Israel's Secret Underground 9MM Ammunition Factory


#1

I finally took my 1st vacation in 13 years away from all the Sanctuary’s animals visiting Israel. Today I went to the Ayalon Institute, a secret underground 9MM ammunition factory which made 9MM ammo for the Sten Gun under the noses of the British. I took 130 photos of all the facility and equipment. Here are a few;

Diagram of the layout which took 21 days to make.

This is the building where they did the laundry as a cover front to fool the British. The machines made a lot of noise which hid the sounds of the ammunition manufacturing equipment. The chimney helped bring air to the underground workers.

This is the massive washing machine mounted on a cement slab. There was a secret button that when pressed, hydraulically lifted and slid the slab to revel the stairs down to the ammo factory.

Head-stamps


#2

Layout of ammunition manufacturing equipment

Steps of production

Complete Box 1947 Head-Stamp

Complete Box 1948 Head-Stamp


#3

It’s interesting to see how the display board shows the processes from right to left (obvious thing for Hebrew to do), but just not often seen on bullet boards. Great photos, and what a collector’s piece that board would be!


#4

Fascinating place to visit. I can’t recall that board with the boxes when I was there. I liked the little “testing range”.
Did you see anything else gun/ammo related?


#5

Jason - Fabulous. Better than you even think. We have always “known” what AE and the numbers “7” and “8” meant, and we were correct. However, this is the first visual, absolute doumentation of the meaning of both I have ever seen. I cannot speak for anyone else. The picture of the cartridge board I consider incredibly important. Not only does it show the meaning of the initials and numbers on the headstamps, but also that they made the cases and the bullets. Again, I have heard they did, but I have also heard that the cases and bullets were smuggled in, and on loaded there. The fact they were Boxer primer lent some credence to the latter, as one would have expected them to be Berday, and yet America was their biggest supporter in the pre-independence days, I think, in spirit if not in deed. Now we KNOW - dcoumented - that they made the cartridges there and not just loaded cases and bullets supplied from elsewhere.

Great work Jason! I hope somehow I can get to see all of the pictures you took of this facility and its surrounds on Kibbutzim Hill. Thank you my friend for posting this most important thread to those of us interested in 9 mm.


#6

John, not to diminish Jason’s post, but I posted this info from Ayalon, and a number of pics I think, a few years back. If you look through your files I think you’ll find that I also sent you the tourist book, or a copy, from the site.

I think my first post on the site is lost due to forum glitches, but here are two other threads on the subject:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2266&hilit=Ayalon
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1576&hilit=Ayalon


#7

Jon,

Your earlier posts were very good, and sparked a great discussion of the subject. But, that discussian is full of “What, maybe, possibly, etc.” if you know what I mean. Not necessarily in your comments. You have always been my most trusted source on Israeli ammunition and the reason I mentioned that “We knew” what the letters and numbers meant was because you verbally confirmed them.

However, “verbally” is the operative word in all of this. I did not receive any booklet from you, but I got a great post card from you frim Kibbutzim Hill that certainly confirmed the “A E 7 & 8” headstamps were from that facility, as among the artists conceptions of the hill on the face of the card is a drawing of that headstamp.

Regardless, for absolute documentation - very important to me even when I know I have the right information, as confirmation for skeptics - or for correcting wrong information I might have, the best thing I have seen is that cartridge board, which I consider pretty definitive. It of course, backs up all the great information you have given me, and others, on this subject.

I hope you know my praise for this thread was in no way meant to diminish your part in educating me on Israeli headstamps, and for that matter, many other subjects about ammunition, and other things. Thanks to both you guys, BIG TIME!!!

We have probably seen them before, but I am going to have Joe post some pictures on this thread of the two boxes I have from “Ayalon” and all of the Israeli 9 mm rounds I have that I believe came from that facility. I just took the pictures, so it will probably be a couple of days before they are up.


#8

Some years back, the History Channel had a series called “Tales of the Gun” which is still in re-runs. One of the episodes entitled “Guns of Israel” contained a brief treatment of this factory.


