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Something interesting about Merkava III's armor protection(in Chinese): Some of these images are come from Chinese course book《装甲防护技术基础》(The basic technology of armor protection), and others are

Couple more of the Mk.3-based Ofek    

48 minutes ago, SH_MM said:

NERA on the hull only when fitted with add-on armor.

But according to this it have one build in and whole hull frontal part shown as having some sort of composite armor/NERA?

235712ab4sfybleuewu0py.png

Or this is a schematic for some sort of uparmored Merkava 3? If it is, that "stock" Merk 3 would have terrible armor, less than IS-2 in some places, lol.

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The Merkava 3 has fuel tanks at the LFP, just like the Merkava 4. In so far the drawing is already wrong. There is no composite armor module on the LFP.

 

bcLlEtC.jpg

 

Please note that the "Merkava 4 without engine" is actually a Merkava 3 tank with upgraded armor.

 

The Merkava tanks (prior the fourth model) were designed for hull down combat against large hordes of Soviet export MBTs. The hull armor was not a priority in the design, although fuel tanks and engine provided secondary protection. The photograph previously posted by you prooves that there is no multi-layered UFP above the engine.

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   I know that Merkavas were originally designed to fight hull down, but that doesn't mean that they were forbiden from using any sort of special armor for frontal hull section. So, if Merkava 3 have steel-only frontal armor, this mean that those schematics either wrong or show different model of Merkava 3 with additional armor.

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3 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

It's very much the same story with many weapon systems today. The naming became far more conservative after the end of the cold war.

 

Leopards literally got new names (2A1, 2A2 etc) just because of the batch numbers at the time, with minor improvements only.

The Abrams had gained more capabilities in the SEP programs than going from M1A1HA to M1A2 did.

 

I looked a bit into what the sponsons on the Mark 3 contain and I remembered that the Mark 4 does have fuel tanks there (though not only, obviously, there's other equipment like infantry phone etc), so it makes sense the Mark 3 made the first move (EDIT: Found the pics I was looking for, definitely has openings there for fuel). But if that's the Mark 3, then it really makes no sense. The plate which the diagram depicts  is of the thickness that is in front of the engine compartment, not the driver. The driver's plate is reinforced and is double the thickness there. There's also mentioning of the Mark 4 in that book, which is the only tank in the series to have a completely flat UFP, but then its armor thickness there is more than 3 times as much, and it has the same sponson shape at the rear where the fuel tanks are.

 

EDIT2: Here you can see that the main plate could be argued as being 55mm thick, although it is curved thus it's not the one referred to, while the driver's plate is made up of 2 plates of similar thickness:

  Hide contents

merkava3_01_b.jpg

 

And here's one with up-armored front (and sides also, but that's unnecessary):

  Hide contents

Merkava4_6.jpg

I'll never understand why MANTAK had developed such an extensive armor kit for the Mark 3, and even mounted it on the Mark 2D, but chose not to apply it to the Mark 3 even though newer variants like the recently shown Mark 3M have even further improved turret armor.

I could understand that the Mark 3 was the last one considered to be built for defensive warfare and thus didn't need the hull armor, and that the Mark 4 has much thicker armor thanks to it being more offense and mobility oriented, but it doesn't absolve them from upgrading the Mark 3s to meet the new combat perception and doctrine.

Hi,

I don't understand what you mean by the Merkava 3 was not fitted with additional, heavy applique armour kits in the same manner as the Merkava 2D. A major portion of the Merkava 3 production run were fitted with just such armour modules as the Merkava Siman 3 Daled (Mk. 3D). As well as those produced as new with the modules from the beginning, Merkava 3 Baz models were retro-fitted with the applique modules. Only a minority of the Merkava 3 fleet are left without the additional armour.

 

If you are talking about only hull and side-skirt armour, then that would make more sense. However, there are different styles and weights of side-skirts available, some with better protection than the ones you see routinely fitted. There is also the matter of cost. Only a small portion of the Merkava 2 fleet were up-armoured to the Merkava 2 D Batash standard. Even then, the armour configuration  and other changes used for the 2D Batash was not as extensive as the projected Merkava 2 "Tafnookim " which would have been too expensive.

