Tuesday, October 22

Read n' Reviewed: Marines - Vehicles of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)

The mighty Marines of the 24th expeditionary Unit are the subject of the latest book from author Ralph Zwilling and Pla Editions. Will this pictorial special to wake your diorama dreams? We have read it and written our thoughts in today's review...

Marines - Vehicles of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) 
Author: Ralph Zwilling & Ralph Nowak
+140 pictures, softcover.
72 Pages
Available in English
Price: 15€
Continuing on in now already the fourth volume of "Reference" series for Pla editions, we have this, the latest volume that focusses on those men from the mighty USMC. Titled "Marines - Vehicles of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) ", this book is full of new full-colour photographs and text describing the movements, operations and equipment of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on the Trident Juncture exercise in 2018 in Northern Europe. Let's have a look...

The Book in physical form:
"Marines - Vehicles of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)" is published by Pla Publishing, and on the website, I noticed that the author is listed as Ralph Zwilling, although on the book cover Ralph Nowak is also credited as the author also so I include him in this review. The softcover, portrait format has a glossy cover with seventy-two pages of matte stock inside. Texts are in English, and there are one hundred and forty pictures said to be included inside.
The book is broken up into two sections or styles, namely that of an introduction over several pages, then on to photo essays with mainly pictures as the subject with some text talking about these vehicles in capabilities mainly as a description.
The book is broken up into sixteen sections, some a double-page spread only, that focus on the vehicles listed below...

M1A1 FEP Abrams
M1 Assault Breacher
LAV Logistic Vehicle A2
LAV Mobile Electronic Warfare
LAV Recovery Vehicle
M777A2 Howitzer
Helicopters And Planes
MTVR Trucks
LVSR Trucks
Landing Craft Air Cushion

Let's get reading!

The introduction of the book is adorned with large-format pictures to accompany the mostly block text describing the breakdown of not only the Marines but their units as these get smaller and smaller inside. Ten pages breakdown the Marine battle groups and MEU's telling us how many personnel, their jobs, their equipment and numbers. This introduction is pretty dry - but factual, and it gives us an idea of the side of these units, their combat strength and their deployments.
The first vehicle we look at is the AAVP7A1, which is described in some paragraphs of text before we see eight pages of these vehicles in groups and in close. We see them from many angles, and with their crew - rugged up against the Scandinavian cold in turrets and around their vehicles. Good pictures of the improvised armour are helpful to modellers, as is the continuing these in this book of the vehicles weatherd, wet, muddy and with faded and worn paint in different places.
The mighty M1A1 FEP Abrams is next, and this killing machine is shown from many angles, the M1 Assault Breacher which looks just as bad-ass in its many forms with either digger or wrecker equipment front end enhancing the silhouette of the tank's cool look. The text describes the tank's characteristics and some useful facts about the tanks, although sadly there is not much on how the tanks performed in the field on these exercises, and this is a bit of a recurring theme also. we could have done with some more on the event and how these war machines were used and their proficiency or lack of in the event.
For those of you who like LAV's well this is the place! The very useful vehicle and its several forms in over fifteen pages of the book. In each of the sections we have some explanation of the particular type of LAV, from the regular combat LAV-25A2, to the  anti-tank version LAV ATWS, the command and control LAV C2 covered with aerials and communication equipment, the higher rear section prominent on the LAV Logistic Vehicle A2, the LAV Mobile Electronic Warfare variant and lastly the LAV Recovery Vehicle is featured. Some of the info and pictures are a little brief, but there are many types covered here in many different looks and flourishes of the individual vehicles.
The cool-looking up-armoured trucks of the USMC MEUs - the  Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement Trucks in several forms and sub-types are next featured. Tankers, armoured truck troop carriers and crane trucks are just some of the types shown, but alas with a little too little text to help us understand some of the finer interesting points of each vehicle and picture.
The backbone of the USMC MEU's are next - with several types of  HMMWV (Humvee) in large and several small pictures. The soldiers that crew these vehicles are shown in close proximity to their trucks, and the variety of types and colour schemes in the pictures is great to see.
LVSR Trucks are so cool to me - they really do look like a futuristic moon landing truck or the like, and we get to see them in operation here in four pages, but only three paragraphs of text to support them. We do see also two pages of the M777A2 Howitzer in action but no text.
The last eight pages give us some excellent pictures of some of the support aircraft - yes aircraft in the form of the Landing Craft Air Cushion hovercraft, the CH-53E Sea Stallions, of the "Hammer Heads", Tilt-rotor Ospreys and Hercules. Great pictures but no supporting text here. 
I love good pictures of combat vehicles, machines, guns, aircraft and everything else that makes up the military, mostly because seeing these machines in action like we have here gives modellers so much inspiration and understanding of how they work the photographs are indeed invaluable. 

The authors could do well to add more text to describe each picture, and if they do that, they will take this now good book to a more accomplished level of value to the modeller next time.

Adam Norenberg

This new book is now available from the Pla Editions Website... Thank you to them for sending it to us to read and review.