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Which country was the main supplier of weapons to Israel during the 6-Day War?

Written by NewsAward

Let me kill some of my time by giving a list of Israeli weapons during the 6-Day War for the answer. (If you wanna see similar things about the Yom Kippur War, please check out another answer of mine: Ken Chung’s answer to How good were weapons used by the IDF during the Yom Kippur War?)

Part 1: infantry firearms.

Pistols:

Beretta M1951, one of the two standard 9 mm pistols for IDF officers. (Italy)

FN Browning Hi-Power Mk 1, another standard 9 mm pistol for officers, some imported from Belgium and modified with Hebrew frame marking. Israel got the license from FN and produced the pistols locally. (Belgium & Israel)

Webley Mk IV .38 Revolver, firing the .38 S&W (9×20mmR) rather than 9 x 19 mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. The revolvers began imported during the 1950s, which may be related to the Suez Canal Crisis that UK and France were also involved in it. (UK)

Submachine gun:

Uzi, 9 mm SMG for soldiers as a main handheld rapid-fire weapon. Needless to say, it was 100% Israeli production by IMI. (Israel)

Rifles and carbines:

FN FAL/FALO, the main 7.62 NATO battle rifle during the war. Receivers of the FAL were imported from Belgium and all other parts and processes were finished in Israel. FAL was often limited in firing semi-auto mode only while the FALO with the longer and heavy barrel as well as a bipod was used as squad automatic weapon. (Belgium and Israel)

The BT/AT 52 rifle grenades of the Israeli FAL were produced by IMI. (Israel, BT/AT = bullet trap, anti-tank)

If you wanna know more about Israeli modification for the FAL, watch this video:

M1/M1A1/M2 carbines, being bought and given as surplus rifles from the US after WW2, the carbines were already old. Still, the lightweight and compact size of the carbines made them popular among soldiers, especially for soldiers who didn’t often fight in the frontline, like drivers, logistic department personnel, and high-ranking commanders. (US)

Kar 98k, bought from Europe after WW2 as surplus rifles, the 7.92 mm rifles were used by Israeli soldiers as weapons were scarce. The Nazi images stamped on the receiver were replaced by IDF standard marking. During the Six-Day War, the Kar 98k was equipped by supply troops as PDWs and snipers as sniper rifles, most of them were converted to 7.62 NATO standard. Major models of them were vz. 24 and FN M24. (Czechoslovakia & Belgium)

Israeli soldier with Kar 98k rifle in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.

SMLE Mk3 & No. 4 Mk I, again, bought as surplus rifles after WW2 and the .303 rifles were mostly used as sniper rifles during the Six-Day War. (UK)

Machine guns:

M1919A4/A6 Browning machine guns, US surplus firearms after WW2, and the .30 cal were used as vehicle machine guns and infantry support weapons. During the war, both 30–06 and 7.62 NATO versions existed in the frontline, most of them were installed next to the driver seat of the half-tracks. (US)

FN MAG, the standard GPMG of IDF since 1964. The 7.62 NATO machine guns were first used in Six-Day War, except being used as infantry firearms, they were mounted on jeeps and half-tracks. (Belgium)

M2 BMG, the standard HMG of IDF since 1948. The .50 cal were sent to Israel together with the US-aid vehicles for WW2 Europe, including half-tracks, tanks, and jeeps. Later, the IDF kept purchasing the BMGs to ensure spare parts and fulfill the growing demand for this reliable piece of weapon. (US)

Portable anti-tank weapons, missiles, grenades, mortars:

IMI 82 mm M20 Bazooka, the domestic production of 82 mm Super Bazooka but the production of M20 couldn’t fulfill the huge demand for portable anti-tank weapon faced by IDF. (Israel)

LRAC de 73mm Mle 1950, another portable rocket launcher for anti-tank capability. The purchase of 73 mm rocket launchers was again inadequate for giving infantry a tank-killing ability. (France)

RL-83 Blindicide, Israel introduced another model of the rocket launcher. Still, the purchase of 83 mm rocket launchers was just relieving the shortage of infantry anti-tank weapons. (Belgium)

