Compared with a Panther or King Tiger it might not
look much but, from 1944, almost to the end of the
war the Sherman Firefly was the most powerful tank
in the arsenal of the western allies. Not the fastest,
not the best armoured, but it did have the best gun.
The 17 Pounder (76.2mm) gun was a British weapon
which, with some difficulty, was installed in the
American Sherman tank. It was not renowned for its
accuracy but, with a muzzle velocity of 3950 feet
per second, firing Sabot ammunition, could penetrate
135mm of armour at 1,800 metres.
Museum photo No 4157/F/6
Fitting the gun into the turret caused a few problems.
An extra box had to be welded onto the back of the
turret to take a radio and an extra hatch was fitted
on top, for the loader.
Museum photo No 4238/E/6
Since the ammunition took up more space it was also
necessary to remove the front machine-gunner, who
sat alongside the driver. The gun mounting was then
Museum photo No. 4238/F/4
One problem with the tank was the length of the gun.
This made it very obvious to the enemy who always
attempted to destroy Fireflies first. The regiments
tried all kinds of tricks, with paint and other means,
to disguise the long gun but these were not terribly
Museum photo No. 4238/F/5
It was not possible to replace all Shermans with
Fireflies and, in any case the gun could not fire
High Explosive so both types were required. Normal
practice was to distribute the Fireflies on the basis
of one per troop, something less than one third of
the tanks in a regiment.
Museum photo No. 4157/E/6
The Tank Museum's Firefly is an M4A4 (Sherman VC) but the
gun was also fitted to the Sherman I and I Hybrid which
had a part cast, part welded hull. Surviving Fireflies are
extremely rare and although ours has, at various times,
sported the markings of the 11th Armoured Division and Guards
Armoured Division it was probably a sample tank, retained
at Bovington during the war.