M4 Tipo IC
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 5.1 Professional's touch
- 5.2 Conversions
- 5.3 Combat usage
- 5.4 Legacy
- 5.5 The Firefly's reputation during and after the war is a product of hindsight. The British understood the trend that was happening in German armoured forces and acted accordingly with the 17-pounder. It should be noted that the 17-pounder's super round, the APDS, did not appear in Firefly stowage until August 1944, and in combat was inaccurate past 500 yards and the round fouled the barrel that it affected follow-up shots with APCBC rounds. As such, APCBC round would still be standard usage, and though the 17-pounder was still slightly more potent than the 76 mm, it traded crew comfort and design quality in the Firefly in comparison to the 76 mm gun in the larger T23 turret. What solidified the Firefly's place in history in contrast to the 76 mm Shermans was that on the very first day that the Allies invaded Normandy, the British brought the Fireflies while the Americans left their 76 mm guns in English depots. Thus, the British can claim with high confidence that they had a tank that could kill the German cats on the opening days of Operation Overlord.
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
|This page is about the Italian medium tank M4 Tipo IC. For other uses, see M4 (Disambiguation).|
The M4 Tipo IC Composito is a Rank III Italian medium tank with a battle rating of 4.7 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.85 "Supersonic".
Survivability and armour
Describe armour protection. Note the most well protected and key weak areas. Appreciate the layout of modules as well as the number and location of crew members. Is the level of armour protection sufficient, is the placement of modules helpful for survival in combat?
If necessary use a visual template to indicate the most secure and weak zones of the armour.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
- One 76.2 mm QF 17-pounder (77 rounds)
Some tanks are armed with several guns in one or more turrets. Evaluate the additional weaponry and give advice on its use. Describe the ammunition available for additional weaponry. Give advice on how to use them and how to fill the ammunition storage. If there is no additional weaponry remove this subsection.
Offensive and anti-aircraft machine guns not only allow you to fight some aircraft, but also are effective against lightly armoured vehicles. Evaluate machine guns and give recommendations on its use.
Usage in battles
Describe the tactics of playing in the vehicle, the features of using vehicles in the team and advice on tactics. Refrain from creating a "guide" - do not impose a single point of view but give the reader food for thought. Describe the most dangerous enemies and give recommendations on fighting them. If necessary, note the specifics of the game in different modes (AB, RB, SB).
Pros and cons
- Same 17-pdr armament as the Sherman Firefly
- Has a .50 cal for defense against pesky aircraft
- Good mobility, as with all variants of the Sherman
- Armor can be penetrated by most enemies at its rank
- No HE-filler in any of its AP shells at all, meaning that a shot either has to detonate the ammo rack of a target, or disable its ability to fire back, in order to allow a follow up shot
- .50 cal machine gun can't elevate very high; can only engage low-flying aircraft
One person deemed responsible for completing the project was W.G.K. Kilbourn, a professional engineer at Vickers stationed at Chertsey when the DTD assigned him the 17-pounder Sherman. He managed to fit the 17-pounder gun into the Sherman turret by extensively modifying the gun. He replaced the recoil cylinders with shorter ones mounted on the sides, opposite to each other top and bottom, on a special cradle, modified the gun barrel to fit onto the cradle for better support, and placed the gun breech to open horizontally (contrary to the statement that the gun was simply rotated 90 degrees sideways as the operators of the gun has not been rotated along with the breech). The redesigned 17-pounder, named Mk IV, was built on November 11, 1943, at the Royal Ordnance Factory and could fit into the Sherman turret, but now the concern was on the crew inside. The massive breech of the modified 17-pounder ate up a lot of internal space and isolated the loader on the left side of the gun and turret; the solution was to cut a hole on top of the loader's position and add a hatch. The radio, usually mounted on the rear of the turret, was deemed too close to the recoiling breech for comfort. An armoured box was welded to the turret rear for the radio and a hole cut into the turret rear for operating the radio away from the recoiling gun. The armoured box also had the benefit of acting as a counter-weight for the longer and heavier gun for the turret. Finally, there was an issue of ammo stowage for the larger and heavier 17-pdr rounds, 6 inches longer than the 75 mm shells. The stowage on the tank was in bins in the turret for ready access. Still, a bulk of it was placed under the turret floor that could only be accessed when the turret was aligned a specific position for each bin, making them more for replenishing the ready racks during breaks in combat. To increase the storage for more 17-pounder rounds, the bow machine gunner was removed along with his machine gun (the port welded over by a prominent wedge-shaped armour) and a rack holding 15 rounds placed in his location; however, the position for the rack was also impossible to reach during combat, and one location on the rack was so hard to get to that it wasn't used, making the total stowage 14 rounds instead.
