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Armor/AFV: Vietnam
All things Vietnam
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Tamiya Vietnam M551 Sheridan build/review
M4A1Sherman
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Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2019 - 11:07 PM UTC

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Lurker here. I just finished this kit, and I agree, it's much better than the old Academy offering and the even older Tamiya kit from the '70s. I thought the tracks were very well done, and the figures were outstanding.

The Sheridan was special to me because it was the first actual tank I got to climb around on as a kid. The local Ohio National Guard armory in Bainbridge had a squadron from the 107th Armored Cavalry, and would bring a few vehicles to the county fair every year.

If I get around to it, I'll post a few photos of mine...I did it in the MASSTER camouflage pattern from the mid-70s (I did the best I could, seeing as I could only find a few images of a Sheridan in that pattern.)

Again, excellent write up.



Hi, People!

Just from reading what you guys have all been saying about the NEW TAMIYA M551 as compared to the OLD TAMIYA kit and the ACADEMY kit, confirms what I said earlier about the benefits of "slide-molding" that are being passed on to us, the builders. "Apples to apples" though, aren't the RYE FIELD M551s supposed to be -A1s, as opposed to the TAMIYA kits being 'Nam-vintage "slicks"???



Dennis, that's correct-- the RFM kit is an A1/A1TTS kit. But several folks in different forums have been considering converting the Tamiya kit into the later versions. Which wouldn't be too hard (with either creative scratchbuilding or the help of the aftermarket). The CAD shots of the RFM kit also show several options Tamiya doesn't offer (if CAD shots can be trusted). There are also many more folks who served on A1/A1TTS versions than there were on the slick, and the variety of camouflage and paint schemes is much wider than the options for a slick (OD, MASSTER, MERDC, Desert, 82nd ABN, etc). So I think while the Tamiya offering is great, the RFM offers a lot more options. I haven't seen any manufacturer offering a true slick though-- which would have the early bore evacuation system-- everyone seems to be offering the modified barrel CBSS, or the new CBSS guns. Many of the old M551s with the older bore evacuation system served in Vietnam. The current offerings with the ring around the barrel were mods of the old system, and the A1/A1TTS should be straight barrels.
VR, Russ



If memory serves, I'm pretty sure that I saw an A/M barrel for this particular TAMIYA M551 kit out there WITH a bore Evacuator, somewhere... I forget WHO makes it, exactly... RB Barrels? DEF? I dunno... Anybody know..?
marcb
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Posted: Friday, March 08, 2019 - 12:19 AM UTC
Def makes two kinds.
TankSGT
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Posted: Friday, March 08, 2019 - 05:21 AM UTC


Tom, are you sure 1st Squadron had the non-CBSS tubes in 77? I got to H Company, then F Troop in 77, and all we had were CBSS conversion tubes (they had a ring around the tube like the Tamiya kit does) and the new straight tube--as I understand it, most of the old tubes were replaced in rebuild programs. I thought the only place the old tubes were used extensively was in Vietnam, and most of those tracks went through a re-build upgrade program before showing up in Europe, but I suppose some old tracks could have been passed down. The 14th CAV was the 11th Cav predecessor in Europe, but I don't think they had any M551s, but I could be wrong. The 11th came in direct from Vietnam, and I thought they fell in on "new" rebuild equipment when they got to Germany. Maybe they brought some of those old tracks with them, but the only place I saw an active non-CBSS tube was at Knox in 76-- and that was an old track at the MOC. I think the gunners sight on the turret roof was also a different shape from the Tamiya kit, and the IR signal box on the tube was a different shape too. Like you, my platoon also never carried ammo cans on the turret, but like yours, we carried two cans of oil and one of water-- I think that was a Regimental load plan. However, my tracks had the tie down straps, and occasionally two or three ammo cans would be carried filled with "oddiments" (nuts, bolts washers etc., and the extra straps for the ammo can loops). We did have load plans for the .50 and 7.62 ammo cans on the turret, but the only place I ever saw them partially employed was at Graf, or during ARTEPS and training with partial ammo issues when we picked up blank ammo. There was one live fire we did at Wildflecken were we loaded up the turret with almost a full load of .50 cans-- because the Ammo Dump was trying to get rid of WWII and Korean War ammo (about 1/4 were duds and the rest had greatly reduced range-- but that's another story). I think if we'd drawn combat loads, you'd have seen them on the outside of the turret. One other interesting detail often overlooked was the "cartrige cover bags" we used to cover the smoke grenade launchers-- the conventional round had a rubber bag that covered the expendable paper cartridge-- it was peeled off before loading and we used to save those bags to cover the grenade launcher openings-- which were notorious for collecting dirt, debris and small twigs, and were difficult to clean out. I don't see many builds with that detail-- but it was often seen on Sheridans in Europe-- I think they were always loaded in 'Nam, so they didn't worry much about it. One other item often overlooked is a white "half arrow" we painted on the top-side end of the barrel-- as an aid to the TC when laying the gun for the gunner-- it was about 18" long. All our tracks were named, beginning with the first letter of the Troop on the both sides of the tube. My track was "Formld'hyde " ( that's the way we liked to spell it). My Platoon Sergeants track was Foxy II. Some other names I remember were "Freaky" "Fearless" and oddly-- Fahrtsack (a play on what we called a sleeping bag and German for "drive"). I've forgotten the last one now. As crews rotated, the names would often change. you can't say we didn't have a sense of humor!
VR, Russ [/quote]

