BTR "CENTAUR"

In 1984, the command of the Italian army formulated the requirements for a highly mobile wheeled tank destroyer armed with an 105-mm rifled gun in ballistics similar to the guns of the Leopard -1 and M60A1 tanks. The aiming system of the gun was to be unified with the fire control systems of the promising main battle tank Ariete and tracked BMV VCC-80. The technical task was developed as part of a comprehensive program of re-equipment of the ground forces. Heavy armored cars played the role of the main battle tanks.

Work on the "wheeled tank" began firms UTO Melara and Fiat at the end of 1984, and relied on the experience of creating 1982-1983. Fiat 6636 armored car with 6 x6 wheel formula. Installing a tower with 105 -mm gun increased the mass of the machine by at least 6-7 t, so I had to add a fourth one to the three axes so that the machine’s passability did not deteriorate. The choice of the overall dimensions of the vehicle was due to the intractable compromise between the need for a larger internal hull volume to accommodate the turret turret and the limitations imposed by the size of the cargo compartment of the C-130 military transport aircraft "Hercules."


In April, 1985 began testing the demonstration machine without a reservation. The main purpose of the tests was to work out the undercarriage, especially the new hydropneumatic wheel suspension, and to check the layout of the machine in terms of ease of maintenance of the 105-mm gun.

The first B-1 vehicle with full armor and weaponry was handed over to 1987 for testing in January, and five more followed by the end of the year. In total, ten B-1 armored vehicles of the experimental batch participated in the tests. In 1990, the Italian armed forces received the first ten B-1 "Centaur" armored cars, and in 1991, they began full-scale production at the IVECO Fiat factory in Bolzano with a production rate of ten vehicles per month.


BM B1 Centaur

It should be noted that the armored car B-1 "Centaur" occupies a special place among the armored wheeled vehicles. Formally, it is classified as BRM - military reconnaissance machine, but that is not entirely correct. Exceptionally powerful armament for the wheeled vehicle (105-mm rifled gun with a high initial projectile speed) allows you to remove the quotes from the expression "wheeled tank" in relation to this machine, especially since in the Italian army the "Centaurs" replaced the tanks - American M47 .

The body of the armored car is welded from steel armor plates of various thicknesses. In the frontal part, the armor is resistant to the hit of 20-mm projectiles, from the stern and sides it is resistant to the hit of bullets of the caliber 12,7 mm. The engine compartment is located in the front of the case on the right side. The engine is a six-cylinder diesel engine of water cooling with an IVECO Fiat MTSA V-6 turbocharger with a capacity of 520 l. with. In addition to the armored cars "Centaur", various variants of the V-6 diesel engine are mounted on the tracked BMP VCC-80, the Argentine tank TAM and the Italian main battle tank Ariete. By car, the West German automatic six-speed (five - forward, one - back) ZF SHP-1500 gearbox is used. The engine, cooling system and gearbox are structurally designed as a single unit and are separated from the rest of the body by firebreaks. In the engine compartment has an automatic fire extinguishing system and alarm system.


BTR Centaur

To the left of the engine compartment there is a control compartment with a driver’s workplace (the driver’s seat is height adjustable). Outside the combat situation, the driver drives the car, observing the terrain through the open hatch. In combat, observation is carried out using three periscopic viewing instruments. Instead of a central observation unit, an illumination night vision device can be installed.

The central part of the body is occupied by fuel tanks and a tower polik. There are two 12 projectiles on the cannon, rechargeable batteries, a filtering unit and a hydraulic winch with a pull of 10 t in the stern. The aft armor has a hatch used to load projectiles.

All eight wheels are leading, the first two pairs are steerable, but at speeds up to 20 km / h you can turn the rear pair of wheels. The wheels are controlled with the help of hydraulic boosters. Wheel suspension independent hydropneumatic. The machine is equipped with a system of centralized regulation of air pressure in tires. All wheels are equipped with disc brakes.


BM B1 Centaur

The three-person turret, armed with an 105-mm LR cannon with a length of 52 caliber, was developed by Melara OTO It is installed closer to the hull aft. The commander of the armored car is to the left of the gun, the gunner is on the right, the loader is behind the gunner. Hatches in the roof of the hull are located above the commander and loader seats.


