by: Jim Rae [ ]
IntroductionWhilst other companies are recyclying or reissuing other company's moulds - with variable results, DML's philosophy in 1/72nd scale, has been to bring out a series of models which use essentially the same components (in the case of the suspension) and 'build-up' with different hulls and turrets, an increasingly wide range of variants. This was done with the T34 series from the same manufacturer, now DML have brought out one of the most modelled of the Shermans - the British Firefly Vc.
The ModelDRA7303 - Firefly Vc is the latest release in Dragon Models' 1/72nd Scale 'ArnorPro' series of kits. The kit is moulded in a light-grey plastic and comes on four sprues with the hull tub and upper deck seperate. Also included is a sheet of PE (Photo-etch), a small sheet of decals and two 'Dragon-Styrene' lengths of 'rubber-band' type track.
About the reviewAs usual, with this type of review, i'll be looking at the component areas, in this review the areas covered will be:
In Depth1) - Suspension
The suspension is exactly the same as that present in the M4a3 kit which reproduces Mid production VVSS suspension with the straight return roller arms. The road wheels are the 'welded' type with the correct number of (miniscule) bolts. Moulding is impeccable with no mould-lines present. The only slight irritation is that as each suspension unit is moulded in only four parts, the two road wheels are moulded onto the (back) triangular arm which has meant that there are two attachment points to the sprue and two mould 'plugs' to be removed. This will mean some care in removal so as not to damage the tire surface. The sprockets are the correct type also.
2) - Turret
The turret is beautifully done with some truly nice touches. The additional 'cheek' armor comes as a seperate moulding giving a far more convincing form. Also produced as a seperate component is the pistol port which could be built open. The mantlet is correct also. Worth noting is that the 'texture' of the turret casting is also present - no mean feat in a 1/72nd scale model... The barrel/muzzle brake is a one-piece plastic moulding which will doubtless indicate a future (metal) replacement from one of the AM companies. All hatch halves are seperately moulded as are the periscopes. The distinctive large storage box on the turret is present also in a six-part sub-assembly.
3) - Hull
The upper hull is quite a complex construction. All the lights (and guards), hatches and engine grille (PE option) are seperately moulded. In many cases, a chioce exists to use either plastic parts or some (VERY) small photo-etch. Particularly notable are the headlight guards, the grille over the rear lights or the engine deck grille. The tools also have an option to use the tiny PE clamps. All essential details are present with the exception of stowage which the modeller will have to source from the spares box or AM. The transmission cover is the (common) three-piece bolted construction and is, again, very convincingly done.
4) - Tracks
Curiously enough, in the case of Sherman tracks, I am very much against seperate links. In common with other releases, the tracks provided are the 'rubber-band' type moulded in sand-yellow colored 'Dragon-Styrene' this material, which has received much criticism, is, in my opinion, a perfect medium for two things - heads in 1/35th scale and tracks for 1/72nd scale AFVs. In this case the British steel Chevron tracks are convincingly and immaculately reproduced. Detail is fine and as close to scale as one could wish for.
5) - The Decals.
The kit provides four decal options, these are:
27th Candian Armour Regiment, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, France 1944
"Velikye Luki" from 3 Troop A Squadron Northamptonshire Yeomanry, France 1944
Unidentified unit, Germany 1945
Unidentified unit, Germany 1944
The last of these two vehicles are captured 'BeutePanzers' . Now, much as I like captured vehicle subjects and bearing in mind the huge number of units equipped with the Vc, I do tend to find the decal choices a touch on the 'eccentric' side. In this case I would certainly advovcate looking at some of the decal options available from companies like Bison. The decals are excellent quality, however, only two Allied subjects is a touch 'unusual' ?
ConclusionsBearing in mind that this is a 1/72nd scale kit, the level of sophistication in both design and the engineering is equal to many 1/35th models out there. It's complex (with the addition of the PE) and less so using the plastic alternatives. Sadly, only a few companies are giving 'Braille-Scalers' the kind of sophisticated products that they deserve, fortunately, models like this are now becoming the 'Norm' rather than the 'Exception' . Or at least from DML.
My thanks to Dragon Models Limited for the review sample.