Book Review
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American British Battle Tanks
British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks is a recent hardcover book from Osprey Publishing LTD. It is part of the General Military series. Authored by David Fletcher and Steven J. Zaloga, this 256-page book is catalogued with Osprey's Short code GNM, with ISBN 9781472820068. Artwork used in this book is reproduced from other Osprey titles, by several artists.

As with The History of the Panzerjäger, Volume 1, I scaled back this review as there is simply so much to present that to do it justice, it was becoming one of those marathon reviews.

Osprey describes this book thusly:
    The idea of British soldiers using American tanks was not viewed with a great deal of enthusiasm by the British Army. They perceived American tanks as being crudely made, mechanically unsophisticated and impossible to fight in. However, once British crews got used to them and learned to cope with some of their difficulties, such as limited fuel capacity and unfamiliar fighting techniques, they started to see them in a far more positive light, in particular their innate reliability and simplicity of maintenance.

    This book, the last in a three-part series on British Battle Tanks by armour expert David Fletcher, concentrates on World War II and studies American tanks in British service, some of which were modified in ways peculiar to the British. It shows how the number of these tanks increased to the point that they virtually dominated, as well describing some types, such as the T14 and M26 Pershing, which were supplied but never used in British service.

British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks is presented through eight chapters:
    M3 Light Tank: The Stuart
    M3 Medium Tank: The Grant and Lee
    M4 Medium Tank: The Sherman
    Firefly: the 17-Pounder Sherman
    Sherman Duplex Drive
    Sherman Crab Flail Tank
    Other American-Built Tanks
    Staghound Armoured Car

Thus opens the four-page introduction:
    Generally speaking American-built tanks were regarded with suspicion by British tank crews. They were seen as crude, lacking the sophistication of their British counterparts, particularly in respect of transmission. ...Some of the criticism was justified, although some was not, and much was probably based upon the 'not made here' syndrome that British soldiers applied to all foreign machines.

Included is a history of the first US tank to come to British service, the M2A4. The first chapter, M3 Light Tank: The Stuart, presents the characteristics and modifications of the tank, and its combat history in all theaters it served in (North Africa, Asia, Mediterranean, Europe). It is divided into 11 subchapters:
    Combat Car and Light Tank
    Lessons of the Spanish Civil War
    The M3 Light Tank
    The M3 Stuart Goes to War
    Identifying the M3
    The M3 In British Service
    The Light Tanks M3A1 and M3A3
    Turretless Reconnaissance Tanks The M5/M5A1 Light Tank

The text includes excepts and commentary of the Stuart family in the gun-armor race with Axis tanks. This chapter takes up 28 pages of this book.

M3 Medium Tank: The Grant and Lee presents a the tank that allowed the Royal Armoured Corps to technically dominate Panzer IIIs and IVs at Gazala, Alam Halfa, and El Alamein. This 26-page chapter mirrors the Stuart chapter in subjects and information. It is divided into nine subchapters:
    Medium Tank Genesis
    Birth of the M3 Medium Tank
    The M3 Described
    The British Turret
    M3 Tank Variants
    Combat Debut In Eighth Army
    M3 Medium In Asia
    M3 Variants

Like the Stuart chapter, there is a lot of information about the Grant/Lee. Most of you are probably aware of the interesting way the Allies modified the Grant/Lee's 75mm ammunition to allowed it to reliably punch through German armor. If not, the story is in here.

M4 Medium Tank: The Sherman begins with the US Army doctrine that tanks were not intended to fight tanks; American tank development is explored from that point. The subchapters are:
    US Variants
    Shermans In British Service

Those subchapters are also divided in sections detailing the many different Sherman, including "Funnies."

Sherman's story continues in Firefly: the 17-Pounder Sherman with five subchapters:
    The 17-Pounder
    Designing the Firefly
    The Firefly In Action
    The American Response
    What's In A Name?

Amphibious fans will be interested in Duplex Drive and the chapter's four sections:
    Design and Development
    Landing Craft
    Combat History
    Post-War Developments

Modelers, fans, and historians of the 'swimming tanks' should be gratified with this fascinating subject.

Sherman Crab Flail Tank is divided into:
    Born in the Desert
    Development in Britain
    The Crab In Action
    Post-War Developments

Other American-Built Tanks begins with the American T14 Assault Tank in comparison to British infantry tanks. Other subchapters are:
    T14 Assault Tank
    The Heavy Tank Project
    The M22 Light Tank Locust
    M24 Chaffee
    M26 Pershing Medium Tank
    M10 Tank Destroyer

Finally, Staghound Armoured Car presents this interesting American vehicle that never served with US forces. Subchapters and sub-subchapters are:
    Trackless Tank
    The Chevrolet T17E1
    Staghound Anti-Aircraft (T17E2)
    Howitzer Staghound (T17E3)
    Specialized Staghound
    Staghounds In Service
    The Staghound In North-West Europe

This book is a concise overview of the AFVs presented through this book. It is a good look at American tanks in British service.

