Centurion AVRE and M728 CEV

Hello everyone,

today, we are going to talk about 16,5 centimeters of awesomeness. Sorry to disappoint you, ladies, I am of course talking about the L9 demolition gun caliber.


Now, everyone knows Churchill AVRE and its 290mm spigot mortar, hurling 18kg shells at 80 meters (it had actually longer range than that, but at longer ranges, it was not accurate enough to lead effective fire). With its massive armor and this kind of firepower, no wonder a lot of people would like to see it in World of Tanks. While Churchill AVRE is probably the best known AVRE vehicle, it’s certainly not the only one. It has a couple of “cousins” (some very distant ones) and one of them is the Centurion AVRE.


Developed in 1957 to replace Churchill AVRE’s, Centurion AVRE saw service well until the Gulf War. It was equipped with a 165mm demolition gun (although apparently, 105mm L7 variant existed as well, not sure whether that was a real AVRE though, or just a regular Centurion, equipped with a dozer blade). Its purpose, just like the one of the Churchill, is to demolish enemy strongpoints and to clear other obstacles for armored vehicles as well with its dozer blade. In order to effectively destroy the enemy fortifications, it is equipped with a 165mm L9A1 demolition gun, that can fire a 29kg HESH shell at the distance of cca 1800 meters (2000 yards) with the velocity of 259 m/s. Quite an upgrade from the Churchill and a proof that size is not everything (at least when it comes to gun caliber).

As far as I can tell, the AVRE is an upgraded Mk.V Centurion, which means it’s not overarmored for World of Tanks (the Gulf War model however had additional armor, so that wouldn’t be used most likely). The problem here is obviously the HESH shell mechanism, that doesn’t allow for correct “penetration” estimate. According to Listy, 150mm+ penetration (in World of Tanks terms) is possible, but that’s just a very rough guesstimate. Listy specifically adds to this:

The 150mm was the thickness of armour plate that was tested with a 7.2″ (could be the 7.5″ also tested for hte MKVII AVRE) “Wall buster” gun in 1944. The shell knocked off a scab on the inside. This realisation led to the development of the HESH round. It could be inffered from this that the 7.2″ shell wasn’t a HESH round?

But the upshot is the 150mm quoted would likely be an absolute minimum, there is a formula kicking around the web for HESH that sugests it’s closer to 200mm, but in honesty we have no idea of the exact penetration, unless there’s a document from the MOD at National Archieves that we’ve not yet found.

Either way, the vehicle weighed 51,4 tons and had a maximum speed of 34,5 km/h. It was powered by a Rolls Royce Meteor Mk.IVBH 27 liter petrol engine (650hp at 2500 rpm).

Of course, the Americans couldn’t stay behind and in 1959, the development of an indigenous engineering tank (based on the M60/M60A1) was started (the initial memo is dated to January 1955 and the Americans were trying to purchase the 165mm L9 since 1953), resulting in the creation of the M728 (attempts to create a dedicated engineering demolition tank are much older however, with such proposals appearing as early as in 1945, heavily influenced by the Churchill AVRE).


Unlike the Centurion AVRE, M728 is quite well documented, as it is covered by the Patton book by Hunnicutt. The development process from 1945 to the M728 was quite long, ranging from the first requests over the T39 demolition tank (we’ll talk about it some other day) to the T118 prototype. Modified T118E1 (with a M60A1 turret instead of M60 turret) was then accepted in service as the M728. This vehicle then remained in service from 1965 to the beginning of the 21st century, with varied success and fought both in Vietnam and in Iraq.

What we basically have here in World of Tanks terms is a derp Patton, equipped with the M135 165mm demolition gun, which is a modified British L9 with comparable parameters. It weighs 52,2 tons and is powered by the Continental AVDS-1790-2D 750hp engine (notice how that gives it better power-to-weight ratio than the Centurion AVRE). That kind of power makes it relatively fast (48 km/h), but even that was not fast enough for the US army, as the American crews complained that in Iraq, M728′s could not keep up with Abrams units and were left behind occasionally.