 

I could be mistaken, but I think the Merkava 3 in the bottom photo, was a developmental one used for the Merkava 4 programme, where new systems, armour modules, etc. were experimented with.

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2 hours ago, LoooSeR said:

So do i understand right - Merkava 3 have some sort of NERA on frontal hull armor, although on photos i don't see it.

 

 

12.png

 

On the left side is a composite armor module, as can be seen by the many bolts on it. Thickness is somewhat lower than the Merkava 4's module, but is better angled.

On the right is an additional armor plate for the protection of the driver. We can assume it is composite, because the Merkava 2D received a composite armor plate as well.

 

However if you look at the composite module on the Mark 2D:

Spoiler

da911e51b7b9ee43eaa9d152f273e633.jpg

 

You can see that it is substantially thicker here, therefore we can assume that if both tanks were supposed to receive at least the same protection level over the hull front (if not higher level on the Mark 3), then that should mean that the base armor plate is not steel but some form of composite, even if very thin. One more argument to support this is the fact that the Merkava 4's armor on that spot, i.e the plate that could be lifted to access the engine compartment, is also composite, so there isn't really any limitation on what material it could be (albeit the Mark 4's is thicker). 

 

Still, we know that MANTAK and RAPAT (Merkava tank administration, and tank development authority, respectively) consider the Mark 4's armor profile over the hull to be ideal, and that while the hull armor on the Mark 3 was hinted to have been a compromise, it is still considered a lower priority than the turret. And is considered sufficient for some reason. As I've posted here earlier, the Mark 3M received improved turret armor after its smoke grenade launchers were relocated and the hull remained untouched.

 

 

1 hour ago, LoooSeR said:

But according to this it have one build in and whole hull frontal part shown as having some sort of composite armor/NERA?

235712ab4sfybleuewu0py.png

Or this is a schematic for some sort of uparmored Merkava 3? If it is, that "stock" Merk 3 would have terrible armor, less than IS-2 in some places, lol.

 

I guess it's up to @Molotav_DIGITANK to do the translation and tell us the context of this image. 

 

52 minutes ago, LoooSeR said:

   I know that Merkavas were originally designed to fight hull down, but that doesn't mean that they were forbiden from using any sort of special armor for frontal hull section. So, if Merkava 3 have steel-only frontal armor, this mean that those schematics either wrong or show different model of Merkava 3 with additional armor.

 

There would hardly be any sense in making this schematic for a tank that wasn't even supposed to enter service, or be anything more than a demonstrator for a follow-on tank. 

 

49 minutes ago, Marsh said:

Hi,

I don't understand what you mean by the Merkava 3 was not fitted with additional, heavy applique armour kits in the same manner as the Merkava 2D. A major portion of the Merkava 3 production run were fitted with just such armour modules as the Merkava Siman 3 Daled (Mk. 3D). As well as those produced as new with the modules from the beginning, Merkava 3 Baz models were retro-fitted with the applique modules. Only a minority of the Merkava 3 fleet are left without the additional armour.

 

If you are talking about only hull and side-skirt armour, then that would make more sense. However, there are different styles and weights of side-skirts available, some with better protection than the ones you see routinely fitted. There is also the matter of cost. Only a small portion of the Merkava 2 fleet were up-armoured to the Merkava 2 D Batash standard. Even then, the armour configuration  and other changes used for the 2D Batash was not as extensive as the projected Merkava 2 "Tafnookim " which would have been too expensive.

 

I could be mistaken, but I think the Merkava 3 in the bottom photo, was a developmental one used for the Merkava 4 programme, where new systems, armour modules, etc. were experimented with.

 

I was talking about the hull, and front section alone. The side armor on the Merkava series has never been a problem. Actually quite outstanding compared with others. The frontal hull section was always troublesome up until the Mark 4, which has good armor there now.

