Today we present an article from the Sep-Oct 2006 issue of ARMOR by Jim Warford titled “The Secret Testing of Israeli M111 “Hetz” Ammunition: A Model of Failed Commander’s Responsibility.” This article looks at the capture of an Israeli Magach-4 (M48) along with its brand new M111 Hetz ammunition by the Syrians during the 1982 “Operation Peace for Galilee” incursion. This tank and its ammunition eventually made there way to the Soviet Union were the M111 ammunition was evaluated, an event which contributed to the development of the T-72M1 variant. This particular Magach-4 is now on display at the Kubinka tank museum outside of Moscow.
After this article was published, ARMOR published a letter in response to the piece which was also followed by a letter in answer by Jim Warford. They may be read below.
Jim Warford was kind enough to provide us with some additional information and images relating to this article:
When I was visiting Kubinka in 2012, I had a tour guide arranged by my Russian travel agent who met me upon my arrival at the collection. He vaguely said that he worked for various governmental agencies and that he was happy to guide me through the collection. After awhile, I started to sense that he was there as much to keep an eye on me, as he was there to be my guide. Everything was going along very well (I was literally thrilled to be there), when we got to the captured Israeli Magach tank (that provided the M111 Hetz APFSDS ammunition to the Russians). I was looking forward to asking some questions about this tank, but before I could say a word, he quickly went into a speech about how they got the tank and that any reports that the tank arrived from Syria with the personal belongings and even the remains of the Israeli crew members on board, were completely untrue. While I suppose it’s possible that he gave that same speech to all his tours, I think it’s equally possible that he knew who I was and was aware of my 2001 ARMOR Magazine article “The Secret Museum at Kubinka,” where I reported the following:“…a “victory parade” was held in Damascus, Syria, that included a captured Israeli Magach 4 flying Syrian and Palestinian flags. Several sources reported that the tank’s Israeli crew was also on display during the parade. Three of these crewmen are now listed as MIA by the Israeli government. According to the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers (ICMIS), there is reason to believe that this captured tank and the Magach 4 at Kubinka are one in the same. In January 2001, the ICMIS asked Israeli officials to request that an upcoming trip by the Israeli President to Russia include an examination of the Magach 4 at the museum. Reportedly, the Israeli tank (with turret serial number 94866 and hull serial number 817581) arrived at Kubinka still containing human remains, personal belongings, and documents belonging to the tank’s crew.”