Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Sherman IC Firefly Dragon
Kit #7322
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 26 September 2008
Dragon's latest Sherman kit follows along the lines of all of their previous models. It's overall a very nice kit, though with a few stupid design choices that keep it from being considered a "perfect" model, if there is such a thing. This is the first M4 hull that Dragon has kitted up, and hopefully it won't be the last.

The main hull parts are shown below. Fairly typical of Dragon: nice detail, open crew hatches, very accurate in size and shape, but with the pioneer tools molded onto the hull. Locator holes are molded onto the left rear of the hull deck for the 17-pdr gun travel lock. I hope that if they use this same hull for later M4 kits, that they blank over those holes, or at least tell the modeler in the instructions to fill them. I am currently building Dragon's M4A4 kit, and the hull in that kit has these same holes for use in the Firefly VC kit. Unfortunately, I didn't really notice them until I was ready to paint. Oh well, I guess that's what stowage items are for.... Anyway, it would be far more sensible to have had these locator holes drilled only part way through from the inside of the hull, with the instructions telling the modeler to open them the rest of the way for these Firefly kits.

Below is a close-up scan of the hull front showing the armored plate made up of seven parts (including the armored hoods for the driver and co-driver). Although this looks very nice, I've not seen photos of any M4s with this multi-part front armor plate. Hunnicutt states in his book that this method of constructing the front plate was common on early models of all the welded hull versions of the Sherman, and has a drawing of the early M4 with this layout. So technically this hull is correct, though based on photos I've seen, it was most commonly seen on M4A4s than other Shermans.

The scans below are of sprues common to other Dragon Sherman kits. The sprue on the left includes all of the miscellaneous detail parts for the hull. The middle sprue contains the wheels and bogies. I am sick of repeating the same criticisms about this ridiculous sprue, so if this is my first Sherman review you've read, please refer to all of my earlier Dragon reviews to read my thoughts on their wheels. The sprue on the right comes with Dragon's M4A1 kits and includes the final drive housing, the exhaust parts for the Continental engine, hull applique armor plates, and some other miscellaneous details.

Below are two sprues that include the turret parts. The larger sprue on the left is from the Firefly VC kit, though with many parts removed from the sprue. It's unfortunate that Dragon chose to waste the labor costs of manually clipping the excess parts from the sprue, as these parts would have come in handy for the spare parts box. The sprue on the right is unique to this kit, and includes a new upper turret which differs slightly from their earlier Firefly turret by the removal of the pistol port from the turret side. There are a few additional detail parts on this sprue unique to this kit. As usual, the turret is highly detailed and accurate, though it doesn't seem to have the very nice cast metal surface texture that their earlier turrets have. A note about two of the kit marking options, Rycerz and Tzryniec: those tanks were equipped with the Mk.II all-around vision cupola on the turrets, so the modeler needs to either scratch-build one, or obtain an after-market turret set.

Etched brass parts are included that allow the modeler to replace certain plastic kit parts with more scale accurate pieces in metal, such as the light and periscope brush guards, gun sights, and some handles and other small details.

T-54E1 steel chevron tracks are included, which were commonly seen on Polish tanks, along with several other track styles. I'm not sure about the other two marking options, but Rycerz at least mounted this track style.

And speaking of the markings, I have mixed feelings about the options included with this kit. Markings for three tanks are included:

  • 2nd Squadron, 1st Krechowiecki Lancers, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 2nd "Warszawa" Armoured Division, Italy 1945
  • 1st Squadron, 4th Armoured Regiment "Skorpion", 2nd Armoured Brigade, 2nd "Warszawa" Armoured Division, Italy 1945
  • 1st Squadron, 1st Krechowiecki Lancers, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 2nd "Warszawa" Armoured Division, Italy 1945

It's no secret that I have a keen interest in Polish Shermans, but making all three marking options in this kit for Polish Fireflies shows a lack of originality when there are so many other interesting schemes that Dragon could have included. I was so impressed with the variety of markings that was included in Dragon's M4A4 kit, it disappoints me to see such a narrow selection here. In addition to having only the one nationality represented here, none of these markings are for vehicles in combat. The 2nd Polish Armoured Division was formed from the 2nd Armoured Brigade in late 1945, after the war in Europe had ended. I don't know if any of these vehicles saw action during the war wearing the same markings as included here.

Aside from that criticism, these decals are typical of Dragon, being very thin, with clear, bright, and sharply printed colors. But there are a couple of mistakes with the markings. I am not impressed with the scorpion from the 4th Armoured Regiment. It looks like a stick figure, and is much better painted in the decal sets from ARMO. An additional mistake with this marking option is that the scorpion markings for the two sides of the turret should be identical. Normally, the scorpion is supposed to be facing forward on both sides, which these decals show; but in the case of Trzyniec, the crew only had a single stencil, and the right-side scorpion faced to the rear. And finally, the horse head inside the squadron markings for the 1st Krechowiecki Lancers tanks should be yellow, the same color as the squadron symbol. I wonder if that's what the yellow horse heads in the upper right of the sheet (#s 13 & 14) are for, because they are otherwise not called out in the instructions.

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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale