bookTanks in Detail 4
Medium Tank M3 to M3A5 General Lee/Grant

by Terry J Gander.
Published by Ian Allan Publishing.
Hersham, Surrey, KT12 5RG, England
Soft covers, 96 pages.

Review by Peter Brown

The American M3 Medium Tank was rushed into production in order to get a 75mm gun on a tank into service as fast as possible. To do this, the main armament was fitted into a limited-traverse mounting in the hull while the tank also carried a small turret with a 37mm gun. It was a stepping stone in American tank development between the M2 series which was obsolete before it was built and the M4 Medium Sherman with a 75mm gun in a fully-rotating turret. As such it was a compromise design and had a relatively short production and service life before being replaced. It is none the less an important design, giving American factories a chance to learn about tank production and providing US Army units with relatively modern tanks for training but it also provided much-needed equipment for British units in North Africa. American companies were not prepared to build British designs which meant that the only heavy tank available was the M3. A British version with a different turret named the Grant was used in some numbers in the Desert, the original version known as Lee also saw service in British and other Commonwealth nations as well to a small extent in Russia.

Although it is overshadowed by the more prolific Sherman, the M3 Medium series offers a lot to interest modellers. This account covers its development and production plus the many variants based on it, not only the British Grant and recovery and specialist vehicles and the American M31 Tank Recovery Vehicle and the M7 "Priest" 105mm and M12 155mm gun carriers, but also the closely-related Canadian Ram tank and Kangaroo APC and the Sexton self-propelled 25pdr gun developed from the Ram chassis which was widely used in Canadian and British service in the later stages of the war. Also briefly mentioned is the Australian Grant ARV which is illustrated by a single photo and the Yeramba SP 25pdr which does not get any photo, nor are there any photos of Australian Grants or Lees though there is one of Sentinal.

The account is illustrated throughout with photos, most are original wartime images showing the different versions including several interior views, an unusual overhead view of a tank before its upper hull has been fitted giving a unique look into the interior, and there are photos of the engine and transmission components. Other photos show tanks in service, those of a tank with the British Sunshade and one of an engine change being ideal for modellers. Some of the photos have been spoiled by being printed across two pages so parts of them are lost in the spine of the book but most are good though many have appeared in print before. Two sets of plans are provided, original US Ordnance ones for a late M3 and a set by D P Dyer showing the M12 Gun Motor Carriage. Colour photos are not so widely used but those that are show a restored Grant, a Kangaroo and outside and inside Priest and Sexton. Most of the book covers the vehicles themselves, there is little on its use apart from brief accounts of British and later American use in North Africa, its service in Burma is played down while its use in New Guinea is played up. The colour section on markings only gives very basic British, Canadian and Australia unit signs and some American markings for the Tunisian campaign. A few of the photos are misidentified, at least the French M31 and two Lees in Burma should be easily spotted. While there may be little new material here for anyone who has a reasonable reference library, this is a good account which newcomers will find very useful especially with kits of the M3 being due for release in the near future.

For information on ordering this book and others, see the web site.

Page created 12 August 2003

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