Russ it has been along time but I am almost positive there were at least 1 or 2 in the troop. We all had the CBSS I don't think what type of gun tube mattered. Our system didn't work on my track, we still shot it. My TC was the PSG. Our M551s did not have names we didn't start naming them until we received M60s. My TC named her Animal, which I was not fond of. One crew tried Angel Dust, that came off fast.

Looking at the history of the 14th and 11th I think the only thing that moved was the flag and maybe some senior officers. There was probably alot of repainting of crests and patches all over. I think our water can was mixed with anti-freeze for the radiator. In Sheridan school we called the covers rhino rubbers. I don't think we had enough straps left to attach any of the ammo cans they are always the first thing to disappear. Also we had a piece of aluminum bar stock bolted to the front chicken shield and the back shield on both sides. It was never painted. It was to keep the back tub in place in case the bolts came loose. I just remembered the laser didn't work either.

Tom

M4A1Sherman
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Posted: Friday, March 08, 2019 - 05:34 AM UTC

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Def makes two kinds.



I'm reasonably sure that's where I saw the Gun Tube with the Bore Evacuator; on Ebay, I believe it was...

THANKS!!!
trickymissfit
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Posted: Friday, March 08, 2019 - 08:38 AM UTC

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Dennis, I have to disagree just a little, as some of the new Meng, Takom and RFM kits have a lot of detail packed into the box. I'm hoping the RFM Sheridan will follow the pattern they've set with some of the German gear they've marketed lately. I can't help but feel Tamiya is trying to satisfy a different niche with this model-- a quicker build, with some details simplified, at a cheaper price point. But, it's head and shoulders above previous models of the M551. It just disturbs me there are no tie downs or brackets on the turret, some of the details around the hatches are soft, the armor plate on the TCs cupola has simplified detail around the hinges, and the splash guard is not separate--not to mention the shortcut with the screening material. But I think it's ok for the price point. We'll see how RFM does with these details I guess. I should caviat my statements by revealing I'm an old Sheridan crew member, so perhaps it's just that I was just expecting more. I'm still tempted by this kit though as there are some nice features.
VR, Russ



I honestly look for RFM to offer a kit with at least the power pack in the future. I'd like to see somebody offer battle damaged parts for the floatation kit. That was a common sight in RVN. The Tamiya tracks don't look all that bad from the pics. I'm hoping that the RFM kit comes with positional suspension. The real issue in both kits is the turret rear rack. Only the 3/4 CAV made them all the same. Yet I can't remember ever seeing anybody use the OEM brackets.
Gary
bat_213
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 12:02 PM UTC
sherd did you have any prolems doing those traks ? I have 2 kits in my stash that have those typ of traks but im use the rubber band typ ,any hints thaht would me would be great ,and your build is great thanks for your time .
sherb
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 02:28 PM UTC
Thanks everyone for checking in. I love reading the stories from those who crewed them. I didn't get much done this weekend but I hope to post some progress shots a little later this week.

In the mean time check out all the decal sheets Echelon is releasing!
sherb
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 02:39 PM UTC

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sherd did you have any prolems doing those traks ? I have 2 kits in my stash that have those typ of traks but im use the rubber band typ ,any hints thaht would me would be great ,and your build is great thanks for your time .



