Pen & Sword- Humvee: America's Multi-Purpose Support Truck
The Humvee is an iconic vehicle which has served with the US and other militaries around the world for nearly 36 years now. It has served in various global conflicts and also has been utilized in many humanitarian missions. With it's characteristic wide stance and overall low profile, the Humvee in its various forms parallels the success of its predecessor, the venerable Willy's Jeep of the Second World War. Pen & Sword's newest addition to their "Land Craft" series follows the previous release patterns. Ben Skipper is a veteran of the RAF and an avid modeler. These two qualities of his background really come through in shining ways with this volume. I found his book not just focused on the machines, but also on the detailed facets of the Humvee in use. During my 6 years of service in the Iowa Army National Guard, I drove and crewed several Humvees both in the States and in combat in Afghanistan. I have also built 3 different Humvees in 1/35th scale, so I looked forward to reviewing this book on a vehicle and models of this vehicle which I am well familiar with.
Pen & Sword's Tank Craft & Land Craft series books are aimed at providing both model makers and enthusiasts of primarily visual references to full size vehicles and their scale models utilizing drawings, as well as plans and photos. Skipper's book which includes an Introduction, chapters on Design & Development, the Humvee in Detail, In service & In Action with photographs and pertinent info, Humvee Variants, Camouflage & Markings, a Model Showcase, & Related Modelling Products. This book is an excellent addition to any of Squadron, Verlinden, or Sabot publications books on the Humvee.
The introduction chapter chronicles the events and details that make this interesting vehicle what it is. Moving on to design and development the next chapter, photographs and information of the previous vehicles in the role of light truck within the US military are covered including the WIlly's Jeep, M151 "Mutt", MM561 "Gama Goat" , & M880 are covered as well as initial production aspects of the Humvee in it's first few forms. As the chapter progresses the development process is reviewed including the advent of the family of different variants which all had the same basic chassis and power plant, but with specific purposes such as the general troop transport with a pickup style bed with troop seats, the weapons carrier (aka turtleback), and the ambulance as primary versions. The improvements made through the years are addressed including upgrades of the Humvee to being an armored vehicle, meeting the challenges that various aspects of peace keeping missions in Kosovo brought as well as the challenges of combat with insurgents in the Global War on Terrorism over the past 20 years with IED's and significant small arms fire from ambushes.
An initial stop gap solution of the need for armor during the early years of the wars in Afghanistan was the ASK kit shown in the top left and in the bottom the later and advanced evolution of the Humvee in the purpose built armored M1151.
The Humvee In Detail chapter provides the reader with a very nice section of "Walk Around" pictures highlighting details of the vehicle which are very beneficial to the modeler. This section brought me down memory lane in a way noting things that typical maintenance checks of the vehicle often brought to one's attention. An interesting aspect is raised by Skinner who suggests that the Humvee's hood was often raised to conceal the windshield from presenting eye catching glare. I can't say that I recall my unit ever worried about such an issue, as we were trained to park the vehicle in defilade position behind hills, berms, or other concealment at an angle to conceal the windshield. One other unusual aspect of this section of the book is on page 11 where an image of a Humvee's radio is identified as a SINCGARS radio, but it looks to me to be an earlier radio of a different nomenclature as it has no features of a SINCGARS radio that I have ever seen. Other than these couple of minor issues I found the detail section to be tremendous, especially in providing very clear and helpful up close shots of different details.
Excellent detail shots including a few of an actual SINCGARS radio rather than the misidentified example on page 11 and turret details.
A few examples of various different versions of the Humvee
The Humvee Variants chapter provides some rather unique and wide ranges of different Humvees for quite a few different purposes. Among these different examples are the SECM (a shop variant), AN/TSC-93A/B and 156 tactical SHF satellite terminal, Electronic attack and surveillance versions, air defense variants such as the M998 Avenger, and SLAMRAAM (Surface Launched Advanced Medium-range Air to Air missile, laser mine destroyer versions, special built versions like the GMV (Ground Mobility Vehicle) and the Danish Julkat.
Pages 33-40 provide various color line drawings of vehicle profiles with camouflage and marking schemes. Out of these, there are some unique ones such as a Humvee in winter camouflage for Reforger exercises from 1987. Of course more typical camouflage schemes are also provided such as vehicles in all desert tan (4 vehicle profiles) and in 3 tone NATO camouflage (3 vehicle profiles including one in Republic of China Royal Marines markings).
A Humvee in one of the more unique color schemes.
As is the norm with the Sword & Pen Tank Craft/Land Craft series includes examples of built model kits of the specified vehicle covered in each volume. Skipper's Humvee book is like the others before this with inclusion of such a section although I must admit I didn´t find this section as well done as in other volumes. Only 4 examples of built Humvee kits are showcased, with all 4 in 1/35th scale, and of those, one example built by the book´s author is of a rather old Italeri kit of the M1025. That particular kit is nearly 30 years old now and is nowhere as well detailed as more recent kits. I found the very well done Tamiya build with many aftermarket goodies by Jim Wechsler to be superb, and Brian Richardson's two builds of the Bronco 1/35 M1114 with CROWS & the Bronco M1114 HA (Heavy Armor) kit built as an EOD vehicle with a nicely done figure.
Of the models showcased, a build by Ben Skipper is included of the long in the tooth 1/35 Italeri kit which significantly shows its age and lack of details compared to many of the more recent manufacture releases from the likes of Tamiya, Bronco, & Academy.
Another great feature of the Tank Craft/Land Craft books is the section on available kits of the subject vehicle as well as aftermarket sets including resin, PE, and decals. In each volume of the series this section really shines and this volume is no exception. Kits from 1:35-1/72 scale are included as well as several aftermarket upgrades and conversion kits are noted. Of course, this section also provides a limitation in that the way things are currently going in our hobby, the rate at which kits and accessories are becoming available not only from major manufactures but as well from individuals with 3D Printers, many offerings become surpassed or obsolete while others maintain some significant staying power. Tamiya's M1025 and M1046 are two kits which have been the basis for many conversion kits through the years, but other more advanced kits such as Bronco's offerings are sometimes difficult to find for sale at reasonable prices. Currently there seem to be no major manufacturers producing new Humvee kits, but there are other offerings in different scales, such as T-Models 72nd scale kits which are superb.
All in all this is an excellent resource for modelers and enthusiasts to add to their reference libraries. The book is nicely formatted, enjoyable to read, and covers the subjects real vehicle details well and does an excellent job providing superb build photos and interesting examples of different upgrades, kits, and detail sets to make your Humvee build really "pop". There are some strange things as previously noted about pointing out somewhat odd practices (like the usage of the hood as a concealment tool), and other minor things which to the global reader may not matter much, but to US customers, a mistake of the date of the attacks on 9/11 is instead written as the "9 September 2001´. This is a simple mistake, but how it made it past the editors is strange to me. The book really excels past these strange things and mistakes and is well worth getting as an otherwise helpful reference. I would gladly recommend this book and I find it provides some helpful information (especially on the Humvee's employment in Kosovo). I look forward to more vehicles being covered by the Pen & Sword Tank Craft/Land Craft volumes. I think this book does the Humvee the justice it deserves as a significantly used weapon in the US and various other countries over the past 35+ years in both conflict and in peace time.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Pen & Sword Books for this review sample.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
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