Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Sherman Firefly IC Hybrid Fine Scale Factory
Kit #TL 022
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 17 March 2017
One problem with having such a large kit collection is that I have no idea if I've reviewed all of them or not. I was browsing this website the other day, and looked for this particular kit because I could have sworn I owned it, but there was no review. After checking my shelves, sure enough, there it was. This was actually one of the very first resin kits I bought, probably almost 20 years ago. Unfortunately, Fine Scale Factory no longer produces this Tank Line series of kits. While this kit isn't exactly up to today's standards, we still are lacking a Sherman composite hull in plastic, so any resin example is appreciated.

I have mixed feelings about this kit because it's really a mixed bag when it comes to quality of the parts. First thing to bear in mind is that this kit was created by modifying the ESCI (now Italeri) Sherman kits, which means there are some weaknesses in many of the parts.

First of all, the hull: It was created by splicing together ESCI's M4A1 hull front, with their M4A3 hull rear. The splice job was nicely done, and suprisingly, FSF made an attempt to modify the shape of the rear overhanging armor plate to more closely resemble the M4 shape, rather than the M4A3 (this is a problem shared by many aftermarket companies). But while they did get the shape correct, they failed to adjust the angle of the plate - it is sharply angled when in fact, it should be almost vertical. This could be fixed by an industrious modeler with a sharp saw and some plastic filler.

The details on the hull are mixed. While the ventilator covers were greatly improved from ESCI's poor representations, the fluid filler caps were not. The pioneer tools are molded in fairly good relief onto the hull, but I don't really like the shape of the shovel, and their stowage arrangement is not correct. No armor plate is included to blank off the hull machinegun opening. The oil filler cap added to the rearmost engine deck plate actually was not present on this version of the Firefly. The applique armor plates on the hull side look very good. All in all, this will be a good starting point for adding and improving detail. Nothing was done to fix the somewhat short hull length (about 2mm), but this could be accomplished if one fixes the angle of the overhanging rear plate.

There is some interior detail added as one can see in the scan. The transmission was added to the hull floor, and detail was added to the inside surface of the final drive housing. Seats are also included. Since the hull hatches are molded open, much of this detail can be seen, though more would need to be added as well.

The turret is very nice. All the appropriate changes have been made for the Firefly. The commander's hatch is molded open, though the loader's hatch is not. As you can see in the following scan, the gun barrel is horribly warped, and FSF came up with a very peculiar way to connect it to the rotor shield - the base of the barrel is molded integral with the shield, and the length of the barrel is to be glued to it. This will complicate matters when replacing the barrel with an aftermarket item. The rotor shield itself looks very nice.

The remainder of the parts show some of the weaknesses of the kit. The wheels and bogies are poor. They were copied from the ESCI parts, which means the wheels are a cross between the open spoke cast, and stamped 6-spoke, though not correct for either. Also copied from the ESCI parts is the fact that they are standing very tall, as though the vehicle was being lifted for loading onto a ship, and there is no longer any weight on the wheels. And for some reason, FSF removed the raised detail from the suspension levers. Although I have seen a drawing in a Russian reference book showing this, I think that's only correct for very early M3 suspensions. The sprockets and idler wheels are copies of ESCI parts as well, and are therefore also quite poor. So bottom line: the wheels definitely need to be replaced.

The tracks are copies of the ESCI tracks with extended end connectors (EECs) added to them. This means they most closely resemble T48 tracks, although the pattern is a little flat. The EECs are OK, but not as nice as those seen on the new OKB tracks.

Other points: the headlights have the brush guards molded to them, and should be replaced. All of the hatches have the periscopes added to the insides which is a nice touch. The storage bin looks good, and the track return skids are cast paper-thin, and look great when assembled (I've done it before with their M4 Composite kit). Note that there is a gun travel lock included, but this style is not correct for the 17pdr of the Firefly. It should in reality be a cradle of completely different design on the rear hull.

I think the instructions are actually the same as for their earlier M4 Composite kit, which means a few items are incorrect, such as the travel lock, and the gun barrel (in fact, it doesn't depict a Firefly turret at all).

So to summarize, the heart of this kit - the hull and turret - are really pretty good, particularly the turret. After sourcing some replacement wheels, bogies and smaller details, one should be able to make a really decent Firefly.

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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale