Helion's Czechoslovak Arms Exports to the Middle East vol 2

Author/Artists: Martin Smisek


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 72 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1-915070-78-4

This is the second volume on Czechoslovak weapons sales and covers Syria. During the time after WWII, Syria shed French dominance in the country, and not exactly on super-friendly terms. As a result, they needed to find a source of arms for all of its various military sources. One nation that provided a lot of military gear to nations in the Middle East was Czechoslovakia. This was even more prominent after it was taken over by a communist regime and came under the thumb of the Soviet Union.

In 1955 Syria approached the Czech government for tanks. They specifically wanted Hummel SPGs, but though the Czechs had a lot of ex-German military equipment, they did not have sufficient of those to meet Syria's need. Instead, they were sold Panzer IV and StuG III vehicles, which were used for many years by the Syrians.

This started a long relationship between the two nations in terms of arms sales that lasted until the early 1980s, fueled by a lot of buying on credit. This spending spree included building bases, training pilots, officers, and technicians as well as aircraft. Most of what the Syrians purchased in terms of aircraft were trainers. This meant that either Syrian military personnel were trained in Czechoslovakia or the Czechs sent military advisors to Syria to conduct training in country. Generally speaking the Czechs were not impressed by the quality of Syrian military personnel. They found that the Syrian military was generally corrupt, generally politicized and highly stratified with upper level officers being arrogant and the technicians being poorly educated with a fair per centage illiterate.

The book covers every one of the various sales along with the various training operations until the Czechs stopped dealing with Syria due to Syria's inability to meet their payment requirements. It is a nicely researched book and covers every single transaction as well as anything unique or interesting about each one. It provides insight on what it was like to deal with the Syrians over the years. As usual, it includes maps, tables and full color profiles. A book that is well written and one that I found particularly interesting as the subject is rarely put into print. I think you'll like it. 

May 2022

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