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Sh'ot [A41 Centurion]

The original A41 Centurion tanks were produced near the end of World War II by manufacturers in Great Britain. The first Centurions had a 17 pound main gun while later models had a 20 pound gun.

The British Centurion was named "Sh'ot" (Scourge) by the Israelis and upgraded to meet their demands in modern warfare. Many different variants were bought by Israel over the years from many different countries. Original Centurions had 20 pounder main guns, these were quickly upgunned to the British 105 mm L7. The base vehicles went through a number of both major and minor modifications culminating in the Sho't with blazer package seen in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and retired with honor duing the 90's. The biggest modifications were the upgrade of the engine, sights and blazer packages. Many components of this once thought to be 'to technical tank' would find their way into the Merkava.

In 1966 the British needed money in order to complete the development of their new tank of the future, the Chieftain, with its 120mm cannon. This tank was designed to be the strongest and most modern in the west. In view of their financial constraints they proposed a "package deal". According to this deal, Israel would buy hundreds of obsolete Centurion tanks. The UK would allow Israel to participate in the final stages of Chieftain development, would sell Israel Chieftains, and would help Israel build, in Israel, an assembly line for Chieftains. This was seen as an ideal solution to the unacceptable predictions regarding the Mid-Eastern armor balance from both quantitative and qualitative points of view. Israeli cooperation with the British lasted for about three years. Two prototypes of the Chieftain tank were delivered to Israel. Israel invested heavily in the improvement and final development of the Chieftain in close cooperation with British officers and engineers. However, Arab states intervened. They threatened Britain with sanctions, with pulling their monetary reserves out of British banks, and other actions. Demonstrations were held in Arab capitals and British embassies were attacked. In November 1969 Britain withdrew from its Chieftain deal with Israel.

The Sh'ot is is a modernized British Centurion tank, correcting many of the serious defects in the original Centurion. The engine has been changed to a more efficient diesel engine, fire control has been modernized, armor has been thickened, and an improved ammunition layout allows more to be carried. An improved fire extinguishing system, better electrical system and brakes, and an increased fuel capacity complete the modifications. The Sho't can be distinguished from the Centurion by its raised rear deck, to accommodate the bigger engine.

Sh'ot are Israeli Centurion Mk 3 and Mk 5 re-gunned with an 105mm gun. They either have the original 7.62 mm calibre on the commanders cupola or have it replaced by a 12.7 mm calibre HMG and american radios are fitted. When the Six-day War (1967) broke out, the IDF had 293 Sh'ot tanks that were ready for combat of total 385 tanks. During the war Israel captured 30 Centurion tanks from Jordan, when Jordan had only 44 Centurion tanks.



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