Book Review
First Blood - Under the Gun 2
First Blood - US 1st Armoured Division in Tunisia
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by: Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]


The Oliver Publishing Group have recently released, under their Firefly Collection branding, an interesting publication by Claude Gillono. The publication is an A4 size 33 page soft-back photographic reference focused mainly around the events in Tunisia during WW2 that occurred on the 14th and 15th of February 1943.

As the title implies if covers the outcome of the first encounter of the US 1st Armoured Division with the Axis forces in Tunisia.


The publication is, as stated, mainly a photographic reference of the aftermath of the battle and as such provides valuable reference material for the modeller. What is interesting is that the references are drawn from captured German pictures taken by their Propaganda Companies after the battle, so be aware that the content could be upsetting for some. That said, they provide a ‘first eyes on’ in the aftermath of the engagement. Whilst damaged and abandoned vehicles are displayed, no pictures of dead or wounded troops appear.

The front and rear covers of the book provide colour reference markings for a number of M4 and M4A1 Sherman tanks. On the reverse of the front cover are the Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Publishers Note and a Note on Spellings used with the text, plus 4 decent black and white images of the 4 main vehicles used by US armoured forces during the campaign. The Acknowledgements also contain links to on-line sites that will provide further reference sources.

The text of the publication covering a potted history of the events is spread throughout the book on pages 1, 7, 8, 12, 23 and 33. In such a small publication it cannot go into any real depth, but the main players involved and the subsequent events of the battle provide a good basic understanding for the reader.

Pages 15 and 18 are given over to marking of specific vehicles, namely Sherman Tanks and M3/M2 half tracks, whilst pages 16 and 17 cover the tactical markings of the US 1st Armoured Division, 1st and 13th Armoured Regiments in Tunisia during 1942 and 1943. So a valuable set of reference material here for the modeller. The colour plates are extremely well done.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to pictorial references of the battle damaged vehicles. What is very useful here is that the German photographers have very helpfully provided different angled pictures of the same vehicles, a real life walk-around if you like. The photographs are of excellent quality and each is supported by a small text giving the known information about the picture and the vehicle(s) in it. Further data can be accessed through the links provided in the Acknowledgements mentioned above.

On Page 4 of the publication is an establishment chart of a US Armoured Division in March of ‘43 which is a handy reference for how the command structure of the Division was organized and between this and the text the reader should get a good understanding of the makeup of a US Armoured Regiment.

On the top half of page 32 is a diagram of the survey in April 1943 of the Battlefield of 15th February showing the disposition of the various destroyed and abandon vehicles. This can, and is, crossed referenced to the photographs and has helped give a better understanding of which units the vehicles might belong to.


I think this is a very worthy publication. I have little knowledge of US Armoured Forces nor their vehicle markings and this publication will, and does, provide a good insight into a specific period of time and an important military event. The text was informative and the supporting photographic references very useful and clearly marked.

This book should be of interest to both Allied and Axis modellers who are interested in this theatre of war and this time frame. The vehicle types and early Sherman Specifications for both the M4 DV and M4A1 DV are well covered as is the M3 Lee Medium Tank M3 Stuart and M3 GMC 75mm.

There are a nice range of vehicle marking and types to choose from in the colour plates that would interest me as a modeler, and the battle damage photographs have great potential for diorama use particularly for that old kit you don’t quite know what to do with.

I particularly liked the Battlefield Survey but would have preferred it if this had been a full page rather than a half page. This is not a definitive book on the subject but it does provide extremely useful information for general knowledge and detailed data for use by the modeller. The photographs are of good size and quality, averaging 1 to 3 pictures per page.

Accuracy of data - not being a US expert I cannot comment on this element of the publication with certainty. However, the evidence is there to match the pictures to the markings and I have no doubt is as accurate as is practically possible. Those persons acknowledged in the opening page will be known and respected by many, so that speaks for itself.

With vehicle names like Hang On II, The Clipper, Grenadier, War Daddy II and Dixie Belle with M4 DV and M4A1 DV tanks plus half track options I could easily be tempted to venture into this genre of possible build options. Armed with suitable material, options would only be limited by your imagination, as there is lots of good inspiration here.
Highs: Professionally presented and clearly laid out.
Lows: Limitations due to size of publication.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-0-9806593-1-3
  PUBLISHED: Jan 18, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Alan McNeilly (AlanL)

Greying slightly, but young at heart. I've been teaching adults off and on for most of my life. Left the services in 85 and first started modelling in about 87 for a few years. Then I had a long spell when I didn't build anything (too busy) and really just got started again during the summer of ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]. All rights reserved.


I usually avoid reacting to reviews but I want to emphasize the great help that Leife Hulbert (who is duly credited on the cover) gave for this opus. The captions and profiles would have been much less useful to Shermaholics without him. Thanks for reading.
JAN 18, 2011 - 07:00 AM
Hi Claude, A nice body of work. I'm not a US modeller but I found this one interesting and inspiring, might get to a US Sherman yet. Thanks for clarifying Leife Hulbert's contribution. Al
JAN 22, 2011 - 01:14 AM

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