In October, 1973 I had just started my second year of high school when the daily evening news reports from the Vietnam War were interrupted by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. The pictures of the armored battles going on in the Middle East caught my attention as, in my mindís eye, they harkened back to the large scale battles of World War II that I had read about in many histories. Prominent in the news reports of Israelís armored force were the Centurion tanks Israel had acquired through various sources. I immediately had the non-PC thought: that is a cool looking tank and I have been fascinated with them ever since.
Now, 36 years later, Dr. Robert Manasherob has published the first volume in a planned series that, when completed, will be ďThe Complete Guide to Centurion Tanks in Israeli Service.Ē The first book in the series to appear is Centurion Tanks of the IDF, Shot Kal Alef, Vol. 3. Dr. Manasherob states in his foreword that he is a modeler himself and has aimed this series squarely at modelers and hopes it provides modelers access to the types of detailed information they want when building a particular vehicle. To say the least, I think Dr. Manasherob has accomplished that goal.
a look inside
The book is 80 pages in length with information on the camouflage and markings on the inside of the bookís back cover. Within these 80 pages the reader will find a well-written history of what I will call the middle period of Centurion service with Israel, that is, an explanation of the Shot Kal upgrade package and a portion of the Centurion Shot Kal Alefís service during the Yom Kippur War itself. Initially, I learned the Shot Kal upgrade package was far more extensive than I ever imagined and included, among other things, a new diesel power plant, additional fuel tanks, and the replacement of the original 20 pound main gun with the more powerful British 105 mm L7 gun. Dr. Manasherob also points out the Shot Kal upgrade effort paved the way for the development of Israelís own Merkava program. Next, the book discusses the service of the 7th Brigade vehicles on the Golan Heights during the last days of the war and the early part of the ceasefire. I must point out, most of the text deals with the upgrade effort and not the Yom Kippur War. Also, Dr. Manasherob points out there will be a complete book dealing with the Shot Kal tanks in action so this section does not profess to be a complete combat history.
The book contains, by my count, 74 period black and white photographs that are well-produced throughout the text in a format reminiscent of that found in Concordís AFV books. Among these photographs are many detailing the upgrade effort and the actions of the 7th Brigade on the Golan Heights. The photographs have informative captions explaining what is shown in the photograph.
There are also 12 scale line drawings of different Shot Kals, some seen in the photographs. Most of the drawings contain left, right, front, back and top views. They also have captions explaining salient features of the vehicle portrayed.
There are, again by my count, 221 walkaround photographs of a Centurion Shot Kal Alef in the Latrun Museum. These color photographs show the kind of items the most detail oriented modeler craves. The photographs are clear and well-produced. Dr. Manasherob addresses the problem common in museum pieces by pointing out where the museum specimen has more modern updates than the Shot Kal Alef visible.
Finally, there are 9 color prints of different Shot Kal Alefs. These color profiles by Arkadiusz Wrobel are very well done and include detailed captions.
It is hard to find a fault with this volume. My only critical comment is the text could have used a more thorough proof reading as there are a sizable number of typographical/grammar/missing word type mistakes.
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