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Book Review of

“Italian Truck Mounted Artillery: In Action"

Review By Patrick Keenan - Aurora, Illinois USA

Basic Item Information

Title

Italian Truck-Mounted Artillery: In Action

Author, Editor and/or Illustrator

By Ralph Riccio & Nicola Pignato

Illustrations by Don Greer and Matheu Spraggins

Publisher

Squadron/Signal Publications (In Action Series #2440)

ISBN/Stock Number

ISBN 978-0-89747-601-0

Subject

Italian WWII era wheeled self-propelled guns

Media

Soft Cover Book

Number of Pages

56

Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

(146) Black/White Photographs, (14) Color Illustrations and 9 Black/White Illustrations

Text Language

English

Retail Price

$14.95 USD

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan

Review Date

March 9, 2010

Review Summary*

Review Type

Full Read

Basic Positive Features

Great value for the money.  The quantity and variation of photos is exceptional.  Photos of Italian Wheeled SPG’s are fairly hard to find, especially in one book like this.

Basic Negative Features

The book’s topical organization skips back and forth a few times.

Recommendation

A "Must Have"

* For information regarding the review terms, grading scale, etc. please go to the WarWheels Review FAQ/Key

Photos

              

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Detailed Review

Book Content

This review is of the latest reference offering by Squadron/Signal Productions in their “In Action” series.  It is called “Italian Truck-Mounted Artillery: In Action” and is authored by Ralph Riccio and Nicola Pignato.  Don Greer and Matheu Spraggins also assist by providing full color plates and line drawings, respectively.  If you’re not familiar with the “In Action” Series of books, these books focus on providing photos of specific/types of vehicles in their natural element (in use and on the move) and are of interest or useful to modelers and military vehicle enthusiasts alike. 

This book is fairly comprehensive in nature and covers the various types of World War II era Italian wheeled self propelled guns as well as some of their forbearers used in WWI and between the wars. These vehicles run the gamut from purpose-built truck-mounted artillery to heavily armed reconnaissance vehicles on to improvised wheeled Anti-Aircraft mounts.  Considering the normal purpose of “In Action” books is to give the reader a general view of the vehicle(s) covered, this book is even better than normal as it is surprisingly comprehensive.  For instance, a very welcome addition in this book is that when certain wheeled SPG’s are covered, fairly detailed information is provided not only about the vehicle carrying the gun, but the artillery piece mounted as well.

The vehicles covered in this book are as follows:

Truck Mounted Artillery

  • Autocannone da 75/27 C.K. (Mounted on the Itala X heavy and the Ceriano 50 CMA truck chassis)
  • Autocannone da 75/27 A.V. (Anti-Aircraft gun mounted on the Lancia IZ Truck Chassis)
  • Autocannone da 76/30 R.M. (Mounted on the FIAT BLR 4x2, Lancia 3 Ro NM and FIAT 634N Truck Chassis)
  • Autocannone da 90/53 (Mounted on the Lancia 3 Ro NM, Breda 52 6x4 Truck and Breda armored truck chassis)
  • Autocannone da 100/17 (Mounted on the Lancia 3 Ro NM Truck Chassis)
  • Autocannone da 102/35 (Mounted on the 5-ton SPA 9000 C, Lancia 3 Ro NM and FIAT 634N Truck Chassis)
  • Autocannone da 105/29 (Also mounted on the SPA 9000 C)

Light Desert Trucks

  • Camionetta Desertica Mod. 42/Camionetta II Metropolitana

  • Camionetta Desertica Mod. 43

  • FIAT/SPA AS 37 Truck with Breda Model 35 20/65 Cannon

Field Expedients/Captured Vehicles

  • Autocannone da 65/17 (Using captured British Morris CS8 vehicles)
  • Autocannone da 75/27 (Mounted on Italian TL-37 Prime Movers)
  • Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) Chevrolet C15/ Ford F15 mounting the Breda Model 35 20/65 and/or Model 39 Cannon
  • CMP Ford F60 mounting the Breda Model 35 20mm Cannon
  • SPA Dovunque 35 Truck mounting the 20mm Breda
  • SPA 38R Truck also mounting the 20mm Breda
  • A small section about analogous British and German vehicles

Editing of Information/ Text Flow

All in all, the text flow (e.g. the writing ability of the author) and editing of the information is good. Although a majority of the information is provided in a logical and organized way, there are a few instances where the book “skipped” back and forth between topics and some photos don't appear close to the accompanying text.  For instance, in one part of the book, there are a number of sections discussing different types of weapons, followed by an “Organization” section, and then back to sections discussing other weapon system types.  Ultimately though, there is absolutely no problem understanding what the author is trying to convey and I didn’t find myself getting at all distracted by this slight issue.

