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Tamiya M551 Sheridan

Build review of the 1/35 scale easy-to-assemble armored tank
RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR
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Tamiya released a 1/35 scale M551 back in the 1970s along with the M60A1, M60A2, M48A3, and M113. This is a new mold of the Sheridan with better detail and fit, clear vision ports, a plastic screen, crew of three, and markings for two Vietnam War vehicles. I built mine as Hard Core 7, using Tamiya’s nine-part aftermarket photo-etch (PE) details and metal gun barrel set (No. 12687, $18.50).

The hull builds from sides and belly with an internal stiffener. The hull must be completed before the suspension is added. Tie-downs under the hull meant to strap it to the inside of a cargo plane also are included, as is belly armor.

The running gear consists of the main drive, idler, and road wheels. I painted and weathered these and the lower hull before installing the link-and-length tracks. Make sure you follow the illustrations as to where the sprockets are positioned before installing the tracks to get the alignment right.

The upper hull is one piece. Headlights are clear as is the driver’s window on the floatation barrier. The driver’s hatch is removable and installed with polycaps. I was pleased with the detail of the driver figure, which I installed after painting the rest of the compartment black.

I painted the PE grilles and installed them after the hull was painted. While the kit provides vinyl mesh for the front anti-rocket-propelled grenade net, I used the PE option from the aftermarket set.

The turret comprises upper and lower sections and the gun mount has an elevation rod and polycap so the gun can be positioned and repositioned. Both the kit’s plastic gun barrel and the detail set’s metal barrel feature lands and grooves inside.

I painted the commander’s cupola and then added clear vision blocks. Hard Core 7 didn’t sport armor around the commander’s station so I left it off.

Once the machine gun was together, I built the .50-caliber ammunition cases, which consist of several parts and are fiddly to assemble. The multipart commander is nicely detailed except for his hands.

No personal equipment — helmets, microphones, extra jerry cans, or gear bags — is included, so you’ll have to look in your spares box.

All in all, Tamiya has produced a fine Sheridan that assembles easily and features nice details. The aftermarket PE and metal barrel aren’t necessary, but take this good model up a notch.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2019 issue.

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