Many have wondered what that Sherman
missile launcher was that adorned the rear cover of Verlinden's
M4 Sherman and derivatives (Warmachines no.4, 1990 -
by the way, great photos of Shermans at Latrun, but do not pay attention
to the text as it really has too many errors).
Thanks to Marsh Gelbart's article in the Journal of Military Ordnance we now know this is a Shrike missile launcher. The information from this article was later augmented with information from an Israeli Sherman Register contributor.
|At least two of these Sherman Shrike
missile launchers - known as Sherman Kilshon - are preserved at the Israeli
air force museum at Hatzerim in the Negev desert. One of these is pictured
on the left. Another serves as a the museum's gate guard.
Armament: Shrike air-to-ground anti-radar
missile, modified for ground launch with an Israeli-developed rocket booster
with an Israeli-developed rocket booster.
Note: see the Links: On-line references page for a link to a site featuring more pictures of the Kilshon.
In the October 1973 war, Israel suffered
severe losses to Arab air defences. Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) had forced
Israeli aircraft to operate at very low level where they were susceptible
to Anti-Aircraft Artillery. The Shrike air-to-ground anti-radar missile
launched from Phantoms was not altogether successful in clashes with Syrian
forces between October 1973 and April 1974.
Another option was to launch the Shrike missile with an Israeli-developed rocket booster from a turretless M51 Sherman chassis. The role of the Kilshon (Hebrew for Trident) was to take up a position near the battlefield and launch the Shrike (which had a range of sixteen kilometres in this surface-to-surface guise) after Israeli aircraft had teased the Arab air defence into switching on their search and targeting radars.
At least two batteries with 5 Kilshons each were operational. Kilshon was later further developed into the Keres (Hebrew for Hook) system. It used the Standard ARM and was prototyped on a Sherman Kilshon chassis but eventually fielded on standard M809 5 ton trucks because the antiquated Shermans were being retired. The Kilshon and Keres were operated for about 20 years by the air defense corps' 153rd battalion, initially from Palmachim AFB and later on from Ramat David AFB until it was finally disbanded several years ago.
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