Osprey Warrior 78:

US Army Tank Crewman 1941-45

European Theater of Operations 1944-45

Reviewed by Neville Lord
 

Many accounts of WWII tank crews focus on the heroic victories or provide a quite personal perspective of the fighting. In "US Army Tank Crewman 1941-45: European Theater of Operations 1944-45" Steven Zaloga who is well regarded for his research on US armor in WWII, recounts the experiences and life of a US tank unit fighting in Western Europe with an emphasis of Creighton Abrams and his unit the 37th Tank Battalion, which was part of the 4th Armored Division. Abrams (whom the current US M1 MBT is named after) was one of the most successful WWII US tank commanders who saw front line combat from Operation Cobra in July 1944 through to final victory in Germany in 1945.

CONTENTS:

This 64 page title, part of the Osprey Warrior series provides a systematic account of the training, equipment, operation and combat service of the US tank crew who fought in France and German in WWII. The book is heavily illustrated with black and white photos, and eight pages of colour plates by Howard Gerrard. The photos are a mix of period photos of US AFV crew and their tanks with a bias to the 4th Armored Division. The photos are well captioned and closely tie in with the text.

After a brief introduction, Zaloga describes the recruitment, training, uniforms and equipment of a WWII US tanker, which includes descriptions of the respective crew member's roles and their ethos. The text examines these experiences from the perspectives of a "typical" recruits, and in particular the experiences of the 4th Armored Division and Abrams (who was accepted for officer training prior to the war).

Subsequent sections describe life in the field and follow the 4th Armored Division as it fought its way across France in 1944 and into Germany in 1945. This includes descriptions of the tank fighting during Operation Cobra (Normandy breakout), Lorraine (Arracourt), Bastogne in the Ardennes and the Rhine crossing. The book finishes with short details on Creighton's post war career with the US Army and a bibliography.

The colour plates are varied in subject and include one plate showing the organisation of Company B, 37th Tank Battalion’s Shermans in July 44 (it does not show support vehicles). Two plates that are particularly useful for modellers show the turret interior of the M5A1 light tank (Stuart) and the M4A3 (76mm) (recently released by Dragon as 1/35 kit 6255 with decals for Abrams Thunderbolt IV) Sherman respectively. Another plate illustrates the crew positions of an M4 Sherman (does not depict internal stowage). Abram's M4 "Thunderbolt V at Arracourt during the German Lorraine Offensive and M4A3 (76mm) "Thunderbolt VI" at Bastogne each feature in a battle-scene illustration. Lastly two plates, which would be useful for painting the figures included in US WWII AFV kits, depict typical crew uniforms for summer 1944 (with illustrations of varying helmet types) and the winter of 1944-45. Each plate is accompanied by explanatory text.

RECOMMENDATION:

"US Army Tank Crewman 1941-45: ETO 1944-45” offers insight into the life and combat experiences of the American tank crews in France and Germany during WWII. While providing a human perspective, particularly via the references to Abrams and the 4th Armored Division, the book has retained a strong factual basis and an ability to convey the big picture. Well recommended, particularly for those wishing to extend their knowledge of AFVs beyond modelling and into the life of the crew and the flow of the major campaigns.

FOOTNOTE:

Steven Zaloga also recently authored "US Armored Divisions: The European Theater of Operations 1944-45 ". This related book provides a systematic examination of the organisation, tactics and deployment of the US armoured divisions in France & Germany in WWII to compliment the above Warriors series title.

RELATED ITEMS:

OSW078 US Army Tank Crew Europe 44-45

OSPB003 US Armored Divisions ETO 1944-1945

OSPB010 US Tank/Tank Dest Battalions ETO 44-45

DML6255 1/35 M4A3(76)W VVSS Sherman Batle of Bulge

 


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