“US Army Preventive Maintenance Manual for the M16A1 Rifle, published by PS Magazine in a comic book form. The idea was that young, uneducated soldiers were more likely to read comics than boring military manuals. This one was illustrated by the prominent comic artist Will Eisner.”

- Ossi

16 Responses

  1. Bill in Tennessee

    This comic book format was used by the Army in the Vietnam era because the Army was made up with a LOT on draftees and other “inductees” who did not always have high literacy rates but who for the most part were familiar with comic books. Manuals BEFORE Vietnam, and nowadays because we have a more educated and all-volunteer service, have no such comic book approaches. That was a special time in US military history, and because the Army was made up with a lot of draftees, that’s why the morale was so low.

    • JD

      Billy the army still publishes PS amg in Comic book form.
      The cast is more deverse now and less sexy.

  2. Litenarata

    They do still make these maintenance comic books, I’ve seen them.

  3. OT

    The PS Magazine is still alive, with the same visual style and even the same comic characters. High-tech warfare requires high-tech maintenance and PS Magazine still serves a purpose, providing up-to-date maintenance tips that would take a longer time to reach the pages of official field manuals. PS supplements rather than replaces the field manuals.

    A dedicated M16A1 issue in PS perhaps reflects the serious maintenance problems associated with the M16 rifle.

    And, educated or not, young men on distant shores still prefer a comic book over a field manual.

  4. Ronald Pottol

    As I understand it, the last two digits of the manual number indicate its target, the higher the number, the more detailed. This would be a 05, a 10 would be the technical version of this, up through 20, 30, 40. For a truck, the 40 would be detailed instructions on how to completely dissemble, inspect, repair, and rebuild the truck.

  5. Jack Deth

    Great little comic book, technical order/job guide. One of Wil Eisner’s best later pieces of work!

  6. Dave

    I still remember these in the Army before I retired, and actually contributed to two of them. One for PM (preventive maint) for computers and again for a medical project.

  7. al

    You can’t make stuff stick unless you make it interesting. I’m pretty tecnical savvy, but this was FUN to read. “Real” tech manuals can put you to sleep, no matter what you IQ or SAT is.

  8. Patron Zero

    Those comic-style manuals were still floating around in the late 1970s, saw many different ‘titles’ while stationed at Ft.Knox.

  9. Neal

    Back in the 70′s I saw another one of these produced the same way (comic style, for soldiers) titled “How To Stop a Tank.” I would love to see that again if anyone comes across a copy and cares to post it . . .

  10. Flying Frog

    They could have saved a lot of work by just replacing the defective rifles with Kalashnikovs.

    • Michael Z. Williamson

      If the rifle was defective, that might have been an option.

      Yet somehow, I’ve handled 50 or so M16s and an equal number of AR15s and can’t get them to fail properly. They seem to shoot when I pull the trigger. I HAVE had piston freeze on AKs more than once, rendering the venerable peasant rifle into an ugly peasant club that won’t shoot.

      BTW, replacing an entire logistical item, support, school, maintenance and tools IS a lot of work. Which is why the military doesn’t take advice from internet geniuses.


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