Sherman Medium Tank - Canadian, New Zealand and South African Armies Italy, 1943–1945

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Dennis Oliver
Other Publication Information
Paperback (11.7” x 8.3”), 64 pages, 100 color and 100 black and white illustrations.
Product / Stock #
TankCraft 39
Company: Pen & Sword - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

From Dennis Oliver’s Introduction,

"The American-build M4 Medium Tank, christened Sherman by the British, served in every theater of war from North Africa, Sicily and Italy to north-western Europe and finally in the Far East. From late 1942 it was arguably the most important armoured vehicle in Britain’s arsenal, with the possible exception of the Churchill. Field Marshal Montgomery, the overall commander of the British and Commonwealth units fighting in the Mediterranean and later in Normandy, considered the Sherman to be a universal tank, capable of both close infantry support and mobile warfare."

With over 55,000 Shermans produced throughout the war, Shermans were in every theater with all the major Allies. What is impressive about this book is that it does a fantastic job of highlighting the Commonwealth Forces fighting in Italy from 1943-1945: Canadian, New Zealand and South Africa. Within the book’s 64 pages is a treasure trove of research and inspiration. It is almost easy to forget that the British, Americans and Polish units also operated Shermans in Italy.

The book includes 10 pages of full color illustrations depicting 30 different Shermans and their markings, histories of the formations operating Shermans during the Italian campaign (not including British and American formations), technical analysis and list of modifications, available models, accessories and three builds, and a table of contents (see accompanying photo) lays out the book in seven chapters:

  • Introduction
  • The Sherman Tank Units
  • Camouflage & Markings
  • Model Showcase
    • 1/35 Sherman III of the 4th NZ Armored Brigade by Gary Boxall
    • 1/35 Sherman V of the 1st Canadian Armored Brigade by Jordan Baker
    • 1/76 Sherman V and M-19 Tank Transporter of the 1st Canadian Armored Brigade by Neil Craig
  • Modelling Products
  • Technical Details and Modifications
  • Product Contact Details

This book is a boon for modelers who want to want to build a Commonwealth Sherman operating in Italy. The photographs, sure to inspire vignettes and dioramas, are breathtaking and show Shermans and their crews in the field. The brutal beauty of the Italian battlefield is well highlighted throughout the book. The color illustrations are well researched and will greatly aid in construction and painting of your next Commonwealth Sherman.

A great feature of the TankCraft series are the sections focusing on the model showcase (15 pages), the modelling products (seven pages) and the camouflage & markings section (10 pages) highlighting 30 Shermans. For the modelers who want to add more to their kit, the technical details and modifications section will be helpful and take your Sherman to the next level. The technical section also describes the various Sherman models in both US and British nomenclature.

Dennis Oliver is the author of over twenty books on WWII armored vehicles, with 20 in the TankCraft series. His collection of photographs, color illustrations and model builds are great modeling tools to have on your project. With the breakdown of the various armored unit formations, it helps place the campaign and units in context. The only thing missing for this reviewer is the inclusion of maps to follow the campaign.

Dennis’ attention to detail is evident in the painting and marking sections. For anyone who thinks all Shermans are painted OD Green, then this book is for you. For starters, the British called it Standard Camouflage Color (SCC)15 (Olive Drab), an error on page 63 calls it US Army Oliver Drab (nice Charles Dickens reference), and the Shermans in Italy carried many variations on camouflage based on where the Shermans were shipped from; including dark brown, mud, black and different shades of OD green. Additionally, "Prior to embarkation the markings were covered in paper which was held in place by varnish. When the paper was removed the residue of the varnish cold be seen for some time as a darker surround." This is a book for a modeler looking for a Sherman of a different color.

With this much background and notable achievement, his books are a welcome addition to modelers and historians bookshelves. Despite being in the era of digital books, I know this book will physically be on my bench as I build my next Commonwealth Sherman. There is just something about having something physical in your hand, on your bookshelf, and doesn’t require electricity to operate that makes a book worthwhile. Thanks to Dennis Oliver’s Sherman Tank Canadian, New Zealand and South African Armies, Italy, 1943–1945, this makes that time very worthwhile.

In the words of the imminently quotable British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, "If you’re going through Hell, keep going!". The Shermans in this book were a means to that end.

Profuse thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.


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