Sunday, March 16

Review: Desert Eagle Publications - Achzarit Heavy APC in IDF Service

Today we read the new Desert Eagle book on the Achzarit Heavy APC in IDF Service –  with a large interest in this vehicle after the recent MENG kit this book looks to be an all-in-one reference for the type – is it all we would expect? Let’s see in  our review…

Desert Eagle Publications - Achzarit Heavy APC in IDF Service
(Desert Eagle Publishing No. 8)
by Michael Mass & Adam O’Brien
A4 Paperback - 84 pages
Desert Eagle Publishing
ISBN-10: 9659163541
ISBN-13: 978-9659163540
Available from: Ronnels hobbies - (

We recently took a look at the Desert eagle publishing book chock full of detail on the massive D9 Armoured bulldozer in Israeli service by Michael Mass & Adam O’Brien.  We liked it very much and so we persuaded our favorite book seller Ron from Ronnels hobbies ( to send us Desert Eagle’s latest title on the “Achzarit Heavy APC in IDF Service”

This book features the hitherto unknown to me before the MENG kit Achzarit Heavy APC that is conglomerate of many different parts that was once based on the T-62 Main battle tank captured and converted from the IDF’s war bounty from their not so friendly neighbors. I was interested mostly in what makes one interested in a turretless conversion of an old Russian MBT. I just didn’t get why it was an interesting choice for a model let alone a book. Knowing what desert eagle and MENG do I thought there might be some merit in reading this and getting to know what the buzz is about.
This A4 portrait format book comes with a shiny soft cover, it is eighty four pages full of pictures in colour well framed and focused, that give you a detailed look at this AFV in all aspects. Indeed the pictures are a plus of this tittle as it is sometimes hard to get hold of shots of IDF vehicles especially sensitive areas like the internal cabs and weapons.

We start off with the revelation that the Author Michael Mass used to be a mechanic on this very type of vehicle (T55/62’s) with his career in the IDF, so what better reason to write a pictorial about it? At least I could trust the author was my first thought.

Michael goes through the history of this odd vehicle, through the capturing of the base vehicles and the attempts to make them useful to the IDF through to the pitfalls of the initial design we learn why this vehicle is basically a turret-less T-62 with a new power pack and suspension! They seem to have taken all the good part and improved on them and left the bad parts off.
Conversion to the Heavy APC is detailed here along with the rear powerplant move and just why it is positioned to one side. They really did think about this vehicle and how to get the best out of them.  After this historical development into the “east” and West” versions (explained inside) I am starting to develop some interest in this tank.

The next part and most of the rest of the book is a detailed walk around and in action portfolio of the “cruel lady” and the men who serve in her.

In three or two to a page layout with some text to illustrate what is going on we get to see the Achzarit on manoeuvres in the desert and in towns, then the men (and women) who serve inside her in action and at rest.
The next section is very valuable to the modeller. “In Detail” shows every nook and cranny of the exterior of this APC.  We start by going over the hull looking up close at most all of the vehicle, taking time to note little items of interest through numbered pictures married up with text. We are also explained and shown further the details in two separate sections of the “Eastern/early” and “Western/Late” APC’s in service. The suspension and running gear along with the different types of hatches and viewing ports along with the weapons systems mounted and fired remotely on top of the tank.
The very cramped and dated looking interior is vastly different to the updated exterior of this tank. We see lots of very well lit and clear pictures of the entire cramped interior of the Achzarit – it’s funny to think of everyone cramped in here at once – thank goodness for ladies in the IDF eh?

The Powerplant – mounted on the side to allow crew access/egress is explored in detail, both inside the hull and mounted on a stand so you can see it all in better detail this will be a great tool for modellers as I know I hadn’t seen a decent view of this in a brief search on the internet as a test. You really do see all of the engine and cooling plant in these shots.
We look at the smart solution to turn the Achzarit into an ambulance – I guess if you make these vehicles to protect your relatively small number of troops on the way to the field it might as well take them back!

We also explore the varied and interesting tactical symbols and signs on the sides of these AFV’s in service along with the “LIC” or “low Intensity Combat” variant in several pictures but limited info.
Lastly the little (1/72nd) Achzarit which is modelled here my the very talented modeller (and editor and layout guy on this book) Adam O’Brien. This is a great little representation of the Cromwell resin kit. It looks very good even in this scale and Adam has included a lot about the tools he used, painting weathering and the like – but part of me longs to see a build guide on the MENG kit which has sparked so much interest? Perhaps Desert Eagle could get a build log on their website with downloadable content – perhaps with a code from this tittle? An idea but perhaps a selling point to those who assumed that with the collaboration of Desert Eagle with MENG that it would just be here in the book? The MENG kit was not out when this book was released so I understand this omission – but it would be good to have something from Adam on the MENG variant and the accuracy/fit etc.
Well that is the whole book – a real hit as far as the Achzarit or IDF fans go and a great intro to “greenhorns” like myself before unknown to the type. Apart from the lack of MENG’s kit this touches and surpasses my expectations all round.  If you are interested in the Achzarit or want to model it you need this book.

Adam Norenberg
I got my copy from the excellent Ronnels Hobbies - thanks Ron!