M551 Sheridan
1:35th Scale
Academy 1:35 Kit No.13011
Review by Terry Ashley


The kit:
Each new kit released these days seems to be preceded by intense scrutiny as manufacturers realise the power of the Internet and post images and details of the kits well before release, none more so than Dragon and to a lesser extent Academy, but some have also left themselves open to criticism by using test shot models when announcing their new models with the inevitable howls as errors stick out.

This new kit from Academy is no exception with the model used at the recent Nuremburg toy fair causing some concern with the rear hull profile so let’s have a closer look now the kit is here to see if things shape up as the saying goes.

First off the vehicle itself is 100% new tooling with just the equipment and weapons sprue coming from Academy’s previous Sherman series kits and as such is a vast improvement over the ancient Tamiya kit and subsequent copies.

The kit consists of 251 parts in dark green plastic plus a large sheet of meshing for the turret basket, a set of full length vinyl tracks and the decal and instruction sheet for a fairly conventional kit with the plethora of etched and other metal parts in kits these days.

The standard of moulding on the parts is very well done with a minimum of shallow pin parks on the inside of the hatches while there are some nice weld seam and bolt/rivet head detail on the turret and hull and not to be out done Academy have also used slide mould technology to produce the large smoke grenade launchers with excellent hollowed out tubes and the plastic barrel which is also hollowed out to a depth of 8mm and does give a good hollow impression with such a large calibre weapon.

There are a few dimensional errors which should be mentioned but many will choose not too worry much over these as at the end of the day there is little that can be done without major surgery, so I simply point these out for you to take as you will.

The first is the previous mentioned rear hull profile which when compared to the plans from the Hunnicutt Sheridan book show the upper rear hull bend being about 4mm too far back resulting in the rear hull angle being slightly too steep.

The other is the complicated shape of the turret which again when compared to the Hunnicutt plans and those in the Squadron book shows a few angles different from the kit turret, but much of this is at the rear and is mostly hidden when the large turret basket is fitted so it’s up the individual if these profile discrepancies are of concern?

The Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub has a large oval hole in the bottom but there is also a plug to fill this and it appears to be due to the mould gates as there are no other marks on this complicated moulding which has all the suspension parts of axles, shock absorbers and final drives as separate parts for good detail definition.
Also separate is the bolted armour panel at the bottom of the hull front with raised section underneath to represent the added armour and towing shackles on the front and rear hull.

The road wheels have inner and outer wheels as is normal but the wheel contours are slightly out with the rim bolts slightly too small and don’t really look much like the real Sheridan road wheels.

The drive sprockets and idler wheels are basically the same except for the toothed sprocket trapped between the inner and outer drive sprockets but the central hubs on the drive sprockets are too shallow and should extend further out than those on the idler wheels.

The Upper Hull:
The large upper hull is a single moulding with well defined panel and bolt head details on the top surfaces as well as the side panels with the rear shape discrepancies as mentioned above, the left front fire extinguisher handle cut-out is also slightly too small and too high up but this should be quite fixable.

The rotating driver’s hatch is a separate part with solid periscopes that lack a little bit of detail and the hatch can be fixed in the open or closed position as you wish.

Other separate hull details are the front head lights with separate bush guards and rear lights, lifting eyes and small flat panels that fit around the rear tail light recesses to add the details that would have been difficult to achieve due to the sloped rear hull plate and also the pioneer tools on the right rear hull.

The Turret:
This is split in the conventional upper shell and lower portion with turret ring and as mentioned has some discrepancies in turret outline but also has some nicely done weld seams around the roof panel joins and has the Commander’s cupola and Loader’s hatches separate. The Commander’s cupola has fairly plain periscope details but has the upper cupola ring and two part hatch as separate parts for quite good details and there are also separate forward ventilator cover and main sighting assembly with separate cover.

The large mantlet is a complicated cast part and includes the nice bolt pattern around the gun opening but some of the contours are slightly out such as above the co-ax MG opening but this is getting picky. The large missile guidance box sits on top of the mantlet and the Vietnam style searchlight is made up of four parts with quite good detail. The barrel is the closed breech scavenger system type and is in three parts with the larger diameter rear section with bolted collar and outer tube section which looks quite good.

The eight large smoke grenade launcher tubes are well done although the mountings are a little simplified but these are hidden under the turret overhand in any case while at the rear is the large storage bin as fitted to many Vietnam Sheridans. This has the lower floor section with solid moulded mesh pattern but all the outer frames are filled with the mesh provided with templates to cut these the right size.

Also provided are the ACAV style shields for the Commander’s cupola which consist of the front fixed shield and rear three sided shield with separate opening panel as well as the two smaller side panels and all these attach to large MG mounting fitted to the top of the cupola. Additional accessories are included on the weapons sprue from the previous Sherman kits and this is basically for the .50cal MG and associated ammo boxes plus a couple of jerry cans and packs to be used as desired.

The decal sheet is well printed with thin carrier film and has markings for three Vietnam era Sheridan’s that include the US Army vehicle numbers as well as the vehicle names;

These are continuous length vinyl with details on both sides but the links are slightly too narrow and they don’t have the rubber pads, just indentations and replacement tracks would improve the look of the kit such as the set from Friulmodel (set #ATL-87) which also include replacement metal drive sprockets to correct the kit parts. There are additional plastic spare tracks provided on the new sprue which do include the rubber pads as well as minor pin marks on each link to be removed.


While there are some minor dimensional errors overall it is a well detailed kit with good surface details and the best bit is it is a brand new kit of the Sheridan and being the Vietnam era vehicle will require additional modifications for the M551A1 version used in Panama and Operation Desert Shield.

There is also the possibility of endless modifications for the many OPFOR Sheridans fitted with different VISMOD kits to produce very different looking vehicles and overall this kit should be welcomed by Modern Armour fans.


The Sprues:

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Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created 30 March 2005

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