Following their previous publication, which covered the Magach 6B Gal tank, Desert Eagle Publishing has recently issued their second book focusing on the Merkava Mk.3 Baz variant which appeared in the middle of the 90s. This was an upgrade from the first production run in utilizing the BAZ (Barak Zoher - Shinning Lightning) FCS, improved TC sighting system, improved loader's hatch and introduction of add-on roof armor. the Mk.3 Baz has been used in well photographed events since then such as the pullout from Lebanon and last year's fighting in the north and is the bassis for the Mk.3D that has additional armour modules that contribute to it's saucer shaped turret.
Desert Eagle's New Book
The soft cover book features 76 pages in A4 format and is crammed with 208 full colour pictures of Mk.3s in action, during maintenance in the field and at the motor pool, 19 pics of Legend's new Mk.3 Baz model, 9 drawings and 1 b&w photo.
The book's author is Lt. Col. (retired) Michael Mass, a well known persona among Israeli modelers and IDF modeling forums' members, curator of the Yad LaShirion memorial (the armor Museum in Latrun), and advisor to Legend Productions with whom the book was co-produced.
The book in detail
The book opens with the obligatory history of the Merkava tank and devotes 6 pages to introduce the reader to the development history of the tank and short descriptions of the prototype and each mark and it's batches, noting the major differences between them and also covering the Namer recovery vehicle and Namer IFV variants which are based on the Merkava hull. Each variant is portrayed in a single picture. Some of the pics in this section were taken in the north border during last year's fighting in southern Lebanon.
After this short introduction, the book cuts straight to the chase and introduces a series of Mk.3 Baz pics in maneuvers in the Golan heights, negotiating terrain and using towed bridges and the 4th generation Nochri mine roller device which is not often portrayed in pictures of Mk. 3s.
The book follows with pics of crewmen performing maintenance and rearming including pics of the powerpack being removed by ordnance personnel and pics of tankers installing tracks. These photos are especially valuable for scratch builders and diorama modelers who plan to portray the engine compartment open in a full interior model or as a part of powerpack replacement/depot/factory floor diorama and the crew pics give some ideas for maintenance dioramas or "in between action" scenes.
The next set of pics is a detailed walkaround featuring valuable pictures of the smoke dischargers, turret hatches, TC and Loader's MG mounts, wind sensor, turret basket, turret roof armor, chain and ball armor, gunner's sight, A/C and NBC module, TC's panoramic sight, mortar mount, laser warning system, main 120 mm gun detail, engine deck, rear hull access hatch, infantry phone, rear baskets, fuel filling caps, headlights, suspension, powerpack, side skirts and for the first time – all crewman stations are portrayed together with explanations of the components shown in the pic.
All pictures in the book are accompanied by captions. These captions contain info that was lacking in previous publications on the subject and review the various differences between Mk.3 variants, provide a look into the life of IDF armor crewmen and terminology and points out interesting detail in the pics which only someone in the know could provide which is where previous books about the Merkava tank fail in my opinion.
The book includes 3 pages explaining how to read IDF tactical signs (complete with real world dimensions of the letters and chevrons). This is the first time I have seen this information published outside official army manuals and is a must know for anyone planning on modeling an IDF vehicle as I have seen lots of great models brought down by illogical tactical designation markings thus portraying a tank that doesn’t exist.
The last 7 pages of the book are devoted to the new Legend Productions full kit of the Mk.3 Baz. Now, before you dismiss this section as an ad (well, it is the only Mk.3 Baz kit around with the only alternative being Legend's own conversions for the Academy Mk.3 kit which still leaves you with an incorrect lower hull), take notice that two pages of this section are devoted to a step by step painting and weathering guide of the model using Tamiya acrylics which is most valuable for achieving that elusive IDF grayish olive-green armor colour of modern Israeli AFVs.
This book is a great companion piece to the new Legend's Baz kit or any of the previous conversions. and is a must for any scratch builder who wants to add full or partial interior and would inspire diorama builders or supply a nice casual read for the armor buff who wants a break from WWII or mainstream modern reading material and is sure to satisfy even die hard IDF modeling afficionados due to the never before published pictures and the notes accompanying them.
The only gripe about the book is that it doesn’t feature pictures from actual operational service in the security zone in south Lebanon or "in the bush" during last year's operations but since these can be easily found on the net through Reuters and Getty image banks, this becomes a small issue when compared to what the book does offer.
It's also worth noting that Desert Eagle has a "counterpart" book in the works devoted to the up armoured Mk.3 Baz (often referred to as the Mk.3D).
Highs: lots of wonderful pictures that never been published before.a useful tactical markings guide and painting guide.Lows: no pics from operational deployment, no overview of the Mk. 3 in combat.Verdict: a must for IDF fanatics and anyone building a Mk.3.a great read for anyone else who has even the slightest intrest in the subject.
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