by: Adie Roberts [ ]
In 1953, an Israeli military delegation visited France to examine the then-new AMX-13/75 light tank, which was armed with the high-velocity CN 75-50 75 mm tank gun. While the tank's main gun was considered satisfactory, its armour was deemed to be too light. Eventually, Israel did purchase the AMX-13, but however, in a similar parallel development, it was decided that the 75mm main guns of the AMX-13s Israel bought would be grafted to the more-familiar and the better-armored hull of the American M4 Sherman medium tank, which was the standard tank of the IDF's armored units (a large quantity of post-WWII Sherman tanks ended up under Israeli military service from 1948 onwards) during the period of the early 1950s.
As I have found with all of the Trackpad Publishing previous Israeli Defence Forces reference books the introduction in itself explains in great detail as to the history of the Sherman M-50 and M-51 tanks. How they came to the conclusion for having this very familiar tank and changing it into many different types of military vehicles from artillery through to the main battle tank. It is written in a way that makes it easy to pick up and enjoy and also to understand just how far they went with the Sherman tank.
Chapter 1 covers the development of the M50 – M51 which like all of the other IDF books I have been lucky enough to review is a picture heavy, one of the pictures that immediately caught my eye was off the gun mantlet which is often, mistakenly, thought to be part of a modified turret shell. However, as you can see in the picture it is just simply a large mantlet which attaches to the turret in the same way as any other mantlet. An interesting photo shows an M-50 with an AMX-13 FL-10 turret fascinating to look at if a little odd, the hull, interestingly enough and possibly coincidently, is exactly like that of an M-51 test vehicle.
Chapter 2. M-50 turret with various pictures showing you the shape of the turret and in one of these, just how big the mounting for the mantlet and gun really is with a clear view into the turret itself making a scratch built turret in good detail easily achieved. The IDF received some turrets produced at the time of the pistol port was not in favour, and served that way for some time before being retrofitted with ports in several ways. The picture I am looking at, in this case, shows a standard port was inserted into a hole cut in the side, with a fabricated splash guard fitted.
Chapter 3. M-50 turret interior with plenty of hi-grade photos of the interior turret again makes any need for adding detail very easy to follow and have an idea of what shape or size it would need to be. The very first picture is of the front end of the turret, this is the interior of the M-50, the view shows the aperture for the co-axial machine gun. It also provides a nice view of the open nature of the front extension. Another great picture was of the gunner's controls albeit before restoration gave you a sense of how he operated the gun.
The views of the restored interior are quite awesome especially for those who are fascinated in the IDF or Sherman based tanks which also include clear colour pictures that will help in the painting of the interior on a model version.
Chapter 4 M-51 turret. As with the M-50, the turret on the M-51 is very distinctive in appearance, the 105mm gun is very long with a huge muzzle brake. An M-51 captured or recovered in 1967 most likely by the Syrians is a great example now on display at the Kubinca Tank Museum, Kubinca a district of Moscow. There are so many photos of the turrets at different stages all with a decent amount of written history to them although in fairness I do believe in pictures say a thousand words!
Chapter 5. M-51 Turret interiors a set of photos show the interior of some of the M-51 turrets including a picture of one that is at Fort Benning, looking directly forward over the 105mm gun, which shows an interior travel lock above the barrel. Some very interesting M-51 turret pictures taken from all different angles showing things like the gunner's adjustable seat, commanders seat and various others will help any modeller to understand where everything fits in.
Chapter 6. M-50/M-51 hull exterior, the hulls used for the these two upgraded and re-armed Israeli Shermans share many characteristics, so the discussion here is also shared. There is one big difference though, is the fact that the M-51 conversions used mostly large-hatch M4A1 whereas the M-50 were converted using every major Sherman hull type.
A lot of photos cover this subject and gives you some fantastic close-ups from all over the hull showing tracks, ports, engine decks to machine gun mounts.
Chapter 7. M-50/M-51 hull interior seven pages of various pictures depicting various parts of the hull interior are shown here which includes some amazing detail shots. One of the pictures I found fascinating and very useful was of the co-driver station who also served as the bow machine gunner showing plenty of detail of this particular area with a 30-calibre ammunition storage in a cabinet just to the right. Interestingly to note that the 30-calibre machine gun was also used on the IDF half-tracks
Chapter 8. Radial engine and drive train the engine built by continental motors was the R-975 originally designed for aircraft, under licence during and after World War 2. With plenty of pictures showing the engine and the drive train is an interesting subject and one that is often overlooked by modellers but is a fascinating subject.
Chapter 9. Cummins engine bay I have over the years driven a few Cummins engined, fire engine and know just how reliable and powerful they are especially for there age. Another picture heavy section including pictures of the full engine sitting on a crate, great for scratch building or reference for a building project
Chapter 10. Suspension and tracks the IDF acquired full Sherman tanks- and bits and pieces from all over the world. This chapter goes into every part of the tracks and suspension, the Israeli's made some modifications which was manufactured locally to make up for missing or damaged parts. The book also shows some stripped down unit which is nice for understanding the basic construction.
After being lucky enough to have been given the chance to review other IDF books from Trackpad Publishing I jumped at the chance to do a review on the IDF Shermans M-50 and M-51 and I am so glad that I did, the IDF is one of my favourite modelling subjects and I am trying to be as impartial as possible .
The books produced by TrackPad Publishing are aimed at modellers and people with an interest in military history or the Israeli Defence Force or IDF.
The book itself is a picture heavy offering an ideal book for you to gain a complete insight as to the history, development and use of this Sherman based tank.
This is one of those titles that really lends itself for those of you that like to either scratch build or at least add detail to parts of the tank that as a kit comes devoid of such detail. The high-quality photos make it easy for you to see detail both inside the tank as well as the outside of the tanks.
As you go through each chapter it becomes easy to see the changes made by the IDF to upgrade and in some parts change it completely for their own use in the many years that they used them in their armed forces.