by: Pat McGrath [ ]
IntroductionThe high bustle turret began to replace the low bustle turret on Shermans with the change over to the large hatch 47 degree hull and there was an issue of hatch clearance. Its use on fireflies seems top have been limited to the hybrid Ic though in most photos it is hard to distinguish and it may have been used on some Firefly VCíc.
The kitI did this as a partial build gluing some of the components in place and only dry fitting other parts.
This is not the original ABM 012 kit which came with an aluminium gun barrel. In this kit everything is cast in resin with the exception of the stowage box support bracket which is a short length of l shaped plastic strip. The kit comes with the Turret shell ring and gun plus a folded sheet of instructions in a polythene bag with the details contained in a smaller zip lock bag. The kit is very crisply cast in a pale grey resin. There were no air bubbles in my sample though there were a couple of thin spots evident when the turret shell was held up to the light.
The instructionsThe instructions come on one sheet printed front and back with accompanying black and white photos. They begin with some general info about the use of the high bustle turret on Canadian fireflies and some useful advice on cleaning up parts. A sharp knife or a fine sanding stick is essential.
Two books are mentioned as references:
Sherman Vc: M4A4 Firefly by David Fletcher, Darlington Productions
South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War by Donald E Graves, Ronald Brass Studio.
A B/W photo and list show the layout of the parts. However this doesnít match up to the kit as it shows the lifting hooks and pistol port hatch as separate parts whereas in this kit they come cast in place. The instructions also mention an aluminium part which I suppose refers to the gun barrel in the kitís previous issue.
The reverse of the sheet gives written assembly instruction in 8 paragraphs accompanied by four B/W photos. These would appear to be the instructions for the previous issue of the kit as they do mention fitting the separate lifting hooks and pistol port hatch. Apart from that they are easy to follow although the photos on my instruction sheet were not very clear and line drawings might have been better. There is one mistake that I spotted in step 6 where the loaderís hatch clamp (A tiny piece of resin) is referred as part (17) whereas on the parts list it is shown as part (14).
Turret ShellThis is well cast with a good texture and cast in cheek armour. The casting is quite thin in spots particularly over the inner gun mantlet. As mentioned in the instructions some trimming is necessary to get the turret ring and shell to fit together. The lifting rings and pistol port door are cast in place. There is a slight amount of flash in the lifting rings and one of them was broken so I replaced it with one from a DML Sherman. I test fitted the turret on the DML Vc Firefly (I donít have the DML Hybrid hull) and it didnít fit whereas it was a drop fit on the Tamiya M4 Hull.
Turret details and hatchesDetails such as the periscope covers, radio aerials bases and inner hatch handles are very finely cast and require careful clean up. I managed to partly crush part no. 18 the aerial base when trying to clean the flash, but then I have very thick fingers. The hatches too are well done and although not mentioned in the instructions we get inner hatch handles. There are location marks for outside hatch handles but no handles so these will have to sourced elsewhere or made from wire. There is some detail inside the split hatch cupola with the padding and inner hatch lock in place. The loaders hatch doesnít quite fit flush but as Iíll be leaving the hatch open this isnít a problem for me. The loaders hatch clamp and the .50 cal barrel tip clamp are tiny so be careful with them. The exterior springs are also missing from the loaders hatch although the photo in the instructions shows them in place. We also get a nice stowage box which wasnít always fitted to hybrid ICís.
The gunThe gun is cast in resin with a wire core and one in my kit wasnít quite straight. The two halves of the muzzle brake need some clean up before gluing and some filling after. The mantlet has a resin stub and I recommend careful shaving or sanding when removing it to avoid cracking.
in ConclusionWith some careful work this can be built into a very good replacement turret for the DML Hybrid Ic kit. I would have preferred a metal gun tube. Clearer photos and more up to date instructions would be good too!
My thanks to Ian Hanratty at Friendship Models for the review sample.