Sunday, February 19, 2017

'West' from LeeH: Westward Ho!

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 book 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. Nicely done Lee.
    Am now googling "Westward Ho"...still can't believe that's a place...I just love the stuff I learn during the Painting Challenge...

    1. I've had a couple of very nice holidays in Westward Ho!.

  2. Nicely done Lee - all the coolest people have painted a Sherman Firefly during AHPC VII :-)

  3. Very nicely done! I'm sure this tank with its great backstory will become a favourite on the tabletop!

  4. Lovely work on this iconic AFV - another outside-the-box entry!