Monday, July 28

Andrea Press' guide of the artifacts of the Vietnam War “Grunt” in review

Andrea Press has released a few lovely tomes thoroughly doccumenting the artifacts of the German soldier, the Luftwaffe and the SS that we liked quite a lot -  this book – on the weapons, uniforms and everyday items of the Vietnam War looks to be interesting to a lot of modellers out there - but is is just pictures with nothing to tie it to the soldiers themselves? Let's see in our review....
An Illustrated History of the US Infantry in Vietnam - Weapons, Equipment and Lifestyle, 1965-1975
From : Andrea Press
By: Antonio Arques
Code no: AP-053IA4
• 480 pages
• 8,2”x11,6” (21 x 29,7 cm)
• Hardback Luxury Edition
• More than 2,000 High Quality Pictures
• English Edition
Shipping Costs Free at Spain (Peninsula) and France ONLY BY Private Courier
Available  directly from Andrea Press. for 79 € 

Often forgotten in today’s society when we think of wars that shaped our history – it has been fifty years since an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin stated what was known later as the Vietnam War. This book covers the equipment and clothing worn by the American soldiers in the conflict. Like it’s sister titles we have reviewed on the artifacts of the Luftwaffe and “Inside the Allgemeine SS 1925-1945”, this book is a comprehensive catalogue of what the everyday soldier or “Grunt” ( hence tittle)  wore and used on any day in service for their country in South East Asia.
This book is a hardcover tome of 480 pages; the cover is a light army green with a very nice white dust cover showing the iconic grunt’s Vietnam era helmet. There are two place keeping ribbons attached to the strong spine of the book which help you navigate and remind you of where you were last. I like this little reminder of quality. 
In fact not just the binding is of a good quality – the pages are thick and glossy making the book quite a weighty proposition, and with good reason – over 2000 photographs and pages of accompanying text to support each artefact picture. The work here must have taken a very long time to accumulate. Many of the shots were taken of item in private collections and museums and knowing a little about product photography it would be a time consuming task to get all the images in such good quality as these are.
There is a large section at the start of this book which describes the situation in Vietnam and indeed in America at the start of the war. The text talks about the types of demographic of people who went to war, and who was likely to be shipped to “the shit” and those who were maybe able to go to non-combat jobs in more technical fields. Though it can be said that these soldiers would be safer out of the front line, the nature of this unconventional war meant that all personnel in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and in the South China Sea region would see action at any time.
The core of this book is not the historical information but the artefacts and clothing these infantrymen used and carried every day. We thought instead of just telling you about it we would take you through a walk of the contents as they appear – highlighting the main subjects and the titbits we found along the way.

We start at the head, working our way through with the M1 helmet in it’s many incarnations, from the early pattern style similar to the WWII helmet through to the post  66 M1 which had a lower profile (I didn’t even realize this fact) and the straps which held things to the helmets and the suspended lining inside them.
Also featured are the woollen hats for cold weather, the ridgeway and field caps used around the bases through to the officer’s peaked cap and flat garrison caps worn to the side. Helmet liners in camouflage and the wide brimmed “Boonie” hat are shown with netting to keep away the many insects right through to the football style helmets called “Pugil Stick” used at training camps. Every type of hat and cap I would know existed in US service really..

Next we go to the uniforms of the grunt in Vietnam. Starting at the Utility uniform we all know so well. Each of the shirts pants and wearables are shown laid flat, on mannequins and turned inside out showing lining and tags. We also see the soldiers of the time in the occasional photographs which helps you realize just what the uniforms liked like in the light of the South East-Asian sun.
We look at several different patterns of the utility shirt including privately purchased clothing (a recurring subject in this book) before we go into the pants and the rest of the uniform in several different types of fabrics including the rip-stop heavy duty material and the camouflage in many different colours.

