AFV Publications' M3 Lee/Grant
|$79.95 MSRP from Casemate|
470 pages, hardcover, profusely illustrated
In the 1930s, the United States was one of those countries that had pretty much come to a standstill when it came to development of tanks. It was still felt that they were not useful and the numbers in an admittedly small army were small and based on WWI designs by Renault.
With the increased arming of European nations, it was felt that perhaps it would be useful to develop tanks. Even then, the numbers produced were fairly small and their use was not seen as much more than mobile infantry support. Several forward thinking officers (such as George Patton), had studied the use of tanks in other nations and through their use in war games, had shown that these were a lot more important to an army than the older horse cavalry officers had realized. So it was that a medium tank, the M2 was developed and built.
As Europeans got closer to war, the results of tanks used in the Spanish Civil war brought to light that what was currently thought to be effective, would not be in any coming conflicts. Indeed, the first months of WWII proved that designs of the 30's would not be all that useful. The US had started development of the M3 in 1940 and by late 1941, the tank was in production at various places in the US.
The British had shown interest in the M3 but did not like how tall it was. As a result, their version of the M3 had a single, larger upper turret. The increase in turret size was so that radio equipment could be contained within. The main and secondary guns were the same.
The book is basically divided into three sections. The first is the background and development of the tank. The second is on the production. As the US was readying for war, the army arsenals were unable to handle the number required. It was then that US manufacturing was brought into play and that story is fascinating on its own. This also includes all the variations and upgraded done to the tank. The final section is on its use in battle, mostly in North Africa/Mediterranean but also in the Pacific. The tank was used by the British, Soviets, and Australians as well as by the US Army. The introduction of the Sherman, which was being produced as the last M3s left the production line, eventually replaced the M3 to secondary roles such as recovery vehicle and training, though some soldiered on until the end of the war.
This all makes the book THE reference to have on the M3. The range of coverage and use of large, clear, photos only enhances what is already a superb history of the type. It is a book that has my highest recommendation.
Review book courtesy of Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link.
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