British Sherman Tanks is a 72 page book published by Concord Publications. The book is written by Dennis Oliver - who also did the color plates. The book carries the ISBN 962-361-131-5. The book, which is part of the Publisher's 'Armor-at-War' Series, contains 173 photos and 16 color plates (two vehicles per page).
The book begins with a three-page introduction. This deals, amongst other things, with a brief overview of the variants used by the British Army. The next section covers the always confusing subject of camouflage and markings. Around 1943, things became less complex but prior to this date (particularly in the case of British vehicles in the Western Desert) there were several 'official' and 'quasi-official' schemes Although the author does a good job considering the limitations of space, this a VERY specialized area indeed and it is strongly recommended that some consideration is made regarding the purchasing of Mike Starmer's excellent series which cover British AFV color schemes in considerable (and accurate) detail. This is NO reflection on the introduction of the author - editorial limitations are always difficult. At this point it is worth mentioning that ALL the photos in the book originate from the Imperial War Museum archives. I've seen a few of the images before but that is somewhat inevitable with this kind of book... The book begins (naturally enough) with the first use of the Sherman in British service - in the Middle East. There are some interesting images - Sherman IIs as part of the British Military Mission to Turkey is just one of them. The book goes (without any kind of chapter divider) into the Italian Campaign and seamlessly into Normandy. Fortunately the captioning does keep up with the book although an extra page between the chronological periods would be something for the publisher to consider... The Normandy section is particularly interesting although, once again, some of the photos are very well-known. A good example of this is 'Carole' the Vc of the Royal Hussars - a great image (particularly useful for modellers) but one that has been reproduced quite a lot.. What becomes useful in this section (and the subsequent ones) is the process of 'evolution' in the stwage on the vehicles. This begins with the 'by the book' stowage as laid-down in the manuals, to the less 'official' variations carried out by the vehicle crews. Although the images are all black and white, it is not too difficult to get a good idea of the 'patterning' of dust and mud on the vehicles - not as much as we would sometimes like to think! The penultimate section covers the last battles of the war in Northern Germany: Now, although the subject and focus of this book is obviously British Shermans, inevitably, there are 'bonus' elements within many of the photos - a wide variety of other vehicles are frequently in the same image along with the vehicle crews and supporting infantry. The last section, which I have to confess left me scratching my head a bit, is a single page of Shermans in Burma. However even though there are only four images, one shows a photo of an M4 with wire mesh protecting the front of the hull - very useful indeed!
As this is the real reason why modelers will buy this book, perhaps some evaluation of the quality of the images would be useful at this time. Virtually all of the images have been enhanced to give a consistently sharp tonal quality. This crispness allows, with the bigger images, the ability to see detail clearly. However, some of the images would benefit from being reproduced in a larger size. A few of the images are frustratingly small and others although atmospheric, don't actually provide any useful data. Regarding the Color Plates, as we have now come to expect from Concord Publishing, the quality is very good indeed. The all-important details of insignia are shown in detail along with correct placement positions. However, i'm NOT convinced about the color scheme of the Royal Wiltshire regimental badge example ('Moonraker') - the green should be a LOT lighter than shown..
Apart from a few minor 'niggles' it's essentially a VERY good book indeed, It will be a good complement to some of the other (increasingly) good books on the M4 which are at last appearing on the market. This book, particularly in this format, has been long-overdue and it is to be hoped that sales are sufficiently high to warrant another volume - perhaps specifically the Sherman III (M4a2) in British service...
Highs: The quality of the images with particular reference to the vehicle 'in situ' is one of this book's strongest points combine this with a moderate price and Concord have a winner on their hands.Lows: The captioning is sometimes a little on the 'sparse' side. For those who know their M4s intimately, this won't be a problem. However, for the newcomer it could be a touch frustrating.Verdict: Any book using original 'source has to be welcomed. Although this ultimately depends on the competence of the researcher. For those interested in the Sherman in their natural 'habitat' this book is VERY highly recommended although should be seen as a comp
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...