Issue with the Mark 2 having even more armor wouldn't be the cost. I mean, it would be an issue, but nowhere near as painful as the mobility, because anything more than what it has now will require a new powerpack completely. On the Mark 3 it's less of a problem because of its 1,200hp engine.

Going for an even stronger powerpack to allow putting on more weight would be a waste though. Even if the Barak gets a new engine, which is only my speculation, it wouldn't make sense to upgrade only 1 brigade of Merkava 3 tanks  to that standard.

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1 hour ago, LoooSeR said:

   I know that Merkavas were originally designed to fight hull down, but that doesn't mean that they were forbiden from using any sort of special armor for frontal hull section. So, if Merkava 3 have steel-only frontal armor, this mean that those schematics either wrong or show different model of Merkava 3 with additional armor.

 

According to Shlomo Yoffe's "Merkava Mk II and Mk III Israeli Main Battle Tank" (Museum Ordnance Special Number 12), the Merkava 3 was made in different configurations ("blocks"), with at least three different blocks existing at the time of writing. The third "block" might feature NERA on the UFP, tanks belonging to the second "block" have additional armor only in front of the driver's place:

xRb377g.png

(block 2 - NERA only at the right hull front)

 

xVFjxND.png

(block 1 - no NERA on hull)

 

This however would imply that older Merkava 3 tanks might have even worse protection agianst KE/CE on the hull...

 

 

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No, it doesn't say. The magazine only has photos from block 2 and 3, no photo from a block 1 tank. The "block 1" photo above is from a quick goolge search. The tank at Latrun seems to be a "block 1" tank aswell.

 

This source is a booklet/magazine with lots of photos, but not much text; I think it was targeted at the tank modelling community. In that sense it is comparable with the German Tankograd magazine specials on tanks (a few paragrapgs text + several pages of photos). The text for the Merkava 3 says the following:

"[...]

Turret modifications are even more impressive. First, the basic turret casting was also lengthened by nine inches. Then the complete armor array around the crew compartment was redesigned to a modular concept.

[...]

Merkava Mk III's are produced in "blocks" with the exact number of MBT's per block unknown. At the time of this writing there have been three block productions made.The changes in the block production come from economic improvements, field operation, and crew/maintenance personnel input. It may be noted that in the IDF design technicians work hand-in-hand with the personnel that use the weapon systems.

The differences between Block I and Block II Merkava MK III's were quite minor and mostly internal. When the Block III series rolled off, the external differences were noticeable even to the untrained eye. The construction of the modular armor components on the turret had been changed all around the turret exterior. Both increasing the amount of protection and enabling an even quicker replacement of components.The armor section on the loader's side of the turret was increased by an additional five inches. The mortar port area was changed significantly along with deflection area in front of the sight aperature. Other minor changes can be seen in the photos that follow."

 

Unfortunately all photographs of the "block 3" tank show the turret or the different storage system for the crew tools in the sponsons on the hull sides. No photo of the hull front of a block 3  tank.

 

israeli-merkava-mark-iv-tank-in-latrun-a

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In short:
The text in PDF says that the structure of the special armor is unknown, and only the hull base armor layout and the performance of some modules are known.
Because Merkava's special armor is modular design,  maybe it was presumed that the LFP also can be fitted with additional armor.

No idea about those illustrations' original source,  It may be the author's record during his visit to Israel.

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8 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

I looked a bit into what the sponsons on the Mark 3 contain and I remembered that the Mark 4 does have fuel tanks there (though not only, obviously, there's other equipment like infantry phone etc), so it makes sense the Mark 3 made the first move

I don’t talk about sponsons. 

 

The first Merkava generation hull (Siman 2) was designed with batteries and CBRN filters compartment at the rear. Both compartments were integrated into the hull. There were fuel tanks into the rear sponsons. 

With the Siman 3, a main change occurred. The crew compartment was more designed as a survival cell. So, fuel tanks were moved at the rear under separated armored boxes. Some sources explaine that the rear fuel tanks are not only self sealing, they can be ejected under certain conditions to avoid fire propagation.

