ARM: Review - Axis and Allies Volume 30

Book Review: Allied-Axis: The Photo Journal of the Second World War; Issue
30 (2014) by David Doyle and Jeff Kleinhenz; 96 pp., no ISBN number; publis
hed by Ampersand Publishing, Delray Beach, Florida; price $16.95 (http://ww
w.ampersandpubco.com)
Advantages: nice, sharp large-format presentation of archival photographs f
rom NARA, the IWM and other archives in one package
Disadvantages: few noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for WWII armored vehicle buffs and fans of specific vehicle
s (see text)
The"Allied-Axis" series of books - actually considered a quarterly journal
and not books per se, ergo no ISBN code - from Ampersand have proven to be
outstanding photo journals and continue a good tradition of coverage. This
one covers the following items: The Sherman "tankdozers", a second view on
the German sFH 18 15 cm field gun, and the curious M23 Ammunition Trailer.
The first 32 pages of the book by Mr. Doyle look at the Sherman tanks as f
itted out with bulldozer blades. There was some controversy about this as t
he tanks were first and foremost supposed to be tanks, but even armored bul
ldozers were not suitable for some applications and as such a heavily armor
ed vehicle was needed. Over two years and several prototypes were tested be
fore the M1 Dozer Blade assembly for the VVSS series M4 tanks was approved
in September 1944 for general issue and use. 1,957 sets were eventually mad
e and issued.
The "tankdozers" provided to be slightly nose-heavy and the photos selecte
d here show that problem. Also, the M4 series was not designed to carry out
operations as a bulldozer and as such reliability was strained; Mr. Doyle
notes that the life expectancy of the Ford GAA engine in the M4A3 was dropp
ed from 1500 to only 1000 hours of operation when used with the dozer blade
; in comparison the diesel engine in the Caterpillar D7 was good for 6000 t
o 8000 hours.
There is only one photo of the M1A1 dozer blade in the book - this was a
138 inch modification of the smaller 124 inch M1 to use on the HVSS tanks.
But the later M2 dozer blade, designed to mount just to the front of the t
ank and not to its suspension, is covered. Most of the detail shots are of
the M1 blade in operation, including some back shots of its armored hydraul
ic control piston assembly.
The next 38 pages cover the sFH 18. I have not seen Part I on this gun but
this section covers the guns in use and in various versions - both motor a
nd horse drawn variants are covered in good detail. Operation of the guns i
s also shown with crew activities and how the gun was emplaced, moved and t
rained. Mr. Kleinhenz also covers detail differences such as two different
types of motorized wheels and two different patterns of tires used on them;
the horse-drawn ones are without any tires so stand out along with their t
ransport bogie carriers.
The last section, again by Mr. Doyle, is the M23 8-ton Four-Wheel Ammuniti
on Trailer. Since artillery in action can have a voracious appetite for amm
unition, a method was needed to bring large numbers of rounds forward. Back
in the days of towed field guns, each gun usually had a supporting limber
to carry extra ammunition, and this trailer filled the bill in WWII. Compri
sed of a four-wheel trailer with an M8 carriage limber (front axle) the sim
ple yet sturdy M23 could carry a prodigious amount of ammunition: 96 rounds
of 155mm ammunition, 60 rounds of 8" ammunition, or 32 rounds of 240mm amm
unition. The projectiles were carried in geometrically spaced "cups" in the
bed of the trailer and the propellant canisters were loaded above them on
a second deck; a tarpaulin could be used to cover them up against the weath
er. A bin in the front carried the fuses, and a handling crane stowed on th
e left side of the trailer.
Fitted with air brakes, the trailer could be towed by heavy trucks or more
commonly by a high speed tractor - M4s (one) or M6s (two in tandem). 2,075
of these trailers were built in 1944-1945. But as they were seen as too cu
mbersome, all of them were scrapped after the war in favor of tracked prime
movers and cargo transports, such as the later M8 and finally the M548.
The photos cover the prototypes in testing and several trailers in service
with US Army artillery units.
Overall this is a nice little book, and given the popularity of the items
covered with modelers should be a nice resource for getting the details "ri
ght".
Thanks to Pat Stansell for the review copy.
Cookie Sewell
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