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American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green


American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green

American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green

The United States produced a vast number of armoured fighting vehicles during the Second World War. The most famous of these was the M4 Medium Tank, or Sherman, produced in a wide range of variants, but the US also produced a large number of tank destroyers, self propelled guns, armoured support vehicles and prototypes. This book looks at each of these types of weapon, and covers all of the production versions and major development versions and most of the many prototypes.

The author has taken a nice approach here. Instead of treating each vehicle as a separate, isolated, topic, the author tells the story of how they were interrelated, with the performance of one vehicle having an impact on the design of its successful and unsuccessful successors. He also makes the link between tank design and US army doctrine, and in particular the disastrous tank-destroyer doctrine, which stated that tanks were not intended to fight other tanks. Tanks were to exploit gaps in the German lines, while lightly armoured tank destroyers took on any German tanks that were encountered.

This was largely based on the idea that the Germans would continue to use their tanks in very large concentrated formations, as seen during the crucial attack on the Western Front in 1940. Instead they adopted a mixed arms defensive system, with tanks closely supported by infantry and anti-tank weapons. As a result American tank crews had no choice other than to fight German tanks, while the tank destroyers rarely got the change to operate against large concentrations of Panzers. What we see here is the way in which US tank designs changed after the D-Day landings, when it suddenly became clear that thicker armour and larger guns were essential.

There is plenty of actual detail on the tanks and fighting vehicles, including good material on the design process, their combat performance and changes introduced during the production run. The section on the Sherman is especially good. This is often seen as a somewhat monolithic vehicle that was produced in large numbers, but without major changes, but that wasn't the case. Green takes us through the many changes to the suspension, armour, gun and equipment introduced during the production run of the Sherman, as well as dismissing some of the myths that grew up around it.

This is a valuable history of the American armoured fighting vehicle, tells us not only what was built, but why, and how well they performed.

Chapters
1 - Early Medium Tanks
2 - M4 Series Tanks
3 - Light Tanks
4 - Heavy Tanks
5 - Tank Destroyers
6 - Armored Cars
7 - Armored Half-Tracks
8 - Self-Propelled Artillery
9 - Landing Vehicles, Tracked

Author: Michael Green
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2014



American Tanks and AFVs of World War II

I keep occasional tabs on a number of Facebook pages dedicated to military vehicles and in particular the US built armor that have become icons of the Second World War. I’ve been fascinated by all this kit since the end of the 1960s and while the love affair has cooled with age I am still ready to improve my education.

Osprey has helped me considerably with this timely release of the softback edition of this excellent book by Michael Green. The author has an admirable track record of producing entertaining and reliable books and this is probably the most substantial piece of work I have seen from him, although he is prolific and I’ve only seen a modest amount of his work.

Crew of M3 tank at Souk el Arba, Tunisia, November 23, 1942.

Mr. Green takes us through early developments in US armor leading up to the Second World War and explains how faulty doctrine had an overwhelming influence on the design and planned roles of tanks and armored vehicles operated by the US Army.

The notion that tanks would not engage each other seems quite ridiculous in light of subsequent experience but there were theorists in all the major tank operating powers of the day who were jockeying to have their chosen way accepted and only a small number of them could be said to have drawn the most obvious conclusions. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The first Sherman in U.S. service, the M4A1, appeared in the North Africa Campaign. Here one of the 7th Army lands at Red Beach 2 on July 10, 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily.

Perhaps the most exemplary aspect of this is once a basically ideal doctrine was in place the US military industrial complex was set to do extraordinary things. There was a steep learning curve for everyone involved but history shows us that the United States was able to draw on immense manpower, industrial output and innovation to build armored forces capable of crushing their enemies by 1945.

There are many other factors to consider including a sheaf of ‘what ifs’ about German tank production and availability, as well as the strategic nonsense espoused by Hitler and his cronies that was to have such an impact on proceedings. But the bottom line is the United States developed a range of effective weaponry that went above and beyond the task set for them.

M18 Hellcat of the 824th Tank Destroyer Battalion in action at Wiesloch, Germany, April 1945.

Mr. Green takes us through a family tree of vehicles where some prominence is given to the M3 Lee/Grant and the M4 Sherman and their derivatives. When it comes to the Sherman I never cease to be confused by the number of models and even the minor variations that exist between them.

The basic outline is exactly what I said at the outset – iconic. Things get much more complicated thereafter and this book helps iron some of the creases out. The Sherman is emblematic of the truth that designs cannot stand still. There are always improvements to be made in the finished article or in the process of building it.

The Sherman had a number of deficiencies that were fixed or fudged one way or the other and considerable lengths were taken to keep production rolling especially when combat losses mounted.

British M3 Grant (left) and Lee (right) at El Alamein (Egypt), in the Sahara Desert, 1942, showing differences between the British turret and the original design.

