Centurion Mk.3 Korean War
AFV Club, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Al Bowie
The Centurion was the culmination of British tank design in WWII and was in essence the world’s first Main Battle Tank, fulfilling all of the tank roles previously afforded by mediums and heavies.
It arrived just as WWII ended and a period of user trials by recent combatants was held in Germany to settle on the final design of the A41 as it was then known.
The Mk.1 was standardised with a 17 pdr as its main gun and a 7.92mm BESA MG as the coax in an independent mount to offset the loss of the hull machine gun. This quickly transition with a new turret and mantlet with a coaxial machine gun into the Mk II. With new Soviet heavies such as the IS-3, a larger gun was needed and the 20 pdr (84mm) gun that started development in 1944 and was shelved at war’s end was adopted and fitted to the cast turret of the Mk.II in 1948 along with full axis gun stabilisation and an upgraded power pack becoming the Mk.III which became a very successful and numerous variant of the family. Many Mk II were converted to Mk III standard.
In 1950 it went to war for the first time during the Korean War where it proved to be the best tank that served in that conflict, gaining a reputation for hill climbing, mobility and excellent gunnery. It remained in production until 1956 when it was upgraded to the Mk.5 which saw the wartime BESA machine gun replaced by the universal Browning M1919A3 as its coax and Commander’s gun although Mk.III in Korea had the Commander’s machine gun already.
The kit is not AFV Club’s first foray into the world of Centurions and it is heavily based on the Mk.5 kit, which makes sense as the original Mk.5 was essential a minor upgrade of the late production Mk 3.
Moulded in the familiar AFV Club Olive Drab plastic, the kit fills out its box well with new sprues for the specific Mk.III features such as early turret top design, exhaust deflectors, top loading bins etc.
Many of the original Mk.5 parts are still included in the kit and both an early and late Mk.3 may be built from the kit, which is very useful if you want to backdate to a Mk.2.
The kit will be familiar to anyone who has built the Mk.5 kit and still has the vinyl roadwheel rims.
It includes a beautiful turned metal Type A 20 pdr barrel and a vinyl mantlet cover plus real springs for the suspension units.
The kit contains photo-etch and offers markings for four Korean War vehicles and one Hong Kong based example in 1961. The marking options are as follows:
The markings are complete and for overall green vehicles however option B has the name “Abbots Pride” spelt as ABBDTS PRIDE.
This kit is a great addition along with AFV Club’s new Mk.1 kit and allows the early Centurion Family to be built without much fuss.
I heartily recommend this kit to any fan of the Korean War, British Armour or Centurions. The Mk II was purchased by most countries that adopted the Centurion so a wide variety of schemes will be available.
Purchased by reviewer.
Text by Al Bowie