by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introductionTankograd Publishing has taken the world of Military vehicle enthusiasts and modellers by storm since it's beginning in 1997. Owned and run by Verlag Jochen Vollert, they now produce a huge catalogue of titles aimed at both the real vehicle enthusiasts and modellers alike. This latest title based on the tracked vehicles of the Israeli Defence Force is most welcome indeed and has been sorely needed for some time.
book contentsI have for a long time considered myself an axis WWII modeller, with very little interest in modern vehicles, never mind vehicles of the IDF. This book has changed that. It's a beautifully produced book in hardback, which would grace any reference shelf.......but it's much more than that, in that it's contents give us a thorough grounding in the main conflicts of the Middle East, at least those that involved Israel. Not in the politics of the conflicts, which are in any case, better served by more academic titles, but from the point of view of an isolated nation doing it's best to survive in a hostile geographical and political locale.
As a result of it's unique situation, Israel rapidly acquired a force of tracked vehicles that it had to adapt to it's unique requirements.............and how they did it would make a separate book in itself! The IDF is still to this day, necessarily close-lipped on it's organisation and operational strength, yet the authors Soeren Suenkler, a military photo-journalist with impeccable credentials, and Marsh Gelbart, an Israeli-armour expert, have attempted to explain what little is known about the IDF in both an informative and entertaining way.
The book begins with a chapter explaining in brief the make up of the armed forces that Israel field, along with a short treatment on each major conflict in it's history, and how these conflicts influenced the make-up of the IDF armoured forces.
Each page of text is composed of two columns, with dual English and German text, and the first chapter includes a bibliography for those wishing to delve deeper into the details of each of the IDF's tracked vehicles.
The main part of the book, and the part that is of main interest to modeller's, is in the form of a chapter devoted to each of the main variants of tracked vehicles used by the IDF. It is by no means encyclopedic. There are no chapters on early vehicles such as the Sherman variants and the French AMX13's, although these are mentioned briefly in the text. The authors instead have chosen to try and give the reader an overview of the main tracked armoured types still in use today, highlighting the unique adaptations and conversions done by the IDF. It's surprising just what is still in use though, with chapters on the M113 Zelda, T-54/55 and M60 Magach, even though in the main these have been relegated to reserve duties.
Each of the main nine chapters on different vehicles begins with a short section detailing it's history, and then an extensive series of very high quality all-colour photographs showing the upgrades to the vehicles themselves. The chapter on the M113 Bardelas, as it was known by the Israeli's themselves, details through photographs the different variants such as the Nagmash, Nagmash Chatap, Nagmash Vayzata, Nagmash Vayzata Pikud, Nagman, Kasman, Kasman Maoz, Fitter, and Mugaf. Phew! This serves to give some indication of the depth the photographs go to in detailing the variants of each vehicle used. The other eight chapters on the vehicles listed below are similar in nature.
Each of the photographs is captioned in both English and German, and explains thoroughly the salient point that can be seen.
All of the photographs are new, and towards the end there are even good pictures of the Merkava 4, both depot and in-action shots. I came away from reading this book, wanting to model IDF vehicles, such is the interest the book engendered in me, and such is the quality of the close-up photographs throughout the book. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in the tracked vehicles of the IDF, this one just cries out to sit on your reference shelf. It's that good!
conclusionIf you already have an interest in IDF armoured vehicles, or are even looking for an introduction to the subject, then this book is for you. It's extremely easy to read, very informative, and has an absolute wealth of high quality photographs to peak your interest. I sat down and read it cover to cover, and I keep going back to examine the photographs more closely. Very highly recommended, and although £32, it's well worth the money!
8.5 x 12 inches
Full colour throughout
298 Full Colour Photographs
Puma, Nagmashot, Nagmachon,Nagmachon-Mifleset, Nakpadon
M60 Magach Tagash Tsemed
Dov & Dubi
A guide to IDF Vehicle Designations