It is too much of a simplification to talk of German tanks being better. They had their own problems with reliability and servicing and they always seem way too complicated in comparison with the Sherman and the Russian T34, but this, too, is a simplification. Nothing is black and white in tank history.

The other war-winning vehicles we cannot ignore are the family of half-tracks seen on every front and the range of amphibious LVTs that proved so valuable in the war against Japan and also in Europe. The half-tracks proved to be so versatile they remained in service in a host of countries for decades after the war ended.

Two American M10 tank destroyers in France during World War II.

When we remind ourselves they were still in front line Israeli service during the Six Day War of 1967 and after that it shows just what a solid design the Americans developed at the end of the 1930s. I’ve always been a big fan and enjoy seeing them at events. They are very photogenic.

There are very few LVTs on the show circuit on this side of the pond and the thing that impressed me most was the size of them. I guess building an Airfix kit in 1972 did not give me an accurate enough impression. Aside from US service the LVT proved vital for clearing the Scheldt estuary in 1944 and crossing the Rhine in the spring of 1945.

M24 Chaffee moves on the outskirts of Salzburg, May 1945

Beyond this the reader can revel in the plethora of tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery, armored cars and light tanks in the American arsenal. It all seems to go on forever. Everyone has a favorite. I could wax lyrical about the M3 and M5 Stuarts, the M24 Chaffee, M18 Hellcat and so on and so on. Listing all the vehicles covered in this prodigious book will do nothing to enhance my review. Suffice to say Mr Green has left no stone unturned and it is safe to say that all the bases have been covered.

For me, the most important thing is that the text is not boring. The plain fact is many reference type books and histories are arid in the extreme and while they are useful, they have the entertainment value of a dentist’s waiting room. Mr Green writes in a way that brings the history and the technical stuff to life and I found I did not resort to just looking at the excellent selection of pictures.

US Army M3 Stuart tank at Fort Knox, Kentucky

Those Facebook pages I mentioned earlier really are good fun and I have learned a lot. But there are always times when I just want to pull out a reliable book that covers what I need without trawling through a mass of debate and commentary that seems to go with every post I see. Sometimes already very complex subjects become overcomplicated and falling back on the world of ink and paper is the best policy. It certainly works for me.

If you are seeking a one-stop shop for US armor from the Second World War then look no further than this weighty gem. It has the air of the essential about it. This is a book you will use time and again. Your library will be enhanced when you acquire a copy.

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online

AMERICAN TANKS AND AFVS OF WORLD WAR II
By Michael Green
Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 4728 2978 8


American Tanks & AFVs of World War II

The entry of the US into World War II provided the Allies with the industrial might to finally take the war to German and Japanese forces across the world. Central to this was the focus of the American military industrial complex on the manufacture of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. Between 1939 and 1945, 88,140 tanks and 18,620 other armored vehicles were built – almost twice the number that Germany and Great Britain combined were able to supply. In this lavishly illustrated volume, armour expert Michael Green examines the dizzying array of machinery fielded by the US Army, from the famed M4 Sherman, M3 Stuart and M3 Lee through to the half-tracks, armored cars, self-propelled artillery, tank destroyers, armored recovery vehicles and tracked landing vehicles that provided the armoured fist that the Allies needed to break Axis resistance in Europe and the Pacific.

Publishing in paperback for the first time and packed with historical and contemporary colour photography, this encyclopedic new study details the design, development, and construction of these vehicles, their deployment in battle and the impact that they had on the outcome of the war.


American Tanks and AFVs of World War II (General Military)

Stuart, Sherman, Lee, and Grant tanks dominated the US Army and Marine Corps armored warfare effort versus Nazi Germany and Tojo&aposs Japan. This book details the full range of these vehicles, giving technical specifications and development features as well as describing how they were manned and fought in battle.

The equipping of the United States military with the weapons it Stuart, Sherman, Lee, and Grant tanks dominated the US Army and Marine Corps armored warfare effort versus Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan. This book details the full range of these vehicles, giving technical specifications and development features as well as describing how they were manned and fought in battle.

The equipping of the United States military with the weapons it needed to prevail during World War II was an unparalleled example of America's industrial might at the time. Among the many weapons produced by America's workers, tanks rate as an important example with 88,140 built between 1939 and 1945. This was almost twice what Germany and Great Britain built combined during the same period. These tanks not only equipped America's ground forces but saw service with many allied armies.

In addition to the 18,620 tank-based variants, such as armored engineering vehicles, self-propelled artillery, armored recovery vehicles, and tank destroyers, American factories went on to design and build thousands of wheeled armored cars for reconnaissance purposes and armored half-tracks to transport the infantry into battle behind the tanks. Like the tanks, American armored half-tracks were modified to serve a wide variety of jobs including self-propelled artillery, tank destroyers and antiaircraft vehicles. So useful were these vehicles that they would remain in service with foreign armies for decades after World War II.


