Building the Strv 81 from the AFV Club Centurion Mk 5/1


Finally there’s not one but two decent Centurions on the market and for us that builds swedish armour that’s great news.

Now we can build the Strv 81 and 102 almost straight from the box.
Well, it’s not that simple, some things needs to be customized but most of the parts are included in the box.
I’m building an early strv 81 with the type A barrel.

For that I bought the Barrel Depot offering but that was money down the drain.
The tube is too thick and the caliber is more like 115 mm instead of 83,4 (3,3 mm instead of 2,3)
Now I’m trying to lay my hands on the Model Point barrel instead.

Back to the build.

The hull is pretty straight forward, just remember not to use the extra armour plate on the glacis and the external fuel tank.
Since I’m building an early vehicle I’m using the early style headlights and the small position lights on the front fender.
One thing to be added is the box for the smoke grenades on the rear plate. This is one of the things that needs to be scratch built but fortunately for me a friend of mine is in the business of scratch building Swedish armour and he shipped me some items needed for the kit. :-)

The image is showing the rear end of my strv 102 project.

I have assembled the hull and started with some detailing.
For this I’m using the etch set from Voyager. It’s for the Aussie version but most parts can also be used for the strv 81.
One good thing is that the side skirts are included in the etch set since those are not present in the AFV Club kit.
One of the most fiddly and time consuming details on the hull was the leaf spring for the tow hook.
It consists of about 20 parts and for me who’s getting old and got shaky hands it was a pain in the butt.
The final result is pretty good thou, too bad most of it will be obscured by the deflector plate. :-(

Comparing the etched detail on the left with the kit part on the right.

I replaced the plastic handles on the engine deck with wire, the same will be done to the transmission hatches.

The handles on the equipment boxes was replaced with photo etch.

On the turret I removed all the tie downs and replaced with photo etch.
The molded cables for the smoke mortars was removed and replaced with copper thread.
Same with the cable going to the cable reel.
The mantle is from Firestorm, it’s the version with ranging MG but the opening for that was closed with putty.

The Voyager set includes the smoke mortars with the base in resin and the barrels turned from brass rod.
The barrels are about two mm too long so I drilled out the resin base and cut the barrels with my Proxxon and a cutting wheel.
The mount is quite fiddly, it consists of four etched parts, six rods and twelve etched nuts.
I tried to solder the parts together and it started out nice with the two main plates, I was surprised how easy it was.
The problems occurred when I tried to attach the mounting legs, when I tried to solder those the old joint between the plates broke.
Final result is part soldering and part super glue.

Update April 11:
Today I received an early 40 years birthday present.
It’s a 900l mono wheel fuel trailer in resin.
It will look great behind the Cent.
Thank you Kjell. 😀

Aaarrrggghhhh, I couldn’t hold back. I had to assemble the trailer. :-)
Very straight forward build with good details.
Some detailing is needed but not much.
The mounting brackets in the foreground needed a slot in them to fit the mounts on the tank.
I took my hobby saw and made a slot 1,6 mm wide centered in the bracket.
Now it fits to the tank like a glove.

Update April 15:
There’s been little progress the last few days because I had to work on my bathroom and also the Swedish hockey championship has been settled this weekend.
The team I’m rooting for won ofcourse. :-)

Back to the Centurion.
I have cut the rail at the end of the engine deck in five parts, it consists of five parts in real life, one on each transmission hatch.

After that I removed the small plate running across the front of the transmission hatches.
It should not be there on a Swedish tank.
Before                      After
Still needs some sanding before it’s finished.
Next thing to do is to add the inspection hatches for the APU on the engine deck.

Update may 2:
On the engine deck there should be two small inspection hatches for the APU.
These are not present on the modell so I have to make them from scratch.
First I measured where they should be and scribed the edges with the tip of my scalpel.
Of course you can’t do everything right the first time, I measured the position for the front hatch from the wrong side so I had to redo that one.
When I got all the measurements right I gently cut out the openings with the scalpel.
Here you can see the openings.
I’ll make the hatches from plastic card, it should not be too big a problem, not even for me. :-)

Update September 10:
Today I finally  sat down again after the summer.
I should have done more during the summer but there’s always tons of other stuff to do when you have a family and a house.
Now I’m in a bit of a hurry, the model should be finished in time for the C4 Open in Malmö October 27 and I’m a terribly slow builder.
Well, as I said, I did some construction today but it was one step forward and two steps back.
First I finished the exhaust system.
Here you should take care because the instructions tell you to mount the exhaust for the APU on both left and right side (part B7) but it should only be on the left side.
The APU is mounted in the left front corner of the engine bay and the exhaust pipe is run out to the left, below the left exhaust pipe for the main engine.
The right side without the exhaust pipe for the APU.
I have not mounted the fish tails because the parts in the kit are angled about 45 degrees and the Swedish ones should be straight so I need to modify those.

