The Ram Development and Variants Volume 1
by Paul Roberts.
Canada’s Weapons of War Series, WOW001 and WOW005
A5 size softback, 24 pages
ISBN: 1-894581-13-X and 1-894581-19-9
Reviews by Peter Brown
“Some tanks have a strong service history and were the right vehicle in the right place at the right time. For several reasons, the Canadian Ram was not one of them. Despite that its story is well worth relating. It was a mix of British and American ideas, to call it an alternative to the Sherman is not too wide of the mark as it used the M3 Medium as its basis with a new, cast upper hull and the main armament in a fully-rotating turret. Its British origins were betrayed by the small machine gun turret on the hull and the choice of a 2 pounder gun for the main armament. This proved to be the tank’s weakest point, though most vehicles carried the better 6 pounder and a few were even refitted with the British 75mm gun, the lack of a big gun meant that while many Canadian units trained on Rams in Canada and the United Kingdom, it was not to be used as a gun tank.
Its main contribution to the war effort was as the basis for the Sexton 25pdr self-propelled gun, with some tanks completed as Observation Post vehicles to support them. The Sexton is not covered here, that is sensibly left to a later book promised for some point in the future. Its other use as the Kangaroo armoured personal carrier is included along with details of the Badger flame-thrower, as well as experimental vehicles such as the vehicle with 3.7″ anti-aircraft gun, armoured recovery vehicles and even a rarity in the form of the Porpoise Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle.
Divided into two volumes, this is a good account of the vehicle including its design and production – with a full listing of vehicle serial numbers and details of design changes introduced as production progressed – all illustrated with period photos showing all types in use, including several of the Kangaroo with some of the interior. Each book also has a 1/35th scale plan in the centre pages, Volume 1 shows a 2pdr armed Ram I and Volume 2 has a Ram II complete with colour details for a tank in training in England.
The only criticism I can find of these books is that both are needed to get the full account of the tank as coverage including photos is split between them, but that is as much to do with the series format than anything else. As the series is reasonably priced, the two-part format is not a major drawback and both should find their place in the bookshelves of serious students of Canadian and WW2 armour.
Also check out RAM Tank.ca(A registry of Canada’s Tank) for additional information on the RAM Tank.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.
Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 2004; 24 pp. with B&W photos and one painting diagram; price CDN $9.95; ISBN 1-894581-19-9 (https://www.servicepub.com)
Advantages: Continues coverage of a popular if underreported armored vehicle series; photos are fresh and new, as is text
Disadvantages: No kit of this vehicle to model!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all fans of Canadian or Allied WWII Armor, or “Shermaholics”
Some time ago Service Publications released the first volume in this series, which covered the development and some of the general points of interest on the Canadian derivative of the US M3 Medium Tank, the Ram. In this book, Paul Roberts, well-known Canadian modeler and current president of the Armor Modeling and Preservation Society, continues the text on this interesting if under-modeled vehicle.
Backed up with a large number of fresh photos from the collection of historian and modeler Barry Beldam, the book covers the development and combat use – such as it was – of the Ram in service. It points out that the Ram used as much as was practical from its “parent” – the M3 – but changed most of the major components to suit Canadian views of what a proper tank needed. The Mark II, the main production version of the tank, used a 6-lb gun in place of the US tank’s M5 37mm gun, but adopted the gyrostabilizer used by that weapon and the later M6 37mm gun. The hull evolved over the production run, eventually losing the satellite turret on the left front side of the hull and the antiquated side doors, but retained the same componentry. Alas, it had too small a turret ring to permit an upgrade to the US M3 75mm gun later in its career, and that doomed the tank to nearly sit on the sidelines of the war in Europe.
However, the tank was used by Canadian regiments for training in England, and was also the “volunteer” for some projects such as the development of the LCM series of landing craft. The tank was successfully carried by the LCM(1) version developed by Britain, and even proved the safety of tank gunnery from the craft while afloat. Alas, it also showed that this only worked well in still water, and thus the LCMs had to wait for larger size and more flotation reserve to be used as “water taxis” for tanks.
The tanks were also adapted to fit specialist functions, and this is what gave them their combat debut and service. Having a reliable chassis, the tank was used as a stripped-down version with a dummy gun as an artillery OP; a plotting board and suitable comms gear was fitted, and it was used as an armored forward observation post with good success.
The tank was also stripped of its turret and all internal components for use as a “Kangaroo.” But as this work shows, the “Kangaroos” were more than just spartan: NO provision was made for the infantry’s carriage other than a big open hole in the top of the hull (the former turret race). No storage for kit inside the hull was provided, nor were any seats fitted. One must wonder if “riding” in such a vehicle was really better than walking!
Other variants included the RAM ARV Mk. I and one prototype Mk. II, and a Ram Kangaroo fitted with a flamethrower.
Overall, this book is a nice addition to any collector of US “Shermania” (from the M3 and M4 Medium Tank family) as well as a good inclusion on Canadian armor and its part in the war.
Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.”