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Book Review
The Hard Ride

by: Saúl García [ SHARKMOUTH ]

Originally published on:

Many years ago, my uncle told me of his time in Vietnam. He explained to me about the gun trucks and the convoys with hot rod armored cars. I always wondered about the waxed and pin striped armored car until I saw Squadron Signal's Armor in Vietnam book in 1982.

It was over fourteen years later that the next installment, Gun Trucks, appeared in Squadron publication's catalog. When AFV Club released their M35A1 Quad 50 Gun Truck, I thought I had all the references needed. Until...I first heard about this book when the publisher offered one for review. It is written by James Lyles whose model gun truck I saw on one of the MSN communities I am a member of.

The book arrived quickly and I dove into it. The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of illustrations. There are a whopping 406 photos of which five illustrate modern day replicas. Ten model photos, one map and three drawings of trucks also are included. While I wished they were bigger, I noted that the publisher tried to put as many as six photos per page. The photos cover everything from the namesakes of the truck (4 photos), gun truck crews (43), unit patches (11), air support (3), mascots (1 not counting the women), a typical road hazard (1 of a Vespa), and dead enemy (1 photo). I did not count the five that appear on the back cover as teasers for part two!

As for the text, they cover the beginnings of the gun truck and show a GMC 1 1/2 ton truck with a 40mm Bofors gun with armor. Now that is a conversion! Topics cover vehicles used, gun truck crews and then it is followed by the first hand stories.

These are not for children to read, not because of gore or sex but because of the profanity which was typical of the grunts in Vietnam. I vividly remember the thrashing I received for repeating some of the words my uncle used.

The stories are enjoyable and give a sense of the camaraderie that the gun truck crews enjoyed. Even the itchy dog story made my wife laugh!

Now back to the photographs. These were culled from the crews themselves and show many of the vehicles at different times of their service life. The captions are quite informative and it helps that the author is a modeler since he conveys the details that would matter most to a modeler.

Although there is a two page sections on models with ten photos, nothing is detailed about the conversions of the M35 to an M54. A nice inclusion is a list of Internet sites where a reader can find more information.

The Verdict

This book is highly recommended reading and an excellent source of inspiration to the gun truck modeler. I personally can't wait for part two to find what new photos the book will show of the APC and quad 50 trucks. My sincerest thanks to Frank Lopez of Planet Art for the review sample!

Buying this book here also helps the museum;

US Army Transportation Museum,
300 Washington Blvd, Besson Hall
Fort Eustis, Virginia 23604-5260
(757) 878-1115
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 9719303719
  Suggested Retail: 29.00 USD
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 15, 2003
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Saúl García (sharkmouth)

I collect references on unusual markings and small armies. I am particularly interested in captured & exported vehicles used in combat.

Copyright ©2021 text by Saúl García [ SHARKMOUTH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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