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The T-62 in Israeli-Arab Wars

The T-62 in Israeli-Arab Wars Book Review

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review February 2009 Title The T-62 in Israeli-Arab Wars: The Complete Guide to the T-62 in Wars Against Israel
Author Dr. Robert Manasherob Publisher SabInga Martin Publications
Published 2009 ISBN 978-0-9841437-1-9
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) US price not known

Review

Some people are just all around good, and Dr. Robert Manasherob is one of them. Not only is he a world class microbiologist, but he is a first rate historian and researcher in Israeli and Arab armored vehicles. While personally I am not into microbiology, I do follow Soviet armor and thus am glad he decided to write this new series and share his knowledge with us.

The book comes out at a very fortuitous time for modelers, as Trumpeter of China is releasing new state-of-the-art kits of the T-62 Model 1962 and T-62 Model 1972 tanks. As most of the Arab armies were equipped with either Model 1967 or Model 1972 variants of the tank, this book will provide an invaluable assist to anyone modeling either Soviet or Arab T-62 tanks.

Dr. Manasherob begins with an overview of the 1967 and 1973 wars and why this tank was such a threat during the ‘Yom Kippur’ war. He then goes into a short history of the creation of the T-62 tank and how it evolved from the T-54/T-55 designs. Basically he notes that it used the hull of the IT-1 (Ob”yekt 150) missile armed tank destroyer with a new turret and the U-5TS 115mm smoothbore gun to create a tank which the Soviets felt was superior to the Centurion, M60 and Leopard 1 armed with the British L7 105mm gun. As the Israelis had reequipped their Centurions with the L7 gun and also mounted it in their M48 tanks to bring them up to M60 levels, it was only natural that the Arab armies would seek out this tank to give them an edge in combat.

Starting with the rise of Hafez el-Assad in Syria in 1970, the Arabs began plotting to take back their lost lands from the 1967 war - Egypt to reclaim the Sinai, and Syria the Golan Heights. During the so-called War of Attrition, both countries steadily received large numbers of the new T-62 tank (both the Model 1967 and Model 1972 variants) to plus up their forces. Only elite divisions (read most loyal to the regime) received these tanks - the Syrian 1st and 3rd Armored Divisions and the Egyptian 15th and 25th Armored Divisions. The T-62s were concentrated in the Syrian 81st and 91st Armored Brigades in those divisions. (Not mentioned here are any of the tanks reportedly part of the Iraqi 3rd “Saladin” Armored Division, which participated under Syrian command in the ‘Yom Kippur’ war and lost 130 tanks in 20 minutes. This division achieved elite status in the Iraqi Army for “striking a blow at the Zionist entity” but its massive losses were never discussed.)

From this point on the book switches to photographic coverage of the Syrian and Egyptian tanks which were knocked out or captured during the course of the 1973 war. This constitutes three-quarters of the book and provides a tremendous amount of detailed photos of both destroyed and captured vehicles, to include their tactical markings and camouflage.

My only disappointment here was that none of the divisional/brigade markings are covered, which as they are quite colorful is a shame. Like the Iraqis, as a large number of the Syrians were semi-literate most of the markings consisted of colored geometric shapes and specific colors for each unit and subunit. The Syrians used a number of split circles and triangles in these two divisions but unfortunately no coverage is provided of these markings. The tactical markings, most consisting of 5XX turret “bort” numbers, is given prominence.

Of great use to modelers are three complete sets of plans of T-62 tanks: one Model 1967, one Model 1972, and a Model 1972 with the complete fittings for KMT mine trawls (mine clearers) in place. The last is a bit unfortunate, as it is actually a Model 1967 tank and to add to its misfortune the draughtsman got the gun barrel to pass UNDER the glacis splash plate! Other than those minor goofs, the plans are very well done and of great use to anyone modeling a Model 1967 or Model 1972.

The book concludes with 30 pages of color shots of T-62s from the Latrun museum and combat shots followed by eight paintings of Syrian and Egyptian tanks from the 1973 war. For some reason there are about 75 photos of T-62 wheels, and while it shows both intact and burned out wheels why so many were included escapes me.

The book contains at least 300 good clear photos of T-62s, and with the two good sets of plans (and the position of the mine clearing mounts is correct so they are also of use) it should be part of any T-62 modeler’s library.

Overall this a nice, clearly written and very well illustrated book which is of use to both Arab-Israeli and Soviet armor fans.

Thanks to Bill Miley for the review copy.

(NOTE: For anyone wanting to read the story behind what happened to the Syrians on the Golan Heights and the "Vale of Tears" I recommend reading the following book: "The Heights of Courage: A Tank Leader's War on the Golan" by Avigdor Kahalani, Greenwood Press, London 1984; 198 pp with illustrations; ISBN 0-313-24543-6)

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