War of Independence


During the War of Independence Haganah fighters and later IDF members didn't care a lot about uniforms. Reference pictures show all kind of cloths, many obviously of civilian origin. All kinds of hats and caps were in use. As far as helmets are concerned, British helmets (early and late types) were used.

For modelling purposes, almost everything can be used. I prefer to use ground crew and commando sets, swapping heads with appropiate helmeted heads. For me, Preiser figures are always first choice, as they are made of hard plastic. Luftwaffe and USAAF ground crew and German tank crew sets have great conversion potential. For British helmets in 1/72, go for Esci sets (late type with or without hessian wrapped around it) or Emhar sets (WWI type). Airfix ground crew sets are also very good starting points for any conversion. When swapping heads with Preiser or Esci ones, however, bear the scale difference in mind. Better use Airfix WWI or WWII British infantry heads.

Seated figures create problems of their own. Sets rarely include figures you can put on or into vehicles. Preiser sets are a noticeable exception. Revell's German Artillery set is also a good source for seated figures, as is Airfix/HäT's Royal Horse Artillery set. Very nice figures are provided with the Matchbox LRDG set, but this is hard to find now.

A word on artillery crews. Emhar has nice WWI artillery crewmen, as has Airfix/HäT's Royal Horse Artillery set. The Revell German Artillery set also includes a good crew with very interesting poses. Best of all undoubtedly was the crew included with Esci's 25pdr gun, being hard plastic and having excellent detail. Hopefully Italeri will re-release it one day.


The part below lists equipment in use by the Haganah/IDF during the War of Independence. Apart from suggestions how to model it some background notes are also included. A word on my modelling suggestions: A maior problem is always separating the weapons from the figures. Below I tend to list only practicable options demanding minor efforts.

Thompson SMG

I think everybody knows this weapon which - in an early form - came to dubious fame during the 1920s in the USA. Although it was used by the IDF it does not seem to have been very common.

Although Esci Thompsons are nicely detailed, they are too large, even for 1/72 scale. However, if you can live with that, they are fine. Although the Revell American Infantry (Winter Uniforms) set has some figures with Thompsons, they cannot be separated from the figures and thus are all but useless. The best source for correct 1/76 weapons was the Matchbox LRDG set which had two hard plastic ones.

Sten SMG

This submachine gun was widely used by the Haganah, they even produced it, albeit in a simplified form, in secret underground factories. During the opening stages of the war it was very common among Haganah fighters.

Esci Sten guns are quite nice. They might be slightly overscale for 1/72, but that's not very noticeable, and in any case you want rather an overscale one than one that is too small. You can get some from the British Infantry (European Theatre) set and quite a lot from the Commando set. Airfix Commandos also have acceptable 1/76 Stens, but here it's more difficult to seperate the weapons.

Another note on Esci Stens: the British Infantry (ET) set contains a figure of a soldier helping his wounded comrade along. This pose was obviously quite popular with Esci, as exactly the same one can be found in several other sets, eg in the French Line Infantry (Waterloo) one. Anyway, one of the two holds a Sten. This one is quite different from those in the Esci Commando set, being smaller and slightly disproportioned. In my opinion the commando ones are better, having superior detail. Even so, two things are quite important: The folding stock of the Commando Stens needs to be shortened and the attachment point of the magazine is on many weapons too close to the muzzle (a problem common with Airfix Commando's weapons).

Lee Enfield

After the British left their former mandate, quite a number of British weapons came into Israeli hands, among these also this British standard rifle.

Esci sets offer nicely detailed, if slightly overscale Lee Enfields. Those in the British Infantry (ET) set are fairly indistinct, whereas those in the 8th Army set are nice. Airfix weapons tend to be poorly detailed nowadays.


Among the weapons secretly imported from Czechoslovakia into Israel in May and June 1948 were rifles and machine guns of German origin. Although the K98k rifle has its origins in 1898 (therefore the name...), it proved to be very popular, some K98ks being still in use with reserve units in the Six Days' War.

The best source was K98 is Revell's German artillery set, as they are provided seperate from the figures, making their use very easy. Even better is the new Panzer Grenadiers set Preiser released not long ago - seperate weapons and personal equipment in hard plastic!!! Esci weapons are also quite nice, whereas Airfix ones again have lost considerable detail now.

Vz 26

The Vz 26 was a standard Czech weapon dating from the early 1930s. I don't know how many were exactly imported.

As the Vz 26 was in outward appearance quite similar to the K98k, you can interchange them, especially if you use Airfix ones which are not too detailed to be easily identified as German weapons.

Mg 34

German standard light machine gun introduced in the mid-1930s. It was widely used as a squad machine gun as well as mounted in or on vehicles.

Getting a decent Mg34 is not easy. Airfix Afrika Korps' has some, which are not bad. Very good was the one included with the Matchbox Chaffee tank, but, again this is hard to get now.


Another standard Czech weapon, the Beze light machine gun was the standard squad machine gun before the war.

Honestly speaking I have no idea how where to get a Beze MG. I once tried to scratchbuild one but without much success.


Standard British squad machine gun. As the Lee Enfield rifle it was either clandestinely acquired (i.e. stolen) before the British Evacuation or captured during it.

Although many British figure sets come with soldiers firing a Bren gun, separating the weapons from them tends to be always very difficult. Matchbox once offered a Daimler Dingo (in the Monty's Caravan set), but that's hard to find now. JB Models' Saracen APC also has a Bren gun, but only of fair quality.


A rather strange anti-tank weapon of British origin. Although widely described as similar to the American bazooka, it was fundamentally different, as an unpropelled HEAT-projectile was 'fired' by a spring. Although it was quite effective at close ranges, not the least so because it didn't compromise the firing position, it was taken out of service in the British Army shortly after the war as it was difficult to handle. It seems to have been the standard AT infantry weapon of the IDF during the War of Independence.

The best source for this weapon is the Esci British infantry (European theatre) set. Three PIATs are provided in it, together with the appropiate ammo box.

2 inch mortar

I am not sure about the exact origin of this weapon, but it seem to have been used as a platoon support weapon. Together with the 3 inch mortar below and various homemade devices they were all the artillery the Haganah could muster at the outbreak of the war.

Although it is very easy to scratchbuild these mortars (actually you only need a tubular piece of sprue and a baseplate), Esci's Commando set comes with a nice mortar together with a soldier firing it.

3 inch mortar

Together with the 4.2 inch mortar the standard mortar of the British army. At the outbreak of the war the heaviest artillery piece in the Haganah arsenal.

As I don't know about a kit, you'll have to scratchbuild it. This shouldn't be too difficult, though.

still under construction!!

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