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Early US Armor: Tanks 1916-40

Early US Armor: Tanks 1916-40 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2017 Title Early US Armor: Tanks 1916-40
Author Steven J. Zaloga Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2017 ISBN 9781472818072
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.00


America's mighty armored forces of World War II owed victory to technology, equipment and doctrine forged over the previous quarter century.

That premise helps fuel Steven J Zaloga's superb little Early US Armor – number 245 in Osprey Publishing's popular "New Vanguard" range.

Subtitled "Tanks 1916-40", coverage chronologically charts the total tale in just 48 densely detailed pages. Contents include:

  • American Tank Origins
  • The Tank Corps
  • Tank Corps Disbanded
  • Early Christie Tanks
  • Rock Island Arsenal Tanks
  • The Christie Distraction
  • Knox's Light Tanks
  • Combat Cars and Infantry Tanks
  • Calvary Combat Cars
  • Infantry Light Tanks
  • Increasing Armor and Firepower
  • The M2 Medium Tank
  • Marine Corps Tanks
  • Export Tanks
  • In Retrospect


Zaloga adeptly addresses the era's political, military and economic forces. And personalities play major roles.

Like Harry A Knox, who designed the iconic vertical volute suspension and rubber block track. And the idiosyncratic J Walter Christie.

Sections on Christie proved, I thought, the book's most provocative parts. But Christie, Zaloga notes, "did not have the perseverance or patience to convert an intriguing design into a functional and reliable machine".

Failures in US Army service, Christie convertible designs nevertheless spawned Britain's Cruiser tanks and Soviet Russia's legendary T-34. So who knows? Had J Walter Christie displayed greater business, engineering and, yes, social acumen, America might have produced a T-34 analog.

Extended captions and informative tables support the study. B&W photos and a solitary contemporary color shot also augment the account. And notes on USMC and export armor further spice the saga.

Felipe Rodríguez's action artwork is excellent. His splendid cut-away aptly illumines Christie's convertible concept. And his ten superb profiles sample the swath of US between-wars camouflage schemes. More from Mr Rodríguez, please.

An index and selected bibliography conclude contents.

Grab this terrific little tome. Then – please – lobby Osprey and Steven J. Zaloga for a sequel on J Walter Christi's innovative armor designs.

Rabidly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!