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Book Review of

“Israeli Improvised Armoured Vehicles & Jeeps: 1947-1949"

Review By Patrick Keenan - Editor

Basic Item Information

Title

Israeli Improvised Armoured Vehicles & Jeeps: 1947-1949

Author and Illustrators

Author: By John Myszka

Illustrations: Hubert Cance & J.L. Rue

Publisher

Mouse House Enterprises  – Australia

Series Number

Military Briefs No. 6

Subject

Early Israeli Wheeled Fighting Vehicles and Halftracks

Media

Soft Cover Book

Number of Pages

128

Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

(251) black/white photographs and (68) black/white illustrations

Text Language

English

Retail Price

$50 AUD ($52 USD)

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan

Review Date

December 11, 2012

Review Summary*

Review Type

Full Read

Basic Positive Features

Comprehensive and detailed coverage of rare vehicles not normally photographed and featured in other publications.

Basic Negative Features

Limited Availability

Recommendation

A Must Have for those interested in Israeli and/or Wheeled Fighting Vehicles

Photos

                                   

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Detailed Review

Ever since I first learned of the extensive use of armored cars and wheeled fighting vehicles by the Jewish Haganah (before the Israeli War of Independence) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) afterwards, I have been constantly on the lookout for references about those vehicles.  However, information and photos are few and far between and tend to be scattered over many books, websites and other sources.  Needless to say, when I heard about this book becoming available, I was ecstatic solely due to the potential for it filling many holes in my reference library.  Happily, I was NOT disappointed in the least.

Anyway, let’s start with the actual review.  This review is of the new Mouse House Enterprises book titled “Military Briefs 6: Israeli Improvised Armoured Vehicles & Jeeps: 1947-1949” and authored by owner John Myszka.  However, don’t let the “Brief” part of the title throw you off as the book is anything but short or abbreviated. In fact, besides the vehicles the title indicates are covered, the author also highlights Israeli armored cars and halftracks in this reference. 

The book is divided into the following sections, which I’ve pretty much listed verbatim from the “Contents” section.  Although you could construe my choice as being made due to laziness (which admittedly I am sometimes), I actually decided to do it this way as it is the best way to make you aware of the book’s specific contents and coverage.  In order, the sections are:

  • Introduction

  • Historical Background

  • Jewish Settlement Police

  • Mobile Guard Training & Organisation 1939

  • Israeli War of Independence

  • Sandwich Armour

  • Identification of Donor Vehicles

  • Civilian 1.5 & 3-ton Sandwich Armoured Trucks

  • 15cwt & 30cwt Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) Trucks

  • Roadblock Buster Trucks

  • US 1.5-ton 4x4 Trucks

  • US 2.5-ton 6x6 Trucks

  • The 2.5-ton 6x6 Armoured Truck

  • Turreted Sandwich Armoured Cars

  • Dodge 4x4 Weapons Carrier

  • M3A1 White Scout Car

  • 37mm Armed M3A1 White Scout Car

  • Installed Equipment (M3A1)

  • One-Off Improvised Armoured Cars

  • 15cwt & 30cwt CMP Based Armoured Cars

  • C15TA 37mm Armed Armoured Car

  • Otter Mark 1 Light Recce Car

  • Captured and Acquired Armoured Cars

  • Old Ironsides (Humber Light Recce Car)

  • Humber Scout Car

  • Morris (Light) Recce Car

  • Marmon-Herrington Mk IVF (Armoured Car)

  • War Booty

  • Turret & Cannon Armed Sandwich Armoured Cars

  • Israeli Half Tracks 1948-49

  • 20mm-Turreted Half Tracks

  • 6 Pounder Half Tracks

  • 37mm-Turreted Half Tracks

  • The IDF Use of Jeeps

  • Fitout (Jeep)

  • Armament (Jeep)

  • Armoured Jeeps

  • Armoured Busses

  • Hadassah Bus Run

  • Burma Road

  • Current Exhibits in Israel

  • Sandwich Armour Relics

  • Appendices

  • A – Israeli Operation During the Israeli War of Independence

  • B – Major Israeli Military Units Using Improvised Armoured Vehicles During the War of Independence

  • C – Selected Biography

  • D – Sandwich Armoured Models in 1/35 Scale

Photograph and  Illustration Quality and Selection

The quantity, quality and selection of photos provided in this book are exceptional.  First of all, the quantity of photos provided in the book by Mr. Myszka is an impressive 251 black & white photos.  Considering that finding photos of these vehicles is difficult at times (especially if you don’t speak/read Hebrew), that fact is even more impressive. 

