ARM: Book Review - "Israeli Halftracks" By Tom Gannon

Book Review: =93Israeli Halftracks=94 by Tom Gannon (two volume set), Barbarossa Books, Tiptree, Essex, 2009; Volume 1 (including Sandwich Trucks and Armoured Cars), pp. 1-172, ISBN 978-1-84768-001-3; Volume

2, pp. 173-392, ISBN 978-1-84768-002-0; prices - Vol. 1 UK=A327.50 (approximately US$44.85); Vol. 2, UK=A332.50 (approximately US$53.00) (website
formatting link
Advantages: first thorough coverage of this subject from the early days through their retirement and sales to other nations; detailed photo coverage suited to both modelers and historians; excellent layout and presentations

Disadvantages: may be considered expensive by some

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all modelers and fans of US and Commonwealth vehicles and halftracks

Tom Gannon is well-known in armor history and modeling circles for his work on American M4 series Sherman tanks, and has written a very definitive history of their service in the Israeli Defense Forces. After about a ten year gap, he has now added the next stage in his coverage of this unique and fascinating history with not one but two volumes on the use of halftracks and light armored vehicles by the IDF, starting in 1948 and moving up through the present.

In Chapter 1 of the first volume Tom begins with a basic =93whatzit=94 layout of the component parts of American WWII halftracks, and the basic differences in the various types.

Chapter 2 covers what the Israelis referred to as =93sandwich=94 trucks. On first reading I wryly thought it may have been their adding armor to what we Americans refer to as =93roach coaches=94 or mobile canteens, but I was not even in the ballpark! The Israelis used any truck they could find as well as a few busses to create light armored vehicles to both ferry troops and supplies and to protect the settlers and =93kibbutzim=94 from Arab snipers. I was not aware of how many different vehicles were actually used, nor how inventive the Israelis were.

The term =93sandwich=94 here covers armor protection which is made from two thin sheets of armor or steel plate with a filling of dirt, sand or concrete in between to stop small arms and grenade fragments from penetrating the vehicle. As shown here, surplus Canadian Ford and Chevrolet chassis were among the most popular and common, and the book covers just about every major conversion type made. Tom also adds some recommendations for modelers as to which kit to use if you wish to replicate the vehicles illustrated.

Chapter 3 covers armoured cars, mostly ex-Commonwealth vehicles to include the Daimler, Marmon-Herrington and US-built Staghound as well as converted White M3 scout cars. Once again since many of them were delivered without armament the Israelis had to improvise and some truly inventive if odd combinations show up.

Chapter 4 begins coverage of the halftracks. In the early days most of the halftracks obtained by the IDF were ex-Commonwealth, so they were either M5 or M9 series vehicles and not the US standard M2 and M3 types. While Tom covers them down to the smallest details and differences, it is only a bit unfortunate that there are no kits of these vehicles anywhere and only the recent kits of the American M2/M3 families to use for conversions. Photo coverage of these vehicles is both via combat and servicing operations and gives a very good overview of the use of these vehicles in the IDF.

Chapter 5 provides coverage of the initial conversions, including turreted vehicles and three self-propelled 6-pdr conversions. Tom was fortunate enough to get photos from one of the gun commanders as these are extremely are conversions and are NOT based on US 57mm SP gun variants.

In Volume 2 Tom begins Chapter 6 and coverage of the Israeli use of the White Scout Car and also the French AML90 armored car.

Chapter 7 is the =93meat=94 of the books, for it covers the post-1960 developments of the halftracks including their use and participation in both the 1967 and 1973 wars as well as other uses of the vehicles. Tom begins by commenting on the evolution of markings and registration numbers, pointing out that the IDF finally standardized these items into what we recognize today as pretty much normal force-wide applications. By this time the IDF had also pretty much cornered the market on halftracks, and now M2/M3 vehicles show up in the illustrations. Tom uses the IDF differentiation in armament and covers each vehicle with a detailed explanation =96 for example an =93M3 Type A=94 is any halftrack without a ring mount (albeit most modified ones show a ball mount for the co-driver/commander) and an =93M3 Type B=94 is one with the normal US M49 ring mount. Type C is any halftrack fitted with an 81mm mortar, and Type D is anyone with a 120mm Soltam mortar.

While the US used the M2 with side hatches for cargo and no rear door, the Israelis changed that and added the preferred rear door for troop access.

Photos include color shots of preserved variants in various Israeli museums such as Latrun. Details of each type are covered with modelers in mind, such as the later conversions in which the original gasoline engines were replaced by diesels and the air vents for the radiators plated over.

A very short section also covers captured BTR-152 wheeled APCs, which apparently did not enjoy great favor with the IDF.

The last chapter, Chapter 8, covers the various post 1960 conversions as well as vehicles handed off to the South Lebanese Army and other anti-Syrian militias. Also covered are ATGM launcher variants fittd with SS-11 wire guided missiles, 90mm SP guns using the DEFA gun, and one of the best known of the IDF conversions, the antiaircraft version with the TCM-20 turret mounting twin 20mm Hispano cannon from MD-450 Ouragan fighters on an M45 Maxson turret. A prototype fitted with twin Soviet 23mm guns is also covered.

The section also covers armored contact team vehicles (for forward maintenance) dubbed the =93Bambino=94 by the Israelis. Fitters=92 vehicles are covered as well as conversions designed to carry US S-250 type shelters for electronic equipment such as teletypes, multichannel radios and communications jammers.

Overall this book (or rather books) are outstanding, and modelers who feel they may be a bit expensive need to look at both the quality and depth of coverage of the subject as well as the quality of presentation. Compared with other publications today they are first- rate and worth the investment if you are a fan of either US halftracks or the IDF.

Thanks to Russell Hadler for the review samples.

Cookie Sewell

Reply to
Loading thread data ...

wich=94 trucks.

h is made from

Hi there.

Well those are two more books I won't be able to afford. :

Reply to
Master Gunner

c =93whatzit=94

ndwich=94 trucks.

ich is made from

the post-1960

ed APCs, which

60 conversions

d modelers who


Limited market and limited print runs equal high prices. It usually can't be helped even when you "self-publish" as you sell copies.

At least they give you the option of buying them one at a time rather than like the Hunnicutt books which cost $95 and up right up front!

Cookie Sewell

Reply to

sic =93whatzit=94

sandwich=94 trucks.

which is made from

arly days most

Israeli use of

rs the post-1960

arious Israeli

eled APCs, which

1960 conversions

and modelers who

Hi there Cookie.

Yes, I'm aware that the market area is small and therefore the return is too which leads to a higher price per unit. At least, as you pointed out, we have the choice of which volume to get that would be most useful to us. With luck, an we'll need lots of it, some libraries might get it. They do sound like very useful books.

Cheers again and thanks for your reviews. Peter

Reply to
Master Gunner

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.