Several countries had experimented with the idea of mounting heavy mortars in vehicles, with varying degrees of success. Towards the end of 1962, design work began on the idea for an even heavier self-propelled mortar. Their final choice was a 160mm design from Finland, to be manufactured under license in Israel by Soltam Systems, Ltd. Thus began the Machmat 160mm in Israeli service using the Sherman.
The chapter covering the Machmat is very much full of information and fantastic photos covering the development and its use within the IDF these include black and white and colour
Some fantastic action shots give ample thought for diorama modellers amongst us. This is a very large chapter covering the Machmat and as with the first volume contains lots of great colour close-ups walk around type photos.
2. L33 Ro’em
In 1973, Israel fielded an entirely new self-propelled howitzer, the L33 Ro’em. This was a rather cumbersome looking beast, yet became a very effective weapon system manufactured by Soltam Systems Ltd. It was an extensive conversion, with the original hull being stripped down to the tracks.
Although looking cumbersome for me there is also a beauty about it with a huge gun and known as the Degem Alef or type A.
The chapter goes on to tell you all about its design and conception from the M50, to the M68 howitzer and yet again shows plenty of pictures of the Ro’em. Although not many pictures of them in action, there are still plenty of non-action photos for you to be able to get the idea of the vehicle.
The chapter ends again with some fantastic walk around close up pictures of the two Ro’ems that are still on public display
3. Mar 240 and Mar 290 Episcopi (Rocket-firing systems)
Although multiple rocket-firing systems had been around for centuries, and mobile launchers were very successfully used by the Soviets in World War II, and somewhat less so by the US Army. The IDF did not become interested in the concept until the Six Day War in 1967.
Starting off with the Zil-157 6x6 trucks a post-war derivative of the Zis/Zil 151/152 it was from this vehicle that the Israelis started to experiment with the Sherman to build their new rocket launchers upon.
The Mar 240 was born, the first such project, which attempted to mate an expanded launch rack of thirty-six 240mmrockets, with a turret less Sherman. However, it was not adopted for use in the IDF.
The heaviest of the new rocket launchers was the Mar290 system also designed for use on the Sherman. 418 entered service in 1982 equipped with eight Episcopi launchers in two batteries, for a total of 32 tubes.
As with previous chapters plenty of photos some with awesome action shots this is followed by some fantastic walk around style colour photos
4. Kilson (aka Chachlilit)
The Kilson a Sherman based rocket launcher was developed in response to the serious aircraft losses incurred in 1973 at the hands of the Soviet-built radar-guided surface to air missiles. Using a shrike AGM-45(Air to Ground Missile) an anti-radar missile normally launched from an aircraft, although it was decided to be used with the good old Sherman. Named the Kilshon (Trident or Pitchfork) and was used successfully in June 1982.
Some fantastic colour photographs follow showing the M50 hull plus lots of walk around type pictures.
5. Eyal OP Sherman (Observing the enemy)
One of the most bizarre IDF conversions that I have ever seen is this Sherman based Observation Post Tank. This Sherman conversion was used successfully at the end of the War of Attrition. The complex hydraulic mechanism lifted the observation platform nearly 30 metres in the air.
With lots of photos showing you the hydraulics the lift, platform, interior and exterior of this Sherman it certainly lends itself to a scratch build.
6. Medical Evacuation Tank (Ambutank)
Having spent most of my life working within the emergency services this particular vehicle struck an accord. The War of Attrition was fought between 1969 and 1970, it consisted of mostly artillery duels and some commando raids. During the fighting, casualty evacuation took place under fire resulting in even more casualties and or dead soldiers.
The IDF Ordnance Corps was tasked with finding a solution to this ever growing problem, two Sherman M4A1 hulls with their large hatches were converted. The concept proved its worth.
Some fascinating photos of the Ambutank follow showing you some different designs based on some of the Sherman hulls used.
7. Driver training (Lomed)
A small section on this particular subject follows, but nonetheless important with various Sherman hulls being used, plenty of photos follow this showing just how the IDF came up with these innovative ideas
8. Israeli M10 (Tank Destroyer)
Another IDF Sherman SP variant with a lot of mystery regarding its service is the American built M10, being ok against the smaller German tanks the Panzer III and Panzer IV but when facing a Panther or Tiger the 75mm gun was no match for the armour or firepower of the later German tanks. In 1955 Israel was in an entirely difficult set of circumstances in that they were in desperate need of weapons, especially with the Arab adversaries received aid from the Soviet Union.
Some more fantastic photography follows this section with some black and white and also the colour type walk around.
Having already done the first volume and having spoken at some length with the publisher he said that I would find the second volume more fascinating he was right.
It is hard to imagine just how many uses can be found for one type of tank the Sherman, and even more fascinating is the way in which the IDF go about facing the task and create something that is very useable in the way that the IDF intended it to be. I maybe slightly biased as I do have a passion and love for anything to do with the Israeli (IDF/IAF) However I doubt very much that anyone who reads this will find it anything other than very useful for any scratch building dioramas or tanks, or just a great read about the IDF and the issues that they overcame as a fledgling country with all the growing difficulties that they faced.
Superb insight into the Sherman tank and its versatility under the IDF banner with loads of photos throughout.
Highs: Well written throughout some stunning action pictures, superb close-up and walk around photos
Lows: Not any that I can think of other than it ended! Verdict: If like me you are a fan of the IDF then this is an important book to add to your library, I would also recommend to anyone with a fascination into the Sherman tank and its variants.