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Book Review
Early US Armor
Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40
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by: Randy Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 by author Steven J. Zaloga and illustrator Felipe Rodriguez.

Body of the Text


** Spurred on by pioneers in the American auto industry and often built by states for their National Guards, the earliest US armored vehicles were in fact armored cars. Designers such as Davidson, Jeffrey, Olds, and White turned the new automobiles and trucks into weapons of war. They saw their first combat in 1916 during the Mexican Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa.

With mechanization, the inter-war years saw considerable US innovation and experimentation in armored car design. Among the many 1930s designs was the very successful M3A1 scout car, which was built in large numbers in World War II and was the basis fore the later M2 and M3 armored half-tracks. Featuring previously unpublished photos and meticulous new artwork, this book is an authoritative history of America’s first armored cars. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

The Book

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 as Number 254 in their New Vanguard series. It is a softcover book with 48 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, a cut-away view illustration, informational charts and detailed captions. It has a 2018 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-2514-8. The book details the use of various armored cars in the United States military from 1915 through 1940.

The Contents
- Early Roots
- Arming The World
- Combat Debut: The Mexican Punitive Expedition
- National Guard Armored Cars
- Marine Armored Cars
- The Great War
- The Lean Years
- Overseas Adventures
- Cavalry Mechanization
- The Quartermaster Armored Cars
- The M1 Armored Car
- Last Of The Armored Cars
- The Tucker Tiger Tank
- Tracked And Half-Track Armored Cars
- Export Armored Cars
- The Rise Of Scout Cars
- The M3A1 Scout Car
- The Half-Track Car
- In Retrospect
- Further Reading
- Index

The Text
The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Author Steven J. Zaloga details various armored cars in the United States inventory from their development and introduction to their use. As one can guess by the title of the book the main focus is on early US armored cars during the military timeframe of 1915 through 1940. Discussed are many of the armored cars developed, tested, and put to actual combat use. As well as historical and technical data being provided about the various armored cars, Steven J. Zaloga also discusses areas such as what the United States spent from their budget for expenditures. An area I also found interesting was where it was discussed how the commander of the AEF, General John “Black Jack” Pershing had a dim view of armored cars based on his experiences during the Mexican Punitive Expedition and denied requests to manufacture or deploy armored-car units with the AEF. And yet Major George S. Patton argued for a light armored car for the cavalry with the accent of speed over armor or firepower and wrote an article detailing such. I found it interesting that two such famous military personalities had such different views on modernizing the United States military. One of the armored cars that I was glad to see to see shown and discussed was the Tucker Tiger Tank. The Tucker Tiger Tank was an armored car that was a little ahead of its time as was its inventor. It had a rotating bullet-resistive laminated glass turret and had a high rate of speed for an armored car of the time which Tucker claimed to be 114 mph. Steven J. Zaloga details many different armored cars and some of their variations and provides in depth details for all of them which makes this an excellent reference and technical data title. The text is written in an easy to follow and informative manner which makes it interesting to read and does not become dry or too technical for the reader. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on early various armored cars in the United States military from 1915 through 1940 to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.

The Photographs
There are a total of 49 black and white photographs and 2 color photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed periods of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. Author Steven J. Zaloga stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the military armored car enthusiast due to the details they contain.

Some of the various armored cars shown and discussed are:
- Winans Steam Gun
- Steam-powered Davidson Automobile Battery - see attached scan
- Jeffrey Armored Car
- Davidson Cadillac Armored Car
- Italian Lancia IZM Armored Car
- Steam-Wheel Monitor
- King Eight armored car - see attached scan
- T1 Light Armored Car
- Front-Wheel Drive T11
- Tucker Tiger Tank
- T5 Convertible Armored Car
- American LaFrance TK-6 armored car
- T13 Scout Car
- T14 Half-Track Car - see attached scan
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

The Illustrations
There are 7 color illustrations by illustrator Felipe Rodriguez. The illustrations are of:

- Davidson Cadillac Armored Car, Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, 1915
- Locomobile Armored car, 1st Motor Battery, New York National Guard, 1915

B. See attached scan
- Holt Steam-Wheel Monitor, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 1918
- Jeffrey Armored Motor Car No. 1, Punitive Expedition, El Paso, Texas, 1916

- T7 Armored Car, Troop A, 2nd Armored Car Squadron, Experimental mechanized Force, Fort Eustis, 1931
- T2E1 Armored car, Troop A, 2nd Armored Car Squadron, Experimental Mechanized Force, Fort Eustis, 1931

D. See attached scan
- M1 Armored Car, Troop A, 1st Armored Car Squadron, 1st cavalry, Fort Knox, 1937

- M1 Scout Car, HQ Troop, 2nd Scout Car Platoon, 2nd cavalry Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1938
- M1 Scout Car, 3rd Scout Car Platoon, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Fort Myer, Virginia, 1940

- M3 Scout Car, Scout Car Troop, 13th Cavalry (MECZ), 7th Cavalry Brigade (MECZ). Fort Knox, 1940
- M3A1 Scout Car, Scout Car troop, 104th Cavalry Regiment (Horse and MECZ), Pennsylvania National Guard, 1940

- M3A1 Scout Car, Troop A, 22nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd cavalry Division (National Guard), 1940

This is a cut-a-way view of the M3A1 Scout Car. Provided with the drawing is a technical data Chart as well as a key which details 16 different areas of the armored car which are pointed out in the drawing.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

The Captions
The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to each of the armored cars shown and their variations and modifications, dates, faults and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Steven J. Zaloga’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

The Notes
There are 2 notes included in this volume and they are:
- Author’s Note
- Glossary

The Informational Charts
There are 3 informational charts included in this volume and they are:
- Armored Cars: Comparative Technical Characteristics
- Scout Cars: Comparative Technical Characteristics
- Armored Car Production 1930-40 - see attached scan
- Armored cars
- Scout cars

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.


As with the other Osprey Publishing weapons series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details various armored cars in the United States inventory from their development and introduction to their use. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the World’s Tanks and Fighting Vehicles
A technical directory of major combat vehicles from World War I to the present day
Christopher F Foss
A Salamander book
Published by Chartwell Books Inc.

The Hunt For Pancho Villa - The Columbus Raid and Pershing's Punitive Expedition 1916-17
Alejandro De Quesada
Raid series Number 29
Osprey Publications Ltd
Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 on the Osprey web site:

Osprey Publishing also has Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 book available as:

- eBook (ePub)
- eBook (PDF)

Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 on the Amazon web site:

https://www.amazon.com/Early-US-Armor-Armored-Vanguard/dp/1472825144/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518144827&sr=8-1&keywords=Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40

Early US Armor – Armored Cars 1915-40 is also available as a Kindle version on the Amazon web site:
Highs: Well written text and captions, Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: None.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard series. Definitely beneficial to the military armored car enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781472825148
  Suggested Retail: US $18.00 / UK £10.99
  PUBLISHED: Feb 28, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Randy Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2018 text by Randy Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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