Hot off the press from Osprey Publishing and available now to pre-order, comes this fascinating book about the modern asymmetric battlefield cavalry’s armed light utility vehicles.
The armed commercial pick-up trucks used by rebels and para-military forces, what today are usually called Technicals, are a direct offspring of the armed Willys Jeeps used by the Special Air Service and the larger light trucks used by the Long Range Desert Group in the North African desert in World War II. Roll forward to the start of this decade and events around the southern side of the Mediterranean following the Arab Spring revolts, and the concept of the Technical was widely employed by the warring factions in Libya, and in Syria too, and we nightly saw heavily armed civilian vehicles fighting against both conventional forces and opposing irregulars on our television screens.Roll back fifty years ago to just after the 1967 Six Day War, and the subsequent increase in Arab Nationalism in the Middle East, and para-military forces increasingly procured or commandeered civilian medium utility vehicles such as the Land Rover and Land Cruiser to transport heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, used in the ground support role, or crew-served anti-armour weapons. Although the term Technical may have developed later, in Somalia according to the US military though others would argue it originated much earlier, during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990 such vehicles really rose to prominence; when building scale models for competition in the first half of the 1980s I tackled a 1/35th scale armed Series III Land Rover conversion based on newsreel footage from Lebanon.
Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard series, which this year turns 25, was not around when I was at the prime of my military modelling period, and although we had a couple of Land Rover models (from Tamiya and Italeri) to convert in the popular 1:35th scale the thought of having a Land Cruiser to work on was pure fantasy. Today that has all changed, with even the most esoteric of subjects being turned out by the new wave of 21st Century kit manufacturers, and many modern era military modellers will no doubt find New Vanguard No.257 provides plenty of inspiration.
Australian author Leigh Neville, who has penned a dozen books for Osprey, has done a good job with this interesting subject, choosing some very interesting images (mostly from Getty) of Technicals in combat zones to pictorially cover the story from 1970 through to 2017. Peter Dennis, who has more than 200 Osprey titles to his credit, is responsible for the artwork; I feel this to be a little garish for my personal taste but it covers several interesting variants either not illustrated by photos or seen from different angles.
Priced at £10.99, this heavily illustrated, full-colour 48-page plus covers cardback book will be published on 19th April but can be pre-ordered here: Technicals No. 257. My only minor quibble with this one is that there are not enough Land Rovers photos, but on the other hand builders of the various Meng Model pick-up truck kits will love it.