#9

Not feeling diminished at all John. I’ll make another copy of the booklet to send you.
Jason, did they have anything good in English at the gift-shop?


#10

Thanks, Guys! Jon C, I totally remember your post in the old forum (I really miss that Forum).In fact, the 1st time I learned of this place and its importance was from you.

I had the best time and learned so much on my visit to the Ayalon Institute. I have a lot of additional pics to post. So far my fav place has been LATRUN Tank Museum and Memorial! I was in heaven there. My only complaint was they did not have much tank ammunition on display except in the tank cutaways. I saw some really nice Israeli 105MM APFSDS in one behind weathered plexiglass so it was hard to photograph. I was hoping to see some Israeli 120MM APFSDS ammo but did not. Still, LATRUN was my fav.

Ayalon was great.I was amazed that most of the ammunition manufacturing equipment was German from the time of the Holocaust. It was smuggled from Germany to Poland and then to Beirut Lebanon then to Israel. The tour guide also said something so interesting. He said that in order to keep the laundry mat going 9 hours a day, they often washed the uniforms of the British soldiers. He said they would often find intelligence notes in the pockets of these uniforms. This intelligence included places in the sea were the British dumped gun powder that did not meet their specs in water tight bottles which the Israeli’s recovered for Ayalon. They also found train schedules that carried ammunition supplies which they blew up or sabotaged to get supplies. The brass used for the cases were brought to the Kibbutz to supposedly make lipstick cases for women who could not afford gold and silver cases. The Kibbutz did make these cases in the open above ground but used the majority of the brass sheets below ground. No one above had any clue what was going on below, including the workers own wives and husbands. Anyone who did not know was called a “Giraffe” in code. Even the 1st, Prime Minister, Ben Gourin did not know of this plant it was so secret.

Jason
PS: I bought a great book on AYALON in English at the gift shop. I will scan some pages latter.


#11

I think this was the case, “Stretching Machine?”

I believe this is the Head-Stamp Machine?


#12

Because the workers were below ground for 9 hours or more, the doctor in charge had them install a small room for them to tan in so they would not look pale and get busted by the British. I tried getting a pic of this room but there were so many people in my way. So I took this pic of the sign.

I loved the way they tested for quality control of each batch of bullets. The gun range was under the washing machine which made the most noise to cover up the sound of the shots.


#13

Men, this is awsome!! Great thread!


#14

I was told that after secrecy was no longer needed, that most or all the original machinery was removed and taken to Tel Aviv and Nazareth, and that at a later date older, surplus machinery was returned to Ayalon to create the museum. No way to confirm that, but it does make sense.


#15

Jon, according to the book and tour, the machinery was indeed removed to be placed in IMI centralized munitions factory after the creation of the State Of Israel. When the Institute was reopened in 1987, they brought the exact machines back under the guidance of the original workers to be placed in the exact configuration and placement as when the factory was functioning.

Jason


#16

Can you post a pic of the book cover?


#17

Absolutely, charging the camera battery now and will post the cover and a few interesting pages as soon as it charges.

Jason


#18

Jason and Jon - you have partially answered in advance a question I asked in a photo addition to this thread that, due to me confusing my Partner Joe with poorly worded emails, did not get posted yet. It was concerning operation of the Kibbutzim Hill facility after recognition of the State of Israel. Does the book you have referred to mention when the machinery was moved to IMI from Kibbutzim Hill? This question will be understood when pictures of a couple of very early boxes I have get posted, which should be in the next day or so.


#19

I will read the book tonight and scan any info on that subject for you, John ;-)

Jason


#20

Some scans from the book.

Cover

Back of a brochure

Page 8 - The Need For Bullet Production

Page 9 - Bullet Recovery

Page 10 & 11 - Acquisition Of Bullet Manufacturing Equipment

Page 12 - Acquisition Of Bullet Manufacturing Equipment Cont.

Page 17 - Year Of The Bullet

Page 18 - Year Of The Bullet Cont.

Page 19 - Raw Materials & Cordite Noodles

Page 20 - Above Cont.

Page 35 - Bullet Production Process

Page 40 and 41 - Giraffes And People From The Ground & Bakery