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T-34 and the IDF, The Untold Story Book Review

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Product Review

T-34 and the IDF, The Untold Story

By Ma’or Levy and Michael Mass

Reviewed by Glen Broman

This is a new title brought to you by the folks at Abteilung 502 and Desert Eagle Publishing. What really got my attention was the line right below the title; “Captured Vehicles in IDF Series, Volume 1”. Yes, that’s right Sportsfans, volume 1. Let’s let that sink in for a while, volume 1. Like the smell of brewing coffee and frying bacon in the morning, just let that wash over you for a minute. And we’re back. Think of all the serious hardware the IDF captured, some they put into service, others they took out to the desert and shot full of holes to find out the best way of shooting them full of holes. Trust me; knowing the best way to shoot holes in the other guy’s tanks is a handy bit of knowledge to have. Think of all the possible future subjects in the series. Are you feeling the love?

So let me reign in my attention deficit issues for a minute and actually tell you a little about the book and why you should be really, really excited that this is only volume 1. First off, when I saw this book on the “Upcoming Good Stuff” page on the Last Cavalry website my first thought was “Wait! What? T-34’s in IDF service?” My curiosity was piqued. I picked up a copy as soon as they came in and was immediately impressed. This is a high quality and well researched book with outstanding color and black and white photos, most I had never seen before. As many of you who read my reviews know, despite my personal inability to spell or have a basic working knowledge of English grammar, I am a stickler for good editing in others and I found this book to be well edited and organized. So give me a few minutes to climb down off my soapbox and tell you a little more.

The book starts off with an overview of the early years of the IDF and their first tanks. It’s very informative and well-illustrated. What really makes this fun is that are a number of good pictures of tanks one does not usually see in anything other than OD, 4BO or SCC 15. How about some Archers, SU-100’s and T-34’s in a nice Egyptian sand color? There’s even a BTR 152, if you feel like tackling the old SKIF kit.The next chapter covers captured tanks in the service of the IDF from 56-67. Again, very well researched and illustrated and covers some of the creative uses of the T-34. I won’t ruin the surprise.

The next chapter covers the use of the T-34 on two fronts, in the Sinai and Golan up to the Six Day war and the collection of captured T-34’s after the battle. Again, there are some great photos of captured and knocked out vehicles, to include an IS-3M in an Independence Day parade. There’s nothing quite as in your face as parading the captured vehicles of your enemy through the streets of your capitol. Ah, Psywar. There are also some nice shots of Syrian T-34 recovery vehicles. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Rye Field comes out with one to pair with your Egyptian self-propelled 122mm on the T34 chassis.

The next chapter covers 67-80. They cover the “Kurdistan Affair” which was an effort to export captured T-34’s from Israel to the Kurd’s in Northern Iraq. It eventually came to naught, but it’s a fascinating read.

Next up is the 73 war and the encounters the IDF had with dug in T-34’s after their counterattack in the Golan broke through. Surprisingly, the dug in Syrian T-34’s caused a lot of casualties and delayed the attack for over a day. This forms the segue into the next chapter, which was the Israeli use of dug in T-34’s as part of the HAGMAR (Peripheral Defense Array). One cannot deny the IDF are masters of experiential learning.

The T-3 HAGMAR vehicles are covered by walk around color photos. If you love painting rust, this chapter will have you peeing circles around yourself like an excited puppy. Yes, it’s that good.

The final chapter covers the “Lebanese Mire” and again is full of fascinating information and pictures.

The chapters are followed by two appendices, one covering Arab markings on T-34 turrets along with translations, and a timeline of T-34 usage in the Middle East.

There were some interesting takeaways for me from this book. First, even though the IDF did not actually equip any of their armor battalion’s with the T-34, they did find some very interesting uses for it. Also, this book isn’t strictly about the T-34, they cover quite a bit of captured armor and I found a number of pictures that have inspired some future projects. I’ve now decided that my Tamiya Archer will sport a nice coat of Egyptian sand. One other thing that was a bit unusual was the method of printing the photos. The color photos are exceptionally crisp and well produced, but the black and white photos are reproduced in two different styles, one is your bog standard black and white, which is very clear and well done. The second style is a bit of a sepia tone and the production values are also very high. It’s a bit unusual, but it works.

Even though I’m not a big T-34 fan, I found this book excellent and full of useful information and I got some inspiration for several future projects. I’m also very excited about what the future volumes will cover and I shall be watching the “Upcoming Good Stuff” page over at Last Cavalry with bated breath.

I purchased my copy from Last Cavalry at www.lastcavalry.com