M551 Sheridan (Early version)
|Kit #: PS720027||Preview by F. Giovagnorio|
|A new model of the Sheridan tank in 1/72 is what many Braille scale modellers were waiting for since a very long time; in fact, since the Vietnam war itself, because the only Sheridan in Braille scale was released by Airfix more or less while the vehicle was gaining its reputation nearly 50 years ago.
The kit is packed in the usual S-model box layout. This is the first time S-model decided not to assemble tracks, wheels and sprockets in a single piece: instead, only part of the tracks are molded as one piece, plus the five outer wheels, sprocket and return idler, while inner wheels are separate; four sections of track complete the assembly. The final result is much better, and tracks look more realistic, with detailed track pads.
And now, the sad part: as you can see, the tracks look rather loose and touch all five wheels, while in the vast majority of Sheridans the tracks barely touched the central one. I have seen only one example of this configuration, so it was not impossible to find, but certainly extremely rare. Correcting this mistake is possible (as you can see here) but certainly not straightforward.
Rivet counting is not my hobby, so I did not scan all the pieces looking for subtle errors; I can only say that everything looks like having the correct shape. The only apparent error I could find is the two rear engine access doors touching in the middle, while there should be space between them, containing handles and the latching system.
Other details are nice, such as the various tools on the posterior deck and the turret, not easy to reproduce being as irregular as it is.
S-Model calls it "Early version", but how early is Early ? If Early means "pre-Vietnam", then S-Model got (almost) everything right. No extra shields aroung the commander's MG, no additional armor for the hull side recesses (which are open as you can see), no front searchlight. But then, S-Model decided to mold additional armor plating to the lower bow plate, which was added in Vietnam. So, either remove it and do a pre-Vietnam vehicle, or add the rest and do a Vietnam vehicle (or even post-Vietnam, because these modifications were maintained in Sheridans used in Panama and Iraq). Anyway, S-model gives the user the choice of both Scavenger System tubes, the earliest, open-breech type (piece 33) and the most common, closed-breech type (piece 32). Good idea !
Another small sprue contains the smoke grenade launchers, external extra ammo boxes and fuel cans. A small PE fret contains the posterior stowage bin, protections for lights and lifting hooks. Basic set of decals.
In conclusion, another great effort from S-Model, a must for every Vietnam war and modern era modeller. Should S-Model release a "Late version" Sheridan, modellers wanting a "Vietnam war" Sheridan could avoid some scratchbuilding which is necessary with this kit.
 M551 Sheridan In Action No. 28 (1990), Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications ISBN: 0-89747-253-5
Preview sample kindly provided by Rob Haelterman.