Vehicle References
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank, by R.P. Hunnicutt, Presidio Press, 1992, ISBN 0-89141-462-2 ($100).

Hunnicutt is the author of several "bibles" of U.S. AFVs, including the Sherman, the Pershing, the half-track and this epic tome, which runs over 500 pages. He produces an exhaustive history of the development of these vehicles, their variants and offspring. For example, the Stuart book also explores the M24 Chaffee, amphibian tanks like the Buffalo, and gun motor carriages like the M8 and M19. There are scads of diagrams and tech manual photos to help you replicate every imaginable detail, as well as numerous pictures of the vehicles on the battlefields. These books are understandably pricey, but you can often get good deals through online booksellers. My wife picked up this book for me in pristine condition, sans dust jacket, for only $50 at an antique store!

A Field Guide to the M5 Series Light Tanks and the M8 Howitzer Motor Carriage, by Kurt Laughlin, 2008, self-published ($20).

Kurt Laughlin is widely respected as font of knowledge on the technical construction and usage of U.S. AFVs of WWII. He's provided much information on this website and to me personally for my projects. An engineer by profession, he's got an eye for detail that is appreciated by modelers who seek to make corrections or add the appropriate features missing from their kits. His examination of the Stuart series, as fielded by the U.S. Army, explores the significant and subtle external differences between the variants, from their suspensions to the tops of their turrets. The M8 HMC gets less coverage due to the sameness of its hull to its light tank counterparts; additional photos of the M8 turret would be welcomed here. But if you are looking to model a specific Stuart and want to know how changes in work orders and modifications were introduced, this provides a highly readable narrative and lists the production date ranges, serial numbers, and registration numbers for the vehicles, as well as their manufacturers. This is a good companion to the other Stuart references on this page, and for many modelers it would be an adequate substitute for the pricier and out-of-print Hunnicutt volume. Read Kurt's review of the M5A1 Stuart from AFV Club and errata for his book.

M5A1 Stuart, by Krzysztof Mucha and George Parada, Kagero, 2003, ISBN 83-89088-04-5 ($28).

If you can't find the Hunnicutt book, this slim paperback and Steven Zaloga's Concord publication below are the next best thing. Written in both Polish and English, this book is thin on historical photos, but offers some eyepopping exterior and interior details, many in color. There are also numerous scale drawings of early and late variants. To top it off are color plates and decals for 10 Stuarts crewed by Poles, Brits, and Americans (including the often seen "Concrete" and "Africa" tanks). It may seem a bit pricey, but the color images and exquisite decals make this book more than worthwhile.

M5A1 Stuart Walkaround CD
, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, ($8)

Chris provided me with a copy of this walkaround of the Stuart in the Jacques Littlefield collection. The disc contains over 200 photos of this tank, which has been lovingly restored. The photos are crisp and provide a wealth of details for modelers who want to investigate every nook and cranny of the exterior and interior fighting compartments. The only downside is that you'll want to buy a laptop so you can have quick access to this great reference as you're building.

U.S. Light Tanks at War 1941-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 1999, ISBN 962-361-678-3 ($16).

This is another great pictorial book of the Stuart variants and follow-on Chaffees in combat settings. Zaloga goes over the development of the U.S. light tank in three concise pages and offers some interesting photos of the early M1 combat car and M2 light tank, which led the way to the M3 series. Early combat in North Africa and the Far East is shown before the bulk of the book moves to Italy and Northern Europe. The Chaffee appears in 1944, and there are a few photos of the Locust airborne tank. The book includes 16 color plates.

Toadman's Light Tank M24 Photo Detail CD, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, ($8)

The M24 doesn't get many props for its role as the replacement for the M5 Stuart as the main light recon tank in the closing months of WWII. Perhaps that's due in part to the initial Italeri kit from the early 1980s, based on a Korean version. The company's reworking of the kit to WWII standards some 20 years later still has some minor problems. A resin update set from Formations replaces most of the Italeri kit. But any of these kits will benefift from having this CD close at hand. Toadman offers walk-arounds of four different M24s. Along with the usual photos of exterior details, this album also includes some fantstic interior photos of the drivers' positions in the hull, the turret, and the engine compartment. Thanks to Chris for the review sample.

Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank, R.P. Hunnicutt, Presidio Press, 1978, 1994; reprinted by Historical Archive Press, 2007, ISBN 089-141-080-5. ($130)

This is THE book, at long last in print again, detailing the technical development of the medium tank, from the M3 Lee through the Sherman's last action in the Korean War. Chocked full of engineering details, it offers more to the serious modeler interested in hardware and mechanical minutiae than probably any other book. For more casual modelers, it may be overkill. But many of the surface differences between variants are capably covered by other books, and other volumes have more extensive photograph collections.