Photographs, Artwork, and Graphics
Scores of photographs fill the book to support the text. I've seen many of them over the years and yet there are many that are new to me. Some are particularly interesting, such as a M4A4 sporting a fake 17-pounder and turret weight, and applique' armor bolted on with conical bolts, à la the M10 Wolverine. Another series show the test of a 'swimming tank', equipped with rockets to assist in landing, before and after firing - and catching fire!

The black-and-white photos are supported by color illustrations by several Osprey contributing artists. They are reused from other Osprey books. I do not know if any are original pieces created for this book. Each chapter features several of them, narrated with captions of varying detail.
    M3, 1st Battalion 1st Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Tunisia, November 1942: keyed to 47 components

    Stuart I, 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, Operation Crusader, November 1941: narrative including a description of the Caunter scheme, pendents, and other markings.

    M3 Medium Tank: 3-view cutaway keyed to 30 items.

    Grant Cruiser Tank, 22nd Armoured Brigade, Gazala, May 1943 [sic]: profile of T 23571 with commentary on the camouflage paint and unit markings.

    Grant Cruiser Tank, C Squadron, 3RD RTR, 4th Armoured Brigade, Gazala, May 1943 [sic]: profile of T-24204 with commentary on the camouflage paint and unit markings.

    Lee Cruiser Tank, C Squadron, 3RD Carabiniers, Burma 1944: profile of tank number 8 with commentary on the camouflage paint and field modifications.

    Lee Cruiser Tank, C Squadron, 150TH Regiment RAC, Burma 1944: profile with commentary on the camouflage paint and markings.

    Canal Defense Light, 1ST Tank Brigade, 79TH Armoured Division, 1944: 3-view with commentary on the camouflage paint and unit markings.

    M4A4 Sherman: 3-view cutaway keyed to 44 items.

    Sherman VC Firefly, 21ST Armoured Regiment, 4TH Canadian Armoured Brigade, 4TH Canadian Armoured Division, November 1944: Firefly festooned with track links.

    Sherman IC Firefly With Tulip Rockets, C Squadron, 1ST Coldstream Guards, Guards Armoured Division, Near Bremen, 12 April 1945.

    Sherman VC Firefly Beute-Panzer: captured Firefly with German markings.

    Sherman VC Firefly, 2ND Battalion Irish Guards, Guards Armoured Division, Netherlands 1944 "GEEN CIGARETTE".

    Sherman VC Firefly: 3-view cutaway keyed to 50 items.

    Mine-damaged Sherman VC Firefly On Scammell TRMU/30 Transporter, Normandy, July 1944.

    M4A3 With British Firefly Turret, Army Ground Forces Board, Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1944.

    Sherman IC Firefly, Headquarters Squadron, Pretoria Regiment, 6TH South African Armoured Division, Italy, May 1945.

    Landing Craft Tank (5) CB NO.2337, 330TH Support Flotilla Carrying Two Sherman VC Fireflies of 259 Delivery Squadron, Off Sword Beach, Normandy, 6 June 1944.

    Sherman VC Firefly, 19TH Armoured RGT, 4TH New Zealand Armoured Brigade, Italy, April 1945: deceptive camouflage on the long gun and field modified machine guns.

    Sherman IC Hybrid Firefly ZEMSTA II (Revenge) of C Squadron, 1ST Krechowweicki Lancers, 2ND Polish Armoured Brigade, Italy 1944.

    Valentine V DD, A Instructional Wing, 79TH Armoured Division, Fritton Decoy, 1942: driving through water and commentary about 'Mountbatten Pink.'

    Valentine XI DD, 3RD King's Own Hussars, Italy, 1944: partial cutaway contrived to show the tank inside the flotation screen.

    Overhead view: Sherman DD Tank Swimming.

    Sherman V DD, A Squadron, 13TH/18TH Royal Hussars, Normandy, 6 June 1944
    : in-action wave-level view of coming ashore on D-Day.

    Sherman V DD, 2ND Canadian Armoured Brigade, Normandy, 6 June 1944, heavily sealed with water-proofing.

    Sherman II DD, C Squadron Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry, Normandy, 6 June 1944: launching a swimming Sherman.

    Valentine Scorpion III, 22ND Dragoons, 79TH Armoured Division, Suffolk, January 1944.

    Sherman Marquis Flail Tank, AEC LTD, Southall, October 1943.

    Grant Scorpion III, C Squadron, 1ST Scorpion RGT, RAC, Tunisia, April 1943, flailing through the desert.

    Grant Scorpion IV, NO.1 Troop, 400 Independent Scorpion SQN, RAC, Burma, 1945: flail tank in Burma in action.

