Armored Thunderbolt : The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II, Hardback Book

Armored Thunderbolt : The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


This book features hundreds of photos, including many never published before.

It provides riveting accounts of armoured warfare in World War II.

It compares the Sherman to other tanks, including the Panther and Tiger.

The author is a world-renowned expert on the Sherman tank and American armour.

Some tank crews referred to the American M4 Sherman tank as a "death trap".

Others, like General George Patton, believed that the Sherman helped win World War II.

So which was it: death trap or war winner? Armour expert Steven Zaloga answers that question by recounting the Sherman's combat history.

Focusing on Northwest Europe (but also including a chapter on the Pacific), Zaloga follows the Sherman into action on D-Day, among the Normandy hedgerows, during Patton's race across France, in the great tank battle at Arracourt in September 1944, at the Battle of the Bulge, across the Rhine, and in the Ruhr pocket in 1945.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 360 pages, b/w photos & illus
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780811704243

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Largely written as a rebuttal to popular accounts entranced by the legend of the German Tiger and Panther tanks, Zaloga seeks to put the American medium tank programs of World War II back into context, as part of the ebb and flow of a weapons race where tactical circumstances were usually more important than paper performance, typically to the advantage of the M4 Sherman.That said, Zaloga gives a good overview of the institutional issues that left the American forces in the ETO feeling vulnerable to the base-line German weaponry of 1944, such as the demands of crash rearmament, a Bureau of Ordnance lacking much flair for high-performance anti-tank weaponry, and Gen. Leslie McNair's (commander of the U.S. Army Ground Forces) unhealthy obsession with the U.S. Tank Destroyer force (which just so happened to benefit McNair's career arm of the artillery). However, the biggest subtle attitude problem which Zaloga identifies may simply be that the U.S. ground forces, as opposed to the USN or the USAAF, had no real experience with technological weapons races, and so lacked the psychology to appreciate that you're always one step away from losing battle-field dominance.Zaloga doesn't presume to suggest what the alternatives might have been for the U.S. Army tank forces that hit the beach in Normandy in 1944 (though he spends a good bit of time demonstrating how bad most of the other options were), but had there been a little more proactive thinking in the U.S. Army the M4 Shermans in the independent tank battalions assigned to infantry support would have been up-armored early and there would have been at least a sprinkling of tank destroyers armed with the British 17-pounder gun. That would have taken care of the more glaring issues, until the improved machines post-Ardennes offensive made their appearance.Zaloga also dwells on the issues facing the German panzer troops, which included a rapid decline in production quality of those armored vehicles that did survive the Allied air war to make it to the front line. For example, there were apparently more than a few Panthers that suffered from defective armor, a fact that I hadn't been aware of before.