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New Vanguard 86: M109 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer 1960–2005

by Gordon L Rottman

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-631-3, 96 pages.

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This is a very interesting account of the development and service use of the M109, and it includes the M108 105mm version for good measure. The first chapter deals with its origins, discussing the late 1940s push for new self-propelled weapons and the various designs that were tested and used before the new M108 and M109 emerged in the late 1950s and then dealing with the new vehicles’ characteristics. Next comes service use in Vietnam, an interesting section that makes clear the different US Army and USMC philosophies – the USMC preferred towed guns that could be heli-lifted – as well as how the Army actually used its guns.
Post-Vietnam developments take two chapters in their own right, with examination of the quests for longer range and for more lethal shells including area-effect sub-munitions and the special nuclear and chemical warheads. Israeli use of the M109 is looked at next, followed by a chapter on the development of precision-guided munitions. Then we get a comprehensive look at the way the M109 has been improved to the new Paladin and the FAASV ammunition transporter. Service in both Gulf Wars is covered next, and finally there’s a good section on foreign users and the modifications they have made to the original vehicles.

This book makes clear the differences between the basic M109 and the A1/A2/A3/A4/A5/A6 versions – excellent reference for modellers working with the several Italeri kits! The photographs are also very useful in that respect, and like the colour plates they do cover non-US use of the series as well as US Army service. The plates are very good, showing US MERDC colours, the 7th Army’s own camouflage, Norwegian, Canadian, and German vehicles as well as two Gulf War 1 examples – US and British – and finally a Paladin in Gulf War 2.

As I’ve said above, excellent reference: highly recommended!

John Prigent

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