The armor is as follows:

Upper frontal plate: 109mm at 65 deg (257mm EFF)
Lower frontal plate: 143mm at 55 deg (249mm EFF) (gets thinner further from the weld)
Sides: 36mm at 45 deg (51mm EFF) to 74mm EFF
Rear: 25mm (grill) or 35-41mm (rest)

Mantlet: 127mm at 60 deg (254mm EFF)
Front turret: 254mm
Side turret: 140mm
Rear turret: 57mm

The gun is – as mentioned – the licensed and modified L9, designated M135. Its elevation is -10/+20 and it is capable of firing 30,7kg M123A1 HESH rounds at 259 m/s (maximum range 914 meters). This gun does however not fire HE rounds.

In World of Tanks

First, the good news. I asked and (under certain conditions), all three of the mentioned vehicles (Churchill AVRE, Centurion AVRE and M728) are acceptable for World of Tanks (in the abovementioned priority, eg. Churchill AVRE is probably the most important, then the Centurion and then maybe, just maybe the M728). The bad news is, their implementation stands and falls with new HESH mechanism, that the developers would like to implement. How will such a mechanism look is not yet known however. HESH and HEP shells (please note that HEP is just the American name for HESH, they are identical) are very specific and don’t penetrate in “traditional” sense – thus, finding penetration tables for them is obviously impossible. There are performance tests of HESH shells though and a formula has to be found to translate that performance into ingame numbers. Personally, I think that the way HESH works in the game is not completely unreasonable, but given how well it works against sloped armor, it should have some sort of formal normalization (and quit a high one at that) to reflect this fact. Of course, since HE shells don’t have normalization in WoT, that would habe to be implemented.

All in all, there is a chance we might see these vehicles in the game, although the M728 seems quite OP for a premium and I am not sure, how well and where it would fit otherwise.


R.P.Hunnicutt – A History of the American Main Battle Tank Vol.I: Patton
Various assorted sites
Listy’s posts

53 thoughts on “Centurion AVRE and M728 CEV

  1. Uuuuh, me wants all of them!
    I think they shouldn’t be specifically prem vehicles, they could somehow fit them into trees as some sidesteps as their soviet cousin KV-2 is. Even without many modules to research.

    • I think Church AVRE might be a British KV-2 with bigger damage and longer reload :P
      I sure would buy it

  2. They’re excellent reward tanks for clan wars, Unique, historical and will have use in clan wars. I think that for randoms they might be OP so I guess being a reward will regulate their numbers.

  3. HESH in WOT will never work under the current mechanics – it barely works right now as is – its just a higher penetration HE round which fails to do anything of significance if it doesn’t penetrate. That isn’t HESH. They’d need to compartmentalise tanks, add a spalling mechanic, have its own damage mechanic vs crew/modules while reducing damage vs the tank itself and finally remove all notion of penetration having anything to do with it. It would be extremely OP against anything that doesn’t have spaced armour or a spall liner.

    It falls into the same category as transmissions being part of the engine and causing a fire if it. Stupid.

  4. The Churchill AVRE was equipped with the 290mm spigot gun for a relatively short period of its service – most of the time it was actually armed with the L9 165mm gun on a Churchill Mk VII (post war till last ones left service in mid 1960′s).


    The Centurion came in two versions the British used the L9A1 165mm demolition gun on modified Cent Mk 5′s and is the one most known and seen. (in the 1980′s surplus Cent Mk 12′s were converted to 105 AVRE with the L7 105mm gun – the 105 Cent main role was mine clearing with plough and not all had a cradle above the drivers position).

    105 AVRE belonging to 32 Armd Engr Regt


    Other nations did use Centurion AEV’s mounted with the 105mm L7 instead of the 165mm L9A1 which did have the cradle above the drivers position.

    Jordanian and what was believed to be ex Jordanian 105mm Cent AEV


  5. Trivial way to make HESH more ‘realistic’: shell does full damage if it directly hits the main armour (regardless of thickness), but only half if it penetrates, and the same splash calculation as HE. Base damage is the same as an equivalent AP/APCR round.

    This would make HESH similar to HEAT in performance, with the addition of HE critical damage and guaranteed ‘penetration’ against heavy non-spaced armour, but even more useless against spaced armour and a liability against thin armour.

  6. What about the M60A2? Is there any chance to implement it, or it won’t be because of the same reasons as the Sheridan?

  7. today, we are going to talk about 16,5 centimeters of awesomeness. Sorry to disappoint you, ladies, I am of course talking about the L9 demolition gun caliber.

    Well played

  8. Pingback: i carri fantasma di WoT | Phantom Tanks of WoT Churchill AVRE

  9. We need some high tier full HE tanks.
    Highest competent tier right now is KV-2 – and its fun crippling enemies :D

    • Ever heard of FV 183?

      I know, it uses HESH, but HESH in WoT is just HE with more pen. So, this qualifies as derp i think…

    • next test server try the fv183 with hesh, kv2 is a care bear compared to it.

      on piercing hits it usually kills half crew and 2-3 modules, altrough they probably wont see the damage done, since +1700 damage is deadly.

  10. Interesting article.

    As long as they are not as game breaking as FV 183 for the receiveing side, they should be fine.
    Derping all the way.

    One more thing:
    Mantlet: 127mm at 60 deg (254mm EFF)
    Front turret: 254mm
    Side turret: 140mm
    Rear turret: 57mm

    Are those armor values for standard M60A1 turret?
    If they are, WG fucked up M60 even more than I thought, because that thing has pretty much non-existent turret armor, while being huge at the same time.

    • If the US did what they did for the M45 Pershing’s 105mm turret then it makes sense that the armor would be thicker then normal. Rather then make a brand new turret for the Pershing M45 howitzer tank with the 105mm gun they just make it thicker on the front of the turret so that the turret remained counter balanced and as a bonus had nearly 8 inches of armor.


    • Nvm, found the source from Hunnicutt`s “Patton”:

      M60A1 turret
      127@60 degree mantlet ~254 LOS
      254@0 degree front
      140@0 degree sides
      57@0 degree rear
      25 top

      Dayum, it would transform M60 into a so much better and actually useful tank :/

    • In-game M60 is the original M60, not the M60A1. The latter is too OP or something.

  11. The Centurion AVRE would have the potential to be quite powerful in WoT terms, especially if that dozer blade gets counted as additional spaced armor.

    • I’m dubious, it would however troll players that spam heat which would be awesome :)

      I hope they are going to replace the 4202 with this, plus I can’t see it being difficult for the devs to add more nominalisation to HESH. The only worry would be making 183 opp but they can soon nerf that 1 tank.

  12. You now who to buff HESH? By nerfing HEAT and rounds that use sub-munitions. The latter will probably not happen. But the former? HEAT can penetrate, but the reason the British loved HESH and not HEAT is that HEAT has a very bad habit of “penetrating” but not doing a lot of internal damage.

    The US, Russia, Germany, etc, fell in love with High Explosive Anti-Tank because it’s easy to understand. It’s a simple yes/no, penetration or not. It wasn’t until the late 70s or early 80s that countries started looking at “after armor effect”. The reason they didn’t was because in a lot of cases HEAT would penetrated and do little to nothing unless you got a very likely hit.

    HESH doesn’t work that way. It’s not a simple yes/no when it comes to penetration. But it does have great after-armor effects. S the way to make HESH more attactive and more fitting is maybe give some guns a slight alpha damage buff, but nerf HEAT’s alpha damage.

    • The general track record of antitank weapons based on the hollow-charge principle seems to disagree with you. Rather strongly.

      • The general track record when you count tanks destroyed by them, yes. For tanks and AFVs hit and penetrated, but not destroyed? Not so much.

        • Define “destroyed”; the last I checked “hors de combat” was quite sufficient as far as military practicalities were concerned.

          Also less than immediately convinced HESH has done meaningfully better.

          • There is a reason for that. Shape charges are very easy to “metric”. They have a definite penetration. HESH doesn’t.

            • I’m not quite following your point here. Plus the last I read the Soviet destruction tests of German tenks over at EE’s blog they certainly seemed to be very diligent about describing (among everything else) the level of spallation produced, down to listing the approximate dimensions of the fragments.

    • Brits loved and still love HESH is that it is a good duel purpose round, good damage for most hard targets and a useful HE round.

      Cheap and simple multi-purpose round that can be loaded and ready for nearly all targets – as opposed to the Fin/HEAT/HE that many nations had to choose between in load out and what to be loaded with.

  13. Churchill AVRE: yes please, even if its a premium.

    SS: any estimate about what tier the Churchill AVRE might be at? I would think probe 6-7 no?

    • I don’t think they’ll put the Churchill AVRE in the game with the 290mm spigot mortar. A 165mm armed Churchill is far more likely and that seems like a Tier 8 Premium.

      • Churchill AVRE would be fine as long as make it an exception to thestupid calibre = damage rule. As SS pointed out the Churchill ARVE 290mm “Only” had 16KG of explosive. Compare that to the smaller calibre cent @165mm had a charge of 29KG.

        Anyone know how big the KV2 152mm shell was?

        • You’re confusing total shell weight with payload, you know. Quick exercise of Wiki-Fu says the “flying dustbin” had 14 kilos of explosive for 18 kilos of projectile, which is pretty damn good ratio given that eg. contemporary Allied 120mm mortar shells had like ~3.5 kg explosive for ~11 kg shell (and mortar bombs can get away with a lot thinner casings than cannon shells due to much lower muzzle velocities).
          Wiki sez the L9 165mm demogun manages about 20 kg of explosive for the 29 kg shell, which is still pretty good – I assume the warhead is very thin-walled since fragmentation effect isn’t a priority?

          As for the big old 152 mm, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/152-mm_howitzer_M1938_(M-10)#Ammunition
          But then that’s a full-blown artillery piece originally designed to lob shells a good twelve kilometers…

          • The point still stands calibre != explosive power.

            And wow most those 152 shells had surprisingly small amounts of explosive in them. The HE ammo that the ingame kv2 uses carried 5.47–6.86 Kg of explosive, compared to the Brit stuff that’s tiny.

            • That’s because those shells are designed to survive rather more powerful propellant charges, produce serious fragmentation (apparently capable of penetrating up to 20-30mm of armour actually) and in one case punch right through a fair amount of reinforced concrete. By way of comparision look at the proportional explosive payloads of actual APHE shells on one hand, and something like the thin-walled “mine shells” the Germans devised for their aircraft autocannon to use in bomber-busting on the other.

              It’s really a question of what you want to *do* with the ammunition.

              And ofc the 290 mm thingamajig isn’t really a gun at all in the normal sense anyway. To wit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortar_(weapon)#Spigot_mortar
              A certain inefficiency in terms of payload is apparently an inherent characteristic of the design; the gain being the weapon itself being ligher and smaller.

              In any case your point is at best partially correct; it would be more accurate to state that larger caliber correlates to larger explosive payload ergo power, *all other things being equal*. Start screwing around with radically different designs and of course the correlation goes out of the window.

  14. I don’t want to start anything, but someone made a post about this exact thing on Reddit just yesterday, and it included both of these tanks and the Churchill AVRE. I don’t want to sound accusatory, but all I ask that you give credit to the poster (/u/Gonzo262) if you took any notes or something from the post.

  15. hmmm, this is interesting
    Churchill VII derp much ? ;)
    btw, imo the Cent AVRE fitted for either tier 8(or 9!) Prems or alternate normal tier 9 (beside the Cent 7/1) , or even a Tourney/CW’s reward