Photograph and/or Illustration Quality and Selection

Squadron/Signal is known in the modeling hobby for the quality and quantity of photographs they provide in their books, specifically in their “In Action” Series.  This latest selection is no exception.  Mr. Riccio and Mr. Pignato provide 146 photos (all black and white) and 23 illustrations on only 56 pages. 

The quality level of the photographs is generally good to very good.  However, there are a few photographs that are not perfect. With that being said, the quality of the photos is of secondary importance to me. The mere presence of these photos in the book IS the most important point to remember.  Basically, there is very little reference material on these illusive Italian wheeled SPG’s and even the most blurry/fuzzy photograph (many taken by soldiers during their WWII service) is invaluable and should be very much welcomed.

Expounding further on the subject of photographic selection, the quantity and variation of the photographs provided by the authors is exceptional, especially considering the rarity of the vehicles and their past photographic coverage.

The 14 color illustrations by Don Greer are interesting and attractive and show the special character of these vehicles.  Also, considering the absence of color photographs available to the authors, the color plates are a welcome addition.  Although, no scale is listed for the vehicles, they look to be roughly about 1/48 scale.

Finally, the 9 black/white line drawings by Matheu Spraggins are also a nice addition as well.  Most of the illustrations provided are of particular details of some of the vehicles (i.e. the driving cab of a British Morris CS8 truck). However, there is one drawing of a frontal view of a Lancia 3 Ro truck with 90/53 SPG.  One of the most useful/interesting set of drawings provided by Mr. Spraggins consists of illustrations of 3 different Italian Pirelli truck tire patterns.  Again, no scales are listed for any of these b/w illustrations, but they are all different scales/sizes.

Use as Reference

This book is an exceptional reference for modelers and vehicle enthusiasts as well.  It is a great value for the money considering the relatively low retail price of around $15 USD, especially taking into account the large number of photographs provided.  Throw in the fact that photos of these types of vehicles are few and far between, the authors definitely have a “winner” with this book.  In fact, I’m not aware of any other references exclusively dedicated to this interesting subject topic (In English).  I am not saying there aren’t any, but I haven’t seen them if they are available.

In addition, a surprisingly large amount of information is also provided about these truck-mounted self propelled guns; especially considering the fact that this book is only 56 pages long. Again, throw in the fact that information about these illusive vehicles is fairly “rare” (when compared to other vehicles), this makes this reference even more valuable to anyone at all interested in Italian WWII era vehicles in general or in "wheelies" in specific.

Quality of Print Medium

This soft cover book is “typical” of Squadron/Signal Publication’s format.  If you’ve seen one Squadron book, you’ve seen them all.  Assuming you haven’t ever seen a Squadron book, they come in an 8 ½”x 11” landscape format and the soft cover media is of a decent quality.  The construction of the book facilitates fairly frequent use/reading of the book, but not overt abuse.  Obviously, all soft cover books suffer from the fact that they don’t hold up as well as hard cover books.

Conclusion

Once again, Squadron/Signal has published a winner with this latest offering on Italian Wheeled SPG's.  The impressive amount of information and number of photos provided in this book of seldom seen vehicles is an incredible boon to those interested in WWII era Italian vehicles and/or "wheelies". The only negative point I can make about the book is that the organization skips around a bit at times, and some photos aren't close to the accompanying text. 

However, this slight issue don't take anything positive away from the book.  I consider this book a GREAT value for the money and is a "steal" at the retail price.  Honestly, this book is so good, I would have gladly bought this book with my own money, even at double or even triple it's current price. 

Recommendation:  “A Must Have” for those interested in WWII era Italian vehicles or wheeled self-propelled guns. 

Thanks to Ralph Riccio for the Review Sample.

 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan - March 9, 2010