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The entry of the US into World War II provided the Allies with the industrial might to finally take the war to German and Japanese forces across the world. Central to this was the focus of the American military industrial complex on the manufacture of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. Between 1939 and 1945, 88,140 tanks and 18,620 other armored vehicles were built – almost twice the number that Germany and Great Britain combined were able to supply. In this lavishly illustrated volume, armour expert Michael Green examines the dizzying array of machinery fielded by the US Army, from the famed M4 Sherman, M3 Stuart and M3 Lee through to the half-tracks, armored cars, self-propelled artillery, tank destroyers, armored recovery vehicles and tracked landing vehicles that provided the armoured fist that the Allies needed to break Axis resistance in Europe and the Pacific.

Publishing in paperback for the first time and packed with historical and contemporary colour photography, this encyclopedic new study details the design, development, and construction of these vehicles, their deployment in battle and the impact that they had on the outcome of the war.


The entry of the US into World War II provided the Allies with the industrial might to finally take the war to German and Japanese forces across the world. Central to this was the focus of the American military industrial complex on the manufacture of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. Between 1939 and 1945, 88,140 tanks and 18,620 other armored vehicles were built – almost twice the number that Germany and Great Britain combined were able to supply. In this lavishly illustrated volume, armour expert Michael Green examines the dizzying array of machinery fielded by the US Army, from the famed M4 Sherman, M3 Stuart and M3 Lee through to the half-tracks, armored cars, self-propelled artillery, tank destroyers, armored recovery vehicles and tracked landing vehicles that provided the armoured fist that the Allies needed to break Axis resistance in Europe and the Pacific.

Publishing in paperback for the first time and packed with historical and contemporary colour photography, this encyclopedic new study details the design, development, and construction of these vehicles, their deployment in battle and the impact that they had on the outcome of the war.


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American Tanks & AFVs of World War II Book Review

If you missed the original 2014 hardbound edition at US$40.00, grab the new softbound release at nearly 60% of the original's MSRP.

American Tanks & AFVs of World War II from Osprey Publishing conveniently recaps key US prototype, test, and operational vehicles of the conflict.

Call it a one-volume subject summary – sans "paper projects".

Design. Development. And, where appropriate, deployment. Author Michael Green considers most main points – including prewar influences.

Coverage almost naturally begins where America leveraged its most productive production capacity and battlefield success: two chapters on medium tanks.

The first details early vehicles and antecedents – notably the M3 Lee/Grant range. The second covers one design: the legendary M4 Sherman. It's the book's bulkiest part.

Contents then segue to a chapter each on light tanks, heavy tanks, and tank destroyers. And four final sections subsequently showcase both tracked and wheeled AFVs:

  • Armored Cars
  • Armored Half-Tracks
  • Self-Propelled Artillery
  • Landing Vehicles, Tracked

Along the way, Green dutifully details engine, armor, armament, ammunition, production, suspension, cost, modifications, upgrades, and other key considerations.

Photos, profiles, sidebars, tables, and extended captions augment the account. A selected bibliography and index wrap things up.

But it's not annotated. So you're largely on your own matching text to sources for further study. Some artwork captions also reference end- and top-view markings. But with one exception, Green's study only includes side aspects – leaving readers guessing.

Finally, why use inappropriate and anachronistic phraseology like "user community"? Why not just say, for instance, "tankers" or "crew"?

Nevertheless, if you're seeking a one-volume précis on American WWII armor, grab Michael Green's compact compendium.


American Tanks & AFVs of World War II

While much attention has been given to the German armored might of the Second World War, the American involvement is by no means small. It started the war with a meager order of tanks, only 329 light tanks in fact, but by the end of the war nearly 90,000 tanks had been built, more than England and Germany combined. These were not all just for the US, either, as US-made tanks found their way into the militaries of just about every Allied military. This book provides a comprehensive overview of all of these armored vehicles, from those early light tanks to the latest, most advanced tanks produced by the US during the war.

The book is broken down into specific sections that cover general large segments of the armored vehicle range. These include:

  • Early Medium Tanks
  • M4 Series Tanks
  • Light Tanks
  • Heavy Tanks
  • Tank Destroyers
  • Armored Cars
  • Armored Half-Tracks
  • Self-Propelled Artillery
  • Landing Vehicles, Tracked

Each section then takes a look at their respective tanks, with a text writeup complemented by plenty of photographs. The latter are quite nice, being well printed with some in color.

While it would be easy to find more detailed texts on specific tanks, this book shines as a one-stop single reference on all the vehicles produced by the US during the war. As such, it is a great starting point for finding out about a particular vehicle. My thanks to Osprey for the review copy.