The stalwarts of modern SEAL reference picture books are Mr. Fred Pushies and Mr. Hans Halberstadt, with namely Pushies releasing new books every year. Since the SEALs are regarded as a Special Force, a degree of secrecy hinders public access to their information, equipment, and capabilities. Therefore, most SEAL books are either heavy in text with little to no color photos, heavy in photos with little text, or cover a lot about BUDS training. The modern SEAL military figure modeler often does not care to use or read training information because SEAL figure modelers model soldiers, not fresh recruits.
Motorbooks has a (bad) reputation of repackaging text and adding a new cover, thus making a new book with a new copyright date and price tag. Now Pushies seems to have followed the same trend of rehashing. A look at the “Special Thanks” page reveals thanks to many military Public Affairs offices and private weapons and sensor companies. Unfortunately, no thanks were given to actual active or retired SEALs or service members, and in retrospect, this book could have benefited from actual SEAL input.
Following the same hardcover and color photo format as Fred Pushies’s “Weapons of Delta Force,” this book rehashes about 85% of the Delta Force book with the content, information, and layout almost matching the Delta Force book. Pushies subdivides this book into these six chapters:
Pushies books are often renowned for their beautiful color photos and apparent lack of detailed information with this book being no different. When I flipped through the book, I couldn’t help but wonder if MBI sat on the Pushies’s submittal for a year before publishing it, or if Pushies and MBI gathered all previous content and slapped on a new cover. Either through Pushies lack of work (just contacting the public affairs offices), a book sent in around 2001 but published in 2004, or both, this book misses almost every new item the SEALs are using today. Only a few brief paragraphs talk about Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and the SEAL involvement there. A mention, but no descriptive paragraphs, was given to SEAL operations in 1993 Somalia. A photo and caption with a few blurbs, but no descriptive paragraphs, mention the SEAL involvement in the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch. The lack of access to the SEALs seems apparent throughout the book since most photos are from the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense. Photos that have no credits seem very familiar to training I’ve seen in video footage from The Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel.
The strengths of this book lie in Chapter 2: Watercraft. While Mr. Halberstadt’s 1996 SEAL books do a fine job of describing the SEAL watercraft, this book has detailed exterior and interior photos of most SEAL watercraft from the large Patrol Coastal to the tiny Combat Rubber Raiding Craft; however, the only close-ups are of the guns. Pushies appears to have ridden on a few of the watercraft as evident in his photos of the boat crew and interior bucket seats. Nonetheless, features of these boats such as the craft deck, all the weapons stations, and radar masts are not photographed.
Chapters 3-6 are namely rehashes of Pushies’s “Weapons of Delta Force” and his previous works. The Air Assets cover USAF AC-130s and the helicopters used by the U.S. Army’s Task Force 160—information already covered in his “U.S. Air Force Special Ops”, “Weapons of Delta Force”, and “Special Ops” books. Chapter 4 covers the M4A1 carbine in nice detail, highlighting all the information and attachments this remarkable weapon possesses. While commendable, this breaks no new ground since Pushies’s previous books already covered the M4A1 in remarkable detail. Chapter 5 almost reflects the “Weapons of Delta Force” book in that the same pistols, machine guns, knives, explosives, and sensors get covered and photographed. Chapter 6 also contains the same information as “Weapons of Delta Force” with ironically the SOMAV vest, SEAL H-harness, MICH helmet, bandanna, floppy hat, floatation vest, Draeger rebreather, or ProTech helmet even pictured or covered.
Perhaps the saddest part comes from the prime distinguishing weapons and vehicles that differentiate and characterize the SEALs from their Special Forces counterparts, namely the MK-43 MOD 0 (M60E4), the SEALs’ unconditional use of the M-14, the Desert Patrol Vehicle and Advanced Light Strike Vehicle (ALSV), and the MK 46 MOD 0 (Para SAW), only receive a few short paragraphs. The ALSV doesn’t even have a photo, nor is there a side view of the M60E4.
The book does not cover arctic, desert, oil derrick, hostage takedown, urban combat, or jungle warfare uniforms and gear. There is no mention of Naval gun support, aviator uniforms, Toyota pickups, skis, long hair and moustaches, grappling hooks, wetsuits and flippers, or sniper ghille suits. These oversights, this lack of coverage, really makes this book no different from “Weapons of Delta Force” and extreme critics could even go so as far to say that “Weapons of Navy SEALs” didn’t even need to be printed because to a layman, the weapons, gear, and uniforms seem the same as those of Delta Force. Whereas Tom Clancy often quotes, “See my other (title) book for information on the (item name),” Pushies just repeats what he has previously published, over and over and over again. I felt removing the Air Assets chapter and replacing it with Naval support such as destroyers’ 5-inch guns, carrier aircraft, Marine air, Seawolf submarines, and ballistic missile subs converted for SEAL support would do this book way more justice to differentiate SEALs from Delta Force.
The high-resolution color photos do redeem this book to a certain extent with most of the photos depicting actual SEALs and Special Boat Crew. Sadly, the gun photos were published in Pushies previous books. Those looking for exclusive photos of SEALs in Afghanistan, Philippines, or Iraq will have to look elsewhere. The SEAL photos in this book do help the modeler; nonetheless, the modeler has to know what he or she is looking at.
Despite all my harsh criticism, I did buy this book because Pushies remains the only “new-content” producer of modern U.S. solider references with color photos. Pushies’s SEAL book pales in comparison to the informative and descriptive tomes of Misters Hans Halberstadt, Sam Katz, and S.F. Tomajczyk. Yet until these other MBI authors release new Special Forces books, the military modeler has no real choice but to choose Pushies when it comes to printed material. For those readers who have the entire collection of MBI POWER books, think of this book as a luxury item buy (if you have excess money to spend), but without the luxury of new information. For those readers starting their collection of references to modern U.S. SEALs, I suggest purchasing this book in addition to the Hans Halberstadt SEAL books.
About Peter Ong (Trisaw) FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
I model modern topics, mainly post 1991 Gulf War onwards.
My modeling interests include:
* Science-fiction/ fantasy
* 1/100 Gundam
* 1/35 armor
* Kitbashed projects
* Special Forces
* Resin or plastic modern figures
* 1/24 Police, fire, medical, and Government vehicles
* Rare, unique, ori...