Preserved Tanks .com
    World Register of Surviving Historic Armoured Vehicles

Current Query: Full entry for the tank(s)/location: by Type and Update, Location & Update with Spare Photos, NavPix & Videos


Powered By Subgurim( Maps ASP.NET
Powered By Subgurim( Maps ASP.NET

MAP CONTROLS: Use slider or mousewheel to zoom, and hold down left mouse button to drag.
KEY: Location markers are coloured from Green meaning exact to Red meaning gone or unknown (details here)

Number of Photos: 8
Sample Photo

Click here or on the image for this location's profile page

Location Category ID: 6005
Address: Place du Commandant Kieffer, 14970 Bénouville
Opening Times: Accessible at any time
Official Website: Pegasus Memorial Presentation
Other Links: Normandy44LaMemoire
Tanks in France
Battlefield Tour: Pegasus Bridge
Latitude, Longitude: 49.24273523 , -0.27480438
Location Accuracy: 10
Tanks Previously Here:

A Centaur tank is mounted on a half-section of Churchill bridge, beside the Caen Canal at Pegasus Bridge, near Bénouville. The base was constructed by 34 Squadron, RE. This unit is appropriately now part of the present day British 3rd Division to which the Centaur unit (RMASG) was attached on D-Day. Pegasus Bridge was a major objective for D-Day and was taken by glider troops during the night of 5/6 June. It is now marked by this Centaur on the west bank and a memorial museum on the east bank.

Experience with earlier cruiser tanks, such as the Crusader, led the British Ministry of Supply to ask for a new heavy cruiser design at the end of 1940. This was to have heavier armour, a larger gun and a more powerful engine. In January 1941 the Tank Board considered proposals from Vauxhall and Nuffield under the designation A24 but neither was accepted. Leyland Motors instead suggested a design, the A27, based on the Crusader but powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine. The A24 was accepted for production as an interim model, incorporating features of the A27, and 500 were ordered under the name “Cavalier”. The A27 was also put into production but as the Merlin engine was not available the first vehicles were built using the original Liberty V12 engine and were known as A27L Centaur. The majority received a special version of the Merlin engine, named Meteor, and in this form were known as A27M Cromwell.
Eighty examples of the Centaur, of the 950 built, were completed as close support vehicles. These mounted a 95mm howitzer instead of the standard 6pdr gun. They were crewed by the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group and saw action on D-Day, giving covering fire from their landing craft, and afterwards. The RMASG was composed of two regiments, the 1st attached to the British 50th Division and the 2nd to the 3rd Canadian Division, and one Independent Battery under the British 3rd Division. It was equipped with twenty Shermans and eighty Centaur Mark IV close support tanks. Within fifteen minutes of H-Hour, twenty Centaurs were ashore and eight more followed within four hours. They were intended only to operate during the initial assault and then within one mile of the beach, since they did not have an administrative and maintenance organisation, but eventually stayed in action for fifteen days and as much as ten miles inland.
Although D-Day was probably the high point of the Centaur story, some Centaurs were used for training or were converted for special purpose roles such as dozer tanks. Others were re-engined with Meteors and fought as Cromwells.

1) A27L Centaur Tank British

Number of Photos: 10
Sample Photo from Tank with UniqueID 87

Click here or on the image for this tank's profile page

Unique ID: 87
Serial Number:
Registration: “T185102” painted on nose and rear plate.
Name: “VIDETTE” painted on front plate.
Other Identification:

This Mark IV Centaur was built by Leyland. It was part of V Troop of the 5th Independent Battery of the RMASG and it landed on D-Day at Sword Beach between Hermanville-la-Breche and Lion-sur-Mer. It came into contact with the enemy some five hundred yards from the beach. It reversed up to a hedge but was hit by mortar fire that set the bins and then the engine compartment on fire. The crew evacuated, and the vehicle was left behind as the fighting moved on. It was bought by a scrap dealer after the war, and then by an enthusiast on behalf of the Caen Museum. It was recovered in 1975 from Hermanville by 7 Field Workshop, REME, based in Fallingbostel. It was then restored by 60 Station Workshop, REME, in Antwerp and put on display in June 1977. Most of the Centaur’s roadwheels, as well as some other parts, are not original. It was reported that there were plans for it to be moved to the Caen Museum (q.v.) but these didn’t come to fruition.
In recent years the Centaur was moved a short distance and is now opposite the famous Café Gondrée beside the road that crosses over Pegasus Bridge. Its paint is peeling and its condition has generally deteriorated. A plaque on the left side of the bridge section on which it stands reads:

This Centaur tank was part of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group which supported the ‘D’Day landings at “Las Breche d’Hermanville” on 6th June 1944. It was subsequently abandoned in the vicinity of Hermanville and was recovered in November 1975 by the British Army, restored by 60 Station Workshop REME and returned by them to this site in June 1977, the base was constructed by 34 Squadron RE. This Centaur is the property of the “Association Du Musee de Caen 1944 et la Bataille de Normandie”.