When I first became interested in building some Airborne Jeeps I looked around for a good reference source. On the front of the Resicast conversion instructions was recommended reading British Airborne Jeeps 1942 to 1945 by Rob van Meel.
This reference first became available in March 1997 and the edition of the book I have is the seventh edition which came out in 2002.
The publication does not pretend to be a complete history of the development of jeeps in the British Army, but concentrates on the modification and developments of those jeeps used by the Airborne Forces.
The publication is a soft back type affair consisting of 60 pages of text and drawings, along with 18 pages of black and white reference photographs.
Pages 1 and 2 contain the publishers details along with the number of editions published.
Page 3 opens with a short introduction and a listing of the content. There then follows a brief history of the jeep development. Pages 4 and 5 contain a listing of British Jeep Contracts and Census Numbers. The following two pages are given over to a detailed table listing the 28 different alterations that were made to the airborne vehicles, and on which type of vehicle they were applied to, such as signals jeep, RA jeep, etc. Further details of these modifications are covered on pages 8, 9 and 10.
Pages 11 through 37 give detail drawings of the vehicles and various fitting types. Moving on to page 38 we get a brief but informative text on the Loading of Vehicles in Gliders, whilst pages 39 through 44 give loading diagrams for the different types of jeep loads on the gliders.
On page 45 we have some interesting text about vehicle paper work whilst pages 46 to 50 go into some detail about Airborne Vehicle Markings.
Switching slightly, the focus moves on to detailed information and drawing of the 10cwt Lightweight Airborne trailer. You get Census Numbers and Manufacturers data, detailed diagrams and reference pictures for a variety of styles of trailer.
Finally to round up on page 60 you get a list of sources used in the gathering of the information and a neat cartoon of two Brits saying “I’m buggered if I know where we are!”
As mentioned above, the last 18 pages are given over to reference pictures. These are in black and white and cover the vehicle both in and out of action. The first 10 pages of pictures relate more to the conversion parts, whilst the remaining pages are given over to actual wartime photographs. Most of these relate to the Arnhem Campaign, many of which I have seen before. There are 3 decent sized photographs per page.
This is an excellent reference for those interested in this particular vehicle and its various airborne variants. The standard of publication is compliant with what you would have got in the 1990’s, so therefore not what we have become used to today. That said, the information is well documented, and the addition of the Glider Load Tables, Vehicle Markings and 10cwt trailer information is very useful indeed.
The book cost me £16.99 and was well worth the money. It cleared up a lot of unknowns and is an easy read with some very useful information and plenty of diagrams, pictures and charts. The style is a bit dated but for me that’s of no real consequence as it is the information it contained that I was interested in, and although I had gathered up a fair bit this books just confirmed and then expanded on what I had managed to learn from other sources.
Groucho Publishing do a fair range of Military Vehicle Manuals which you can find listed here, Groucho
You can also visit Rob’s site here, which is a very useful source of publications Rob van Meel
My thanks to Rob van Meel for his kind permission to reproduce some of the text and images for this review.