by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
Originally published on:
The Centurion Mk.11LR played a very important role in the evolution of the Centurion family of tanks over its multiple decades of use. The Mk.11LR is denoted by the multiple modifications and upgrades brought together to enhance the base Centurionís ability to perform effectively on the Cold War battlefield.
Those recognizable modifications that denote a Mk.11LR are:
- Glacis plate uparmouring
- Dual Infrared (IR) headlights and searchlight
- 100 gallon external fuel tank (The LR stands for Long Range)
- 105 mm barrel with thermal cover
- Modified mantlet with .30 Cal / 7.62 mm Coaxial machine gun and .50 Cal ranging machine gun ports
These modifications brought together firepower, protection, and mobility to the fullest capability on the Centurion in the 1960s.
As far as I can am able to research, only the British and Canadian Armies fielded the Centurion Mk.11LR. The British version could be seen in the standard green and black camouflage indicative of many British main battle tanks of the period. The Canadian Mk.11LR version actually saw four unique camouflage schemes over its use.
For modellers wanting to build the Centurion Mk.11LR in 1/72 scale, they now have the Cromwell Models full resin kit. The kit represents the generic version of the Mk.11LR, but can be modified and further detailed as the modeller desires to make it British or Canadian.
The conversion consists of 31 parts by my count. Included are:
- 105 mm barrel
- Commanderís hatch
- Loaderís hatch x2
- Driverís hatch x2
- Air deflector
- .30 Cal GPMG
- Tow pintles x 4
- Tow shackles x4
- Towing hook
- Exhaust flange x 2
- Gun crutch
- Searchlight stowage rack left side
- Searchlight stowage rack rear
- Tow cables x 4
The quality of the parts overall is very good. The details are very well-done on most pieces, but vague or missing on some others. While the casting blocks are overall well-placed, small care must be taken during parts removal due to the fragile nature of some of the pieces. There is a bit of flash and resin residue on some parts that will need to be cleaned-up to bring the full detail to fruition. There are thick casting lugs running along the bottom of each set of tracks that will need to be removed in order for the tracks to sit flush on the ground. The turret will require very little clean-up, and it seated easily into the hull during a trial fit.
The single piece cast hull includes the full hull, the 100 gallon external fuel tank, the side skirts, the road wheels, and the tracks. Starting at the front, the add-on glacis plate armour is visible even in 1/72nd. The dual headlights and spare track links are cast-on, but there are no covers included for the headlights. The front fenders include the fender extensions, which could commonly be seen mounted on Centurions in the 1960s.
Moving up the hull, the driverís hatches need to be attached. There is both external and internal detail included for the driverís two periscopes on the hatches. Unfortunately, the way the periscopes are positioned on the hatches indicates they must be in the closed position. When the hatches are open, the periscopes actually rotated 90 degrees inward to permit proper locking. Ensure you test-fit the parts and know which are the right and left hatches. The driverís windscreen box is properly-mounted to the left of the driverís hatch.
There are nice details in this scale on the hull stowage bins and the exhausts. The cast-on side skirts compliment the hull. You will see that there is solid resin underneath the rear side skirt sections if the angle is correct.
The only pioneer tools present are the two shovels on the right hull side. Missing are the sledge hammer and track bar from the right side, and the pickaxe handles and pickaxe heads from the left side. These items will have to be scratch-built or sourced by the modeller. It is too bad these items were not included on the cast hull.
The engine deck is nicely cast and both the grills and louvers look terrific. The 100 gallon external fuel tank sits solidly on the rear hull, and the brackets on the left, right, and top are finely-detailed. There was a significant air bubble hole on the bottom on my sampleís fuel tank, but this is an easy fix with putty. The tank telephone has been correctly re-positioned on the left side of the fuel tank.
The tow pintles, tow shackles, gun crutch, air deflector, tow pintles, and exhaust flanges are nice additions and will look great on the build. There are four half sections of tow cables included. These are very delicate, and only three were located in my sample. These will for sure need to be trimmed very carefully, and the use of hot water dipping will be essential to get the parts to align and sit and sag properly.
The turret casting consists of the turret, stowage bins, and rear hull stowage basket. For 1/72nd scale, the details are very nice and include tie-downs and straps on the stowage bins. On the rear stowage basket, a fine mesh pattern detail is visible and it is cast full of gear.
The canvas mantlet looks very nice, and the dual machine gun ports are properly positioned. There are tiny little fire extinguishers mounted on the front turret stowage boxes, and super-fine wiring for the grenade dischargers runs across the turret. The loaderís and commanderís hatches are nicely formed and detailed, as are the two banks of grenade dischargers.
Moving to the back of the turret, the very delicate parts to form the searchlight stowage bracket will need special attention preparing them for mounting, especially to get the alignment correct. They are very finely-cast and should look great once in position.
The highpoints of the turret as far as I am concerned are the thermal wrapped barrel and the searchlight. The barrel has distinct thermal coverings and texturing. Five casting lugs will have to be removed and carefully sanded to not take away from the thermal wraps. The searchlight is cast with the lens visible and no soft canvas cover. The details overall are well-pronounced, and the mount itself looks excellent. I think the upper left corner of the mantlet will accept the searchlight mount with minimal fiddling.
The antenna mounts are small but detailed enough to tell they are the British style mounts. There is nice detail in the commander`s hatch ring with visible light between the periscopes. A small pintle-mounted .30 Cal machine gun with ammunition box tops off the turret detailing.
decals and instructions
The kit is perfect in this department: there are no instructions, no decals and no painting guide included. Modellers may have difficulties with fitting some of the small parts without instructions. Whenever possible, seek out reference images prior to attaching parts. The same applies to painting or marking: modellers will have to seek out reference images to build the tank of their choice and use the appropriate colour scheme and markings.
I am very much a 1/35th scale modeler, but it is very interesting to see a 1/72nd kit with nicely-cast parts, visible detail, multiple aspects of accuracy, and a reasonable price tag.
This kit will build into a decent Centurion Mk.11LR, minus some basic details present on the real tank. It would have been nice to have included the remaining pioneer tools and the headlight guards, but there may be some limitations to creating a kit like this in small scale. If you are a small scale Centurion buff, I recommend the kit, especially for those not afraid to delve into research and add details to the base kit.
Out of the box, the kit will build into a standard British-version Mk. 11LR. As I stated earlier, you can also use it to build a Canadian version. Out of the box, the Canadian variant would be a mid-1960s to about 1967. The Canadian Mk.11LRs served in West Germany, and would have been painted in one of the four colour paint schemes for that area and time period.