The book’s title is “UH-1 Huey Gunships,” but would more accurately be written “United States UH-1 Huey Gunships of the Vietnam War.” Of the over two hundred photographs, only one deals with a non-US subject and less than ten deal with armed subjects clearly from the post-1975 time frame. There is only one picture of a post-2000 US Marine UH-1N, which are still in front line service 5 years after this book was published, though they are slated to be replaced by the more advanced UH-1Y. Armed South Vietnamese helicopters, as well as Swedish and Italian helicopters of this type (though made under license by Agusta-Bell), among others, are conspicuously absent.
Editing of Information / Text Flow
The editing and arrangement of the book seem to be sometimes schizophrenic. The book attempts to serve both as a walk around for UH-1 helicopters in general, as well as for the armament systems that one would expect to be the focus from the title. The book spends the first 20 pages focusing on basic aircraft features, but with six of the first forty-eight images showing aircraft armament. The inclusion comes off as an attempt to insert random images to maintain the titular focus.
The book then proceeds in a logical order through pictures of armed US Army, US Marines, and US Air Force UH-1s, each arranged in more or less chronological order. Some attempt is made to group information and photographs of specific armament, but the flow often appears careless.
For the last twenty pages (not including four pages of color profiles) the book looks at more type specific subjects, including armed UH-1Ds and UH-1Hs, the UH-1M, the only image of a non-US UH-1 gunship, and other sorts of special focuses. There is no chronological order and little obvious grouping of photographs and their associated images in these pages.
Accuracy of Information
This book will be most useful for those looking for more varied visuals of a subject they already know. From the inconsistency in information contained in the picture captions and color profiles it would appear that the captions supplied by the source were taken as is. If this was not the case then the lack of fact checking or editing is even more obvious. Typos abound, but are generally minor.
There are many glaring errors however, generally in descriptions of armament or specific nomenclature. One would’ve expected that in a book focused on armed helicopters that special attention would have been paid to the accuracy of such information. Examples both general and specific include (in no particular order):
- On page 21 there is a picture of four rockets. The rocket warheads are incorrectly identified for three of the four rockets. - The consistent use of “XM” nomenclature in instances where it should not be used. For instance, the XM3 armament subsystem and XM158 rocket launcher are easily separated visually from the M3 and M158A1, but the XM designations are used regardless. A graphic of rocket launchers clearly shows an M158A1, but is labeled XM158. - The confusion between XM93 and GAU-2B/A designations. The first is in the US Army nomenclature system and applies to an armament subsystem. The second is in the USAF nomenclature system and applies to the General Electric “Minigun” used in that subsystem. Throughout the captions for USAF helicopters the nomenclature is used interchangeably and with the suggestion that they both apply to the same thing (including in instances where the armament kit fitted is not an XM93). Confusion between US Army and USAF nomenclature for the GE weapon abounds in general. - The suggestion that USAF armed UH-1 types used the flexible gun sight used on the M6, M16, and M21 armament subsystems used by the US Army. Not only did the USAF not used fixed forward firing guns (the only weapons that this sight was designed to control in the aforementioned armament kits), the XM60 series sight that was used is clearly visible in at least two pictures.
Photograph and / or Illustration Quality and Selection
The overall quality of the photographs, both in black and white and in color, is for the most part good. That is to say the photographs, both color and black and white, are generally crisp and clear and in the black and white photographs detail is visible. There are some slightly blurry photographs and there are some black and white photographs were the lighting makes it difficult to discern specific details.
However, the photographs are often very small (generally three or four to an 11” x 8.25” page). This can make even the detail shots of general aircraft components and armament subsystem components difficult to make out without really looking closely. There are also some instances where the armament subsystem or even aircraft focus of an image is not enlarged to any degree. In some images the entire subject aircraft can be as little as 3” long (length of the fuselage), making large markings clearly visible, but walk-around level detail would be impossible.
There are high and low points to the selection of images as well. It is really only a nitpick to point out that far more kits for the UH-1 were developed than are shown. The number of improvised armament arrangements and other unique photographs make up for this. Good detail shots of the most common armament subsystems are provided, which for most modelers would be more than sufficient. Excellent detail shots of more obscure US Navy, USMC and USAF armament configurations is also included. These would be invaluable to modelers looking to recreate these aircraft.
Still, there are a number of questionable selections. Photographs of unarmed aircraft near the beginning make sense. It was clearly the aim to make the book function at least in some fashion as a walk around for the basic aircraft, as well as armed helicopters and specific armament kits. Dedicating an entire page near the end to a single image of a UH-1B is questionable. There are a few other similar instances, leading me to question whether it would not have been better to substitute these images for pictures of foreign armed UH-1s or post-1975 US subjects, which, as noted, are essentially omitted.
Use as a Reference
To summarize the point made throughout, the utility of the book as both a modeling reference and as one for armed UH-1 types in general is greater if the reader knows what they are looking for. A reader with little understanding of the subject matter will not come away from this book more knowledgeable, and may even come away more confused.
The book shines as a good collection of photographs of armed UH-1 types from 1960 to 1975. As one of the few books that focuses purely on this subject, it puts all of these images in one place. A modeler looking for a good reference for common armaments and markings for helicopter carrying them would do well to have this book.
Quality of Medium
The quality of the book itself is the same as any squadron/signal book and anyone who owns any other “in action” or “walk-around” series books will know what to expect. After some years of heavy reading the covers are already damaged and I have no doubt I have increased the likelihood of some of the pages falling out in the nearer future simply by scanning the images for this review. That being said, for most people the book should hold up well enough to continue being useful as a reference.
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Highs: One of few books dedicated specifically to this topic- Great collection of images on the topic from 1960-1975Lows: Numerous errors minor to moderate- Essentially no discussion of non-US subjects and little discussion of subjects after 1975Verdict: Modelers looking for resources on the topic of US UH-1 gunships during the Vietnam war would be served well by this book. Modelers interested in those topics without a good base knowledge of the subject may come away with less, however, due to the errors
About Joe Trevithick (Thatguy) FROM: VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
Joseph Trevithick is a published author and noted researcher, a Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, and an on-call historical consultant to Ambush Alley Games. He has been interviewed on domestic and international television, on domestic and international radio, and in print on a number of defense and sec...