Today Lee looks at the Israeli forces for Oil War in more detail.
Having resolved the Egyptian issue with the Camp David talks of 1978, Israel was free to focus its security forces on its Northern border, along the Golan Heights and the occupied regions of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Whilst its predominant foes of the time were insurgent/hybrid opponents of the PLO and Hezbollah, the 1982 Lebanon war saw Israeli ground and air forces engaging Syrian forces, seeing the first clashes between Syrian T-72M and Israeli Merkava MBT.
The Israeli force of the
Israel’s military development was very much focused on the lessons of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and this manifested in three systems that we see in Oil War.
- The Merkava Main Battle Tank – sacrificing mobility for armoured protection, the front mounted engine allowed for a rear hatch to improve crew ingress, casualty evacuation and resupply in static positions, all pre-requisites for refighting the 1973 defence of the Golan Heights.
Perehmissile carrier – A standoff missile launcher disguised as a Magach 5 tank that could provide long-rangemissile support to help counter Israel’s numerical inferiority.
- The Galil and Negev infantry weapons – During both wars, Israeli infantry tended to favour captured AK-47 assault rifles over their own FN FAL battle rifles. The Gali was based heavily on the AK-47 (via the Finnish ), but chambered for NATO 5.56mm, giving the infantry a handy, durable, albeit short ranged, automatic assault rifle.
All of this radically changes the composition of our core formations as we will see.
There are three tank formations on offer; the Merkava Mk.1, the Merkava Mk.2 and the Magach 6A (M60A1 Patton). All tanks have the same Courage, Morale, Counterattack, Skill (all 3+) and Assault 4+, with only the remount value varying. This makes for a tank crew that will do pretty much anything you ask them when it comes to orders, which is always handy. Each formation has a similar structure so let’s look at the Merkava Mk.1 as typical of the type.
A two strong HQ and two to three platoons of armour give us a good foundation for the formation. The Merkava
In terms of organic capabilities, we have an infantry platoon (and we’ll get onto the strength of that later), plus some recce. These are handy as anchors to keep the formation in the fight; the infantry through bulk and high morale, the recce by hiding as it works its way up a flank to be a nuisance. This will help mitigate any issues the three strong tank platoons may cause as casualties mount.
Of the recce options, the M113 is the clear winner. Three M113 costs the same as three recce jeeps, despite the former being faster in all but road dash, better cross, armoured and sporting a .50 as well as a pair of 7.62mm MAG! Sure, the 4+ save of the jeep comes in handy when anything more than a 14.5mm heads your way, but being invulnerable to MG fire and hardier versus artillery has probably more utility. Plus the M113 platoon has the option of having four M113 Recce tracks where the Jeeps are only fielded in three’s.
In terms of the armour options, the Magah 6A is very much the
The Magach 6A is by no means a bad tank. Its armour 15 is adequate versus the AT-3 Sagger, T-55 and T-62, is no less lethal versus enemy armour than its newer stablemate at AT 19 and Brutal, and sports the same array of 0.50 and 7.62mm machine guns for soft targets. However its FA15 looks decidedly old hat versus Spandrels and T-72M and while it can match the Merkava when firing from the halt, its lack of a stabilizer and range finder means it quickly drops off when the tanks need to go mobile.
But hey, its half the cost of a Merkava Mk.2!
Talking of the Merkava,
After the Six Day War, Israel was also starting to have trouble in purchasing the latest generation of military equipment as Europe largely turned its back on it in favour of Arab markets. Co-operation on Chieftain with the UK fell through, as did development with France on the Mirage 5 strike aircraft. This forced Israel to start developing its own equipment but did let it craft such kit to its own needs.
Israel, being a small country, can’t afford to lose tank crews in a conflict. The crew casualties in Yom Kippur proved devastating to a generation and mostly came down to factors such as egress difficulties, crews being injured whilst restocking under fire, and the Israeli tank commanders habit of fighting their tank unbuttoned. This informed the development of its tank to favour crew protection over mobility, much like Chieftain, but also a unique feature of the tank – its front mounted engine.
By mounting the engine at the front, the fighting compartment could contain all four crew members and allow for a rear hull hatch. This hatch allows crews to quickly escape a disabled tank whilst still keeping the bulk of the tank between them and the enemy. It also allowed a tank in static positions to re-stock whilst still under fire; the resupply vehicle backing up to the hatch and passing ammo to it, with less exposure of the crew compared to passing rounds through the loaders hatch. Finally, it allowed a tank to conduct casualty evacuation of one of its peers, the crew of the damaged tank boarding via the rear and
Combined with heavily sloped armour, the Merkava was one of the heaviest armoured tanks in the region, matching the threat of HEAT and fin rounds through sheer bulk of steel rather than fancy composite armour. It also combined typical Israeli features such as
The tank made its debut in 1982 Lebanon and according to the Israelis, proved capable of defeating Syrian T-72M. However, it did suffer from a number of shot traps and weak spots that RPG teams exploited.
