Modelling and Expanding your knowledge of the IDF in Team Yankee

Modelling and Expanding Your Knowledge of the IDF
With Gary Wait

If you’re like me, you’re probably mad keen to put together some Israeli vehicles for Team Yankee. What you see in the pictures and box art is an ideal picture of what the Israeli Defence Force vehicles should look like. Of course, like most armies on campaign, the troops loved to customise their vehicles and add further field improvements. 

This article seeks to give some ideas to modellers as well as some short background on the vehicles and units. 

Here’s just a few things to note and is a suggested starting point for your new Israeli Force:

To do justice to the M60 Magach models, the smoke dischargers were removed and replaced by a 60mm smoke mortar which thankfully doesn’t need to be modelled.  I’ve gone to town on my Magachs and used a very sharp hobby knife to remove both of the smoke dischargers where possible. Be very careful when doing so as you don’t want to affect the armour and definitely don’t take off a finger in the process!

Modelling and Expanding your knowledge of the IDF in Team Yankee

M113s shouldn’t have the trim vane attached to the front hull.   Most M113’s – known officially as the Bardelas (“Cheetah”), but unofficially as the Zelda (after an Israeli poem)– weren’t amphibious. One merchanised formation, the Givati Brigade, still trained in amphibious assaults so having the trim vane isn’t wrong entirely. In case you’re wondering, the trim vane is a wooden rectangular piece of timber attached to the front of the M113 which was adjustable to provide assistance for amphibious operations. It is only used when crossing water obstacles and is essential for this, so not having it would imply the vehicle doesn’t float. Similarly, the track shrouds (side skirts) on the sides of your M113 aren’t necessary if you don’t want to represent this Givati Brigade.

Modelling and Expanding your knowledge of the IDF in Team Yankee

While working on your M113 Zeldas, try adding some stowage from AIS672 – Israeli Stowage. Photos from the Lebanon War show a caravan-like plethora of stowage on the sides of the APC’s as crews would live in the vehicles for weeks on end. I personally also add extra spare jerry cans to my vehicles where possible too, adding to the individualised look for the vehicles. Often without the trim vane mounted, crews would put blankets and jerrycans and other personal items on the front of their M113 Zelda. This can further provide character to your army.

Of course, the Israeli Stowage pack does include the peculiarly Israeli exhaust fitting to go over the right hand exhaust outlet which helps customise the vehicle further.

Because the troops were nervous about the RPG threat in Lebanon, often M113 units would have the rear access door (the small one on the back ramp) left open when travelling distances to enable escape in need.  This along with the top cargo hatch being left open adds a bit more flavour for the time.

 M109A1 self propelled artillery were known as “Rochev” (Hebrew for “Rider”) at this time.  If you have any spare stowage after fitting out your Zeldas, it was common to add extra stowage boxes to the turret sides of the M109 Rochev.  Another frequent field modification was to add one or two Jerry cans to the left and right sides of the M109. Again, the lived in look was popular amongst troops.

Israeli M163 air defence vehicles were known as Hovet (slang for someone who slams or hits)  and like the M113’s above, were not usually amphibious. It was very common to only have the front floatation device attached to the hull, while the sides were usually featured with additional stowage (much like the Zelda). Some M163’s had no floatation device at all and of course, no trim vane either. Feel free to customise stowage with more packs and equipment from the above noted AIS672 – Israeli Stowage pack. Spare ration boxes would often be stowed on the rear of the vehicle.

For interest’s sake, the Redeye missile system was known as the “Bazak”, which is the Hebrew word for lightning.   The Improved TOW system was known as “Orev” (“Crow” in English) while the patrol jeep is known as “Djapas” which is just an acronym  The Skyhawk was known as “Ayit” (“Eagle” in English). Any time you refer to a command team, it’s a “Pikud” or Command team.