My models, Converted Tamiya M4 to IC and a conversion of the basic Dragon Sherman V to VC standards (I could not get a VC kit at the time), then a conversion of the Tamiya M4 with an Italeri hull front and AA rockets to IC Hybrid standard.
Below; how not to do it. This is a VC I made about 15 years ago using an MP Models hull, a Verlinden turret and Tamiya parts. I knew a fraction then what I now know and the model is not very accurate. In fact I still thought then that a Firefly had to be a VC, but the photo this was based on was in fact an IC! - Dooo! For all that it's still a pleasing model and an interesting project at the time.The base is an Italeri building part over brick rubble on a picture frame. The figures are Esci and Airfix combinations.
Dragon make an acceptable M4A4 Sherman VC, and an IC Hybrid (with an accurate if badly textured hull). The latter contains both turret types and parts to make a Pacific theatre flame thrower Hybrid of the US Marines. Both need work, but are the easiest option around at the moment. All kits contain lots of spares and very realistic (if hard to build track). A basic 75mm M4A4 and a Guards Armoured Division example with 60 lb RAF rockets has also been issued. Otherwise MP Models (now defunct) made an M4A4 hull, M4 hull and a Firefly turret, that you may still find around. Verlinden make a resin M4A4 hull, M4A1 hull, M4 Composite hull and a good Firefly turret. ADV also made a Firefly turret some years back. The best conversions are made by CMD (Chesapeake Model Designs) and they produce a good M4 Composite hull (CMD-07) and Firefly turret (CMD-04). The turret includes all the parts you need for a C conversion and a great decal sheet with the same Polish IC example as on the Dragon and Revell/Matchbox sheets. Tank Workshop also offer some excellent conversions, that come recommended by published writers. Castoff Models turrets were mastered by Phil Greenwood and are in my opinion excellent. They make two accurate Firefly turrets and hull parts to convert Tamiya's M4 kit. Etched detail sets are made by Eduard, Airwaves, On the Mark, Aber and Top Brass and others. Tamiya's Sherman range now includes an early/mid production M4 and 47 degree hull M4A3, which contains a good high bustle 75mm turret needed for some Hybrids. Italeri make a variety of Shermans (upon which Dragon's kits are based). All contain parts for combining with the resin conversion kits. Accurate Armour also make detail and correction sets for the Dragon V and VC and a British detail set for it and the Tamiya model. Cromwell Models among other's make some very nice crew figures suitable for British Shermans. Cromwell's ten man British Tank riders set can be adapted for Shermans and would look great on a Firefly. Among others, recommended firms are Ultracast, Hornet, Resicast and Wolf. Dragon and Tamiya's plastic newer British infantry (not the ancient issue!) that can be adapted to tank crew with a bit of work. The Dragon VC kit has been reissued. Some improvements have been made such as the suspension parts tree from the M4A1 kit that contains the earlier VVSS bogies. These are easier to adapt to the packed type commonly used on VC's than the basic Italeri/Tamiya late upswept parts provided in other kits. Alternative wheels can come from Accurate Armour, MR (very nice resin plain dish wheels) and Cromwell. Resicast made a resin VC (Code 35.105), but this is out of production. Jordi Rubio's turned aluminium barrel/muzzle brake is highly recommended as well, better than any plastic alternative. As an expensive option Accurate Armour make a superb 17 Pdr gun that could be used as the basis of a detailed interior in 1/35th scale.
In the smaller scales Matchbox - now Revell make a decent VC kit in 1/76th scale. This is based on Phil Dyers plans in the old Bellona Print (wrongly credited to Mr North). This kit can be found cheaply in many guises including the latest Revell issue with Australian infantry and Italian Front markings. Note that this is not correct, but the figures can be used to represent New Zealand or other Commonwealth forces.
1C - Tamiya early production M4 with Castoff Models, CMD, Tank Workshop, Verlinden or a converted Tamiya turret, modified Dragon M4A1 VVSS bogies and wheels, optional Accurate Armour tracks. Accurate Armour details.
1C - Hybrid Dragon, optional Accurate Armour tracks or a Tamiya/Italeri conversion, modified Dragon M4A1 VVSS bogies and wheels. Some later Hybrids had the later Italeri/Dragon VVSS already in the kit and the alternative high bustle turret that you get in the kit that Dragon do not mention as a C option. Accurate Armour details.VC - Revised Dragon VC Firefly. Mr D P Dyers October 1995 Military Modelling article showed how to improve the first issue of this kit. Much of that will still applies to the revised kit. Accurate Armour corrections and details.
M4A3W 17 Pounder - Tamiya M4A3 kit - old or new issue with Castoff Models or simlar turrets. Or Italeri M4A3 hull kits with new turret,
M4A3 dry stowage 17 Pounder - Tamiya M4 kit with M4A3 engine deck and turrets as above.
M4A3 17 pounder wet stowage, HVS. This did exist according to Steve Zaloga. If so model it using Dragon M4A3 kits with an after market (Cast-Off etc) or Dragon Firefly turret.
In all cases add etched steel or brass sets to taste, budget and skills.