This design got more avantages. With rear baskets, it makes very hard to achieve direct hits on the rear clamshell door.

 

8 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

And here's one with up-armored front (and sides also, but that's unnecessary):

  Hide contents

Merkava4_6.jpg

I'll never understand why MANTAK had developed such an extensive armor kit for the Mark 3, and even mounted it on the Mark 2D, but chose not to apply it to the Mark 3 even though newer variants like the recently shown Mark 3M have even further improved turret armor.

It was too heavy. 

They had to make choices.

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39 minutes ago, Molotav_DIGITANK said:


The text in PDF says that the structure of the special armor is unknown, and only the hull base armor layout and the performance of some modules are known.
Because Merkava's special armor is modular, we presume that it may also be installed in LFP.

If I have time, I will post modular part of the hull tomorrow.

At the front, you only have 4 modular blocks. The LFP can’t be modified. 

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3 hours ago, SH_MM said:

 

According to Shlomo Yoffe's "Merkava Mk II and Mk III Israeli Main Battle Tank" (Museum Ordnance Special Number 12), the Merkava 3 was made in different configurations ("blocks"), with at least three different blocks existing at the time of writing. The third "block" might feature NERA on the UFP, tanks belonging to the second "block" have additional armor only in front of the driver's place:

xRb377g.png

(block 2 - NERA only at the right hull front)

 

xVFjxND.png

(block 1 - no NERA on hull)

 

This however would imply that older Merkava 3 tanks might have even worse protection agianst KE/CE on the hull...

 

The first deep change in armored package occurred in 1994 with Siman-3 B.

The loader hatch is now circle. Turret left armored module is larger. The half front roof received add-on armor. And maybe, pilot protection improved.  

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22 minutes ago, Serge said:

It was too heavy. 

They had to make choices.

 

I'm not talking about the side modules. Adding them would be ridiculous. I'm talking about the front hull armor modules. There is no way these were so heavy.

 

19 minutes ago, Serge said:

If I have time, I will post modular part of the hull tomorrow.

At the front, you only have 4 modular blocks. The LFP can’t be modified. 

There are ways to up-armor the LFP. For example, remove the fuel tanks from the front and place them elsewhere. The Merkava 3 has quite a lot of unused space (compared with contemporary tanks of course), so these could be attached to other places. Maybe even expanding the rear cells to put more weight in the back which will even help with armoring the front. By relocating them, you're basically opening up quite a lot of space for placement of armor blocks. Alternatively, a Challenger-like approach could work, where an armor module is attached to the front of the LFP without actually harming the structural steel. 

Though as I've said earlier, even if there is plenty of unused weight, the LFP wouldn't get any meaningful amount of armor. Even the roof was considered to be more important than the LFP on the Mark 4. And the guys who were in charge of developing the armor profile of the tank, had quite a lot of material to work with before determining the optimal design (within the frames of existing technology).

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Well, I wouldn't discard them so easily. Mr. Zhang was invited by General Tal, he has seen Israeli armor testbeds and was able to take photos of these - or they gave him photos and 3D models. Why would he make such detailed claims about the Merkava 3's armor protection, if he wasn't given at least some informations?

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Quote

"[...]

Turret modifications are even more impressive. First, the basic turret casting was also lengthened by nine inches. Then the complete armor array around the crew compartment was redesigned to a modular concept.

[...]

Ok. This part deals with the differences between Siman 2 and 3.

Quote

Merkava Mk III's are produced in "blocks" with the exact number of MBT's per block unknown. At the time of this writing there have been three block productions made.The changes in the block production come from economic improvements, field operation, and crew/maintenance personnel input. It may be noted that in the IDF design technicians work hand-in-hand with the personnel that use the weapon systems.

The differences between Block I and Block II Merkava MK III's were quite minor and mostly internal.