Kilbourn's efforts and those of assisting engineers managed to finally fit the large 17-pounder gun into the constrained space of the Sherman turret intended to mount the 75 mm gun, as well as perform the necessary modifications to accommodate combat usage of the vehicle. It then moved onto the next stage of being approved for service.
Inspection of the completed Sherman with the 17-pdr started on January 06, 1944, and the War Office wrote a requirement for up to 2,100 of the tanks to be up-gunned. Not every Sherman could follow the conversion, whether by technical or logistics limitations, and only petrol-engined, M34A1 gun mounted, and have a hydraulic turret traverse system. This meant that the Shermans I converted were the Sherman I (M4), Sherman I Hybrid (M4 "Composite"), and Sherman V (M4A4). Technically the Sherman II (M4A1) and Sherman III (M4A3) were also eligible for conversion with those standards, but information on the Sherman II are scarce and photographic evidence of cast hull converted Shermans usually turn out to be Sherman I Hybrids; Sherman III are all allocated to the U.S. Army as their mainstay tank, so no M4A3 were even available in British service to convert. Tanks armed with the 17-pounder were designated by a "C" in the name at the end of their mark number, leading to names such as the "Sherman VC" to denote an M4A4 with the 17-pounder conversion. Troops with the up-gunned Sherman, as early as March 1944, described the tank as a Firefly, regardless of the type. How it got the name is debatable, but it is most likely due to the very prominent muzzle flash that the 17-pounder produces when firing.
Still, as D-Day approached for the Allied forces and the A30 Challenger was continually delayed, the eagerness of the troops to acquire the Firefly rose substantially. Four factories were prioritized for the conversion, two at London, one at Manchester, and another at Nottingham. From the conversion period of 1944 to 1945, up to and between 2,100 to 2,200 Fireflies were converted, making it the most-produced tank with the 17-pounder of the war. Allocation of the Fireflies was one troop per three Sherman troop (troop was an equivalent of a platoon and consisted of 4 tanks). Still, even regiments that were equipped with Cromwells were supplemented with Fireflies until the A30 Challenger was fit for service. The Fireflies were also allocated to Canadian and Polish corps. Due to the relative newness of the Firefly, most of the training done on the utilization and deployment of the Fireflies were done on the combat field by each regiment.
Fighting at the theaters
The Firefly's first combat action on D-Day was not on the land of Normandy but the sea. The Fireflies were assigned a unique role, while on the LCT that would carry them to the beaches, would fire over the berm towards concrete fortifications and blast them with the 17-pdr. Six Fireflies were allotted, separated into pairs, to D.D. tank regiments of the British 13th/18th Hussars at Sword Beach, and the Canadians 1st Hussars and Fort Garry Horse at Juno. Though 13th/18th Hussars were reported not to have fired their Fireflies on the way in, 1st Hussars seemed to have good experiences with it in the rough weather. Once the LCT reached the shore, the Fireflies were ordered to disembark and head inland, finishing off obstacles and join their original tank regiments.
The first non-DD tank regiment with Fireflies to land was the Staffordshire Yeomanry, which had at least 12 Sherman VC with 48 Sherman IIIs, however, little information exists on how it performed on the opening days of the Normandy campaign. Other regiments were originally D.D. tanks with Fireflies but were employed as regular tank regiments once inland. One of such regiments was the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. It was they who, a few days after the landings, deduced that the Germans seemed to be targeting their Fireflies specifically for their long guns. Though this deduction was not supported by evidence (19% of total Fireflies were lost, but 29% of regular tanks were lost), the concern of Firefly loss was great because of the supply issue. As illustrated that though 22 Fireflies were lost, by June 23 only six replacements had arrived. Experience from the ground and the density of heavy German tanks changed some initial organization of one Firefly troop per three Sherman troop into one Firefly per tank troop. Fireflies were in such high demand that some commanders have expressed thought of obtaining the 17-pdr armed M10 as a supplement. The units acquiring the Fireflies appreciated what they had as it was the only tank in Normandy in the Summer of 1944 that had a reasonable chance of defeating a Panther or Tiger at combat ranges in the front. The Firefly is most likely the responsible tank that destroyed the Tiger tank containing the Tiger Ace Michael Wittmann on August 08, 1944.
