American Web Equipment 1910-1967 Book Review

This month’s choice of book might seem a little odd at first- why am I reviewing a book on US Webbing when this is a blog about British and Commonwealth militaria? The truth is, however, that US practices had a huge influence on British and Commonwealth webbing designs and there was cross fertilisation of ideas. The 1944 Pattern water bottle and carrier draws on the US M1910 design, as do many aspects of the Canadian 1951 pattern webbing set. The Australians in fact took the US M1956 webbing after Vietnam and started producing and modifying it and used the design for many years. It is therefore very helpful to have some basic knowledge of US design and practice and the book ‘American Web Equipment 1910-1967’ by well respected military historian Martin Brayley is an excellent primer on the subject.

The book focusses on Infantry patterns of webbing and after a brief overview of earlier designs starts with an in depth look at the US M1910 set, then following through the 1928 updates, changes in practice in the Second World War before going on to the new designs introduced after the Korean War to go with the new M14 rifle, the M1956 set. Finally the book covers the nylon updates of this set following combat experience in Vietnam to produce the M1967 set. Most major components are covered in the book, although there is obviously no space to cover every obscure piece of specialised equipment. Each chapter is profusely illustrated with a few period photographs and plenty of high quality colour images of the individual components. Each of those components is described in detail in the text, with information about variations to look out for. On the subject of variations, the book has a good selection of British made reverse lend lease webbing included, and how to identify these pieces.

The general sweep of the book is very good at getting across the evolution of US webbing design and it is easy to see how pieces were introduced and then modified or retained over the decades based on experience. I always find this developmental history fascinating so the fact that the book illustrates this nicely is a major bonus. As always with one of these books from Crowood, the layout of the book makes it easy to read and match up the pictures with the text and Martin Brayley’s writing style helps make it easy to follow what could be quite a dry and technical subject with ease.

The book was first published back in 2006, however it has been reprinted over the years, my copy coming from a print run in 2019 which perhaps illustrates the popularity and usefulness of this volume. It is published by Crowood Press for £10.95, however copies are available on Amazon for slightly less than this here.

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