New Section, July 2004:

World War One Modelling Page. This is a new section on making models of WW1 aircraft, that may be of use. The content will be detailed model builds (as far as my skills allow!). The first build is of Eduards Rolan CII, with Pegasus Junkers CI, Roden Fokker DVII to follow. Future projects include Jacob's Fokker Dr1 in 1/28th (not for the faint hearted), Pegasus Sopwith Dolphin, Eduard Camel's, Le Rhone Camel in 1/28th, Eduard Fokker EIII, Sopwith Pup in 1/48th (based on an Eduard Triplane, with modified Roden Strutter wings).

The Fokker DVII. CLICK to go to page.

The Roland CII. CLICK to go to page.

Sherman Firefly

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To return to this page click on the Firefly header images at top and bottom of the pages

Greerrr! Image of Tamiya T Rex kit in 1/35th. Click for a larger 103kb image. Photo; Me using a Sony FD 90 Malvica digital camera.

Errata File ready

Errata file.

Latest news. Sorry for the delay in updating the site, but ill health and work have meant that I have had little time for the site. But today I am putting on an article on the A7V of WW1 to go with a build of the enw 1/72nd kit. Thank you all for your emails and a big thank you to all the nice folks I met at the various shows this summer, pluging the book.

Sherman Firefly Book Homepage

Articles, Firefly information etc, click to go to this section of the home page.

The Sherman Firefly was the most effective version of the Sherman to see action in WW2. The main problem (after the Shermans inadequate armour) was that there were never enough. The Firefly was to be honest, a wartime expedient, originally seen as impractical by officialdom. The US were working on the T23 turret with the 76mm M1 gun and their special tank destroyer vehicles. The British the Cromwell based Challenger tank destroyer. While the 75mm M3 gun was seen by both the British and the US as being adequate for the largely infantry support task for which both used tanks. The Germans knew otherwise having learned the lesson the hard way on the Eastern Front. Fortunately enough people in the British tank forces realised that enhanced firepower was required to overcome the 75mm Sherman's inequality with the latest German designs.

This website is designed to allow for feedback to the author of the new book on the Sherman Firefly, which is now in stock at the publisher; Barbarossa Books (email: barbbook@dircon.co.uk). Any one interested in the book is invited to e mail the author at the address on the email links page. Enquiries to buy the book should be directed to Barbarossa Books, who’s email link is also on that page. Alternatively the book will become available at specialist book sellers. The book consists of some one hundred original wartime photos, new scale plans, many photos of preserved Fireflies and other Shermans, unpublished information on the Firefly including production details, unit usage in both North West Europe and Italy, camouflage and combat usage. There is also a detailed model building section and kit reviews covering all the major scales. The book (of 216 pages) sells for £35.00 in the UK, net of any postage charges. I hope you like the book and it helps you in your understanding of this important tank and if you are a modeller it will help you to make a better model of it.

The Sherman Firefly was built on the M4A4 (Sherman V) and the M4 and M4 Composite (Sherman I and Sherman IH). Previous works have promoted such things as M4A1 conversions, but three years work has shown these ideas to be false. The same applies to the M4A2. This book has major new information on this and related issues.

Image of Sherman VC at Beltring Kent. Click for a larger 79kb image. Photo Mike Shackleton - also the books wonderful designer!

The Sherman VC owned by the Cadman brothers at The Hop Farm Country Park, Beltring, Paddock Wood, Kent, UK.

To give you a flavour of the book, here is part of the opening section (draft April 01, final version subject to change):

“THE CRY IS FOR MORE OF THESE TANKS

So wrote the official Royal Armoured Corps Six Monthly Progress Report in June 1944 (Public Records Office (PRO) file WO 165/135). General Alexander (in PRO file WO 204/7433, dated 29th March 1944) stated that the Firefly was a weapon that “I badly need for the successful prosecution of my campaign.” In AVIA 11/30 dated 24th May 1944 referring to Fireflies and Crocodiles, in particular for Overlord “Senior officers of the Assault Force regard these equipment’s as battle deciding weapons.” “Every one you can produce will help materially to shorten the war.” “The 17 Pr tank is most popular. The crews consider themselves a match for any German tank”, wrote Field Marshall Montgomery in a 1944 letter in file WO 165/136. These statements might be criticised given the Shermans lack of armour and other shortcomings, but they show the wartime importance attached to the tank that we know today as the “Sherman Firefly”. This book provides hitherto unpublished information from original documents at the Public Records Office Kew, UK and other sources. The photographs are taken from archives in the UK, Canada and from private sources. I hope that it presents some new angles on the Firefly and some less well known pieces of information. One point that needs to be made early is that the name “Firefly” is not included in any War Office WW2 file that I have seen, at PRO. Typically it is referred to as “Sherman 17 pr”, “17 Pdr” (with many variations) or the official designation for the 17 Pdr armament “C” is used as in Sherman IC or VC for M4 17 Pdr and M4A4 17 Pdr respectively. It does however seem to have been used at troop level for some 17 Pdr armed vehicles of various types including rearmed M10’s. A 1944 caption at the IWM for an M10C uses the name. There is also a caption for IWM photo BU5255 “A Firefly 17 Pdr Sherman Tank” taken on 4th May 1945. The caption may not, however be of the same date as the photo, as many captions have been updated over the years. Troop level usage of the name may have been quite widespread as it is common in unit war diaries after the vehicle had been with a unit for a while. In addition the name was used for an experimental 6 Pdr armed Morris armoured car, that predates the existence of the Sherman 17 Pdr.

Links to other information sections.

New Firefly material including US Fireflies and Book update page.

