The M51 Super Sherman Tank is arguably the best example of upgrading equipment far beyond original expectations to meet new requirements. It is perhaps the greatest proof of Sherman's excellent and adaptable design.
This was a similar story for their Sherman tanks. Shermans began arriving in Israel in the late 1940s, and despite being obsolete for a major power such as the US, were still extremely useful for the IDF.
In 1953 a group of Israeli representatives visited France and inspected their new AMX-13 light tank. This tank only weighed around 15 tons, but carried the powerful CN 75-50 75 mm gun.
Israel was impressed with this gun and placed an order for 400. Soon they realised that this gun could be adapted for use in their stocks of the Sherman tank, greatly increasing its firepower.
With time running out, Israel once again looked to their ageing fleet of Sherman tanks. Thanks to their previous experiences with French engineers, they approached the Bourges Arsenal in France for help.
However the power of this gun soon proved to be too much for the Sherman tank to handle, resulting in the French creating a slightly shorter version of the gun with a lower muzzle velocity. This was designated the D.1508 and was fitted to the second prototype.
Like the Revalorisé, the M-51 was built on the cast hulls of M4A1 Shermans, although a few M4A3 hulls were used too. The M4A1 was powered by the Continental R-975 radial engine, which produced around 400 hp, while the M4A3 was powered by the Ford GAA V8, which produced around 450 hp.
The use of cast Sherman tank hulls were a specific choice, as these hulls were more spacious inside, allowing for more of the large ammunition for the 105 mm gun to be carried.
Development of the M50 and M51 Super Sherman
As a relatively young country, Israel was under a constant threat of war with its Arab neighbours in the years after WWII.
Soon after its 1948 independence, the country formed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to serve as the military component of the nation.
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