US Marine Corps Tanks of World War II

Published on
April 12, 2012
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Steven J. Zaloga
Other Publication Information
Paperback, 48 pages, b&w period photos, color artwork and profiles, tables
Product / Stock #
New Vanguard 186
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

This latest release in the New Vanguard series by Osprey Publishing helps to fill the void of the history of USMC armor. The 48 page format of the series makes it necessary to limit the amount of information; thusly, there is no coverage of the armored amphibious assault vehicles. This issue only covers land-based armored vehicles. Perhaps we will be blessed in the future with another volume that will concentrate on the LVTs. This issue does, however, give a brief history of the early beginnings of Marine armor, starting with the US copy of the Renault FT, the M1917, as well as the barely adequate Marmon-Herrington tankette. Early US Navy shipping restrictions required lightly armored small tanks that proved to be under powered and under armed. Eventually, the Marines were equipped with the M2 and M3 series of light tanks that saw a baptism of fire on Guadalcanal. In the jungles of Guadalcanal, the light tanks saw plenty of action and were instrumental in helping the Marines repel Japanese infantry. As the battle for Guadalcanal continued, Marine tank tactics changed and the Marines always tried to operate in pairs. More than once, Japanese infantry swarmed over the light tanks, only to be shot off by the machine guns of companion tanks. The use of 37mm canister shot proved very effective against the suicidal charges of the Japanese infantry. The Marines used several variations of the M3-M5 series of light tanks. However, as the island hopping continued and the Japanese built stronger bunkers and island defenses, the light tanks proved to be deficient and were replaced by the larger M4 series, which proved to be an effective bunker buster.

As Marine tank doctrine changed, so did the Japanese methods of dealing with the tank. Included in the book is an illustration from a Japanese antitank tactics manual that describes several methods of dealing with the armored assault. The book describes some of the methods employed by Marines to combat the ever changing techniques used by the Japanese infantry soldier. This included wooden plank armor, nails welded to hatches etc.

This 48 page volume contains 46 B&W photographs, 8 pages of color artwork, a table explaining the Marine combat action and battalions that fought in the action, an index, and bibliography. Most of the photographs have been seen before; however, there are some new images. All the photographs are clearly printed and adequate in size, making them useful for details and helping the modeler to build a more interesting and accurate model. The color plates created by Richard Chasemore are very well done and include several images from an M2A4 on Guadalcanal to an M4A3 on Okinawa. Also included is a 2-page centerspread cut-away of an M4A3 on Iwo Jima. The color artwork depicts a wide variety of vehicle types, camouflage, unit marking, etc., making sure this book is very useful for the modeler.

This book looks at a wide variety of operations in the Pacific, from the steamy jungles of Guadalcanal to the volcanic desert of Iwo Jima and the plains of Okinawa. It is a concise and informative volume that fans of Marine armor will find very useful. This is a perfect companion to Osprey’s US Marine Corps Tank Crewman 1941-45 (Warrior Series #92).

Fans of US tanks and, especially, Marine Corps tanks will find this book enjoyable and informative. As is typical from this author, he has given us an interesting and well-researched volume about Marine Corps armor. I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it.

Osprey books are available at retail outlets and direct from mail order through their website. Many thanks go to Osprey Publishing for providing this book and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to read and review it.


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