Once Firefly supply to the Normandy campaign was satisfied in October 1944, Fireflies were allocated to the Italian theatre, shared out to the Polish, Canadian, New Zealand, British, and South African regiments stationed there. With that, the supply issue arose in that theatre for the Firefly, causing the units that received the Fireflies to treasure them much. Heeding the comments on how Fireflies were singled out for their long guns, there were attempts to hide the prominent gun barrels, ranging from deceptive paint schemes, camouflage, and even dummy barrels on the back of the Firefly turret that would be pointed forward to mimic the short 75 mm gun.
Still, the Firefly served in the British Armies in the European Theater of Operations up to and until May 1945, when they were retired along with the end of the war for the replacement of better designs like the Comet cruiser tank and the Centurion tank.
The Firefly's performance was favorable for the troops that had to use them against the heavy German tanks. Though a good portion of Germany's armour in the Normandy front were Panthers, a good majority were still Panzer IVs and self-propelled guns, all of which were manageable with the 75 mm guns. Field reports by a Colonel W.E.H. Grylls in 1945 helped highlight the troop's sentiments on the Firefly in combat, and especially their deficiencies. The muzzle brake sometimes came loose from an inadequate locking design. The traverse gear also failed at times due to the extra turret weight from the gun, rain leaked into the radio box on some tanks, internal space for the Firefly turret crew was comparatively cramped to the Sherman's, the muzzle flash at the gun's muzzle brake can obscure the target enough that it is difficult to ensure the firing round hit it, and muzzle flash on the breech end of the gun inside the turret tends to cause a fair share of discomfort and uneasiness for the crew. Grylls also highlighted the crew praise on how the Firefly managed not to catch fire as quickly as Shermans. However, this is deduced to by the placement of the majority of ammunition on the bottom of the hull, like the "wet stowage" arrangement on the newer Sherman models. Some of the deficiencies were fixed, such as the flashback at the breech end by implementing a delayed action breech on the 17-pounder Mk.VII model, but all these faults never diminished the Firefly's popularity, highlighted by the statements of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery that he wished to have Fireflies replace all types of Shermans in British service.
At the onset, the Americans were not enthusiastic about the Firefly because they believed they had a comparable design in the 76 mm armed Shermans. It was not until Normandy when they were proven wrong and learned the 76 mm were unable to contend against Panthers from the front. Though they soon developed the HVAP ammunition, General Omar Bradley's 12th U.S. Army Group, on August 13, 1944, requested Fireflies to be made until better American armament like the 90 mm could be fielded. Due to supply constraints, they never received any during that time period. Not that the American's industries were making the situation easier for the British as when they discontinued their M4A4 Sherman and 75 mm gun production, there was a quick drop in Firefly conversions in the latter part of 1944 until they could supplement the production with enough Sherman I models. In the American's program, it was advised that they try mounting the 17-pounder in the T23 turret made for the 76 mm gun, but also mounted on the T26 chassis. This advice did not make much progress. It wasn't until February 1945 when the British finally made time for conversions for the Americans. The first trials converted two M4A3 Shermans to fit American specifications like fitting their larger radios, adding stowage brackets for the M2 machine gun, and attachment of an M9 elevating quadrant on the gun cradle. A request of 160 Fireflies were specified on March 11, 1945, for completion on April 30, with the Americans shipping suitable tanks from France back to England for conversion. On April 07, the initial order was halved to 80 due to the incoming end of the war and its demand ending with the lack of encountered German armour after the Ardennes Offensive. On the war's end, 100 tanks were sitting in depots ready for conversion, with 86 converted tanks. The excess Shermans were given away, and the leaders were left on what to do with these Fireflies they no longer needed. It was decided on May 26  that these American Fireflies were to be retained in Europe for equipping the occupational force. No evidence exists on what happened to these Fireflies past that point.
The Firefly's reputation during and after the war is a product of hindsight. The British understood the trend that was happening in German armoured forces and acted accordingly with the 17-pounder. It should be noted that the 17-pounder's super round, the APDS, did not appear in Firefly stowage until August 1944, and in combat was inaccurate past 500 yards and the round fouled the barrel that it affected follow-up shots with APCBC rounds. As such, APCBC round would still be standard usage, and though the 17-pounder was still slightly more potent than the 76 mm, it traded crew comfort and design quality in the Firefly in comparison to the 76 mm gun in the larger T23 turret. What solidified the Firefly's place in history in contrast to the 76 mm Shermans was that on the very first day that the Allies invaded Normandy, the British brought the Fireflies while the Americans left their 76 mm guns in English depots. Thus, the British can claim with high confidence that they had a tank that could kill the German cats on the opening days of Operation Overlord.
An excellent addition to the article will be video guides, as well as screenshots from the game and photos.
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