Early US Armor Tanks 1916-40

Published: March 14th, 2017     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Steven J. Zaloga
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-1807-2
E-Book ISBN #: 1472818075
Other Publication Information: Illustrator: Felipe Rodríguez, Soft Cover, 7.2” x 9.8”, 48 pages
Price: $18.00
Product / Stock #: New Vanguard 245

Steven J. Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to John and Muriel Zaloga on February 1, 1952. Steven earned his undergraduate degree cum laude in history at Union College and his Masters degree in history at Columbia University. He obtained a Certificate in International Affairs from the graduate program of the University of Cracow. He has worked in the aerospace industry for some twenty years as an analyst specializing in missiles, precision guided munitions and unarmed aerial vehicles. Steven has served with a federal think tank, Defense Analyses. He was the writer director for The Discovery Channel’s “Firepower” series from 1987 to 1992. He has authored many books on military technology, especially in armored warfare. Steven is a noted scale armor modeler and is a member of AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society).

Felipe Rodríguez Náñez (aka Felipe Rodna) is an architect and computer graphics artist. Born in 1976, in has been interested in military subjects since he was a child and now is known for his military modeling and his technical illustrations and art. Felipe currently lives with his wife and two sons in Salamanca, Spain. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/feliperodna .

This 48 page book contains a color painting of a M2A4 Light Tank by Felipe Rodna along with a substantial description. I counted 3 tables, 1 color photo, and 44 black and white pictures. Felipe Rodna also contributes ten color profiles (with inset details) along with a keyed cutaway color illustration of a T3E1 Convertible Tank.

Prior to the first World War, the US military showed faint interest in armored tanks, although US businesses did begin to get involved in trying to provide hardware to their British and French allies. The American entry into WWI in April 1917 spurred the US Army’s interest in obtaining tanks. France provided a Renault FT with complete manufacturing drawings, and the adventure truly began. Eventually 972 copies of the Renault FT were made, but none arrived in time for combat. Nevertheless, the effort got the American tank industry going. Based on the US Army’s use of the Renault FT and the British Mark V heavy tank, the American manufacturers started development of future indigenous tanks. Not that it went well. American tank development was beset by politics, organization, strategy, tactics, inter-service fighting, as well as a general lack of funding. The one asset that did materialize going in WWII turned out to be an emphasis on durability, not from withstanding a direct hit, but from the ability to fight more than just a single day without suffering from major mechanical breakdowns.

The sections include:

  • American Tank Origins
  • The Tank Corps [Page 7]
  • Tank Corps Disbanded [Page 15]
  • Early Christie Tanks
  • Rock Island
  • Arsenal Tanks
  • The Christie Distraction [Page 24]
  • Knox’s Light Tanks
  • Combat Cars and Infantry Tanks
  • Calvary Combat Cars
  • Infantry Light Tanks [Page 34]
  • Increasing Armor and Firepower
  • The M2 Medium Tank
  • Marine Corps Tanks
  • Export Tanks [Page 44]
  • In Retrospect
  • Further Reading
  • Index

One of the sections I found fascinating was on Export Tanks. Although the US didn’t export many tanks due to the prohibition under President Harding’s administration, a few did get out. One was the Caterpillar-Disston tank that was essentially an armored Caterpillar Diesel 40 tractor. Nine tractors were sold to Afghanistan along with three tank bodies, delivered in 1935. Amazingly, several survived the decades. An example is depicted on the bottom of Page 44 (see below) that was on display in the 1980s, upgrading with Soviet guns.

Steven J. Zaloga provides a good introduction to the topic with previously unpublished photos and new color illustrations. If you are into American armor, or the development of tank design, this is a great reference book that is also a great read. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Page 7
    Page 7
  • Page 15
    Page 15
  • Page 24
    Page 24
  • Page 34
    Page 34
  • Page 44
    Page 44