The ingenuity of the Israeli Army was shown in their Soltam L-33 "Ro'em", when it became clear that an indigenous self-propelled artillery (SPA) system was needed. Design work began in the late 1960s, taking the existing World War II-era American M4 Sherman medium tank chassis and adding a new rigid body structure with a Cummins diesel engine. The result is a 10-ton combat vehicle armed with a powerful 155mm howitzer. The first combat service was with the Israeli Army during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and additionally in the Lebanon War in 1982.
In total, it is estimated that around 200 vehicles were produced, although they are no longer in service with the Israeli army.
The name "L-33" comes from the 155mm caliber "L/33" for the main gun.
The L-33 is armed with a 155mm M68 field gun developed by Soltam Systems that has been modified to fit the L-33's vehicle schematic. Mounting hardware allows two +30 degree traverses and +52 to -4 degree elevation angles on each side from the centerline. Without the turret, the entire vehicle was rotated to face the target area outside the actual gun range.
The gun has a stand-alone range of up to 12.4 miles, the projectile and charge are handled separately, and the onboard 60 x 155mm projectiles (16 "ready to fire"). The weapon has the inherent ability to fire standard NATO ammunition, including high-explosive (HE), anti-personnel, illuminator and smoke grenades, when needed. When driving, the barrel is clamped to the vehicle in drive mode by struts located on the forward tilt plate.
Rectangular doors on the sides of the box-shaped superstructure allowed rifle personnel to enter and exit the main fighting compartment. The driver is located on the left front of the hull.
The roof hatch provides further outward access as well as direct management of the accompanying 7.62mm AA/infantry machine gun mounted on the right front. Roof machine guns typically carry 1,000 x 7.62mm bullets.
The propulsion component of the vehicle is a Cummins VTA-903 V8 diesel engine producing 460 hp at 2,600 rpm. This gives the L-33 a road speed of 36 km/h and a range of up to 260 km. Dimensions include a length of 6.5 meters, a width of 3.27 meters and a height of 2.46 meters.
- fire support/attack/damage
10.73 ft (3.27 m)
47 tons (42,250 kg; 93,145 lb)
162 miles (260 km)
1 x 155mm Soltam Systems 155mm/33 or 1 x 155mm/39 main gun.
1 x 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun on top of the fuselage.
60 x 155mm projectile.
1,000 x 7.62mm ammo.
L-33 - Designation of the base series; 155mm/33 or 155mm/39 series main guns are available.