The latest book in Osprey Publishing’s long-running “Elite” series of richly illustrated, concise compendiums of military forces, artifacts, people, and warfare techniques is Vietnam War U.S. & Allied Combat Equipments (65 pp. $19, paper), written by the much-published Gordon L. Rottman, who served with Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War, and illustrated by the veteran artist, Adam Hook.
This volume does a fine job focusing on showing and telling the things we American soldiers and Marines carried in Vietnam, along with sections on the combat equipment used by the ARVN, and the Australians. We’re talking about equipment here, not weapons so much—so, we get detailed explanations (and photos and sketches) of all manner of things such as weapon accessory cases, rucksacks, canteens, entrenching tools, machetes, bayonets, flashlights, gas masks, and much, much more.
“There is little mention of tunnel rats in unit histories. Since there were no tunnel rat units as such, they being ad hoc teams and volunteering individuals, there are few separate studies and reports other than those buried within unit records.” Those are the words of the prolific military historian (and Vietnam veteran) Gordon L. Rottman in his latest book, Tunnel Rat in Vietnam (Osprey, 64 pp., $18.95, paper).
Rottman has added to the body of tunnel rat knowledge with this concise, heavily illustrated volume, number 161 in the British publisher Osprey’s Warrior series of books. Rottman follows the series formula and offers a no-frills, detailed accounting of what life was like for those who went down into the VC tunnels to ferret out the enemy, mixed in with boilerplate facts about the war and those who fought in it. The formula also includes lots of technical details and the book contains plenty of information on the pistols, knives, flashlights, and other things the tunnel rats carried below (and above) ground.
Author Gordon L. Rottman
While the book has lots of photos of tunnel rats in Vietnam and while Rottman describes what the men went through, he never mentions the name of any individual who served as a tunnel rat. This is an odd omission in a book that showcases the unique, extremely dangerous, tension-filled job that tunnel rats did in the war.
The newest entry–number 184–in Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard series of concise, profusely illustrated books dealing with military machinery throughout the ages is Vietnam Gun Trucks (48 pp., $17.95, paper) with text by Gordon L. Rottman and illustrations by Peter Bull.
Rottman, a Vietnam veteran and prolific Osprey historian, sets out the details of the various U.S. military vehicles that protected convoys that shipped munitions and supplies overland in Vietnam. These are the “gun trucks” of the title, nearly all of which were improvised in country by the crews that manned them. As is the case with other Osprey titles, this book is filled with many technical details, photos, and illustrations.
“Gun trucks,” Rottman says, “proved to be extremely successful. Even though not officially authorized, their existence was known and their value recognized at all levels in the chain of command. They were considered essential for ensuring convoys made it to their destinations and for limiting losses.”