But one thing is for sure, just as Tasca produced a stunning model of the Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.L “Luchs” (kit #35001, 35006) so they have with this kit of the Sherman Firefly VC.
The kit consists of 232 parts in dark olive drab plastic, 7 in clear plastic with a further 55 finely etched parts plus a set of vinyl T62 track, poly caps for the suspension and of course the decal and instruction sheets.
The level of detail on the parts is outstanding with subtle cast texturing and casting numbers on many parts plus nicely engraved and raised detail but there are a few pin marks here and there as a consequence and some of the parts are very fine requiring care when removing from the sprue and in fitting.
There are also numerous options provided including alternate hull machine gun plugs, alternate position barrel travel lock, two style of muzzle brake and turret armoured radio box as well as alternate road wheels and drive sprockets.
Dimensionally the kit measures out perfectly in most areas against the
1:35 plans in the Mark Hayward Sherman
Firefly Book, the Armor Photogallery Sherman
VC Firefly book and scaled up 1:48 plans in Hunnicutt’s Sherman book
with any discrepancies being well within acceptable limits.
This consists of individual panels for the floor, side and rear panels plus the sponson covers and an internal engine firewall bulkhead that has access panels included in case anyone wants to add and engine at any time.
As with any multi-part hull the fit here determines how the rest of the kit goes together and the fit of these parts is superb with the engine bulkhead ensuring everything lines up correctly. There were no gaps or panel movement anywhere and the assembled hull tub is perfectly square so forget any trimming or filling.
The real hull panel is extensively detailed with separate engine inspection hatches, very detailed idler mountings in two parts plus the idler axles, the smoke generators made up of two plastic and three etched parts plus the large leaf spring mounted towing hook with separate mounting brackets that match photos exactly. The leaf springs are cleanly moulded with the seam along the edges so you don’t have to worry about the usual centre mould seam which can compromise the detail.
The lower towing shackles are included plus other smaller fittings peculiar to the Firefly as well as the upper mesh intake screen being provided as an etched part which is quite outstanding seeing as this is very difficult to see after assembly but does show the attention to detail in the kit.
At the front is the separate early bolted transmission cover with the bolted flanges in two pairs of two part flanges with allows for excellent bolt head details to be included as well as the distinct join seam between the two flanges as seen on the real thing. But be sparing with the glue so you don’t go filling the seams as they should be there.
The transmission cover has subtle cast texturing as well as foundry casting numbers with the top and bottom bolted strips as separate parts for good definition.
The side final drive housings are separate parts with the front hull side extensions included and these are hollowed out with bolt holes around the opening and rear hull mounting strip for any one wanting to depict the final drive covers separate in a diorama but you will have the scratch the drive gears yourself.
The outer final drive covers feature the correctly detailed axle hubs with the fit being very good to the final drive housings. The fit of the housings to the transmission cover is also very good but there is a small join seam around the housing that will need attention and care will be needed not to damage the casting numbers and cast texture while doing this.
The fit of the assembled front transmission to the hull tub is again superb without any trimming or filler needed and don’t be concerned with what looks like a bit of a gap at the side join of the top bolted strip and the hull as this will be fully covered when the hull top is added later.
The sponson covers also include the small circular access cover on the rear undersides which is common to all Sherman based vehicles and the side panels include the mounting plates for the suspension bogies while the hull undersides has the correct engine panels for the multi-bank A57 engined M4A4 and suspension cross members.
The suspension which was previously released as set #35-007 has the early VVSS bogies with straight roller arm and raised roller supports and two sets of road wheels, open spoke and solid spoke pressed dish with rear inserts for complete wheels. There is also a choice of separate track skids (not applicable here) with the early revised skid and final skid type which are moulded quite thin and include the retaining bolts, well three of them as the inner front bolt is missing probably due to moulding constraints but is easily added.
There are three types of drive sprockets included with the Revised Fancy Smooth, Fancy Smooth variation, and later Simple Plate sprocket with two types of idlers wheels, the open spoke and solid spoke pressed which also have rear inserts.
Also included is the final drive housing plates and drive sprocket axles as mentioned above with the drive sprockets attached by the poly caps trapped between the sprockets halves.
The detail on the road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets is excellent with fine crisp details that include the grease plug and relief valve on all the road wheels and idlers with fine bolt head details on the inside of the drive sprockets. The bogie units don’t have any noticeable cast texture but there are fine casting numbers included which can vary in position depending on manufacturer and period and they also include the three bolts on the bottom of both bogie units.
The actual solid spoke wheels feature twelve small rivets around the insides of the rims and these are provided moulded onto the sprues which you have to cut off and position around the wheel rims yourself. This is quite a delicate job that will need a very sharp blade to carefully slice off the rivets and then patience and care to position each with a small dab of liquid cement around the rims.
Only enough rivets are provided for the outside wheels of each bogie unit but it would be difficult to see them on the inside wheels anyway and given the amount of work to add them this will probably save you from going completely blind after doing the outside wheels.
The bogies fully articulate after assembly due to the separate lower suspension arms that trap the road wheels between them and are then in turn trapped between the inner and outer bogie halves. The upper suspension arm is in one piece as are the volute springs with three small sections of rubber sheet you cut from the larger sheet provided being added to the top of the volute springs that give the ‘spring’ when the suspension is depressed.
The separate track skids allow you to fully eliminate the join seam between the two bogie halves, but this was much smaller that on a lot of other kit bogies and won’t take much to deal with but you will have the drill the four bolt holes on the front of the bogie units as with all other kit bogies.
There were no traps while assembling the bogies but it did help to lightly glue the rubber pads to the insides of the inner bogie unit to keep them in place (I used white glue) while fitting the lower suspension arm/road assemblies and outer bogie half. The design on the bogies and suspension arms allows both wheels to be depressed at the same time and not just rock back and forth as with most other suspension sets included the separate AFV Club set.
The fit of the bogies to the hull is as you would expect very precise without any movement of the bogies for easy assembly.
This is the T62 type track which is one of the most widely seen on Fireflys and comes in 4 sections of a vinyl type material that has very good track pad details included with the end connectors in the correct place and even small gaps between the links. The track sections glue together with normal plastic cement and are quite flexible, easily conforming around the drive sprockets for perfectly adequate tracks for your Firefly.
The M4A4 hull has solid cast driver’s hoods with the periscopes moulded in the closed position and has the correct weld seam locations but some are a little understated in places such as the front of the side panels and a little enhancement may be needed here and there. The weld seams around the ventilator guards and rear fuel fillers could also be enhanced and the small drain holes drilled out with the locations of these included so you know where to drill the holes if you wish.
The raised weld seams on the hull top better represent the flowing texture of the actual Sherman welds than on other kits but could be a little wider for best effect, but that is getting picky. You should also add weld seams at the angled joins either side of the turret ring as these are not present.
The hull has openings for the crew hatches, turret ring which features attachment bolt detail around the ring, the full engine deck and open grouser box covers plus separate fuel filler caps, ventilator and other smaller details.
The rear hull panel is also a separate part that fits perfectly to the hull and under the hull overhang is the air outlet grill and two exhaust outlets that again nicely detail this hard to see area with the typical storage box added but the box mountings could be detailed a little for a better look.
The engine deck is broken into three sections with the forward section having the radiator grills and distinctive radiator bulge with a separate radiator cap as well as fine casting numbers on the bulge which are all nicely represented. The other two panels are fairly plain but you have to open up some locating holes depending if you are mounting the barrel travel lock in the early central position or the later left offset position as well as for the sledge hammer located on the rear panel. The travel lock itself is a very finely moulded part with the clip in the open position and really does look the part.
Fitting the panels to the hull is trouble free as the fit is again perfect without the need for any trimming.
The separate grouser covers are fully hollow with etched front mesh screens and looks very good when attached and the taillights feature the different configuration left and right so make sure you fit the lights on the correct side.
The two fuel filler guards either side of the engine deck correctly meet up with the turret splash guard, something most other Sherman kits get wrong and there is also the additional small armour panel welded to the rear side of the turret splash guard.
Also included are plastic or etched bush guards for both the front and rear lights to give you a choice but the etched guards do look better. To help bend them to shape there is an unidentified jig included on sprue C that you can use, it’s the funny looking part located between parts C5 and C8 on the sprue.
Moving to the front are the two nicely detailed small crew hatches that have separate parts for the periscopes which are in both normal green and clear plastic but there are a couple of pin marks to be removed plus separate periscope covers and there is also a very small hatch spring that requires care when fitting. On the inside of the hatch is a separate head pad that neatly covers the large pin mark present and the fit of the hatches to the hull is again spot on and very snug. One small omission with the hatches are the two outer grab handles, there are small locating holes on the hatches but the handles themselves are not included although it is very easy to make these from thin wire and attach to the locating holes.
On the glacis is the small central bracket in etched metal and fine plastic parts for the spare track brackets plus head lights with separate clear plastic lenses and the plastic or etched bush guards as mentioned as well as alternate style armoured machine gun plug which can be used depending on the vehicle being modelled.
All the tools are finely moulded with the tool brackets included with very small locating holes on the hull to show their location as well as the two rear mounted fire extinguishers.
Also included is a full suite of appliqué armour panels for the hull sides and driver’s hoods and you should check your references to see if these are applicable to the vehicle you are building as not all Fireflys had these fitted.
There is also the boathouse fillings that consist of two large brackets at the front and smaller brackets along the hull sides for the purpose of attaching a large cover to disguise the tank as a lorry but this was rarely fitted in serve and only a few vehicles just after D-Day are seen with the fittings but there are few well known Fireflys with these still attached so again check you references on this.
And finally there is a full sand shield suite included made up of three sections
per side but again these are rarely fitted on active service and there is
also etched fender attachments brackets to use without the fenders attached
as well as small front fenders which have bevelled edges for a nice thin appearance
and the inclusion of the alternate fenders is another nice choice in the kit.
The typical Firefly low bustle turret has the upper shell in one piece with separate lower turret ring and features the cut-out at the back for the armoured radio box which is provided as two options giving the most common types seen. One has the sides overlapping the rear panel and the other has the rear panel overlapping the sides with different type top panel layout. This is another nice option but you can only use one or other of the boxes as they use a common bottom plate unless you scratch another plate from plastic card which wouldn’t be hard as it is a simply rectangle shape.
The fit of the box parts and the fit to the turret are again spot on without the need for any trimming while the join between the two turret halves is quite good but will need a little attention to eliminate entirely but shouldn’t be a problem as there is no surrounding detail to worry about.
The turret has a separate pistol port door with internal support arm if shown open but these were welded shut on some vehicles and eliminated from the turret casting on later production vehicles. There is a small moulding seam around the port that will need to be removed but this again shouldn’t pose any problems.
Both the Commander’s hatch ring and hatches are separate parts as is the distinctive Firelfy Loader’s hatch and the hatch ring has excellent details including small casting numbers and inside rim padding.
The Commander’s split hatch has a separate periscope again in green or clear plastic plus separate latch and grab handles and head padding on one side that covers the pin mark present but there are a couple of small pin marks on the other hatch that are easy to remove.
The loader’s hatch has separate inside padding that again covers the pin marks and the support arm is a separate part with all hatches fitting perfectly in place if showing them closed and the two turret front periscopes are also in green or clear plastic with separate covers with all periscopes also having etched guards provided that are quite thin but easily bent to shape. There are the separate lifting eyes and Commander’s vane sights on the front right corner which are very finely moulded and will require care in handling.
At the pointy end the 17pdr barrel is split in two lengthwise in the conventional manner but the fit is very good leaving just a fine join seam to contend with and the barrel when compared to the 1:35 plans in the Mark Hayward Sherman Firefly book and the Armor Photogallery Sherman VC Firefly book measures 1.5mm longer but matches the scaled up 1:48 plans in the Hunnicutt Sherman book perfectly with the muzzle brake size matching all plans within a fraction of millimetres. There is a choice of two muzzle brakes, the more common style with round holes and the alternate style with square holes and both are in two halves that included the flange in the centre of the muzzle brakes.