The LR cannon for internal ballistics is similar to the 105 -mm tank gun L7 / M68. The gun is equipped with a device for purging the bore after a shot, highly efficient, absorbing up to 40% recoil, a muzzle brake and a thermal protection cover. The recoil of the cannon when fired is 14 t, in order to extinguish it, a special hydro-pneumatic retraction system is installed with a barrel stroke 750 mm after the shot. Shooting is possible with all standard 105 -MM NATO shells, including cumulative. The ammunition for the gun-40 shells, 14 of them are stored directly in the tower. The 7,62-mm machine gun М42 / 59 (mounted on the left side of the gun) is paired with the gun, another machine gun can be mounted on the roof of the turret. Ammunition for 4000 machine guns ammunition. On the sides of the tower there are four smoke grenade launchers.

The rotation of the turret and the aiming of the gun in the vertical plane is carried out by means of electro-hydraulic drives. The elevation angles of the implement are from -6 ° to + 15 °.



On the armored car installed modular fire control system of the company Galileo. Its main subsystems are commander’s and gunner’s sights, digital ballistic computer, atmospheric sensors, indicators, and gunner’s, commander’s and loader’s control panels. The commander of the armored vehicle has a stabilized daytime panoramic sight with 2,5- and 10-fold increase. An optical image intensifier is integrated into the sight, which makes it possible to observe and aim in low light conditions. The sight has a circular rotation in the horizontal plane, in the vertical - from -10 ° to + 60 °. The gunner has a combined stabilized day / night sight with an integrated laser rangefinder. The day channel has 5 multiple amplification, the image from the infrared channel is duplicated on the indicator installed next to the commander's seat. The shooter also has a telescope coupled with the main sight with 8 multiple magnification. The commander observes the left sector through four periscopic viewing devices, the gunner observes the right sector through five stationary periscopic viewing devices. The ballistic computer is based on the Intel 16 8086-bit processor. Despite the fact that the gun is stabilized in two planes and there is a modern fire control system, according to western press reports, the Centaur cannot fire.

But some changes were made to the test results of the first six cars: the hull width was somewhat reduced (for more convenient placement in the C-130 "belly"), a small V-shape was attached to the bottom for better mine protection, the dimensions of the hatch in the stern armor were reduced .

Serial production of armored cars B-1 "Centaur" was completed in 1996 year. The armament of the three armored cavalry regiments of the Italian army was transferred 400 machines. The interest in armored cars of this type is shown by the command of the Spanish armed forces, which intends to purchase 30 wheeled tanks.



Check in combat armored cars. “Centaur” was held during the peace operation “Rest Hope”, which was held in Somalia under the auspices of the United Nations. At the end of 1992, eight wheeled tanks from the 19 Cavalry Regiment were sent to the African continent as part of a mixed armored company (besides the “Centaurs”, it included five more M60XXUMX tanks). Two airborne regiments, which formed the backbone of the Italian contingent of UN forces, reinforced the equipment. “Centaurs” were widely used to conduct reconnaissance raids, blockade the main lines of communication between the separatists and escort convoys with humanitarian supplies. For the first four months of the 1, seven armored vehicles rolled 1993 km along Somali highways and off-road. For all the time there have been no serious cases of equipment failure. The eighth car was not used, as soon as it arrived in Somalia, the engine failed. Until the end of the UN mission in Somalia, the eighth Centaur was commissioned, and two more vehicles were transferred from Italy.

Under the conditions of constant tire damage, the system of centralized pressure control in pneumatics proved to be especially well-proven; of course, it could not get rid of punctures, but it allowed it to complete the task.

For the whole company there were no worthy targets for 105-mm guns, of which only they fired at training firing on an improvised proving ground in the area of ​​Dzhalalksi. But the commander’s panoramic sight with an electron-optical image amplifier was very useful. “Centaurs” were very often used as mobile observation posts along the Imperial Highway. The vehicles occupied positions in the 500 m from the road and the crews, using sights as night vision devices, tracked the nightlife, directing Italian patrols to suspicious manifestations of it, if necessary.



VHF radio stations installed on armored cars proved to be insufficiently powerful, it was considered necessary to have a medium-range HF radio station at least on commander vehicles. Oddly enough, in very hot climates, the crews did not use the air conditioning system, preferring to open all hatches for plowing.

Typical counterguerrilla operations were carried out in Somalia. The enemy was poorly armed and poorly trained, however, it quickly became clear that the armor protection of the “Centaurs” (as well as all other armored cars) is clearly not sufficient, it does not “hold” the DShK’s armor-piercing machine guns, not to mention RPG- 7. Urgently, the English firm Royal Ordnens was ordered twenty sets of blocks for the dynamic protection of the tower and the sides of the ROMOR-A building. Ten sets were installed on the "Somali" "Centaurs".

In the summer of 1997, the “Centaurs”, together with armored vehicles Fiat 6614, of the Guards Cavalry Regiment, took part in Operation Alba to prevent the civil war in Albania.



