by: Scott Espin [ ]
Introduction Squadron/Signal Publications has chosen the M4 Sherman to kick off their new series of Armor Walk Around Books. The Walk Around Series provides a lot of bang for the buck as they are loaded with a wealth of photographs, profiles and diagrams. They are attractively bound and reasonably priced. This series will likely prove to be as invaluable to the modeler as Squadron’s successful Aircraft Walk Around books, especially for those on a budget.
The Book Over 50,000 Shermans were produced by the United States during World War II. It was the primary tank in the US arsenal and was used by many US Allies, including the Soviet Union under the lend lease program. The fact that so many Shermans were still in service decades after WWII is a testament to both its durability and its ease of maintenance.
Squadron’s M4 Walk Around is the first of their Armor Walk Around series of books. The format will be familiar to those of you who have seen the Aircraft Walk Around Books. It contains 80 pages, softbound in a landscape format and focuses the majority of its attention to the M4, M4A1 and M4A3. There are 142 color photographs, 12 color profiles, 144 black and white photos, and several well-done diagrams. The pages are laid out alternating between two black and white pages, then two color pages, two black and white, two color and so on.
The author, Jim Mesko, begins with a very brief introduction of the Sherman, then quickly moves on to illustrate and explain the various different designs and body styles of the Sherman. The in-depth focus begins with the differential/final drive housings. There is much attention focused on the various guards for the headlights and the ball mounted machine guns.
There are 12 pages devoted to coverage of the various bogey assemblies, drive sprockets, idlers, road wheels and tracks. The author includes some great drawings that showcase the Sherman’s various features and design aspects. He then focuses on many exterior features such as the hatches, vents, visors, grills, caps, tools, gun cleaning rods, tail light guards, gun mantle and co-axial machine gun. Much attention is paid to the turret and mantle variations between the different models of the Sherman, including the M4A3E2.
Next the author documents the different turret hatches and the external machine gun and its mounting hardware. He then moves on to address the additional armor plates welded to the exterior of the tank to increase its armor protection where the ammunition storage bins are located. There are many photos of the interior, transmission, driver's position, internal machine guns, and several of the different engines used in the Sherman. Also included are photos of the turret interior and ammunition storage. Finally, there are a series of 12 color profiles.
Conclusion This is a nice, supplemental photo reference of the Sherman. Unfortunately, there are so many different models and variations of the Sherman that it’s a bit ambitious to even attempt to cover such a broad topic in-depth in only 80 pages. Far from being a comprehensive walk around of the Sherman, it does cover the M4, M4A1 and M4A3 reasonably well however there is almost no coverage of Sherman variants used by the British and other allies. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of many of the color photographs, mostly because of the poor lighting and flash photography. The photos could have been enhanced and corrected using even just basic photo editing software. At times, the photo captions are a bit redundant and seem to have been written for each photo individually, as opposed to using the pictures and captions as a whole to document the variations of the different models of the Sherman.