Arrival of the Centurion BARV FV 4018
Author Name: Armourgeddon
Posted: 13/12/2018 11:29
It's NEW ARRIVAL day at Armourgeddon. One of only eight remaining Centurion BARV FV 4018s in the UK, we have taken delivery of this deep water recovery vehicle, part of the fleet that saw active service through to the 1980s Falklands War, to join the collection here at Armourgeddon.
We have a new arrival at Armourgeddon this week, and a rare piece at that! The Centurion BARV FV 4018 was developed as a replacement for the Sherman BARV. 60 Sherman BARVs were built for deployment on the invasion beaches during the Battle of Normandy. The Sherman BARV was able to operate in 9-foot (2.7 meters) deep water and the BARV was used to remove vehicles that had become beached or broken-down in the surf, blocking access to the beaches- hence the name Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle. They were also used to re-float small landing craft that had become stuck on the beach.
Towards the end of the 1950s, the Sherman BARVs were becoming less useful as they were unable to recover the heavier armoured vehicles then being introduced into the military. The Centurion BARV FV 4018 was developed as a replacement for these. A mild-steel prototype was followed in 1960 by 12 vehicles that passed through full production. These were housed on the chassis of Mark 1, 2, and 3 Centurion Tanks which were no longer in active duty. Initially assigned to the Army, the Centurion BARV fleet was passed to the Royal Marines when the role of amphibious assault was passed from the Army to the Marines. The BARV was a Centurion body with built-up sides to facilitate wading in water up to 3.35m or 11 feet. The design was crude but functional with sloped armour built above the tank hull. The tracks for the BARV were reversed as they had better grip biting in reverse. The Centurion BARV was powered by a Rolls Royce Meteor engine.
Crewed by a sergeant, two corporals and a marine, the Assault Squadrons were initially a mix of Royal Marines and Army serving aboard ships, one of whom was always a qualified diver. The role of the BARV was to free stranded tanks from aboard the Amphibious transport docs or Landing Platform Docks, the HMS Fearless and the HMS Intrepid, as a part of the Beach Assault Squadrons.
After the initial induction of the Centurion BARV, it was decided that they should be crewed entirely by the Royal Marines. The whole crew were qualified vehicle mechanics, responsible for driving and maintaining the tank, responsible for breakdown services for all embarked vehicles. Crew training for driving was based at Bovington and Instow in Devon at the Royal Marines amphibious testing centre.
Of the 12 Centurion BARVs built, one was lost from the HMS Fearless in 1981, fully submerged off Browndown beach. The remaining BARV on HMS Fearless saw active duty the following year during the Falklands War, joining with others as the largest land vehicles ashore. The BARV from aboard Fearless broke its drivetrain whilst working Blue Beach.
All Centurion BARVs have now left active service. Two were lost to the sea, two are in collections overseas meaning there are just eight remaining in the UK, housed in private collections. We are delighted to have this one here at Armourgeddon.
Over the coming months, the BARV will be cleaned up and checked over, before taking its place in our museum. We plan to have the back of the BARV open for visitors to explore. Not dissimilar to a submarine in look and feel at the reverse, it will be quite the experience to look inside and imagine what it was like to be a marine as a serving member of the crew.
We are always interested in hearing from ex-servicemen and women with stories about the tanks, vehicles and memorabilia that we hold in our collection. If you or someone you know was a member of the crew of any of these rare Centurion BARVs, please get in touch. We would love the opportunity to speak to you.