DOUG'S 'HEAVY METAL' GALLERY

 

T A N K SC A R R I E R SG U N SA R M O U R E D   C A R S

 

Tank Driver - 2.
   (Ver 2)

 

Final Drive


While serving in the British Army during the 1960s, I was a trooper in the 13/18th Hussars, and a tank driver in first troop of A squadron.We were, at that time, stationed at Paderborn, Germany; but had travelled to our annual firing exercise at a place near Saltau training ground.

One early evening we were allowed to take our vehicles for test drives after servicing them, I think this was to check the tanks servicability for the mobile section of the firing exercises. This section involved aiming and firing the weapons while the tank is moving.

Myself and several other tanks were driving around, testing brakes, steering, etc, when I noticed large mound of earth over which the other tanks were driving. The radio operator of my crew was acting as commander and he agreed that we should drive over this mound, which was about 18 to 20 feet high and had steep sides all round. I had driven over the mound twice with no problems, on the third occasion everything seemed okay as I cleared the mound and started to change up through the gears as we reached level ground.
However, when I pulled on a steering lever to turn the tank nothing happened. I tried to turn in the other direction, nothing happened.

There was obviously something wrong in the steering mechanism or in the transmission. I switched off the engine and climbed out to investigate, my first thought was to lift the transmission covers and check the adjustment on the steering brakes, everything was okay there. Another tank came by and the crew of it were waving and pointing to the right rear of our tank, we jumped down to investigate.

Normally, the drive sprocket on a Centurion tank is mounted quite high up, this one was stood upright on the ground but the track was still running round it to provide drive. We used the radio to call for REME assistance and while we waited we examined the damage to try to find an easy solution or discover how long a repair might take. To our amazement the entire outer casting of the final drive had become detached from the tank hull! When the REME lads arrived they set up their equipment, and split the tank track to give themselves more room in which to work. They discovered that the bolts holding the final drive casting to the tank had sheared through, causing the casting to 'fall off'. The REME thought this highly unlikely and investigated further, about one third of the bolts which held the casting in place were merely bolt heads stuck in place with strong black mastic compound! Some crafty so-and-so had tried to save time and work at some time during the tank's last refit!

10820 pic

Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...

Look closely and you can see that the sprocket and final drive casing are sitting on the track on the ground.

11040 pic

Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...

Quite some time after Tony sent me the original article he discovered this side photo of the stranded tank. Note the long range fuel tank on the back.

My thanks to Tony (for sending the above story) and his Dad, John (who wrote it).

 

  sig - logo
 BACK TO INDEX