Book Review
Light Tank M5 & M5a1
Tanks in Detail - Light Tank M5, M5a1, Stuart V1 & M8 HMC
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Ian Allan Publishing is one of those long-established publishing houses whose books have been informing enthusiasts for several decades. For the armor enthusiast, one of the most useful series they have published is the Tanks in Detail series which serve as a useful introduction to a large number of different vehicles.

The book - bare details
Tanks in Detail - Light Tank M5, M5a1, Stuart V1 & M8 HMC is written by Terry J. Gander and consists of 96 pages. The majority of the images are contemporary (Black and white) although there are a number of color images of some preserved examples. In addition, the book contains five pages of1/35th scale drawings. The commissioned color plates cover details of ammunition along with eight pages showing various individual vehicles along with National identification markings.

The Book - in detail
The book consists of five sections which are:


Choosing one to talk about in detail (rather than a synopsis of each) I'll go for the Variants section. This covers (amongst others) the M8 HMC in some very useful detail. Also covered is the (mooted) M82 which despite NOT entering service, would make for an interesting (though extensive) build project. Several other 'hypotheticals' are also covered in this section - the mortar carrier, a flamethrower equipped M5, and the M5 with a T39 rocket launcher mounted. Moving on to the 'actual' in this section, there are some useful images covering the M5 with the Cullin Hedgerow cutter. For those considering doing a turret-less reconnaissance vehicle, this section presents some absolutely invaluable images of the vehicle. Another possibility would be to do the turret-less Gun-Tractor (in British service) or even an Egyptian personnel carrier.. For the eye-catching conversions is the M5a1 used in Psy-Ops with a public address system. It's also a pretty useful image for the sandbagging and the application of netting. The penultimate part of this section shows a couple of images of yet another projected variant - the M5 with Deep-wading gear and side-skirts.The final part of the section covers a number of vehicles with some nicely-done color profiles.

Other Sections: For detailing there are quite a number of good interior illustrations which originate from modern photos, drawings and from the technical manuals. The photos are nice and varied - going from the 'official' photos of prototyped to many contemporary 'in-theater' images. There are useful images of the ammunition (stencilling on 37mm rounds in 1/48th scale, anyone?) along with good 1/35th scale plans.

It's a useful book in a generally good series. Although not listed in the current lists from Ian Allen Publishing, it's very widely available. The thing I didn't like was the quality of some of the images - a little too muddy in some cases although those which particularly interested me were crisp enough. It could be argued though, that with some recent publications such as Kurt Laughlin's 'Field Guide' on the M5, that it has been superseded. It does contain a lot of images and data which are available in other books but the balance comes out in its favor with the quantity of wartime photos. Recommended as an excellent 'Primer' for someone who needs relevant data for working on some of the recent M5 kits on the market and for anyone going into some unusual conversion projects. Well-worth picking up!

Highs: The coverage of the 'Variants', the inclusion of the scale plans and the 'in-theater' photos
Lows: Since its publication, it has, in many respects been superceded by more complete books. The quality of some of the contemporary photos has also been improved upon in other books.
Verdict: A very, very good title which will give a lot of good ideas for conversions or even simply upgrading the excellent AFV Club model. Recommended with other more detailed books.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Tanks in Detail # 8
  PUBLISHED: Oct 04, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

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...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


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