140 beautifully moulded light
grey plastic parts on six sprues, 54 PE parts on one fret, 2 DS 100
cream coloured soft track lengths, decals for 4 vehicles plus a 3 page
fold-out instruction sheet with parts plan, 8 very clear line drawing
type build instructions and 2 pages of four view paint/decal diagrams.
retail price estimated at US $13.98
Long awaited subject in this scale, highly
detailed and accurate.
A minor niggle, four decal choices and two
of them are captured
I don't think the manufacturers realized just how many Shermaholics
there are out there in Braille Land or I think they would have
offered us more Shermans long ago.
For many years we had nothing but
the increasingly hard to find Esci kits in 1/72 scale and even they
were lacking in choice. Some time ago, Italeri re-released the Esci
M4A1 but it was a bit of an oddity. There were others from Hasagawa
and Revell but they had so many shape problems that most modellers
Eduard/Extratech almost got us
there with plenty of detail and link and length tracks but still had
a few shape problems and some of the detail was soft.
Enter The Dragon. About twelve to eighteen months ago, Dragon
released their first Braille Sherman. Wow! You didn't have to read a
magazine or go on the Web, just go outside your home and you could
hear the screams of delight. Well, almost. Trumpeter has also come
out with some Braille Shermans but, Trumpeter being Trumpeter, they
are a bit hit and miss. Some are quite good but others, particularly
the M4, are not so good and none of them matches the level of detail
of the Dragon kits. Recently, UM released their first Sherman and,
although perhaps not as good as Dragon, it is encouraging. Mirage
from Poland has also promised us some but theirs may be some years
As good as the first few Dragon Shermans were, they still had some
small niggling faults but most of us were willing to overlook them.
The worst of these was the swing arms that pivot from the suspension
bogeys. About half the width of the swing-arm hung below the bogey
immediately under their axles. Even the box-art, let alone photos
showed, this to be wrong. Most of us just said “who cares” as we
were so thrilled to have good Shermans at last and it wasn't very
hard to fix anyhow.
The Firefly was about the fourth or fifth Sherman to be released and
on opening the box I was delighted to find that Dragon had fixed the
bogeys. I had never heard of a model manufacturer doing this before
although since them UM has done a similar thing with their Hetzer's
So, what do you get for your hard earned? Of the 140 plastic parts,
31 are to go to the spares box because three of the four main sprues
are from other Sherman kits. Oh, I should mention here that there
are only really four sprues because the upper and lower hull parts
are separately bagged. The “A” sprue contains all the Firefly
specific parts but there are still five of them that are not for use
here. A bit odd, that. The next sprue is not marked, I think because
it is actually half of the “A” sprue. It's just general Sherman
parts and only two are not for use. Most of the parts to go into the
spares box are on sprue “B”, in fact of the 37 parts you only use 16
of them. The “C” sprue is the running gear with the modified bogeys
and there's just 2 alternative outer sprockets not for use.
thumbnails below to view larger images:
Dragon tells us that these Braille
kits are for entry level modellers and then they go and put PE sets
in them. Doh! However, most of the PE is also replicated in plastic
so you don't have to use it if it's not to your liking. The plastic
in this case is a bit over scale but most other manufacturers don't
give you these bits at all, either in plastic or PE.
The tracks are, of course, DS 100 rubber bands. I personally would
prefer link and length but now that I have actually used the Dragon
tracks I must admit they come a very close second. They are
beautifully detailed, take any type of paint and can be joined,
lengthened or shortened using normal plastic glue. What more could
you want? Well, link and length actually.
Decals are very nicely printed by Cartograf from Italy with perfect
register and minimum carrier film as you would expect from one of
the leading decal makers. Oddly, of the four decal options two are
German, so called Beute Panzers which I think means Trophy Tanks. I
think this must be a left-over from the “If it's not German it won't
sell” hang-up that most manufacturers suffered from until recently.
The other two are a Canadian Firefly in France, 1944 and Red 12 of
the Northampton Yeomanry also France, 1944 and I think that's the
one that got Wittmann. Thank you Mr Dragon, all is forgiven.
How could you not be impressed with these kits? Excellent detail and
moulding and even the rubber band tracks seem to work and Hey! Some
of those modellers that only build German may be encouraged.