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M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit

Tamiya 1/35 M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2017 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35365 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting new variant Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $62.00

First Look

M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit
M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit
M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit
M551 Sheridan 'Vietnam War' Kit

The M551 Sheridan was a light tank developed for fast deployment onto the battlefield (including by parachute), high mobility on the battlefield including amphibious capabilities, and serious firepower with its 152mm main gun. While the tank did have rapid deployment and mobility, its M81 main gun relied on a mix of conventional ammunition and the MGM-51 Shillelagh guided missile. The MGM-51 had numerous issues that limited their employment wth the M551, but did arm the M60A2 'Starship' during its brief time in service. The M551 was first deployed during the Vietnam war and served as the vanguard during the early days of the first Gulf War.

When I was a junior in high school (and dinosaurs still roamed the earth), Tamiya released kit number MT131, the M551 Sheridan (with electric motor). This was one of many kits that were being produced in those days with optional motors to add a fun element to the models. Over the next four decades, Tamiya periodically reissued this kit with new parts and new decals, but was essentially the same (old) kit. It was a fun kit, I remember building one (or more) of these kits when I was stationed on the east coast after a visit to the local (Rockville, MD) Squadron Shop.

Fast forward to modern day, and Tamiya has released the M551 kit, but this isn't your father's Sheridan kit. This is an all-new-tooled kit of this distinctive tank. Molded in green styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees (duplicate tree not shown) plus one tree of clear parts.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Multi-part lower hull replicates details missing from original kit
  • Detailed suspension system and road wheels
  • Link and length track
  • Movable driver cupola
  • Optional driver half-figure (mounts into driver comparment using poly cap)
  • Nicely detailed upper hull
  • Engine deck screens and anti-ATGM screen are cut from nylon screen sheet (included)
  • Main gun barrel is slide-molded one-piece
  • Nice details on turret including stowage
  • Movable/positionable turret crew hatches
  • Optional commander and loader figures
  • Choice of covered or uncovered searchlight
  • Nice ACAV shield on commander's cupola

Markings for two subjects are included:

  • M551, 3rd Squadron/4th Cav Regt/25th ID, Vietnam, 1969
  • M551, 1st Squadron/11th Armored Cav Regt, Vietnam, 1969

On the plus side, this is a very nice kit which should go together Tamiya easy. My only problem is with the use of the nylon mesh for the engine deck screens, but Tamiya did release an optional detail-up set for this kit which includes photo-etched engine deck screens, photo-etched chain-link fence screen for the anti-ATGM armor, and a turned aluminum barrel for the main gun. I grabed one of these sets when I purchased my Sheridan kit.

I'm hoping Tamiya will release this kit in its Gulf War configuration as well as perhaps some OPFOR configurations during its time at the National Training Center. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting this track built!

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