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Israeli Military Vehicles - 1948-1998

Peter Brown

Israeli Military Vehicles - The First 50 Years 1948-1998 by John Myszka, Published by Mouse House Enterprises, Woden, Australia ISBN 0-646-36002-7,   Soft covers, 232 A4 pages, over 220 photos and 40 1/76 scale plans.   $Aust45.00

The Israeli army's armoured forces are well known for many feats of arms in defence of their homeland. Its battles have been the subject of many books, but to date there has been no single-volume source on its equipment although details have been included of specific vehicles in several places. This makes John Myszka's book a valuable addition to AFV literature, even if as a privately published work it id not as polished as one from a major publisher. Overall, it reads like a series of articles - not surprising with its layout - and given the lack of information on some areas its coverage is variable.

The very first armoured vehicles were produced before there was an Israeli state, when trucks and busses were fitted with protective plating. During the fighting which broke out on independence in 1948, improved vehicles were used alongside conventional armour acquired from a variety of sources. Since then, equipment has been bought from many different sources. Shermans came from surplus dumps around the world and for years were the mainstay of the tank force. AMX13s came from France, Centurions from Britain and M48 and M60 Pattons from the USA, either directly or through other countries. Captured Russian T-55 and other AFVs were also taken into use. As political changes abroad meant that supplies of imported weapons could not always be guaranteed, production of tanks in Israel itself resulted in the unique Merkava series.

As well as tanks, an equally wide range of armoured troop carriers have been used. Second World War era US halftracks were for many years almost a trademark of the Israeli army, though they have now been largely replaced by M113 APCs and even some redundant Centurion and T-55 chassis converted to infantry use. Armoured cars were not used in large numbers, although several types have been in service over the years. Heavy support has come from a wide range of artillery, some of it self-propelled including home-built and converted designs.

One thing which characterises Israeli vehicles is that they are almost always converted in some way. Shermans were fitted with a wide range of guns of necessity from the early days, and generations of rebuilt designs have been produced. Centurions have been fitted with improved guns and engines, while the latest Pattons have been changed so much that it is hard to believe that they were once Pattons.

All of these vehicles are described here, with detailed text telling where they came from, what changes were made to them, and where appropriate, where surplus vehicles ended up. Towed artillery, which is so often neglected, is given similar treatment, and the transporters used to carry tanks which is another area which gets little coverage. Supporting softskin vehicles too are described, although as with most armies the range of trucks used is wide enough to warrant a full study in its own right. Jeeps and other light vehicles used in scout and anti tank roles get special mention. Each subject gets its own chapter and is illustrated with photos from IDF sources and private collections. Many vehicles also have a small-scale plan included from a variety of sources and to a variety of standards. Additional chapters include a brief history of the state of Isreal and its many wars, vehicle markings and colour schemes are described even down to identifying vehicles from serial numbers, while details of how to identify Sherman variants and trace US vehicle nomenclature are given as well as sources for plans and details of museums where the vehicles can be seen.

As you will see, everything is covered, from early vehicles including one-off captured types up to the most commonly used equipment. The author has done a lot of research and presented it for others to make use of. He promises future books on the Sherman and US half-tracks in IDF service which may cover these two areas in greater detail.

This book can be obtain from specialist suppliers - Barbarrossa Books in England will offer it at around 22.50 and Baseline Models Inc, 107 Main Street, Mineola, NY 11501 USA will be US agents - or it can be bought direct, with payment in Australian dollars only - note that credit cards cannot be accepted - postage in Australia is $8.00 and to UK, Europe,Africa, South America by Airmail $24.00, Economy Air $18.00 and seamail $14.00, to the USA, Canada, Israel, Airmail $21.00, Economy Air $16.00 and seamail $14.00, New Zealand Airmail $13.00, Economy Air $12.00. Rest of the World, Airmail $17.00, Economy Air $14.00 and seamail $12.00. Contact the publishers at Mouse House Enterprises, PO Box 1174, Woden ACT 2606 Australia with a IRC or email them at mousehouse@start.com.au

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