Legends of Warfare
M3 Medium Tank
The Lee and Grant Tanks in World War II
Tireless author David Doyle is back with another armor entry in Schiffer Publications extensive Legends of Warfare series, this time turning his attention to America's early WWII medium tank; the M3 which was called the Lee or the Grant by our British allies, depending on which turret was used on the tank. The many titles in the Legends of Warfare series all conform to a similar size and format, and can be found covering naval, air, and land combat subjects. These books are modestly priced, well made, cover interesting subject matter, and have been found to be of good overall value.
Despite it's early worldwide use in WWII by the US and many other nations via the Lend-Lease program, the use of the M3 tank was very largely overshadowed by the M4 Sherman tank series later in the war. However, the M3 medium tank series was crucial to Allied forces, and in particular to the US for at least two key reasons; the new M3 medium tank came along just in time for the US Army to learn how to use modern armor on the scale that WWII would demand. But perhaps even more importantly, it taught US manufacturers HOW to effectively manufacture larger tanks on a massive scale unimagined of prior to the outbreak of World War II.
The M3 medium tanks saw their first combat with British forces in North Africa, and other large scale recipients of the M3's via Lend Lease included the Soviets, and Australia ( via the British orders ). The M3's in service with the US Army were declared obsolete in 1943, due to the emergence of the M4 Sherman. Variants of the M3 soldiered on with the British until the end of WWII.
Format - hardcover, square format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 112 pages
Size - 9.25" x 9.25"
Photos - approximately 140+ black and white, and full color images.
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - tables of production data, technical data
All text and photo captions are in English
What's in the Book?
Above - the table of contents shows the book to be laid out in a logical manner
The books 4 page introduction outlines the origins of the M3 medium tank series, with a great description of the lightning speed of its development and the reasons why and how. As usual, the author describes the world wide situation very concisely and economically. This introduction features some nice photos of the predecessor to the M3 medium tank, the Medium Tank T5, seen above.
Books by this author usually give the reader some fascinating looks into the factories that manufactured the subjects of his books. This volume is no exception. I always find these looks into the home front battlefields extremely interesting. In the image shown above, it's sort of funny to note that there are only three guys seeming to be actively wrenching on the tank, and at least 12 guys more or less standing around. Some things never change...
There are quite a few images of the M3 tank on proving grounds and on home front exercises where the US tankers learned their craft. A benefit of images taken under these conditions is that the photographs can be taken under better conditions. This makes for clear and crisp images where details can very clearly be made out, such as in the image above.
Above - there are nice overview style images of the variants of the M3 Medium tank, as well as several very nice "walk-around" style series of images of several tanks.
As seen in the image above, the author begins each chapter with a brief textual discussion on the chapter subject, usually around a page in length. This text gives the reader an excellent bit of background on the variant of the M3 covered in the chapter. The author provides this information in a quick and clear manner. Some chapters contain informative tables of production / technical data as well.
The chapters contain a very nice mix of WWII period photographs with some modern images of several different museum owned M3's. Museum specimens seen are from far flung places like Latrun, Israel, the Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany, the Tank Museum at Bovington, England, as well as several places in the United States. These modern surviving tank images are crisp, sharp and in full color.
Above - in an image heavy book, text work, particularly the photo captions are very important. The author does a very nice job of packing plenty of information into his photo captions, covering the basics thoroughly and making sure to point out specific highlights as needed.
Text work has always been a strong suit of David Doyle's works, this book doesn't disappoint.
Above - the book makes liberal use of full page sized images, with many seen in this volume. What a great look at this vehicle!
A Note on the photos - most of the images contained in this book were taken in pretty good conditions; at factories, on proving grounds, or during stateside training exercises, thus the photographs are generally quite sharp and clear. The final 20 or so pages worth of photos were taken overseas ( North Africa, Russia, and a couple in the Pacific Theater ) and the image quality is a little mixed here, with most images being fairly good, and few just not quite as good. However, as always, a less than perfect image is better than none at all...
Above - the final 20 pages or so of this volume seem to be of the "in action / in the field" nature, although not listed in the book's table of contents as such.
There are some good looks at the M3 medium being hoisted aboard transport ships, in use in Tunisia, advancing across the North African desert, knocked out and burning in Russia, and under palm trees in the Pacific islands. Very interesting looks at the tank that held the line until the Sherman's joined the fight.
This book is a very solid entry in the Legends of Warfare series, covering as it does the entire M3 medium line of tanks very well.
The author does a really nice job in describing the differences in the M3 medium tank variants ( a couple of which aren't really apparent to some of us ), and does so in an engaging, easy to read manner. He manages to do this without "dumbing down" the the text, and maintaining the essence of the material he covers. He does convey a great deal of interesting facts in a minimum of text space...which allows plenty of space for all of those gorgeous full page images.
The photos in this volume are of a uniformly high standard, being crisp and bright, with only a few of the "in action / in the field" images being just a bit less than perfect. The photos themselves are a good mix of images: factory floor, proving ground, training ground, and in use / action. The use of many full page size images in this book is plus in my opinion.
Just my personal opinion, but I'd have liked a few more "in action" images, and as long as I'm at it, some scale drawings too. But those are easily sourced elsewhere, and this modestly priced line of books does have its limits as to how much any author can cram into it, however much he'd love to add more. Given the constraints of this volume being one of a series of similarly formatted books, the author has done a terrific job of using the pages he had to work with.
This book is a very solid addition to your Allied tanks of WWII book shelf!
Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy!
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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