The U.S. produced IH, White, Autocar and Diamond T Half-Track series are, at least in the technical sense, well-covered. What is not as detailed is their operational history - particularly when in service of the many nations who used the numerous variants produced. Unfortunately, we don't (as yet) have much published material which covers the 'other' users such as Britain, France or the many Post-War users. Therefore, the announcement of an entire series covering the Half-Track in its almost 30 years of I.D.F. service had me turning virtual cartwheels.
In my naivety, I assumed (incorrectly) that the M2 & M3 Series were the first of this class of vehicles to equip the (then) fledgling Israeli Defence Force. They weren't, they came later....
Israeli Half Tracks - Volume 1 from SabingaMartin is an 80-page, A4 format softcover which is written by Dr. Robert Manasherb. Within its pages are 300 black & white and color photos, 1/35 scale line drawings, (commissioned) color profiles and a section on Tactical Markings. What is also there, is considerable time spent in the archives and a lot of years of research.
Within this part of the Review I'll look more closely at the actual content of the book.
The first 5 pages contain a useful overview of the situation which existed in 1947. This helps the reader to understand why the H/T was such a useful vehicle to the I.D.F. and the situation which then existed - particularly the imperative to maintain open lines of communication and protect convoys moving between Israeli-controlled territory and the dangerous 'no-man's' land which existed beyond the population centers. The story is also told of the incredible ingenuity demonstrated by the Israelis in not just obtaining the materiél that was necessary for their survival but actually getting it through the arms embargo which had been placed on Israel. Although it is by necessity brief, there's a lot there.
The First Set of Plans:
Almost, by means of an introduction to the next section, three pages of 1/35th scale plans of the M5. The vehicle is shown in the typical (of that period) I.D.F. configuration armed with twin MG34s on the 'Skate' rail.
First visit Into the Photo Archives:
12 pages cover contemporary images of the H/T in action. All of the vehicles in this section are of the M5 in the role of convoy escort or personnel carrier. The photos are remarkably good and well-chosen with many details such as, armament (unlike our usual concept of the H/T, many of these vehicles were armed with MG34s rather than M2 Brownings) and markings. Also invaluable, for those who wish to 'populate' their models, the many styles of uniform have some very interesting possibilities.
The Second Set of Plans:
Once again, the basic vehicle is the M5 (IH manufacture), this time though with the heavy front bumper winch fitted. On a purely practical level, this would have been invaluable when the vehicle was being used as a convoy escort. The ability to drag damaged or broken-down vehicles off the road would have been a veritable life saver.
The Story of a Halftrack Driver:
This has seven pages of personal reminiscences (and many photos) from Dr. Ralph Lowenstein who served with the I.D.F. from 1948. It gives a very interesting personal view of the war from one of its combatants.
The First Variant?:
The next section has four pages of archive photos of the improvised flame thrower fitted onto some of the vehicles. No, I'd never heard of it either...
Another Set of plans:
This time the subject is the M5 with flame thrower. Once again, 3 pages of 1/35th scale plans.
The first 'Walk-Round':
Fortunately, for the modeler who'd like to model this variant, one of the museums in Israel has a well-preserved example of the projector. Four pages of (color) detail shots are given covering it from every conceivable angle and clearly shows the construction of both the projector and it's fuel tank. To get the dimensions correct, 1/35th scale plans are also provided.
The Second Walk-Round:
Taken at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation at Portola, California, 30 pages of the most detailed images of the suspension, engine, transmission and running gear of an M5 are presented. Fortunately they were taken while the vehicle was under refurbishment as the vehicle is literally down to its individual components.
Camouflage & Markings:
This (penultimate) section takes an overview of another area vital for the modeler. The I.D.F.'s interpretation of Olive Drab (varied depending on who was mixing the paint that day?), tactical markings, registration numbers and the frequently-seen chalked slogans and personal names are all covered.
The Color Plates:
The book finishes with 6 pages of commissioned color plates which are very-well executed by Arkadius Wróbel, a variety of vehicles on different fronts are shown.
As I said in my introduction, for some reason, I was convinced that the first Israeli H/Ts were M2/M3s. Therein, for the modeler, lies the first problem. I don't (unless someone at DML Towers has a brainstorm) expect to see an M5 anytime soon. It's a pity as there were a large number of users of the M5 & M9. Commercially, it'd probably be an expensive suicide note. So, with the modeling inspiration provided in the book by Robert Manasherb, another outlet will have to be found!
At the purely 'historical' level the book is frankly fascinating. The descriptions of the many subterfuges put into place cutting the armor off in a particular way so it could be re-welded later on, is just one of many in the introduction. However, as not all modelers are history buffs, let's go back to its value for the modeler.
The (Early) I.D.F. is frankly an area I'd never much considered as a rich vein for modeling. The book has definitely made me want more on the subject. The book's structure is very logical, text and captions are excellent, but the real stars of the show, at least from my point of view, are the archive photos.
Personally, although from a modeler's point of view, the walk-round images are useful, I'd have preferred less pages dedicated to these and more to the archive material.
Inevitably the problem with THIS book, is not the (extraordinary) work done by Robert Manasherb, but rather the lack of a 'prototype'. We don't (as yet) have an M5 available in kit form and conversion is a pretty daunting prospect. However, with the next books in the series, when the M2 & M3 can be seen in I.D.F. service, some interesting projects WILL become more practical.
An absolutely superb work which bodes well for the future books in this series.
My personal thanks to Dr. Robert Manasherb for the opportunity to review this book.
Highs: Inevitably, the subject area. The breadth of coverage is also a real 'plus'. Lows: The lack of an M5 kit (or a practical conversion set) will make some of the projects suggested by this book very difficult. Verdict: An excellent book which gives even more possibilities to the modeling of the ubiquitious U.S. Half Track series.
Our Thanks to SabingaMartin Publications! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...