Thanks Roy.

My biggest tips would be to make sure all the links fit tightly together. With the Meng Achzarit I ended up with a 1/2 link gap because I didn't snug them together.

At least with the Tamiya kit things are a little easier because they are link and length.

I didn't do anything to tack the wheel in place as I wanted them to be removable for painting. Next time I'll use some silly putty or poster tack to hold them in place.

Specific to this kit there are some single links at the end of the short runs at the front and back. There is a post in this thread where I marked them on the instructions. It was important that these links didn't fit flush with the road wheel etc. Otherwise you end up with a gravity defying jog in the track.

I started a second Sheridan and when I get to the tracks I might end up gluing the single link to the end of the short runs and curving it from that side.

Last tip, use a slow curing glue and work fast.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 05:15 PM UTC
Sherb -- I was just admiring your build again, and while I was running through the pics of the turret, I noticed it looks like the gunners periscope ballistic cover is molded closed-- is that right? It would normally be open if there was a gunner in the seat. The gunner has a gun mantlet mounted targeting sight, but he'd normally have the ballistic cover open to acquire targets unless the track was under fire. I was just wondering if the kit came that way?
VR. Russ
m75
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 03:53 AM UTC
It's molded closed, and lacks good, clear definition of the cover edge and pivot points.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 04:05 AM UTC

Quoted Text

It's molded closed, and lacks good, clear definition of the cover edge and pivot points.




Hmmmm... wonder how hard it would be to get it open. Anyone know of any aftermarket for it yet?
VR, Russ
sherb
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 05:13 AM UTC

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It's molded closed, and lacks good, clear definition of the cover edge and pivot points.




Hmmmm... wonder how hard it would be to get it open. Anyone know of any aftermarket for it yet?
VR, Russ



Good catch. I wonder if the easiest thing would be to drill it all out and build it all from scratch or similar part in the spares bin? Maybe the rectangular cover could be shaved off. At least now I know what I have planned for part of the evening.

That said, I checked a couple in the field reference photos from Vietnam that I’ve collected. It’s tough to get a clear shot but with some of the stowage loaded on the turret you wouldn’t be able to see anything. I did find one photo where it might be open.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 06:36 AM UTC
Sherb, well-- I guess open or closed depends on the setting. If the track is just sitting there, hatches closed, it would probably be closed. Headed to contact, it "might" be closed-- (our M551A1 SOP was when contact was expected, the ballistic cover would be open, and the TCs head would be just above the armor plate scanning for targets, if one was detected, the TC would lay the gun tube using his commander's override, the gunner would acquire using the periscope, then switch to the optical site). If contact was ongoing, the ballistic cover was closed, but then the track would be buttoned up. It just seems to me to have it closed with crew hatches open is counterintuitive, but then again, maybe the gunner is inside taking a nap. But if a lot of activity is expected atop the track, it would probably be closed too, to protect the optics from a stray boot or low hanging branch while moving through the brush. And, since such things tend to reflect sunlight-- it might be wise to keep it closed when trying to "sneak up" on the enemy (if such a thing is possible in an armored vehicle!). I can only relate to my own experience, where we kept them open if there was a gunner in the seat during an operation where we expected to "engage" a target.
VR, Russ
sherb
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 07:26 AM UTC
Thanks Russ, I appreciate posts like yours. It really puts things into context.

After reading your initial post about the cover I started thinking I want to open it up. Now reading you next post I'm thinking leave it alone so it doesn't get scratched by a 1/35 tree branch.

This is why I never get anything done, I start thinking too much.

Again, Russ, and to everyone who has contributed to this thread, thank you for all the information and first hand accounts.
bat_213
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 08:25 AM UTC
thanks for your reply ,sherd I only have one hand to work on kits ,that was why I asks about the traks, so now I will try those traks .thanks again .
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 08:44 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Thanks Russ, I appreciate posts like yours. It really puts things into context.

After reading your initial post about the cover I started thinking I want to open it up. Now reading you next post I'm thinking leave it alone so it doesn't get scratched by a 1/35 tree branch.

This is why I never get anything done, I start thinking too much.

Again, Russ, and to everyone who has contributed to this thread, thank you for all the information and first hand accounts.




