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Marines Under Armor: The Marine Corps and the Armored Fighting Vehicle, 1916-2000 Hardcover – October 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"...highly recommended, especially since the Army is currently confronted with the issue of light versus heavy and rapid deployment." -- Armor, May-June 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: US Naval Institute Press (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557502374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557502377
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kenneth W. Estes, a Seattle native, is a professor of history and writer who pursued a 24 year career in the U.S. Marine Corps. Graduating in 1969 from the Naval Academy, he trained as a tank officer and served as a company grade officer in the 2nd and 3rd Marine Divisions, interspersed with academic tours of duty. Promoted major in 1979, he continued his service in the Fleet Marine Force with 2d Marine Division and, as a lieutenant colonel after 1985, Headquarters, III Marine Amphibious Force. He then joined the operations staff of Headquarters, Marine Corps in Washington. Ordered in 1989 to duty in Madrid, Spain with the Office of Defense Cooperation, he performed various duties, culminating in that of chief of international affairs. After completing a variety of command and staff assignments in the U.S. Marine Corps he retired in 1993.

Ken earned his master's degree in History at Duke University in 1974, the doctorate in Modern European History at the University of Maryland in 1984 and taught at Duke University (1981-84) and the Naval Academy (1974-78), all while a serving Marine Corps officer. He also completed the Army Advanced Armor Officer Course and attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He edited the Marine Officer's Guide and the Handbook for Marine NCOs 1983-2009, wrote eight other books since 2000 and has contributed chapters in other works, and has written extensively in military journals for over 35 years. Since retiring, he has continued to teach at colleges and universities in Europe and Seattle and engaged in consulting work in support of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies, the US 1st Armored Division, and Marine Corps University.

He received a third-place Codd Award for best NROTC instructor in the nation in 1984, and he also collected later a few personal awards: two U.S. Meritorious Service Medals, and the Naval Cross of Merit, First Class, from the Kingdom of Spain. He was made an Honorary Legionnaire in the Spanish Legion in 1992. The American Historical Association awarded him a Gutenberg-e Prize in 2002. While not a combat veteran, he has been under brief bombing, artillery and machinegun fire, all fired by fellow U.S. Marines.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mastermindquiet on December 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marines Under Armor is a history of the development, procurement and use of armor by the United States Marine Corps. Estes traces the origin of armor doctrine and use in the Marines from after the first world war through the end of the twentieth century. Between the world wars the Marines were trying to define their role in the US military and as part of that development the adoption of armor was discussed. As the book relates, the Marines initially tried to procure armor designed to their own unique requirements, but slashed budgets and the lack of a formal operational doctrine eventually drove the Corps to adopt the armored fighting vehicle types of the US Army prior to and during WW2. With the acceptance of the task of amphibious assaults against fortified beaches, the Marines did adopt unique designs such as the armored amphibious tractor. After WW2, during Korea, Vietnam and through to the Gulf War, the Marines maintained the policy of mostly using the same main battle tanks as the US Army. However, the Marines did uniquely adopt the LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) and also continued to develop the amphibious assault vehicle.

The book is more of a scholarly study with a minimum of combat stories and personal tales. A good part of the time we read about congressional hearings and doctrine development, budget concerns and organizational makeups. For the serious student of Marine armor this is a must get book, for the more casual reader this might be too tough a read to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey W. Prowse on March 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written and concise. The author focuses on acquisition, programmatics and doctrine - the exploits and combat history of Marine tank units are not covered in detail. Readers looking for coverage of tactical and operational details regarding Marine tank units in combat should look elsewhere. That said, the Marine Corps debate on armor, as it related to force structure and doctrine are well described. A great case study in how military services struggle to organize, train and equip for the next conflict.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Singer on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for the military history buff!

The book is constructed as a chronological narrative. The author recounts the story of the development of USMC armored doctrine and the selection/acquisition of armored vehicles from the start to the modern era. You get to explore the perspectives of "the old corps" attitudes, of the challenges of integrating mechanized tools of warfare into an infantry-based force, and the difficulties of offloading heavy vehicles over beaches.

If you've ever wondered what a Marmon-Herrington light tank looked like (oy, what an odd bird!), or how many M2 Light Tanks the Marines had in service in 1942, or how many M1A1 Abrams tanks the Marines had in service in 2000, you'll find your answers in here.

It is well written and a pleasure to read. Yet is is also a treasure trove of information.

So if you are intrigued by learning off-the-beaten-track historical information that is still relevant and meaningful to today's headlines, you'll be glad you read this book. I am!
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