The Sherman Design and Development
Vols. 1 & 2 (Son of Sherman)
In 2013 Pat Stansell’s Ampersand Publishing brought us the 386 page Son of Sherman, Vol. 1, which was then the most complete and definitive examination of the iconic Sherman tank in World War II. This book was hugely popular, with the print run selling out almost immediately, and those copies are now rare, and quite expensive on the secondary market.
Now, ten years later, Pat Stansell and his new Emfour Publishing have raised the bar yet again on Sherman reference works with this new effort, a massive 942 page work which consists of two bound volumes, divided into three “books” within the two bound volumes. These two hard bound volumes are neatly housed in a nice looking rigid slipcase ( pictured above), which also contains a quick reference card containing a glossary and a handy registration number index.
While this title is termed a second edition on the David Doyle Books website, it’s anything but your typical second edition. For starters, very little of the original 2013 edition remains. This work is almost totally revised, expanded and reorganized. Both of these hard bound books are entirely new books, neither is a reprint of the 2013 book, nor are these volumes to be thought of as “follow on books” to the 2013 edition. Both books in this set are essentially brand new.
Due to the sheer size of this work, the review will be rather lengthy.
Format - two volume hardcover with slipcase, portrait format
Page Count - 942 heavyweight, high gloss pages, each book has a silk ribbon bookmark. A card containing a useful glossary and registration number index is also included.
Size - 7.5” x 11.0”
Photos - 1,500+ historical and full color walk-around style images
Tables / drawings / diagrams - many tables of technical, performance and production information, a great many drawings and diagrams as well.
All text and photograph captions are in English
This book was written by Pat Stansell, and edited / annotated by Kurt Laughlin
What's between the Covers?
Above is the table of contents for this massive work. I’m surprised that 942 pages of highly detailed content can be covered by just a single page table of contents, but this really shows you just how well organized these volumes are. A look at the above TOC will inform you of the depth and vast scope of this work.
A work of this massive size in two volumes is sort of tricky to review in any reasonable length due to its size. If the reviewer isn’t careful, the review itself may be the length of a book! I will begin this review with a look at the first of the two volumes in this set: Son of Sherman Volume 1, Part 1.
This volume contains the content listed in the above table of contents up to page 464. This includes the Introduction, Quick Start Guide, Prelude, and Book 1: 1942-1943.
This book opens with an Introduction which explains the author’s intentions behind this work, and his methods for laying the work out as he has. This is followed by something I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen before in a book, a Quick Start Guide ( above ). This 10 page section provides sort of a “Sherman 101” tutorial, intended to give the reader a relatively brief but quite thorough background on Sherman Tank. Various technical terms, the reasons why these tanks were designed as they were, and basic differences in major components are discussed here. This Quick Start Guide is very effective in meeting its purpose, and provides very nice drawings and photos accompanying the informative, easily-read text.
The next chapter in Part 1 is titled “Prelude”, which discusses the development of American ( and British, as well ) armor from the end of World War I, through the inter-war years, up until the fall of France in 1940. The political mood as well as that of the American public are described, in regards to how this affected inter-war period military arms design, development and manufacturing. This chapter contains some nice images of Christie tanks, the M2 series, as well as some early war British designs.
The next chapter, “Engines”, contains a wealth of information on the four different power plants that drove the M4 Sherman into action. These engines are all well described, with factory floor photos, cutaway drawings showing engine mounting in the tank hulls, detail photos of the engines, labeled engine component drawings and nice technical / performance tables. Once you’ve digested this chapter, the various power plants used by the Sherman will be a mystery no longer.
The balance of Part 1 of this two volume work is devoted to in-depth examinations of the various manufacturers of the M4 Sherman tank. While knowing a bit about the Sherman, I’m certainly no card carrying Shermaholic. I had no real idea that quite so many big firms were engaged in the manufacture of the Sherman. The following firms are each examined in detail;
- Lima Locomotive Works
- Pressed Steel Car Co.
- Fisher Tank Arsenal
- Pullman Standard Car Co.
