Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tamiya M551 Sheridan U.S. Airborne Tank - Vietnam War, Kit 365, 1/35 scale

The Sheridan came about to fit the perceived need for a tank that could be air dropped.  Of course it would be nice to air drop tanks with the airborne troops, but weight is the issue.  Heavy things require large airplanes to transport them, and tanks require lots of (heavy) armor to protect them once engaged.  These two necessities work against each other.  I was in Vietnam several years before the Sheridans were deployed there.  But we had quickly learned that an RPG could ruin your whole day, and that using common chain link fencing could protect our vehicles.  I saw M113 APC crews deploying fencing around their vehicles for just that reason.  The RPG would strike the fencing, explode and spare the vehicle.  Or, that was the theory. 

Here, Tamiya has modeled a frame and fencing shield on the front of the M551.  This was an in-theater installation.  Tamiya supplies some plastic screen material for you to cut out from a pattern.  I decided to go with the Eduard Anti-RPG Wire Net #36408, which looks like cyclone fencing and not large window screen.  Some tanks, of course, did not have these installed, possibly even the tank I modeled.

Speaking of the tank I modeled, I attended the IPMS Nationals in Phoenix last year, and attendees were given a decal sheet, as usual.  The sheet we received included decals for this tank in 1/72nd and 1/48th scale.  “Arizona” was the tank of Platoon Sergeant Vega of Nogales, AZ.  (The second model on the sheet is the Spad flown by AZ notice Lt. Frank Luke,  after who Luke AFB is named.)

The Sheridan, in spite of its rather spotty active duty record has always fascinated me.  Tamiya’s last stab at the Sheridan was decades ago.  There is not one thing, I am told, in common between the two kits.  This kit is a typical new Tamiya kit.  However, I found it more involving a build than I first thought it would be.  There are lots of parts, and in several places you will need to drill .5mm, 1.0mm and 1.2mm holes, so make sure you have some small drills handy.

The figures are outstanding.  I think they are every bit as good as most resin offerings.  There are three. 

The instruction manual is superb.  Also included is a pamphlet “M551 Sheridan in Vietnam” by Specialist Doug Kibbey that is full of information on the combat deployment of the Sheridan written by someone who really knows.  This includes color profiles for the two Sheridans the marking for which are supplied in the kit.  And, finally, there is a Background Information.  All of this material is multi-lingual.

As with all the recent Tamiya releases, this kit is 100% state-of-the-art.  There is absolutely nothing to criticize. 

The gunner sitting on the hatch is a challenge, because you have to fully assemble him holding his M-16 before you can paint him.  Painting the rifle was tricky, but we do need a challenge now and then.

Here is a list of the main paints and weathering materials I used:

    Tamiya Surface Primer - Grey - spray can

    Vallejo Model Air NATO Black 71.251 - Rubber tires
    Vallejo Model Air Olive Drab 71.043 - Overall
    Vallejo Model Color Russian WWII Uniform 70.924 - Jungle Fatigues
    Vallejo Model Color U.S. Dark Green 70.893- Helmets
    Vallejo Model Air U. S. Dark Green 71.016 - Flak Jackets
    Vallejo Model Color Gun Metal Grey 70.863 - machine gun and M16

    Ammo by MIG Track Wash - A.Mig 1002
    Ammo by MIG Modelling Pigment VN Earth - A.Mig 3022

I am no color expert, and my memory of these colors is decades old.  But they looked right to me.  Besides, in the field, equipment and people get really filthy.  The tropical sun fades everything.  Whatever color the clothing and equipment was delivered in did not last that long.

 As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  Comments are always welcome.

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