Monday, October 20

Review: We get stuck into Ampersand Publishing’s “Big Macks”

Big Macks – most of us do not understand the need for a “K” in that name – indeed let’s look at the REAL Big Macks in today’s review from Ampersand Publishing

The Big Macks - A Visual History Of The Mack Wheeled Prime Movers In US Army Service 1940–1958
Author: David Doyle
Publisher: Ampersand Publishing
Format: Softcover landscape A4
112 pages, 180+ B&W photos
ISBN #: 978-0-9895547-5-6
Price: $19.95
You can get this directly from the Ampersand Publishing website

Those not familiar with Ampersand Publishing’s “Visual History Series” will need to know that the book usually features one type of vehicle or weapon type that we follow – through mainly pictures during it’s service life through variants and incarnations – pretty much what it says on the front really!

This book – based on the successful heavy truck of the US army the “Big Mack” features all of the large format pictures we are used to and appreciate in these style of books. David Doyle is the author and the man is a bit of a genius with what he knows about these vehicles and the pictures that are brought to the table are really very good. Several so clear they look like someone has been to a museum and offered up some black and white pictures. All of these 180+ pictures here though are period snaps.
The book is only light and it doesn’t take long to read – weighing in at only 112 pages the landscape format suits this type of book well and the glossy softcover gives way to good quality paper inside that you cannot see through. It is pretty much on the money for quality to price ratio in my book

We start off with a short introduction and description of the Big Mack and the numbers that were produced of each variant by month. This shortly gives way through to the pictures – and this is where the real value of the book is.
We look at the first model Mack – the NO#1 which had a hard cab cover and was used by the army as a prime mover. We see it pulling loads and in the workshop factory fresh. The book also talks about the universal coupler the company had a few initial problems with.

The Mack # 2 was also used as a prime mover with a few changes only – it had a different winch operation, a wooden cargo back deck and a new fuel tank under the cab but the most noticeable thing was the open canvas soft hood. We see it’s thermo dyne engine inside and outside of the truck, the new rear cargo bay as well as the rear winch from many angles and also the cab “topless”. This is some great detail here for anyone wanting to model this truck. There are also some good shots of the type in the sunshine and with cold weather ear on for those who like their Big Mack with “chilly”
Although the Mack #3 was almost as similar to the Mack #2 we see that Mac #4 & #5 were only used as technical demonstrators – both slated for life as wrecking vehicles with large cranes on the rear of both. There is only one picture of each which is fair enough.

The No# Big Macs were almost the same again to the type #2’s – you are hard picked to tell the difference except the new spare tyres on the back of the cargo bay upright on either side. The book affords us some rather unique views of this truck. Under the vehicle in a workshop, low down on the floor so you can pick out the seat cover detail, above and open top truck and an unusual crane body on the back of one rig – pretty amazing to see.
Lastly we look at the  Mack #7 – they were the last of the  wartime prime movers and so there are lots of this vehicle in pictures – mostly like the predecessor’s pictures there are close ups of the cab, the lights and other details – some of these pictures however are current day restorations (nearly fooled me on that one.)

We go from examination in close to the far off battlefields with the next part of the book – “Into the Field” shows us these Macks in action during WWII. Twenty one pages of very good shots illustrating what the Macks did best – pull things – are in this section. Mostly full of these truck hauling bog artillery the shots are very clear and the scenarios go from cold and wet to sandy and hot to snow and ice. Some great shots in here and some interesting info make this my favourite part of the book.
A few pages denote the short lived Mack NQ and the M125 and “DEISEL” M125A Macks to round out the book – I can imagine that there was some confusion about what fuel to put in these!

Well that rounds it out - a light book but heavy on detail in pictures and just enough text to make you understand the types and the essential differences of each type.
Not only is the name of a famous fast food stuff but learning the origination of “Big Mack” is not the only thing you learn while reading this book – it takes you right through the series of this popular truck and leaves you with a much better understanding of this brute and it’s capabilities, and maybe some modelling inspiration as well.

Adam Norenberg
Thanks to Ampersand Publishing for sending this book out for us to read and review. You can get this directly from the Ampersand Publishing website