bookTanks in Detail 8
Light Tank M5 & M5A1 Stuart VI & M8 HMC

by Terry J Gander.
Published by Ian Allan Publishing.
Hersham, Surrey, KT12 5RG, England
Soft covers, 96 pages.
ISBN 0 7110 0316 2

Review by Peter Brown

Developed from the earlier M3-series light tanks covered in Tanks in Detail 2, the M5 series kept the proven suspension but used a new, welded hull, twin commercially-available Cadillac car engines and an automatic transmission. It was introduced into production alongside older M3-series tanks in its original M5 form with a turret taken from the M3A1 series in April 1942, the improved M5A1 with enlarged turret with radio taken from the M3A3 coming into production in November and quickly replacing the M5 and eventually all M3-series light tanks. The M8 used a modified hull to mount a large, open-topped turret with a short 75mm gun in a fire-support role.

Coverage is in the same style as earlier books in the series, with descriptions of the development and production including some experimental types and of course plenty of illustrations. These include shots of the engines and transmission, interior views from original manuals and in-actions shots. There are images of the 37mm gun including the original towed version, colour drawings of 37mm ammunition types and several photos 0.3" Browning machine guns and various mountings. Most of the photos show the M5A1, M5 is not well covered - there are as many photos of the M3E3 pilot as of actual M5 tanks - and interior details do not include the M8 turret, gun or hull interior which is something anyone wanting to model this vehicle will miss. Alongside the wartime black and white views are some colour ones of preserved vehicles, and more colour in the form of paintings of tanks in typical colour schemes which are mostly side-views. Scale plans include a side-view and section of an M5 plus four-view sets of a late M5A1 and the M8 in 1/35th.

Overall impressions is of a good account, though there are some mistakes which will confuse those who do not have a good basic knowledge of the later Stuart series. Some concern details like the armoured shield for the antiaircraft mounting, the remark that it was sometimes removed is not correct though it was only fitted to later vehicles. The "No 19 radio set" in one photo is not a No 19, while two of the side views are way out as they claim to be British Stuart VI with and without turrets in 1942 which is months before they were supplied to Lend-Lease. Use of turretless tanks is also not well described, while they were used in British and Commonwealth armies the American T8 series were only experimental, the photo of a command tank is clearly a converted M8 not an M5 or M5A1 and the British gun tractor was a post-war conversion. Also, the M5 was not supplied for British use, the Stuart VI designation was only used for the M5A1.

Minor errors apart, this has a lot of useful detail and the book provides some good material for modellers. Maybe when we get a good series of kits of these tanks it will be a useful reference source alongside the Osprey and Squadron/Signal books, though maybe those with the Hunnicutt account will not find much new.

Page created 23 June 2004

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