As for the overall quality of the photos contained in the book, it is very good, especially considering the number provided, their content, age and sources of most of these photos.  Many are clear and crisp and even rival photographs taken in this day and age (except for them being black and white vs. color).  Obviously some photos are of only fair to good quality, but they were probably selected due to their rarity not their quality.  After all, a slightly fuzzy photograph of a rare vehicle is much better than none.  Finally, one must remember that many of these photographs were not taken by professionals; but taken by the young crewmen and soldiers themselves many years ago (in the mid to late 1940’s).

Regarding the selection of photos contained in this book, that is excellent as well.  Although most of the photographs provided by the author are of representative vehicles used to identify specific types/variants, there are detail photos included of many vehicles. Also, most of the photographs provided by the author are from contemporary sources which show the “real” vehicles in action”. Although there are some useful photos of current museum displays included as well, I believe that contemporary sources are generally more accurate.  After all, even though many museum displays are well done and accurate, some have been known to include inaccurate or incomplete restorations. 

In addition, the book contains 68 black/white illustrations drawn by Hubert Cance and J.L. Rue, a majority being 1/35 scale line drawings highlighting specific vehicles (15 vehicles with 4 views each).  The quality of the line drawings is very good especially as they are an important tool used by the author to help us readers identify and recognize the different variants/versions of the vehicles.  For instance, I found the line drawing sets of the four (4) different types of turreted M3A1 “White” Scout Cars identified by the author, a very welcome addition to the book.

Use as Reference

If you have an interest in early Israeli military vehicles, particularly during their War of Independence, you already know that reference material about them is limited.  In fact, photographs and information covering the vehicles highlighted in this book (improvised armored vehicles, armored cars, jeeps, etc) may be even harder to find.  And many times, the only material that is available is widely scattered over many different sources. So, the simple fact that this comprehensive book even exists could be considered its biggest positive quality. 

In addition, the scope of the book is incredibly large as well.  Not only does Mr. Myszka cover every type of improvised armored vehicle, jeep, and armored car  utilized by the Israelis during their War of Independence (that I am personally aware of), but they are covered quite extensively and in detail.  The aspects of the vehicles the author covers includes (but not limited to) history of use, donor vehicles (if applicable), development/manufacturing processes, installed equipment, fitted armor and armament packages. 

However, in my opinion the most welcome/useful information he provides is how to specifically identify each type of vehicle or production variant.  For example, referring back to the turreted M3A1 scout car; It was fielded/produced in four different production batches (e.g. “types”), each different from the others and containing specific unique features.  Mr. Myszka most ably describes the similarities and differences between the four types and uses well captioned photos and line drawings to help illustrate them.

Editing of Information/ Text Flow

The text flow (e.g. the writing ability of the author) and editing of the information that is provided is very good. The information is also provided in a logical and organized way and wasn’t confusing.  The author writes effectively and succinctly and is able to get his point across easily.

Quality of Print Medium

This edition is a sturdy 8” x 11 ½” soft cover book.  Although not as hearty as a hard cover book, the construction of the book’s binding facilitates normal use/reading; although probably wouldn’t hold up extraordinarily well with excessive use or abuse.  Also, the paper used for its cover is a bit thicker, and the paper used for its pages are about the same thickness, when compared to other books in the same quality/price range. 

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning of this review, without even seeing this book, I was JUST happy to know that a new reference covering Israeli wheeled fighting vehicles was being published.  Well, after fully reading and reviewing it I can safely say that the book has exceeded my initial high hopes.  I have been long looking for a single reference book that comprehensively covers early Israeli produced improvised armored vehicles and utilized jeeps and armored cars.  Although there were a few good references available, I hadn’t found exactly what I was looking for; until now.  This book is that one reference!

Mr. Myszka provides detailed information and many photographs/line drawings of rare vehicles not normally covered in other publications; or anywhere for that matter.  In addition, the author’s coverage of these vehicles and scope of his work is comprehensive. Not only does Mr. Myszka cover all Israeli improvised armored vehicles jeeps and armored cars utilized during their War of Independence, but they are each covered quite extensively and in detail.  The author addresses topics such as (but not limited to) history of use, donor vehicles, development/manufacturing processes, installed equipment, fitted armor, armament packages and specific identifying features of each vehicle covered. 

The only “negative” aspect of this book is its limited availability. At present there are only a few sales sources to buy the book.  Also, according to Mr. Myszka, only 200 copies of the book have been printed.  Although additional copies may be printed if sales of this first batch warrant it, there are no guarantees that additional copies will become available.

 

Recommendation: “A Must Have” for those interested in Israeli and/or Wheeled Fighting Vehicles

Thanks to John Myszka & Mouse House Enterprises for the Review Sample.

 

Copyright: Patrick Keenan - December 11, 2012