After I mounted the exhaust I sat down at the computer to study some reference for the build.
That was a bad idea, I noticed that the early 81s should not have the two inspection hatches in the engine deck I made so I had to remove the deck and replace it with a new one from one of my Mk 5/2 NATO kits.
It was quite easy to snap it of using a scalpel.
The old deck is removed………..
And the new one is mounted.
And new handles has been made.

Update September 14:
I have filled the gap between the air cooler intake (part C 40) and the body with putty and sanded it smooth.
There should be no gap there on the sides and the rear.
The plate should also stick out at the rear so I need to make two narrow strips and glue in place.
As I mentioned in my last update the fish tail exhaust pipes needs to be modified so I cut of the angled part and replaced it with a plastic tube, 3 mm long.
The tube I used is from a cotton swab, it fits exactly in the muffler.

I also made some work on the front, I sanded of the pre moulded markings for equipment on the glacis and mounted the etched supports for the front fenders and the brackets for the tow shackles.

Update September 23:
Not much done since the last update really, to many days flies by and C4 Open approches with giant steps.
I need to dicipline myself.
Next week I will build at least 1 hour each day.
Back to the build, I’ve modified the rear fenders.
Some, or all, early Swedish Centurions had bigger rear fenders than usual.
I used some aluminum foil from a tube to make the extensions, turned out really nice if I may say so. :-)

Update September 26:
Big wheels keep on turning……..
Today I finished the tedious work of sanding and cleaning the road wheels.
I use the resin replacements from Firestorm (see separate article) and they are great.
Some sanding on the back to remove the flash and then drop the AFV Club hubs in place.
Now the return rollers are glued in place and the road wheels are mocked up.
It’s getting there……….

Update October 13:
At this point, I hate photo etched tool clasps
I’ve struggeled the last couple of days with the holders for the shovels, picks, sledge hammer and pry bar.
Think it turned out ok at last but I realized that my fingers are far too thick for this shit. 😀
Less than two weeks left until the C4 Open, gonna be some busy nights in the hobby room.

Update October 14:
After the tedious work with the tool brackets I gave the rear end a rest and put my attention towards the front of the hull.
I needed to make some brackets for the ground anchors on the glacis.
The ground anchors are used to put under the tracks when you need extra grip, for example on an icy slope.
I think it’s a swedish modification. Anyhow, they are placed on the front plate so I needed to make some brackets, back to the etch frets again.
I used the etched muffler plate and cut it to size and then folded the pieces with my folding tool.
I then glued the brackets in place on the anchors and then glued the  pieces to the hull.
This was easier than  to first glue the brackets to the hull, and also more rigid.

Next thing to do is the front lights and the protective plates above.
This is also a Swedish mod I think.
For this I bought a piece of thread plate from AA, they have some different types in their range.
The plates are really nice and not too thick.
For the brackets I cut a strip 1mm wide from the same plate as I used for the other brackets, they are a bit too wide but I could not make them any smaller.
I then folded them to shape and soldered the strips to the thread plate.
One light down, one to go.

Update October 15:
Today I finished the second head light and I also mounted the spare tracks so now the front plate is more or less finished.
Some small bits and pieces remains, I’ve also started on the drivers hatch.

In the rear I mounted the fenders, the tail lights and the fish tails for the exhaust.
What’s left is the deflector plate, tow cable and surely one zillion of little bits and pieces that I’ll find out when browsing thru images. :-)

Update October 16:
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article I’m making an early vehicle with a type A barrel.
The Barrel depot barrel was no good, to big bore and lacking in detail.
Today I recieved a barrel from Model point but it was not much better, identical on the outside but with correct size bore.
My solution to the problem was to modify the kit barrel by turning of the rim behind where the fume extractor sits and mounting the counter weight from a Accurate Armour resin barrel.
The top barrel is my modification with the Model Point in the middle and the one from Barrel Depot at the bottom.
The bore:
Here you can clearly see how the barrels from MP and BD lacks all detail.
Notice also how big the bore is on the BD-version.

I also made extensions to the inside of the rear fenders, they still need some sanding and trimming before finished.
Notice also the new handle for the infantry telephone box, satisfied Erik? :-)

Update October 19:

Today I made the holders for the axes on the equipment boxes.
I took some spare brass plate and bended to shape.
Also used some tie downs and I will add straps later.

I’ve started to detail the turret with clasps for the cables for the smoke dischargers.