Cobra missile, I don’t know if this thing was actually used by IDF in the Six-Day War. (Germany & Switzerland)

SS.11, MCLOS missiles for anti-tank purposes, which replaced the old SS.10 of IDF, the upgraded missiles were used to combat the threat of Egyptian IS-3 tanks and the half-tracks were the best platforms for launching the missiles. (France)

M40 recoilless rifle, the main anti-tank artillery for the IDF paratroopers. It could be a stationary weapon or jeep-mounted mobile artillery (in most cases). The 106 mm (actually 105 mm) cannon was bought in the 1960s and the Israelis preferred to mount them on M38 jeeps for quick maneuver after shooting (because of the huge backblast). (US)

Mk 2 hand grenade, the dangerous pineapple. (US)

M26 hand grenade, the dangerous lemon. (US)

ML 3-inch mortar, 81 mm infantry mortar for IDF. (UK)

M1 mortar, 81 mm infantry mortar for IDF. (US)

Soltam M-65, 120 mm infantry mortar for IDF, usually mounted on half-tracks. (Israel)

Part 2: stationary weapons

Obusier de 155 mm Modèle 50, 155 mm 30 caliber howitzer, very few of them were used as fixed artillery. (France)

MIM-23 Hawk, the main medium-high range SAM for IDF. (US)

DEFA D921, the main 90 mm smoothbore anti-tank field gun for IDF. (France, please just ignore the iMac…)

Bofors L/70, 40 mm air defense artillery. (Sweden)

Hispano-Suiza HS.404, 20 mm air defense autocannon, very effective in suppressing enemy’s position and missile targeting. (France)

Part 3: Armoured fighting vehicles

Tanks and tank destroyer:

Sho’t (Centurion), the new main battle tanks for IDF, armed with 105 mm L7 rifled tank guns, they were originally Mk 3 models with 84 mm QF 20 pounder, then Israelis asked the British to upgrade them into Mk 5 standard. (UK)

Magach 3 (M48), another model of new main battle tanks, armed with 90 mm M41 rifled tank guns. The M48A2 was imported to Israel from West Germany in the early 1960s, Israelis then upgraded them into A3 standard which more M48A1/A2s were delivered from the US in 1965. (West Germany & US)

Sherman M50/51, the older main battle tanks, armed with CN 75-50 75 mm guns (M50) and CN-105-57 105 mm 44 caliber guns. Having a long history of using Shermans, the hulls were British (stolen from British abandoned tanks and captured from Egyptians) and French (directly imported as surplus tanks) while the turrets and guns were from France. (France & UK)

AMX-13, the old light tanks, armed with French 75 mm/90 mm/105 mm guns, appeared on all fronts for the last time during the war, they were obsolete when facing newer Soviet tanks. (France)

Panhard AML-90, the scout cars were turned into tank destroyers with DEFA D921 90 mm smoothbore guns. (France)

APCs:

M3 half-tracks, the workhorses of IDF mechanized infantry. The standard model of IDF half-track looks like the model above: a ball-mounted .30 cal being added to the front-right armored visor and a .50 cal mounted on top of the front, other things being constant. Those M3 half-tracks were US-aided surplus vehicles from post-war Europe and the US which IDF gave multiple missions to them (Europe & US)

Anti-tank artillery platform

ATGM platform

Mobile mortar firing platform

Anti-air autocannon platform

And even mine-clearing rocket launching platform

Sherman Medical Evacuation Tank (Ambutank VVSS version), the battle ambulances of IDF were based on the Shermans, they could take a medical team (around 3–5) and four casualties. (UK & France)

Self-propelled guns:

M-50 self-propelled howitzer, Obusier de 155 mm Modèle 50 mounted on a French Sherman chassis, French tanks, and howitzer being put together by Israelis. (France & Israel)

M7 Priest, armed with a 105 mm M1/M2 howitzer, the US-origin SPGs were bought from the French in the 1960s as surplus vehicles, the SPGs were obsolete but still effective during the war. (France)

Part 4: Aircraft and munitions

Helicopters and transport aircraft:

