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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare ( Ground ) M-18 Hell-Cat

ISBN Number:
978-0-7643-5957-6
Published:
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Publisher:
Schiffer Books
Retail Price:
19.99 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Legends of Warfare ( Ground )

M-18 Hell-Cat

76mm Gun Motor Carriage in World War II

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The Legends of Warfare Books published by Schiffer cover an ever increasing range of subjects used in air, naval and land combat. These hardcover books all share a similar size and format, and are modestly priced at $19.99 USD. The author of this particular work is David Doyle, who has had a great many titles in this series favorably reviewed by AMPS. 

The subject of this volume, the M-18 Hellcat was a result of American tank doctrine that enemy tanks be engaged by tank destroyers rather than other tanks. The M-18 was developed largely as a result of the earlier M-10 tank destroyer being too slow and it's 3 inch gun not being quite potent enough. The M-18's 76mm gun, and top speed of 50mph ( the Hellcat was the fastest US tracked vehicle of WWII ) led to it's being placed in service, with roughly 2,500 examples being built before termination of production in October, 1944. At that time, the 76mm gun was determined to be inadequate for the heaviest of the German tanks and even more potent tank destroyers were developed.

 

Vital Statistics

 

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  112 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - 170+  black and white, and full color images. 

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams -  two tables of technical / performance specifications, no drawings.

All text and photo captions are in English

What's between the Covers?

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The table of contents of the book is short and sweet, with just three chapters listed. This volume begins with a four page introduction which provides the reader with some background information on the development of the M-18, with some nice images of the pilot models in the program. 

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Above - each chapter begins with well written, descriptive blocks of text providing much interesting information on the subject of the chapter. Tables of technical, performance or production data accompanies two of the three chapters. 

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Above - some of the very early pilot models

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Above - very nice profile views of later T70 pilot models, showing hull and turret details very well.

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Above - this volume includes quite a few interesting looks at the factory floor where the M-18 was built.

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Above - full color images are limited to just a few pages in this volume, including the images above; two very nicely restored M-18 Hellcats that are in private collections.

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The Derivatives chapter describes some interesting variants of the M-18, which include an armored utility vehicle, an artillery prime mover, and a command and reconnaissance vehicle. There are some good photographs of some of these variants in this chapter.

Please Note - the images contained throughout this book are much better than my images of them that I took for this review. Most images throughout this volume are crisp and bright, with only a few exceptions ( in the "Field Use" chapter, naturally ) due to conditions under which the images were initially made.

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Above - walk around style images of the Armored Utility Vehicle M39. There aren't many pages of in detail images in this volume, maybe M-18 Hellcats are not too commonly seen in museums?

A Note on Text / Captions - the volumes in the Legends of Warfare series are primarily photographic studies of their subjects, which naturally means more photos, less text. This means that what text there is in the book needs to be concise and informative since there's less space for it. The author does a terrific job of conveying lots of information to the reader in this book, be it by photo caption, or the short chapter introductions. 

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Most of the second half of the book concerns itself with the M-18 in field use, from it's first action at Anzio, Italy through the end of World War II and then again in Korea ( as Armored Utility Vehicle Variant ). Most of the images in this chapter are from the European Theater of Operations, although some M-18s did see combat in the Pacific Theater.

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A great many of the images in the Field Use chapter are full page in size, enabling the viewer to make out details of the image very well. The range of activities shown in the images are of just about all situations and actions imaginable for WWII armor to be in. Most images are quite  bright and crisp, with loads of interesting detail visible. Only a few images are a bit dark, but they are worthy of inclusion due to their general interest.

 Conclusions

This volume provides the reader with a very good, solid reference work on the M-18 Hellcat. I have generally liked all of the entries in this line of books, finding them to be a good value in what you get for the modest price point.

Pros - there is LOT of information provided by the author in the blocks of text, as well the photograph captions. The images throughout the book are of generally very high quality and of good interest. Price isn't generally a criteria for whether a reference work is good or not; a good reference book is good regardless of price. But it does bear mentioning that this series of books is priced at a very reasonable price point.

Cons - there are very few of the usual "in detail" or "walk around" style images found in this particular book, which may slightly bother those who have grown to expect them. 

All in all, I find this book to be a useful addition to your tank destroyers of WWII bookshelf!

Highly Recommended

Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire , AMPS Chicagoland 

AMPS 2nd Vice President, US Midwest Region for Beginner to Advanced builders.

 

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