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Book Review
Can Openers
Can Openers: The Development of American Anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages
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by: Georg Eyerman [ THEGREATPUMPKIN ]

Originally published on:


Mr. Moran's first complete book "Can Openers: The Development of American Anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages," is a good, solid effort. With numerous large, clear photographs and a wealth of primary source materials, this book embodies the thoroughness of Hunnicutt and the easy-reading narrative of Zaloga. At 228 pages, this hard cover book is published by Echo Point Books and Media (who, incidentally, are reprinting the Hunnicutt titles on American armor). It should be noted that this book is published under the "World of Tanks" umbrella and therefore includes a set of codes for the PC game. This is the second book to be published like this; the first being the re-print of the Hunnicutt "Firepower" title on U.S. heavy tank development. This implies, perhaps, that there will be other titles in this format in the future? One can only hope.

The book is broken into four sections, the first three cover the vehicles and are delineated by the mode of transportation for the weapon system (wheeled, half-track and full tracked). Each section is further broken down by gun caliber, from smallest to largest. Many of these vehicles were being tested and developed concurrently, so this method of organization in the book helps to keep things straight. The last section contains the data sheets on the vehicles discussed.

This book is not an exhaustive history on the vehicles, but a discussion of each vehicle as it was developed for the U.S. Army's Tank Destroyer branch during World War II and shortly thereafter. There is no mention of doctrine or use of the weapons in combat, which, to my mind, has been well-covered in numerous other works.

The text is clear and easy to read. More importantly, the narrative is not as dry as Hunnicutt and a little more informal. Having watched many of Mr. Moran's "The Chieftain's Hatch" videos on Youtube, there were passages that I could almost hear him saying. Material taken from official reports is printed in italics and make for easy identification in the text.

The photos of the vehicles are U.S. Army Ordnance photographs; most of which are large and pretty clear (although the quality of the photos do vary depending on their sources). There are numerous dark shots, that in this day and age, might have been saved with some photo editing. This is my only gripe with the book. Unlike Hunnicutt's books, there are no color photographs or color plates. The inclusion of color, while nice, is not vital and does not detract from the final product. Another nagging issue, which, sadly, is endemic today with enthusiast publications are some typos and misspellings. The death of dedicated editorial staffs in today's publishers are to blame for this and mar what is otherwise fine work.


Overall, I found this a useful addition to my reference library, and well worth the money. While not insignificant at $53 plus shipping the price is reasonable. However, a note to be aware of is the fact that the publisher batch-prints the books in order to offset print them (for the best quality and cost-effectiveness); so delivery may or may not be "Amazon-esque." The story of U.S. tank destroyers is a complex and convoluted one, with false starts, dead ends and "what were they thinking?" ideas. While the tank destroyer concept was ultimately found to be fundamentally flawed and discarded after World War II, the book delivers a clear, coherent narrative that is both informative and enjoyable to read. This is a MUST HAVE for U.S. tank destroyer enthusiasts, modelers and historians.

Highs: TONS of info on Motor Gun Carriages that never made it into production. LOTS of great pictures.
Lows: Some dark photos.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Echo Point Books
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 15, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Georg Eyerman (TheGreatPumpkin)

Copyright 2021 text by Georg Eyerman [ THEGREATPUMPKIN ]. All rights reserved.


I credit Nick Moran and his Inside the Chieftains Hatch series of armor walkarounds and lectures for shifting my modeling interest from aircraft to armor. If you are not familiar with him i suggest you check out his Youtube page. He is entertaining and easily understood. I will definitly be buying a copy of this book.
FEB 15, 2018 - 03:42 AM
Good review, Georg. We can never have too many reference works that are comprehensive and detailed.
FEB 16, 2018 - 04:32 AM
We think we've come up with a solution for the picture problem. The run was a little over-saturated, which we didn't realise until it was too late, so what we are looking to do is email out a link to all those who purchased the hardcopy which will allow downloading of the e-book version. So if you are a modeler wishing for a better photograph of the fine details, you'll have it. We figure we'll have this ready in under a month.
FEB 21, 2018 - 12:27 AM
Dear Mr. Moran, That is wonderful news! I am happy to see that you and your publishers were able to come up with a solution that won't break the bank. I look forward to getting the download! Regards, Georg
FEB 21, 2018 - 08:09 AM
Did you ever receive the link to the e-book version, by the way?
APR 22, 2018 - 10:10 AM
No sir, I did not get the link. What should have looked for? Any chance of getting another? Regards, Georg
JUN 08, 2020 - 01:42 PM

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