A new author has come to my attention from Israel, this author is Andrey Firstov and the first title I have seen from him is titled ‘Surviving T-34 Tanks in Israel - Pillbox Tanks - Monuments – Museum Exhibits’. This offering is described by the author as a photo book, but it represents so much more to me as a modeller than just photographs; so let’s dissect the contents to provide you all with an insight to what I see presented here.
This offering from Andrey Firstov is a soft backed book of 168 pages. The cover of the book is card and does a good job of protecting the pages within; my copy was sent from Israel and was not boxed, it arrived with a dink in the cover and no damage on the inside. The paper inside is a good quality gloss offering that displays the photographs to a good standard.
The book layout has been well tackled in this book being presented in a logical manner. The introduction provides a brief history of the T-34 and how they came to be present in Israel. This is followed by a series of period photographs from a number of sources including the author in black & white covering the Sinai War and Six Day War. This is followed by 11 black & white photographs from the album of Brigadier General Uri Ben Ari. These starters for 10 take us into the main subjects of the title in a positive way.
Pillbox Tanks are the first area covered in the title from the main subject areas. There are six T-34 pillboxes covered in this area of the title and these are:
T-34 in Kibbutz Gesher
T-34 in Kibbutz Ma’agan
T-34’s in Kibbutz Ashdot Ya’akov
T-34’s in Kibbutz Neve Ur
T-34 near Pundak Maayan
T-34 near Deir Hijleh Monastery
The sections above are all accompanied with a short introduction that enables you to gain some of the all important details we as modellers seek. The pictures are all provided in colour and are off a very high standard in my opinion. The pictures do have captions with them, but they are not supplied with each individual image. The captions in this area tend to highlight specific areas of interest and will be very useful for any modeller using this reference for a diorama.
Monuments and Wrecks is the next area of the book and it is the wrecks that hold my attention for the most parts due to the amount of extra information you can glean from them that would normally be hidden. There are nine tanks covered in this section of the title which are:
T-34 in Kibbutz Ein Gedi
T-34 in Even Yehuda
T-34 in Kfar Ma’as
T-34 in Kibbutz Afikim
T-34 at 7th Brigade Memorial
T-34 at Old Oil Road Area
T-34 at Banias Reserve
T-34 at Kibbutz Dan
T-34 at Kibbutz Gonen
This section of the book shares the same attributes of the previous section as regards introducing the vehicle covered and captions with the images. An aspect I liked about this area is the detail shots that show how the weather affects the paint and metal used for and on the tanks. The very last vehicle the T-34 at Kibbutz Gonen is a great one for the scratch builders as it shows the vehicle at various stages of being changed from a weapon of war to an agricultural vehicle; in this case adding a cherry picker and used to trim Poplar Trees.
The last area of this offering looks at Museum Exhibits and covers three museums with T-34 exhibits. The museums covered are:
Latrun Tank Museum
Beit Hatotchan Artillery Museum
Batei HaOsef IDF History Museum
The vehicle covered at Latrun Tank Museum is an Egyptian T-34/100 SPG, the author has also added some images of the two standard T-34’s on display. I have to say that other than one of the T-34’s having a spiked gun they have been extremely well cared for which is commendable.
The vehicle at the Beit Hatotchan Artillery Museum is a Syrian T-34/122. The exterior of the vehicle has been maintained to a very high standard, but the interior is not in the same great condition. With that said this is a very nice inclusion in a book where I expected to see conventional T-34’s only.
The Batei HaOsef IDF History Museum offers some interesting vehicles to look at from the T-34 family. The first offerings is an SPK-5; this is basically a stripped T-34 hull with the addition of a 5 ton cran to assist in the field with maintenance of the vehicles. We are then presented with a T-34/100 which is again in exceptional condition. A standard T-34 makes it into the mix as of course it should with some nice detail shots. Another inclusion is a T-34/D30, a vehicle I have never heard of. That brings the section to a close and I was expecting the book to also end there but no.
AT the rear of this offering there are three build features to really drag the modeller in. The first of these is a knocked out T-34 with just the front end remaining. This build is produced by Vladimir Yashin who shows in detail how he has painted and weathered this portion of T-34 and ended up with an exceptional finish.
The next model is of a Syrian T-34/D-30 produced by Domingo Hernandez. This build really looks at kit bashing and scratch building by taking parts from other models and also resin moulding extra parts. This model is finished with a very heavily faded paint scheme with a well applied weathering finish.
Last up is a T-34 finished as a bunker by Miroslaw Serba. This build does use some scratch building but I feel is the one I would most like to tackle. The model is finished in an emplacement with a well weathered paint scheme.
That does bring the book to an end with a dedication to the author’s Grandfather.
I really like the presentation style of this book as a visual reference and the writing style is well done. My only dislike is the block capital text used in the captions under the period photographs. The photography has been well done with the author providing good overall reference of each subject within the confines of the books ultimate size. All told this is a welcome addition to my library and for anyone interested in the Arab – Israeli wars.
This book can be ordered via [email protected]