Block I and II are Siman 3A

Quote

When the Block III series rolled off, the external differences were noticeable even to the untrained eye. The construction of the modular armor components on the turret had been changed all around the turret exterior. Both increasing the amount of protection and enabling an even quicker replacement of components.The armor section on the loader's side of the turret was increased by an additional five inches. The mortar port area was changed significantly along with deflection area in front of the sight aperature. Other minor changes can be seen in the photos that follow."

This is is Siman 3B which first appeared in 1994.

 

Quote

Unfortunately all photographs of the "block 3" tank show the turret or the different storage system for the crew tools in the sponsons on the hull sides. No photo of the hull front of a block 3  tank.

I think I have what you’re looking for. There is not so much change for the UFP. 

But tomorrow. 

 

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So it seems there's just a huge mess of what each diagram represents. None of them seem to be related to each other.

 

The one with thickness and angle values alone may not refer to the actual Mark 3. The protection values may not refer to any actual tank in IDF service either.

 

Now we see photos of a testbed that never actually materialized into anything. Serge you've noted correctly the ammo drum is of the Mark 3 but the UFP shape is of the Mark 4.

The Mark 3 testbed with improved hull armor, despite presenting a more flat armor profile, did not have an entirely homogenous level of protection throughout the UFP. 

 

We need a translator here.

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User named Irina on Otvaga forum, where Looser is our messenger, has posted several images from which we could calculate that the thickness of the composite armor block in front of the driver on the Mark 3 is 140mm, which is 540mm after accounting for a 75° angle from vertical.

 

Spoiler

VKYaN6S.jpg

 

CrycVet.jpg

 

The nose area and the section in front of the engine should he half the thickness and at smaller angle, so we might as well just disregard it. However it is backed by a fuel tank, a thin layer of armor, and then the powerpack, followed by another thin layer of armor.

 

This already means that the diagram showing 55mm on the flat area is just wrong. 

 

What's interesting is that the composite block painted in green in Serge's post (one above mine) might be thicker than the rest of the hull front, while at the same time being angled to roughly 83° before going completely horizontal. So the Merkava 3 could still peek and show a certain portion of its hull and still be impervious to a lot of stuff.

 

Now we go to measure the UFP on the Mark 4:

 

EDIT: added pics, finished calculating with proper measurement tools the UFP of the Mark 4.

 

Spoiler

11.jpg

 

uhQuGXD.png?1

 

Took the width of the hull, which is 3720mm, measured with ruler to get 4.3cm on my screen in full size photo, measured UFP height for 0.4cm. The ratio of the hull's length to UFP's height is 10.75. Divided hull length by the ratio and got 346mm. The angle of the photo doesn't really matter because the deviation due to the angle applies to all values here, so it cancels out. Now we look at the 2nd photo (in the spoiler) and see that the 'face' of the plate is not representative of the thickness of the plate so I measured the ratio between the thickness of the actual plate and the thickness seen on the front of it for proper results. The ratio I got is 0.8 so the real thickness is 277mm. Round it up or down to account for any form of deviation for 270mm-280mm

 

Sources I've found a long time ago say it's angled at 75° so it's close to 1044-1082mm in LoS. We'll take something in the middle, on the lower end, for 1050mm.

 

Took another reference photo to see if all that armor actually fits and wasn't cut midway, so we could know if all that LoS is utilized or not:

Spoiler

12.png

 

Note: The calculation involved only measuring up to the air vents, where the armor becomes completely horizontal.

I got 1134mm, round it up and down to 1130-1140mm and we can see that the entire armor LoS fits in well. 

 

Next we'll measure the engine access plate with the same principle and we get 201mm, so let's round it down to 200mm. Because it has the same type of 'bending' with its 'face' so that both plates could slide in and click better, we apply the same ratio of 0.8 so we get 160mm there. 

 

With a 75° angle we get 620mm LoS. Now we'll measure to see if it all fits, as we did earlier. We get 680mm so it all fits.

 

Next we go for the very first plate of the UFP which is the thinnest.

 

Ran the same procedure, only with some clearer and larger scale photos and got a thickness of 66mm. Could round it up or down to 60-70mm. It gives us a LoS of 232mm-270mm.

