Authors: Brenthos and Mich_TATEJlb (EU server) Part 1 – here Please read part 1 if you haven’t before, especially for the background of the article. Magach 3 – M48A3 Patton with the L7 installed. This model did not yet received the thermal sleeve on the gun. Magach 5 – M48A5 Patton with a mine clearing device developed in IMI (Israeli Military Industry). Magach M60A1, with the L7 and basic reactive armor. It is now known, that the Soviets were the first to introduce reactive armor on their vehicles, but they could really perfect it only after receiving samples of such armor from the Syrians, who had captured an Israeli Magach. Magach 7 gimel – M60A1 Patton. This model had its reactive armor removed, and instead, new layers of regular armor were fitted on the front plate and the turret. Side skirts (in Hebrew they call them ‘bazooka plates’) were also added. Notice the smaller commander’s cupola. Those were the last tanks in service, serving in reserve units, until removed about half a year ago (January 2014). The remaining tanks are to be dismantled and re-processed for re-use of the steel. This was the first Magach to cross the Suez Canal on the Yom-Kippur War (dozer blade added later). The Barrel/Roller Bridge is also original – was used to cross the canal. The Israeli Dictators During the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars Israel captured close to a thousand of T-54/55 and some T-62 from Egypt and Syrian armies, large portion of which were completely unharmed. In Israeli service, they have received the name “Tiran”. The name was chosen from 3 reasons: Tiran in Hebrew is a dictator (as in tyrant), and the tanks were USSR made – reminding of Stalin; the blockade of the Straits of Tiran was one of Egypt’s first acts of war prior to the Six Day war; and the first letter of Tiran is “T”, marking those tanks. The models were designated as 4, 5, and 6. There were actually bit more, like 4sh and 5sh, but we will discuss only the mass production lines: Tiran 4 Based on the T-54. Changes were made to the communication equipment and the machineguns were changed to Browning’s 0.3 and 0.5 cal. Visually it was the same T-54 with some equipment baskets on the turret sides, the main purpose of which was to change the tank’s silhouette a bit, so IDF would know that this is one of their tanks. Tiran 4 – a plain T54 with equipment baskets fitted on the turret. Tiran 5 Based on the T-55. In the same manner as with Tiran 4, baskets were attached to the turret. The interesting part is the gun. It was decided to change the D-10 to an American L68 (which is a licensed version of the British L7). The problem was that traditionally in Soviet tanks the loader was on the right side of the gun so the breech was opened to the left, which is opposite to the American school. That created the problem that if the gun to be changed to L68, the whole crew arrangement was to be changed. That kind of endeavor was deemed as not necessary. The answer was as simple as it can be related to the fact that the tank is Soviet: The barrel was changed to the American 105mm L68, but the breech was from the original D-10. And, as you would expect from Soviet made machinery – that transformer worked flawlessly. Tiran 5 – Had the American gun installed instead of its D-10. Some were fitted with dozer blades for engineering purposes. Brenthos: Note that contradictory to the sources available online, Tirans 4 and 5 did not have their engine replaced. The confusion is probably because of the use of American engines on the Achzarit APC (mentioned later), and the T-62s. It is also possible, that modification of those tanks, with replaced engines were later sold to other countries. Tiran 6 This was the T-62 with an American diesel engine. The main purpose of the engine switch was more to a matter of standardization, than to enhance the tank’s capabilities. The gun was the original smoothbore 115mm. Tiran 6 – Note the US-made MG mounted on the turret. Probably, the most important modification was made to all Soviet produced vehicles, was the removal of the crew heater. In the Tirans, it made place for 2 more rounds of main gun ammunition, which was significant, according to the Israeli crews. The crew heater installed in some of the T-54s, could not be turned off, and heated the crew compartment as long as the tank was running. Israeli reconnaissance records prior to the Six-Days War, noted that Egyptian T-54 crew members never stayed inside the tank when it was stopped, even if it put them in a position exposed to Israeli fire – they just could not stand the heat. When the tanks were captured – the reason was revealed: Technical documents from Siberia-based USSR units were found in the tanks. Just imagine yourself, sitting inside of a tank heated by Siberia-adjusted heater, in the desert, under the scorching sun, with 45° Celsius outside… Another interesting fact worth mentioning was the serviceability of the Tirans. We know well that Soviet vehicles are built to be reliable and withstand harsh beating, while Western ones are known to be a bit more maintenance-dependable. The Soviets built the T-54/55/62s, bearing in mind the WW2 concept – a tank should be built so it would not break on the battlefield, but if it does – it will be simply replaced by another one that will arrive from reinforcement. This concept has proven itself very unsuited for smaller countries that could not allow for such big amounts of tanks. And experience shows that T-54/55/62 broke a lot on the battlefield, especially in the desert, and the hard basalt rocky terrain of the Golan Heights. Michael Mass, who worked on T-54/55 for long years, explains: Imagine yourself you need to replace a part of the transmission, or an air filter – on the Tirans, you need to turn the turret so you can access the engine compartment, squeeze yourself inside somehow, and then replace the part without disassembling the whole engine/transmission. Easier said than done. On western tanks – you simply bring a small crane; take out the whole power unit (engine, transmission, etc.), which is installed on a surface that allows quick removal; replace the part outside easily, or simply replace the whole power unit – this can be easily done in the field. Michael also mentioned the ergonomic problem of the Soviet tanks – they were simply Continue reading →

More...