Author Topic: Atomic Centurian Tank  (Read 2295 times)

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Atomic Centurian Tank
« on: March 02, 2017, 13:39:04 »
The topic of tanks came up at work over lunch.  The boss made mention about this particular Centurian tank which was used during an Atomic test and had an interesting career afterwards.  Very  8)

From the Wiki entry on the Centurion tank:

Nuclear tests

An Australian Army Mk 3 Centurion Type K, Army Registration Number 169041, was involved in a small nuclear test at Emu Field in Australia in 1953 as part of Operation Totem 1. Built as number 39/190 at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Barnbow in 1951 it was assigned the British Army number 06 BA 16 and supplied to the Australian Commonwealth Government under Contract 2843 in 1952.

It was placed less than 500 yards (460 m) from the 9.1 kt blast with its turret facing the epicentre, left with the engine running and a full ammunition load. Examination after detonation found that it had been pushed away from the blast point by about 5 feet (1.5 m), pushed slightly left and that its engine had stopped working, but only because it had run out of fuel. Antennae were missing, lights and periscopes were heavily sandblasted, the cloth mantlet cover was incinerated, and the armoured side plates had been blown off and carried up to 200 yards (180 m) from the tank. Remarkably, though, it could still be driven from the site. Were the tank manned, the crew would have likely been killed by the shock wave.

169041, subsequently nicknamed The Atomic Tank, was used in the Vietnam War. In May 1969, during a firefight, 169041 (call sign 24C) was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). The turret crew were all wounded by shrapnel as the RPG entered the lower left side of the fighting compartment, travelled diagonally across the floor and lodged in the rear right corner. Trooper Carter was evacuated, while the others remained on duty and the tank remained battle worthy.

The Atomic Tank is now located at Robertson Barracks in Palmerston, Northern Territory. Although other tanks were subjected to nuclear tests, 169041 is the only one known to have withstood a blast and to go on for another 23 years of service, including 15 months on operational deployment in a war zone.


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Re: Atomic Centurian Tank
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2017, 13:47:15 »
Dug in a little deeper in the history behind the story and came across this.  Not, so cool, now.   :(

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Atomic Centurian Tank
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2017, 14:36:39 »
My first reaction on reading the original story was that the area and the tank itself were going to be dangerously radioactive. While the vast majority of the energy of a nuclear detonation is expended as blast and "heat," obviously there is some radiation released.