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Book Review WWII US Army in Europe and the Pacific

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Reviewed by Glen Broman

The subtitle for this book is “Painting and weathering AFV with Vallejo products”. I guess since this is published by Vallejo, no one should be surprised by that. So let me tell you the tale of how I came to pick up this book. I was picking up some paints I had ordered at the World Headquarters of Last Cavalry and mentioned that I had seen this book on the website. They had a few on the shelf so I picked one up. I had also seen a flip through by the folks on the UK Bookworld web page and it looked interesting. I also have to admit I had an ulterior motive in picking this up. I’m experiencing a bad case of painting block lately. I have quite a few kits stacked up in various stages of completion, most in the final weathering stages. There are several reasons for that, first, with the onset of Covid, I got pulled away from the bench because work got crazy and then I started building for relaxation. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, except if you just build, but don’t paint, things start to stack up on the old production line. So I got into siege build mode and starting priming models to get the process started again. So once I got 22 models primed, I got out the paints, right? No, I built 4 more models. Bet you didn’t see that coming did you? Well, neither did I. So, anyway, after taking a look at this book, I decided that this might get the painting juices flowing.

So why did I think this would help get me painting again? Well, it does have some really inspiring photos and it’s really focused on the painting aspect. There are a few other things I found interesting about this book. First, I like the style of painting presented by the author. I am a retired tanker. I’ve been around tanks on active duty and my present job for about 47 years. In all that time, I never saw a modulated paint job on a real tank. If that floats your boat, then hey, treat yourself, but I want my tanks to look like a real tank; dirty, scratched, dusty, muddy and looking generally lived in. Now, I do get the occasional laugh at folks who portray the aluminum bits on a vehicle as rusted, but that will be our little secret. Also, this book is all about painting. There are a few shots of what the completed model looks like before the painting starts, and a good description of the kits and after-market or modifications made.

So the painting aspect is what really puts the meat on the bones in this book for me. First off, the photography is excellent and very clear. I also found the subjects interesting. The subjects covered are an early Stuart and an M5A1, a Dodge 37MM AT Gun Motor Carriage, an LVT(A)-2, several flavors of Sherman’s in Europe and the Pacific and an armored jeep from the Bulge. The painting and weathering steps are shown as step by step, with the products used and descriptions on how there are applied. Perfect for getting those painting juices flowing. There are some great techniques here, although if you are an experienced model builder, you may have your own processes and painting flow, for example, I prefer to do my oil dot weathering on the base coat before I start weathering, rather than after the weathering has started, but your mileage may vary. Even if you’ve been doing this for years there may be some interesting ideas in here. I see the real value of this book as a primer for those folks who are looking to expand their techniques and develop an overall flow of painting and weathering. Oh, and also folks who are trying to get over painters block.

At the end of the book are two interesting chapters, one is a section of color profiles of US vehicles, both Army and Marine in Europe and the Pacific. The quality and colors are okay, not as good as most Guideline publications for example, but still serviceable. There is also a photo gallery of the author’s works. The quality of the work is truly excellent, but the subjects are not limited to US vehicles, or even WWII. Overall, there are some very impressive photos here to motivate you.

Now, a few things that make me go what up with that? First, would it kill to spend a little more time editing the text? There are lots of minor little grammar issues throughout the text. There is also a short historical blurb at the beginning of each build article. Having someone knowledgeable do a little fact checking here would have cleaned up a few errors. As an example, USMC General Holland “Howling Mad” Smith is given the rank of Admiral. Now anyone who has read any Pacific War histories would know that the only thing that “Howling Mad” Smith hated more than the US Army was the US Navy, so I would personally be very concerned with his ghost chasing me down and showing off that famous temper and getting all up in my grill doors. Regarding the title “WWII US ARMY”, I would also like to delicately point out that one does not interchangeably use the terms US Army and United States Marine Corps, or “Soldier” and Marine”. This is also a good way to get someone up in your grill doors, and my goal is for us model builders to get together for one big kumbaya build, so just sharing that little tidbit to help keep the peace and keep those group hugs coming. So all in all, these are just some minor niggles, and don’t detract from the overall quality of the book.

So, we come to the end. Overall, I would recommend this, especially if you are working at the intermediate level of modeling and are looking to improve to an advanced level, or just looking to integrate the various painting and weathering products into a coherent finishing process. I would also point out that even though this book exclusively uses Vallejo products, you can easily transpose the various products of other manufacturers into this process. At $26, it’s very affordable and a good value for money. As I mentioned earlier, I purchased my sample from Last Cavalry (www.lastcavalry.com

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