Pen & Sword's Land Craft #2 M2/M3 Halftracks

Author/Artists: Robert Jackson


Pen & Sword


$22.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, 150 illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-526746559

This is the second volume in Pen & Sword's new Land Craft series covering non-armor vehicles. Not to say they aren't armored in some way as the US M2/M3 half tracks had enough to stop rifle bullets, but these were not supposed to be in the front lines against enemy armor. Built in the thousands in a variety of variants, these half tracks soldiered on long after WWII and Korea in both the US Army and the armies of many other nations. This book covers WWII and a bit of Korea.

The half track was initially a French WWI development, but since the US entered the war so late, none of the vehicles that were under development made it into service and most were soon cancelled and forgotten. With war looming in the late 1930s, there was a renewed press to develop a half track. Eventually the design as we have come to know it was developed from similar scout cars and built by a number of companies. Interestingly, those given to the British under lend lease were not used by them directly as they already had their Universal Carriers, but they were used by Commonwealth armies. The Germans also used half tracks, but theirs were smaller and, unlike the US version, did not have driven front wheels, a distinct disadvantage over rough or muddy terrain.

The M2/M3 was continually upgraded and modified. It was used with some success as mobile artillery in its GMC (Gun Motor Carriage) form carrying mostly 75mm but some 105 mm guns. It was used as a mortar carrier as well, though the vehicle had to pretty well be pointed as to where the round needed to fall for there was no real room to move the mortar itself inside the bed. It also found a lot of use as an anti-aircraft vehicle carrying a number of weapon combinations. Probably the most successful of these was the M16 version with four .50 caliber guns that proved very effective against ground targets in Korea.

In line with the earlier book on the Jeep we get a nice historical background (actually a bit more than normal) along with the variants produced and some of the operational history of the vehicle. There are also a goodly number of color profiles as well as a fairly good sized modeling section that provides built models and information on kits and accessories.

These sorts of books where you have a mixture of history, camouflage and models are becoming more and more the norm. This one is well done, and those who liked the tank series will like this one as well.

July 2019

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