|DRAGON - Firefly Ic Welded Hull|
A look at what's in Dragon's new Firefly 1c kit!
Firefly Ic Welded Hull
Manufacturer: Dragon Models
Material: Styrene & Photo-etch
Serial Number: 6568
The Firefly was originally intended as a stop-gap solution to a problem Allied tanks had with countering German vehicles with superior armour such as the Panthers and Tigers. British designs were on the drawing board, but were not envisaged to be ready for the Normandy landings. Even so, the creation of the Firefly, essentially consisting of mounting a 17 pounder gun to a Sherman tank was initially fought against by authorities. Eventually this opposition was dropped, and various design changes, such as new and repositioned recoil cylinders, repositioned breech, redesigned gun barrel and rear armoured turret bustle led to the creation of a vehicle that was ready in time for the Normandy landings and proved itself invaluable. There were three main variants of the vehicle, based upon which variant of Sherman had been used, the 1c, 1c Hybrid and VC. This kit from Dragon of the 1c has the characteristic welded angular hull, whilst the 1c hybrid had the more rounded cast hull. This one sort of completes the set for Dragon, having already produced kits of the other two m ain variants.
The kit consists of a very full box of mostly large grey sprues, and some smaller transparent ones, supplied together with two lengths of tan-coloured DS100 vinyl tracks, a wire tow rope, photo-etched fret and small decal sheet. The instructions for this one run to 8 sides, with the parts map on the front going some way to explaining the full box, in that it shows a lot of parts marked 'not for use', so lots for the spares box then!
Moulding is as you would expect from this manufacturer, i.e. top drawer, no flash, and no unfortunate ejector pin marks.
Construction begins with the assembly of the running gear and suspension bogeys onto the one-piece lower hull supplied. These are superbly detailed, as you can see from the photographs below. They even have cast numbers moulded onto them. The road wheels supplied in the kit are of both five-spoked open and six-spoked closed, and the instructions indicate a choice, so which ones you use, or mix and match are really dependent on choice or references. The box art shows a vehicle fitted with the six-spoked closed wheels. There's even a choice between the type of cast suspension bogey body to be used, with the difference being what looks like a straight or upturned return roller support arm. Again, which one to more correctly use on this version I have no idea, so references or preferences. The drive sprocket is a choice between the flat or more machined version too, with both versions being supplied in the box, and the choice being indicated on the instructions, which I suppose would mean that the use of either would be correct?
Construction then moves onto the installation of the one-piece transmission cover, having separate parts representing the drive housings, which butt fit to the lower hull. The rear wall is also fitted at this point, and although there are various version of this provided in the kit, Dragon do make a definitive statement on which one to use in this case! The two half doors fitted in the rear wall are supplied as separate parts, and there's a choice of air filters offered between square or round housings.
Transparent parts are supplied for various periscopes assemblies, photo-etched parts for various details such as front fenders, grills, light guards, straps, and brackets etc. The various appliqué armour panels are supplied as separate panels to be fixed to the hull side walls, and all the various filler caps etc, are supplied as separate parts, allowing the maximum potential to the modeller in determining how to build and ultimately display the finished model. For example, all the on vehicle tools are supplied in two versions, one with moulded straps or clamps, dependent on tool, and once version requiring the photo-etched alternative which is supplied on the PE fret. If you decide to use the version with moulded strap/clamp, you'll need to open up a slew of holes on the upper hull, all of which are indicated on the instructions. Whilst on the upper hull, the travel lock for the main gun is now redesigned and located on the rear left corner.
Construction then begins on the newly tooled turret for this vehicle. This is supplied as a slide-moulded one-piece shell as you probably expect given its shape, and exhibits a subtle cast texture. There are two types of commanders' cupola supplied in the kit, with the instructions offering a choice. On one of them the supplied .50 cal can be mounted, whilst on the other it can't. Again, references or preferences. Although there is detail provided on the inner surfaces of the hatches, there is no internal detail whatsoever provided for the turret, so if you're going to display any of the hatches opened, you'll need to obscure the inside with a crew figure.
The tracks supplied with the kit are of the vinyl one-piece type, which offer the advantage that they require little work to install, and can be cemented using normal styrene cement. They are of the T48 rubber chevron type.
Markings-wise there is only one scheme on offer, which shows a vehicle of the 2nd Armoured Regiment, 1st Armoured Division, in Normandy during 1944. Take a guess what colour it is! Alternatively....look at the box art....
It's a great kit, superbly engineered, with sensible choices included and nice finishing touches such as photo-etch etc. More marking schemes would have been nice, but then most Allied modellers will easily be able to source alternative markings if they wish them. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Dragon models for the review sample.