Is the Star on the Firefly Correct?

Author: David “Listy” Lister

With the recent WOT trailer for Gamescom, the sharp eyed amongst you have spotted the long awaited Sherman Firefly.


Now, I’ve noticed an outburst of people getting wound up by that photo. Claiming a British tank had “US Stars” on it. This is not the case, and WG haven’t dropped a clanger. It is historical… sort of.

First a disclaimer: Whenever discussing British tank makings, be aware that its very random. British units had guidelines for their markings – however, individual units interrupted those, as they saw fit. Some stuck to the letter of the guidelines, while others ignored it and did their own thing. Many fell between the two extremes, so keep that in mind while reading the following.

Those US stars were a common identification marking used by all armies in Europe and to an extent, in Italy. The reason, why you don’t often see them is because they’re normally carried on the upper surfaces of the tanks, so that aircraft pilots can see them.

Originally the symbol was this:


And was found all over the tanks and vehicles. However, it was quickly found to make a brilliant bullseye for German gunners. So was quickly switched to a low visibility scheme, or simply removed from the hull sides.

Equally the single star was often applied:


However some units carried on using a White star or similar. As can be seen here:


But again the markings are on the areas of the tank least likely to be seen. So while the Gamescom trailer is technically correct, it was rather rare to see a tank with the star mounted on the side. But it did happen:


As all Allied vehicles carried the star this annoyed the Canadians, whom resented having to carry a marking that appeared to be from the US. Here again the flexible nature of the regulations came into play. The Canadians started painting their stars on their sides. As can be seen here:


14 thoughts on “Is the Star on the Firefly Correct?

    • They made pancakes, harnessed their moose to their tanks and strapped more rockets on their tanks, as per the aussie school of warfare :v

  1. Haha those poor Canadadians: “Terribly sorry, sorry…. sorry, we will remove our white stars, terribly sorry” :P

  2. Can anyone tell me where the picture of the tank and windmill comes from? It looks really familair to me (I am from The Netherlands, so all my bells go off when I see a mill #correctprejudice)

    • Well the picture’s file name has “Guards Armoured”, and considering that the Guards Armoured Division was the spearhead of XXX Corps during Operation Market Garden, it’s quite possible that it (the picture) is indeed taken in the Netherlands…

      Through TinEye I’ve been able to confirm that it is indeed the Netherlands. The caption is “Hell’s Highway towards Nijmegen”, so for obvious reasons the picture was taken somewhere between Eindhoven and Nijmegen.

    • It’s just a legend amongst allied tanks, a bit like the Tiger for the Germans. How amazing it was in practice is, as per usual, hard to determine, but it seemed rather successful in all roles a medium tank is expected to fulfil.

      I think it’s fame more comes from national pride: the UK took an American tank and made it (subjectively) better. Even if it was a stopgap measure until the Comet/Challenger was finished. Comet doesn’t get as much love because it just wasn’t used in major operations until Korea, where it was eclipsed by the Centurion.

      • I guess that British national pride took a big hit when told that their mediums were found lacking against the Sherman. Also, I think that the firefly was the first Sherman with an “Anti-Tiger” gun that made it to Europe in D-Day.

    • To the British, it holds a position like that of the T-34 is to Russians, or the .45 M1911 does to the Americans. Why exactly is hard to explain. I might have to have a look at that.

    • The allies tanks were so hopelessly outclassed by the German tanks they met, the arrival of a tank that could at least hurt them was a big deal. Hence the big reputation of Firefly, su-152, IS et all. In truth of course the German tanks were so hugely outnumbered and low on spare parts/fuel and the allies had such superior air power and artillery they didn’t actually need to kill tanks with tanks. But having something that could was good for morale and propaganda purposes, advancing on a German position not knowing whether there was tigers there in normal Shermans or t-34s must have been fairly terrifying.

      In reality commonwealth tank units were usually not facing tigers and panthers, they were facing infantry with anti tank guns plus the odd pz4 or Stug. In such circumstances the normal Sherman was more use than the firefly sine the 17-pdr never really managed a decent HE shell. As such Shermans and fireflies (or indeed cromwells and challengers) working together covered all eventualities.

      • Panthers and Tigers did not perform fantastically even on the occasions where they did encounter M4s. The most important factor in a tank battle was simply who engaged first, followed by who was attacking and who was defending.

  3. Well Firefly is already on the 360 version of WOT, the model that is. It was a US tank in the Closed Beta.
    It was tested as a US tank since the UK tech tree was not implemented in the 360 version yet. That was a cross-platform trailer as in PC,I pad, 360 and even the card game. So they had tanks exclusive to each platform to. So I guess that’s why they kept the start on it if you look at it that way. Tho the 360 crew never said it was to be a US medium. But the model was tested as a US tank.