    Sherman Scorpion V* (Twin) Flail, B SQN 'A' Assault RGT, Aquino Airfield, Italy, June 1944: whipping its way past an abandoned German fighter.

    Sherman V Crab I, 22ND Dragoons, 30TH Armoured Brigade, Normandy, 6 June 1944.

    Cutaway Sherman V Crab I, Westminster Dragoons, 30TH Armoured Brigade, 79TH Armoured DIV, 1944: keyed to 50 components.

    Overhead scene Sherman Crabs Breaching a Minefield: Crabs flailing across a minefield covered by anti-tank guns; two flail tanks providing cover.

    A Sherman Crab I, 1ST Lothian & Border Horse, 30TH Armoured Brigade, Winter 1944-45: stuck in the mud and then frozen in.

    A Sherman V Crab II with Station-Keeping Equipment, Britain, 1945: rear view of a Crab illustrating the signal posts and targets used to orient following Crabs.

    A Churchill Toad Flail, Royal Engineers, Salisbury Plain, 1958: prospective scene including a lane-marking stake, and Royal Engineer cap badge.

    Staghound MK I: keyed to 22 items.

    Staghound MK I, 1 Troop, A SQN, Cavalry RGT, 2ND New Zealand DIV, Italy, Spring 1944: camouflage and markings described.

    Staghound AA, HQ SQN, Polish Carpathian Lancers RGT, Italy 1944 with corps emblem.

    Staghound MK I, 1ST Australian Armoured Car SQN, British Commonwealth Occupation Force, Japan, 1946 with camouflage colors and with corps emblem.

    Staghound MK II, Polish Carpathian Lancers RGT, Italy 1944: camouflage and corps emblem.

    Staghound AA, 1ST Belgian Independent Armoured Brigade Group, Belgium, September 1944: 3-quarter scene of the AFV on a road; camouflage and markings.

    Staghound MK III, 11 Troop, C SQN, 12TH Manitoba Dragoons, II Canadian Corps, Germany, 1945: 3-quarter scene of the AFV on a road; camouflage and markings.

    Stuart I (Desert mods, October 1941)
    Royal Army Cross Section of Light Tank M3A1
    Four profiles: Light Tank M3 displaying different turret designs
    Three profiles: Light Tank M3A1; M3A3; M3A3
    Three profiles: Light Tank M5; M5A1; M5A1 (late)
    Drawing by Straussler of Tetrarch DD
    Drawing by Straussler of Cromwell DD
    Drawing of Churchill DD
    Side elevation LCT(3)
    Patented diagram Matilda Baronshowing drive, arc of flail, rotation, etc.
    Crab flail development educational photo
    T17 scale exterior plans: left and right profiles; overhead; front and rear views
    T17 scale plan of interior
    Table US Medium and Heavy Armored Car Production: four AFVs from October 1942-April 1944
    Appendix: US Transfers of Armored Vehicles to the UK: May 1941-July 1945: 35 AFV types

That gallery of visual support for the text is extensive and effective.

British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks is an interesting and useful book for modelers, fans, and historians of American tanks and the Royal Tank Corps. Despite initial lack of enthusiasm, United Kingdom troops took American M3s and M4s into battle before American crews did. That makes the difference between UK and US assessments all the more interesting.

An extensive and effective gallery of photos, artwork, and graphics support the text. The concise text presents a lot of detail. The book is not perfect in that two illustrations are saddled because of an error about the year; it may confuse readers unfamiliar with a specific campaign but should not ruin the book.

I learned things in this book and appreciate it. Therefore, I happily recommend it.

Please remember to mention to retailers and Osprey that you saw this product here - on Armorama.
Highs: An extensive and effective gallery of photos, artwork, and graphics support the text. The concise text is holds a lot of detail.
Lows: Date typos.
Verdict: An interesting and useful book for modelers, fans, and historians of American tanks and the Royal Tank Corps.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: GNM, 9781472820068
  Related Link: Opsrey General Military Series
  PUBLISHED: Nov 24, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Just got the three books in the series--they cover British tanks from World War One through the end of World War Two, and represent a tremendous value for money. The first title covers the First World War and the interwar years, and the second and third cover British-built tanks and American-built tanks in British service. Unlike earlier compilations, they haven't just glued together a bunch of Osprey Vanguard titles--there is a certain amount of amalgamation, and some material was written to bridge gaps. You don't get every single color drawing in the equivalent Vanguard titles, nut you get quite a lot of them. The principal author is The Tank Museum's David Fletcher, but Steve Zaloga did write some of this title.
NOV 23, 2018 - 09:50 PM
Gerald, thanks for the insight. I do not have the other two titles. What photos and artwork is in this book is satisfying to me - I suspect including all the available images from the various Vanguard books it would add another 100 pages.
NOV 24, 2018 - 04:28 AM

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