M10 Tank Destroyer in Action
David Doyle’s latest book continues to expand on Squadron Signal’s long standing In Action series that initiated back in 1971. This is a considerable expansion over Squadron’s Armor In Action number 36 that covered US Tank Destroyers (M3, M6, M10, M36, and M18 Hellcat). This edition focuses on the M10 and adds considerably to the material provided in that edition.
After many years of being published in enthusiast publications focused on military vehicle restorations, David Doyle ‘graduated’ to full-fledged books in 2003. His first book was a hefty 512 page history of US military vehicles. He has now had more than 100 books published in military vehicles, aviation and naval topics. David and his wife Denise have amassed a collection of ten Vietnam era military vehicles that they still display at shows. In June 2015, Doyle was honored with the Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s Bart Vanderveen Award, given in recognition of "...the individual who has contributed the most to the historic preservation of military vehicles worldwide."
This book follows the normal format of the In Action series, detailing the development and service history of the M10 Tank Destroyer. This is expanded from Squadron’s standard 60 page version of their In Action format and it runs 80 pages packed with large, clear photographs. Veteran illustrator Don Greer provides the cover color artwork featuring a knocked-out M10 that shows Audie Murphy manning the .50-caliber machine gun to halt an infantry attack and protect his men during the Battle of Colmar Pocket. The back cover shows a M10 laden with sandbags and infantry near Saint Lô, France shortly after D-Day. I counted 226 well captioned photographs; 3 in color and 223 in black and white. There were 12 black and white drawings highlighting the variants.
The M10 Tank Destroyer was a response to the German Blitzkreig across Europe. Assessing that the US had no suitable tank destroyer, the US military turned to the Fisher Body division of General Motors. The T35 prototype was based on the diesel powered M4A2 Sherman tank chassis with a 3-inch M7 gun. Ford chipped in to build the M10A1 based on the gasoline powered M4A3 Sherman tank chassis. The M10 was introduced to combat in March 1943 as part of the North African campaign and was initially successful. This would be short lived though, and the M10 was soon shown to be inferior to the German Panther tank with its thick frontal armor. Production eventually totaled 4,993 M10 tank destroyers along with 1,413 M10A1 vehicles (plus an extra 300 hulls before production was closed).
David Doyle starts with an introduction covering the M10 development from the prototypes T35 and T35E1 with well captioned photographs. This includes the production GMC M10 and the Ford M10A1 along with the four turret variations that evolved to attempt to address the need for a counterweight to the M7 gun. Photographs from the initial crew training exercises to the different theatres are addressed as well. There are several photographs of M10 tank destroyers outfitted with wading equipment. There are even photographs of enterprising crew members providing roof armor for their M10. David Doyle discusses other M10 derivatives in the final chapter where M10A1s were converted to prime movers, designated the M35, as well as an evolution of the M10 to the M36 equipped with a 90mm gun.
I especially enjoyed the photograph on page 66 that depicts two M10 tank destroyers firing during winter near Sparbach in January 1945 (see below). Another interesting photograph is on page 74 depicting a Fifth Army M10 firing in Northern Italy during the Spring of 1945. This color photo demonstrates the resourcefulness of the crew as it shows off a makeshift rack on the aft end of the M10 to hold additional ammunition.
The Table of Contents includes the following:
- Development [Page 8, 20, 35, 48, 66)
- M10 Derivatives [Page 78]
This is a gorgeous soft-bound book and is well worth the money. David Doyle provides lots of detailed photographs with detailed captions. I’ve always enjoyed Squadron’s In Action format as their line drawings focus on the differences from variant to variant, making it easy to spot the different versions in the period black and white or color photographs.
My thanks to David Doyle Books and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.