Warfare History Network » WWII Tanks Used by the Israeli Defense Force
Download FREE briefings. Have an account? Please log in. Text Size: A A A

WWII Tanks Used by the Israeli Defense Force

Military History

WWII Tanks Used by the Israeli Defense Force

For the past few decades, the Israeli Defense Force has used British Centurions, M-47 Pattons and Super Sherman tanks for its military operations.

For the past few decades, the Israeli Defense Force has used British Centurions, M-47 Pattons and Super Sherman tanks for its military operations.

by Eric Hammel

Over the years, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) acquired hundreds of U.S.-manufactured M4A1 and M4A3 medium Sherman tanks. A large number of these were acquired from the French Army just before the 1956 Sinai Campaign. Over the years, many were refitted with an American 76mm main gun and the remainder with a French 75mm/.62-caliber high-velocity (3,200-feet/second) main gun.

The Battle of Waterloo

Gain new insight into the battle that brought the end of Napoleon’s rule in France.
Get your copy of Warfare History Network’s FREE Special Report,
The Battle of Waterloo


In order to accommodate the long, heavy French gun, the Sherman turrets were modified with gun braces forward and counterweights on the bustle. Further, 40 former French Shermans equipped with French AMX-13 turrets were captured from Egypt in 1956. These were retrofitted with new turrets housing French 75mm/.62-caliber high-velocity main guns. All 75mm and 76mm Shermans were designated M-50 Super Shermans.

Centurions & Pattons Acquired in the 50s

After 1956, the IDF acquired several hundred British Centurion tanks as well as—secretly from the West German Army—200 U.S.-made M-47 gasoline-powered Patton tanks. The standard 20-pounder main gun in each Centurion was replaced with a British-manufactured 105mm high-velocity gyro-stabilized gun, and the Pattons—more modern and better armored than the Shermans—were re-engined with diesel power plants and up-gunned with the British high-velocity 105s.

After deeming the 105mm Centurion upgrades a success, the IDF Armor Corps began to upgrade and standardize its 75mm and 76mm M-50 Super Sherman models with the same high-velocity 105mm gun that was used in the Centurions.

After 1956, the IDF acquired several hundred British Centurion tanks as well as—secretly from the West German Army—200 U.S.-made M-47 gasoline-powered Patton tanks.

Retrofitted With Souped-Up Firepower

The aging 32-ton Sherman tanks were too lightly built to absorb the recoil, however, and the hulls of several of them cracked when the high-velocity 105s were tested. The IDF ordnance crews eventually retrofitted most M-50 Super Shermans with an Israeli-designed 105mm/ .51-caliber medium-velocity (2,959 feet/ second) gyro-stabilized gun capable of penetrating all known Arab armored vehicles.

The conversions were still taking place in mid-1967, but by then all IDF Shermans were either M-51HV Super Shermans with 105mm medium-velocity guns or M-50 Super Shermans with 75mm high-velocity guns. Also, all 200 of the West German M-47 Pattons were retrofitted with the British-manufactured high-velocity 105mm guns, and their highly flammable gasoline engines were replaced with diesel engines. When West Germany cut off the flow of M-47s in 1964 because of news leaks, the United States direct-shipped a number of M-48 Patton variants that came standard with 105mm guns and diesel engines.

The Jordanian Pattons

The Jordanian Patton tanks also likely came through the West German Army. Although more modern and better armored than the Shermans, it is doubtful the Jordanians upgraded their Patton cannons as did the Israelis, lacking the appropriate industrial base . The Jordanian Patton 20-pounder cannon is roughly equivalent to a 90mm gun. For a time, Jordanian gunnery prevailed, but over short ranges the Israeli Shermans were able to pierce the Pattons’ armor as well as ignite their external gasoline tanks.

Add Your Comments

2 Comments

  1. Roderick J. Van Dyck
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Another interesting developement, worth mention in the context of this article, was the Paturion, This was the turret of one tank adapted to the hull of the other. I believe it was tried both ways but have not researched it. This was possibly done with only captured equipment but am not sure. Can you shine some light on this?

  2. Tibor Ipavic
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    Regarding the “Panturion”, the tank was not a combination of one tank’s hull mated with the other tanks turret. The “Panturion” is another modification, of which there were several done to the British built Centurion. The Panturion still retained the hull and turret of a Centurion, but was retro-fitted with the more reliable power-plant of a Patton tank. That’s what a Panturion is.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *



Issue Previews

James Longstreet’s Wilderness Battle

James Longstreet’s Wilderness Battle

Early in the morning on May 6, 1864, a column of Confederates marched east as quietly as possible along the bed of an unfinished railroad

USS Potomac: FDR’s White House on the Water

USS Potomac: FDR’s White House on the Water

President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the bullet-proofed yacht the USS Potomac on two of the greatest diplomatic missions of WWII.

Il-2 Sturmovik: The Soviet’s Deadly Tank Killer

Il-2 Sturmovik: The Soviet’s Deadly Tank Killer

The Soviet Air Force’s Ilyushin Il-2 “Storm Bird” took a heavy toll in German armor on the Eastern Front.

“Love” Company in the Vognes Mountains

“Love” Company in the Vognes Mountains

The author, a rifleman in “Love” Company, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division, recalls brutal winter combat on the French-German border.

facebook gplus twitter youtube rss

Enter Your Log In Credentials

Forgot your Password?

×
.