Tank Battles in Miniature: A wargamer’s guide to the Arab-Israeli Wars since 1948
For the princely sum of £1.70 plus £7 postage I purchased a second hand copy of this book via Amazon Marketplace. I stayed up late last night reading it from cover to cover and feel it is worth every penny.
Written in 1978, a mere five years after the Yom Kippur conflict the book suffers from being too close to the conflict to have benefited from information that may have come to light later, and Quarrie readily admits this. Yet it has some extremely useful information, especially regarding ATGMs and the way that they were treated and perceived. He describes the evolution of of ‘watch and dodge’ to deal with saggers, and the dent in the Israeli tank hubris as a result of the first days of the war. He points out the lessons that the Israeli tanks commanders seemed to have forgotten by 1973 about concentration of force and effective combined arms tactics. He does this all in a succinct style designed to get the gamer’s head into the nuts and bolts of the Arab-Israeli wars. I particularly liked chapter 2 – What it was really like where he quotes from Shabtai Teveth’s Tanks of Tammuz in order to set the scene for the gamer of how combat in swirling melees of Cold War armour was experienced by the ordinary tanker .
The book’s contents are:
1 Prelude to conflict – The Middle East and the establishment of Israel up until 1948
2 What it was really like – extracts from Tanks of Tammuz
3 Chronology of the Arab-Israeli Wars 1948-1973 – a succinct review of the politics, wars and campaigns
4 Israeli Armoured Fighting Vehicles – the essentials – armour, speeds, armament etc. Interestingly he mentions the Merkava as it is just being introduced.
5 Arab fighting vehicles – as above but for the other side.
6 Anti-tank missiles and recoiless weapons
7 Towed artillery and anti-tank guns
8 Rocket artillery
9 Infantry weapons
10 Organisation and tactics
13 Playing rules
14 Skirmish-type games
15 Aerial warfare, by Mike Spick
16 Aerial wargaming, by Mike Spick
17 The naval war
Appendix: Availability of model vehicles (in 1978!)
136 pages in total.
The rules are interesting in that Quarrie admits that they have not been playtested thoroughly (in a published book) and they were written for a then newly-emerging 1/300 scale. But what I find most interesting is that he abandons armour thicknesses and replaces these with generic categories of light medium and heavy. His rationale is that the weapons being used could pretty much penetrate anything within a certain category (eg. tanks guns could go through heavy armour) and individual thicknesses are not needed.
I won’t be using his rules, but they will give me some ideas to go with my Flames of War modifications.
Overall, I’m really glad I bought this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in gaming the conflicts as a primer. If you see it second hand, pick it up. Hopefully John Curry might end up reprinting it as part of his History of Wargaming project.