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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Building SAS & LRDG Jeeps

64 large format pages of Jeep history by car designer and restorer Lance Cole.

Many books have been made about the first, now iconic, Second World War Jeeps. So why one more? Well, this is a Jeep book with a difference, being specially focused on modelmakers and military vehicle restorers - and not least those with a special interest for SAS and LRDG Jeeps.

Being a co-author of The Long Range Desert Group: History & Legacy my interest in LRDG & SAS Jeeps is pretty strong. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see a SAS European Theatre of Operations Jeep as the main illustration on the cover of the new Pen & Sword Land Craft series book The Jeep by car designer, author, journalist, restorer etc Lance Cole. The scale model focus of the series (like in the Tank Craft series) is apparent from the SAS Jeep on the cover, as it is a model. But photographs of actual vehicles and color line drawings are also very much part of the book. I would say that even if you are not at all into models and rather describe yourself as a restorer and/or reenactor, you will find this book to be both helpful and simply a pleasant read and good source.

Basically, this book contains the essential development and design history, describes the lovely details of wartime Jeeps, many variants and, of course, the services they provided on various WWII battlefields. Lance Cole delivers both excellent text and many photographs of actual Jeeps and model Jeeps. Modern military vehicle designers would do well by studying the small, very clever touches of the original Jeeps.

The scale models of SAS Jeeps are well covered, both the Jeeps used in North Africa and in the ETO. The book has only one wartime SAS Jeep photo - the most classic one there is. But the many excellent colour photos of SAS Jeep models made me forgive that. The LRDG part is just one page of line drawings, but on the other hand the four page SAS in North Africa showcase features two wonderful LRDG figures that have replaced the original Tamiya SAS figures. The book informs exactly where these figures are from, and describes and shows just about every 1:24, 1:35, 1:72 and 1:76 scale Jeep kit ever made by various manufacturers around the world. The mostly stunning photos show lots of details, scale model modifications (improvements) and in some cases the models have figures and diorama bases.

Not every aspect of this vast subject is covered in the 64 pages and one hopes that Lance Cole might one day produce a second volume with e.g. Red Army Jeeps, captured Jeeps, unpublished wartime photos of SAS & LRDG Jeeps etc. But, let me be clear, this first Land Craft series book is both a very useful and beautiful guide for Jeep lovers and especially those into scale models of this superb little green machine.

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