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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare, Ford M8 and M20, the US Army’s Standard Armored Car of WWII

ISBN Number:
978-0-7643-6143-2
Published:
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Publisher:
Schiffer Publishing
Retail Price:
$19.99 ISD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Schiffer Pub. - Legends of Warfare

Ford M8 and M20

The US Army's Standard Armored Car of WWII

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Prolific author David Doyle is back with another of his titles in Schiffer Publishing's Legends of Warfare series. Books in the Legends of Warfare line can be found covering Ground, Naval, and Air Power subjects. The books in this line all conform to a similar size, format and price structure. The books in this series that this reviewer has examined have been of a uniformly high quality, both in content and in their physical production properties. 

This title concerns itself with the two most commonly seen armored cars seeing use with the US Army of WWII, the Ford built M8, and it's sibling, the M20. The M8 was built primarily to serve as a reconnaissance vehicle for armor and cavalry units, armed with a 37mm gun that was initially deemed adequate for anti tank use ( later in the war, not so much ). The M8 was produced from March of 1943 through the end of European hostilities in May of 1945, with roughly 8,500 vehicles built.

The M20 was more or less a modified M8, minus the turret and gun, and with other minor modifications added. This modified vehicle was termed the Armored Utility Vehicle M20. This vehicle was largely employed as a command car with additional radio gear. The M20 also could be utilized as a personnel / cargo carrier. Roughly 3,800 of these vehicles were produced by August of 1945 when the contract was terminated.

The M8 / M20 saw virtually world-wide service with the US forces in WWII, and went on to have a lengthy career post-WWII, serving with many armies all the way into the 1960's.

Vital Statistics

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  128 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - approximately 210+ 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?

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Above - the table of contents is short, sweet and to the point.


The book opens with a very informative 8 page Introduction, which describes the history of the development of these armored cars, and the changes that resulted in the vehicles that eventually saw field use. The author covers much ground in this brief Introduction, with two pages of clear, concise text and six pages of interesting photos of the early experimental vehicles.

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Above - as is usual with books from this author, a great many sharp, crisp factory and proving ground photos are used. The above image shows how stowage of gear and on-vehicle tools was expected to be done.

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Above - there are many full color "in detail" style images of restored vehicles, including these top down images of an M8.

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This volume utilizes copious amounts of WWII period photographs as well as contemporary images of exquisitely restored surviving vehicles in private hands or in museums. These images, be they WWII vintage or modern full color, are well chosen for subject matter interest.

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Above - an interesting look at the driver's compartment of an M20

This book has plenty of full page images such as the one above, enabling the reader to get a real good look at various areas and components.

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Sets of full color contemporary photos in the "in detail" style are included for both the M8 and M20. Seen above are looks into the M20 drivers compartment from the top side. 

As with any photo heavy book, quite a bit of information must be relayed to the reader via photo captions. Fortunately, the author is a master of writing very descriptive, easily read captions. He provides the vital information pertaining to the images very well, and in some cases points out areas of special interest as required. 

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Photograph sizes in this book range from quarter page sized up to full page sized images. Most images tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum, half page sized or better. Even the smaller images are sharp and crisp enough for smallest details to be made out easily. 

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Above we see the simple but effective tables containing technical and general data on the M8 and M20.

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The books final chapter "Field Use", is 25 pages of fascinating looks at the M8 and M20 in the field, from training grounds in pre D-day England, through the fighting that led to the German homeland, and then to the Pacific. There are even a few images from post war West Germany, Korea and Vietnam. I'd bet that the Ford employees who built these vehicles in those uncertain mid WWII years would have been proud to know how long their work would soldier on.

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Again, the use of full page images throughout this book is a real plus, enabling really good study of the images. Above is a terrific look at an M8 under new management. That crewman standing in front of that captured M8 doesn't look really enthused about how the war is going....

Conclusions 

This book provides the reader with a very nice body of information on these iconic US armored cars, and wonderful images of both. 

The author does his usual meticulous work in text captioning, and in the text blocks that make up the Introduction and the opening pages of the chapters. As important as photo captions are in books that are primarily photographic studies, it's great that the author does such a good job with them. He conveys a lot of detailed information throughout the volume without ever being dry or tough to read.

The photographs chosen for this book are uniformly well chosen. In most books containing historic images I usually have to make some sort of statement regarding the use of slightly sub-standard images in the book, and make the statement that a slightly sub-par image of an interesting subject is preferable to no image at all. In this volume, that disclaimer was not needed. The photos in this book are all terrific; well chosen for interest, sharp, bright and clear. As mentioned above, the generous use of full page sized images is a plus in my opinion.

The author does consistently very fine work in my opinion, this book is no exception. And while good reference works are good regardless of price, I feel I must mention that in my opinion, the books in this Legends of Warfare series are quite modestly priced at $19.99.

Highly Recommended!

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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