Update January 5 2008

So, what happened to this project?
Well, I managed to finish the build just in time for the C4 Open in late October.
On the friday I went by train to Erik and we spent the night weathering our entries.
At 5 AM we descided we needed some shut eyes so we put the kits to rest and went to sleep, for three hours.
At 8 AM Erik woke me up and it was time to leave for Malmoe by car.
Next time I won’t bring anything if it’s not finished well in time for the show.
Anyway, back to the model.
I’m quite pleased with the build but I need to touch up on the painting and weathering.
When it comes to weathering I’m still a novis and learning as I go by so there’s much improvement needed there.
I also managed to place a nice thumb print on the left center side skirt when putting the turret in position.

Some images of the finished kit:


I don’t know right now if I will do something about the weathering but if I do I’ll post that here but for now this article is finished and I will concentrate on my strv 102 with dozer.


About Thord Wedman

What Thord doesn't know about modern Swedish armour is not worth knowing. Thord is also known for actually finishing a model once in decade or so.
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11 Responses to Building the Strv 81 from the AFV Club Centurion Mk 5/1

  1. Erik G says:

    Aren´t the barrels for the smoke grenade launchers supposed to go into the holes in the resin mount? Are the barrels still too long if placed in their sockets?


  2. Thord Wedman says:

    The resin mounts only has a small, very shallow hole in them and the barrels are way too long.
    I cut them 2 mm and drilled out about 1,5 mm and then it looked ok.
    I don’t have the actual lenght of the barrels at hand but I’m going to measure them next time I go to Axvall.

  3. Mats Hjorter says:

    Was that smoke-grenade-box on the hull rear also used on the Strv 81?

    I am giving it my fourth try on the Strv 81 (later version with type B-barrel. It’s a kitbash. AFV Club Mk.5 hull and Legend Mk.5 turret. It has cost me a fortune this far…

    It’s nice to see Plasticwarfare being updated again.

    Best of luck!

  4. Erik G says:

    Sounds like a really serious kitbash, Mats. Why the Legend turret, and not the kit turret?


  5. Thord Wedman says:

    Hi Mats.

    Yes, the box for smoke grenades was introduced quite early on the Centurion.
    Exactly when I don’t know but I haven’t seen any images of a strv 81 without it.


  6. Mats Hjorter says:

    Because I am seriously lazy. :)

    The Legend turret has the cover for the mantlet in place and I think it is quite nice. And my turret was finished when the AFV Cents were released. The Legend hull seemed like a waste of time when the plastic Cents came out. I am going to use the etched side-skirts of the Legend, if I can make them fit.

    Thord, roger. Looks like I will have to add it then. Do you have any reference material on that box? It’s a bit hard to make out the details in the picture. I have very few references and none show a 81 from behind.

    Also, I have seen three variations of the frontal glacis. Some tanks have 3 spare track-links and the box for the drivers windshield. Some have 3 track links and 2 of what appear to be “bandankare”. Wich was the most common? Or did it vary over time?


  7. Thord Wedman says:

    Hi Mats.

    The equipment placed on the front varied over time.
    My strv 81 will have a set of spare track links and two ground anchors on the front and the drivers windshield on the rear of the turret.
    The strv 101 had the drivers windshield placed to the left of the drivers hatch but that could not be done on the 81/102 because of the filler cap for the water tank.
    Where on the front the exuipment was placed varies, on the early vehicles with the front lights in the centre, the spare tracks was placed in the lower right corner and the anchors to the left.
    Later, the ancors was placed in the centre of the glacis and the spare tracks up in the left corner.
    Finally, on the strv 102 with ERA, the anchors was placed on the front of the turret bins and the spare tracks on the rear of the bins.

  8. Pingback: PlasticWarfare » Blog Archive » Centurion wheel update kit.

  9. Gary says:

    Good Evening from UK Guys, I enjoy AFV modelling and found your site via IPMS Stockholm. I would like to know how diffiucult a conversion of this kit(AFV CLUB) to an Israeli Centurion would be. Hope you can help. I have another Centurion (Tamiya 1/35) in build right now that will be a Swedish version, IF I can manage it!!! Thanks a lot guys and enjoy your modelling.( I used to be a signaller in the British Army 1964 to 1971(Regular) and Military Police 1972 to 1984 (Reserve) but don’t hold that against me, ‘cos I am a really nice guy!!!
    Very Best Regards from Britain, Gary (home email is above)

  10. Thord W says:

    Hi Gary.
    Nice to hear that you like the site.
    I’m not sure what needs to be done to the AFV Club kits (Mk 5/1 and Mk 5/2 NATO) to get an Israeli version.
    First it dependes on what era you like to make, an early vehicle from around 1967 should be pretty straight forward I think.
    My tip is that you post the question in the Modern forum on Missing Links (


  11. Olaf Kievit says:


    I ran into this blog when looking for Centurion info; has that mono trailer been released commercially in the mean time, by chance? I’d love to put one behind my Dutch Centurion…



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