Osprey's Sagger vs M60 MBT


Chris McNab


Osprey Publishing


$20.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2577-3

This particular edition of Osprey's Duel series may seem to put questions in your head as they are nothing at all similar to each other. However, they are inexorably linked as the purpose of the Sagger is to destroy tanks and to the tank crew, this is not a good thing and should be avoided. These two adversaries were chosen as it was their meeting during the 1973 Egypt/Israeli war that the type was first used in any sort of numbers.

Just like it only takes one bullet to destroy a flying airplane, a large, expensive tank can be destroyed by something much smaller and less expensive. Anti-tank weapons operated by one or two people were developed during WWII with the German Panzerfaust, US Bazooka and British PIAT being the main man-carried anti-tank weapons. They could be effective, but they suffered from a need to be very close to be able to deliver the expected damage.

Even anti-tank missiles were not unknown in the years after WWII. All the major nations were developing them, but the first type to be used with any real success and in any real numbers was the Soviet AT3 'Sagger'. This was a system carried in a suitcase the required an operator to keep visual track of the missile during its flight. It was wire guided and the operator used a joystick to do this. To be able to see the missile, it had a flare attached to it that was the main visual cue. It was effective from about 500 to 3000 meters, but most use was in the 1000-1500 meter range.

The Egyptian Army, during their rebuilding after the 1967 war, put a lot of stress on this system and Egyptian soldiers spent a great deal of time practicing with this system until they were quite proficient.

On the other side of things, the Israeli Army was confident that their tank tactics and more modern and capable equipment (in this case the M60 series) would be more than enough to overcome any invaders. However, few military services had thought the anti-tank missile to be much more than a small nuisance and so they never really studied the problem and never developed tactics. This would prove to be exceedingly costly to the Israeli Army in the first few days of the 1973 war when the Sagger managed to destroy a huge number of Israeli tanks.

As with the recoil from the initial surprise of a new weapons system, tactics were developed in the field that reduced the effectiveness of the Sagger. Add to that the overstepping of the original goals of the Egyptians who were struck with 'victory fever', and the results were inevitable.

This is really a well done book as it covers both the development of the anti-tank missile and the Patton line of MBTs. It then goes into the operation of both combatants and a goodly portion of the book covers the use of both in the 1973 war. While the Sagger was also used against M48s with similar results, the book concentrates on the M60 since it was the Israeli Army's latest and greatest. I especially liked the sections on tactics as this was made the duel so interesting. If you have even the slightest interest in the subject or the war, you do need to buy this one to see why it turned out the way it did. 

January 2018

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