new from airfix A02341 – Sherman Firefly VC 1/72

In the 134th edition of Workbench, we looked at an exciting pair of new tooling projects which pitted the talents of two of our most recent product design recruits with two of the Second World War’s most famous armoured fighting vehicles. We are delighted to now be in a position to quickly provide an update on both projects, but with something of a difference – once again looking at each project in turn, we will see how each kit has been developed with an unusual twist, presenting the modeller with a simple, or more complex build option. With the benefit of yet another selection of exclusive images for your viewing pleasure, we can now take a first look at the model part frames themselves, marvel at the beautiful box artwork produced for each model and review the two scheme options which will accompany the release of both kits.

As his third new tooling project since joining Airfix as a product designer, Tom had already built up a wealth of experience by the time he embarked on his Sherman Firefly VC project and was determined that he was going to do this iconic tank justice. Based on the ubiquitous American M4A(4) hull, the Firefly was a British attempt to ‘up gun’ the Sherman, making it much more capable when facing the heavy German armour it would be facing during the battles for Normandy, whilst using existing gun and ammunition technology. Redesigning the tank’s turret to reposition the radio gear, the Firefly equipped the Sherman with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun, turning it through 90 degrees so that it could be loaded from the side. Although the tank retained the relatively weak armour protection of the Sherman series, the new gun was at least capable of taking on and destroying the feared German Tiger and Panther tanks which were roaming the battlefields of Europe.

An exclusive first look at the part frames produced by the new 1/72nd scale Sherman Firefly VC tooling, clearly showing how this highly detailed new kit will have two options when it comes to modelling the tracks and running gear

As one of the most capable Allied tanks of the Second World War, Tom was determined to make this new kit a much loved addition to the Airfix armour range and embraced the opportunity to innovate with his design. When looking at the part frame image above, we can certainly see that he managed to achieve his aim on both counts. As well as incorporating plenty of detail into the kit and replicating the iconic turret shape of the Sherman Firefly, Tom has also managed to incorporate two track options into his design. For those looking for an easier build, the new kit includes a single running gear option where the wheels, bogies and track come as a single unit, locating in to the same position on the hull as the alternative option. This second option is the more usual kit representation of tank running gear, where the bogies wheels and tracks all come as separate parts and require construction by the modeller. The tank tracks are also a break away from the rubberised parts from years past and will allow for a much more accurate representation of these distinctive, and in real life extremely heavy items – it was always difficult to get the rubber tracks to sit correctly.

At the same time as Tom was perfecting his Sherman masterpiece, his colleague across the Airfix design office was tackling arguably the most famous tank in the history of warfare. Having only recently joined the company, Paramjit was handed the iconic German Tiger I as his first Airfix new tooling project, something which must have been a daunting undertaking for him. As iconic to military vehicles as the Spitfire is to aircraft, the Tiger may be quite an angular, almost box like design, but it is so familiar to so many people that there is absolutely no margin for error.

With the same ‘be innovative’ design brief as Tom was handed, Paramjit thought long and hard before actually making a start on his first Airfix project, already knowing from his own extensive modelling experience that he wanted to try something a little different with the kit’s track representation. He designed a system which allowed the sprocket and road wheel assembly to be constructed separately from the hull and joined together as a completed unit later in the build. This definitely helps when it comes to painting the model, whilst at the same time improving the overall appearance of the finished model. In addition to this, innovative plastic track sections are not only a significant improvement from earlier tank model designs, but also allow the correct ‘track sink’ to be represented.

Expected: Autumn 2020