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Sherman Firefly

Sherman Firefly Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2008 Title Sherman Firefly
Author David Fletcher Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2008 ISBN 978-1-84603-277-6
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


Here is an interesting case study about the clash of two army doctrines. In the British Army, tanks were designed to combat other tanks. This resulted in a gun with a greater muzzle velocity and a round that could punch through the light armor of the day. When World War Two broke out and the British were fighting Rommel in North Africa, the troops were wishing that their tanks had the capability to deal with softer targets more effectively.

Meanwhile, the US Army doctrine in those days was that tanks were mobile artillery platforms that could provide direct fire support to the infantry. This resulted in a main gun with medium velocity that could fire a variety of rounds. These guns didn't have the punching power needed to counter heavier armor such as the Panzer IV. The Germans were quick to up-gun their tanks as well, giving them the ability to fire armor-piercing rounds well outside the maximum effective range of the allied weapons.

Necessity being the mother of invention, two British Army tankers decided to find a near-term solution to their German armor problem. Changes to British tank production took time, and while the American Sherman was an excellent mobile armored platform, none of its main gun options were suitable for a gunfight with German armor. The answer was to somehow re-engineer the Sherman's turret to accommodate the 17 pounder gun that was available.

This title goes through the blend of cultures as well as the logistics and combat employment of this unique combat vehicle. The Germans gained such a healthy respect for the Sherman Firefly that US forces would sometimes carry dummy 17 pdr barrels on their Shermans to buy them time on the battlefield.

The coverage of this title consists of:

  • The 17-Pounder
  • Development at Lulworth
  • Designing the Firefly
  • The Conversion Programme
  • Ammunition
  • Concrete Busters
  • The Firefly in Action
  • The American Angle
  • Supply and Demand
  • What's in a Name?

The book contains a nice range of black and white period photography of the Firefly. In addition, there are eight pages of color profiles of selected examples in this title's coverage.

This book is a must-have for the armor historian and military analyst to understand how one tank could strike fear in the enemy and even result in a change of doctrine as well.

This title is recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!