Sikorsky S-58, the utility helicopter to replace the older S-55 for medical evacuation, airborne mission and troops transportation. (US)

Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon, the utility helicopter for medical evacuation and pararescue. (France)

Bell-47, light liaison helicopter for reconnaissance, forward observation for artillery. If there were urgent situations, it could evacuate wounded soldiers and be equipped with SS. 10 ATGMs for destroying tanks. (US)

Nord Noratlas, the transport aircraft of IAF for cargo and paratroop transport. (France)

Jets:

Dassault Mirage III, the air-superiority fighter jets of IAF. (France)

Sud Aviation Vautour, the fighter-bombers of IAF, counterbalanced the threat of Ilyushin Il-28. (France)

Dassault MD.452 Mystère IV A, the fighter-bombers of IAF. (France)

Dassault M.D.450 Ouragan, another type of fighter-bombers of IAF. (France)

Dassault Super Mystère B2, another type of fighter-bombers of IAF, could match with the enemy’s MiG-19s. (France)

Fouga CM.170 Magister, the jet trainer that was used as ground-attack aircraft of IAF. (France)

Munitions:

DEFA cannon & 30 mm ammo (France)

Matra R.530, medium to the short-range air-to-air missile. (France)

Shafrir-1, short-range air-to-air missile. (Israel)

IMI Anti-runway penetration bomb, used in Operation Focus, the bomb was developed by the team led by Abraham Makov, the bomb hit the runway at 60 degrees incline with the help of small rocket propulsion so that repairing would be much more difficult. (Israel)

The rockets were most likely to be Brandt 68 mm rockets (France)

Regarding the bombs, the Israelis used kilograms rather than pounds as measuring units for loading weight, which IMI domestic products and French bombs would be the main types of free-fall bombs.

The last part: fast attack craft (no submarines or larger vessels were used during this war)

Sa’ar 1 fast attack craft, a French-built vessel (based on the German type 140 Jaguar-class fast attack craft ) that equipped with autocannons, machine guns, depth-charge, and torpedo tubes of Israeli standard. (France)

Sa’ar 2 class missile boat, a French-built vessel that equipped with Gabriel missiles, and other weapons that the Sa’ar 1 had (except torpedo and depth-charge), the modification was done by Israelis as well. (France & Israel)

SO…….now you have the answer. Weapons of IDF during the Six-Day War were basically from the West (mostly France and UK), some from all over Europe (including some US-aided weapons), and some recent US-imported weapons before the war. At the same time, Israel came up with more domestic products and modified foreign weapons into Israeli standards.

But that’s no the end, IDF did get itself a great number of weapons DURING THE WAR that they would equip with and modify into their standard, which was the captured weapons from their enemies.

BM-24 Katyusha 280 mm rocket launchers from Egypt. (USSR)

BTR-152 APC. (USSR)

Captured Jordanian Centurion tank. (UK)

PT-76 amphibious light tank from Egypt. (USSR)

Captured Jordanian M48 Patton, which would later become the Magach 3. (US)

OT-62 TOPAS APC from Egypt. (Poland & Czechoslovakia)

BTR-52 APC from Egypt. (USSR)

ZSU-23–2 AA gun. (USSR)

Captured T-54/55 from Egypt, which would become Tiran 4/5. (USSR)

Captured IS-3 heavy tank, which its turret would become fixed field artillery on Bar Lev Line. (USSR)

The great amount of AKs (and its Eastern European copies) would be loved by Israel who would issue them to the hands of the Sayerets, the elite Israeli commandos, as their standard weapons. (Eastern Bloc)

RPG-7 and lots of rockets. Finally, the great number of RPGs and rockets captured from Arabs diminished the shortage of portable anti-tank weapons. (USSR)

There were other weapons captured by the Israelis and got used well in following conflicts, like PK and RPD machine guns, all of those Soviet and Eastern European weapons from Arabs during the Six-Day War really expanded the IDF inventory of weapons.

SO……another unexpected source of weapons during the war (not being used yet) was the Soviet-style weapons captured from the Arabs. (Almost forget the Western weapons captured from Jordan…)

————————————THE END————————————

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