Armored Thunderbolt, The U.S. Amry Sherman in World War II, by Steven Zaloga, Stackpole Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3 ($35)

This book is an excellent complement to Hunnicutt's "bible." Zaloga briefly covers the development of the Sherman, but most of his focus is on how the tank performed on the battlefield and how armored doctrine and tactics were recast as the tank came up against German and Japanese armor. Photos run from pre-war predecessors up to the final Cold War variants, picking up Tunisia, Italy, Tarawa, Normandy, the Bulge, and Iwo Jima along the way. A number of pictures have graced other Zaloga books, but there are many fresh combat images. For the wonks among us, there are plenty of strength and loss stats and production runs at the various factories, if you want to make sure your Archer Fine Transfer casting marks are on the right tank at the right time. If you're interested in how the Sherman helped the Allies prevail on the battlefield against techically superior armor, this book will school you.

The M4 Sherman at War, The European Theatre 1942-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 1994, ISBN 962-361-603-1 ($15).

The M4 Sherman at War (2) The U.S. Army in the European Theater 1943-45, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 2000, ISBN 962-361-669-4. ($15)

Nearly any book by Steve Zaloga is worth having on your shelf. These two Concord publications follow the same structure: several pages of narrative overview and then loads of pictures, including color illustrations. Both books will provide keen insights for modelers and diorama builders.

M4 Sherman, Combat and Development History of the Sherman Tank and All Sherman Variants, by Michael Green, Motorbooks International, 1993, ISBN 0-87938-803-X ($25).

In my opinion, Michael Green is right up there with Zaloga for producing books of great interest to modelers. They tend to be heavier on the narrative side than Zaloga's, but that's not a bad thing. The firsthand tank crew accounts are compelling and provide a human dimension to these mechanical beasts. This book has many useful interior photos of the Sherman variants, and a number of historical and contemporary exterior photos are in color. Coverage extends to the Korean War and Israeli usage.

M4A3(76) HVSS and M4A2(76) HVSS Sherman Walkaround CD, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, CD #8, ($8).

Insert this CD-ROM into your computer and you're instantly transported to the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in California, home of the infamous Jacques Littlefield collection. You get up close and friendly with an M4A3(76) and M4A2(76) in fine condition. There are approximately 400 photos on this disc covering the essential attributes of these tanks, and Hughes points out similarities and differences between the two where applicable. There's no deep historical or technical analysis here; this is a visual feast for the modeler who wants to get the lift ring weld seams right or install the brackets that secure the exhaust deflectors when work is done on the rear of the tank, so each photo has only a brief identifying comment. Alternate types of tracks and drive sprockets are shown, and there are great interior photos of the hull and turret, but no engine compartment images. If you want to know what three (or four) colors to paint your periscopes, this is the guide for you.

U.W. WWII M4/M4A1 Sherman Medium Tank, Michael Franz, editor, Tankograd Publishing, 2006 ($20).

This slim volume is a good introduction to some of the mechanical features of these Sherman variants wihtout sinking an arm and a leg into the Hunnicutt tome. In 48 pages and text in English and German, it offers a strong selection of images from the original technical manuals that can help you represent the essential interior layouts to satisfy "through the hatch" viewing. It also includes some images of the 105mm howitzer turret and gun mount, and a good section on the deep water fording kit. Images of the flamethrower M42B1 are interesting, but a couple shots of an M4 with the T1E3 mine-roller and photo of bulldozer mounted on an M4A1(76)W are somewhat superfluous.

Sherman in Action, by Bruce Culver, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1977, ISBN 0-89747-049-4 ($9).

This is among the earliest of the series of slim "In Actoin" books from Squadron/Signal Publications. They provide an inexpensive entry point for the modeler just beginning to get into specific U.S. armor vehicles. There's always a pithy analysis of changes between vehicle variants, and black and white drawings point out distinguishing differences. Illustrator Don Greer provides a center color spread of eight tanks that can help determine typical colors and markings.

U.S. Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 1996, ISBN 962-361-609-0 ($15).

The M10 and M36 series are well represented in action photos, along with the M18 Hellcat and the short-lived M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage (built on the M3 halftrack) and M6 37mm GMC (using the Dodge 3/4 ton weapons carrier as a platform). Sixteen plates of color illustrations, including two M36s from the Croatian army during the early 1990s fighting in the Balkans.



