The basis of the Mark 5 will be the Airfix Centurion Mk 8 Series 2 kit, but the work involved is greater than this suggests; the most drastic modification to the existing kit is the construction of a completely new turret, but in addition the hull needs lengthening, the engine covers must be remodeled and various lesser items added or altered. The hull will be dealt with first.
The hull side pieces, 19 and 21, are 2 mm too short, and to extend them first remove the central trio of track roller mountings, then divide each into three parts by vertical cuts between the mountings for the bogie ú units. Cement 2 mm wide strips of 40 thou plastic sheet to the cut faces of the central pieces then cement the outer sections in place, taking great care that they are accurately aligned. Add to each side an internal stiffener cut from 40thou sheet, and when all joints are thoroughly set file down the projecting parts of the extensions. Now cut the hull bottom, part 20, into roughly equal front and rear parts, and cut the front part of the hull top, part 22, from the remainder along the angle immediately behind the driver's hatch. The hull sides, the two parts of the bottom and the front part of the top are now assembled; the rear part of the top can be used as a guide, but must not be cemented in position. A rectangle of 40 thou sheet, 60 x
25 mm, is then mounted between the upper edges of the hull sides immediately behind the driver's hatch.
The engine covers are now produced. The fault in the covers as shown in the rear end of part 22 is that the 'hinges' are mounted too far forward, so that the troughs lying in front are too short and the panels behind are too long. Begin by cutting off the transverse wall and grille from the rear end of part 22, then remove the forward part to leave a rectangle 31 mm long that includes the original engine cover; now extend the troughs to the new forward edge, using strips of 30 thou sheet.
Sand down the bottom face so that the u nit is 11/2 mm thick; it is now ready for mounting in place on the existing hull top. First the upper edge of both side pieces must be reshaped; the 'step' is moved rearwards and then the upper edges are filed down to be flush with the engine covers: the latter should be used as a guide.
You will now find that in order to achieve the shape shown in the plans for the rear upper hull, a triangle and a rectangle of 40 thou sheet must be added to the upper edge of each hull side to give a flat profile--a low wall around three sides of the engine covers will be added later. Also, as we will be providing a new rear plate in place of part 25, to fit between the hull sides, the adjacent areas of the hull sides should be extended rearwards. When all these additions are firmly set and the joints filed smooth the engine covers are cemented in place; strips of 5 mm sheet are used to fill the gaps between the covers and the hull sides.
The rear louvres are modeled next, and with care can be most convincing. Cut a 3 mm wide strip of 20 thou sheet to fit between the hull sides behind the engine covers, and along the lower edge cement a 21/2 mm wide strip 21/2 mm wide is then cemented to Short 20 thou strips are cemented to the vertical strip, narrow for the outer spacers and wider for the central spacer. A 5 thou strip 21/2 mm wide is then cemented to these; next another set of spacers is added, and the operation repeated until four sets of spacers are in place. It is helpful, during construction, to paint the lower areas of the louvres matt black and the upper areas with the models final colour: the gaps are too narrow for the louvres to be properly painted after completion. The louvre unit is now mounted in place; the hull rear plate, from 20 thou sheet is then added, butting against the final set of spacers.
The next step is the addition of the track guards; first cut each in half and cement a 2 mm extension between the halves. They are then widened by cementing a I mm wide strip of 10 thou sheet along the outer edges and mounted on the hull sides. The stowage boxes can, as in the model illustrated, come from an enlargement of kit parts 90 and 91, but it is probably quicker to make them from scratch.
The exhausts, parts 92 and 93, need little attention; the narrower part should be cut from the silencer/exhaust, a 2 mm extension cut from sprue cemented to its rear and the separate pieces then cemented in place.
The suspension is now assembled as shown in the kit instructions and then, apart from a final detailing to be carried out later, the hull is complete. We turn next to the construction of a new turret.
The best method for constructing the turret is to start at the roof and work downwards. Most of the surfaces of the turret are to some extent curved, and this form is reproduced by making the turret from a series of flat pieces of 40 thou sheet which will, when assembled, be filed down to the correct curvature.
A plan view of the turret is included as it will appear immediately before this filing down is begun. The flat central section of the turret roof is not shown, but the three sections of the rear wall below the bustle are included.