- Pacific Car and Foundry
- Ford Motor Company
- Chrysler Defense Arsenal
- American Locomotive Company
- Montreal Locomotive Works
- Baldwin Locomotive Works
- Federal Machine and Welder
Each of the above manufacturers are treated similarly in this work, each having a chapter that reads like a small book in itself. Above we see typical opening pages from one of the manufacturers chapter, complete with great images of one of the manufacturing plants where Sherman’s were made.
A great many crystal clear, well executed drawings show clearly the features of the tanks made by all manufacturers. There are four aspect renderings of the Sherman’s as made by the various manufacturers, sometimes several of them per manufacturer. These renderings are quite well done, complete with labeling of components.
Above - drawings of the “Grizzly” Sherman manufactured by the Montreal Locomotive Works, which served with Canadian armored units.
Each manufacturer chapter contains a great many period photographs of the in-action sort, taken wherever the Sherman served. Most of the period images are black and white, but some were taken in full color such as is seen above left, taken in Italy.
These photos are all quite interesting, and show detail very well.
Full color in-detail or walkaround style images are also found throughout this book, providing good looks at virtually all components. The photo captions provide good information on what is pictured. These images are well composed, lit well, and crystal clear.
Above - more examples of the terrific quality of contemporary images that can be expected in this book.
The in-action style images found in the manufacturers chapters are quite well chosen for interesting content and their overall quality. These images show the Sherman on all fronts, situations and activities.
Captions for these photographs describe the subject matter in good detail, and draw attention to aspects of the images that are of special interest.
Photo sizes vary within the book, with most being a generous half page size, quite large enough for good views of detail. The photos reproduce well on the high gloss paper used for these books. As seen above, some select images are full page in size. Just look at the many details clearly seen in the image above!
To state it again, all of the various Sherman manufacturing plant chapters are treated in the same manner in terms of content. Well written, informative text, terrific interesting background information, great drawings, fascinating historic photographs, and useful contemporary images.
Son Of Sherman, Volume 1, Part 2
Part 2 of this work contains Books 2 & 3. Book 2 addresses the Sherman tanks produced during 1944-1945, with the improvements made following the combat and production experience of the previous two years. Chapters are devoted to the Pressed Steel Car Co. of 1944-45, the M4A3 from Fisher Tank Arsenal in 1944-45, the M4A2 from Fisher Tank Arsenal, the 105mm howitzer armed Sherman’s from Chrysler 1944-45, and the Chrysler M4A3 (76) in 1944-45. Some Sherman manufacturers from the earlier years of Sherman production ceased production of entire Sherman tanks for various reasons, some turning their attention to other war-related projects.
The Ultimate Sherman was what the Armored Force Board called the program for upgrading the Sherman’s of 1944-45. Hard won battlefield knowledge dictated changes and upgrades to be made to the Sherman tanks.
Various improvements to virtually all areas of the tanks were made; the new 76mm gun, the 105mm howitzer armed Sherman, wet ammunition stowage to prevent catastrophic fires, new crew hatch designs, and a wide range of structural and mechanical improvements. These improvements are all well examined and illustrated in this second volume of this massive work.
The chapters making up Book 2 are every bit as all encompassing as the chapters of Book 1. Extensive text is accompanied by more of the excellent four aspect drawings which highlight the improvements and changes to the Sherman in 1944-45.
Above - Contemporary images as well as clear line drawings illustrate the changes made to the Sherman series. Many tables of interesting technical or production information accompany the text work.
Photo captions are clearly written, informative and interesting.
These chapters of Book 2 are also filled with great images of the Sherman in worldwide action. Despite the vast number of period photographs presented in this entire work, nary a sub-par image can be found. These images are all quite well chosen for interest and quality.
PLEASE NOTE - the images in these books are far crisper and brighter than the photographs that I have taken of them for this review. Photo quality throughout these books is simply excellent!
The third and final book in this two volume set goes into great detail on the many sub-assemblies that made up the Sherman tank. Great attention is given to the different guns and turrets, the drive train components including suspension and tracks, etc. This book also provides information on the transport of Sherman’s from the factories to the theaters of war, the remanufacturing of Shermans, and even includes a good chapter on the use of Sherman’s in the Korean War.
