Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the 2020 Airfix boxing of the Sherman Firefly. The Firefly mounted the impressive 76.2 mm 17-pounder gun, which required moving the radios to a box at the back end of the turret among other modifications.
These are the three main sprues for the kit. There are parts included for two options to model the running gear here, the simplified single piece construction is likely a nod to the wargaming market. The tracks can also be modeled as a more traditional assembly using the parts on the top sprue. The difference in general appearance is actually slight, the biggest issue is the single piece option has the rubber block style track (due to mold release limitations) while the multi-piece option has the metal chevron style track. I think this is a good move, the single piece tracks are often preferable in 1/72 scale.
Frame “D” deserves special mention. With only a few exceptions, this sprue is devoted to “optional” pieces. This sprue allows the modeler to represent tanks with extra stowage and track used as additional armor. This is a most welcome addition as the lack of these components severely limits the individual vehicles which can be modeled out of the box with the majority of kits in 1/72 scale. I hope other manufacturers will follow Airfix’ lead and include similar sprues in their kits. Well done Airfix!
This is the hull built up with both track options for comparison. The single-piece option looks quite good if you want to model the rubber block tracks, the main compromise here is the guide teeth being molded as a single ridge across the span of the track. The subjects I selected for my builds used the metal chevron tracks so that’s what I used. I have filled the hull with a layer of BBs and epoxy to give the model a bit of “heft”.
There is a “gotcha” in step 43 of the instructions, and in the box art as well for that matter. Sherman Fireflys eliminated the hull machine gun (and gunner) in favor of increased ammunition storage, the gun opening was covered by armor plate. Airfix includes the armor, but shows the machine gun being mounted. They show the correct plated opening in step 44 and subsequent steps. A trap for the unwary.
The basic assembly goes together quickly and without any issues. There were some sink marks on the front part of the transmission cover which were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. It would have been nice to have an option for an open commander’s hatch (and maybe a figure) but the hatch is molded closed.
AFVs beg to be “customized”, and one vehicle which caught my eye featured the Cullen hedgerow cutter. It also used spare track as armor, but was unusual in that the track teeth were pointed outward, the reverse of what was usually seen. I also added headlight guards made from flattened solder, and lifting eyes on the turret made from beading wire. The co-axial machine gun was replaced by brass tube. At the rear of the radio box is a scratchbuilt stowage box which was seen on several Fireflys.

Part II here: