THE CENTURION PAGES
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Whilst researching the recent SMM Centurion projects, I have realised what a confusing and complex subject the Centurion is.

There seems to be a general perception amongst modellers that all Centurion road wheels were identical. This is not the case.

Not all Centurions were equipped with the wheels as depicted in the AFV Club kits with 6 holes around the rims. Tamiya and Amusing Hobby have also fallen into the same trap. In many instances, real tanks had a mixture of wheels both with and without any holes.

I have tried to bring this to your attention by offering two further types of wheel not catered for by AFV Club or the other manufacturers in 1.35 scale (of course).

Original production road wheels only had 3 holes. These appeared right from the start on A41, Mks.1, 2 and 3, and most likely also Mk.5s (converted from Mk.3s).

These 3-hole wheels were replaced at some point by solid wheels. It is not known when or why the change-over happened, nor the reason for having holes in the first place. The change POSSIBLY happened when the ZR VRNs changed to BAs.

One reason for the change could be that different suppliers were sought who preferred a simpler production solution, and the holes disappeared for a while.

The holes were certainly not there to decrease weight or clear mud. They are simply too small. It is possible they were there to reduce stress fractures as a fracture will stop at a hole. But that is pure supposition.

Later on, 6-hole wheels appeared. A well-known and respected author has put forward a theory that during early Chieftain development there was a scheme to add road wheel covers (like the SID Chieftain experiment), hence the 6 fixing holes. Centurion road wheels were interchangeable with Chieftain (identical apart from hubs), also commonly seen with different combinations. Of course, covers were never ever fitted to either tank.

6-hole wheels are depicted by all three current Centurion model manufacturers as already noted. These need to be drilled out for a better effect. Very often, individual tanks could be seen with a mixture of two or more different style wheels.


SMM have introduced the early wheels with just 3 holes as a full set of 24 wheels (SMM3553W). In addition, a half set of 12 wheels with NO holes is available (SMM3552W), the intention being to mix and match with 6-hole plastic kit wheels, the most common mixture combination. Two sets would be needed for a full set, if desired.

I hope this is of interest and that some have been enlightened.


 

I have done my best to find the correct information for these Centurion sets. I have no doubt that there may be mistakes.
If you have any comments or corrections, please let me know here.

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