The Sherman Firefly was a tank mainly used by the British Army during World War Two. Based on the American M4 Sherman, the British replaced the standard 75mm gun with the much more powerful 76.2 mm British 17-pounder anti-tank gun as a main weapon. While the British own tank designs were continuously delayed due to technical issues and production challenges, the British Army made extensive use of Sherman tanks during the war.
Firefly vs. Panther and Tiger
After overcoming the challenge of getting the large gun to fit into the Sherman’s turret, the Firefly was put into production in early 1944. Just in time to equip Montgomery’s British 21st Army Group for the Normandy landings. During the Invasion of France it quickly proved it’s value, as the gun could penetrate the armor of German heavy tanks like the Panther and Tiger tanks, making the Firefly one of the few Allied tanks feared by Axis forces. On August 8th 1944 the Tiger tank of German Tank Ace and Nazi propaganda hero Michael Wittmann was set ablaze by a Firefly in an ambush where he and his crew lost their lives.
In reaction to this threat, German tank and anti-tank gun crews were instructed to attack Sherman Fireflies first. Recognizing a Firefly was easy by it’s characteristic longer gun barrel, so Firefly tank crews tried to camouflage it with the familiar “countershading” wave pattern to make it look like a normal 75 mm-gun Sherman.
Until the end of 1945 a total of 2,200 Fireflies were produced.
This Firefly named “Little John” (s/n 16912) is based on a M4A4 type Sherman tank. It was manufactured in 1942 in the USA and shipped to Europe in 1943 under the running number ‘USA 3017218’. Early 1944 it was converted to a Firefly and went into British service as ‘T232568’. “Little John” is fully operational.
It has the characteristic QF 17-pounder (76.2 mm) anti-tank gun (77 rounds) and a .50cal (12.7mm) Browning M2HB machine gun (unmounted) and one coaxial .30cal (7.62mm) Browning M1919 MG (5000 rounds) as secondary weapons. The 32ton tank destroyer is powered by a 425hp Chrysler A57 30 (5×6) cylinder gasoline engine. It’s maximum speed is 40km/h.