AM GENERAL HUMVEE – Review by Mark Barnes

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There is a slight shift with this title in as much as it sidesteps the traditional owners’ manual subheading found on one of their well known car maintenance books. This one is an enthusiasts’ manual. Owning a Humvee is not a cheap option and, on British roads at least, not always the most practical.  You would have a lot of bother getting one down the car crammed side streets of my town. But, I have to say I love the things and would have one tomorrow if all the right conditions were in place. How easy it is to say something like that! But, if we are honest, we all have our fantasy fleet lists and the Humvee is high up on mine. I am an enthusiast!

Other than the subtlety of the title, this is a case of the same old same old with the usual high quality format pressing all the buttons Haynes’ books seem to do with ease. The photography is excellent and the usual Pat Ware style of fitting in all the important stuff is there. I was stunned by the bewildering array of Humvee models there are in service. We don’t get to see many in the UK and I find these variations fascinating. That sounds a bit trainspotterish, but if you like your military vehicles as I do then these things are important.  I particularly like the armaments carrier variant, which is resonant of the classic old Dodge weapons carrier. I was impressed with the Marines’ maintenance shop model which reminds me of a rarely seen USAAF Dodge I photographed on a London to Brighton run back in the eighties. You really can see the lineage of the Humvee in these variants. The notion it comes from the jeep is not strictly true. I have a MUTT which we all know was the last proper jeep in every sense. Mine was built by AM General who followed it up with the subject of this book. The two vehicles hardly compare.

A mate of mine in Canada owns quite a few of the things and when I first visited in 2002 I was really impressed by the number in his fleet. Unfortunately most of them were out earning their living during that visit and I was drawn to a smashed up wreck which had a Viking funeral in the production of a popular TV show. Back again in 2009 and he seemed to have even more of them and I really wish I had asked for a spin in one. The place I’ve seen Humvees most often is at the War & Peace show and a couple of years back I was directed to one which had brief service with the RAF Regiment who, I was informed, were instructed to put one through it’s paces to see if the thing would suit the UK military. It didn’t – the Land Rover remaining pre-eminent at the time. It was for sale. I still haven’t won the lottery, so we all know where story ends.

A group of Spanish lads who do modern US Army re-enacting are featured in a few of the illustrations in this book and seeing them cruising around the late lamented Hop Farm in a Humvee, tooled up with all the right kit, was a very impressive sight.  I had seen one for the first time at Beltring in 1998. It was flying a sizeable Confederate flag and a guy in a cavalry stetson sat nonchalantly in the driving seat. A running Sd.kfz.7 half-track towing an 88mm gun cruised past while I was snapping away. An entire model shop of gems, past and present, had come to life.

With over a quarter of a million built, the vehicle has been a solid success and the type, plus all the copies will be with us for a long time to come. I suppose the apogee to this is the horrid Hummer, loved by rappers, hen night car firms and sundry show offs. They can disappear as soon as they like. The civilian ugly sisters of the Humvee all feature in Pat’s in depth guide.

At the end of the day, this book is very much for enthusiasts. So it is perfect for me.

I come back to the Haynes Spitfire book I reviewed a short time ago.  Many of us want one, but we have to be content with watching other peoples’ toys. We all enjoy a multi-faceted world of military interests and I’m glad for the mix. Humvees parked next to WW2 half-tracks show us the changes in the military vehicle world and the next generation of joint light tactical vehicles will consign the subject of this book to history. This might mean we get to see a few more on the show circuit and I, for one, will not complain.

The next Haynes manual in front of me is for the F-16! You cannot complain about the breadth of subject matter in this superb range of books. This one is a copper plated gem. Top marks, Pat!

Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

AM GENERAL HUMVEE
1985 Onwards (all military variants)
Enthusiasts’ Manual
By Pat Ware
Haynes Publishing
ISBN: 978 0 85733 374 2