The Mk.1 feels very much like an under gunned Chieftain. Given Israel was at one time interested in the Chieftain, and had similar design priorities, that shouldn’t be too surprising. What that gives us is
This makes the Merkava a decent all-rounder, having the mobility to go on the offensive, or the range to sit back and shoot. The Mk.1 does have a few downsides to consider; its side armour is relatively low at 6 and it is only bolstered against HEAT by bazooka plates. This is not a tank that wades into an assault versus RPG teams! This matches the historical limitations of the Mk.1 encountered in
The Mk.2. This took experience in Lebanon and reprofiled the turret to remove some shot traps, added additional armour, placed the 60mm mortar in the turret to remove the need for a crewman to expose themselves to reload it, and added revised skirts and chain armour to make it less vulnerable to RPG. It also added smaller revisions like extra fuel storage.
In game terms, we get a +1 bolstering of
I think what model of the Merkava you take is going to come down to your threat environment and perceived role. If you want the Merkava as a gun tank then Front Armour 18 on the Mk.1is perfectly adequate against most threats you face at
The Merkava Mk.2, by comparison, is a bit more suited to wading into the fight thanks to its BDD armour. If RPGs
The last formation is the infantry.
Again, a fairly typical formation lay-out. HQ, two-three infantry platoons, a supporting tank platoon, some mortars and some anti-tank support.
The infantry platoon itself is huge now. You get four Galil assault rifles teams putting three shots out to 8” static or moving (but only one pinned), plus able to fire as an M72 LAW for point-AT defence; three FN MAG teams putting out five shots each out to 16” and also able to fire as a LAW team; three RPG7 teams (using Israeli copies!), plus a M47 Dragon ATGW and a 52mm mortar team for HE/Smoke. That’s a lot of firepower. There morale-based stats are all three’s as is their skill, but “only” 4+ in assault. These guys will hold ground but ay need to shoot the enemy off the objective to be on the safe side!
They all get to ride around in the M113 which is slightly changed from other TY M113 by having a pair of FN MAG back up the cupola pintle 0.5”.
I’ve always found the “Zelda” good for fire support of an advancing Israeli infantry platoon so that only gets better from the FoaN version!
Israeli infantry has always been the highlight of the Israeli lists and that really hasn’t change. I suspect most players will run with an infantry formation as the primary formation simply because of their ability to hold or take ground, plus the support available to the formation.
Artillery and Anti-Tank
The Israelis have access to two artillery systems in support; up to two batteries of the ubiquitous M109 Howitzer or, in place of one M109 battery, the M106 mortar carrier upgraded with a Soltam 120mm mortar. The latter is a cheap but
Curiously, and continuing omission from FoaN, the Israels don’t have the BM-21 Grad. Israel captured a large number of the systems in its two wars and pressed them into service, building their own rounds for the rocket launcher. As of 2016 they still had 56 in inventory and were building new guided rounds so it is curious that they don’t appear in the list!
Bridging the gap between artillery and anti-tank is the
The Spike NLOS has a range of 25km, switching from fibre optic wire guided after the first 8km, to radio-guided. The seeker, at the time, was
In game terms, this gives the
Despite this minor limitation, the
The system itself is relatively cheap, a full-size platoon costing about the same as a trio of M109, making it a very tempting selection for any Israeli force to
The final asset is the humble TOW Jeep. I run these in my FoaN Israeli army and they always seem to die horribly as it’s rare I get to keep them at the full extent of their 48” range. Still, a platoon of four is pretty cheap and they provide a handy AT21 missile attack to bolster an Infantry formation’s own AT, or to provide
No longer do we need to rely on an M3 half-track with a pair of 20mm guns! That has been retired in favour of four new systems.
Well, new may be stretching it… but still. We get two
The VADS and Shilka are, as we expect from their appearances elsewhere in TY, albeit with the Israeli 3+ Courage/Morale/Remount. The Shilka is marginally cheaper due to its lower armour and RoF but… it’s a Shilka. It looks so awesome! The VADS does have the benefit of being a cheaper plastic kit which isn’t to be dismissed.
Our SAM options consist of 2-4 Redeye teams and 2-4 Chaparral SAM. The Chaparral gives a long range, hard hitting punch whilst the Redeye is cheap, puts out more shots and
The Israelis have access to both rotary and
They can take up to two platoons of AH-1S Cobra, plus a flight of A-4 Skyhawk allowing for quite a large air attack if so desired.
The AH-1 are much like the US equivalent, albeit with 3+ courage/morale and skill to allow them to best utilise their missiles and stick around in the face of casualties.
The A-4 Skyhawk was in the twilight days of its career but still provided the IDF with CAS whilst the new F-16 and F-15 dealt with air superiority and
This covers the units available to the IDF in the mid-eighties. In my next article, we’ll look at taking a 1970’s Magach 6 army and using it as the core of a 1980’s force, as well as some other list ideas.