MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories (Conversion) - Israel
Detailing the development and operational history of the Zelda (M113) Up-Armored Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).
Entry last updated on 7/10/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The ubiquitous American-originated M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) went on to be used by over fifty global military powers with over 80,000 examples produced across a myriad of variants and sub-variants for its time as a frontline battlefield vehicle. Service entry for the series came in 1960 and the M113 earned its "stripes" during the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) where it was known to the Viet Cong as the "Green Dragon". Israel and its Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) became one of the vehicle's most prolific operators where it was taken on in number and officially known as the "Bardehlas" ("Cheetah") - but better known as the "Nagmash (APC)".
From the basic fighting model, the IDF evolved the M113 into an improved local variant and this - with the "Toga" armor scheme applied - became the "Zelda". The basic form and function of the M113 remained largely intact though armor protection - required for the urban fighting being encountered by IDF elements - was vastly improved through the application of perforated steel plates set upon an external frame. This improved crew and systems protection at both sides of the hull superstructure as well as the bow - the two most critical facings in armored combat. All other facets of the standard M113 in Israeli Army service were retained including the operating crew of two plus seating for eleven and a roof-mounted pintle for medium- or heavy-caliber armament (typically 2 x 7.62mm machine guns or 1 x 12.7mm machine gun). Beyond several roof hatches, a powered rear door gave quick access to the passengers embarking and disembarking the vehicle.
The Detroit Diesel 6V-53T 6-cylinder diesel-fueled engine outputted 212 horsepower and drove the vehicle at speeds reaching 38 miles per hour with operational ranges out to 300 miles. The track system - fully suspended under the hull - featured five double-tired roadwheels in a track-and-wheel arrangement, the drive sprocket fitted at front with the track idler at rear.
The vehicle also spawned a Command Tank version which integrated additional radio equipment as well as an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to the design. This model became known as the "Nagmash Pikud" ("Command APC").
A typical IDF Armored Reconnaissance Company make-up of the 1973 Yom Kippur War saw twelve Zeldas assigned alongside six Sho't (British Centurion) Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) for support as well as a commitment of 100 infantrymen.