M5 Half-track light tank (37mm M5/6). Multi-turreted halftrack... what else we need to be more unique?

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​caid’s suggestion #14

i would like to suggest one of the most interesting and unique Israeli tanks, a Frankenstank purely Israeli, the M5 Half-track light tank

this light tank is rather very interesting but hard to find, one of the rarest vehicles that could be proven to exist. the development started in 1948, during the Arab-Israeli war when the IDF had some unexpected success in the battle against larger and more armoured enemies. during those fight, Israel had destroyed an important number of various enemy vehicles. having difficulty equipping themselves with proper armoured vehicles due to the British control of some of the main ports of Israel and the US/British embargo on the fighting vehicles for Israel, the IDF had to be very imaginative to get themselves some tanks. having found some armament in France and successfully managed to smuggle some old tanks unfit for proper services. Israel had most of their armoured force been essentially open top Half-track…

Israel had a large number of those Half-track who seem to not have been subject to the embargo, very likely due to the fact they were probably not armed when they were shipped, and the fact the armament was rather limited.

on the other hand, the success in battle of the IDF who still fielded a large number of various weapons, managed to destroy many Egyptian armoured vehicles. some of which was Daimler Mk.I and Humber Mk.IV. having the vehicles that could be repaired, pressed to services where they could, most of the wreck in the battlefield could at best be salvaged for parts. it was the case for that two armoured cars who’s part was used for a brand new light tank. the M5 Half-track Light tank

fitting the Daimler Turret with the gun and mantle of the Humber, the Half-track received heavy modification on the cockpit and rear compartment. closing the rear compartment and fitting the turret on it was already a very important improvement, but they also had to fit a new turret who’s was normally used on the M3 White armoured car which was also modified by Israel. the 2nd turret placed next to the driver on the right side of the tank made this a light vehicle that could provide very important firepower against the tanks found on the battlefield and also the infantry.

the record (which I didn’t see) mentioned 4 such vehicles being built, only 3 pictures were found and they seem to be all the same vehicles. the conversion was not standardized in favour of the Sherman that was acquired later in 1948. for a little time, the M5 Half-track light tank was used in services. there are little details on the fate of those vehicles.


the main armament of this light tank is the 37mm M5/M6 , since both guns are more or less the same, and have access to the same ammunition, it does not matter that much. in either case, they can fire high velocity APCBC rounds with penetration of 84mm at 100m . which is already good, but also can fire nothing less than 20 rounds in minutes . the Daimler turret having a rotation of 16°/sec , the tank would not be the best in close combat but will remain decent at it. the original elevation of -12°/+25° is very likely to still be possible which means the tank would be pretty flexible in fighting in uneven terrain. the 7.92mm BESA machine gun is placed as Coaxial.

additionally a auxiliary turret is placed at the front right of the chassis, giving a little obstruction of the main turret but probably just reducing the main gun depression to around -6° which is not that terrible. the auxiliary turret is armed with the 7.92mm MG34 . the elevation of this auxiliary turret is calculated to +30° from the picture. which shall make this auxiliary turret rather capable of keeping the planes away.

An AA LMG was also mounted on the turret top, which I couldn’t identify

the exact ammo carried is information that is missing and not likely to be found. but the vehicles is rather large and the ammunition is rather small, it would be easily possible to carry over 100 rounds for the 37mm.


the mobility of this vehicle wasn’t been reported, and neither is its weight, but we can calculate the weight from the M3a1 white armoured car with and without Israeli modification (it would give you the difference of weight which is the roof and auxiliary turret weight) and finding the weight of the Daimler turret (the change of guns wouldn’t change much the total weight) and having the difference of weight from those vehicles, we could add it to the M5 Halftrack and get a relatively precise weight of the M5 Half-track light tank.

the top speed of the M5 Half-track is reaching 68 km/h . the engine being an International Harvester RED-450-B providing 142 hp , would provide at the very least 10 hp/tons. but if we keep the the full load weight of the M5 Half-track as reference ( 9.8 tonnes ), we get 14.5 hp/tons which remains a pretty good ratio.



the protection of the light tank is rather light, but not useless. the frontal protection of 16mm at hull front , the tank would be just protected enough against LMG and HMG (at long distances). The side of the hull is 8mm which is usually okay for the LMG. the turret is not that much better but more evenly shared with 15mm at the front of the turret and 14mm at the side and rear . the auxiliary turret armour is not likely to be much different. the crew of 4 men , include a driver, a gunner, a commander, and a machine-gunner for the Auxiliary turret.



History of the IDF artillery corps, volume 3, Isreli Half-track-based Self-propelled weapons, by Tom Gannon
due to the lack of sources, i had to find much missing information for the different parts of the vehicles elsewhere, such as those sources

1 Like

The AA machine gun looks like a BESA to me, judging by the boxy shape. Love this thing! +1