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Book Review

"U.S. Army Ford M8 and M20 Armored Car"

 

By Christophe Jacquemont - Austria

Basic Item Information

Title U.S. Army Ford M8 and M20 Armored Cars

Author

Didier Andres

Publisher

Casemate Publishers (Sponsor of WarWheels.Net)

ISBN/Stock Number

978-1-63624-318-8

Media

Hard Cover 

Number of Pages

160

Number of Photographs

349 Black/White Photos & Illustrations and 1 Color Illustration

Text Language

English 

Retail Price

$39.99 USD 

Reviewer

Christophe Jacquemont 

Review Date

October 31, 2023

Review Summary

Review Type

Full Read 

Basic Positive Features

In depth history of the M8 and M20 Armored Car, with a wealth of information and photos provided.

Basic Negative Features

None Noted. 

Recommendation

"A Must Have"

Photos

       

 

       

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Detailed Review

I am delighted to have been given the opportunity of reviewing this book on M8 and M20 armored cars for WarWheels. I have always been fascinated by those attractive armored cars, ever since playing with toy soldiers and a Diecast Solido M20 as a kid. Physically, itís a substantial 160 page book in hardcover format, printed on good quality paper and with perfect photo and drawings reproduction. It reads easily, contrary to some military reference books that can be too dry in style and overly complicated in presentation. The text is actually translated from the French, but the translation by Alan Mc Key is just perfect, and you would not notice it. Photographs are well chosen, you might find a few here and there that you have seen before (albeit this time in better print quality), but the vast majority of the pictures were new to me.

The book starts with a background history of armored cars in US service titled "The Genesis of Light Armored Car". This is very interesting with many unusual looking AFVs that help understand the evolution of this family of vehicles in the USA. A chapter on the M8 armored car proper follows "Car, Armored, Light, M8", which begins with prototypes and going on with production variants and their specificities. At its end, you get good coverage of the anti-aircraft version, which did not reach production: the T69 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage. Then comes a chapter on the M20, "Car, Armored, Utility, M20" which is structured in the same way. The M20 is the utility and command variant based on the same chassis and body.

After that youíll find a chapter entitled "Similarities" depiciting the common features of both the M8 and M20 , including specific set ups for fording or winterizing, radios, engines, suspension, instrument panels. Early and late production features are explained in depth. The book closes with a final chapter "M8 and M20 in Europe", which has the sub-chapters: "M8 and M20 in Europe" (including a few very interesting pages on covering Generals and Armored Cars), "Arriving in England", "The Italian Campaign", "The French Campaign", "Winter 1944-45", "Germany: the Final Round", "The Spoils of War" and lastly, "After 1945". The sub-chapter titles are self explanatory except The Spoils of War, which covers German use of captured M8s. This final section has many carefully selected "in the field" photos (a fascinating one from another theater of war squeezes in, showing a M8 towing a Japanese field kitchen in Burma).

Some parts of the book were especially interesting for me. In both the M8 and M20 chapters, an early and a late production vehicle are covered in great detail, using period photographs: rare opportunities to see the same vehicle from all sides. The sections on sub-components like suspension, engine, radios, ammunition stowage are also fascinating and again with great detail. Coverage of the immediate post-war era is also something you donít usually see in other books. Here youíll find a few valuable pics of vehicles from the "Circle C" Constabulary Force on occupation duty in Germany and Austria. Coverage is very US Army-centric (and almost exclusively WW2), although here and there you can spot some French vehicles and even a Brasilian M8 in Italy! Another intriguing tidbit of information I got from the book, is that only the French Army received M20s via the Lend Lease Program.

Conclusion

Belgian author Didier Andres has produced a very comprehensive and lavishly illustrated history of the M8 and M20 armored cars. The amount of work and research needed, boggles the mind.  But ultimately it brings you a luxuriously presented and easily readable book.

The M8 and M20 are well covered in model form as well.  Starting with the vintage Monogram 1/32 kits to the more recent Tamiya models in 1/35 and 1/48.  It also includes other models produced by various companies in smaller scale. Modellers will get many ideas from the book and superb reference for extra detailing.

Collectors of military vehicles and history enthusiasts will also appreciate the thorough coverage which this book provides. It should become an essential volume in their librairies.

I found this book warranted many readings and re-readings. I'm sure I will come back to it regularly for reference and inspiration during future modelling projects. If you can only have one book on the M8 and M20, you should get this one. If you already own many books on the M8 and M20 (which I do), you should also get it. You wonít regret your purchase.


"A Must Have"
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Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the Review Sample.
 
Copyright: Christophe Jacquemont -October 2023