U.S. Tank Destroyers in Action, by Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-89747-385-X ($9).

These slim books from Squadron/Signal Publications are fantastic for the modeler just beginning to get into U.S. Armor or specific vehicles. There's always a pithy analysis of changes between vehicle variants, and black and white drawings point out distinguishing differences. There's always a center spread of color illustrations by Don Greer that can help determine typical colors and markings.

Walk Around: U.S. Tank Destroyers, by Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 2003, ISBN 0-89747-456-2 ($15).

The third in the "Walk Around" series from Squadron, this book is a good companion to Mesko's U.S. Tank Destroyers in Action. There is plenty of color photos interspersed among the B&W shots of the interiors and exteriors of the M10, M10A1, M18, and M36 series of tank busters. Most of the photos are of restored vehicles, as well as a few historical images. There a few line drawings from Darren Glenn and Dave Gebhardt, and fourteen color illustrations from Don Greer. This book will help modelers who want to do some extra detailing, particularly of the interiors of these open-topped turrets. The only significant omissions I found were an absence of photos of the ammo layout in the M36 and M36B2. In these vehicles, changes in the M10 hull layout were necessary to accommodate the longer 90mm rounds stowed on the hull sponsons. However, there are a couple photos of the ammo stowage areas on the sponsons of the M36B1, the briefly produced version which used the Sherman hull. All in all, it's not as exhaustive as a Hunnicutt study, but it's enough for most modelers and at a very reasonable price.


Half-Track, A History of American Semi-Tracked Vehicles, R.P. Hunnicutt, Presidio Press, 2001, ISBN 0-89141-742-7 ($80).

With fewer variants and mechanical complexities, this book comes in at (appropriately) half the size of the fully tracked Sherman and Stuart books penned by Hunnicutt. What makes it particularly valuable to modelers is the wealth of interior photos, detailed tech manual images of various components, five-view drawings from Michael Duplessis, and a concise narrative outlining the vehicle's development from WWI to Korea. An excellent companion for the new DML kits—or those old Tamiya models you might wish to upgrade.


U.S. Half-tracks in Combat 1941-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 1999, ISBN 962-361-654-6 ($15).

After a four-page review of the development and implementation of armored infantry carriers, Zaloga provides a handful of good overhead shots delineating the differences between vehicle versions (though not as comprehensive as the Hunnicutt history). The book then moves to a wealth of exterior battlefield shots, beginning with the M2 in North Africa. Early variants such as the T30 with the 75mm howitzer, the M3 75mm gun motor carriage, and the T28E1 anti-aircraft platform get good coverage. These give way to the M15 anti-aircraft and M16 multiple gun versions as the book shifts to Italy and Northern Europe, where the predominent carrier were the M3 and M3A1. The photos here will prompt modelers to pile high the gear and rations boxes.

U.S. Half-tracks of World War II, by Steven J. Zaloga, Osprey Publications, 1983, ISBN 0-85045-481-6 ($15).

Zaloga has also authored numerous books for Osprey over the years. Although many of the photos herein have been reproduced elsewhere, this is a good companion to his Concord text in that it has better detailed interior images from tech manuals and diagrams the use of the that half-track in varying infantry company compositions over the course of the war. Zaloga himself contributed 16 color illustrations that don't have the sophistication and subtleties of the Concord plates but serve as good references nonetheless.


Toadman's M2A1 Half-track Photo Detail CD, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, CD #16, ($8).

This CD offers 230 photos of the M2A1, which used the pulpit with the .50 ring mount rather than the skate rail of the M2. Good photos of the wiring for the front headlights, winch, engine compartment, and underside of the vehicle. Photos of the skate rail on an M3A1 Scout Car are included to illustrate the roller bracket and pintle socket mount. This will be a helpful resource for modelers looking to detail the DML M2/M2A1 half-track kit.


Dodge Trucks in Detail, Frantisek Koran and Jan Mostek, Wings & Wheels Publications, ISBN 80-86416-37-2 ($28).

This is an excellent visual resource of the WC-54 ambulance, WC-55/56 command car, WC-62/63 "Big Shot, and postwar M-37 Dodge vehicles. These restorations owned by Czech collectors offer a wealth of details for modelers. The many interior photos of the ambulance will help anyone working on the Italeri/Bilek kit, including shots of the stripped-down chassis and a rebuilt engine. The command car series also provides restoration photos and nice detail of the engine compartment. The Big Shot illustrates the chassis and numerous body features. The only missing vehicle is the Dodge WC-51/55 "Beep," which is featured in an earlier volume, Beep in Detail, from the same publisher. But there is a tantalizing collage of photos from that book at the end of this book to whet your appetite. Perhaps a bit pricey at $28 for 72 pages, but this all-color photo album will be highly prized by Dodge fans.

