Home > Reviews > Other > Sherman Firefly vs. Tiger Normandy 1944 (Osprey Publishing)

Sherman Firefly vs. Tiger
Normandy 1944

Reviewed by Al Bowie



SHERMAN FIREFLY vs TIGER – Normandy 1944



Media and Contents:

Soft cover; 80 pages with B&W photos and Colour Illustrations



Review Type:

First Read


An adequate potted history of the Tiger and Sherman Firefly with an in depth analysis of the Demise of Michael Wittman.


 Limited Photos of The action and none of the typical Osprey colour plates of various vehicles from the campaign




Osprey Publishing



The second in Osprey’s new DUEL range of books and one covering opponents from the Normandy Campaign in mid 1944, The British Sherman Firefly and the German Tiger 1.  The Book is similar in format to most Osprey publications but lacks the familiar centre pages of vehicle schemes etc. Instead Osprey have gone with an artists impression of the the destruction of Michael Wittman's Tiger. I’m sure this will prove controversial given the nature of its main content and the action depicted (more on this later).

The book is broken up into logical chapters and covers the following areas:

  1. Introduction
  2. Chronology
  3. Design & Development
  4. Technical Specifications
  5. The Strategic Situation
  6. The Combatants
  7. The Action
  8. Analysis of Battle
  9. The Aftermath
  10. Bibliography
  11. Index

The book, to me, is essentially based around the action at St Aignann-de-Cramesnil which saw the demise of the Legendary German Tank Commander – SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittman during the counterattack by the Waffen SS forces under the command of Kurt Meyer.


  Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

It briefly details the specifications and histories of each opponent before covering the main incident. It is supported by period photos and colour diagrams including maps of the positions etc. Unfortunately this is an area I felt disappointed with. Most of the photos were quite well known and there were errors in the captioning with a 75mm armed Sherman identified as a firefly when it can clearly be seen to have a 75mm tube fitted. The centre spread depicts as I said earlier the actual moment of the Tigers destruction from the left ¾ rear of a Firefly in the orchard on Wittmans flank. The picture depicts a 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry Firefly named “Kursk” (T 148725) and the caption indicates this firefly commanded by Lt James is engaging the Tiger of Wittman and destroying it. This is all fine until you read the actual report of the action which is covered in detail. Here in the text it credits (rightly so) the Firefly of SGT Gordon (under Command of Lt James) with the destruction of Wittman (and two other tigers). This Firefly was named “Velikye Luki” with the turret number 12.

There were a few muddled bits in the description of the action but overall I found it quite detailed and followable given the complexity of the action. A gunners sight view (artists impression) is included with commentary on what was going on in the tank obviously based on the Author's interview with the actual Gunner – Joe Ekins.

Given the controversy that has existed regarding the actual cause of Wittmans demise and the excellent and exhaustive research that has gone into the action both in the published media (extensively listed in the bibliography) and on various web Forums (such as Missing Lynx), I feel this book will cause a further series of claims and rebuttals regarding the action. Every time I have seen this debated it has gone on extensively with some who refuse to believe or admit that Wittman’s tank killing career was cut short by a lowly Sherman. For years it was claimed that he was the victim of a 2 TAF Typhoon rocket attack. This book refutes this correctly based on the excellent research of Brian Reid in his book “No Holding Back” and lays out the most probable cause of his demise.

When I first saw this book advertised I looked forward to it immensely as I am an unashamed Shermaholic and particularly those operated by the Brits. It’s release came at a time when I had been engrossed in the Falaise Battles including the ones mentioned in the text so it appealed straight away

The actual premise of the book is ambitious and I think it does a good job of what it sets out to do. It is not a definitive reference on the Firefly, Tiger 1 or the actions during the Falaise battles but given it is only 80 pages in total that is understandable.

I recommend this book to Sherman and Wittman Fans, wargamers and fans of Military history in general. If you are after a modelling reference, I don’t believe this book is for you.


Review book purchased by reviewer

Text and Images by Alistair Bowie
Page Created 23 September, 2007
Page Last Updated 17 November, 2007