* Six Days War: Military Preparations

Six Days War: Military Preparations (June 1967)

Figure 1.--The Amrican Sherman tank was basically obsolere before the end of World War II (1945). The Israelis had neither the moneybor the caoability of building a modern tank force to oppose the huge number if moder T-23 and T-85 tanks probided by the Soviers. Their primary tank was the Sherman obtained in various states of disrepaot in European scrapyards. Some in better conditiinwere obtained in France which were retiring theur Shermans. The Isrealsi also acquired many damaged and abaondoned Egyptian Shermans during the Suez War (1956). While basically obsolete, the French had oppgraded the main gun. The Isrealis did the same for many of their Shermans. Here is an unmarled Sherman destroyed at Kalandia during the Six Day War. It almost certaonly was Israeli damaged in the fightimg with the Jordanians over Jerusalem. As fara s er know, The Hirdanians did niot have Shermans, but the Oakesrinians had a few provided by the Egyptians.

Military oreparations varied widely in the Arab countries and Israel. Thevtwo key weapons were fighter aircraft and tanks. The Soviets provided Arab states a wide array of top of the line modern weaponry at favorable terms. This included aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and missles, tanks, and artillery as well as an array of small arms. We are not entirely sure of the financial arrangements, but it was mostly done on credit. We believe the Soviets never got paid for much of this weaponry. But the Arabs got a huge quantity of very effective, modern weaponry. This was during the Cold War and the Soviets were basically buying allies. The Arabs at the time were in phase of Arab socialism promoted by Nasser and the Bath Party. (Socialism did not work out any netter for the Arabs than it did for the Soviets.) The Middle East was a strategic area because of the West's depedence on Middle Eastern oil. The backbone of the Arab air forces was the Mig-19, an excellent, tough and manuerable fighter, although sub-sonic. The Soviets had begun to deliver Mig-21s, but the basic plane faced by the Isrealis was the Mig-19. Soviet assistance went primarily to Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. It was Egypt and Syria (front-lines states) that posed the greatest danger to Israel. The Arabs by the time of the 6-Day War had a semingly overwhealming 5 to 1 advantage in aircraft and a 2 to 1 advantage in tanks. It was not only numbers, but much of the Aran arsenal was more modern weaponry. While the Soviets were provided the Arabs vast quantities of expensive modern weapory, Isreal was essentially on its own. The Soviet weaponry was hugely expensive, the Arabs could not have affored to buy it because the countries preparing to invade Israel were not the wealthy oil states. Isreal was a small country with very limited resources. It could not begin afford to purchase modern weaponry on that scale and did not have the economic resources to create a modern weapons industry. Much of Isreael's limited resiurces were used to purchase French aircraft. The Isreali Air Force was based on the French Mirrage III fighter. The Israels purchased 72 French Mirrage IIIs (1962). The Isreli's turned to the French because America and Britain were particupating in an international arms embargo. But as the Soviets were not participating the result was to prevent Israel from arming while the Arabs were arming to the teeth. Thanks to the French, the Israelis had a fighter to take on the Soviet Migs. The French armed the Mirrage with missles. The Isrealis insisted they be modified for cannon. The Mirrage was faster than the Mig-19, but the Mig was more rugged and more maneuverable. The real difference was in the capability of the military planners and the training of the pilots. Armor was another matter. The Arabs had modern Soviet tanks, including T-34/85s as wll as other models. The Israelis had a hodgepodge of basically obsolete World War II tanks, including Centurion, Pattons, and Shermans. These tanks were obrained by scouring Europe for junked tanks and repairing them. They also had seized quite a number of Egyptian tanks in the Suez War (1956). The French sold then surplus tanks, but only the Arabs had modern tanks. The French has upgraded some of their Shermans and the Isrealis proceeded to do the same for the others they has acquired. Thus the israealis fought the Six Days War with basically obsolete World War II tanks, but ones that had been upgrades with a very effective main gun. The ressult would be the greates tank battles sonce World War II with over 2,500 involved.


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Created: 9:25 PM 5/8/2020
Last updated: 9:25 PM 5/8/2020