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A study of the development, production and use of US anti-tank guns during World War Two has never been available to the general reader, unlike for instance, German anti-tank guns, which have received detailed coverage. As Mr. Zaloga sets out to methodically detail the use of US armored vehicles during the 20th century, he has taken us on a little side-trip in order to give some insight as to the US use of anti-tank guns.
He begins by introducing the reader to the subject and follows by detailing the threats as the US perceived them; he then provides information on the use of alternative and expedient means of combating tanks. The development and use of the home-grown 37mm gun as well as the British-designed 6-pdr. (called the 57mm gun M1) is then discussed. The author then takes to task the (later thoroughly repudiated) antiarmor concepts espoused by US General Lesley McNair, which led to the heavier 3-inch gun M5 being fielded, and also led to the ill-advised de-motorization of many self-propelled Tank Destroyer battalions. The cancelled 76mm gun project is discussed, prior to the author using combat experience reports to tell the story of US anti-tank guns as used in Italy, France and during the Battle of the Bulge.
The text closes with a discussion of the final designs such as the various 90mm guns, then, foreign and post-war use is detailed. As is usual with this author, the text is concise, lively and informative. When you are finished reading this stuff, you will have a greater understanding of the subject; no doubt about it!
Also as usual from this author, the graphic content of the book is excellent. The author has included a fine balance of 48 B&W photos that include experimental and prototype weapons, as well as the standardized weapons and their derivatives. There is a good selection of images featuring the guns in service, along with their crews and prime movers. These are all well-captioned.
The color plates by Mr. Delf are clearly rendered and beautifully detailed. They depict the three standard guns (37mm, 57mm and 3-inch), in multiple views. The 37mm gun is given special treatment in the center-spread, which contains detailed technical data, a section on ammunition, and numbered call-outs depicting various features of the gun. One page is also devoted to the prime movers for the guns (Dodge 1/2-ton and 1.5-ton trucks and M3 halftrack), while another two pages depict a Jeep towing a 37mm during maneuvers, and a halftrack pulling a 57mm gun during training in the UK, prior to the invasion of France. These are all complimented by detailed commentaries at the back of the book.
A final bit of information is contained in four charts that detail the following: comparative AT performance of US 3-inch, German PaK40 and British 17-pdr guns; US anti-tank gun production from 1940-45; technical data for the 37mm, 57mm, 3-inch and 90mm guns; and US lend-lease transfers. In short, this is very complete coverage, especially given the format of this series.
It’s a pity that there are no good plastic kits of these weapons in 1/35th-scale, so the book will be of limited use for a modeling project. On the other hand, maybe some innovative kit manufacturer will get a copy of this book and become enthused enough to redress that imbalance. Regardless, this is an excellent and inexpensive reference, and should be on the book-shelf of any serious enthusiast.
Frank De Sisto