High Speed Tractor
A Visual History of the U.S. Army’s Tracked Artillery Prime Movers
The Visual History series is well known for it’s quality photographic content, with the bulk of the photographs being full page in size, reproduced very well on high gloss paper. Formerly published by Ampersand, this series is now published by Emfour Publications, and marketed exclusively via David Doyle Books.
The subject of this volume is the series of tracked prime movers developed during WWII and used by the US for hauling heavy artillery. The series served the US and friendly nations from mid-WWII into the 1960’s.
Previous editions of this particular book were published in 2006 and 2013. This current printing of the book contains some images previously in black and white in prior printings that are now in full color.
Format - softcover, landscape format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 120 pages
Size - 8.5” x 11”
Photos - vintage Black & White, with full color “in detail” style images
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - none
All text and photo captions are in English
What's in the Book?
Above - the table of contents, which follow the development of these tractors in a chronological order.
Following a brief two page introduction, where the author describes each of these high speed tractor variants with a couple of interesting paragraphs, he begins his examination of these vehicles with the first variant, the M2.
This little (the smallest high speed tractor in the U. S. Army’s stable) 7 ton tractor was largely used at airfields as an aircraft tug. Above is a “formal portrait” of the M2, this chapter provides interesting looks at these little tractors in the manufacturing plants and in use in the field.
Above - an interesting overhead view of the 18-ton M4 high speed tractor, one of the most commonly seen artillery haulers, with roughly 5,500 built through June of 1945. This image provides a good look both ammo storage on the tractor, as well as the arrangement of the on board tools and .50 cal Browning M2.
Above - Throughout the book, detail images are provided, including good looks at the interior spaces of these tractors.
A NOTE ON THE PHOTOS IN THIS BOOK - the photographs contained in this book are uniformly quite good, being sharp and clear. There are just a couple that are a bit faded, which in my view is perfectly acceptable given the age of these images and the interest level of the images. There are a great many full page sized images in the book, with a lot of the “in-detail” style images being quarter page in size, still large enough for good study of detail.
Another of the more commonly seen high speed tractors was the 13-ton M5, produced in several variants.
Above - this book is full of interesting images, such as this one of the M5 high speed tractor with the canopy and curtains installed.
A NOTE ON TEXT AND PHOTO CAPTIONING - with any book that is so photo-heavy, text space is at a premium. The author does a terrific job of conveying a great deal of information in a clear, concise manner in the photo captions and the limited space for blocks of text. The photo captioning throughout the book is quite informative while remaining easily read.
There are plenty of in the field / in-action photographs throughout the book, providing good reference for modelers looking to do a diorama or vignette centered on these vehicles. These images range from WWII use to Korea, and beyond.
The book also provides plenty of well chosen walk-around style photographs of these high speed tractors, giving the model builder good visual references on each. The majority of these images are in full color.
Above - another terrific factory image, this one of an engine being installed in a big M6 tractor. This monster had TWO engines, and was larger than most tanks of the Second World War. I enjoy seeing home-front factory floor images like this one, they remind us of all the non-uniformed folks that also served the nation so well.
This volume wraps up with a look at the last of the line, the post WWII M8 A1 and A2. These tractors shared the same engine and transmissions as the M41 Walker Bulldog tank. Production ceased on these in 1955 with 480 units built. These big tractors could be fitted with bulldozer blades, cranes or winches, among other gear. Numerous images in this chapter show this gear used in the field.
This series of books is well regarded for quality of content. This volume maintains that standard easily, containing well chosen photographs and quite a large amount of interesting information on these vehicles. Great images, great text, this book meets the intent of the author very well.
It seems to me that these tractors were somewhat overlooked in favor of the more glamorous armored fighting vehicles. Their usefulness cannot be disputed though, and the role these vehicles played was a vital one. This book does a nice job in depicting that.
This book belongs in the libraries of any who have interest in US artillery of WWII or the Korean Conflict.
Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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