Indigenous Israeli Tanks by 1973...

MacCaulay

Banned
...so I've been doing research for Soviet Invasion of Iran, 1981, and that's required some reading up on the Chieftain Main Battle Tank and it's strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, etc.

But one of the things that was very interesting was the following passage in Osprey's Chieftain Main Battle Tank 1965-2003:

In the same month [April 1966], a delegation from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arrived in Britain to study the Chieftain. For years the IDF had been forced to acquire tanks from a wide variety of sources, be they East or West. As a result, the Israeli Armoured Corps was determined to produce its own battle tank, following a decision in February 1964, so as to ensure a continuity of supply. At first the Israelis wished to assemble the French AMX-30 tank in Israel as, hitherto, the French had been the most reliable supplier of weapons to Israel from the West. The intention was for Israelis to assemble the chassis locally with the turrets being imported from France. By this time the Centurion was in widespread service with the IDF and the Israeli Armoured Corps, under the dynamic leadership of Major General Israel Tal, was more inclined to the British school of tank design rather than the French belief in high mobility at the expense of armour protection. After protracted discussions, while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dithered for fear of offending Arab opinion, the British agreed to sell Chieftain to the IDF including setting up a production line in Israel. Initially, the the tanks would be assembled in Israel from kits supplied from Britain before full production was undertaken in the country. In return, the Israelis agreed to share development costs and provide their particular expertise ni operating tanks in desert conditions.
Right before the Six Day War in '67, the British Foreign Office asked the Israelis to withdraw the two Chieftains they had for testing away from the border with Egypt. The Israelis replied a few days later that "we have moved the borders."
The Foreign Office decided to rescind the deal with the Israelis and in a stunning display of realpolitick ended up selling the tank not only to Libya but to Iran. The Iranian models (the Shir Iran modification would later become the Challenger 1) ended up being in the service of Jordan.


I just felt like throwing this out there. Israel basically could've had an indigenous armoured force in time for the Yom Kippur War in '73, one which would've added to the strength they had in Centurions and M-60s as far as up to date MBTs go.

Also, the Israeli Merkava MBT is very much an independent design. This would put the Israelis firmly in the British camp of tank design. That's not bad, but it's a bit different from where they are now. Though it would be kind of neat to see a Chieftain rolling into Lebanon in '82 fitted with Blazer.

But I just thought I'd throw this out there for folks to mull over.
 
I've seen this proposal as well and thought it would be very cool. I think the Israelis would sort out the Cheiftan's engine and transmission problems to the benefit of both armies.
 

MacCaulay

Banned
I've seen this proposal as well and thought it would be very cool. I think the Israelis would sort out the Cheiftan's engine and transmission problems to the benefit of both armies.
I was thinking the same thing. That gearbox problem was a bitch, and the L11 gun was amazing. I'm a 105mm gun advocate, but even I think that the 120mm on the Chieftain was a wonder.

And lord knows the Israelis have pulled off bigger miracles than fixing a transmission.
 
Even back in the 60s that 120mm gun was effective out to 4000m, and the dry desert air and open terrain would allow shooting at that range. But how do you control fire out to that range in the lates 60? IIRC the Cheiftan had a .50cal ranging MG which was good out to 1800m, and upgraded to 2500m. Would that strange US system with 'eyes' (ears?) on the turret be effective, it reminds me a bit of battleship rangefinders with their wide lens separation for long range effectiveness.
 

MacCaulay

Banned
Even back in the 60s that 120mm gun was effective out to 4000m, and the dry desert air and open terrain would allow shooting at that range. But how do you control fire out to that range in the lates 60? IIRC the Cheiftan had a .50cal ranging MG which was good out to 1800m, and upgraded to 2500m. Would that strange US system with 'eyes' (ears?) on the turret be effective, it reminds me a bit of battleship rangefinders with their wide lens separation for long range effectiveness.
They had the machine gun on the early marks, then upgraded to a visual system later on, and the final marks had laser range finders. There was even an idea for awhile that instead of making the Challenger 1 (which was basically just a really modded Chieftain) they'd put the existing Chieftain fleet through a modernization program to upgrade them to the same standard as the Shir Iran/Khalid was built to, which was basically the Challenger 1.

The cost effectiveness would've come in when the British Army didn't have to buy any new tanks until the Challenger 2.
 
Re: Chieftains in IDF Service
One other possibility could be that the Isreali's build a tank based on the Centurion "Mule" they reportedly were sold, as part of a batch of Centurions by the U.K in the 1960's...
The "Mule" itself was a "proof of Concept" tank based on Centurion parts, such as the Meteor engine & the 105mm L7 Gun, but was designed to test out some of the concepts intended for Chieftian, such as the mantletless gun turret, & recumberant driver position...
Reportedly, the Israeli's did not know what to make of it, & scrapped it after removing it of any useful parts...
 

MacCaulay

Banned
Re: Chieftains in IDF Service
One other possibility could be that the Isreali's build a tank based on the Centurion "Mule" they reportedly were sold, as part of a batch of Centurions by the U.K in the 1960's...
The "Mule" itself was a "proof of Concept" tank based on Centurion parts, such as the Meteor engine & the 105mm L7 Gun, but was designed to test out some of the concepts intended for Chieftian, such as the mantletless gun turret, & recumberant driver position...
Reportedly, the Israeli's did not know what to make of it, & scrapped it after removing it of any useful parts...
I didn't know any of that...that's very interesting!

The Israelis have proven themselves very capable of adapting just about every weapons system they get to a higher standard of usefulness, and I'm sure the Chieftain would be no different.
I mean, they ended up throwing their M-55 Super Shermans into the line in 1973 and they were working against T-55s and -62s.

Myself, I think the Chieftain would've gained a much more sterling reputation (much like the Centurion did) had the Israelis had them in their arsenal during the Yom Kippur War or even the invasion of Lebanon in '82 when they would've run up against Syrian T-72s.
 
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