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Building a B1 Centauro

The B1 Centauro history

At the beginning of the 80s the Italian Army renewed its interest in armoured vehichles, justifyng it with the progress of the technology in the field of the recoil of high initial speed guns, and the great improvement of the multiple-axes wheeled vehichles offroad mobility. In mid 80s the Italian Army was still looking for an effective substitute of the M47s still in service with the second-line units. The probability to face an attack not coming from the traditional "eastern border" but from other areas of the Italian peninsula woke up the interest in vehicles having an high strategic mobility and the ablility to be quickly deployed without the need to be trasported by plane or railway. The new threaten came mainly from mechanized infantry units and light armoured units and a wheeled solution was preferred to face it. In 1984 the Italian Army asked the national industry to provide a solution based on a light armoured, highly mobility, wheeled veihicle equipped with an effective anti-tank weapon to be used for the territorial defense tasks, to secure and control wide areas, and with anti tank and recoinnassance capabilities. The initial specs included: a weight of 20-25 tons, a front engine, a revolving turret with a 105mm main gun (able to use the standard NATO ammo already available for the Leopard 1 A1/A2 and the M60 A1), the gun had to be operated by an all weather day/night computerized fire control system with the ability to engage and destroy tanks and other armoured vehicles up to a distance of 2000m.
The first prototypes were presented to the Italian Army in 1986, and the solution proposed by the Fiat/Iveco/Oto Melara consortium was chosen and in 1988 when 400 Centauro were ordered.
In 1989 Edward N. Lutwak, lecturer at the Stategic and International Studies Centre in Washington D.C., said that the Italian Army with the Centauro, was on the right way to face the new threaten coming from the new Warsaw Pact doctrine.
Initially designed to support mechanized infantry units, the Centauro was solely deployed to the Italian Cavalry units. Some were bought by the Spanish Cavalry, and some were lended to the US Army in Fort Knox for evaluation purposes.
The Centauro has been used in several Peace Keeping missions around the world in countries like Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

About the Author

About Fabio d'Inzeo (scoccia)
FROM: MILANO, ITALY