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Book Review

"Dragon Wagon Part 2: A Visual History Of The U.S. Army’s Heavy Tank Transporter 1955-1975"

 

By Chuck Aleshire - AMPS Chicagoland

 

Basic Item Information

Title

Dragon Wagon Part 2:  A Visual History Of The U.S. Army’s Heavy Tank Transporter 1955-1975

Author

David Doyle

Publisher

Ampersand Group, Inc.

Subject

American Softskin Vehicles 

Media

Softcover Book (Landscape Format)

Number of Pages

120 pages

Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

Black / White and Full Color period photos

Text Language

English 

Retail Price

$22.95 USD 

Reviewer

Chuck Aleshire

Review Date

February 17, 2017 

Review Summary*

Review Type

Full Read 

Recommendation

Highly Recommended 

Photos

                       

Note: Please see the comments below regarding the photos. The above representations are limited by the difficulties presented by scanning the book.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Detailed Review

This volume is a companion book to Mr. Doyle’s earlier work on US Army tank transporters, "Dragon Wagon Part 1: A Visual History of the US Army’s Heavy Tank Transporter 1941 – 1955". That said, this book is a complete, “stand-alone” volume in itself.

As an entry in Ampersand’s on-going and extensive Visual History series of books, this volume is quite photograph-heavy, with the emphasis there, rather than on lengthy blocks of text.

What’s Covered in this Volume?

The following vehicles are documented in this book:

  • T15

  • XM123

  • M123

  • M123A1C

  • M123E2

  • XM746

  • M746

As with other volumes in the Visual History series by the author, the book begins with a brief, but still quite informative Introduction. In it, the author describes the US Army’s need for a new generation of heavy tank transporter during the middle years of the Cold War, and how these needs were ultimately met. The author does as good a job as any author that I’ve ever read in terms of giving the reader a great deal of information in very little space, and keeping it “readable”.

Following the single page Introduction, the book begins it’s mission of showing the reader the evolution of these vehicles during the year’s covered, in a generally chronological manner.

The Photographs

As color film was more commonly used post-WWII, there are a great many full color photographs seen in this volume. This is obviously a benefit to researchers and modelers alike, as words cannot adequately describe the color of that reddish toned soil of Vietnam as seen in several photographs here. Many of the black and white photographs in the book are factory or proving ground images, themselves quite valuable for their clearly seen detail.

The photographs throughout this volume depict the tank transporters in a wide variety of poses, actions and locations; from factory floor to South Vietnam. My favorite photograph in the volume has to be one that’s also used on the book’s cover; an image of a wet day in Da Nang harbor, where a damaged M48A1 tank is being hoisted off of ( or onto )  a tank transporter. The photograph just makes me smell diesel fumes and damp sea air. This book has many such great images.

A large portion of the volume’s photographs are full page size, with some being quarter or half page sized. Regardless of size, the photographs are generally all well composed, well lit, and showing the details of the vehicles quite well.

Please Note: The relatively poor scans of the pages which I’ve provided with this review in no way reflect the actual quality of the images in this book.

The Photograph Captions

As mentioned earlier, as a Visual History, the focus of this volume is of course on the photographs. That doesn’t mean that the book is lacking in informative text. The author does an outstanding job of providing a wide range of valuable information via the photo captions.

As I’ve always noticed with the author’s ability to provide great amounts of insightful information in his Introductions to his works, he also does this in his photograph captions. The what’s, where’s and when’s are typically very well described in easily read form, along with mention of any areas of special interest in the photograph. The pairing of interesting photo with informative caption is a hallmark of this author.

Conclusion

This is a very valuable book for anyone having an interest in the US Army tank transporters of the mid-Cold War, or Vietnam era.

The photographs are wide ranging in content, location and time period, and have in common the traits of being well chosen, crisp and sharp. The mix of factory or proving ground images and those taken in the field provides the reader with a great overview of these vehicles.

As always, Mr. Doyle has done a wonderful job with his text work as well. Somehow, in a book stuffed full of large photos, many of them full page size, he still manages to provide plenty of valuable and interesting information in concise text form to the reader.

This is a great addition to the Visual History line-up, and at it’s modest price point, a terrific value to the historian or modeler.

Highly Recommended!

 

Thanks to David Doyle for the Review Sample.
 
Copyright: Chuck Aleshire: AMPS Chicagoland - February 17, 2017