession of Mike Cecil at the Australian War Memorial. Mike will pass on some of the history of Centurions to the new owners if he is contacted.

I managed to obtain copies of two Centurion log books and they make wonderful reading. The record kept of rounds fired in Vietnam is amazing. The gun had to be fired every month and the bore measured on a regular basis. Reading of 2 rounds or 4 rounds being fired each month and then, 64 and 71 rounds fired in the next two month’s. What had happened in that period to see such an increase in rounds fired --- what action had taken place --- what had been the outcome.

Then the damage reports --- some tanks never took a hit but others suffered drastically, many had multi mine damage, as well as multi RPG hits, one tank returned to base with no rounds left and 6 RPG strikes. Reading these reports leaves you with the knowledge that these guys risked their life on a daily basis.

 Then there were the engines, in the two log books I read, many had multi motor changes.  169090 had 13 motors and many years are missing., but I imagine she was in storage a few times

17-07-61 Reached achievable mileage. New motor R45396

03-06-63 Motor replaced                     New Motor R47496

27-09-63 Motor replaced                     New Motor R48059

28-04-65 Motor replaced                     New Motor R47496

16-09-68 Motor replaced                     New Motor R49649 

19-09-68 Motor replaced                     New Motor R49813 oil pump seized --- I mile

07-12-68 Motor replaced                     New Motor R46107

31-05-69 Motor replaced                     New Motor R45524

12-05-70 Motor replaced                     New Motor R47957

09-07-71 Motor replaced                     New Motor R45168

14-08-71 Motor replaced                     New Motor R45675

05-06-74 Motor replaced                     New Motor R44339

12 Motor changes – this was by no means isolate

This log book was supplied by Ian Summers from the Yarrawonga R.S.L who now own 169090



169067 from Cowra in NSW also had a few motors -- over a ten year period she had seven main motors replaced

10-03-66     New motor and clutch     Then on 03-06-66 she received another new clutch

13-04-70     New main motor

24-05071    New main motor

05-03-72     New main motor

29-08-72     New main motor

30-09-75     New main motor

05-11-76     New main motor

The owner of 169067 supplied the log book



This is part of a history written by Mike Cecil

Senior Curator of Military Technology  Australian War Memorial

By mid-May 1971, ARN 169026 had covered over 2500 miles on operations in South Vietnam, and consumed at least 6 meteor engines in the process. But it was not the enemy or mechanical unreliability that would almost be the end of this tank. One afternoon during May 1971, the tank was routinely covered with a tarpaulin whilst in unit lines, only to have both Tarpaulin and accumulated vegetation on the tank catch fire from the hot exhaust pipe! Fortunately, the quick actions of nearby crews prevented the fire from taking hold, and not much damage was done

  By June, ARN 169026 had covered around 2,700 miles, and was subsequently returned to Australia for another base overhaul. This was carried out in 1972, and the tank was placed in storage   with 31 Supply Battalion   at Bandiana. Here it stayed for a couple of years, until issued to 1st Armoured Regiment in late April 1975 with just 36 miles on the odometer. ARN 169026 served with the 1st Armoured Regiment until mid01977, when C Squadron converted to the new Leopard AS1. By this time it had completed another 860 miles around the Puckapunyal range area, and consumed another 3 Meteor engines! 


I enjoy Anzac Day and taking my grandson Tom along makes it even better. In 2005 myself and my grandson Jason carried Tom in the March. He was only three. In 2006 Tom wanted to march. We started off, but Tom is a little short on legs at this point of time so we had to carry him again. We were at the rear of the 1st Armoured Regiment group, so as not to hold up or inconvenience anyone. We were being followed by a Ferret Scout Car. As we crossed Flinders St, the march halted and the guys in the Ferret called out, "Does the kid want a ride"? I knew Tom would love to be in the Ferret so I passed him up and he stood in between two old diggers, the chap on the left is a WW11 Vet Lt-Col Frank Pearson aged 92

I had left my camera at home, much to my disgust, and looking back wished I could have  a photo of Tom. He was in his element and really enjoying himself.

At that moment I saw a lady in the crowd who was holding a very nice camera. I pulled out my wallet and extracted a card with my name and email address, stepped across and handed her the card and said, "Could you take a photo of that young kid for me please"!. I then stepped back into the march. I waited a couple of weeks but the photo never arrived. No worries, I was disappointed but realised that many things would have stopped the lady, no more film, no idea what I was on about.

Then last night, seven months later, I received an email from the lady, Lorraine Holden, with an excellent copy of the photo, with the explanation she had just got to see it, (maybe took a while to finish the film ?) Anyway I was over the moon to receive it, and another example of the nice people in the world today.



169042 was one of the Moliagul Tanks, two that sat in a paddock for years. She has now been moved to Kingston SA where her owner lives. Ken Noble was driving past and saw her and managed to take a couple of photos for me. Ken also sent me some photos of the Abrams being unloaded, so is a regular reader of my site. This one was taken outside the wire fence

Another shot I would imagine with the camera lens poked through the wire

Without the help of people like Ken a lot of the photos on this site would not exist, so my thanks again to Ken.

A graphic shot from Vietnam


These two photos show 3 Troop in 1971, proceeding through a Bunker system out from "Lindy"

Photo's taken by lliya Todorovic