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The Sherman Tank

Peter Brown

The Sherman Tank by Roger Ford, Published by Spellmount Ltd, The Old Rectory, Staplehurst, Kent, TN12 0AZ, England. ISBN 1-86227-042-2 96 pages, 8" x 11", illustrated throughout. UK price 14.99

The Sherman was one of the most widely used tanks of the Second World War. It helped turn the tide against the Axis in the West at El Alamein and formed the backbone of American and British armoured forces through to the almost the end of the war as well as being supplied in considerable numbers to the Soviet Union. When introduced it was a match for what it would be expected to face in on the battlefield, although developed and improved it soon fell behind compared to its opponents as the war progressed. It was however available in the sort of numbers which the Germans could only dream about. Later they served in Korea and again in Israel often in much modified form, every today some are still in service in some smaller armies.

It would be expected that such an important weapon would be the subject of a number of books though perhaps not as many have been written as the tank deserves. This second book in Spellmount's Weapons of War series covers the Sherman well enough within the limit of its few pages. Development and technical matters are described well though as would be expected offering nothing new. The section on the tank in action is far too short to hope to do more than present the most brief outline which is what it does. Much the same is the case with the section on the tank's many variants, many are mentioned yet none are covered in any detail. Overall, the text is brief and accurate enough but too short to be a serious study. 

Illustrations are a mixture but overall let the book down. The photos are mostly period black and white with a few in colour ones from WW2 and some of preserved vehicles. These show the major variants, most if not all have been in print before but here many of the captions are very poorly written. Too many are inaccurate with vehicles which are clearly M4 being listed as M4A3, extended end connectors called grousers, and comments such as M10 having 105mm guns are contradicted a couple of pages further on when we are told, at least correctly, that they had 3" guns. Post-war coverage is two photos of Israeli tanks, one of which has the Sherman only in the background. Some colour paintings are also included, the cut-away view of an "M4A4" is based on a short-hulled tank with small hull hatches shown open at an impossible angle, while the side views are poorly detailed. This book seems to gave been designed as part of a series and hence fit a certain size and price format which cannot do a subject like the Sherman justice. Had it been longer it could well have been better. It also falls between two stools, not having enough detail to be an in-depth study yet priced too high for other than a specialist reader. Not a substitute for Hunnicutt's masterly work.

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