 

 

Basically what we get for the Mark 4 is:

 

LFP = *76mm (RHA or steel composite).

UFP section A: ~250mm (composite).

UFP section B: 620mm (composite).

UFP section C: 1050mm (composite).

 

*Based on common perception.

Spoiler

Screenshot_2.png

 

Now, one reason why the upper sections are generally thicker in the Merkava series is because anything coming from an angle that is above the horizontal, will be able to substantially decrease the effect that the armor's angle gives, so to negate that the armor itself must have a certain thickness. And if the lower sections of the armor are pierced in this manner, only the engine will be hit. If the upper section will be hit, the engine will not be in the way and the crew compartment will be breached, and there will be casualties. The same appears on the Mark 3 where the hull composite armor module shown below in green is of the same thickness as the yellow and red modules (when they're combined with the base armor), which was calculated earlier to be 140mm.

 

Spoiler

ec87a810.jpg

 

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      https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.valka.cz%2F14223-Ceskoslovensko-a-jeho-vojenska-pomoc-statu-Izrael-v-prvnim-obdobi-jeho-samostatne-existence-II%3Futm_source%3Dvalka_cz%26utm_medium%3Darticle%26utm_campaign%3Dserial
      https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.valka.cz%2F14230-Ceskoslovensko-a-jeho-vojenska-pomoc-statu-Izrael-v-prvnim-obdobi-jeho-samostatne-existence-III
      https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.valka.cz%2F14236-Ceskoslovensko-a-jeho-vojenska-pomoc-statu-Izrael-v-prvnim-obdobi-jeho-samostatne-existence-IV%3Futm_source%3Dvalka_cz%26utm_medium%3Darticle%26utm_campaign%3Dserial
      https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.valka.cz%2F14242-Ceskoslovensko-a-jeho-vojenska-pomoc-statu-Izrael-v-prvnim-obdobi-jeho-samostatne-existence-V%3Futm_source%3Dvalka_cz%26utm_medium%3Darticle%26utm_campaign%3Dserial
      https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.valka.cz%2F14246-Ceskoslovensko-a-jeho-vojenska-pomoc-statu-Izrael-v-prvnim-obdobi-jeho-samostatne-existence-VI%3Futm_source%3Dvalka_cz%26utm_medium%3Darticle%26utm_campaign%3Dserial
       
      After that we have the totally crazy story of the Cairo bombing raid actually performed from the communist Czechoslovakia in 1948. Why don't we have yet any movie about three B-17s smuggled from USA, crewed by American-Jewish airmen, armed with former German machineguns and bombs and operating from an airfield located in then communist Czechoslovakia? If that doesn't deserve to be filmed than what does? 
      https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.idnes.cz%2Fzpravy%2Fdomaci%2Fnalet-zatec-kahira-b-17-izrael.A130712_105045_domaci_jw
       
      Most of you likely know that the first combat aircraft of the Israeli airforce were Czechoslovak Avia S-199 fighters. This stillborn stop-gap modification of the leftover Bf-109G airframe was rather useless in fact (Czechoslovakia had loads of Bf-109 airframes but no spare DB-605 engines whose reliability was absurdly low due to bad late-war steel, so the engines were replaced with Jumo-211 bomber units - completely unsuitable but available) but nevertheless it helped to stop the Egyptian attack on Tel Aviv and brought a very important psychological advantage on the Israeli side. More about these planes here. 
      https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.idnes.cz%2Ftechnet%2Fvojenstvi%2Fizrael-ceskoslovensko-vyroci-izraelske-letectvo.A180526_235424_vojenstvi_erp
      https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.idnes.cz%2Ftechnet%2Fvojenstvi%2Fceskoslovenske-letectvo-stihaci-letadlo-avia-s-199.A200116_174150_vojenstvi_erp 
       
      To add to the absurdity of that time... the man behind the support for the Israel was Czechoslovak FM Vladimír Clementis who was executed just few years later as a result of an intra-communist power struggle.  
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

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