We start with the flat, irregularly shaped, part of the turret roof on which are the cupola and loader's hatch. It is surrounded by a narrow channel, shown on the plan view as a double line; first cut a piece of 10 thou sheet to the shape of the inner line and a piece of 30 thou sheet to the outer line. Cement these together.
Now cut a piece of 20 thou sheet to the profile of the turret; as all the turret sides will be 40 thou thick trim this amount from the profile, also 20 thou from the bottom edge to allow for the turret base.
Similarly make two pieces to support the side walls: these will fit at 90 degrees to the respective walls.
Next cut the turret base from 20 thou sheet and trim to allow for the thickness of the walls that will fit on to it: as the side walls will be sloping and not truly vertical allow 11/4 mm for these. These various pieces should now be cemented together, but care is needed to ensure that the roof and base are accurately aligned. Drill a hole at the centre of the base and cement a peg therein, projecting downwards, then drill a corresponding hole in the upper hull plate to mount the turret on the hull.
The rear part of the turret roof is the first piece to be added to the skeleton, followed by the rear turret face. Next add the sloping sides of the roof, allowing a generous overhang at the outer edge; the right-hand side is in two sections at different angles that meet under the cupola.
As trigonometry would be needed to calculate the correct angles at the rear of these pieces, leave the rear ends square for the moment. Now cut out rectangular side walls and cement in place, then cement reinforcing strips along the inside of the joints. The floor of the turret bustle is formed next, and when its edges have been filed to fit between the turret sides it is mounted in place.
The remaining pair of rear walls are cut to shape by trial and error in order to get a close fit and are then cemented inside the angle formed by the roof and sides.
When the joints are thoroughly hardened the excess plastic from the roof and sides is cut away. The three lower rear walls are added next, after which the final trimming of the sides is carried out to complete the first stage in constructing the turret rear.
The sloping front of the roof is produced next, this time from 30 thou sheet. This area of the roof is mainly flat, but there is a shallow ramp at the rear edge. Accordingly, take a 2 mm wide strip of 10 thou sheet and file it to a triangular section, then cement it to the rear of the rectangular 30 thou plate and attach the plate to the turret's skeleton. Now cement a vertical rectangle of 40 thou sheet to the front of the turret, set against the front edge of the roof. Two triangles are needed to complete the roof, and two rectangles to fill the gaps in the side walls.
It is sometimes difficult to cement a reinforcing strip inside a newly formed joint, but whenever possible a 40 thou strip should be added as this strengthens the joint and will later reduce trouble when the excess plastic is filed away.
This is good general practice, but is doubly important in the present case as much plastic will be removed around the joints to reproduce the curvature of the cast turret.
The filing down of the 'ridges' of the multifaceted turret so far produced to give the smooth curves of the final model now takes place, and it is advisable to proceed cautiously. The final shape can be seen in the various photographs, and generally the frontal curves are less sharp than the others.
There is a thickening of the turret sides just above the turret ring. This is modeled by cementing along the lower edge of both side walls a length of 2 mm wide 10 thou strip filed to triangular section, and when firmly set filing down any remaining ridge.
The area of the turret beneath the cupola base is now built up: by trial and error produce a D-shaped piece of 10 thou sheet that fits around the projecting curve of the flat roof and meets the sloping roof, then cement it in place. A little putty is pressed into the angle formed with the sloping roof which is later shaped to the required concavity.
The turret stowage boxes are constructed from 20 thou sheet. First cut out the bases to the shapes shown by the plan view, then trim away 20 thou from each edge to allow for the walls. All the walls, except for those facing the rear and the pair on the left-hand boxes that face each other, slope inwards at 80 degrees and so, using a protractor, cut out a series of small 80degree triangles to support these walls at the correct inclination.
The boxes are assembled face-by-face; for the end faces it is best to concentrate on getting the angles correct, and only later file down the upper edges so that the box-lids will sit squarely in place. When the lids have been cemented in place file down the outer edges parallel with their box-sides to project slightly beyond these sides. The boxes are then attached to the turret sides.
