by Moustafa El-Assad
P.O.Box: 716 Saida Lebanon
94 pages soft cover
Review by Terry Ashley
Following on from the first two Blue Steel books, Moustafa El-Assad has now released this special edition covering the UNIFIL operations in Lebanon in 2006 and again follows the same soft cover format as the Blue Steel books.
There is a two page introduction explaining some of the history and events leading up to the deployment of the UNIFIL forces and the book is then divided into chapters on the 11 foreign forces making up UNIFIL and of the IDF and Lebanese forces.
Each chapter is made up of semi-close up photos of the vehicles and personal with photos captions being the only text but these are quite descriptive in describing the photos.
The French Battalion Pages 8 to 33:
The first 10 pages show the various French vehicles still in their three colour cam schemes just after disembarkation with the next 14 pages having shots of the vehicles after receiving their overall white UN paint scheme which should make painting the models very easy while applying the subtle weathering could be a challenge on the white base, but take note there is not a paint chip to be seen.
The photos are mostly semi-close up and offer some excellent vehicle details especially of the Leclercs and AMX-30Ds and still being in their European can scheme will be useful when modelling the vehicles in other locations as well as some excellent overhead shots of the Leclercs from front and back showing some turret roof and engine deck details not seen from ground level shots.
Vehicles featured being:
Leclerc T-6 MBTs
Various softskin trucks and 4 x 4s and logistic vehicles
The Italian Battalion Pages 34 to 45:
This sections follows the same formula where the first half shows the Italian vehicles in their three colour cam scheme before being painted in the UN white finish, this again gives some nice details for finishing the vehicles in either scheme.
There are quite a few images showing the troops and their personal weapons which add an additional dimension to the images.
The vehicles featured in both the cam and white schemes are:
VCC APC (M113 derivative)
IVECO Trucks – semi-armoured and soft skin
IVECO LMV Lynx semi-armoured
Various logistic vehicles
Of particular interest are two pages with five good sized images of the massive eight wheeled B1 Centauro with its 105mm main gun with shots in both green and white finish. This is an impressive looking vehicle even more so IMHO than the Stryker MGS and if kit makers wanted a modern vehicle to kit, this would be a good option.
The Spanish Battalion Pages 46 to 61:
The majority of vehicles in this section still retain their standard cam scheme with just a couple of pages with white painted vehicles and again the photos have a good mix of semi-close up vehicle shots and troop pics showing uniform and weapon details.
Vehicles featured include:
Hummers, both standard and TOW
MOWAG Piranha III 8x8
VEC 6x6 Scout Vehicle
URO VAMTAC 4x4
Another nice collection of pics and again offers more vehicles such as the Piranha III and VEC that would be welcomed in 1:35 kit form.
The Russian Battalion Pages 62 to 68:
This section focuses on the troops with some excellent shots showing uniform and weapons details with just a few pics of various logistic vehicles.
The Irish Battalion Pages 69 to 72:
All the vehicles in this section are painted white with some good all around shots almost entirely of the MOWAG Piranha III 8x8 used by the Irish and make for an interesting comparison with the Spanish Piranhas in terms of armament fitted.
The Ghana Battalion Pages 73 to 75:
This section again features all white painted vehicles with all but one photo showing the GHANBATT SISU 6x6 APC with both the SISU LMG turret and larger NSVT turret with a single photo of the RG31 CHARGER 4x4 with the photos giving some interesting views of these lesser known vehicles.
The Lebanese Battalion Pages 76 to 81:
While not actually part of UNIFIL Lebanese Army units also participated in the peace keeping operation with the pics being a mix M113 variants and ex Israeli Tiran MBTs in their standard cam finishes with a number of shots also showing the crew uniforms and person weapons.
The Israeli Battalion Pages 82 to 84:
This brief section shows some of the Israeli units also stationed in the area with shots of various Armoured Hummers and Merkava IIID tanks with a couple of shots showing the Nakpadon engineer vehicle.
The Belgian Battalion Pages 85 to 90:
All the Belgian vehicles are again in white finish with a mixture of semi-close up shots of various M113 types including the YRP plus a few shots of the Pandur 6x6 and the BELLUBATT Dingo II 4x4 for another interesting collection of vehicles.
The Chinese Battalion Pages 91 to 92:
A couple of pages on the Chinese Battalion showing various logistic vehicles but without much detail.
The Indian, Indonesian and Turkish Battalions Page 93 to 94:
The final two pages give a very brief mention of these UNIFIL participants with a single vehicle photo for each and is just basically to included them in the list.
As with the previous Blue Steel books this is must have reference for anyone interested in the ongoing Military operations in the Lebanon and includes a good selection of vehicles not often seen operating together.
There are some impressive vehicles on show here with the French Leclerc, AUF-1 and VAB already available in kit form but numerous others that would be more than welcomed in 1:35 plastic. These include the Italian B1 Centauro, the Spanish Piranha III 8x8 and VEC 6x6 to name just a few with the images in the book giving good details of most vehicles featured.
Highly recommended 8/10
See the website www.blue-steel.info for ordering details and thanks to Moustafa El-Assad for the review copy.