Firefly VC
Dragon Kit #6182
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

Well they say third time lucky and you have to give Dragon credit for trying to get the Firefly Vc right a third time (not counting their Hybrid hull Ic), so how have they done?

The kit is more than just a tweaking of the last kit (#6121) with the hull and turret getting major makeovers and the inclusion of a new suspension set not seen in previous Dragon Sherman kits but there are still a few problems to deal with as we will see.

The kits consist of 299 parts in light grey plastic although only 215 are used in this kit with the rest consigned to the spares box, a further 720 parts for the individual tracks links and 21 for the figures plus 8 etched parts.

All are moulded to the usual high standard from Dragon with only a minimum of pin ejector marks on some parts and the normal mould seam cleanup needed. The hull, turret and tranny cover have subtle cast effect as well as some casting numbers included.

The lower hull has been shortened to the correct length and there is a new rear hull plate with the inclusion of details applicable to the Firefly such as the smoke emitters and mountings for the towing bar and there are new idler mounting plates of the correct shape, watch the instructions here for although they call out the new parts (H1/H2) the illustration still show the older parts. The front three piece transmission cover gets new securing brackets with better defined bolt head detail than on previous kits and has very restrained casting numbers included that could almost disappear under a coat of paint?

The VVSS suspension bogies are all new to this kit and are the Type 2C-2 Intermediate raised roller which were the most common type on Fireflys with solid spoked road wheels with rear detail inserts as per the Academy kits but strangely the solid spoked idler wheels don’t have rear inserts and their open backs are most noticeable. The grease plug and relief valve details are better represented than on the previous Dragon solid spoked wheels and the drive sprocket is the Type 1C Fancy Smooth variation with separate centre hubs. The track return guides are a little on the thick side and could do with some thinning for a better appearance and lack the four retaining bolts while the bogies feature casting numbers on the outer faces. The bogie mounting plate is in two parts to be attached to the hull side and bottom, the instructions aren't too clear on this as they only show the bottom part (V3) but the hull side plate (V5) is fairly self explanatory.

The upper hull has been reworked with additional weld seams on the glacis and along the top sides; these are slightly indented as with the Tamiya Sherman weld seams but on most photos I’ve seen are raised?
The shape of the periscope/hatch bulges has been refined and the large fairing on the right of the glacis has been increased in diameter to better represent the real thing. The fuel filler caps and ventilator cover are separate parts for good definition as are the rear hull top intakes which also have etched screens provided.
The front machine gun port cover is provided but will need some weld seams added around the edges and the spare track racks are provided for the front plate along with the etched light guards front and back.
On the hull sides the front weld seam has again been enhanced and the sand shield mounting strips added, these include bolt heads (and a mould seam line running between the bolt heads) but I would think that these should be holes not bolts when the shields are not fitted?
New pioneer tools are provided which are improvements on the earlier tools but you could do yourself a favour and get a set of the excellent Formations Sherman Tool Set to add more definition to the tools.

The separate rear engine deck has also been redone with more finely rendered intake grills which hide under the turret bustle anyway as well as the separate filler cap and fine casting numbers plus of course the barrel travel lock.

The turret has also been reworked to include the thickened cheek armour as well as cut-outs for separate periscopes and the sun compass mounting on the right side but you will have to add the blade on the vane sight and the Alidade sight on the mounting provided. The left side pistol port hatch doesn’t have the weld beads needed and the barrel appears to be about 10mm too long when compared to plans in Mark Haywards Firefly “Bible”, those in the excellent Phil Dyer article in Military Modelling October 1995 and in Ground Power #080-Jan 2001.
Etched parts are supplied for the loader hatch stop and the aerial mounting and the rear radio box has a reworked top part although there are about three variations of this box seen on Fireflys so you could modify this yourself if desired?

You get a full sprue for Dragon’s M26 kit just for the M2 .50cal machine gun which isn’t bad as it goes and adds more bits to the spares box as does sprue G from the earlier Firefly kit which is included for the rear turret storage box only.

The track is entirely individual links with the end connectors separate, you also get alternate end connectors with duckbill extensions although these are a little on the thick side. The tracks appear to be T62 steel block with the three studs on the face as well as a pin ejector mark on each pad. You could convert this to the more common T54 Steel Block by removing the studs at the same time as dealing with the pin mark, in any case the tracks are going to take a few hours to assemble.

The decals have markings for two vehicles as well as some stencilling added for the D-Day landings. The decals are well printed but have a slightly thickish matt finish to the carrier film which sometimes can give problems with silvering, but as most of the markings go on flat surfaces this shouldn’t be a problem?


The figures:
The figures included with the Firefly kit are a nice bonus, click the thumbnail for a mini review of the figures.

In all an excellent kit and Dragon have clearly done their homework on this Firefly and they are to be commended for revisiting the kit a third time.

Most of the problems with the earlier kits have been address plus some additional Firefly gear added but there are still a few areas needing attention but overall this should please Sherman fans. There is of course room for more improvement if you want to do the super detail thing and turn the kit into a masterpiece.

Track parts

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Dragon DragonDragon
Detail images
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Sherman Firefly
Mark Hayward
Sherman VC M4A4 Firefly
Military Ordnance Special No.19
British Tanks of WWII (1)
Concord #7027
SHERMAN A History of the American Medium Tank
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special.
Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Military Modelling Magazine
October 1995

Article by Phil Dyer on building
the Dragon kit #6121

Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created 29 November 2003

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