The chapter on Power Train Units begins its examination on the exterior of the Sherman, looking at the final drive assembly housings, and then moves inside for good looks at the brake assemblies, steering gear, and differential units.
Above - thorough interior and external photography accompanies the descriptive text on these sub-assemblies.
Both the 75mm and 76mm turrets have a chapter devoted to them, both chapters follow similar format, extensive content and layout.
Page after page of crisp, clear five aspect drawings illustrate changing exterior turret details, along with a mix of period and contemporary photographs of interior as well as exterior components. As seen above, tables of turret attributes by foundry are provided.
Above - numerous pages of photographs covering all aspects of both the 75mm and 76mm turrets are included in each turret chapter, along with the various drawings and diagrams of turret components. The wall to wall coverage in these chapters is impressive indeed.
Covered next is the Running Gear chapter, covering all associated components such as the many variants of drive sprockets, road wheels, the different suspension systems, and track types. All variants of these individual components are thoroughly described and extremely well illustrated.
Above - As with all chapters in the two volumes of this work, this chapter contains a very complete mix of well written text, diagrams, component drawings, period and contemporary photographs.
The Remanufacture chapter addresses the thousands of early vintage Shermans, worn out from training duty, that were rebuilt, refurbished, overhauled and generally upgraded to later war standards. Many of these tanks then went to the British via the Lend Lease program. This chapter also addresses the addition of supplemental armor plates in the remanufacturing process, as well as during manufacture of brand new tanks.
Above - excellent photographs and drawings accompany the text in this chapter.
So you have several factories churning out mass quantities of Sherman tanks in the heartland of America…how do you get them to the ETO or to some island on the far side of the world? This chapter answers that question in detail. Transporting huge numbers of tanks and associated equipment / supplies across a continent and then an ocean was a huge undertaking, one that was successfully managed by WWII America.
Interesting text and outstanding photographs show how this logistical challenge was met and overcome.
In the volume’s final chapter, the Sherman is shown responding to the call of duty on a far away Asian peninsula, in another conflict; the Korean War. No M4 Sherman tanks were manufactured after the end of WWII in 1945, but obviously Shermans soldiered on for Uncle Sam ( as well as for other nations ) for many years post-1945.
A terrific selection of images showing the Sherman’s in a wide range of actions and activities in Korea accompany this final chapter of this work.
The book contains a total of five Appendices;
- Appendix A - Foundry markings found on the Sherman ( example page seen above )
- Appendix B - Miscellany: Various mechanical details ( example page seen below )
- Appendix C - Sherman prices
- Appendix D - Summary of large hatch Sherman changes, Dec. 1943 - July 1945
- Appendix E - U.S. Tank Battalion, Table of Organization
This third book then concludes with an extensive bibliography and an index.
This two volume work is massive in terms of physical size and scope of content, but beyond its sheer size and depth of content, it’s extremely well presented. The level of attention to detail throughout these two volumes is just incredible. Every conceivable aspect of the US WWII Sherman is examined in the highest level of detail imaginable. Each aspect of the M4 Sherman is discussed thoroughly in well written, informative text, and illustrated with a great many photographs, drawings and diagrams.
It is difficult to convey adequately the sheer quantity of well written text, terrific photographs and other visual material contained in these two volumes in the content of a review. I skipped over entire chapters, only selecting representative ones for purposes of this review, otherwise this review would be four times its current length.
I have a great many fine reference works on the Sherman tank, including the Hunnicutt work and the original 2013 edition of Son of Sherman. This two volume set is vastly superior to both. This work will clearly stand as the definitive reference work on the WWII M4 Sherman for the foreseeable future.
While a bit pricey, this reference work IS THAT GOOD. Distributed solely by David Doyle Books in limited quantities, I’d urge anyone interested in obtaining a copy of this fine work to pre-order one immediately.
Highly Recommended! A MUST HAVE for Sherman fans
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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