by: Bill Plunk [ ]
Introduction Ampersand Publishing continues their efforts at providing photo references or “Visual History” volumes covering a wide range of subjects. This particular volume is titled Heavy Wrecker: A Visual History of the US Army’s Wheeled and Tracked Wreckers 1940-45 and is authored by David Doyle. The book deals specifically with the M1 Series, the Diamond T, the C2, the M31, and M32 vehicles.
Review:The book is designed along the same format as the other Ampersand series Panzerwrecks or Allied/Axis photo journals in terms of dimensions and style. The book is an 11” x 8.5” landscape style soft cover edition printed on high quality glossy paper and consists of 120 pages in total. As a visual history, the book emphasizes photos over text with the majority of the pages containing single photos at high resolution with accompany detailed captions that outline relevant details between the different vehicles and their sub-variants where appropriate. A brief 2 page Introduction provides some historical background to the development and deployment of the wrecker class of vehicles and then it’s right on into the heart of the book with the different sections devoted to each class of vehicle.
M31/T2 Wrecker: First up on the list are the tracked wreckers beginning with the M31/T2 family based on the M3 chassis. This section covers 16 pages with each page containing a single photo and detailed captions. The photos show the vehicles in a variety of settings ranging from depots to loading/unloading from amphibious transports to recovering a variety of vehicles in the field. The theaters covered in the in-action photos include both Italy and NWE.
M32 Series Wreckers: This section deals with the M32 family based on the M4 chassis and contains 51 photos across 38 pages. The first 3 pages deal with the T5 pilot vehicle that later became designated the M32 with an additional 2 pages devoted to the M32. The M32B1 is covered in 10 pages and includes 3 pages of M32B1s in service in Korea. 6 pages are devoted to the M32B2 along with the note that only 26 of these were produced. Most of the photos are captioned showing these in use in the Pacific with Marine units and includes a shot just after one has created the famous situation of a Sherman M4A2 carrying a Japanese tankette on its rear deck. 7 pages are devoted to the M32B3 including 1 page showing the pilot T5E3 that the series was developed from.
Breaking up the routine a bit, there are 2 pages interspersed here showing “Miss Tex”, a late production M32B1with quite a few modifications pointed out in detail in the captions for this unique vehicle. The captions note that the photos are dated “summer 1945” and that this in turn precluded its use in WW2 and that its service beyond these photos is unknown.
Rounding out this section, 2 pages of the M32A1B3 fitted with the HVSS suspension are included of vehicles serving with the USMC, one of which is from the Korea timeframe. The final elements of this section are 5 pages that include 17 photos, most of which are laid out 4 to a page, providing detail shots mostly of the interior of an M32B1 while others show details of the M32 winch and assembly as well as diagrams of the A-frame boom assembly.
M1 Wrecker Series: This section covers 28 pages with single photos on each page with the exception of one page that has 4 photos dealing with the different Series of M1 Wreckers. 4 pages deal with the Ward LaFrance Model 1000, the test vehicle for the M1 Series of vehicle as well as photos of the Series 1 of this vehicle type. 5 pages deal with the Series 2 and 2 pages cover the Series 3 along with the note that the entire run of 365 vehicles in this series was provided to the British as Lend-Lease equipment. 3 pages are devoted to the Series 4. M1 Wreckers were also produced by Kenworth and were known as the model 570/571/572 and this section points out the key identifying characteristics of a Kenworth vehicle vs. Ward LaFrance vehicles. 5 pages are devoted to this class of M1 Wreckers. Rounding out the section are 9 pages dealing with both the Kenworth and Ward LaFrance M1A1 series of vehicles.
C2 Aircraft Wrecker: The smallest section at 10 pages, this area deals with the specialized vehicle for aircraft recovery and maintenance that were built by Federal, Corbitt, Sterling and Bederman for use by the US Army Air Forces and the US Navy. Photos show both early and later model C2s in various maintenance usage for both the USAAF and USN in various theaters.
Diamond T 4-Ton Wrecker: The final section covers 24 pages and contains 52 photos of the Diamond T 4-Ton Wrecker class of vehicles. The photos include both the 969 and 969A variants with a mix of closed and open cabs in various theaters and performing in-action tasks. A very interesting photo on p. 109 is the equivalent of a “class photo” showing a Jeep, an M32B1, a Diamond T 969A, and a M1A1 Ward LaFrance Model 1000 Series 5 all lined up side-by-side and taken in Korea in 1951. The section concludes with a series of black-and-white walk-around photos of a preserved exampled at a show in Southern England. This section contains 39 photos of various detail features and are clearly captioned with detailed explanations of the features in question.
Conclusion: At 120 pages and packed with a total of 175 photos, this is a great value for the Allied soft-skin enthusiast interested in the wrecker family of vehicles. All of the photos are of high quality and detail with clear captions explaining each photo and providing context where appropriate. The various sections endeavor to cover the development and characteristics within each class of vehicle and clearly define the various characteristics from one vehicle to the next as well as individual differences between manufacturers of the same class where appropriate. Highly recommended.