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An Israeli Super Centurion showing some of the features discribed in this article. (Photo: Janesís Armour and Artillery)

Super Centurion
Modelling an Upgraded Israeli Centurion in 1/76 Scale



by William Marshall



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During the period 1950 to 1960, Israel acquired some 400 Mk3 Centurion tanks, followed by 400 Mk5 tanks, mounting the 20 pdr gun. The original configuration did not suite the desert conditions the Israeli's were faced with. The Meteor petrol engine was not suited to these conditions.  

Most of these tanks were extensively modified by the Israeli Ordnance Corps. A 105mm L7A1 gun was mounted, the engine compartment was reconfigured to house the 750hp Continental AVDS-1790-2 series diesel engine, a new Allison CD850-6 automatic transmission was fitted and the fuel capacity was increased. A total of some 2000 modifications were made. The modified tanks have a travelling range of about 400km, a road speed of 43km/h and a cross-country speed of 17km/h. A power-to-weight ratio of 14.2 H/ton, and a turning radius of 13 metres instead of the original 40 metres.  

These modified Centurion tanks were then referred to as the Super-Centurion. All Israeli Centurions were upgraded and modified to this standard.



The Airfix 1/76 Scale Centurion


I used the Airfix 1/76 scale kit, this was not a new assembly as I had actually attempted to build this conversion many years ago. The kit was retrieved from the scrapyard and given a new lease of life. I firstly needed to strip the kit of all paint and body putty, I made use of oven cleaner in a spray can for this purpose. The oven cleaner seems to strip the paint much quicker than brake fluid and it has the added advantage of being oil free.


Overall view of the completed and unpainted model (Photo: Author) 





I started the modifications to the kit using mainly two sub-assemblies, the turret and the hull including the suspension.


Turret Corrections and Additions

The basic modifications needed to the turret are: 

a.                   New Main Gun with Thermal Sleeve. I scratchbuilt the main gun barrel by gluing three pieces of sprue together, of the correct diameter. The sprue was first sanded to the correct shape in a Dremel. I then covered the barrel in tissue paper soaked in white glue to simulate the thermal sleeve. I then added the thermal brackets and clamps from lead foil. Take note that the Centurion and Merkava have different types of clamps, check your references. 

b.                  Modify Main Gun Mantle. The mantle was made from epoxy putty covered in tissue soaked in white glue. Mantle cover attachment brackets were made from lead foil. A new co-axial Browning 12,7mm machine gun and mounting bracket were added from sprue. 

c.                   Turret Basket. The turret basket was made from fuse wire covered in fine bridal netting. This was then given a supeglue wash to strengthen the assembly. The rear jerrican holder was added after scratchbuilding it from plastic strip


Modifications to the left side of the turret. (Photo: Author)


d.                  Modifications to the Commanders Cupola. All detail was sanded off, new visor blocks were added from plastic card. The commanderís machinegun bracket was scratchbuilt from plastic strip and added. 

e.         The Gunners Hatch. The hatch is in the correct configuration and needs no modification, a bullet splash rail can be added to the left side of the hatch in the form of a suitable piece of plastic strip. 

f.          Search Light. No light was added as some vehicles did not have this feature and I felt that the Browing MG gave a good overall impression of the turret modifications. 

g.         Reactive Armour. This armour was added using various sizes of square pieces of plastic sanded to shape, with bolt heads simulated by drilling small holes in various positions on the reactive armour blocks.

h.         Other Additions. The wind sensor was made of various pieces of sprue and added to the rear of the turret deck. The   commanderís magazine box to the rear of the commanderís hatch was scratchbuilt and added.


Modifications to the right of the turret. (Photo: Author)



Hull and Suspension Corrections and Additions

The hull and suspension needed the following corrections and additions:  

a.                   Front Glacis Armour. I added the additional armour by cutting a piece of plastic card to the correct shape and gluing it to the front of the glacis. It was then trimmed to the correct dimensions and sanded smooth. 

b.                  Modify Engine Deck I scratchbuilt the rear engine deck to the correct Israeli version. This being the one with the five rows of louvers, similar in appearance to the M48/M60 type. I added hinges and handles from plastic and copper wire. The rear lights were made from sanded sprue.

Modifications to the engine deck can be seen on this over head view. (Photo: Author)


c.                   Modify Hull Stowage Boxes. I removed these boxes and cut them narrower by about 1 mm, this is to ensure that they do not extend to the edge of the sandguard.   

d.                  Modification to the Air Filter System. The air filter system was incased in a plastic card box on both sides of the vehicle. The intake pipe connection to the engine compartment was added. The assembly placement and spacing was checked with references. 

e.                   Add Gun Travel Bracket. The bracket was scratchbuilt from plastic card and tube. Glued together with MEK and sanded smooth. 

f.                    Modify Main Lights. The lights were scratchbuilt from plastic card shaped to the desired form and drilled out with a fine drill. 

g.                   Add Towing Cables. Making realistic towing cables is an art form in itself. There is only one way. You have to use the same technique to make the miniature as was used on the full-scale cable. Begin by using three strands of fine copper wire (you must use three or more, as a cable always consists of no less than three strands) You should then use uneven numbers i.e. three, five, seven, etc. Start by twisting them together in short lengths, making sure that the ends do not get tangled. The technique consists of twisting short lengths, unravelling the ends, doing another short length and unravelling the ends, this goes on until the desired length is reached. It takes time and care must be used to get a realistic result. 

h.         Add Reactive Armour. This armour was added using various sizes of square pieces of plastic with bolt heads simulated by drilling small holes in various positions on the reactive armour blocks.


The engine deck after painting . (Photo: Author)



Colours and Markings


Drawing showing the colours and markings.

The IDF used a unique colour of paint on its armoured vehicles during this period. I have seen it described as Israeli Olive Green or Golan Green and various other names. Various Humbrol colours can be used to mix your own colour. I used the easy way and made use of the Xtracolor  X810 Israeli Tank Sand Grey. The chevron identification markings were airbrushed on with some matt white paint sprayed through a mask cut in sellotape.

After the paint was dry I airbrushed it with Future and gave it a couple of days to dry. A light wash of dark grey oil paint was added. Road wheels were painted dark grey. The entire vehicle was drybrushed using a lighter shade of the base coat. The towing cable was painted dark grey and drybrushed with the same lighter shade.


Supercenturion detail markings





[1]        Caiti P, Modern Armour, Arms and Armour Press, 1978. 

[2]        Weller J, Tanks in the Middle East, Military Review, May 1976. 

[3]        Barbic' V, Upgraded Centurion, Military Modelling, March 1985. 

[4]        Underkircher T, Building an Israeli Centurion Mk V, Fine Scale Modeler, Vol 14, No1, Kalmbach Publ. Co, 1996. 

[5]        Hodgson A, An Israeli Centurion, Military Modelling, June 1980. 

[6]        Neate T, Israeli Upgraded Centurion: The Second Upgrading, Airfix magazine, February 1983.



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Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2001 by William Marshall
Page Created 01 September, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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