Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran of World of Tanks takes a look at a WWII era “Firefly” tank.
It’s been a while since we posted a photo of the day. We bring this feature back today with this rather amusing photo taken in the late 1940’s in Chelyabinsk oblast.
CNN recently sent one of their reporters down to Texas to visit DriveTanks.com to drive and shoot a M4 Sherman tank. While the video is a little silly, it does give a pretty good idea what one would expect in case they ever pony up the (rather substantial) fee to operate the Sherman tank at Drivetanks.com.
A few days ago we had posted about “Houston-Kid II”, a composite hull M4 105mm gun tank that appeared in some ads for World of Tanks during the Superbowl. We had asked if anyone knew any details regarding this particular tank. Thanks to a tip from Wargaming’s North American tank expert Nick Moran, we now know that this tank is from South Africa. This tank originally came from the South African Defense Force School of Armour in Bloemfontein. By 2007, it had been handed over to the Sandstone Heritage Trust who went to work making the tank mobile again. By 2008 the tank was up and running, although with a modern engine not original to any M4 variant. For details of the restoration, go to the Sandstone Estates website here. Below is a excerpt from the site explaining the changes made to the vehicle. The picture below shows the alterations made to the rear deck to accommodate the new cooling fans.
This example has been modified locally, by fitting a large V8 Mercedes Benz / Atlantis Diesel Engine 442 twin-turbo diesel engine, rated at 400 hp @ 2100 rpm. Max torque is 1600 nm @ 1100-1500 rpm. Fitted directly to the engine is an Allison AC740 CR (close ratio) 4-speed automatic gearbox with the prop-shaft running into the original gearbox which now acts as a transfer box. This in effect gives the vehicle a total of 24 forward and 6 reverse gears.
Top speed is 45 kmh. Fuel consumption is now +/- 2.5 litres per km compared with 9 litres per km with the Continental engine!
Further modifications to this vehicle include the fitment of electronically operated turret turning motors (which were not standard on this specific type) and the fitment of modern optical equipment and sights.
The other major modification on the vehicle was the fitment of twin radiators with accompanying cooling fans. These radiators are fitted in such a way that the complete radiator pack swivels open in less than a minute for easy engine access.
In the second part of the “Inside the Chieftain’s Hatch” episode about the M4A1 Sherman, Nicholas Moran takes a look inside the vehicle.
Over at the World of Tanks website, tank researcher Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted an article on Sherman tank turrets and guns. Specifically, he found some archival materials about an attempt to put a 75mm gun into the T23 turret (this is basically the same turret as the 76mm armed Sherman tanks). Oddly enough, they found that the 75mm gun did not fit. While this may seem counter-intuitive since the T23 turret was larger than the 75mm gun turret, the answer lies in the shape of the turret and the placement of the trunnions. The Chieftain uses this example to make the larger point that up gunning a tank turret is more than just a simple case of making sure the turret ring is big enough and jamming in a new gun.
One of the problems with Firefly was that the turret was a little cramped.
The 17pr is not a small gun to cram into a turret bustle measured in inches. US Army Ordnance had a crack at putting the somewhat smaller and lighter 76mm into the same turret, and Armored Force found it unsatisfactorily cramped and rejected it.
Another lesser-known issue for Firefly is that in order to be converted, the tank had to be the 75mm one with the smaller turret. This is partly why the 75mm Sherman remained on the production lines even after the US Army decided to switch to the 76mm. But it raises the question: why did they mandate use of the 75mm tank? Surely the 76mm turret, bigger as it was, would have been a better match, and reduce the limitations the Firefly was under. How could the British miss this?