Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 16 Mar 2008
Sherman Firefly tanks began their lives as M4 Sherman tanks built by the United States. The British, who sought greater firepower, extensively modified the turrets of certain batches of the M4 Sherman tanks they received from the US, namely by adding large 17-pounder guns. Sherman Firefly, a book in Osprey Publishing's New Vanguard series, dives into this British modification in relative depth.
It seemed to me that most of author David Fletcher's efforts focused upon the modification of the Sherman tanks so that the larger guns could be fitted. The level of detail he provided is stunning. For example, his narratives on the shell-fetching and loading procedures provide the necessary insight for me to realize some of the difficulties in fitting such large guns to the Sherman turrets while still needing to find room to store the larger ammunition.
Once deployed in Europe during the Normandy Campaign, Sherman Firefly tanks soon became a favorite with British and Commonwealth units, as their firepower provided a good match for the feared German Tiger tanks. Given this fact, the book considers the strategic concerns, listing reasons why British leadership tended to favor the deployment of Sherman Firefly tanks in Northwest Europe instead of Italy.
This book is without a doubt an Osprey book. Like others in Osprey's catalog, detailed cutaway illustration and a rich collection of photographs make this book a treasure for armor enthusiasts, modelers, and anyone who is interested in the ground war in Europe. At a measley 48 pages in size, it is packed with enough information to overwhelm the casual reader.
Operational history from the viewpoint of Sherman Firefly tank crews is lacking in this book, unfortunately, but that is by the author's choice. "Individual crew experiences are rarely reliable, no matter how interesting they might be", David Fletcher noted in his writing. "As a result, where we are obliged to be concise, a more general source is better."
David Fletcher's Sherman Firefly is a great addition as a reference book in the World War II Database library. Like tanks? Definitely check it out.
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal