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Tamiya 1/16 Centurion "post build" review.

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Tamiya 1/16 Centurion "post build" review.

Old 02-01-2022, 12:50 PM
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Fsttanks
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Default Tamiya 1/16 Centurion "post build" review.


Tamiya 1/16 Centurion


This thread is being started at the request of several members to discuss the build process more in depth (pros & cons) and the overall drive/handling performance. Let us all understand everyone has their own needs and build style so please keep the comments constructive.

To answer a few common question I have been asked both here and elsewhere to get started.

1. Is the Centurion worth $1000+ ?
YES it is. Tamiya gives you your moneys worth in both an involved build and end product.

2. Is it actually as big as the side by side photos indicate in your "photo build log" thread or is it just the way the photos were taken?
YES it is actually as big as it looks in the photos and even more so in person,

3. Where did I get the 105mm L7 gun?
I actually had to make it. Its overall dimensions were taken from a vintage Tamiya Leopard 1 barrel which I "kit bashed" for the fume extractor.

4. Why an IDF theme?
It was either IDF or Australian both I liked, but since I drive my tanks in mostly a desert environment the IDF theme made for a better choice.

5. Is it for sale? (I kid you not)
Yes and no. Everything has a price, but I am not ready to sell it yet...... unless it is a GOOD price.....LoL

6. Why no side skirts?
Simply because I like the look of the tank without them and that there is a lot going on with the suspension as the tank moves over rough ground. With the skirts on, the majority of this movement is hidden. For me the visual of the suspension movement really brings the tank to "life".


Part 1: First Impression,

-- The box the Centurion come in was a huge let down considering the ~$1200 price tag. Tamiya basically upscales a 1/35 model box. It is nothing like the ones that came with many of the more recent releases and sadly follows the trend backwards like what was started with the Sheridan tank a few years ago.

-- The quality of the parts and instruction included are typical Tamiya quality, but the plastic seem to feel slightly thicker then past tanks and some of the parts have a different tone of green. Once painted though the tone difference becomes irrelevant.

-- There are A LOT of parts compared to most other Tamiya tanks. The manual has 80 total steps compared to tanks like the Abrams 55 steps, Pershing's 49 steps and the Sheridan's 60 steps. What does this mean? If you follow each step it equals a longer build time.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-02-2022 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 02-02-2022, 03:48 AM
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A long slow build is fine by me. The building is half the fun.
Old 02-02-2022, 10:10 AM
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Hi Fsttanks
Re the skirts, the real advantage they confer is camouflage. They make the vehicle harder to spot at range, by removing the deep shadow cast by the fenders & suspension. Protection from shaped charge projectiles is shorter ranged. And they help reduce dust, when on the move.
Guess that's what is known as a lucky break?

Mal
Old 02-02-2022, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by afv aficionado View Post
Hi Fsttanks
Re the skirts, the real advantage they confer is camouflage. They make the vehicle harder to spot at range, by removing the deep shadow cast by the fenders & suspension. Protection from shaped charge projectiles is shorter ranged. And they help reduce dust, when on the move.
Guess that's what is known as a lucky break?

Mal
Yes I am aware the many advantages of skirts on real tanks. I just like the overall look of tanks from WW2 and Cold War era without them especially on RC tanks. The skirts tend to cover up to much of the “visual” interaction seen going on between the suspension, road wheels, tracks, sprockets, dirt, dust and mud. I enjoy watching this interaction, because without it RC tanks can look a bit boring while driving. I suspect others like this too as I see the majority of people gravitating to older tanks vs the modern tanks with skirts. Modern tanks just look “a bit boring” (?) a phrase I have heard countless times at battle day and demonstration events.

If a person likes skirts by all means include them on your tank. If not don’t include them. Either way is correct. The nice part is Tamiya made it easy on the Centurion to switch back and forth,

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-02-2022 at 12:52 PM.
Old 02-02-2022, 11:29 AM
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Part 2 : The Build,

Tamiya as usual did a good job with the step by step instruction and part fitment so there were no surprises during the build process. There were a few ares of note that should be expected but not feared.

-- The gearboxes are of the newer design as first seen in the M551 Sheridan. In fact they are nearly identical except for the drive axle. All the gears were compared with those from the M55 and showed to be the same. Also the "outdrive" gears are the same as used in the M26 Pershing. What does this mean? Spare gearbox parts are currently and will be available for some time.

-- The motors and motor pinion gear method of attachment are a concern and a proven issue as this same arrange is used in the M551 Sheridan. The problem centers around the motor shaft not having a "flat spot" in which to effectively secure the set screw against. The round motor shaft and set screw just do not hold and will result in a shaft "spin out" causing the gearbox to not turn. I would suggest to add a "flat spot" on the motor shaft to better secure the set screw to during the build process as it is far easier then tearing the tank down once the tank is built. Use of a "flat spot" to help secure the set screw is common to see on other motors used throughout the RC world, why Tamiya did not include it on either tank is puzzling.

-- Be ready to turn A LOT of small screws, I mean A LOT!!! The Centurion is 98% screwed together. It by far uses more screws then an other Tamiya tank. This slows the build quite a bit, but makes for a tank that is far more serviceable and easier to add later modification to. I would suggest NOT using the Tamiya "red" thread lock and instead use a "blue" thread lock. Tamiya's is overkill and in my opinion used in many areas it should not.

-- Bushing vs bearings. The Centurion comes with bushing for the idler and road wheels. These work well enough, but if well enough is not good enough for you then the bushing can be replaced with 5x8x2.5mm bearings, 28 are needed (30 if you use two more in the gun elevation mantle). I used sealed bearing as I tend to drive my tank rather hard and in some nasty environments.

-- Installing the tracks should be easy but it is not. There is insufficient room between the hull fenders and return rollers to slip the track between the two if you are attempting to install the track as a complete "loop" regardless is you have one or both of the idler wheels or sprockets off the tank. You have to use considerable force to slip the track guide teeth past the return rollers. This causes a fair amount of stress to be placed on the guide teeth which if not done with care could easily break them off. I suggest the "pulling one track pin" approach if this is your first build. Tamiya does show this as the preferred method on the Centurion.

-- Battery, speaker and DMD placement are understandable based on general public use/needs, but is not advantageous to the overall performance of the tank. The placement causes the weight balance of the tank to be extremely bias to the rear aka "tail heavy" (~25/75) and there is a noticeable sag to the rear when the Tamiya configuration is used. I chose not use the Tamiya configuration and instead placed my battery as far forward in the hull as possible and moved the speaker from the forward hull to just aft of mid hull. This eliminated the rear sag and provided an improved weight balance (~45/55). This causes other issues such as needing a longer battery lead line and the need for the battery to remain in the tank (with very minor modifications the upper hull/turret can be made removable and easy access to the battery possible).

--Upper hull and turret. Tamiya attaches the turret to the upper hull section with three easy to access screws and the upper deck section to the Centurion hull with four screw that go into four metal tabs attached to the hull sides. This configuration even without being screwed down showed to be stable during indoor drive and obstacle testing. So much so I actually forgot to screw the section down until well after the tank had been painted and its first outdoor test run was completed. It would be very easy to convert these "screw / tabs" mounting points to magnetic mounts. This would simplify the access to the inner hull and allow for very easy access to change out relocated batteries or whatever. Something to consider adding during the initial build. I plan on revisiting this and doing the modification soon.

To be continued.....

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-02-2022 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 02-02-2022, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Fsttanks View Post
Yes I am aware the many advantages of skirts on real tanks. I just like the overall look of tanks from WW2 and Cold War era without them especially on RC tanks. The skirts tend to cover up to much of the “visual” interaction seen going on between the suspension, road wheels, tracks, sprockets, dirt, dust and mud. I enjoy watching this interaction, because without it RC tanks can look a bit boring while driving. I suspect other like this too as I see the majority of people gravitating to older tanks vs the modern tanks with skirts. Modern tanks just look “a bit boring” (?) a phrase I have heard countless times at battle day and demonstration events.

If a person likes skirts by all means include them on your tank. If not don’t include them. Either way is correct. The nice part is Tamiya made it easy on the Centurion to switch back and forth,
I absolutely agree about the "Better" look of a Tank free of side skirts,
All of my Panzer 4 Ausf G/H and J are minus the fitting whilst retaining the Turret Shurtzen purely because I prefer it that way.
Old 02-04-2022, 10:46 AM
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Part 3: Driving Impressions,

Full discloser, I will be comparing the Tamiya Centurion only to other Tamiya tanks that use Tamiya DMD/MFUs, stock tracks, transmissions, speakers and set to medium weight. All the tank are running 8.4 volt NiMH batteries of the same manufacture and capacity. I will focus more in comparing the Centurion to the Pershing when possible as a "base line" since they were designed and entered service about the same time. Also, I like feel the Pershing and IMO it has some of the best all around handling/driving, off road performance and IR fighting ability of any Tamiya tank.

-- General handling using the stock setting as they come preprogramed on Tamiya of the DMD 11 held no surprises. The Centurion can both "skid steer" and perform "neutral turns". It can creep forward one "pad at a time" or sprint to a top speed which is just slightly fast than a Pershing. Gentle turns while moving at moderate speeds are smooth and predictable. Better than a Sherman and Sheridan, about equal to an Abrams, but not quite as good as a Pershing.

-- The Centurion has excellent under hull ground clearance which is superior to any of the tanks it was compared against. This reduced the "belly scrapping" and "getting hung up" on obstacles that the other tanks experienced issues with in the past.

-- Approach and departure angles are excellent with only minor scrapping of the lower rear hull and fenders on the most extreme section of my test course. This was expected but was less than others with the exception of the Sheridan (see Instagram & fsttanks for videos).

Approach and Departure


-- Off camber "side hills" were a bit of a challenge for the Centurion. The Centurion tended to slide sideways down any off camber section that was greater than 30 degrees and rolled over twice on one section that is approximately 45 degrees. The sliding is related to the track design and the rolling over at 45 degrees I suspect is related to the suspension design and the narrowness of the chassis. On this section of the test course the Pershing has no issues and easily handles the off camber terrain. The only other tank that has a similar issue with the 45 degree section is the Sherman.

To Be Continued......

Business end of the Tamiya Centurion.


Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-04-2022 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 02-04-2022, 04:17 PM
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Those little plastic suspension arms on the first and third bogey assemblies seem to be holding up. Thanks for the post build thread.
cheers
Dave
Old 02-04-2022, 04:29 PM
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I really want to get one of these and do a Shot Kal. Is Rich still going to produce the L7 105 barrel?
Old 02-04-2022, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by regsbyg View Post
Those little plastic suspension arms on the first and third bogey assemblies seem to be holding up. Thanks for the post build thread.
cheers
Dave
So far they are but the tank is still new and hasn’t seen a lot of soft dirt/sand or brush yet. If they break its no big deal they are completely cosmetic.
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Old 02-04-2022, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by MAUS45 View Post
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I really want to get one of these and do a Shot Kal. Is Rich still going to produce the L7 105 barrel?
Last I spoke with Rich he is still working on them. Rich does things without short cuts so when they are ready I am sure they will be an excellent product.
Old 02-04-2022, 11:07 PM
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Thanks for the review, I really like how it looks without the skirts. The skirts on the Tamiya Pershing don't really stand up to sustained RC use because debris will cause the tiny screwheads to pull through the plastic fenders. In any case I think the Centurion looks tougher without skirts and I know exactly what you mean when you like to see suspension movement on the tank - its what got me into RC tanking as well!

In any case, the high ground clearance is probably the reason why the tank is prone to rolling - dimensionally its quite similar to Tamiya's modern MBTs, but those don't tip over easily. Also, it looks like the Horstmann suspension doesn't give it a whole lot of suspension travel compared to conventional torsion bar suspension, is that true?

Given where the idler wheels are mounted, they are quite exposed to impacts in addition to bearing the track's weight - is there any warping of the hull?
Old 02-05-2022, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cleong View Post
Thanks for the review, I really like how it looks without the skirts. The skirts on the Tamiya Pershing don't really stand up to sustained RC use because debris will cause the tiny screwheads to pull through the plastic fenders. In any case I think the Centurion looks tougher without skirts and I know exactly what you mean when you like to see suspension movement on the tank - its what got me into RC tanking as well!

In any case, the high ground clearance is probably the reason why the tank is prone to rolling - dimensionally its quite similar to Tamiya's modern MBTs, but those don't tip over easily. Also, it looks like the Horstmann suspension doesn't give it a whole lot of suspension travel compared to conventional torsion bar suspension, is that true?

Given where the idler wheels are mounted, they are quite exposed to impacts in addition to bearing the track's weight - is there any warping of the hull?
The suspension mechanics coupled with the narrower hull lend to the causes of rolling over. Just one of those things the driver has to be aware of and watch their choice of terrain to drive over.

The idler wheel is exposed but the idler arm and idler mount are metal and rather stout. There is no hull warping as the hull is quite well supported. The tracks are also extremely light so they have minimal effect on the idler system. Now when and if metal tracks are developed then there might be some stress issues to overcome.

I just posted some photos of the Centurion eating and kicking up dirt along with some battle day photos from the LA Tank Clubs February 2022 event on my Instagram @ fsttanks.



LA Tank Club February 2022 IR battle day.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-05-2022 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 02-06-2022, 07:23 AM
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I watched your Instagram clips and really liked seeing the suspension move and push the little plastic pushrods, it just adds a degree of mechanical intricacy. If I get a Centurion, I'm definitely leaving the skirts off, and maybe there's a market for 3D metal-printed pushrods if they prove to be fragile in the long term......
Old 02-07-2022, 10:51 AM
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Part 3: Driving Impressions (Continued)

-- Driving in soft soil such as silty dirt or fine sand, the Centurion really shines. The wide tacks on an already light tank coupled with the spacing between road wheels and the rather "tall" space from the track on top of the return rollers to the bottom grounded tracks, make for easy evacuation of the dirt / sand scooped up by the large track "cleats". The visual effect of the interaction between the tank and terrain is stunning to watch. So for those of you like me that are not running side skirts be ready, the Centurion chews and kicks up A LOT of dirt and dust....its totally cool IMO.

Screen shots from video of Tamiya 1/16 Centurion driving in soft silty soil. Sorry for the general low quality of the screen shots the video was filmed in HD and the photos had to be down graded to be loaded to this forum.

Tamiya Centurion making easy work in silty dirt. More photos available on my Instagram @ fsttanks



Tamiya Centurion backing up in soft dirt.



Tamiya Centurion just starting a “hard over” right turn in soft dirt.

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Old 02-07-2022, 11:58 AM
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Part 4: IR Battling Impressions with the Tamiya Centurion,

A couple of disclosures to start. I have the IR emitter placed in the barrel at the depth of 10.5mm because the IR emitter is a HP type not the stock Tamiya IR emitter. The tank is set to the Tamiya "Medium" tank weight rating because as a "Cold War" tank being used against the growing number of Tamiya and HengLong "Cold War" & "Modern" tanks we are seeing at local battle days, this rating best applies (open for debate at a later time).

-- My fighting style is generally fast aggressive attacks, I don't usually sit back and wait in ambush or play sniper with tanks. I quickly found that the Centurion on a close quarters field (city scape) does not do well with my style. It's general size and long barrel regardless of its excellent ability to turn turn tight or turn in place just made it to slow engaging targets. I found myself having to hold back and play more defensively. In this the Centurion excelled and was interesting fun.



Show here at the LA Tank Clubs Feb, 2022 battle day. Note the black LegoDEI IR receiver being used. Its low profile is not intrusive to the look of the tank like the Tamiya receivers are. The LegoDEI is also far more sensitive to reading hits. This can be considered good or bad depended you, your club or your opponent.





Shown here the Tamiya Centurion has just taken out the Panther to the right and is engaging the Panther in the foreground. The Centurion destroyed both Panthers but received enough hits that it was finally taken out by another tank before the end of the battle.



Just a sampling (about half) of the tanks the Centurion fought against at the Feb 2022 LA Tank Clubs battle day. If you have a chance to make it to an LA battle be ready for some epic city fights. The turn out of attendees and types of tanks is growing rapidly.


-- Where my fighting style and the Centurion matched up well was in open country IR battling. The Centurion size did not matter, but its ability to cross rough terrain at a reasonable speed and fire from an extremely angled "hull down" position does. Couple this with a fast smooth rotating turret, HP emitter and either firing from a terrain feature or on the move scoring hits was easy, definitely on par with both my Pershings and M51(all three are excellent open country tanks).



Open country and using a “hull down” firing position. This position makes direct hits on the IR receiver difficult. It has the effect of making the tank a smaller harder to hit, just like in real world tank combat.


-- The Centurion DMD 11 was found to have an interesting change to the medium weight class. Instead of the normal 5 hit and destroyed it is now 6 HITS, but still 5 seconds between shots. I/We tested this several time before and during battling and it was not a glitch....it was and is 6 hit . Don't ask me why, maybe Tamiya is trying to be more compatible with HengLong and their 6 hit to destroyed. For the die hard Tamiya fans let us take a moment and let this sink in..........................

-- Because of the Centurions gearing battery voltage becomes a big part of it performance. The Centurion at 9.6 - 8.2 volts handles well and as it receives damage slows down as one would expect for a "medium" tank. BUT if the voltage drops below 8.2, the results of hit damage severely change and the Centurion becomes almost unmovable after the second hit. Also the range of the IR beam is greatly effected. The Centurion IMO should not be run in battle on a 7.2v NiMH battery. To do so is a HUGE handicap in all aspects of the tanks performance.

To be Continued.......

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-07-2022 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 02-07-2022, 08:50 PM
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6 hits for a medium now, I wonder where they got that idea.....
FYI I just tested my Leopard 1a4 that has a Sheridan MFU in it. Confirmed it has a 6 hit medium program and I think it does have a 5s reload time best I can tell.

Very interesting the influence Henglong has created.
Old 02-08-2022, 11:16 AM
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Interestingly, an elmod fusion pro board I bought last summer and which purports to follow the current tamiya set up also has 6 hits and 5 seconds to reload for medium tank.
Old 02-08-2022, 11:36 AM
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Open country and using a “hull down” firing position. This position makes direct hits on the IR receiver difficult. It has the effect of making the tank a smaller harder to hit, just like in real world tank combat.

I like that this tactic works, it adds a lot of realism. Does it work as well with the legodei recievers? I am wondering if the close spaced louvers on the tamiya receiver, when canted back like that block most of the incoming ir beam. I am thinking the wider opening on the legodei reciever wouldnt give as strong an effect.
Old 02-08-2022, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by oldwolf75 View Post

Open country and using a “hull down” firing position. This position makes direct hits on the IR receiver difficult. It has the effect of making the tank a smaller harder to hit, just like in real world tank combat.

I like that this tactic works, it adds a lot of realism. Does it work as well with the legodei recievers? I am wondering if the close spaced louvers on the tamiya receiver, when canted back like that block most of the incoming ir beam. I am thinking the wider opening on the legodei reciever wouldnt give as strong an effect.
The sunshade on the Tamiya receiver when angled back or forward like the above photo blocks the majority of the IR beam depending on the distance between the two tanks. It usually only works if the opponent is greater then 20 feet away. So for open country fighting were ther are a number of small hills or ditches it is a great way to fire at your opponent with little chance of being hit by return fire.

Unfortunately the LegoDEI receiver are a bit more sensitive and this tactic is harder to use. The standoff range between tanks needs to be greater then with the Tamiya and the angle must be slightly steeper. I use the tactic often but with greater success when I am running the Tamiya receiver.

So depending on the battle field terrain and tank being used, I choose my IR receiver for the day accordingly. Sometimes Lego, sometimes Tamiya.

A master of this tactic is RichJohnson. He recently used it during the San Diego Tank Clubs “October War” IDF vs Arab theme battle day. With his M5O on a small hill he took out six tanks and was only hit once. He repeated this to lesser success later in the day once the opposing side figured it out and adjusted their tactics.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-08-2022 at 12:04 PM.
Old 02-08-2022, 12:30 PM
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Hmm... seeing your Cent in "town" makes me want to build one and paint it in the Berlin Brigade urban camo.
Old 02-08-2022, 12:43 PM
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Thanks for the response. I am very pleased to hear that such tactics are working, as they should. I wonder if the folks at tamiya planned it to work that way or if it was just serendipitous when all they were trying to do was make a sun shade?