Updated December 17, 2006:
Thanks to Peter Brown, I have the exact Ordnance drawing dimensions and measurments of the actual 17pdr barrel barrel which are, the tapered section as it comes out of the mantlet is 11 inches (27.94cm) along the tapered edge and the barrel from the front of the tapered section to the back of the muzzle brake is 110.625 inches (280.1cm). This equals in 1:35 scale 7.98mm and 80.02mm respectively and the Tasca barrel shows the two measurements to be 7.5mm and 80.0mm respectively give a take a fraction of a millimetre making it as spot on as you could get with any discrepancy being under 0.5mm.
This also indicates the Hunnicutt plans are correct and the others slightly out as far as the barrel length goes.
Only very minor cleanup is required of the join seams and there is a very small notch in the neck of the muzzle brake to align to the barrel end ensuring the holes are in the correct position when the barrel is attached to the gun mounting but take care as this is very small and may be missed.
The basic inner gun mounting is attached to the back of the turret gun shield with two brackets that trap a pair of poly caps allowing gun elevation and attached to the mounting is a full .30cal co-axial machine which is the only interior offered apart from a basic ‘seat’ to stand the Commander figure on.
On the right side of the gun shield is the foundry casting numbers which are nicely done but there is a moulding seam around the numbers that has to be carefully removed taking care not to damage the raised numbers but shouldn’t pose any problems. If you want to get really picky there should be two flush screws on the top of the gun shield which are not present but the Formations turret is only one I have seen with these screws included.
The gun mantlet then attaches to the gun mounting and the gun fed through the mantlet into the mounting for a very snug assembly and the detail on the mantlet is very good with nicely done flush screw heads.
The Firefly turret has eight small tie downs on the left side and these are provided as small etched parts to add to the small indentations on the turret side marking their locations. But these are a little too far forward and should be moved a little further back on the turret wall but being separate this is easy to do and with a little care shouldn’t be a problem.
Other details include the aerial mount which is moulded extremely thin and the optional searchlight on the roof which has a separate clear lens as well as the optional appliqué armour panel for the right side if applicable.
The decal sheet is nicely printed with carrier film close to the printed image to help reduce silvering with markings for 4 Fireflys included on the sheet.
- A Squadron, 24th Lancers, 8th Armoured Brig. June 1944, Normandy. This unit was disbanded in July 1944.
- "BELVEDERE" B Squadron, Staffordshire Yeomanry, 27th Armoured Brig., July 1944 Normandy.
- 1st Squadron, 2nd Armoured Regt, 10th Armoured Cavalry. Brig., Polish 1st Armoured Div. Spring 1944 U.K.
- C Squadron HQ, New Zealand 20th Armoured Regiment, 4th NZ Armoured Brigade, April 1944-45, Italy.
Also included are additional generic T numbers to allow other vehicles to be modelled based on references.
The instructions are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy to follow even though some of the text is in Japanese only the images mostly speak for themselves as this is not an overly complicated kit.
This kit would have to rate as one of the best out of the box kits yet released with well researched and executed details and a nice selection of options to allow different vehicles to be built.
As with any kit there is room for improvement and for adding details as well as a little work needed here and there but from a starting point this kit is simply outstanding in its engineering, details including and the superb fit of the parts.
The kit concentrates on the exterior apart for the co-ax machine gun and periscopes but is set up for either a partial interior in subsequent releases or to add any aftermarket interior that may come.
Included with the kit is a single Commander figure wearing typical tankers overalls and beret and is posed leaning on the Commander’s hatch rim. Detail on the figure uniform is very nicely done for a “kit figure” with nicely defined uniform details and fabric folds and should come up nicely with painting.
See the Sherman Subject Page for additional reviews of Sherman related kits and accessories.
of WWII (1)
|Sherman VC M4A4 Firefly
Military Ordnance Special No.19
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
to the Sherman
Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Thanks to Tasca
Modellismo Co.,Ltd. for the review set.
The kit is available from the Tasca online shop as are the other Tasca sets such as the excellent .50cal Maching gun sets A with tripod and B with vehicle mounts.