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Book Review of

 

"U.S. Army Vehicle Markings: 1944"

 

By Patrick Keenan - Editor

 

Basic Item Information

Title

U.S. Army Vehicle Markings: 1944

Authors

Jean Bouchery & Philippe Charbonnier

Publisher

Casemate Publishers (Sponsor of WarWheels.Net)

ISBN

9781612007373

Media

Hard Cover

Number of Pages

144 Pages

Text Language

English

Retail Price

$37.95 USD

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan - Editor

Review Date

June 20, 2019

Review Summary

Review Type

Full Read 

Basic Positive Features Comprehensive & detailed coverage of a complex subject, yet easy to understand. Hundreds of photos, illustrations, charts & tables provided to help explain the subject matter.
Basic Negative Features None

Recommendation

A "Must Have"

Photos

            

         

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Detailed Review

Background

This review is of the new book released by Casemate Publishers titled, “U.S. Army Vehicle Markings: 1944”, authored by Jean Bouchery & Philippe Charbonnier.  The book is actually the new English version of the French reference, “U.S. Army 1944 Les marquages des véhicules”, which was originally released by Histoire & Collections.

 

The intent of this book is to provide a complete, correct and detailed reference covering the markings applied to U.S. Army Vehicles in Europe in 1944, with a specific view towards the Allied invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord).  Although the book’s coverage “technically” focuses on that specific time period, many of the markings were seen before the invasion, as well as afterwards; some even applied until the end of the war. Both soft skins and armored fighting vehicles are completely covered, down to what appears to be just about every type used during the invasion!

 

The book is divided into the following chapters and sub-sections as shown in the following scan of the Table of Contents:

 

 

 

Normally, a listing of a book’s Table of Contents is sufficient to provide a reader with a good idea of its scope and/or coverage.  However, in this case it is not, as the book is much more complex than what the table indicates alone.

 

In meticulous detail, the authors educate readers on how to identify/recognize the US vehicle markings used during the year 1944, and if applicable to the reader, to recreate them on model kits or the real 1:1 vehicles.  To accomplish their goal, they first provide a plethora of basic/general information covering US Vehicles.  The “general” types of information included are:

  • National Identification Markings

  • Vehicle Registration Numbers

  • Unit Markings

  • Tactical Markings

  • Usage Markings (i.e. Bridge Classification Plates)

  • Unit Serial Numbers (Specific to the Invasion Vehicles)

  • Listings of US Infantry, Armor, Airborne and Non-Divisional Units (i.e. Mechanized Cavalry Groups) in Europe, circa 1944

  • Equipment Allocation Tables for the above unit types.

  • Basic Camouflage Guide

Once they’ve given you the basics, the authors then provide information about alternate markings and commonly seen ‘exceptions’ to the rules.  This coverage extends from the theatre level [i.e. The Communications Zone (Com Z), which included the “The Red Ball Express”], through the unit level (i.e. 1st ID) and even includes some unique individual vehicle markings.

 

Finally, once the reader is presented with all of the above information, the authors then provide detailed references about the markings seen on SPECIFIC vehicle types and/or unique to specific units.  These include Ambulances, Clubmobiles, Army Air Force and Military Police vehicles.  As it relates to WarWheels visitors, vehicles such as the Jeep, M8 Armored Car and M20 Utility Vehicles are covered.  However, the M3A1 Scout Car is not included as it was not utilized as a front-line vehicle by the U.S. Army during the covered timeframe.

 

 

After reading the above, you might think that by the authors providing all that information, the book might be very complicated and hard to understand.  Well, I’m happy to say, it isn’t.  On the contrary, I believe the authors have taken a difficult subject and made it relatively easy to follow.

 

Besides providing easy to understand written information, the authors also provide us readers with hundreds of photos, illustrations, charts and tables that DIRECTLY complement that text.  They don’t just provide a written description of the markings seen on “Vehicle A” and leave it at that.  Instead, they provide a written description, a photo AND then a color drawing to further illustrate their point.

 

 

Editing of Information/ Text Flow

 

The text flow (e.g. the writing ability of the authors) grammar and editing of the information is excellent.  The information is also provided in a logical and organized way and was easy to follow.  As mentioned before, the original release of this book was in the French language, with this book being a full translation in English done afterwards.  However, due to the truly exceptional translation of the original French, you will not have any trouble understanding the information provided.  In fact, had I not known upfront that this was an English translation of a French book, I would have never noticed because it has been done so well.

 

Photograph/Illustration Quality and Selection

 

The book contains over 300 (of mostly) black/white photographs, complimented by over 200 Illustrations and maps.

 

Starting with the photos, their quality ranges from poor to excellent, with a majority being good or very good.  But you should not consider the photos in a vacuum, as they are not the “star of the production”.  The photos are one (albeit, important) tool used by the authors to cover US Army markings around the time of the Normandy Invasion.  To make a long story short, it’s apparent the authors selected photographs for inclusion in the book based FIRST on content, and then next based on their level of quality.  Ultimately, if you’re looking for detail photos of, let’s say…M4 Sherman bogies, you won’t get that.  But, if you want to learn about markings found on a Sherman in the 14th Tank Battalion, 9th Armored Division, this book is definitely for you.

 

To compliment the selection of the photos, the authors provided a ton of color illustrations which are mostly used to clarify or explain the markings seen in the photo examples.  On their own, the illustrations would be considered fairly basic in detail.  BUT again, you should not look at the illustrations on their own, but as a tool the authors are using to educate us about markings.  And for that, they are perfect.  In fact, more highly detailed illustrations might even be counter-productive.

 

Quality of Print Medium

 

This edition is a VERY sturdy 8” x 10” hard cover book. The construction of the book facilitates frequent use/reading, which you’re surely going to do with this reference. There should not be any problems with the book being easily damaged as it is, in my opinion, more robust than other similar hard cover books due to its thick covers and sturdy strung binding. 

 

Conclusion

 

The authors Mr. Bouchery and Mr. Charbonnier have done an exceptional job with this book comprehensively covering US Army Vehicle Markings, circa 1944.  They successfully examine and explain a topic that is fairly complex, yet make it easy to understand for both novices and “experts”. I have to say that I’ve learned a lot by reading this book.

 

Besides providing easy to understand written information, the authors also provide us readers with hundreds of photos, illustrations, charts and tables that DIRECTLY complement that text. 

 

The only ‘negative’ aspect of this book is that it only covers the year 1944.  But, as that was not the purpose of the authors, I cannot fault them for MY desires. 

 

This book is definitely a great reference addition to my library.  In fact, I’m so pleased with the book, if the authors were to come out with any other similar books, I would buy them sight unseen.

 

A "Must Have".

 

Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the Review Sample.

 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan - June 2019