The Allied-Axis series from Ampersand Publishing offers an excellent overview of a wide and growing variety of vehicles used by both sides in WW II. Perhaps trying to capitalize on all the Sd.Kfz.7s and variants currently in release, this issue is sub-titled “Sdkfz 7, 8-ton KM m 11 halftrack Part Two.” Since I reviewed #21 (click here
to read more), the editors of Armorama asked me to review this follow-up. The volume was primarily researched, written and edited by David Doyle, with help from Joe DeMarco and Ron Ervin.
The book opens with the M4A3E2 Jumbo
tank. A heavy-duty variant of the Sherman tank, it unfortunately is not readily-available in kit form these days. Tamiya once made a kit version (that comes in and out of production), and Tank Workshop has a complete conversion set that corrects its awful dimensional problems, but this one could use a new styrene version. The 17 pages of B&W photos include lots of action ones and a small “walk around” done on a vehicle at Ft. Knox.
The cover of this volume proclaims it to be the second part of their treatment of the Sd.Kfz.7 KM m 11 halftrack
. The 19-page section is a mix of period photos and a “walk around” from a modern restoration. The originals are excellent, though too few in number, and with none of any 7 variants. The “walk around” photos are from the Littlefield Collection at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in Portola Valley, CA. They’re very good, but that vehicle has been covered more exhaustively (and in color) on Chris “Toadman” Hughes’s recently-released photo CD (reviewed here
). While the template for the series is mixing modern and period photos, I think this book would have been stronger if the walk around had been ditched in favor of more historical versions. There are tons of Sd.Kfz.7 photos around, though many are poor-quality snapshots taken by soldiers with lenses from the uncoated era that produce “soft” images lacking in detail and contrast.
Another gem in the book is the 8-page section devoted to U.S. Army Snow Tractors
focusing on the Allis-Chalmers M7/T26E4. Unlike the more-famous M28 and M29 “Weasels,” the T26E4 has been overlooked by history. There is a quick overview of various prototype designs intended to pull whatever the Army needed pulling through snow, and a good “walk around” of vehicle #994224 with photos any detailer would be happy with. The singularity of vision defining the T26E4 shows how form and function can produce and superb machine ideally-suited for its job.
One of my favorite kits growing up was the M8 Greyhound armored car, so I was tickled to see the 17-page section devoted to the M20 Armored Utility Car
. The M20 was the command version, so the Greyhound’s turret was replaced with a .50 cal machine gun ring allowing for more visibility as a tradeoff for firepower. The mix between “action” shots and walk around here tips heavily in the latter’s favor, providing the armor detailer with a dream fund of material. I looked over the ABER PE set for upgrading the Tamiya and Italeri kits, and discovered it’s a good beginning, but just that: you’ll need a deep spares box to replicate all the wonderful gear superbly photographed.
While the Sd.Kfz.7 is the most-famous Axis Prime Mover, and was even licensed to Breda for the Italian army, Italy commissioned its own gun tractor in 1938, resulting in the SPA/Fiat TM40 Prime Mover
. Its 10-page section has only five period photos, and of them, four are from a captured TM40 shipped to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds for evaluation. The TM40 served in North Africa, and would be an excellent addition to any desert diorama— if only Italeri or Tamiya would grace us with a styrene version of this five-ton hauler.
As the U.S. Army raced across Europe, it had to deal with getting its men and materiel across the many small and medium-sized rivers. The solution was to modify the 6-ton artillery prime mover into the 6-ton Bridge Erector Truck
. Modifications included a longer chassis, larger tires and a powerful Hercules HXD 855 cubic inch engine. Unlike with the heavy metal & wood bridges used by the Axis, the Allies favored pontoon solutions, with the Bridge Erector Truck carrying up to 2 of the massive floats. This 23-page section includes a rich selection of period photos, followed by a “walk around” from a restored Bridge Erector that should satisfy the most-demanding scratch-builder or detailer. The period shots show the vehicle in action, both towing bridge components
Despite the lackluster coverage of the Sd.Kf.7, this volume is really a good deal at $15.95. It covers several obscure Allied vehicles, along with the M20. Definitely recommended, though perhaps more for the armor enthusiast than as a research source for modelers, except perhaps the scratch builder. The manufacturers need to "catch up" to the researchers, so to speak.