Nearly forty years ago, my regiment was amongst the first in the British Army to have their "Centurions" replaced by "Chieftains". We were therefore probably the most skilled in both operating the "Chieftain" and also coping with its many early problems, of which its early multi fuelled engine and poor high speed cross country performance ranked as the greatest. Since many of our elderly "Centurions" were being sold to other armies, especially the Australian, and the British Government were anxious to market the "Chieftain" abroad", I was required to accompany a shipment of "Centurions", and also as three well sorted "Chieftains" straight from the manufacturers, to Australia for trials purposes. En route by sea, we received a signal to divert to a place called Da Nang where tropicalisation kit was to be fitted and trials were to beqin. It took us only moments to discover that this place was in Vietnam, a country in which a very serious war was being fought at the time, but knowing that the Australian army was posted there in big numbers, we expected that the mods. and trials would be conducted at a rear base well away from the firing line. Sure enough, the port of Da Nang was a very comfortable billet with many well equipped factories and workshops where all the mods. were fitted very professionally by both Australian and American technicians. Unfortunately, whilst we were there, the Tet Offensive kicked off and the perimeter around Da Nang was seriously threatened, so much so that our little tank battle group was ordered to take up fire support positions some miles out of town. In no time at all all of our H.E.rounds were used up, so the Australian Brigadier in nominal charge of us ordered us forward to deal with some enemy strongpoints by using our A.P. on them. This was useless since our A.P.rounds merely went straight through the houses being used by the NVA without bringing the walls down, although the velocity of this ammo. certainly killed a few of the enemy merely by its shock waves. When this ammo was used up we were ordered to withdraw in good order,but our accompanying infantry (mainly Vietnamese,and who never ignored an order to withdraw without bugging out at high speed ! ) left us in the lurch, and very quickly we found enemy infantry swarming all over us. Luckily we found that they lacked any serious anti tank weapons apart from grenades, and even these they used singly rather than packing a bunch of 'em into a satchel ( which would have made our ears ring a tad or two ! ), so we were able to shoot 'em off each others hulls by using our tank's machine guns, and, in the case of my Troop Sergeant ( who couldn't close his turret hatch )a pair of Browning 9 mm. semi automatic pistols when he had his Sterling SMG jam on him. During the whole of this time our repeated radio calls for either infantry support or an airstrike had gone unaided, but we managed to withdraw leaving only one tank behind ( a Centurion that had managed to get both his tracks off the ground whilst trying to cross a metal road barrier). When we got back to our laager, we were astonished to find that the hulls and turrets of all of the "Chieftains" had great gouges in their armour, where clearly our small arms fire and that of the enemy had carved into the metal, whereas the "Centurions" only showed many signs of bullet splash and scratches to their paintwork. This both puzzled us as well as frightened the shit out of us, but we thought little of it until the next day when, having had our complaints about our radio calls being ignored, we were removing our standard fitment tank radios prior to fitting brand new US Signal Corps solid state radios onto the interior of our turret walls, and we found the stencilled signs " Vehicles of mild steel construction only. Use limited to trials and demonstration purposes " underneath our old radios ! Man, was the air blue ! I myself didn't stop swearing until about the third day. And the whole business wasn't made any better by a veteran Australian Troop Sergeant Major who poo-poohed our little combat as being of no big deal and who told us that in Korea when the Chinese swarmed all over his tank, then he'd just drive through a few houses to knock the buggers off ! After this screwup, I was flown to Singapore for a weeks leave and then home.I nver found out what happened to our armour, although I heard rumours that once the ammunition had all run out, they were all driven off the dockside at Da Nang and into the sea ! Cheers, Malladyne.