Posted May 11, 2018 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature
 
 

Australian Centurion Tank Launches in World of Tanks (and We Got to Drive One)


If I had to sum up my expectations for riding in a tank, a word I’d never include would be ‘surprisingly comfortable’. Yet, that’s exactly how I felt as I trundled along in a Centurion tank in South Gippsland this Monday, as the heavily armoured vehicle crested hills and plowed through muddy ponds. Sure, it’s loud, and there’s a huge amount of preparation and technical knowledge needed to get the old girl up and running, but in my humble opinion it’s by far one of the best ways to experience the countryside – perched inside the gunner’s seat on a fifty-tonne tank.

I was lucky enough to be able to ride (twice) in a Centurion thanks to the tank’s launch in Wargaming’s World of Tanks for PC. From today, World of Tanks players will be able to access the Centurion Mk. 5/1 RAAC, one of the modifications of the postwar British Centurion Mk. V tank. It joins the ever-expanding list of tanks available, which already features the British Centurion Mk. I and Mk. VII, as well as the Centurion Action X. As a Tier VIII vehicle, the Centurion Mk. 5/1 RAAC features a more powerful engine, improved machine guns and reinforced front armour.

“The Centurion tanks were well armoured, mobile and easy to maintain. No doubt there will be great anticipation amongst our tankers for the Centurion to roll out,” said Travis Plane, Wargaming Australia Country Manager.

On Monday, I journeyed to South Gippsland Tank Adventures along with a small handful of writers, to check out a real, working, Centurion tank. Run by Cameron Stone, South Gippsland Tank Adventures is its own mini-tank museum, with its own contingent of armoured vehicles that Cam has collected over the years and restored. Cam was previously a Leopard Tank Crewman with the Australian Defence Force, serving in the 1st armoured regiment, and was our chauffeur for the day, expertly handling the muddy track conditions with expertise. Alongside the Centurion, there’s a mini-museum of other vehicles on-site, including a Saracen APC, FV 432 APC and Striker, as well as plenty more. Cam’s workshop is also full of further projects, assorted bits and bobs of other vehicles and all kinds of interesting acquisitions, including battle-damaged vehicles with clear holes blown through them.

Historically, the Centurions were standardised by the Australian army between 1950-1970, and used in the Vietnam War, specifically the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, from 12 May – 6 June, 1968. It’s one thing to read about the history of these tanks and another to see one in person – just how huge these machines are, and the amount of raw power behind them. You genuinely feel pretty untouchable when inside one of these, even though there was no gunfire anywhere close to the chilly Gippsland hilltop we were on, and the closest ammunition was filled with blanks. It can be abstract simply seeing machines like these in museums, and actually seeing them operating and getting to experience that connects you in a much more visceral way to their history. It’s also just plain fun. Seriously, if you can go for a joy ride in a tank and not come back with a ridiculous grin on your face, then it’s entirely possible you could be devoid of human emotion.

Of course, even without live fire, there was one way to see the raw power of the Centurion – watching it crush a car (at least, an old wrecked one). Set up by Cam before our arrival, the Centurion glided through the provided station wagon like it was made of butter – the occupants in the tank at the time actually said they could barely feel anything. Just to be sure the car really was flattened, Cam drove the tank bank and forth across the wreck a few more times, the tank bouncing along a little more this time as it hit the engine block, but otherwise no worse for wear. Within a couple of minutes, where once was an affordable family vehicle, lay only a pile of glass and metal resembling a crushed Coke can. While I wasn’t in the tank for this display, it was just as impressive watching it from the outside, and you can also check out the vision of this on our Facebook page, where we’ve posted up a video with highlights of the day.

However, the next best thing to being able to ride in a Centurion yourself is playing one in World of Tanks. The addition of the Centurion Mk. 5/1 RAAC is part of Wargaming’s ongoing efforts in Australia to foster the growing local community.

“We’re not just dedicated to great gameplay, but delivering local, historically relevant content.” said Alexander De Giorgio, World of Tanks Regional Publishing Director.

“Our player base in Australia and NZ continues to grow, especially following the launch of the local server and most recently World of Tanks 1.0. The Australian Centurion is another example of our commitment to our Aussie players.”

In the past, Wargaming has held several community events around the country, bringing together players from their different titles, including World of Tanks and World of Warships. In 2016, Wargaming brought an AC1 Sentinel Tank home to Australia, to reside in the Cairns Australian Armour & Artillery Museum.

If you were interested in getting into World of Tanks and appreciate the nods to local history that Wargaming are including in their game, then now might be the time to jump on board the free-to-play game – especially since at this moment, the Australian servers are up 24/7 temporarily. To learn more about the Centurion and World of Tanks in general, head to their official website.

 

Thanks to Wargaming for inviting us to their Centurion event!

 


Adam Ghiggino

 
I'm Rocket Chainsaw's Owner and Executive Editor. When I'm not writing here, I work in TV and on short films, and fight criminal velociraptors.