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As an author, Mr. Gilbert originally began with a series of low-budget photo reference booklets aimed at AFV modelers, called the “Full Detail” series. More recently, he wrote two excellent hard-cover studies on the US Marine Corps’ use of tanks, first in World War Two, then in the Korean War. This latest work, his first for Osprey, gives a brief taste of what we may expect from his upcoming hard-cover book devoted to the use of tanks by the USMC in Vietnam.The author uses the proven “Warrior” series’ format to profile the training and combat exploits of two fictional characters as they go through the rigors of Boot Camp, advanced training and finally the ultimate test: combat. Prior to that, the author gives a very brief introduction on the evolution of the use of Marine Corps tanks, as well as a chronology related to the Vietnam War. He then tracks his hypothetical pair of young American men through the various training phases that will make them into tank crewmen, as well as their entry into the war zone. It is in the intense combat in the city of Hue, during the 1968 “Tet” Offensive that they eventually meet as the two novices wind up as part of the crew of a tank in combat. A third fictional character, the tank commander is introduced at this time. Every day life, both at base camps and in the field is detailed, giving the reader an excellent sense of what a typical Marine Corps tanker’s tour of duty was like.
The 64-page book contains 38 B&W photos, two maps and a chart showing enlisted men’s ranks, as well as eight pages of color artwork. The color art will be especially useful to modelers since it depicts such things as uniforms and personal gear as well as vehicle tools, equipment, weapons and ammunition, all in a very clear manner. The remaining pieces of color art depict the Corps’ trademark “Pugil Stick” bayonet training method, as well as several battle scenarios, including a pair of paintings that depict an RPG hit on an M48A3 during the battles in Hue, and its aftermath. Two other paintings depict a crew working on a tank’s tracks and a tank in action in jungle conditions.
The informatively-captioned photos in the book are all very well-chosen and placed in the proper places within the book to compliment the text. They depict training, life in the combat zone and also some of the primary weapons used against Marine Corps armor by the NVA and VC. There are a few photos depicting the environment encountered during urban combat and convoy escort missions. But, most of the photos show M48A3 tanks in action or repose. For good measure the M67 “Zippo” flame tank, the LVTP5 Amtrack, the M50 “Ontos” and the M103-based M51 ARV are also covered. The text is an extremely easy read and is written in a clear, concise and lively style. A glossary at the book’s end contains both universal military terms and slang commonly used in Vietnam, as well some bits that are unique to the Marine Corps. The bibliography is quite useful, as is the list of research resources, monuments and museums located in the USA.
As with nearly any Osprey book you’d care to name, this one should prove to be of value to students of armored warfare, as well as vehicle, diorama and figure modelers.
Frank De Sisto