Legends of Warfare
The US Army’s Armored Reconnaissance / Airborne Assault Vehicle
from Vietnam to Desert Storm
The Legends of Warfare series of books published by Pennsylvania based Schiffer Publishing is an extensive and ever growing line of volumes on the famous and well known machines of war, divided by subject into Ground, Naval and Aviation subjects. These volumes share similar formats and production values, and are modestly priced at just $19.99 USD. Books in this series that I’ve examined were all found to be well worth the modest cost, and were useful additions to the modeler or military history buff’s library.
The subject of this book is the very interesting M551 Sheridan, which soldiered on from the bush of South Vietnam in the 1960’s, to the sands of the Middle East in the 1990’s almost 30 years later. With it’s aluminum hull the Sheridan was designed to be both amphibious AND air-mobile, and packing a huge 152mm main gun, the Sheridan was certainly not all bark and no bite. Loved or hated, the M551 went into harm’s way over the final decades of the 20th century with the United States, and provided useful capabilities that are unmatched to this very day.
Format - hardcover, square format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 128 pages
Size - 9.25" x 9.25"
Photos - 231 black and white, and full color images.
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - one table of technical / performance specifications
All text and photo captions are in English
What’s in the Book?
Above - the book’s table of contents
The book opens with a very quick two page introduction, which discusses the origins of the Sheridan ( named of course, for Civil War / Indian Wars general Phil Sheridan ) which go all the way back to the end of WWII. The author draws a very nice line in connecting the dots between the M24 Chaffee, the M41 Walker Bulldog, through to the experimental designs that eventually became the M551 Sheridan. I’ve stated this before, but it bears repeating; the author does a terrific job in presenting a lot of information in a compact space.
The Development chapter provides great images of the evolutionary steps that led to the M551
Above - interesting images are found throughout the book, many in bright full color as seen above.
Photo sizes range from quarter page sized all the way to full page sized. All images are quite sharp and crisp.
The book includes a great many crystal clear walk - around style photographs, with all aspects of the Sheridan examined from tracks and suspension to the top of the turret and all things in between. Not neglected are the interior views. These images are uniformly crisp and clear, well lit and well composed. Even the smallest images at quarter page sized are plenty large enough for small details to be seen clearly.
Above - splendid in - detail type images examine the Sheridan from all aspects and angles.
Above - a great many of the photos in the “Field Use” chapter are full page, enabling close study of them. Some of these images will probably bring back a lot of interesting memories for our friends that served in Southeast Asia...
The Field Use chapter ( which is better than half the book in length ) contains a treasure trove of great images of the Sheridan in use world wide, over it’s entire service career, beginning with the Vietnam fracas and ending as seeing use masquerading as a Soviet vehicle at stateside training centers.
Above - the use of a good many full page, full color vintage images provides the reader with a really good understanding of how these vehicles actually looked in a war zone, including all of the stowage that found it’s way onto these tanks.
PLEASE NOTE - the images found throughout this volume are FAR better than the images I took for this review. The images in this book are uniformly bright and crisp ( not to mention interesting as heck ). The author has a good eye for photo selection, I always find his books to be a sort of time capsule between two covers.
Above - there are several great images of the subject of Tamiya’s new M551 Sheridan kit! Here we see a great image of the anti-RPG screen. The pose of the G.I. cradling the M-16 atop the turret should look familiar to any who have the new release Sheridan kit from Tamiya.
Above - the Sheridan in use post- Vietnam is well covered in this book as well.
A Note on Captions - the author does as good a job with his captioning as anybody in the business, and in my opinion is among the very best. He gives the reader a good bit of information on each image, providing the what’s, where’s, and when’s ( if known ), as well as pointing out areas of special interest in the images as they occur. As the bulk of the text in books like this is given in photo caption form, good captioning is an absolute must, with the author doing a great job of meeting this requirement.
Above - one final image from the book. Choosing images for this review was really tough, as there are so many terrific images to choose from!
This volume would surely have been a great help to me when I reviewed the new Tamiya M551 Sheridan kit a few months ago. The images alone make this work a terrific and useful reference, but there’s far more to this book than great images alone.
The author’s informative and interesting text which accompanies the many wonderful images gives context and definition to what you see on the pages of the book. He manages to convey quite a large amount of information in compact, easy to digest blocks of text, usually photograph captions. The author’s captions are very descriptive while remaining “readable”.
The photos chosen by the author for this volume are uniformly well selected, and are bright, crisp and clear. I particularly enjoy the combination of the in - detail style images and the in - action style images contained in the same book, giving the reader a more complete look at the Sheridan. I like very much how this series is presented to the reader, and about my only suggestion for improvement would be to include some scale or line drawings.
This book is another winner from author David Doyle and Schiffer Publications!
Highly Recommended ( A Must Have! for Sheridan fans )
Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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