The Centurion tank was born out of the need to destroy German WWII armour. As the Cold War began the Centurion proved to be a well armoured and well armed tank for a variety of nations around the world. Cutting its teeth during the Korean War the Centurion would be continually upgraded and modified over decades of service in order to keep up with Soviet armour advancements. The threat of Soviet armour was real and developments such as the JS/IS 3 version created a need to put bigger guns on the Centurion in the early 1950s. With the British Conway cancelled and the Conqueror working through multiple teething problems the FV4005 project began. The project was broken into two Stages. Stage 1 consisted of a test bed vehicle mounting a limited traverse to ensure the Centurion hull could handle a gun in the 180 mm range. Stage 2 was a fully turreted version mounting a rifled 183 mm main gun. This massive gun was designed to fire HESH (High Explosive Squash Head) rounds in the 2000 metre range.
The FV4005 Stage 2 was a massive vehicle and a very potent tank killer. The turret was designed to protect the crew from fragmentation only. A spade dropped and raised by a manual crank winch was fitted to the rear hull. The large caliber gun required two recoil systems in the turret and the 183 mm HESH rounds were stored and loaded via an auto loader system.
Alas, with only one or two of the FV4005 Stage 2 turrets created for testing they would soon be pushed aside with the development of the Royal Ordnance 105 mm tank gun. With the project beginning in 1951 it was cancelled in 1957. It would have been very interesting to envision what the final production version would have looked like.
Very little information exists about the FV4005 and a couple of the turrets can still be found in the UK on display. TBS Model
is well known for their Russian and Balkan based AFV conversions, but has come out of left field with a 1/35 resin conversion of the FV4005 Stage 2 turret designed for AFV Club Centurion kits.
The TBS Model
FV4005 conversion consists of 26 resin parts and 1 metal part.
- Turret base
- Winch box
- Winch manual arm
- Trunnion supports x 2
- Trunnion support rods x 2
- Turret lifting eyes x 4
- Spade mounts x 4
- Spade support arms x 2
- Spade mount rod
- Gun crutch
- Gun crutch support arm (right)
- Gun crutch support arm (left)
- Gun crutch mounts x 2
- Brass rod
The turret component is a very large single resin casting. The turret is cast hollow with the turret rear door and two top crew hatches moulded closed. There is no interior in the turret. However, TBS Model
had the foresight to include a reinforcing support inside the turret to keep the angles straight during the moulding process. If you wanted to build the model with the hatches or rear door open it would require resin surgery.
The cast details on the turret are overall very well done. I did note some resin flash along the bottom edges of the turret and this would require cleanup. There are finely moulded support ribs on the turret top and sides. This is a prominent feature on the turret. The ribs on my conversion were broken in three places. This was definitely due to insufficient packaging in the box. As this was a prototype vehicle details are scarce on the turret. Hinge detail on the upper hatches and rear door is basic. The brass rod provided is to be used to create a handle for the rear door. Two sights are positioned in front of the turret hatches. What I think is a coaxial machine gun port to the left of the gun is blanked over. This is correct for the prototype. There are no turret details such as tie downs, cable reel, grenade dischargers, or antenna mounts as it is a prototype and they simply were not mounted. This is something you can consider adding from the donor Centurion kit parts if you want to go the extra step and “operationalize” your build.
The turret bottom attaches to the turret top and will need cleanup and dry fitting to ensure it is placed correctly. My turret bottom had nasty warping on the rear portion. What is missing on the turret base are the multiple bottom support ribs. These are visible on the Bovington FV4005 turret and will have to be added if you want a truly accurate turret.
The barrel is a solid cast resin piece with a great deal of flash to clean up. The fume extractor is very prominent. The surface of the barrel length is a bit rough and will require some fine tuning. There is no indication of rifling in the muzzle of the barrel.
The spade is actually a very nice resin casting. The angle is smoothly done and the rear supports and bottom edge teeth and very well done. The two large support arms attach to the rear of the spade and to the bottom of the lower rear hull with two resin mounts on each support arm. Once the entire spade sub-assembly is completed you will have the ability to position the spade in raised travel position or the lowered position that would be used when firing. It would be completely applicable to add weld beads of your choice to the various attachment points on the hull and spade to enhance the detail.
Mounted on the right side of the rear hull is the manually cranked winch box. On the engine deck side of the box a crank handle is added. What is missing in the instructions and parts is the winch cable that would run from the bottom of the winch box to the rear of the spade in order to raise and lower it. Again, as this is a prototype a bit of artistic license can be used to add a metal winch cable and decide how you want to attach it to the rear of the spade. I would not have wanted to be the crew member in the FV4005 who had the task of raising or lowering the spade as the Soviet hoards were barreling down on your firing position.
Moving to the glacis plate, parts are provided to create the very large gun crutch. This device was multi-pieced and was hinged to open and close in order to form the inverted triangle shape to reach the barrel. The kit parts are moulded in the folded closed position. Overall the detail is good on these parts but some additional bolt details and retaining chains would probably do the trick to further detail the parts.
Four colour photocopies of digital images are included as instructions. The parts are labeled by letter designation. You will have to study the images to understand the placement of the detail parts.
I applaud TBS Model
for taking a chance on producing this unique Centurion conversion. With some care and forethought in the building process this conversion should create a great looking enormous Centurion variant. As much as World Of Tanks has its downfalls with respect to AFV accuracy there are some great looking schemes and details applied to digital FV4005s in case you are looking for inspiration.
Overall the level of casting and detail is good. I cannot say it is great as there are multiple areas that need attention for clean up.
On a side note I did address the broken and warped parts in my kit with TBS Models
and they sent me replacement parts at no cost. They also assured me that the quality of their packaging would improve to prevent broken parts in future orders. I can attest to better packaging being used with the replacement parts.
The FV4005 Stage 2 was one of the most unique Centurion variants. The FV4005 Stage 2 was born out of the real threats posed in Europe by the Soviets. This 1/35 conversion will be a great tribute to the Cold War efforts taken to prepare for head to head armoured battles.