The M551 in this photograph has an AN/VSS-3 white or infrared searchlight mounted to the left of its gun. The tank commander is protected by armored shields that were developed during the Vietnam War. The cupola's split hatch initially provided protection to the sides, but tankers often installed the armored shields from the ACAV M113 to provide more protection. A standardized kit for the Sheridan that provided protection from the front and sides was then developed, and a rear shield was subsequently included. This vehicle is equipped with the later-production smoke grenade launcher installation that lacks the brace running along the bottom of the grenade tubes. This vehicle is also fitted with the later version of the turret bustle stowage rack. The other vehicle in the image is an M113A1 APC. (Picture taken 1 May 1979; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
This view shows the M551's unusual driver's hatch in the open position. The hatch rotated around the driver, removing the need for an adjustable-height seat for open-hatch operation, and also eliminating the worry of turret rotation over the driver's exposed head. The black container on the hatch to the mannequin's right is the periscope washer fluid reservoir.
A look inside the driver's position is offered here. The driver's three M47 periscopes are mounted, and the center one could be replaced with an infrared periscope M48. The periscope washer fluid reservoir is now missing from this vehicle. To the driver's left is a conventional ammunition stowage rack, and a missile stowage rack is on his opposite side. The turret floor is visible behind the driver's seat back. The turret horizontal stowage rack for five conventional rounds can be seen on the turret floor.
The surfboard used to prevent swamping and as a front support for the water barrier was folded onto the tank's frontal slope while not in use. Windows were included in the surfboard to allow forward visibility.
The neoprene-coated nylon floatation barrier was stowed around the edge of the hull under the rounded covers. A pioneer toolkit was stowed on the rear hull.
A closer look at the turret front is available here. This vehicle is also equipped with the later-production smoke grenade launchers as well as the TC's ballistic shield kit. The missile trasmitter is mounted above the barrel of the gun-launcher, and the gunner's periscope is visible on the turret roof.
This image shows the Sheridan's center-drive sprocket and dual center guide track. These soldiers are repairing the tank following Operation Just Cause. (Picture taken 1 Dec 1989 by SGT. Joseph Garrison; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
The MGM-51C missile had a range of ~3000m (~3300yd), was 41.5" (105cm) long, and weighed ~61lbs (28kg). The shorter key on the MGM-51C (0.075" versus 0.130" [0.191cm versus .330cm])reduced stress on the gun barrel that had been causing fatigue cracks with the earlier, taller keyways. This allowed the gun tubes to be used for 600 conventional round firings, compared to 200 with the taller keyways.
This detatched turret is missing its missile transmitter door. When fitted, the door would flip open downward to expose the transmitter optics. The missile tracker is visible to the gun-launcher's right. The laser rangefinder that snakes around the commander's cupola is also obvious when compared with the turret above. This turret is fitted with the later-style smoke grenade launchers and an AN/VVS-3 searchlight.
The gun-launcher on this M551A1(TTS) lacks a bore evacuator, so this vehicle is equipped with the closed-breech scavenging system. The commander's weapon station has been fitted with armor protection, and additional machine gun ammunition could be stowed around the circumferance of the turret. The laser rangefinder transceiver is visible just above the spare ammunition box, and the cable cover runs around the right side of the cupola. Another style of clustered smoke grenade launchers are mounted over the brackets for the older style grenade launchers. One-hundred fifty-two millimeter ammunition is stored with protective bags around the combustible cartridge case; the bag is removed before firing. (Picture taken 1 Dec 1990 by Spc. Henry; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
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