Israeli Armor Pre-1973

Weapons and Warfare

Following World War II the opposing Arab and Israeli armies were among the primary practitioners of armored warfare, largely because the terrain and conditions were so suitable. Long before the partition of Palestine, Israeli agents began the covert purchase of heavy weapons including ten old French R39 light tanks. The newly created Arab states were arming themselves with whatever surplus weapons could be procured on the black market or were abandoned in place by the colonial powers. Egypt had a mixed bag of American M4s and M22 Locust light tanks, British Crusaders and Matildas, and even 1930s vintage British Mark VI light tanks. The Syrians had French H35 and H39 tanks. The Lebanese were stuck with venerable French FTs. Tanks played little role in the 1948–49 War of Independence.

Eager to gain a foothold in the Mediterranean, the Soviet Union cultivated relations with Egypt, and supplied about 230 T-34/85 and…

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