The various fittings for the turret roof are now added. The lower part of the cupola consists of a 40 thou disc with a shallow projection at the front. A smaller 10 thou disc represents the movable central portion, on which is mounted kit part 9. The rail that surrounds the hatch cover is cut from 10 thou sheet; the raised central section protects a binocular periscope -- from two pieces of stretched sprue -- and there are two periscopes to the rig ht and five to the left, all cut from a length of 30 thou strip filed to a triangular section. The plinth for the loader's periscope is also formed from a piece of 40 thou sheet. The fan is cut from part 7, as are the aerial bases, but theother details must be made up from plastic sheet.
The external mantlet is made next, from two rectangles of 40 thou sheet cemented at 90 degrees; a ring is cut from 40 thou sheet into which the gun barrel, part 3, fits. The ring is 1 mm wide and is cemented on to the angle of the mantlet: a concentric hole is then drilled through the mantlet and the barrel is cemented in place. The counterweight at the end of the barrel must be filed away, and the barrel then shortened slightly. The machine-gun mounting consists of a 2 mm square of 40 thou sheet cemented to the outer angle of the mantlet with two supporting wedges of putty: as the entire mantlet assembly will be concealed by a tissue cover great care is not needed at this stage. The machine-gun barrel is not mounted until the cover is in place.
Supports are added at either end of the mantlet to mount the mantlet assembly on the turret; carefully shape the rear of these supports until the relation between turret and mantlet is correct, then cement the supports to the turret front. The mantlet cover is now added from tissue paper; ordinary gum is used to achieve the correct shape.
The smoke grenade dischargers are made next, and although they appear complicated they are simply reproduced, each requiring three 2 x 4 mm rectangles of 40 thou sheet, and six 'barrels' from stretched sprue. Two barrels are cemented directly to one end of the uppermost rectangle; a shallow triangle is cut from one end of the next and two more barrels cemented to the cut edge of the remaining quadrilateral, and this is repeated for the lowest rectangle, the triangle being deeper. The rectangles are cemented together, and later the rear face is filed down to give a plane surface. The dischargers are carried on frames attached to the turret. Build up these frames from 10 thou strips, and when firmly set cement the dischargers in place. Prominent cables connect the dischargers to the turret roof, and these are made from stretched sprue.
The latest addition to the turret is the cable reel mounted on the turret rear. Parts 16 and 17 are used, although 17 must be trimmed to reduce the depth of the unit. There is also a cable running from the base of the reel to the rear of the cupola, and again stretched sprue is used. The model is now almost complete, and the side shields are the last major item needed. A pair of shields are cut from 10 thou sheet, and the inner faces beveled so the visible edges are about 5 thou wide Seven attachment points, narrow 10 thou strips, are cemented to the outer edge c each track guard and the shields are mounted on these. Two supports are then fitted on either side between the lower edge of the shield and the hull.
The Centurion is equipped with a large, number of staples for attaching camouflage, nets, etc, and these are now represented using short lengths of stretched sprue.
One fixture that appears on many Centurions is the box, carried in the model illustrated on the glacis although it is often fitted beside the driver's hatch. This can be made from pieces of 40 and 30 thou sheet with a lip of 10 thou sheet, and the box is mounted or two parallel 10 thou strips.
I have left the modeling of the fittings o' the rear hull plate to the end as the model here has a choice. The infantry telephone box and the cable support can be mounted as shown in the plan to represent the Centurion Mark5, but the Mark6 can be modeled by adding the large external fuel tank drawn in the plans: the model illustrated is of the Mark6. The tank is made up from 10thou sheet and is carried from the hull rear by four sets of brackets.
The model is now ready for painting. The Centurion has been used by many armies in a wide range of areas, so there is a great variety of colour schemes available. My model represents a normal British Mark 6, and I used overall deep bronze green.
Centurions are generally equipped with a pair of steel towing hawsers, and these can be represented using thick thread. They are in the form of an elongated figure 8, a double cable with a loop at either end, and the double cable is formed using ordinary gum. When the gum has set trim off projecting hairs and paint the hawsers with gunmetal. They are then cemented in place;' on the Mark5 the forward ends are fixed to brackets at the rear of the stowage boxes, but with the Mark 6 the brackets are attached to the exhausts.
The final details to be added are the fire extinguishers carried on the front of the turret boxes. One quick way of producing these is to use two of the axles earlier cut from the hull sides; when they have been filed to shape, paint them dark blue and cement in place.
The construction of the model is complete, and you may now wish to convert the model's 'factory finish' to the scruffier condition often seen in service.