I'm hoping the RFM kit comes with an option. I almost bought the Tamiya kit last Thursday at my LHS, based on Sherb's build review, and I might still yet for a Vietnam/Post Vietnam before/after diorama purpose. But I still have my sights set on an A1. I bought the Verlinden 1/35 Tank Crew in NBC Gear set (with MkV masks) many years ago. They've resided as crew in my 1972 Tamiya M551 when I built it in 1991 while a student at the Naval War College (I had some spare time between classes back then ).
The model has resided on my display shelf ever since, but it pales in comparison to this kit-- the Verlinden crew figures in NBC gear are nice-but I can't wait to pop them into a "modern" kit like this.
VR, Russ
TankSGT
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 06:51 PM UTC
When I fired my rounds in Sheridan School and gunnery in Germany all firing was done through the telescope. It had the choke sight and the gunner could determine the range to target using it. This was with conventional rounds. I was never on board for a missile shot which usually used the periscope. The crews got to fire 1 missile at Graf during qualification gunnery. Its a great way to get proficient.

Tom
M4A1Sherman
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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 07:01 PM UTC

Quoted Text

When I fired my rounds in Sheridan School and gunnery in Germany all firing was done through the telescope. It had the choke sight and the gunner could determine the range to target using it. This was with conventional rounds. I was never on board for a missile shot which usually used the periscope. The crews got to fire 1 missile at Graf during qualification gunnery. Its a great way to get proficient.

Tom



Hello, ALL!!!

I'm having a GREAT TIME learning and reading all of the anecdotal stuff!!! It's VALUABLE as well as entertaining!!!

THANKS TO ALL!!!
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 02:30 AM UTC
Telescopic “choke” sight=conventional round— Narrow field of view. Requires the TC to lay the gun on target
Periscope=Gunners panoramic viewer=missile sight—But also used by the gunner for panoramic view of the outside.

Aha! That’s likely why Tamiya has chosen to mold the periscope cover closed. When on the range firing conventional ammo,the gunner would use just the Gunners “choke” sights (telescopic) as they were good enough for just the narrow field of view on the range to engage the target. But when desiring a wider field of view the gunner would use the periscope— which is the missile sighting system required for tracking the missile in a larger field of view (the gunner needed to “fly” the missile). The missile wasn’t used much in Vietnam, the conventional round being the primary ammunition of choice. The missile was problematic in the tropics and in extreme cold environments, and was very expensive for the time. Would still be nice to have the option though.
VR, Russ
alchemymike
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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 10:42 AM UTC
I was trained in M60A1's and then the Sheridan... couple of things I vividly recall...the TC putting the fear of God into us about leaving out the obturator ring ( apparently the resultant flash killed tankers by exploding ammo ) keeping your eye firmly on the sight eye cover to avoid getting a black eye when firing and the violent kick of the whole track when firing conventional ammo and the slow travel of the round down range....
never got to fire a missile...
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 04:30 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I was trained in M60A1's and then the Sheridan... couple of things I vividly recall...the TC putting the fear of God into us about leaving out the obturator ring ( apparently the resultant flash killed tankers by exploding ammo ) keeping your eye firmly on the sight eye cover to avoid getting a black eye when firing and the violent kick of the whole track when firing conventional ammo and the slow travel of the round down range....
never got to fire a missile...




Obturator ring was a frequent problem. As I recall though, the breech wouldn't close properly without it being in place. There was a series of electronic system checks with a green (or red) light indicator which indicated a fully closed breech-- for the CBSS on the turret wall in the loaders position. It was possible to oblong it too, with the weight of the conventional round ( the thing was a thin, formed and stepped steel ring that fit between the breech and rear of the gun tube, designed to fully seal the breech) Rough handling with a round would ensure that the next round went halfway into the tube and stuck there, requiring the crew to get out and punch the round out with a rammer-- not a fun experience (I've had the unfun experience of doing it) there was also a "detent pin and button" on the inside bottom of the breech which kept the round from falling out if the gun was elevated while loading. If not held down when the round was rammed from the outside, the detent "pin" would tear the cartridge case open spilling propellant onto the floor-- a real-life threatening fire hazard. Recoil would usually bring the track off the second road wheel, which also played havoc with the drivetrain. I was once on the range and the bolts on my TCs armored plate sheared off during a recoil, sending me in the air, severing the battery pack cables for the laser range range finder, then the entire assembly fell off the back of the track in the mud. It was fast, and quite a ride, but it sucked in many ways too.
VR, Russ
M4A1Sherman
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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 06:23 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I was trained in M60A1's and then the Sheridan... couple of things I vividly recall...the TC putting the fear of God into us about leaving out the obturator ring ( apparently the resultant flash killed tankers by exploding ammo ) keeping your eye firmly on the sight eye cover to avoid getting a black eye when firing and the violent kick of the whole track when firing conventional ammo and the slow travel of the round down range....
never got to fire a missile...




