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Portrayal Press - Chevrolet G-506, 1.5 ton 4x4 Development, Production and Variants in WWII

ISBN Number:
978-0-938242-06-2
Published:
Friday, February 22, 2019
Publisher:
Portrayal Press
Retail Price:
$89 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Chevrolet G-506

1 1/2 ton 4x4 Development, Production and Variants in WWII

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This volume is a first-time collaboration between author David Doyle and publisher Portrayal Press. Portrayal Press has been around awhile, carrying several lines of military history books, but to my knowledge, publishing this book is a first for them. If you have some of the author’s previous works such as the US Halftrack and Dodge truck books published by the late, lamented Ampersand Group, you’ll note a very definite family resemblance, based on general size and cover design of this volume. Other, more important things in common with the earlier titles published by Ampersand is the massive size ( at well over 400 pages ) and the depth of scope of this volume. Hopefully, this new collaboration leads to further additions to this family of books by the author and Portrayal Press.

The Chevy one and a half ton trucks have never seemed to have gotten anywhere near the attention that their contribution to the Allied victory in WWII deserved, being very largely overshadowed by the famed “deuce and a half” trucks churned out in huge numbers by General Motors. 

The US Army Ordnance designation for the Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton 4x4 truck was G-506. There were quite a lot of variants built on the G-506 chassis, each with it’s own designation.  A whopping total of almost 170,000 of these trucks were built in a total of nine plants across the United States beginning in 1940, in a myriad of variants such as troop and cargo haulers, dump trucks, panel trucks, telephone service trucks,  radio trucks, fire trucks, airfield bomb trucks, and many others as well. The Chevy 1 1/2 ton trucks served under several Allied flags during WWII, with many tens of thousands being shipped to the Soviet Union alone, under the Lend Lease program.

Vital Statistics

 Format - hardcover, portrait format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  448 pages

 Size - 8.75” x 11.25”

Photos - 600+ total images, most black and white, a handful in color.

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - the Appendix consists of 50+ Pages of tables largely centered on production

All text and photo captions are in English

                                                                                                        What’s between the Covers?

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A look at the table of contents above will give you a real good idea as to what to expect in this volume; a methodical even-handed examination of the many workhorse truck variants built on the Chevy G-506 chassis. The author plays no favorites, all varieties are given a well detailed treatment with varied amounts of informative text depending on the variant covered in each chapter, and many good photographs.

The book opens with an introduction, which discusses the US Army’s desire to modernize its truck fleet in the 1930’s, and then gives the reader some background on the various manufacturing plants scattered literally coast to coast that built these trucks.

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Above - among the mix of factory, proving ground, and in-field photos are what appear to be nicely labeled images from training manuals.

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Above - now THIS I hadn’t seen before, cool X-Ray images showing how the components of the truck are aligned internally. 

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Above - this book is jam packed with crystal clear views of all varieties of the Chevy G-506 trucks

Please Note - the images in the book are far better than those I took for this review! 

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The wide variety of photographs in this volume range from crisp and sharp professional images taken on factory grounds, to nice shots of these trucks in use world wide. Not forgotten are the home front workers who built these trucks, it’s nice to see some photographs from on the factory floors themselves, showing us the rarely acknowledged human element.

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Above - while not really a traditional in-detail, walk-around style book, there are some nice interior photos, as well as good overall exterior images.

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Photos in this book range from quarter page size all the way up to full page. Most of them are black and white, there are a few full color images here and there. The photographs above show some of the more interesting variants of the Chevy’s of WWII, the E-5 Turret Trainers that enabled bomber gunners to hone their skills from gun turrets mounted on Chevy trucks. 

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As is usual for books from this author, text and photo captions don’t take a back seat to the photographs in this volume. The text and photo captions are clear and concise, conveying a lot of information without being tough to digest. The photo captions do a very complete job of describing very clearly what you’re seeing in the photo, with the what’s, where’s, and when’s well covered. Items of special note are nicely pointed out as applicable. 

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The book’s “Chevrolet In the Field” chapter contains images of the wide range of Chevrolet variants in use world-wide, from stateside training exercises to the South Pacific, the Far East, and the battlefield of Europe. It’s quite interesting to see photographs of all of the trucks in their various roles across the world. The above images are typical of this chapter...the Red Ball Express, radio trucks, airfield crash trucks, and bomb server trucks, locations in  England, France, the Mariana Islands, and Italy, all on just two pages in this interesting chapter.

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The book closes with an Appendix which contains quite a few tables containing performance data, monthly deliveries of the trucks and production records. Information on technical manuals is located here.

Conclusions

When one thinks about the trucks that won World War II, the mental images that come to mind are of the Red Ball express trucks full of fuel or ammo, or the troop carriers rushing the 101st Airborne to Bastogne. But the infrastructure required by modern armies in the field means that there are a dizzying array of workhorse vehicles operating behind the scenes, at air bases, training facilities, and rear areas, as well as quite near the front lines installing communications systems and gear, and helping with all the various tasks required to sustain operations. This book does a great job of bringing those workhorses out of the shadows. 

This is a massive book, packed full of great vintage photographs, accompanied by loads of informative text and image captions. 

All photographs in this book are vintage, there are no restored or museum vehicle images in this volume. The vintage images used throughout this book are for the most part bright and clear, showing good detail. The text and photo captioning lives up very well to the author’s usual high standards of quality.

I’d have enjoyed seeing some line drawings or scale plans of some of the more exotic variants of the Chevy G-506 seen in this book, but given the vast amount of ground covered photographically in this book, it’s no deal breaker.

Given the amount of coverage devoted to the airfield trucks ( the bomb and crash / fire trucks ), this book will be hit with the aircraft guys too.

 

Highly Recommended!

Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland

 

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