by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
The M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) was developed in response to the amphibious Soviet BMP family of infantry fighting vehicles, and to serve as both an APC and a tank-killer. One specific design requirement was that it should be as fast as the new M1 Abrams main battle tank so that they could maintain formations while moving, something the older M113 armored personnel carrier could not do. As with other light tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, the Bradley is designed for reconnaissance and maneuverability, but also to transport a squadron of infantry, providing them protection from small arms fire, while also providing firepower to both suppress and eliminate most threats to friendly infantry.
M2 Bradley entered service with the US Army in 1981 and since then received number of upgrades. The M2A2 variant was introduced in 1988 and the subsequent M2A2 ODS improvements incorporated to M2A2 were based on lessons learned during the first Gulf War in 1991. M2A2s were all eventually modified to M2A2 ODS or M2A3 standard.
(adapted from Wikipedia)
Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP) is a small publishing company from Czech Republic. The idea behind WWP's portfolio is to produce photographic reference books for modelers, packed with large and detailed images showing every aspect of a particular vehicle. WWP's range is broad, covering everything from military tracked and wheeled vehicles, artillery, airplanes, helicopters, to guns and accessories. This review covers one of WWP's latest titles: M2A2 Bradley in Detail (M2A2 ODS Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle).
The book arrived safely packed in a hard cardboard box and additionally secured inside a bubble-wrap. At first glance the book looks amazing, printed on a high-quality paper, well structured, professionally presented and packed out with large color photos. Here are the basic facts:
Title: M2A2 Bradley in Detail
Publisher: Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP)
Authors: Ralph Zwilling
Format: softcover (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $36 (€25)
This book consists of 96 pages and displays vehicles photographed during several Mission Rehearsal Exercises as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ralph Zwilling, the author of the book, is a professional military photographer who witnessed the campaign in Iraq as an embedded journalist with the famous 1st US Infantry Division "Big Red One". The book is organized in 12 chapters:
• Introduction (002-011)
• Hull Walkaround (012-035)
• Driver's Compartment (036-039)
• Squad Compartment (040-049)
• Turret Exterior Details (050-073)
• Turret Interior Details (074-081)
• Fire System Details (082)
• NBC Protection System (083)
• OIF M2 (084-089)
• M2 ERA Details (090-093)
• OIF M2 Wrecks (094-095)
• The Dismounts (096)
The first chapter, introduction, spans over 10 pages and is a bit longer than usual opening chapters in WWP titles. This section describes the origins of Bradley Fighting Vehicle, its development and modernization programs, as well as some technical details of the vehicle. Also, a brief overview of Combined Arms Battalion organization is included. The M2A2 ODS photo reference manual starts with the hull walkaround, a 24-pages long chapter showing the complete hull exterior: front hull with headlight assembly, power plant details, right and left hull side with numerous details of side skirts, rear hull with storage boxes (inside and out), rear light assembly, and rear ramp details. This chapter also includes detailed photos of suspension: tracks, sprocket, idler and road wheels. Hull roof comes next with power unit exhaust grille, engine exhaust and driver's hatch details on the front hull, as well as cargo hatch (inside and out). The driver's compartment chapter follows, with 4 pages of photos showing fairly spacious driver's compartment interior in detail. A brief description of the compartment is included, explaining all the gizmology required for driving the vehicle. Wow! The interior continues into 10 pages long squad compartment chapter. Again, the compartment is shown in amazing detail, a true delight for the most dedicated modelers: bench seats, TOW missile rack, intercom boxes, interior lights, MRE heater, periscopes, cargo hatch... you name it, it's all there. This chapter also describes the interior layout and offers detailed information on all the interior squad compartment sections. Next up is the chapter on turret exterior details. This chapter spans over 24 pages and shows photos of the complete turret exterior: the 25mm M242 chain gun and M240C coaxial gun, smoke grenade launcher system, TOW 2 anti-tank guided missile (open and folded), turret bustle rack, crew controls and sights, commander's hatch, gunner's hatch and GPS antenna details. This chapter also provides ample of info about all these turret parts, and it is a very interesting read. Turret interior details chapter comes next. These 8 pages depict commander's compartment details with turret controls, FACB2 package, SINGCARS radios, as well as gunner's compartment details with gun controls and integrated unit sight. M242 Bushmaster chain gun is also displayed in detail. All these sections are again fully described in the accompanying text. The automatic fire detection and suppression system components and NBC protection system are shown in single page chapters. The following chapters present the vehicle during Operation Iraqi Freedom... the OIF M2A2 displays several different vehicles fitted with ERA or BUSK, while the next chapter consists of 4 pages showing ERA details, not just the Explosive Reactive Armor blocks but also a side sub-structure for mounting the blocks. Next is the 2-page long chapter on OIF M2A2 wrecks, displaying two vehicles destroyed by IEDs in Iraq, while the last short chapter shows the dismounts.
Having reviewed number of WWP books for the site, I know exactly what to expect from WWP even before I start turning the pages. Still, some titles manage to sweep me off my feet... M2A2 Bradley in Detail is such a title.
So, what is it so special about this book? First and foremost, the photos. Photos are the main reason modelers buy books, and this particular title features over 250 high-resolution, large color photos showing every aspect of M2A2 ODS Bradley, inside and out. All the tiniest details are covered by the photos and I really can't imagine anyone (including the die-hard rivet counters like me) needing any additional references for modeling the super-accurate M2A2 ODS. There are several chapters depicting vehicles from OIF which is a great bonus. The information supplied on the M2A2, both the intro and the captions, is longer than usual but it provides a very informative read, explaining various details presented in the photos.