M551 Sheridan

M551 Sheridan

M551 Sheridan
US Airmobile Tanks 1941-2001
New Vanguard 153
Author: Steven J Zaloga
Illustrator: Tony Bryan
48 pages
ISBN: 978-1-84603-391-9

M551 Sheridan at Osprey...

This book does exactly what it says on the box. As the back of the book says: “This book tells the story of the US experience with airmobile tanks, starting with their efforts in World War II”, and it does it well. The book is a rather complete survey of the development of American airmobile tanks and their combat usage, including of course the M551 Sheridan.

The first seven pages are devoted to the development of the M22 Locust light tank. This chapter concludes with a paragraph on its usage by the British during the Rhine crossing in 1945. It is easily the most in depth discussion of the thinking around the development of this interesting vehicle and its variants.

Most of the rest of the book follows the story of the M551 Sheridan light tank. It’s a fascinating story of an attempt to produce a high-tech light tank mounting the same gun as the next generation main battle tank (the M60A2 ‘Starship’).

Despite the technical difficulties and massive cost overruns, the M551 finally emerged as a workable tank.

The last half of the book talks about the Sheridan’s combat service, first as a replacement for the M113 ACAV in Vietnam, then as an air-dropped light tank in Panama, and finally as a light tank in Iraq. There were plenty of debates about how it should be used and how to make its unusual armament work in the types of operations that it ended up serving in.

My only complaint is entirely my own fault. When Chris put the book up for reviewing, I just read the main title and assumed it would be a book about the M551 Sheridan itself. As a bit of a tank geek, I was hoping for a little more technical information and combat reports, rather than the background to its development and employment and the tanks that preceded and followed it.

I like the new format with the colour artwork spread through the book rather than being in a single section in the middle of the book, and the useful bibliography at the end for further reading.

All in all it would be hard to write a more complete survey of the history of US airmobile tanks in 48 pages.


Last Updated On Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by Wayne at Battlefront