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Over the past few years, several US amphibious vehicles have been released as plastic kits in 1/35 scale, notably the DUKW and three versions of the LVT-series. Then of course, there is the elderly, but fairly decent Tamiya amphibious Jeep, as well as the new series of LCM(3) kits from Trumpeter, Italeri and DML (the latter in 1/72 scale). So, interest in reference material related to the use of these vehicles and vessels is probably as high at this point in time as it will ever be. Therefore this new book by the currently very prolific Gordon Rottman should be very popular among modelers.
For several reasons, this book will also prove to be extremely useful to diorama modelers. For instance, the author describes and illustrates the various types of markings that were used to distinguish various beaches during an assault. These markings were applied to landing vehicles in the form of stripes that varied as to their colors and numbers. Further, he provides the details on the large canvas signs that were displayed on the beaches themselves, which would coincide with the markings displayed on the vehicles destined for that particular area of the beach, during an amphibious assault. Other things, such as the way units were organized, the way assault waves were formed, and how they were controlled, how troops boarded the vessels and vehicles, and how the troops were configured within the smaller boats for the assault, are also covered.
But, the bulk of the book is devoted to the various landing craft in use, including the troop transports and cargo vessels, the larger LSDs, LSMs and LSTs, the medium-sized LCIs, LCMs and LCTs, and finally the smaller LCPs, LCVs and LCVPs. Photos and data are provided for the basic versions of these vessels, as well as the various rocket- and gun-armed derivatives that were employed for close-in bombardment of enemy shore installations. Control vessels such as the large command ships and the smaller LCCs are also described.
The vessels and vehicles are all given brief descriptions in the text, which are further complimented by charts giving technical specifications. Most of the 43 B&W photos depict US Naval vessels, while others depict landing vehicles and beachhead scenes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the photos are extremely poorly reproduced. Of course, it is understandable that some of the photos would come from less-than-optimum originals. But, in my experience as a curator of photography at a major naval museum, US Navy photographs, especially aerial views of ships, were always of extremely high quality, taken by highly trained photographers using large-format cameras. It also would appear that some attempts were made to retouch many of the photos. All of this makes what could have been an outstanding book, merely “good”.
The nicely rendered color art work depicts various scenarios and vessels. The first depicts the process of debarking LVT2s from a transport ship, while the next two show how an LCVP was loaded with assault troops, and how an LCT was loaded with three M4 medium tanks. This is followed by artwork depicting the debarking of LVTs from the bow of an LST, the transfer of assault troops from an LCM(3) to an LVT at the “Tractor Transfer Line”, and an aerial rendering of assault waves and their support vessels as they storm a beachhead. The final two pieces depict the vessels and vehicles in a typical beachhead setting (with an insert devoted to the various canvas identification signs), and the progress of an infantry assault as it heads inland supported by tanks and LVTs. All of these are accompanied by extensive captioning information, making it all very, very useful stuff!
So, although spoiled by the problems with the photo reproduction, as I mentioned more than once, this book will be of use to modelers.
Frank De Sisto