Back to the Future – updating the IDF for the 80’s

Today Lee takes a look at updating his Fate of a Nation Army for the 80’s with Oil War.

When I designed my Israeli force for a Fate of Four Gamers, it was with little consideration of the future; Oil War wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Instead I wanted as cheap a 100pt force as I could muster and so I leaned heavy on the Magach 6 and the Israeli starter set. Inadvertently, this was a good move.
My aims with the new force are:
• Re-use as much of the ’73 force as possible
• Fit in the new hotness that is the Pereh and Merkava
• Minimise expenditure (so many projects, so little hobby money – thanks Kids!)


My ’73 force consisted of:
HQ –Two Magach 6
Platoon 1 – Three Magach 6
Platoon 2 – Three Magach 6
Platoon 3 – M113 Mechanised Infantry Platoon (5 M113)
Four TOW Jeeps
Four Priest SPH
Two M3 AA Halftracks
That force weighed in at a massive 132pts, 96 of it made up of Magach 6!

Part of the ’73 force

So, how does this translate 12 years down the road?


By ’85 the WW2 kit has finally been put to pasture so we can cut out the AA Halftracks and Priests.


Also, the infantry, having often dumped the FN FAL during the last two wars in favour of a readily available AK-47 (It’s like they were just lying around or something) had re-equipped with indigenously produced Galil assault rifles (basically a fancy re-engineering of the AK-47 via the Valmet Rk62) and modern ATGW so my infantry figures were decidedly old hat.

Still, that leaves eight MBT, four TOW jeeps and some M113 looking for new owners, to use. The height of seventies technology must still command a high price, right?

The Magach 6 handily have a formation of their own and they still get fielded much as before; up to two HQ tanks and then 2-3 platoons of 2-3 tanks. So, straight away I can fill my HQ and two compulsory slots to make a legal, if brittle formation. I could add an extra tank platoon, but buying more obsolete tanks seems a little pointless. I could add some infantry but instead I want to concentrate the infantry into their own formation for reasons that will become clear.

I could change the cupola and add the .50.  But seeming as it should have a whole heap of ERA on it to be period correct I’ll just leave them as is.

What I can add is a recce section. I have two choices here, three scout jeeps or three-four M113. The M113 are probably the better choice being fully “armoured”, better armed (a .50 is always handy), faster on all but road, and no more expensive than the jeeps. But the jeeps have two things in their favour; jeeps are cool, and jeeps are cheap £wise – three jeeps are just £8 compared to £20+ for M113!
That leaves the first formation with four platoons (including HQ) and taking up a massive… erm, 31pts.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen (in cost).
Still, this leaves plenty of points for the new formation; infantry.

An infantry formation is a must for me. I regret not doing an infantry focused force originally for FoaN because the infantry platoon I did have was by far one of my star performers, inability to ‘rally’ aside. It combined a relatively large platoon with decent stats and firepower making it a very difficult proposition to deal with. The eighties version appears to be no less a formidable foe.
The formation also has two other things going for it. Firstly, it lets me re-use the M113 and secondly, it gives me a tank slot.

May have to go back and add more FN MAG!  But did call it right with the HQ wagon!

All of the forces in Oil War can’t mix tank types within a formation. A Magach 6 formation can’t take a Merkava for example. Similarly, we can’t yet take compulsory choices from another formation as a support choice (will that appear in TY v2? We don’t know). So, the only way to mix types is to have two formations, and the infantry formation’s tank slot helps here.
I need to field a HQ and two infantry platoons as a minimum and I have no reason not to take both at full strength! A third is tempting but possibly overkill given the relatively large twelve stand platoons on offer here.
The next addition is the Merkava. Given two-tank platoons are a liability, even with 3+ morale, I take the max strength of three tanks. I think the MK.1 is perfectly adequate for the threat environment but if I have any left over points I may revist this and upgrade them to Mk.2.

I could take the AT section (two M150 TOW carriers) or the 81mm mortar carriers to further bulk the formation. The AT is probably a little redundant but the 81mm mortars are tempting – an extra template and smoke is always tempting. However, the formation is already at 41pts and, with the Magach, this leaves only 28 points to get Perehs, some AAA and artillery.

This brings us to force support.
The first selection is a quartet of TOW Jeeps. I’ve yet to have much luck with them in FoaN but they are one of the units that do carry across and four I-TOW shots is four I-TOW shots.

Maybe AT21 will make them die less easily…

The next is the Pereh. A full platoon of three is a no-brainer addition.

Look at them!  They look like they should be in Battletech, not Team Yankee!

The next choice is trickier, anti-aircraft artillery. I want a gun based AA platoon, backed up by SAM umbrella. Both elements present a choice. The gun based element can be either a Shilka platoon or a VADS platoon. The latter has a higher ROF and better front and side protection but the former is a Shilka so wins the “rule of cool” as a model.
Ultimately, the VADS platoon being a plastic model makes it cheaper so it wins on a tie breaker.
The missile element is a little more clear cut; the Chaparral is hard hitting but pricy and a large target. By comparison, the Redeye is cheap and puts out a lot of shots, albeit at only FP5. A full platoon of four stands goes in.
That leaves four points left for some artillery. Co-incidentally, that’s a full M106 (120mm) platoon so that works out nicely!

That leaves the final army as:
Magach Formation
HQ – 2 x Magach 6
PLT1 – 3 Magach 6
PLT2 – 3 Magach 5
Plt 3 – 3 Recce Jeeps

Infantry Formation
HQ Infantry and M113
PLT 1 – Full strength infantry platoon
PLT 2 – Full strength infantry platoon
PLT 3 – 3 x Merkava 1

4 x M106 (120mm)
4 x TOW Jeep
3 x Pereh
4 x VADS
4 x Redeye
100pts spot on!


So let’s review my objectives:

• Re-use as much of the ’73 force as possible
  Check – Everything that carries into Oil War is reused.
• Fit in the new hotness that is the Pereh and Merkava
  Check – One platoon of each is in!
• Minimise expenditure
  Well, let’s see what the stuff comes to…

Plus three APC stowage sets so add £27.  

Well, the objective was minimise.  By using recce jeeps in place of M113 recce, and the admittedly superior VADS in place of Shilka, I feel that I have minimised the expenditure to a reasonable extent,  Certainly starting from scratch would be more expensive!

So, is this the most competitive force I could construct for the IDF?  Probably not.  The formations are a little brittle, certainly.
Will it be at least adequate?  I believe so.  The Merkava gives some high end armour to support the more numerous Magachs.  I have a pair of strong infantry platoons to either hold ground or take it,  Pereh’s and TOW missiles provide overwatch fire to supplement the 33 AT19 shots the armour puts out.

Its probably going to be a few months before this gets in the shopping cart, let alone the painting table but its probably something I will eventually do, if only to justify buying some Merkavas and Perehs!

Needless to say, stay tuned!

7 thoughts on “Back to the Future – updating the IDF for the 80’s

  1. Going to build myself an IDF unit. Your article was very useful.
    How did you paint the orange tarp? it totally looks the part.

    1. Thanks. For the high vis panels I used a white base coat and then a warm, vibrant yellow (I used a Citadel colour yellow, I forget which) over that, followed by Citadel’s orange wash.

    1. That’s the Battlefront Israeli APC stowage pack. Has the exhaust extensions as well (plus the M3 Halftrack rear hull buckets)

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