on May 8, 2009
I served in Sheridans in Germany and the US for 7 years. It was a tempermental beast that did not stand GI abuse, as its stable mates the M113 and M60 tank would. In the end, like many initiatives of the McNamara era, its designers tried to combine too many mission capabilities into a single vehicle. The technological compromises required for its conflicting missions resulted in a vehicle that was not really good at any. It was too heavy to airdrop with consistent success, too large to conduct reconnaissance, to poorly armored to take on main battle tanks and to fragile to keep its complicated missle system functioning. Soldiers were wounded and died unnecessarily in Vietnam because the M-551 was force-issued to units replacing the better protected M-48.
Mr Zaloga has captured the complexity and some of the oral legends of the M551. He takes the story, briefly but thoroughly, from the early days on light, airborne "tanks" in World War 2 up to the retirement of the M-551. He accurately reports on the exceptional mobility and speed of the hull and suspension (it NEVER through a track). But the turret, as Mr. Zaloga recounts was a never-ending nightmare. An excellent synopsis of a flawed vehicle that nonetheless served the US Army for over three decades.
on April 10, 2009
Ever since the development of paratroops and other air-transported forces there has been a desire for them to be able to have tank support soon after landing. This was especially important in Europe where the Germans or Russians would be meeting airborne troops with armored counterattack. In this volume Mr. Zaloga looks at the development of American airborne armor since WW2. The focus of the book is on the M551 "Sheridan" which according to the Army was not a tank, but was an "Armored Reconnaisance/Airborne Assault Vehicle". The Sheridan was supposed to be a support vehicle for Armored Cavalry units and was to provide air-droppable punch for airborne attacks. The book covers a lot of ground, but the author is very familiar with the subject. As with all Osprey titles in this series the book is well illustrated with photos, drawings and artwork. A very helpful little volume covering one of the less apprecated aspects of modern warfare and one of the less appreciated armored vehicles that American has produced. The "Sheridan" was a vehicle with flaws, mostly from trying to be many things to many people, but it served long and generally well. I recommend this book.
This book looks at the background, development and limited combat use of the M551 Sheridan (as well as some info on the M22 "Aerotank" from WWII). This tank, designed for a role that the Army only had marginal interest in, saw limited use in Vietnam and Desert Storm. It was even deployed in its airborne role during the invasion of Panama. As always, very well illustrated with both photos and artwork.
Airborne paratroops can get places quickly - but they are vulnerable from armor attacks. This book traces the efforts of the US Army to create armor support for paratroop landings, the focus being on the M551 Sheridan.
How do you create a tank light enough to carry by air, but pack enough punch to knock out enemy tanks and have enough armor protection? The answers have eluded the Army since 1941. The Sheridan, which came out in the 1960's may have been the closest answer to the problem. At 17 tons, it could be carried/dropped by air. It had a huge cannon/missle launcher which could take out enemy tanks.
However, there were early teething problems, the Army sent it to Vietnam too early (it was not designed with hot, humid climates in mind) and the Sheridan developed a bad rap. The Shillelagh missle was tempermental at best. Anyone who fired the 152mm shell remembers very clearly how the tank would rock off the first three road wheels from the recoil! That recoil would also knock out the alignment of the sights, no small problem there.
The 82d Airborne Division used these tanks in Panama and the first Gulf war. By then, most of the problems had been worked out. But it was never a perfect solution and was to be replaced by the M-8 Armored Gun System, which was cancelled by Congress. So, the Airborne troops still do not have the answer to getting tank support in their landing zones.
This Vanguard book is a very good, consise review of the Sheridan tank. Lots of clear B&W photos covering the development and deployment of the tank, more color plates than they usually include. There are great photos of experimental models, and the use of Sheridan hulls as 'mock ups' of Soviet armor for use at the National Training Center. This book still gets four stars because the cutaway of the inside is hard to see.
Overall, I recommend this book for any modeler, anyone interested in airborne operations, light armor. The book by R.P. Hunnicutt is more extensive, but way more expensive.