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Squadron Signal Walk Around M4 Sherman

Cookie Sewell

Book Review: Squadron/Signal #5701; Armor Walk Around Number 1: Walk Around M4 Sherman by Jim Mesko, color by Don Greer and Richard Hudson, artwork by Richard Hudson; Squadron/Signal 2000, 80 pp; retail price $14.95

Advantages: Great initial reference source for modeling the M4 series US medium tanks

Disadvantages: Some minor gaps, centered on only the M4A1 and M4A3 variants

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: For all US armor fans and "Shermaholics"

For those of us who model US armor and have a fondness for the M4 series medium tanks, better known as the Sherman, the last two years have been a real bonanza. In 1998 Ampersand Publications released the MMiR Modeler's  Guide to the Sherman by Pete Harlem, and this year Squadron Signal has released this gem by well-known US armor author Jim Mesko. Between the two, they answer most of the questions modelers ask about this popular and fun to model subject.

Jim's book covers some of the same ground as Pete Harlem's but is based on 300 photos of preserved vehicles in various locations. Jim has provided what has to be the best all-around "primer" on the Sherman, and anyone who  wants to model the most popular US variants, the M4A1 or M4A3, should pick up a copy.

The book literally walks through the tank, concentrating on internal and external features, and has a number of good clear shots of things like the Wright engines from the M4 and M4A1 and the Ford GAA from the M4A3. Most of  the photos are well captioned and their focus subject being described by Jim is easy to see. He has provided clear shots of most of the suspension and  track variations, as well as hatches, turrets, and engine decks, plus those pesky details most of the manufacturers had to skimp on or simplify to produce a reasonably priced kit.

Some things are not quite spot on; for example there are a number of shots of a preserved M4A1 with the HVSS suspension. Most of these were done as conversions post-war, and this one appears to be in that number. It uses kit components which were different from the originals, such as fenders held in place with steel rod braces rather than the U-channel used on most factory produced M4A2 and M4A3 tanks with HVSS. Also, while there are M4 and M4A1tanks with direct vision ports which are still accessible and present the actual configuration, the book shows one which was retroactively plugged.  Still, this is a good book for the beginning Sherman modeler, and the MMiR book is more of the next step and addition to a library on the beasts.  Sadly, as the book can only have 80 pages, there is no coverage of the M4A2 and M4A4 models, which were popular in Commonwealth and Soviet service. But it does leave room for a Part 2...

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