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Israeli Halftracks Vol 1

Israeli Halftracks Vol 1 Book Review

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2009 Title Israeli Halftracks Vol 1
Author Tom Gannon Publisher Barbarossa Books
Published 2009 ISBN 978-1-84768-001-3
Format 172 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £27.50 (approximately US $44.85)


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 “whatzit” 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 “sandwich” trucks. On first reading I wryly thought it may have been their adding armor to what we Americans refer to as “roach coaches” 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 “kibbutzim” from Arab snipers. I was not aware of how many different vehicles were actually used, nor how inventive the Israelis were.

The term “sandwich” 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.

Overall this book is 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 of Barbarossa Books for the review copy.