"CENTAUR" II

In 1996, the Italian armed forces issued technical requirements for the second-generation Centaur wheeled tank. The prototype was made in the same year, and in 1997, the year was transferred to the tests. The stern of the hull was lengthened by 335 mm, which increased its internal volume. The 105-mm cannon's ammunition on the new version of the BRM "Centaur" is located only in the turret, and in the enlarged aft compartment there are seats for four full-armed soldiers. Additional armor plates are installed around the tower, the tops of the two rear pairs of wheels are covered with screens made of steel armor plates. As a result of the improvements, the combat weight of the machine increased by 1 t, the ammunition of the shells to the cannon decreased from 40 to 16. It is expected that the ground forces of Italy will order 150 armored vehicles "Centaur" II for use as armored reconnaissance vehicles.



BTR "CENTAUR"

An experienced BTR was built in 1996 year. The body of the car was extended by another 80 mm compared to the "Centaur" II, and the wheelbase also increased, from 4,5 m to 4,8 m. For ergonomic reasons, the body is made higher, the height of the armored personnel carrier on the roof of the body is 1,93 m compared to 1,75 m "Centaur". The experience of peacekeeping operations in Somalia showed the need to enhance armor protection: armor BTR can withstand hitting 12,7-mm armor-piercing bullets in the stern and from the sides, and in frontal - hitting 25-mm shells. On the demonstration machine, the Breda GRT double turret was installed, armed with an 20-mm automatic cannon and paired with a non-7,62-mm machine gun. During the test, the 20-mm gun was replaced with a 25-mm gun. In the configuration with the installed tower, the crew of the BTR consists of three people (commander, gunner, driver) and six more paratroopers are located in the aft fighting compartment. The combat mass of the armored personnel carrier - 24 tons. A reckless BTR based on the "Centaur" can carry 11 people, including the driver.

Armored personnel carrier based on the "Centaur" meets almost all the requirements of the French army to the promising VBM wheeled vehicle, the German army to the GTK vehicle and the British Army to the MRAV armored car. The only exception is the width of the car, since the armed forces of France and Germany limited the width of the prospective armored car to three meters, while the width of the armored personnel carrier on the basis of the "Centaur" is 3,28 m. It is possible to reduce the width of the armored personnel carrier by removing additional body armor or replacing it with another type of. It is very likely that the armored personnel carrier will take part in the tender for the supply of armored wheeled vehicles for the armed forces of these countries.

In 1999, the Italian Ministry of Defense entered into a contract providing for the development of a command and staff vehicle, an ambulance vehicle, a self-propelled mortar and an ATGM carrier based on an armored personnel carrier. The Italian army plans to purchase 240 machines of all modifications. The width of the base model, designed for Italy, reduced to 3 m.

On the anti-tank version will be installed rotating tower GRT Breda HITFIST. The tower is mounted 25-mm automatic gun Oerlikon Kontravers, paired with her 7,62-mm machine gun and two launchers ATGM "TOW".

The command and command vehicle has an increased height of the fighting compartment (the total height of the vehicle on the roof of the hull is 2,1). Armament - machine gun caliber 12,7 mm pivot installation. There are no loopholes in the sides of the hull and ramp on the KSHM.

The self-propelled mortar variant involves the installation of an 120-mm smooth-bore TDA mortar on a swivel base inside the crew compartment. Shooting is conducted through a large hatch in the roof of the hull. For self-defense will be used machine gun caliber 12,7 mm on pivot installation. The crew of a self-propelled mortar consists of a commander, driver and four crew members.

On the basis of the armored car "Centaur" was created and tested 155-mm self-propelled unit.



Wheel formula ................................................ ..8х8
Combat weight, kg .................................................... .24.800
Case length, m .............................................. .. 7,40
Forward length with gun, m ........................................ 8,56
Width, m ............................................... ........ 2,94
Case height, m ​​.............................................. 1,75
The height of the roof of the tower, m ........................................ 2,44
Wheelbase, m ...................................... 1,60 / 1,45 / 1,45
Track width, m .............................................. ... 2,51
Ground clearance, m ............................................. 0,42
Maximum speed on the highway, km / h .............................. 108
Cruising on the highway, km .......................................... 800
Fuel capacity, l ....................................... 540
Obstacle obstacles:
rise................................................. ........... 60%
wall height, m ​​.............................................. .. 0,55
trench width, m .................................................... .. 1,55
ford depth, m .............................................. .... 1,2
Crew, pers. .................................................. ..... 4
Ctrl Enter

Noticed a mistake Highlight text and press. Ctrl + Enter

13 comments
Information
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in