bookTanks in Detail 6
Medium Tank M4 (76mm and 105mm) Sherman & Firefly

by Terry J Gander.
Published by Ian Allan Publishing.
Hersham, Surrey, KT12 5RG, England
Soft covers, 96 pages.
ISBN 0 7110 2989 X

Review by Peter Brown

Although this book's title would suggest it covers the later Shermans with 76mm and 105mm guns, there is so much on the early 75mm vehicles as well as background on Sherman development and production that it would be better described as covering Sherman gun tanks in general.

It starts with a history of the development of the Sherman from the early 1940s M2 Medium then covers the basic Sherman series sub-types with details of production dates and totals. Included are photos of the Chrysler Multibank, General Motors 6-71 and the Wright R-975 engines (but not the Ford GAA) and the detailed description of the interior has photos of the driver's controls for some types, gearbox and final drive removed from the tank and views of a training aid for the Sherman showing turret interior, plus other photos showing the 76mm gun and another of a 75mm gun being removed from a tank.

Descriptions are good enough though they can mislead and even contain definite mistakes. The British designation for M4A3 as Sherman IV is given without stating that only a very small number were sent to the United Kingdom, while the short chapter describing the Firefly states that M4A4 Sherman V and M4A1 Sherman II were converted when the latter is wrong as it was the M4 Sherman I in both all-welded and composite cast-welded hull forms which was used.

Photos used are good, mostly good clear shots though several have appeared before and only a few printed across two pages which loses detail in the spine of the book. Captions are not good though, with vehicles being misidentified far too often. While Sherman variants are sometimes difficult to tell apart, a photo of a Sherman V from the side should be easy to identify and several photos show the rear or engine decks which are still not identified correctly. Anyone who knows their Shermans will spot these mistakes but anyone who does will be badly mislead. Some state things which are not true, such as the photo page 29 which is not of a US Army tank, yet the double-page spread on pages 34-35 is a nice shot of a less than common version which is not pointed out.

These problems spoil an otherwise good collection. There are three very good shots of French Shermans in training, closeups of the Extended End Connectors which are gems though why a welded-hull tank shown in one is called an M4A1 or that Extended End Connectors are mixed up with Grousers which were something is surprising. Two good views of VVSS and HVSS suspension units are spoiled as they are cropped, with a lot of detail removed on the HVSS in particular but there is a very good shot of a British All-Round Vision Cupola.

Only a few line drawings are included, sectional views of the M4 and M4A3 which look like original Ordnance drawings and a basic three-view plan of an M4A3 76mm with HVSS which is too small to be 35th. Colour is limited to a nice two-page view of some American M4 and M4A1 loaded ready to go to Normandy and some photos of preserved vehicles, plus drawings of various unit markings including British signs used before Shermans came into use, one from a Churchill-equipped unit and another of 7th Armoured Division for 1944-45 which is the uniform patch and not the type used on tanks.

As mentioned at the start of these comments, the coverage is of all Sherman types and there are more photos of tanks other than Shermans than there are of Fireflies, only a small proportion showing the 76mm and 105mm Shermans but more of 75mm Shermans than anything else. Anyone wanting the later and British types will not find much here and although there are good points to this book I would advise anyone thinking of buying it to examine a copy before they bought one.

Page created 18 December 2003

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