Page of links to great sites

Articles on other vehicles and aircraft, plus Bud the cat and model photos

Firefly model's and model photos

A tribute to hero's.

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A key point of the book is coverage of versions of the Sherman that were converted to Firefly or C standard.

PRO file; WO 165/137 contains “Policy and Progress Report, Appendix AA” dated June 1945. It states; “Project: Sherman IC/VC…These tanks are the Sherman I (M4) and Sherman V (M4A4) converted in the UK to mount the 17 Pdr gun and .3 Browning coaxially”. In this report there is no mention of other Shermans marks being converted. Hybrids can be accounted for as it was just a late M4 with a cast hull front. Operationally it made no difference to the unit, so it was probably not recorded separately. Similar statements exist in the equivalent 1943 (December) and 1944 reports (June and December) without mention of other versions. Production Fireflies on other Sherman variants have yet to be conclusively proven by photographs or documents other than as test vehicles or post war museum mock-ups. Weekly reports of tank holdings in 1945 (WO 219/3350, 3353) list only IC’s and VC’s. WO 165/136 contains an August 1944 letter from R M Weeks. It states “Not all the 75mm Shermans are capable of mounting the 17 pr gun.” Frustratingly it does not say which ones! But it is obvious that for some reason, some 75mm Shermans were unsuitable candidates for the 17 Pdr gun. As M4, M4 Hybrid and M4A4 were. The obvious ones this statement must apply to for what ever reasons are; M4A1, M4A2, M4A3 (Stop press new information on a few US M4A3 conversions has just come to light) and M4A6 for which no indisputable proof of C conversion exists.

The Firefly is still in limited use in South America with Paraguay and Argentina (most rebuilt IC and IC Hybrids with French 105mm guns and new engines). It last seems to have seen combat in the Lebanon in about 1975-6 by Christian forces during the tragic civil war.

Sherman models (UK designation) in order of numbers converted:

Firefly IC artwork from the book by our great artist; Mark Powell - who also did the scale plans. Limited numbers of an A4 landscape version of this print and the others on white stock, suitable for framing can be brought from the publisher. Please contact them for price and stock levels. I have a set up on my little flat's (apartment for non UK readers!) wall and they look very nice.

Here is a section from the book covering the Fireflies introduction into service in the spring of 1944.

The war diaries record how the tank entered service and it happened very quickly even by wartime standards. The first seem to appear in March with a definite mention when the 24th Lancers on 18th March at Lulworth, Dorset, recorded that "Three Sherman V(C) tanks of "A" and "C" Squadrons fired on the ranges (WO 171/849, noting that "V(C)" is how the name is written here and in some other files at this time), with 4th Armoured Brigade for example getting some by 6th April. Even earlier the 8th Armoured Brigade noted that "17 pdr ammunition (training) for Sherman V(C) released to Brigade"(9th March) and on 13th March an officer "attended a conference on SHERMAN V(C) firing at 7th Armoured Division." Taken from WO 171/613. At the end of March two of its Regiments; 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (also referred to in the files as the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry or SRY) had VCs for "training purposes at Tichwell and Sanctuary ranges". 3rd RTR of 11th Armoured Division used the Warcop ranges on 7th April for their 17 pdr training, noting that "some personnel" went there to "fire the 17 pdr mounted on the Sherman." Other units that we know had Fireflies by the time of their move to Normandy do not mention them at all, one example being 33rd Armoured Brigade. The number of Fireflies was certainly inadequate at first and in some cases well below the minimal desired establishment of twelve per regiment (thirty six per Brigade). For example on 1st May 3rd RTR (from WO 171/866) had four Sherman VCs (taken over from the Guards). On 29th May A Squadron had two VCs, while B and C Squadrons had three each and gained more as the month drew on, until it got the full complement ready for its move to Normandy (on about 9th June). 8th Armoured Brigade on 3rd April (from WO 171/613) reported that 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry had three each fit, 24th Lancers had seven fit, with HQ Squadron having six fit, plus two fit in twenty four hours and two not fit in twenty four hours, making a total of twenty three VCs. The 29th Armoured Brigade managed to get thirty seven by 31st May, one more than establishment and 1 RTR (7th Armoured Division) had thirteen (one more than establishment for a regiment). Deliveries were taking place right at the last minute as shown by the 29th Armoured Brigade that only got twenty four Fireflies on 28th May." Then on the 29th "units fired the new Sherman VC (Firefly) at Warcop AFV Range" (WO 171/627). Thus they must already have had a few or got another eight between the 28th and 31st of May. Given the fact that D-Day was then scheduled for June 5th, this is very short notice to bring such a complex new weapon system into use.

Close up of the VC owned by the Cadman brothers at Beltring, Kent, UK.

Image of Sherman VC at Beltring Kent. Photo Mike Shackleton.Click for larger image. 56 KB.

A sample caption from the photos:

Sherman's including at least 3 Fireflies “of the Governor Generals Horse Guards near Sonsbeck, Germany 9/3/45 ” This photo shows Shermans being used as indirect fire artillery with the Fireflies in the background. The other Shermans appear to be 75mm Sherman V’s. These tanks display the camouflage lacking on the Polish example. Detail of a photo taken by J H Smith, National Archives of Canada, PA-113682.

I hope that you find this of interest. Look out for more news about the Firefly book and future projects. I also intend to put more tank and aircraft information on to the site from material I have written for various non profit magazines over the last few years. I may even get round to doing this in a posh web design package!

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Page produced by Mark BillHayward(C)2002

Firefly book cover, click to goto larger file - 66kb.