by: Peter Ong [ ]
Modern Marine books are actually not that rare. Hans Halberstadt, Tom Clancy, Fred Pushies, and Concord Publications Special Operations Journal authors all wrote nice compact books on modern U.S. Marines. Of these authors, I view Tom Clancy’s “MARINE” book as holding the crown for containing the most informative and comprehensive collection of conventional modern Marine information available at bookstores today—that is until the release of this book. Clancy’s book is somewhat dated by today’s standards, being published in the mid-1990s, and while there are a few newer Marine-related books, but most just rehash information previously published, or contain no (color) photos.
Motorbooks International has acquired a (bad) reputation of rehashing content from its previous releases, especially with their recent books focusing on modern U.S. soldier forces. “Weapons of the Modern [U.S.] Marines” bucks this trend of rehashing, namely because the two authors, Michael Green and Greg Stewart, collaborated with the Marine Corps and Motorbook’s companion author Hans Halberstadt to introduce new information where Clancy’s “MARINE” book left off. Both authors also wrote “Modern U.S. Tanks & AFVs,” another cheap Motorbook that I highly recommend.
This 128-page book contains exclusive photos that Green and Stewart took, and to my surprise and delight, almost covers all weapons and upgrade programs currently in the Corps. This makes “Weapons of the Modern Marines” unique in that some paragraphs are devoted to the future of these weapons to show the reader when to expect a system’s retirement or modernization. Furthermore, each chapter has one to two pages devoted to histories of past USMC weapons such as WW2 rifles, M103 Heavy Tank, M53 155mm self-propelled howitzer, LVT1s, etc. Nonetheless, buyers should note that this book is specifically dedicated to the modern weapons.
1. A Little Bit of Everything: Small Arms, Edged Weapons, Grenades, and Mines (18 pages)
2. Machine guns and Sniper Rifles (16 pages)
3. Indirect-Fire Weapons [mortars to howitzers] (16 pages)
4. Wheeled Weapon-Equipped Vehicles [Humvee, FAVs, LAVs] (16 pages)
5. Tracked Weapon-Equipped Vehicles [AAV, AAAV, M1] (14 pages)
6. Aerial Weapon Systems [AV-8, F-18, UH-1, AH-1] (20 pages)
The book does a nice job in answering many questions and uncertainties I had. A few of the questions this book provides information on are:
· When where the USMC HAWK SAMs retired?
· Where does the USMC use the M4 carbines and M-16A4s?
· What happened to the Predator ATGM?
· What is the USMC doing to their M1A1s?
· Does the USMC still use Self Propelled Howitzers? What about the MLRS and HiMARS?
· How many Marines normally ride in the AAV?
· Are the Marines testing 120mm mortars on LAVs?
· When were the M151 FAVs retired?
· How many LAV-Air Defense vehicles did the Marines want to buy?
· Did the Marines upgrade their Dragons ATGWs to “Superdragon” status and when were the Dragons retired from USMC service?
The more I scanned the book, the more I became impressed on the quantity and quality of the information. I give this book high marks for modernity and comprehensiveness for such new and not well-publicized weapons such as the M-14 DMR (Designated Marksmanship Rifle), 7.62mm miniguns, XM777 lightweight towed howitzer, Javelin ATGW, MEU(SOC) pistol, the Shadow, M40A3, combat shotguns, knives, the LAV Service Life Extension Program, and AAV P-900 AAK armor. Of course not every modern weapon in Marine inventory is covered (no mention of the Dragonfire auto-loading mortar being tested, M2HB SLAP rounds, non-lethal weaponry, or 5.56mm miniguns) but it does come close to being comprehensive in the conventional-Marine sense. Being focused solely on weapons systems (as the title states), Green and Stewart do not cover battle gear, night vision optics, communications, logistics trucks, motorcycles, bikes, and ATVs, scuba gear and wetsuits, cargo helicopters and planes, or boats—if it can’t kill, it’s not in this book. Best of all, a few Marine opinions are also included: “Which LAV version do Marines dislike the most and why?” “Which vehicles were popular and which weren’t?” The few opinions are welcome and do not detract from the factual information.
Those looking for photos and information on MARPAT digital camouflage, Marines in Afghanistan, training, history of the Corps, battles fought, Navy ships, and detailed dictionary-like entries and chart specifications of the weapons will have to look elsewhere since this book barely covers those topics. In addition, a book containing 128 pages can also cover only so much so some systems receive no more than a few paragraphs and not a single photo. I did find a few typos and mislabeling, such as the M-60E3 being called the M-60E2, but these errors are very rare. But in general, the information is accurate with proper designations (no F-18s being called F-14s).
The photos and their captions are top-notch, with most modern photos in color and those of WW2 and Korea in black-and-white. The captions are very informative with the information not repeated in the book’s text so it does pay to read every caption. The authors get kudos for having a photo for almost every single weapon system they mention, and in most cases, photos of the variants of that weapon system too.
For helping the modeler, this book does add value although how much value depends on what the modeler models. There are a few exclusive color and black-and-white photos of Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the destroyed AAV, improvised plate-armor AAVs, and Humvees being particularly interesting. Interior shots of the AAV’s crew and passenger compartment, photos of Marines in Iraq wearing T-shirts, the Ontos, Bazooka, BAR, M4A3 Sherman, M3A1 scout car, LVTA5, M-14 DMR, MICLIC, etc. may help some modelers build and others to expand their USMC model collection by saying, “Wow, I didn’t know the Marines used that!”
For the price, I highly recommend this excellent collection of photos and information. Green and Stewart, through Motorbooks International, have truly bought the information about modern U.S. Marines into the year 2004. Do bear in mind that for the price, Motorbooks will never compete against the detailed descriptions of (example) Jane’s or Hunnicutt’s books; but recommended Motorbooks will provide more information and photos than comparably-priced military books in the bookstores and hobby shops today.
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Copyright ©2021 text by Peter Ong [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.
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