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Centauro B1

Tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

The Centauro B1 tank destroyer has the firepower of the Leopard 1 MBT

 
 
Country of origin Italy
Entered service 1991
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 24 t
Length (gun forward) 8.55 m
Hull length 7.4 m
Width 3.1 m
Height 2.7 m
Armament
Main gun 105-mm rifled gun
Machine guns 2 x 7.62 mm
Range of effective fire 3 km
Elevation range - 6 to + 45 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 40 rounds
Machine guns 3 000 rounds
Mobility
Engine Iveco MTCA diesel
Engine power 520 hp
Maximum road speed 100 km/h
Range 800 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 0.55 m
Trench 1.5 m
Fording up to 1.5 m

 

   The Centauro B1 tank destroyer was developed by Fiat and OTO Melara in response to the Italian Army requirement for a mobile tank destroyer. This vehicle has the firepower comparable to the Leopard 1 main battle tank, which was then in service with Italy. Production of the Centauro B1 began in 1990 and it entered service with the Italian Army in 1991. In 1996 the last of 400 Centauro tank destroyers was delivered. As of 2016 a total of 300 vehicles reportedly remain in operational service with the Italian Army. Export operators are Spain which ordered 84 vehicles, and Jordan which received 25 retired Centauro's as a gift from Italy. Also from 2000 to 2002 the US Army leased 16 Centauros. These were assigned to form the first crews for the Stryker MGS and to acquire more experience with wheeled armored fire support vehicles.

   This vehicle was designed to carry out tactical reconnaissance, fire support and territorial defense tasks. During numerous peacekeeping missions Centauro tank destroyers have been used to escort convoys and for road patrol missions. The Centauro proved to be a successful design. By modern standards it is considered as a fire support vehicle, rather than a tank destroyer. Even though the Centauro can engage main battle tanks, it is not normally used for such engagements. Its main role is to support infatry in medium brigades.

   The Centauro B1 is armed with a fully-stabilized 105 mm high-velocity rifled gun, developed by OTO Melara. It is compatible with all standard NATO 105 mm ammunition. It has an effective range of 3 000 meters and can be used to engage armored vehicles, buildings, field fortifications, and even main battle tanks. This tank destroyer has a very effective muzzle brake, which reduces recoil force by about 40%. This allowed this gun to be used on a wheeled chassis. The gun is loaded manually. A total of 40 rounds for the main gun are carried inside the vehicle. 14 of them are carried in the turret and are ready to use, while the rest are stored in the hull. Ammunition is stored in isolated compartments, separated by ballistic and anti-explosion wall.

   Fire control system of the Centauro B1 is similar to that of the Ariete main battle tank. It has got a hunter-killer engagement capability. The commander uses a panoramic sight to search for targets. Once the target is selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target. Such hunter-killer engagement method is present on all modern main battle tanks. It allows to acquire and engage targets faster. This tank destroyer can engage a target 25-35 seconds after spotting it.

   Secondary armament consists of two 7.62 mm machine guns. One of them is coaxially mounted with the main gun and the other is located on top of the turret roof.

   This tank destroyer has a welded hull and turret. In standard configuration front arc of the Centauro is protected against 20 mm rounds. All round protection is against 12.7 mm rounds and artillery shell fragments. Up to three tons of add-on passive or explosive reactive armor can be fitted. During their operational service some vehicles were fitted with add-on armor plates in order to increase their protection. Looks like these were the vehicles that took part in various international operations. It seems that at some point all operational Centauro fire support vehicles were uparmored. The Centauro is equipped with an NBC protection system and laser warning receiver, which can be set to trigger smoke grenade dischargers.

   Vehicle has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, driver and loader.

   The Centauro B1 tank destroyer is powered by IVECO MTCA turbocharged diesel engine, developing 520 horsepower. Engine is located at the front. It seems that it is mated to an automatic gearbox. Steering is provided on the first and second axles and at slow speed with also the fourth axle. Vehicle is equipped with run-flat tyres and fitted with central tyre inflation system. The Centauro B1 is not amphibious.

 

Variants

 

   Centauro with a 120 mm gun. It is an upgunned version of the Centauro. It seems that it first appeared in 2004. It fitted with a 120 mm smoothbore gun. At the time of its introduction it was the first wheeled armored fighting vehicle with the same firepower as the latest generation main battle tanks. This variant is compatible with all standard NATO 120 mm ammunition. The fire support vehicle is fitted with composite add-on armor and has a higher level of protection. Its front arc provides protection against 40 mm armor-piercing rounds, while all-round protection is against 14.5 mm rounds. This fire support vehicle is reportedly in service with Oman.

   Centauro 2 is a next-generation version. It has a revised 8x8 chassis and is armed with a 120 mm gun. Also it is better protected and has got a number of other improvements. It was first publicly revealed in 2016. Italian Army plans to obtain 76 of these vehicles, that would replace the original Centauro B1 vehicles.

   Freccia infantry fighting vehicle. It was developed to operate alongside Centauro tank destroyers in medium brigades. It has similar 8x8 chassis as the original Centauro B1, but is armed with with a 25 mm gun. The Freccia has a number of its own variants.

   Porcupine prototype 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. It is also referred as Centauro 155/39 LW. Its development was funded by Italian MoD. However so far this artillery system was not adopted.

   Self-propelled 76 mm anti-aircraft gun, fitted with Draco turret. It is armed with a rapid-firing naval gun. This vehicle can also successfully engage ground targets. This vehicle was developed as a private venture, but was also not adopted to service.

 

Video of the Centauro B1 tank destroyer

 
Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer


 
Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer

Centauro tank destroyer


 
Centauro tank destroyer

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