Obturator ring was a frequent problem. As I recall though, the breech wouldn't close properly without it being in place. There was a series of electronic system checks with a green (or red) light indicator which indicated a fully closed breech-- for the CBSS on the turret wall in the loaders position. It was possible to oblong it too, with the weight of the conventional round ( the thing was a thin, formed and stepped steel ring that fit between the breech and rear of the gun tube, designed to fully seal the breech) Rough handling with a round would ensure that the next round went halfway into the tube and stuck there, requiring the crew to get out and punch the round out with a rammer-- not a fun experience (I've had the unfun experience of doing it) there was also a "detent pin and button" on the inside bottom of the breech which kept the round from falling out if the gun was elevated while loading. If not held down when the round was rammed from the outside, the detent "pin" would tear the cartridge case open spilling propellant onto the floor-- a real-life threatening fire hazard. Recoil would usually bring the track off the second road wheel, which also played havoc with the drivetrain. I was once on the range and the bolts on my TCs armored plate sheared off during a recoil, sending me in the air, severing the battery pack cables for the laser range range finder, then the entire assembly fell off the back of the track in the mud. It was fast, and quite a ride, but it sucked in many ways too.
VR, Russ



HOLY CATS!!! That anecdote reminds me of those Soviet-era Russian tanks which had the Auto-Loaders that liked to stuff Crew-members up into the Gun Tube!!!
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 03:58 AM UTC
Breech blocks on tank guns are always dangerous, regardless of what vehicle you're on. But in my opinion, the Sheridan breech block was less so, in that it was a screw type that rotated closed (more like an artillery peice). You really "had to try" and get a finger part or hand into it, or be really slow when loading a round. But, like any breech, it could "hook you" if you weren't careful and clear of it. I did have a loader seriously injured when he broke his hand and forearm (multiple fractures) by leaving it on the breech handle without clearing the gun after saying "up!" And me giving the immediate command to "fire!" (which is part of the gun routine). But I never heard of any crew firing a round with blowback out of the breech-- if so there would have been real problems-- since the conventional main gun rounds had a "cellulose paper" combustible cartridge. They had a rubber like plastic protective cover, but in combat you'd usually peel that off of several rounds and place them in the ready rack. For all it's problems, the M551 was still an effective and fast armored vehicle, and with a well trained crew, that 152mm round was devastating. The missile (under the right conditions) was also highly accurate, (but expensive). At the time, it almost gauranteed the gunner a "first round hit", all he had to do was keep the target in his sight reticle, and the missile would fly to that spot. I think, having served on both M60A1s and M551A1s, I'd have to say the training requirements, crew "regimen", and vehicle expertise for the M551 were more demanding than the M60A1. There was much more to be aware of (at that time) in the gun, targeting, and automotively than the M60A1. The gun was the closest the US had got to a counterpart for the long range "Suitcase Sagger" (again at that time) until the Dragon came along. But the caliber of the gun firing conventional ammo was also its biggest drawback-- a light vehicle with a big gun is a maintenance nightmare.
VR, Russ
marcb
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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 06:41 AM UTC
I'm following all this with great interest.

I can't figure out if the mine protection kit plates behind the tracks are absent, or not on the kit. I red the info on page 1 of this thread, but it's still unclear to me.

See step 3 in the instructions:
https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/image/10578628

Thanks in advance.
barkingdigger
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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 07:09 AM UTC
Hi Marc,

If you mean the plates on the undersides of the sponsons, then no they are not in the box. But there is some confusion out there, as folks talking about mine protection also refer to plates on the lower hull sides that closed off the oblong slots in the sides behind the shock absorbers - Tamiya moulded these on, while some kits (including a recent braille-scale one) leave these open. Clear as mud...