Tuesday 21 February 2017

Westward Ho! A Sherman Firely

Another bonus round in which I take liberties with the theme! I've wanted to paint this Sherman Firefly for some time and I had already decided to call it Westward Ho! when the theme list was published. A perfect if cheeky submission.

The town of Westward Ho, on the North coast of Devon, is a popular holiday destination and was named after the title of Charles Kingsley's novel published in 1855. The book was a bestseller, and an opportunity to develop tourism in the area was grasped with the building of a Hotel. The town developed around this and took the same name and now has the distinction of being the only location in Britain to have an exclamation mark in its name.

The connection to WWII, and therefore with this tank, is that North Devon was used extensively for training and preparation for the D-Day Landings. Adapted Bailey Bridges were tested at Westward Ho! as part of the Mulberry Harbour project, a mad-cap Catherine wheel like weapons called a Panjandrum was tested here by the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. In addition the US army set up a school for teaching and adapting techniques in amphibious assault nearby and many of the skills in landing the swimming DD Tanks and other wading adaptions were perfected here.

So what is the connection to the Sherman Firefly? Well there isn't one really, except that some Sherman crews did train in and around Westward Ho! and I imagined a commander naming his tank after those relatively care free summer days in North Devon. Ok a bit of a stretch but stranger things have happened!

Incidentally the reason for the rather strange pattern on the end of the barrel is that the Firefly was fitted with a British 17pdr gun and was significantly longer than the regular 76mm gun fitted in other Sherman's. In British units a troop of tanks may only include one Firefly and there was a genuine concern that these special tanks would become priority targets for the enemy. The disruption patterns like this were one solution although there are also pictures of a faux muzzle breaks fitted half way down the barrel.


  1. Great post Lee. I can concur with the idea of the Firefly being targeted. In any Spearhead WW2 battle involving Germans vs British (or Americans) with the Firefly, its the tank that gets picked on first. Its defence is no better than a typical Sherman but the 17 pounder makes it a formidable foe (one of the few Allied tanks that could take out the larger German adversaries). Tactically, if in a line of other Shermans the Allied player keeps the Firefly around 3mm back from the rest - Spearhead rules dictate that usually you must target the nearest enemy (so you can't pick and choose) and so the Firefly (by sitting just behind the line) is the last to be targeted. Sneaky I know, but effective. That way it can dish out a lot of damage while its companion tanks (which can't do as much AT damage anyway) are the cannon fodder. The only problem is the unit as a whole may break due to morale failures before the Firefly has taken out 2-3 of the enemy.

    1. Probably the Fireflys greatest success came when Gunner Joe Ekins took out three Tiger Tanks in a single engagement, one of which was commanded by German Tank ace Michael Wittmann. Ekins tank hid in small wood moving forwards to fire then changing position before repeating the process. This one action dispelled the myth that Tigers were invincible.

  2. Possibly the nicest thing I have seen you paint.
    Great shell magnet!

  3. Great work; I think that like Romans, every wargamer/modeller should have some Shermans in their collection 😁

  4. Looks good. Great shading and weathering.


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