With the new update of Fate of a Nation on the horizon for Team Yankee, I wanted to pick up where I left off with my photos from the Latrun armor museum. In this installment we move on to the self-propelled guns. As with any modern force, Israel has required self-propelled artillery capable of keeping up with their armored advances. The IDF has used a variety of models over the years, and this entry will detail several of them including models purchased outright and those converted by the IDF itself into unique vehicles.
Known in Israeli usage as the Romach (spear or lance), the M107 175mm SPG is a fairly devastating platform. Used by the U.S. army through the 1960's and 1970's, the M107 lacks the enclosed fighting compartment seen on many self-propelled guns and howitzers. The reason for this is because of the gun's extreme range (21mi / 34km in its standard configuration), it is generally not expected to come under direct ground assault. The IDF used the type to great effect during the 1973 Yom Kippur War using the gun to target Egyptian SAM batteries in the south and to shell Damascus in the north once Israeli forces had broken through in the Golan. These were later upgraded with new ammunition increasing their range to 50km.
|The M107 175mm SPG and a few of its friends|
As the many Sherman tanks the IDF had acquired and converted were damaged or reached the end of their service life, they were converted into a variety (an extremely wide variety) of self propelled guns, engineering vehicles, and recovery vehicles. One of the most ubiquitous was a 155mm gun conversion of the M50 Sherman tank. The older Flames of War miniature (AIS141) comes with the VVSS tracks, which may be correct for early versions, but the example at Latrun has the HVSS tracks. The original miniature, however, has ample room to move to HVSS tracks in the sponsons if you look at the front and rear views.
|M50 155mm Howitzer with HVSS|
The Israelis developed their own version of the Finnish 155 K 68 cannon in the late 1960's. Manufactured by Soltam systems, it was known as the M-68 in Israeli service. The gun was used as a towed howitzer in the Yom Kippur War, but was also mated to an M50 Sherman chassis with a large enclosed fighting compartment to create the Ro'em.
|Another 155mm conversion of the M50 Sherman chassis - the Ro'em|
The Israelis also mounted heavy mortars on the Sherman chassis. One of the more common variations was the Makmat which mounted a 160mm mortar on the M50 Sherman chassis. With a range of nearly 10km, the system was developed after the Six-Day War, but was deployed during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and later saw action in Lebanon in 1982.
|The Makmat - 160mm mortar on an M50 chassis|
The IDF also used a variety of recovery vehicles - in fact their ability to recover not only their own tanks, but those of their enemies as well. To that end the IDF makes extensive use of recovery vehicles, shown in the photograph below. In the foreground are a couple of U.S. built M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle. Past that is a Gordon (Trail Blazer) also based on the Sherman chassis.
|An assortment of Israeli recovery vehicles|
And now for something completely different... an Israeli APC based on the older T-54/55 tank. One recurring theme with the Israelis has always been adaptive re-use, and the Tiran series of tanks, which were based on captured T-54/55 tanks found new life as the Achzarit heavy armored personnel carrier. Compared to the M113 APC, the Achzarit provides far superior protection for the infantry. These were initially developed in 1988, and have been upgraded since remaining in service today.
|The T-54/55 based Achzarit provides the IDF with a heavy APC|
So that will wrap up this installment, and I hope to get the next going fairly soon (since I have a week off for the holiday!). Next time I'll be looking at some of the more oddball vehicles at the museum with a focus on armored cars and AFVs from the 1948 War of Independence. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season!