Dodge Military Vehicles Collection No. 1, T. Richards, ed., Brooklands Book Distribution, Ltd., ISBN 0-946489-27-0.

I tracked this down through interlibrary loan to help detail Italeri's Dodge ambulance kit. With the proliferation of Dodges from AFV Club (ex-Skybow) this could be an asset if you're bent on trying to find a detail these great little kits might have missed.


Light Artillery and Anti-Tank Guns, Easy 1 Productions,, 2005.

This is a CD-ROM of manuals for several weapons:
  • TM 9-1320 75mm Howiters and Carriage (April 1944) offers breakdown of individual parts, but not many photos. Good for restorers and detail fanatics.
  • TM 9-1245 37mm Gun, M3 and Carriage, M4 (January 1941) provides inspection and instructions for repair and maintenance. Few photos, many parts diagrams.
  • FM 23-75 57mm Gun, M1 (June 1944) examines mecahnics, usage, and tactics. Shows vulnerable parts of tanks. Good insights on role of crew.
  • SNL C-36 57mm M1 on Carriage, Gun, 57mm M1A2 (1943) is the standard nomenclature listing of parts for servicing the 57mm with both U.S. and British designations.

Also included is a folder of manual images of various fire control instruments, from binoculars and watches to artillery sights, periscopes, and fuse setters.

U.S. Armored Artillery in World War II, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, 2002, ISBN 962-361-688-0. ($15)

This is a great book of neglected armored artillery: M7, M8, and M12. And since there are at least one version of each of this self-propelled pieces in styrene, this book could get some good use. Zaloga gives a brief over view of the development of these AFVs and there are plenty of photos to help inspire in-action diorama settings. The emphasis is on ETO settings, but there are several pages of Pacific photos at the end of the book.

U.S. Self-Propelled Guns in Action
, by Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1999, ISBN 0-89747-403-1 ($9).
Another nice book for beginning and intermediate modelers, There's the usual pithy analysis of changes between vehicle variants, and black and white drawings point out distinguishing differences. Don Greer provides a center spread of color illustrations that can help suggest typical colors and markings.

WWII 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriages M7 & M7B1 Priest, Michael Franz, editor, Tankograd Publishing, 2006 ($20).
If you want to better understand why the Italeri M7 Priest is really a late M7, and learn how to detail it better, this will give you a good start. In 48 pages and text in English and German, it summarizes the major differences between the two and provides a good number of images from the original technical manuals to help you add the correct interior and exterior features to this still worthy kit.


Toadman's 105mm H.M.C. M7, M7B1, and M7B2 Photo Detail CD
, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, CD #15, ($8).
After an introduction that gives a quick summary of the more substantial differences between the three major variants and directs the viewer to additional references, we get into the series of more than 370 photos, which are comprised of numerous Priests from around the country. The photos are captioned with informative notes that highlight particular details or differences between vehicles. Those building the Academy M7 Priest will appreciate the shots of engine deck and the gas fume vents missing from the model kit. These vehicles had a lot of welds on them and the walkaround photos point these out. There are plenty of good photos of the M3 suspension and lower hull deatils. The M7B1 has the fewest photos in the series because other than the changes to the pulpit, transmission housing, and rear hull plate, the vehicle remains quite similar to the M7. The M7B2, which was modified to get greater gun elevation for the hilly terrain of Korea, gets very good coverage.


Toadman's LVT(4) Walkaround CD, by Chris "toadman" Hughes, CD #2, ($8).
This CD gives a nice tour of the LVT(4). After a very brief introduction on the development of the LVT amphibians, Hughes breaks up the photo display into four sections: hull exterior, suspension, cargo compartment, and driver's compartment. Side exterior photos are rather limited due to close confines. There are good shots of the rear splash deflectors, which are problematic on the Italeri kits, and a rear-facing view of the Continental radial engine. A lot of attention is paid to details, such as mooring posts, tie-down rings, and the gas guage. This vehicle has not been restored but it appears fairly well intact, particularly the front cab area. I'm not familiar with all the pitfalls of the Italeri LTV(4), but appears to be a good reference for additional detailing.

Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © Timothy S. Streeter