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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare, M48 Patton America’s First “Main Battle Tank”

ISBN Number:
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Schiffer Publishing
Retail Price:
$24.99 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Schiffer Pub.- Legends of Warfare

M48 Patton

America’s First “Main Battle Tank”

Schiffer Publishing’s Legends of Warfare series is noteworthy for its wide range of subjects; aerial, naval and ground combat are all well represented in this line. Previous books that I’ve examined from the Legends of Warfare series all share similar format, physical characteristics and quality of content. Some recent titles in this series authored by David Doyle have added pages (up to 144 pages) allowing for even more content.

Post-WWII, the US army needed to counter ever-heavier Soviet armor in the early days of the Cold War. The US was fielding an assortment of Shermans, Pershings and some other short production run medium and heavy tanks, some of which were never in widespread use. The M46 and M47 Pattons were the first new post-war tanks, seeing combat use in Korea. The Army decided to incorporate many changes and improvements in these earlier Patton series tanks, and to go with a new “main battle tank” concept based on gun effectiveness, rather than a light-medium-heavy tank series of tanks based on weight / size. The product of these improvements to the M46/47 Patton series and the new “main battle tank” concept was the M48 Patton main battle tank, entering US service in 1952.

From the developmental T48 through the M48A5 final variant, the M48 Patton was subject to near constant upgrades and modifications. Added to this were the specialty M48 variants such as bridge launchers, engineering vehicles, flame throwing tanks, etc. A wide range of M48 tanks were modified for non-US operators of the tank, such as West Germany, Israel, Taiwan, Pakistan, South Korea and others. The M48 saw extensive combat use with some of these nations, acquitting itself well. In US use, the M48 came along just a bit late for Korea, but saw plenty of use in Vietnam. There were not a lot of tank on tank actions in Vietnam (until after the US had wound down its involvement in ground operations) but the M48 was greatly appreciated for its route clearing abilities due to it’s being relatively mine-proof. The vast majority of M48 losses in Vietnam occurred after they had been turned over to the ARVN forces during the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

Something like 12,000 total M48’s of all variants were built. The M48 served well, holding the line from the WWII era tanks until the coming of the M60 series. The M48 continues to soldier on in the service of several nations, while the final M48A5 variants finally left US Army National Guard service in 1987.


Vital Statistics

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  144 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - 300+ black and white images, full color images

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - tables of technical and performance data, line drawings

All text and photo captions are in English


What's in the Book?

Above - the book’s table of contents, showing the book’s methodical, orderly layout, which makes it easy to research the M48 variants.

The author’s thoroughness in his examinations of subject vehicles extends to the factories and proving grounds. He rarely fails to provide interesting images of these sometimes overlooked aspects of military vehicles. In my opinion, these images are absolutely fascinating, showing as they do the busy factory floors of many times long gone and all but forgotten manufacturing plants.

Each chapter on the several variants of the M48 contains plenty of informative text on the particular variant being examined, images of the M48 variant in the field or action, and good in-detail style images as well, such as those seen above.

A Note on the Images - image sizes range from quarter page in size, up to full page size. All are appropriately sized to show good detail. The photos are of a uniformly high standard for crispness, clarity and interest. The photos are a mix of period black and white, with the in-detail photos such as those seen above being well taken in full color.

Above - While they saw much US Army combat in Vietnam as well as combat in other locations while in use with other nations, M48 tanks of the US Army’s Berlin Brigade were definitely in harms way during stand-offs with the Red Army at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie in 1961, where the Cold War was in real danger of going hot. There were few places where the danger of igniting World War III was any greater.

Above - a hallmark of books in this series penned by David Doyle is the generous use of full page images, which give the reader great looks at vehicle components. The author commonly uses restored privately owned or museum vehicles for these images, as well as vintage “in the field” photographs when possible. 

Above - more examples of the quality in-detail style images you can expect in this volume.

A Note on the Photo Captions - the authors captions are always very complete and thorough, giving the reader a very good understanding of what is pictured. In his captions, the author frequently points out areas of special interest in the images.

Above - The author seamlessly integrates text, photographs and line drawings to illustrate different aspects of the vehicles under examination, in this case the M67 “Zippo” flame thrower variant of the M48, which saw action in Vietnam.

Above - a typical chapter opening page, where the author does his typically very thorough job of describing the M48 variant covered by the chapter. This is done in a quite readable manner, with the author providing a lot of interesting information without being overly dry. Also seen above is one of the volumes informational tables.

Above - more examples of the well done line drawings found in the book. These drawings can actually be sometimes even better than photographic images to show component detail. These drawings are crystal clear and illustrate differences or additions to M48 components very well.

Above (bottom photo) - an image of a USMC M48 on a landing craft in Vietnam. Wow, what a great diorama idea! This book has very well chosen photographs throughout, a gold mine for M48 modelers seeking inspiration. This might be my favorite photo in a book jammed full of great images.

This volume is chock full of terrific images of the M48 series in service, with a great many terrific images of them in use in Southeast Asia. The above image was taken during the US incursion into Cambodia. This volume is loaded with so many great images, it’s quite difficult to chose just a few for review purposes.

And just one more… M48 doing what it did best in Vietnam, doing a little rumble through the jungle….a simply wonderful image!


This book shares some images with the previously released M48, A Visual History published by AMPERSAND (this older book is very nearly out of print). However, this new volume has been greatly expanded with many new images, both walk-around and in-detail styles, as well as great many more in service and factory images.

This book is a very complete examination of the M48 Patton series in US service, from the early 50’s into the 80’s. Much attention is rightly lavished on the M48 in action in Vietnam. The range of images in this book is really broad, showing the M48 series in great detail, and in US service worldwide. Please Note - For a look at the M48 in foreign service (and it had plenty) you’ll need to look elsewhere. 

The selection and quality of the photographs selected for this book by the author is outstanding, and the informative, well written text and photo captioning is very complete and thorough. The author explains the reasons (and purposes) for the improvements to the M48 variants really well in each chapter.

This is a very well balanced, comprehensive look at the backbone of the US Army’s armored might of the early to mid Cold War. This book is well deserving of a spot in your bookcase!

Highly Recommended!

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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