Soltam Ro'em (L-33)

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This suggestion was originally made on 2022 for the old forum

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The Soltam Ro’em (meaning “Thunderous” or “Thundering”) was an Israeli self-propelled howitzer based on the Sherman HVSS chassis and mounting a Soltam M-68 155mm gun. The vehicle entered service in 1973 shortly before the Yom Kippur War.

Historical background

The Soltam M-68 was a towed 155mm/L33 artillery piece manufactured by Soltam Systems and based on previous designs by the Finnish company Tampella, of which Soltam was a subsidiary. The first prototype for the gun was evaluated by the IDF in 1968, showing a satisfactory performance; Israeli production of the M-68 began shortly after in 1970. In 1975 the M-71, an L39 variant of the howitzer, began production.

In the late 60s Soltam began development of a self-propelled howitzer based on an M4A3E8 chassis. The vehicle combined the hull of the Sherman with the recently introduced M-68 howitzer. The turret was replaced with a fixed superstructure around the gun and the powerplant was upgraded with a more powerful Cummins diesel engine.

The tank entered service with the IAF in 1973 and was immediately used in combat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War alongside the M109. The Ro’em saw combat again in the 1982 Lebanon War. Between 150 and 200 units were constructed. The vehicle was soon relegated to the reserve role as the numbers of M109s in service with the IAF grew.

Firepower

The Soltam L-33 features an M-68 howitzer with a caliber of 155mm and a length of 33 calibers (hence its name). The gun can fire an M107 HE projectile* up to a maximum velocity of 725 m/s with a maximum range of 21 Km. The gun is compatible with all NATO-standard 155mm ammunition. 60 rounds are carried with 16 ready to use.

*The M107 HE projectile is ingame on the Type 75 SPH, with 9.14 Kg of TNT equivalent and 61mm of penetration

The gun mount provides 30º of horizontal transverse on either side and an elevation range of -4º/52º; both elevation and traverse are manual. The cradle mounts the hydropneumatic recuperator, a hydraulic damper and a pneumatic rammer, allowing reloads at all angles of elevation. The barrel features a single baffle muzzle brake, a bore evacuator and a travel lock. Maximum rate of fire is reported as 6 rpm, with sustained rate of fire being 2 rpm.

Finally, a pintle-mounted M1919A4 7.62 MG with 360º of transverse is mounted on the cupola. 1000 rounds are carried.

Mobility

Like the M-50, the L-33 features a Cummins VT 8-460-Bi diesel engine with 460 hp. With an increased weight of 41.5 t the resulting PWR is 11.08 hp/t, resulting in a decreased speed (36 Km/h) and autonomy compared to other Sherman modifications. The transmission has 5 gears plus reverse.

Unlike other Israeli Sherman modifications, the engine remains at the rear of the hull.

Crew, protection and electronics

The vehicle has a large crew of 8, including driver, commander, one gunner and 5 loaders. They are protected by a large superstructure that encloses the space around the gun and over the hull. Crew access is provided by one door on each side and two doors at the rear. Armor ranges between 12 and 64 mm. There are no NBC protection systems, smoke launchers nor fire protection systems.

The driver has access to night vision equipment.

Specifications (from: army-guide.com)

Main weapon caliber (mm) 155
Crew 8
Weight (kg) 41500
Power-to-weight ratio (h.p./t) 10.08
Length (mm) 8470
Width (mm) 3500
Height (mm) 3450
Ground clearance (mm) 430
Track (mm) 2280
Track link width (mm) 580
Length of track on ground (mm) 4600
Max. road speed (km/h) 38
Fuel capacity (l) 820
Max. road range (km) 260
Fording depth (mm) 900
Gradient (%) 60
Side slope (%) 30
Vertical obstacle (mm) 910
Trench (mm) 2300
Turning circle radius (mm) 9500
Engine power output (h.p.) 460
Number of forward gears 5
Number of reverse gears 1
Auxiliary gun calibre (mm) 7.62
Ammunition of the main gun 60
Elevation (degree) 52
Depression (degree) -4
Traverse arc (degree) 120

Gallery

Spoiler

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Interior

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Ro’ems on the parade after the victoy in the 1973 Yom Kippur War

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Imgur backup: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

Spoiler

From the book Israeli Sherman-based Self-Propelled Weapons Volume 2. Unfortunately I only have access to a few pages.

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5076e8_df33b9af023c4ee38895866e9703bb14~

Spoiler

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Experimental Israeli Sherman modified with a Finnish Tampella 122 K 60. The gun was returned to Finland in 1970 after testing

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Soltam M-68

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Soltam M-71 - notice the longer barrel between the fume extractor and the muzzle brake

Sources

  • Soltam M-68

https://wp-fi.wikideck.com/155%20K%2098#cite_note-vt-1

Ground Weapons (Artillery)

https://web.archive.org/web/20080220145446/http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/artillery/towed_guns/m-68/M-68.html

https://bemil.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2021/04/29/2021042901805.html

  • L-33 Ro’em

L-33 Ro'em | Weaponsystems.net

Soltam L-33 RO'EM | Weapons Parade Soltam L-33 RO'EM 155mm SPH.

Army Guide

  • Image sources

https://www.fresh.co.il/vBulletin/showthread.php?t=94171

Избушка-избушка, повернись к супостату передом... - Пещера злобного Буквоеда — LiveJournal

Conclusion

Given the early M109 was added at 6.0 this vehicle doesn’t really have a place in Israeli tree in its current form. However, it’s an interesting vehicle that could be an interesting addition if the tree were to get lower tier vehicles.

2 Likes

I hope we get Rank III Israel, this would be great for 5.0.

1 Like

correction: total horizontal traverse is 60 degrees, so ±30 degrees. Not ±60 degrees for a total of 120, that’s a huge arc.