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Sherman Firefly VC 1:72 Airfix A02341


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Sherman Firefly VC

1:72 Airfix A02341




The Sherman was one of the most widely used Allied tanks during WWII, named after an American Civil War general when it entered service in the early part of the war. It was the mainstay of Allied armour, and was a reliable and rugged vehicle, but initially suffered from weak points and thin side armour that allowed a carefully placed shot to penetrate it an set the tank afire. Once identified appliqué armour was added to the vulnerable spots to improve survivability. It became one of the most produced tanks of WWII, with over 50,000 produced, 17,000+ of which were destined for British service. Originally fitted with a 75mm gun, the arrival of the Panther and Tiger tanks in the European Theatre led to tests for improving firepower to penetrate the thicker armour of these new foes. The American tests weren't as successful as the British forays into heavy armament, and it was the redesign and installation of the Ordnance QF 17-pounder gun in a standard turret that resulted in the Firefly, lead by W.G.K. Kilbourn, a Vickers engineer, that succeeded in adding the gun to the Sherman. It was capable of knocking out a Panther and Tiger at combat ranges from then on. 


Although the Firefly concept was initially rejected, it was pushed ahead and the improved Shermans started reaching the front just in time for the work-up before D-Day where it accredited itself well. To hide the extra firepower the length of the barrel was sometimes disguised by adding a wavy camouflage to the underside in the hope the enemy would confuse it with the weaker 75mm gun and be less cautious. By war's end around 2,000 Fireflys had been produced, and had been used effectively as part of the larger Sherman force, evolving new tactics to protect the valuable Fireflies while making good use of their heavy hitting power. Tanks with 17-pounder guns were usually known as "1C", "1C Hybrid", or "VC", depending on the basic mark of the vehicle. The "C" indicated fitment of the 17 Pounder Gun. The Firefly nickname is said to be a response to the bright flash of the gun firing. 





The Kit

This is a new tool from Airfix and is 1.72 unlike some other small scale armour kits which were 1/76 scale. As you can expect from a new tool the moulding are crisp and clean, the plastic also seems to be a bit harder than some of the modern aircraft kits. In a departure from previous kits the rubber band tracks have gone. In this boxing both link and length tracks and single part tracks moulded with the wheels/bogies are included, it would seem Airfix are also going to release a "Simplified" version of this kit with only the single part tracks/wheels included. The first thing to do when starting construction is to select which track types you want and follow the instruction steps for that one. 




The main lower hull is the first step in construction. the two sides attach to the base and the front and rear parts go on. In addition at the rear the exhaust shroud goes on. Then at the front the drive housings go on. If you have elected for the simplified tracks these can now be added. If you are going for the full works then three sets of bogies for each side need to be built up, along with the drive sprockets and return rollers are added. The lenghts of track can then be added. 




We then move onto the upper hull. Some holes first need to be made and then the rear bulkhead with mud guards attached is added. Additional parts and tools can then be added to the upper hull . A cross beam is added to the front plate which was commonly used to store extra spares and equipment on.  Jerry cans and extra ammo boxes are supplied in the kit for use in this area, or any where else the modeller wishes to use them. Additional track, and road wheels are also provided if the modeller wishes to add them to the hull in the form of spare links, and/or extra armour. 




Next up its the turret containing that all important 17 pounder gun. The mantlet is first added to the turret followed by the single part barrel. With careful gluing of the parts the gun will elevate. Only one half of the muzzle brake is moulded onto the barrel, with the other half needing to be added. The base is then added to the turret, and on top the large hatch and aerial mount is added. A side hatch complete the turret and it can be added to the vehicle. 







The small sheet from Cartograf (no no issues there) provides markings for two tanks;


  • "BELVEDERE" Staffordshire Yeomanry, 27th Armoured Brigade, Operation Goodwood, Normandy June 1944
  • "12" 3 Troop, A Sqn, Northamptonshire Yeomanry, Normandy 1944







As well as Airfix's drive into 1/35 scale armour it is good to see them sticking with their roots and producing new kits for the small scale armour modeller. The kit looks really good in the box and their should be an appeal to the younger modeller with the simplified track details, or even a market for war gamers?  Highly recommended. 




Review sample courtesy of 




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Having worked on other 1/76, 1/75 and 1/72 kits, the answer is definitely Yes.  in many cases it can be seen by the eye just looking at the different parts still in their boxes.  (Though the sizes of the relevant boxes tends to be a give-away,)  if you are familiar with the types being modelled then the scales can be distinguished even in stand-alone kits.  I must admit to adding 1/72 trucks to my predominantly 1/76 "army" because of the (then) lack of truck kits but even then the difference can be seen.  I recall fitting a 1/76 office body to a 1/72 ESCI truck, but ended up with a gap between truck and cab, which was used to provide a housing for a spare wheel - very non-prototypical I'm afraid but it hid the  problem.  I also have form in attempting to cut down an ESCI Hummel to an unarmed ammunition carrier, but the best I could do was something around 1/74...  if you care about not mixing scales, stick to either 1/72 or 1/76.  Fortunately resin producers such as Millicast have a sufficiently wide range of options now in 1/76 to cover all but the most niche of tastes (which sadly seems to include Russian and Japanese), but there's still a shortage of British types in 1/72, although this is getting much better. 


When you get down to smaller detail it may be possible to cross-kit parts: for example the one flaw (to me) in the Matchbox Firefly is that the wheels are too small, so you might be able to take spare wheels from the Airfix kit to improve them.  However I haven't tried that, and Millicast 1/76 GMC truck wheels definitely didn't look right on the 1/72 Heller/Airfix kit.

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6 minutes ago, Mick4350 said:

I thought my all Firefly tanks did not have a hull mounted machine gun, but Airfix have added one anyway.

On the real vehicles the bow MG opening was still there but plugged with a armour plate welded across the opening, as the bow gunners position was used for ammo storage. I think on the sprue next to the decal sheet part #2 is the plug. Also there appears to be no machine gun or ball mount supplied. Maybe Airfix molded it this way so the hull could be used for other variants ? DD or Flail anyone.



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5 minutes ago, Hoppy said:

On the real vehicles the bow MG opening was still there but plugged with a armour plate welded across the opening, as the bow gunners position was used for ammo storage. I think on the sprue next to the decal sheet part #2 is the plug. Also there appears to be no machine gun or ball mount supplied. Maybe Airfix molded it this way so the hull could be used for other variants ? DD or Flail anyone.



The hull machine gun is shown on the box art and appears to be on sprue " B " part #17.

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