Trackpad In Depth
Tanks of the Early IDF Volume 3
Written by Tom Gannon
This book concludes the story of the early tank types to enter Israeli service.
Volume 1 of this series described the earliest tanks used by Israel as it fought for its independence. At that time, it was clear that a certain amount of desperation was involved.
Following the military victory in the successful War of Independence, the IDF was still in considerable need of weapons, especially tanks and other armored vehicles.
Given the various embargoes and so on, the idea was to take an expedient approach and improve the quality of the tanks in hand while continuing to look for new sources of newer, more modern types. Of course, that would still include the venerable old Sherman, taking advantage of the quantity available around the world and its adaptability for improvements.
Volume 2 in this series covered two significant upgrades to the overall firepower available with the Sherman, specifically what became known as the M-1 and the M-50, as well as the newly-developed French AMX-13.
While there were still some major technological challenges, as well as limited sources, this process was made more possible due to corresponding developments within Israel’s infrastructure.
Volume 3 covers a major change in Israel’s ability to obtain modern tanks, with the United Kingdom and the United States finally agreeing to supply them. The British made the first sale of post-World War II Centurion tanks, which then opened the door for other countries to also sell the same tank to Israel. The Americans slightly over-complicated an initial sale of M48 Pattons via West Germany, and then finally opened the door to direct sales to Israel. In the meantime, though, there was still an ongoing effort to upgrade the venerable old Shermans via the M-51 program.