The ERDL uniforms – developed in laboratories to suppress infra-red signatures were something I didn’t know about – this is just the tip of the iceberg as the book’s introductory text at each min section as well as the captions ably describes as you flick through the book. Cold weather clothing and coats were a part of the uniform in many parts of South East-Asia and these are shown inside and out as well. There is just so much in this section that if I were to go through it all piece by piece we would be here all day.
Every bit of clothing you might have seen in pictures is here in this book and I mean EVERY bit right down to the socks and underwear, belts and scarfs. Next we look at the footwear of the grunts. From the first leather shoes issued in a hurry to the jungle boots these are documented in almost anal detail right down to the boot accessories like zippers and inset soles.
The equipment of the grunts are documented next. Everything the soldier’s carried and everything that contained what they needed to fight is here. Webbing and packs, Ammo pouches,  entrenching tools, rucksacks, armoured flak jackets of different types along with protective shoulder pads are shown – all of them with the soldier’s manuals included and pictures as well.
We also see several types of gloves and wet weather equipment of all kinds (much needed). We look at the communication radios of the troops – the large PRC-6 radio telephones which were used in the early war through to the more robust and smaller field telephones. Again I was really impressed with the inclusion of pictures from all angles and the very cool cartoon style instructions handed out to troops to help them get educated about their complex machinery.
How the troops found their way is included in this book – with maps from all over the region included in great sharp detail and full colour. That these still exist is a great feat as the war is 50 years gone now.

We also look at the first aid kits, tools and bandages as well as insect repellents, protective items, netting and hammocks and sleeping cots and hammocks with instructional manuals show a little of what the soldiers saw every day. We look a little at how these were carried with the duffell bags and water carrying bags and canteens as well.
How the soldiers at is examined, as we see a cavalcade of rations in tins and packets – the bayonets that were often used to open them and the small portable stoves that were used to cook them. Also we see the entrenching tools and machetes and torches used when it came time to dig in at night.
We next look at what the grunts used to fight with. From the controversial M-16AI ( with helpful guide) to the earlier M14 rifles, the M-60 light machine gun and the large calibre M79 grenade launcher along with the trusty Colt 9mm are shown with actual ammo pictures shown in real size.
Speaking of things that go bang we look at claymore mines and different types of grenades we also look at all of the types of ways the grunts carried their ammo. Whether it be vests or pouches, bandoleers or ammunition boxes it is all in thorough detail shown up in this book.
Everything the soldiers would have read is displayed in the next section of the book magazines like Life and the post with Newsweek as well as journals to the comics like MAD magazine, Playboy and the periodical Grunt) as well as the a few Penthouse covers that must have kept the soldiers pretty motivated – get home to their wives or girlfriends – or in the meantime perhaps find the same in country! Training manuals are also here in abundance in great condition.
We get even closer to the troops with the artefacts of the next section.  Glasses and camouflage cream, matches to padlocks the soldiers were issued at the time to their dog tags and ID cards we are getting very personal with some of these things that must be held very dear and not ever seen in collections you would think.
Money, letters home and propaganda, shaving and toiletries get you as close to these grunts as you could be. There are several “protest” items some of the serving soldiers wore here as well.
Lastly we have galleries of the ranks and patches of the organizations the soldiers served in, merit badges and medals as well as unit and name tapes are all here in this section – this is as comprehensive as the rest of the book or even more so.
Lastly there are a few great pictures of what life looked like on the base and at the rear of battle as well as a little of what happened to these grunts when they got home. This part could well be a book in itself considering what these troops had to deal with on their return.

And that it is... (deep breath) - This is a massive book with everything included in great detail within it that I could think of that these grunts were intimate with in their everyday lives. The fact that this book is so big and well put together could well be held against it with the weight a cost in postage. If however you like the look of it I would just find a local supplier and let them pay postage.

The other thing missing here is “Charlie” The V.C. or North Vietnamese are not really mentioned or shown a lot – and maybe this could be a great companion to this book in the future.

I am in no doubt as to my feelings on this book – it sits alongside the earlier two in this style we have already reviewed. Thorough as it could possibly be in research and as good looking in photographical evidence and style. It’s probably one of the first books anyone interested in the grunts in Vietnam would want to buy. It’s of the very best quality.

If you like uniforms and equipment, are interested in the Vietnam war or just want to know more about the US army then this book has to be on your list.

Adam Norenberg
Thanks to Andrea Press for sending this book to us to read - you can get it directly from the Andrea Press Webstore.