Now if legodei could just modify his receiver to reward such a position as well as the tamiya one does while retaining its better long range sensitivity for flat open ground engagements.

Sadly, being in rural Maine, I am unlikely to ever get a chance to participate in one of your battles. But one can dream.
Old 02-08-2022, 01:33 PM
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Part 5: Final thoughts,

I have left "gaps" in this review so that as others acquire the Centurion they can discover the little nuances for themselves. I don't want to take all the fun of discovery out of a new tank build. What I will conclude with are a few positives and negatives I only kinda covered but was asked add more to.

--The positive, you are getting a lot of tank for the money and Tamiya has obviously taken into account there will be those that want to modify the Centurion into later models with different engines and armaments. As such they designed the rear hull, engine deck and hull side fenders of the Centurion to be completely unscrewed and removed easily to facilitate new modifications with less effort. The turret too, being four parts all screwed together facilitate easy disassembly necessary for access to the all internals.

The Centurion has a cavernous internal hull space do to all the suspension components being on the outside of the hull. This space provides for a number of uses and modification. I used it to relocate the battery to the forward hull to provide for an improved front to back weight balance. I am sure other will be just as inventive.

-- The Negatives. I do not like the pinion to motor mounting method of using a set screw on a round motor shaft. This is just asking for the pinion to slip and cause the gearbox to stop working. Tamiya with their vast RC experience knows this and should have provided motors with the proper mounting surfaces for set screw use.

The track is too lightly built and I have already broken a link. The track for such a large tank should be made with heaver construction.

Snapped off a section of track cleat and shortly after the link broke.


One of the rear sprockets was manufactured slightly out of spec and its fitment to the drive shaft was rather loose "wobbly" compared to the other sprockets fitment. This looseness caused the sprocket to "throw" its track in turns on anything other than hard smooth surfaces. I remedied the issue with the installation of a small nylon washer slipped over the drive shaft between the outdrive and rear of the sprocket. This effectively created a large "wheel hub" for the sprocket to ride against and completely removed the wobble and issues with "throwing" the track in turns.

The idler arm locking "fin " which is a small metal fin that extends off the idler arm and slips into the idler mount. The mount has multiple adjustment slots for the "fin" to slide into and adjust the idler wheel as needed. The problem I see is the single "fin". This might be adequate for the stock lightweight nylon track, but under heavier loads this single "fin" does not appear that it will be strong enough and I am sure it will fail. Tamiya should have used more than one "fin" on this part to ensure greater overall strength and longevity.

The sound card program installed on my DMD11 is absolute garbage! It is not a speaker issue as I have tried a number of speakers. The sound crackles and becomes distorted on volume levels past 60%. It is also programed to a very low sound level so the need to raise the volume becomes even more necessary. The crackles and distortions are only related to the engine sounds not the main gun or mg. Now I do not place a lot of importance on sound quality, but when my HengLong tanks have better sound quality then a $1200+ Tamiya tank there is a problem.

In closing, if there is anything else related to the Tamiya Centurion you would like to know please feel free to ask. Also feel free to add your thoughts. I hope you have found this review helpful or at least entertaining. There will be continued posts of the Centurion on my Instagram @ fsttanks you are welcome to check out.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-08-2022 at 03:27 PM.
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Buckeye36 (05-29-2022)
Old 02-08-2022, 01:53 PM
  #24  
tankme
 
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Great review. So with the track issues on this and the Sheridan, has Tamiya just forgotten how to make reliable tracks?
Old 02-08-2022, 03:18 PM
  #25  
Fsttanks
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Originally Posted by tankme View Post
Great review. So with the track issues on this and the Sheridan, has Tamiya just forgotten how to make reliable tracks?
I think the track is made lighter to simplify the strength needed for the idler system and to facilitate the use of light weight polystyrene idler wheels. For comparison the Centurion track is lighter constructed than that of the Tamiya Tiger or Panther which use a similar track design, yet the Centurion is a much larger tank.

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