MMS make two excellent Fireflies - an ICH and recently an IC. Both are very nice using MMS's standard Sherman hull. They are solid and decent models that can be simply knocked up as war games pieces or turned into amazing replicas by the dedicated model maker. MMS also make other Shermans (regrettably not an M4A4 or M4A6 yet) such as the basic M4 Hybrid that includes the late pattern high bustle turret. Swap parts this around with the IC kit and you can make a very nice late Firefly without wasting parts as the original Firefly turret can easily be converted back into a standard 75mm gun version. Kit number IR-13 represents the 17-pdr Firefly Mk IC. MMS have just released a long awaited Sherman variant the Sherman IC rolled hull version. This is the first time to my knowledge that this type of Firefly has been made available in any scale (oh Mr Tamiya how about it in 1/35th please!). The kit uses MMS's standard Sherman lower hull, with T48 rubber block track. They previously released a Hybrid Firefly and this kit contains the turret and detail parts from that kit plus the new M4 hull top. The model is well cast and at last in this scale we have a decent M4, which will lend itself to many versions in British and US service. The glacis can be easily modified to any of the variations in structure by adding weld lines to represent the different forms and the differential housing can be converted to the earlier three piece version for some early Shermans as appropriate. Although based on available photographic evidence Firefly conversions had the single piece type (with its variations) only. The turret is the common low bustle turret, without thickening on the right side cheek. This can be left as it is, thickened up or covered with an appliqué patch as all three variations can be seen on Fireflies. The hull has moulded on appliqué patches and all of the Sherman I based fireflies I have seen in photos have this fitted, but that does not mean that it was universal as Firefly did not need this armour as the bins they protected (poorly it must be added) were not used for ammunition stowage in Firefly. The Firefly radio box has three square lids as per the original Bellona plans and the Matchbox VC kit, but other patterns are more likely it would seem with simple plain lids and circular covers to be seen on IC's. Problems, not really, although the VVS units don't look right due to casting limitations and the single track option in the kits is a bit boring given the variation common on Shermans. That said and done T48 rubber block is ideal for IC's, but is by no means universal. You also have to make your own hull lap gun block, but this is noted in the instructions and is not a problem as the hull fronts were often covered in stowage anyway. One annoying omission is the lack of a gun lock on the engine deck as it is fiddly to make in this scale. The simple way is to cheat and cover the deck in stowage! At £9.95 at the moment, this kit is good value compared to its competitors and Barry is yet again to be congratulated for an excellent product. I made mine as a 7th AD vehicle in the Rhineland in winter 1944/45 in a battered white wash scheme for a change from all my Khaki Green No 15 Shermans. My second MMS Sherman is their standard Hybrid kit (IR-06), with the late high bustle turret. The Hybrid is available as a Firefly (kit 953), but with the low bustle turret. I have made the basic kit before and found it a delight, but the high bustle IC Hybrids are a good looking Firefly and I wanted to add one to my small scale collection (note in 1/35th Dragon's hard to find Hybrid kit can be made into this version as you get the high bustle turret included). The conversion is simple and perhaps Barry will issue this as a kit one day. Basically add a Firefly radio box (I used one cut from a discarded Milcast kit) to the back of the turret with the lip of the box, just slightly above the top of the bustle. The oval loaders hatch was left as is and was NOT replaced by the larger hatches used on other Firefly conversions, from tanks that did not have a loaders hatch originally fitted. The gun and mantlet also need to be added and in this case also came from the Milcast kit. Alternatively you can take them from the MMS Firefly kits, converting them to standard 75mm tanks or from a Matchbox VC. As above an engine deck gun travel lock will need to be made, but the original glacis plate lock was also to be seen on some vehicles, but not it would seem for supporting the gun barrel. Other than that comments apply as per the IC review. This is an easy way to make a very common Firefly version and MMS make it easy. It certainly beats a hack of the Airfix kit and that comment applies equally to the IC kit above. One note on decals. MMS do not supply any with their kits, but Bull Models sell Fingerprint designs brilliant 1/76th scale sheet of British unit markings and these cane be used to decorate your Shermans and they come highly recommended as do their 1/35th scale sheets for 7th, 11th and guards armoured divisions.
Below is a Conjectural model of a possible US M4A3 HVS Wet stowage 17 Pdr conversion. This model is to about 1/76th using an Esci hull and turret as the base. The HVS comes from Matchbox's M40 GMC. The 17 Pdr and mantlet from Matchbox/Revell's VC Firefly, with details from MMS (MG), US cupola (Hasegawa) and stowage from Skytrex. The base is the Matchbox SdKfz 251 with a wall cast in plaster from a mould made using brick pattern plastic. The idea is to suggest the possible use of US conversions in occupation duties as suggested by the new documents. If this happened I don't know, but it gave an excuse for the little base and the authentic Nazi graffiti. I apologise to anyone offended by the Swastika, but I do not think it is appropriate to let political correctness get in the way of historical accuracy. The abomination to humanity that was Nazi Germany will not be prevented from occurring again by trying to hide its symbols and images. T66 track is more likely for this period, but I did not have any around in this scale. Note the .50 HMG stowage brackets on the radio box, a sure way of identifying a US conversion if any should by some miracle survive into 2002. Keep looking everyone!