book Blue Steel
T-55 tanks in South Lebanon
by Moustafa El-Assad
P.O.Box: 716 Saida Lebanon

70 pages soft cover

Review by Terry Ashley
This book has been available for a while but worth having a look at as it deals with an often overlooked subject, that of tanks of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) before it dissolved into history in early 2000.

In the soft cover format familiar to Concord book readers the book has 70 pages with mostly colour photos plus the odd B&W and are mostly opportunistic type photos of SLA T-55 and Ti-67 Tiran tanks that give a good feel for the tensions of the times.

The book commences with a few pages giving a brief rundown on T54/55 tanks in the Middle East and of the T-55 and Ti-67 Tiran’s used by the SLA with the rest of the book devoted to photos showing the many and varied cam schemes as well as the fittings and upgrades of the SLA Ti-67’s inherited from Israel.

There are numerous shots of active service tanks as well as destroyed and abandoned tanks and those ‘occupied’ by the local population when the SLA ceased to exist.

Of particular interest are the shots of the T-55s modified as open topped APCs which had the turrets removed and replaced with a low superstructure of 10-12mm plates with internal seating. Over 12 pages with a series of excellent photos is shown the later APC type which retained the turrets but had the main gun removed and replaced with 3 machine gun stations at the front and both sides with armoured windows about the MG mounts for sighting and these would certainly make for an interesting model unlike any other T-55.

The final 4 pages have photos of a model of the later APC under construction and while the photos are small (15 to a page) and there is no text they show many of the features and modifications added to the turret and hull of the APC and would be a big help if you wanted to tackle this interesting conversion.  

Overall this is an excellent book on this overlooked subject with many excellent photos of the SLA T-55 and Ti-67 Tiran tanks and crews that offer many diorama possibilities and as mentioned is the turreted APC which just cries out to be built by fans of Middle Eastern armour.

Highly recommended

Sample pages

Note: Book 2 of the Blue Steel series will be available shortly which should be of equal interest.
See the website for ordering details and thanks to Moustafa El-Assad for the review copy.

Page created November 2, 2006

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