Israel’s radar-busting Shermans

The M4 Sherman was the main American tank type of WWII. After the war, it saw additional combat worldwide – first as a tank in its original WWII form, then in following decades through various upgrades, and in rebuilt form for non-tank uses.

One of the more remarkable of the latter was the Kilshon, an Israeli system to destroy the radars controlling and guiding enemy surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

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(US Army M4 Sherman tank in action during WWII.)

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(The Israeli Kilshon ARM launch vehicle, which used a WWII Sherman as the lower portion.)

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Wu Chin III: Taiwan’s remarkable rebuilt WWII destroyers

Some warships which survived WWII were given updates during the late 1940s or 1950s, for the most part modest changes to keep them current a while longer. In terms of being the most dramatically altered, a few examples stand out including the two WWII Baltimore class gun cruisers transformed into the US Navy’s first guided missile cruisers; USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Canberra (CAG-2).

Of all WWII warships later rebuilt, Taiwan’s Wu Chin III modifications to Gearing class destroyers may be the most amazing. Unlike the cruisers above, the Taiwanese were packing more technology into smaller hulls; they did not have the Pentagon’s budget to play with; and most amazingly this was done not just years after WWII ended, but almost a half-century later.

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(The Gearing class destroyer USS Power (DD-839) at the end of WWII.)

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(The Wu Chin III-rebuilt destroyer ROCS Shen Yang – the former USS Power of WWII – in the 21st century.)

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strange Stuarts of Brazil

The USA’s M3/M5 Stuart family is a fairly well-known tank used by numerous countries during and after WWII. In the case of Brazil, what makes the story interesting is the variety of modifications done to Stuarts decades after WWII had ended.

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(Brazilian M3 Stuarts on the Italian front during WWII. These are early-production tanks, still with the nearly-useless sponson machine guns and prewar hatch design.)

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(Brazilian X1A2 Carcara tank of the 1980s; the last member of the M3 family tree.)

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(The XLF-40 ballistic missile system of the 1970s.)

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missile attack on battleship USS Missouri

The fact that Iraq fired an anti-ship missile at the WWII battleship USS Missouri in 1991 is not secret, but is still relatively not known in the general public. Even inside the defense community, the event is often poorly understood, or full of errors and bad timelines.

What makes this so curious is that more than any war before or since, operation “Desert Storm” was saturated with media coverage, and the two battleships in particular were among the most interesting pieces of hardware. Furthermore this event was the first time in history that a warship shot down a missile with a missile, and the last time that a battleship was attacked by any method.

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(WWII ends aboard USS Missouri on 2 September 1945.)

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(Iraqi “Seersucker” missiles captured during operation “Desert Storm”.)

missourifiring(USS Missouri firing in the Persian Gulf in 1991. A departing 16″ shell is visible.)

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B-29 to “Bull”

I debated writing on this topic as the story of the Tu-4 “Bull”; the reverse-engineered B-29 Superfortress; is fairly well known. Numerous authors have covered it, and there was a TV documentary on it some years ago. None the less, the topic is apparently still of high interest, so perhaps the information below will be presented in a different way or otherwise still be of value.

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(A Boeing B-29 Superfortress during WWII.)

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(A Soviet soldier with WWII-era Mosin-Nagant marches in Red Square in the late 1940s as a Tu-4 “Bull” flies overhead.)

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(A RDS-4 atomic bomb is wheeled to a Tu-4 “Bull”.)

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putting cruise missiles on WWII battleships

Photos of USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin firing 16″ rounds at Iraqi targets in 1991 are well-known as the last instances of battleships in combat. Less widely known is their operations with Tomahawks during that war, and even less, about how cruise missiles ended up on WWII battleships in the 1980s to begin with.

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(USS Wisconsin during WWII.)

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(USS Wisconsin firing a BGM-109 Tomahawk during operation “Desert Storm”, four and a half decades later.)

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the V-2 in the USSR after WWII

The US Army’s tests of captured V-2 missiles after WWII in New Mexico is fairly well-known. Much less famous is the Soviet Union’s involvement with the world’s first ballistic missile after WWII.

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(Left: A German V-2 missile being readied for launch during WWII. Right: It’s postwar Soviet copy, the SS-1 “Scunner”.)

The USA had no intention of using the V-2 as an actual weapon, no intention of directly copying it, no intention of producing it themselves, and only saw it as a useful research aid. The Soviets on the other hand, put no such restrictions on themselves.

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Guided missiles on Corsairs

Originally designed as a carrier-based gun dogfighter, the F4U Corsair, and it’s later attack variant, the AU-1, was used heavily as a ground attack plane during WWII, and almost exclusively in that role during the Korean War.

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(The first prototype Vought Corsair during WWII.)

A wide variety of weapons not originally envisioned were successfully used by the Corsair: air-to-ground rockets, napalm tanks, radar, depth charges, cluster munitions, and so on.

Easily the most unusual was something that could have never been envisioned by Vought’s engineers when they designed the plane; a guided missile.

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(French navy Corsair with SS.11 guided missiles aboard.)

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Firing a V-2 off an aircraft carrier

Germany’s V-2 ballistic missile was one of the most remarkable weapons of WWII, years ahead of it’s time. After the war, the US Army and civilian agencies fired captured examples for research, both military and scientific. Less well-known is that the US Navy fired one example off an aircraft carrier.

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(A V-2 missile being launched by German forces during WWII, and aboard USS Midway after the war.)

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The Shah’s Sumners

The USA exported WWII Sumner and Gearing class destroyers around the globe during the Cold War. One of the most unique examples were two sold to Iran, which ended up being the only ones ever to end up with a “hostile” regime.

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(USS Zellars – the future Iranian IIS Babr – at sea during WWII.)

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(Left: The flag of Iran prior to the 1979 revolution. Right: A logo used by General Dynamics for the RIM-66 Standard missile export program during the 1970s.)

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