David Doyle, U.S. Vehicles & Heavy Weapons of the Vietnam War (Pen & Sword, 2021)
We can’t say that the United States pioneered mechanization in warfare, but we can say they have made the most of it. With the advent of the Cold War, that made sense with America preparing to fight on the plains of Europe. But that’s not where they fought; rather, they went to Vietnam. Of course, they took their vehicles with them, and noted expert David Doyle’s book shows just how many varieties of vehicle that meant.
Doyle divides his catalogue into three main sections: wheeled tactical vehicles, track laying combat vehicles, and tracked and wheeled artillery and heavy weapons. He begins with that most iconic of American vehicles, the Jeep, though it was a quarter-ton 4×4 truck and came in three varieties: not the only surprising fact in this book. Then we are off and running through the gamut of vehicles. These range from little Mules to big six-wheeler trucks; and personnel carriers to more tanks than you might imagine for a conflict like Vietnam. They performed all manner of functions from combat duties to maintenance tasks like telephone-line maintenance or helping local farmers collect their harvest. The vehicle descriptions are accompanied by copious photographs, many in colour, and Doyle includes general and engine data. My favourites were the bizarre multi-barrelled Ontos and the multifunctional but sturdy and simple M113.
Sometimes a book will deliver exactly what it promises to do on the cover. U.S. Vehicles & Heavy Weapons of the Vietnam War falls into that category. Like many of the vehicles Doyle describes, his book is a no-frills and quite pleasant survey with some surprises as to how many vehicles were deployed and what they did when they got there. Model makers with a penchant for Vietnam will especially like this as will military vehicle enthusiasts in general.