- Legends of Warfare, Sherman Tank, Vol. 1
Prolific ( and evidently tireless ) author David Doyle is back already with another entry in the Schiffer Books Legends of Warfare ( Ground ) line, this being volume 1 of set covering the iconic American Sherman tank.
The Legends of Warfare series from Schiffer is a wide ranging series containing books on naval, aerial and ground warfare subjects. This series is advertised as having high production values, incorporating quality images and text, at a quite reasonable price. Previously reviewed books in this line have all lived up to, or surpassed these claimed standards.
This volume covers the many variants of the M4A1 Sherman tanks that left the American factories and served America and her allies from the North African campaign of WWII, well into the 1950’s and beyond.
Format - hardcover, square format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 112 pages
Size - 9.25" x 9.25"
Photos - 225 black and white, and full color images. Contemporary full color, vintage black and white
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - Table detailing M4A1 technical specifications and performance
All text and photo captions are in English
What's in the Book?
The book begins with a quick Introduction where the need for a new medium tank to replace the M3 General Lee tanks is explained, along with the shortcomings of the M3, and what was done well enough with the Lee tanks to be incorporated into the new M4 tanks. The author very quickly covers the “pre-history” of the Sherman in an efficient manner, setting the stage for the subject of this book, the M4.
Following the brief Introduction, the book then methodically works its way through the many variations of the M4A1, discussing the evolution of this tank; the many changes and modifications made, and the reasons for them. The most notable design changes are handled as chapter subjects, as seen in the Table of Contents image seen above.
The book’s final chapter “Into Combat” follows the M4A1 from it’s baptism of fire in North Africa, all the way into the war ravaged towns of Germany in the spring of 1945.
I always enjoy seeing the photographs of the manufacturing plants, and of the anonymous men and women who armed America in it’s hours of greatest need. This book does a very nice job of blending these interesting images into the narrative as appropriate. The above photograph would make for an eye catching diorama!
There are several sets of terrific contemporary images of privately owned and museum tanks scattered throughout this volume as appropriate. These walk-around sets of photographs are generally very well suited for in detail study, and are well composed, lit, and well focused. The captions provided give the reader a great deal of information, and specific items of interest in the photos are called out clearly.
PLEASE NOTE; the actual images in this volume are far better than my poor photographs show. They are for the most part bright and crisp, with only a very few being less than perfect.
A Note on the Captions - as is usual for works from this author, the captions are very well done and quite complete in their descriptions of what is seen in the accompanying images. Whenever known, the who’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s are covered in detail, and any particular points of interest are also pointed out by the author as needed.
In the humble opinion of this reviewer, when it comes to writing informative, complete captions, author David Doyle is as good as any writer out there, and better than most. The sheer amount of information contained in the captions throughout this book is staggering.
The images are fascinating, ranging from factory photos such as the one above, to the war torn streets of German towns near war’s end. Some images are not perfect, subject to the circumstances of when the images were made. As always, a slightly less than perfect image is far better than no image at all.
Included in the contemporary images contained in this book are some really good interior views of the Sherman. The captions do a great job of informing the reader as to what exactly he’s looking at. These images are sharp and clear, and will be of great assistance to anyone doing interiors on their works.
The volume’s single table contains technical and performance data comparing the 75mm armed, dry ammo storage M4A1 with the later M4A1 armed with the 76mm gun and utilizing the wet storage of ammo.
The book’s final chapter deals with the M4A1 in combat, and contains some terrific full page sized images. The photograph seen in the above image is a remarkable image. It shows the sole surviving tank to have landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, and amazingly, the photograph was taken in March of 1945, in Germany!
The photographs range in size from quarter page size all the way up to full page size. Quite a few of the most interesting historical images such as the one shown above, are full page. This enables the reader to better search out all of the interesting details lurking in the corners.
As one of the top 3 or 4 of THE iconic armored fighting vehicles of WWII, the Sherman tank is undoubtedly one of the most highly scrutinized and written about tanks in history. Every aspect of the Sherman has been written about, most likely...and yet new books on this WWII era workhorse continue to be written and eagerly anticipated. If you have read this review, you may well be considering adding this book to your shelf dedicated to the Sherman tank.
This book contains quite a wide range of outstanding photographs; from the factories, to the proving grounds, to the training grounds and camps, and finally to the combat zones. In addition, this book also contains a good many terrific in-detail, walk around style photographs of several surviving M4A1s in wonderful condition. Regardless of when or where they were taken, the images in this volume are of a uniformly high quality, and are of great interest.
As mentioned in the body of this review, in my opinion this author provides some of the best, most complete and informative photo caption writing anywhere. He provides more hard information in just a couple of paragraphs than many others can do in a full page. Further, the text is written in a fashion that isn’t overly dry and tough to read.
You may have noted that this is a Volume 1. That leads us to think that there will be follow-on volumes on this noted series of tanks. I can hardly wait to find out what the upcoming volumes in this series may hold in store for us.
Lastly, it needs to be said that this volume is exceedingly well priced at USD 19.99. The author’s website www.daviddoylebooks.com has occasional price breaks or shipping deals, it’d be worth your while to check there.
About your shelf of Sherman tank references? Make room on it...
Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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