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Sherman Firefly VC Starter Set 1:72 Airfix A55003


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Sherman Firefly VC Starter Set

1:72 Airfix A55003




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 the initial boxing both link and length tracks and single part tracks moulded with the wheels/bogies were included, this is now a "Simplified" version of this kit with only the single part tracks/wheels included. A good thin for the younger modeller.  As well as paints, glue and a brush the instructions have also been re-worked to show where all the parts are on the sprues, and a small guide to tools is included in the kit. 




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. The tracks can now go on. 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 .  




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 a single tank from 1st Sqn, 2nd Armoured Regiment, 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, Polish 1st Armoured Division. 







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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I'm building the standard version of this kit with the link and length tracks, which I'm finding a bit fiddly if I'm honest - but then I've always preferred decent rubber band tracks, especially on something like a Sherman.


So, yes, it's a great idea to just have the simplified one-piece tracks in this starter set as it's a great little kit and certainly looks the part when put together. 

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