Osprey Publishing has recently released US Flamethrower Tanks of World War II by Steven Zaloga and illustrated by Richard Chasemore. The new title is #203 in their popular New Vanguard series.
This new edition in the series is 48 pages and traces the development of US flamethrower vehicles from their nascent beginnings in World War I with the flamethrower equipped Corps of Engineers Steam Tank through World War II and ends with a nod to flamethrower equipped vehicles in the Korean War. As the title makes evident, however the bulk of the book is devoted to their use during World War II.
Zaloga divides the book logically into three main chapters; Introduction and Origins, Pacific Theater, and the European Theater. The book also contains a Bibliography and Index.
As might be imagined the section on the war in the Pacific is twice as long as any other section. This portion of the book details the early years and the struggle to field a reliable weapon. The author makes strong use of Chemical Warfare Service records to outline the fits and starts toward creating a dependable flamethrower tank to be able to deal with Japanese fortified bunkers. Zaloga follows this up with the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa which saw more widespread use of the flamethrower tanks.
Next the book outlines the use of flamethrower tanks in the European theater. The author makes the point that they were never used as extensively in Europe owing to the rarity of fortified bunkers such as were often encountered in the Pacific. Despite this, the weapon system was employed in limited numbers and with generally mixed results.
The bibliography and index are well done with a short narrative that reveals the Record Group numbers as well as the NARA facility in question for anyone wishing to follow up the research that went into the book. The Index, while only one page, is nonetheless particularly well done making it an easy task to find just what you are looking for.
If you are interested in which actual vehicles you might encounter you will find information, as well as photos, of M2 and M3 medium tanks, M3 Stuart, M5 Light tanks, M4 Sherman equipped tanks, Churchill, and LVT-4 LVTs with the Navy flamethrower. I thought the most interesting was the Indiana-Merz E9 mounted on an M5A1 which employed a trailer for fuel and compressors that was larger than the tank itself. But Iím sure everyone will have their own particular favorite.
The book is lavishly illustrated as you would expect with an Osprey title; 39 black and white images all of which are in excellent focus, many of which are in action photos. In addition there are 2 full page, full color illustrations and 4 full color two view profiles as well as a two page spread of a cut away illustration of a M4 Sherman POA-CWS from the fighting on Okinawa.
This title will go a long way to filling in a gap in information regarding these intriguing vehicles. That combined with Steven Zalogaís well-earned reputation with scale modelers should make this a popular monograph.
Highs: Great photos to go along with lots of good technical information on these weapons. Well done color illustrations are helpful.Lows: Some people will be left wanting more as the book is a quick read of only 48 pages. Verdict: A great resource on an area that often gets short shrift in other collections and titles.
About Rick Cooper (clovis899) FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
I have been modeling for about 30 years now. Once upon a time in another century I owned my own hobby shop; way more work than it was worth. I tip my opti-visor to those who make a real living at it. Mainly build armor these days but I keep working at figures, planes and the occasional ship.