by: Jim Lewis [ ]
The US M4 Medium Tank (most commonly called Sherman worldwide) is a wildly popular subject for scale AFV modelers. Virtually all buffs of this subject know of the existence of esoteric specialized versions of this tank that were designed for employment in the European Theater of the Second World War. Concord Publications US Armored Funnies: US Specialized Armored Vehicles in the ETO in World War II presents a broad coverage of the various types of M4 Medium Tanks that saw service from D-Day through the end of the war.
Covered in the Book
Author Steven Zaloga opens the book with a concise introduction to present the reader with coverage for the vehicles contained within, and thoughts behind their development and use in the ETO. This is not the style of AFV reference where the reader is presented with flavor' of the men and the units themselves, but a nicely done photo essay. Not only is the famed British 79th Armoured Division's vehicles covered by photos, but so are lesser-known American designs that were spread throughout regular tank divisions in the ETO. Modeling fans of tank recovery and armored engineer vehicle types will like this reference.
The reader will find coverage of DD (Donald Duck) Tanks, Flail Tanks, Dozer Tanks, M31 and M32 Recovery Vehicles, the M33 and M35 Prime Movers; Treadways, Bridgelayers and Mine Clearing Tanks - and more. No reference on this subject would be consider complete if the Mine Roller Aunt Jemina and the T34 Calliope Annabelle were not included - but they are supplemented by coveration of some more unusual vehicles like the T40 Whiz-Bang Rocket Launchers, the Leaflet Night Fighting Tanks (American T10 Shop Tractors based on the M3 Medium Tank - along the same concept as the British Canal Defense Light tanks) and photos of the rare US M4 Crocodile Flamethrower Tanks of the 739th Tank Battalion - these Sherman Crocodiles not to be confused with the British Churchill Crocodile...
This book closes with some nice photos of US PSYOP Sonic Deception vehicles - which are better covered in my previous review of Jonathan Gawne's Ghosts of the ETO. Of particular interest are M39 AUV (converted M18 HellCat Tank Destroyers) fitted out for sonic operations - a wonderful conversion idea for either the AFV Club or Academy model kits.
Closing the Last Page
Sixteen Color Plates accompany 192 Black & White photos in this 72 page reference. As become standard for the Armor at War series, Concord Publications' soft-cover book is smartly presented and attractively bound. Though some photographs have been repeated from previous volumes covering the M4 Medium Tank, I still find this reference book valuable for building a modeler's reference library. I did not peruse the book in attempt to highlight photo caption errors becuase I felt that would not offer serious value to the overall review of the book - and concentrated on what was included and its value to the reader. More often than not, caption errors aren't the result of the Author. From a modeler's perspective, you really want to know if the book has good information and photos for future modeling efforts - and whether or not anything new and interesting is presented to add your your ever-growing reference library. Left for want of any more out of this reference would be more photo coverage and detailed information. It is tantalizingly just enough to whet the modeler's appetite - but I was left wanting more. This desire, to be fair, is a statement of my personal thirst for more coverage of the subject and not a complaint towards the publisher or knock on the quality of what the Author presents. To this end, I recommend this book for M4 Sherman buffs and those just discovering how fascinating this armored vehicle really is - you won't be disappointed.
This review sample and page scans were graciously provided by Concord Publications.