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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6568, Firefly Ic Welded Hull. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 446 styrene parts (including 39 clear), two DS100 soft styrene track lengths, one length of braided metal wire, one etched brass fret, one water-slide decal marking scheme and eight pages of instructions in 12 steps.
The least-numerous 17-pdr.-armed Firefly was the Sherman Ic, based on the M4 welded hull with 56-degree glacis and cast drivers hoods. DML has taken the turret from their recent composite-hull Sherman Ic kit, married it to their Normandy M4 kit and added some new parts to make up this version. Aside from some detail items, there is a new stowage box peculiar to this version (more about that below) and new decals. Not letting things lay, DML has also included a British-style commanders cupola that provided for all-around vision with a total of eight periscopes mounted around the rim. All of the parts for this item come on one clear sprue; this is in addition to the original clear sprue that contains head-lamps, the remaining periscopes and other items.
These are composed of two lengths DS100 material, molded in soft styrene, which can be fixed together using standard styrene cement. They represent rubber chevron types and the detail is typical of tracks molded in this fashion: crisp and accurate. DMLs use of a slide-mold allows for particularly well-rendered end-connector detail. The modeler is advised to ensure that the idler wheel axle (a separate part) is doing its job, so the tracks are properly tensioned, before fixing it in place. The modeler must slightly modify parts C6 and C7 (remove the small square tab) so that the axles can be adjusted. Many modelers have reported fit problems regarding the length of the tracks, so shortening the runs by one or two links may be necessary.
The kits VVSS suspension system is the mid version, consisting of the heavy-duty type D47527 bogie trucks with the straight support roller bracket, C100334; the rollers are raised by a pillow block. The track skids are separate and have a fairly thin profile; four mounting bolts should be added. Enough bolts are given in the kit on the adjacent sprues, but these are neither numbered nor are they called out in the instructions. The return roller brackets also need some bolts added but these must be sourced elsewhere.
The main units are detailed with casting texture and seams as well as foundry numbers; they only need four small holes drilled on their forward faces to be as complete as can be. There are two styles of road-wheels given: D85163 stamped with six spokes and D38501 welded with five spokes. The stamped wheels have separate backs and both styles feature properly-placed grease nipples and relief valves. The drive sprockets are provided in three styles: two open type and one smooth type. The idler wheels are also given in two styles: stamped with six spokes and welded with six spokes. Because of the sprue layouts, there are also bogie trucks included that have the up-swept return roller arms. These will come in handy for the ever-expanding spares bin.
The lower hull is provided as a single part and depicts the welded type. It features proper rivet, panel and rib details on the belly plate. The hull sides also receive separate mounting and adapter plates for the VVSS brackets, as well as the mounts for the idler wheels. The hull side walls are devoid of any other detail, so the column of bolts typically seen up front just aft of the transmission/final drive housing will need to be added.
Although there are two cast transmission/final drive housings in the box, only one is for use. It is the one-piece cast type with the pointed beak. This is a recently-tooled item featuring separate side walls with properly-sized final drive housings as well as flange and bolt details molded in place. The upper bolt strip where it meets the glacis plate is a separate part. It also features foundry numbers and symbols, as well as a nice cast texture. All it needs are drain plugs in the proper places below.
There is a choice of two rear hull plates as well as two styles of separate engine compartment access doors. Other items such as separate grab handles for the access doors and the usual tow shackles and their mounts are given; a British-style trailer hitch and mount is provided if the modeler wishes to add this common up-grade. There are two types of multi-part carburetor air cleaners. One represents the square type, which is embellished with etched brass parts. The second is a round style, and is new for this kit.
This features a typical M4 welded type of rear end with a segmented, welded/cast bow. The drivers hoods represent the cast D77160A and D77160B configuration quite well and have very nice texture and weld beads. The remainder of the bow features weld beads delineating the separate panels, mounts for head-lamps, antenna pot and machine-gun blister. Up on top are the pair of mushroom vent covers, various splash plates, tow cable clips and weld beads; all of these details are well and crisply-rendered.
This kit is provided with a full array of hull appliqué armor plates for the hull side walls and the drivers hoods. They feature fine weld bead detail and the proper configuration for this type. It should be noted that the side plates have weld bead details on all four of their edges; as I understand it, the lower edge was welded in some instances and not in others, so this detail can be eliminated if not needed.
The drivers and radio operators hatch lids each have separate grab handles, periscope heads, covers and rotating plates; the scope heads come as clear styrene items and they can be shown opened or closed. Delicately-molded brush guards are provided for the periscope heads. Separate clear styrene head-lamps are provided; can be protected optional by etched brass or styrene brush-guards. The usual lifting hooks are also provided, as is a horn with an etched brass brush-guard, and the peculiar angle iron piece seen on the center of the glacis plate (also in etched brass). The front fenders are made from etched brass parts for maximum scale fidelity.
There are no sand shields included in the box, but there are etched brass mounting strips provided for the lower edge of the upper hull/superstructure.
Separate filler caps are fitted to three locations on the main superstructure molding, with another two going on the engine air inlet plate. That plate has a separate air inlet cover, which is complimented on the inside by etched brass screening. A separate rear engine bay access hatch lid is also provided, as is the final section of the roof plate. All tools are separate and are delicately molded; they include straps made from etched brass. It should be noted that there are no visible locator holes for the tools; they are inside and must be opened up when needed. This feature will save time for the modeler who may opt to use after-market tools and brackets. Separate fuel tank vent/grouser box covers are given along with their attendant etched brass screens. Lift rings are given, and the tail-lamps are based on clear styrene parts. Piping and exhaust fish-tails, which are open at their ends, complete the rear deck. The final item is a tow cable made of styrene end-loops, braided metal wire and etched brass retainer parts.
Since this tank mounted the 17-pdr. main gun, a styrene and etched brass gun crutch is fitted at an angle on the rear deck. Care in assembly will allow this to be movable. Also unique to this kit is a stowage box; it is based on a slide-mold and has a separate lid; it fits on the rear plate of the upper hull much like the stowage bin on a Panther.
The turret is a low bustle type. The roof has been modified to fit the square British-designed loaders hatch, and also includes an opening for the 2-inch smoke mortar. The turrets upper shell comes from a slide-mold; some work will be needed to remove a mold seam where the pistol port is, with texture then added to the area. There is a separate pistol port hatch lid with a separate hold-open latch. The basic details for the turret are molded in place, including the opening for the antenna base mounting plates and mushroom vent cover. The turret has a nice cast texture, but there are no foundry numbers or symbols present. The lower part comprises the turret ring.
The new mantlet and rotor shield are both very well-textured and the mantlet features foundry casting number details. The co-axial .30 cal. Browning is slide-molded with pre-drilled bore and proper cooling jacket details. It is part B-34 and is nowhere to be seen in the instructions. Fit it in the port-side opening using references and move on. The 17-pdr. main gun is a two-part affair: the main part consists of the complete gun tube with one half of the muzzle brake molded in place, while a second half for the muzzle brake completes the assembly. It compares well with scale drawings and photos, but it appears that the 17-pdr. gun tube may sit too deeply in the mantle.
The commanders high-profile split-hatch cupola is made up of a total of 11 parts to include: separate split hatch-lids, a clear periscope head, separate cover, rotator plate and finely-rendered brush guard. Various levers, handles, latches, and machine-gun barrel rest complete the assembly. As mentioned in the intro, the British vision cupola is provided as an option. Three parts make up the ring, and the lids are separate parts that are embellished with several separate etched brass and styrene detail parts.
Separate turret lift rings and various fittings to stow the .50 cal M2 machine gun are given. The gunners sight has a separate base and cover and a clear part for the periscope. Fine styrene brush-guards are given for the loaders periscope, which is composed of multiple parts like that which is fitted to the commanders cupola hatch lid. A commanders vane sight is a single, delicately-molded styrene part, while the blade sight is made up of a pair of etched brass parts.
The British-designed loaders hatch features a separate multi-part styrene and etched brass lid, and is complimented by a four-part, etched brass rest bracket for the hatch lid, when in the open position. Separate detail parts are given for the turret to include proper British-style radio antennae bases for the Number 9 set; these are made from styrene and etched brass parts. No rod antennae or instructions for creating them are provided.
The turrets rear has the armored box for the radio set as a separate, multi-part assembly. It is the configuration that has three round vent covers on the top plate. It needs weld detail added where it attaches to the turret.
A very well-done .50 cal. M2 heavy machine-gun is provided. It is based on a slide-molded barrel and receiver core, which features internal receiver group detail, properly perforated and fluted barrel cooling jacket and opened bore. A separate receiver cover, hand-grips and cocking lever complete the core assembly. The gun tube also features a barrel changing/ carry handle molded in place. Early and later pintle and ammo box configurations are provided. One features the smaller 50-round ammo box in a multi-part etched brass and styrene assembly; it has an earlier pintle without the counterbalance spring. The second type features the 100-round ammo box and pintle with counterbalance spring.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Overall, there should be no problems with the fit of any major or minor component, based on my experience with previous DML kits with these parts. Again, it should be noted that the tracks may present a problem. No sink marks were found, and there were no visible ejector pin marks.
Accuracy and Details.
Based on the cited references, I have no completely reliable 1/35th-scale plans to compare the kit parts to. The relatively few photographs available indicate the kit is accurate from a visual standpoint. The photos can be seen in the following locations:
Ref.2, page 11.
Ref.3, page 81.
Ref.4, 12 photos beginning on page 58.
Ref.5, page 115; page 92 features British cupola.
Any other issues have been addressed above.
These are well-drawn and rather easy to follow.
Decals and Markings Information.
Cartograf has supplied its usual fin product. The designs are crisp, finely-detailed, in register and feature thin, matte, closely-cropped carrier film. Markings for one Polish vehicle are provided. They depict a tank from the 2nd Armored Regiment of the 1st Polish Armored Division, as supposedly seen in Normandy in 1944.
This is the least-produced version of the Firefly and because of that, photos are slim on the ground and not much in the way of markings are available. In particular, the use of the British cupola was exceedingly rare and only one extant photo bears that out. Nevertheless, this is a good variation to kit and it certainly fills a gap in the Firefly story.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included, but were not limited to:
1. Sherman: A History of the US Medium Tank; Taurus, by R.P. Hunnicutt.
2. Sherman Firefly; Osprey New Vanguard No.141, by D. Fletcher & T. Bryan.
3. Sherman Firefly; Barbarossa Books, by M. Hayward.
4. Tanks (of the) Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade, 1943-45; Capricorn Publications, no author listed.
5. Pulk 4.Pancerny Skorpion; Pegaz-Bis, by Z. Lalek.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been writing books for Concord Publications, a sister company of DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.