The US Army considered a British offer to convert some Shermans to
the 17 pdr. "Firefly" in the summer and autumn of 1944, but gave up
the project for a variety of reasons.
Following the Battle of the
Bulge and the continuing complaints of the poor anti-tank
performance of the 75mm gun, the plan was revived. A total of 80 M4
and M4A3 tanks were converted in the UK and shipped to the ETO in
April-May 1945, with 40 each allotted to US First and Ninth Armies.
Although there is a substantial amount of documentation on the
conversion program, no photos of these tanks are known to exist.
There was one photo on the cover of AFV News many years ago of a
tank yard in England with a few converted M4 with composite hulls,
but these were part of a batch of about 20 that were still in the
pipeline when the US cancellation order was issued and they were
turned over to the British Army even though built to US specs.
is no information if any of these Fireflies were issued to US units
in the ETO after arrival from the UK.
This modeling project is part of
several 76mm Shermans I have recently completed for a forthcoming
Osprey book which will follow my new "Modelling the US Army M4
(75mm) Sherman Medium Tank" which came out from Osprey in November
2006. Volume 2 will cover US 76mm tanks and will come out in late
This conversion project was an attempt to recreate the appearance of
American Fireflies, or at least one of the configurations. I chose
to convert a M4A3 with HVSS as this type was the most dissimilar to
British Fireflies. About 550 M4A3 (75mm) were built with HVSS, and
several of these were converted as part of the US 17 pdr program.
The basic kit is the Hobby Boss M4A3E8.
The new 1/48 scale Hobby Boss Sherman kits are a major
disappointment. They suffer from some significant dimensional and
detail problems, and also have a fair share of assembly problems.
This was basically a "lipstick on a pig" project: cosmetic
improvements without tacking dimensional problems such as the engine
deck and hull shape issues.
I decided to tackle the M4A3 as it is one of the better Hobby Boss
Shermans. Before starting this project, I had already converted
another Hobby Boss M4A3 (75mm) into one of the rare expedient 76mm
versions modified in the ETO by local Ordnance units in February
1945. In the process, I had corrected some of the dimensional
problems of the Hobby Boss high bustle 75mm turret such as the small
loader's hatch, shape problems on the right side of the turret and
various others glitches. Rather than repeat this process, I made a
casting of the first turret and made a resin copy for the Firefly
Many of the Firefly bits on this
model came from the Tamiya 1/48 Firefly. The barrel is from Quarter
kit. I decided to cannabalize a Tamiya Pershing to obtain a decent
commander's cupola as well as track, tools and the Browning .50 cal
machine-gun. Details of the actual conversion were based on US Army
documents from NARA describing the conversion program.