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16
M3 Lee

It was at this time I could start with the model’s build up. For further research I utilized the Squadron signal M3 Lee/Grant walk around book, along with various images that were found on the internet. Another surprising excellent reference for the M3 Lee was the old film Sahara with Humphrey Bogart. Along with my own Aberdeen walk around I had most of the gaps and blind spots covered.

Since I knew beforehand that this model was going to require lots and lots of rivets I first tried to obtain metal domed rivet heads from my fastener sources, when I was unable to acquire the size and shape of rivets that I needed for this build I decided to fabricate my own and to cast them in resin. This way I can have as many of the correct size rivet heads for this build that I need without having to run out, or run over budget. From my research I found that the M3 used two sizes of rivets for its construction. After doing some calculations I found that in 1/6th scale the two sizes that worked the best was 5/32nd and the larger 11/54th.

The first area that I started with was the tank’s bottom hull. The bottom Hull has all of its rivet, panel, and rigidity bulges present. All details were fabricated out of styrene and lengths of PVC.I then moved onward to the sponsons and side hull. Unlike the M4 Sherman where all of these panels are welded, on the M3 they are riveted and need the support of a large length of Angle iron that runs along the sponson from rear to front. For the support Plastruct ¼ angle was used along with my resin rivets.
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About the Author

About John (armourguy)
FROM: PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES


Comments

Wow incredible build, the Lee is one of my favorite tanks!
APR 11, 2013 - 07:06 AM
That's a LOT of work. Props to the builders who build these 1/6th scale monsters. It's unfortunate that some of the more obvious details are inaccurate. It's a bit of a mix of early and late features.
APR 11, 2013 - 07:41 AM
What details would they be? As I wrote in the article the hull details are heavily based on the APG Grant.
APR 12, 2013 - 09:54 AM
I don't want to come across in a mean way. This is a really nice build, and your fabrication skills are WAY better than mine. I have dug into the M3 tanks pretty heavily for the last year or so. APG's "Grant", in my opinion, didn't begin life as a Grant. I think it's a Lee hull with a Grant turret placed after the fact for display purposes. It's got the rear antenna pot, which was never used on Grants, and it's missing the driver's periscope. It also has the 'late' exhaust setup, which I've seen very few, if any Grants with, although that could have been a field mod. It's also got the tripod bracket on the left side front hull, which isn't visible in Grant wartime photos. With regard to the 'early' and 'late' mix on your Lee... -'early' 37mm without the counterweight -'mid' 75mm with the counterweight -'late' exhaust pattern' -'early' hull with no ventilators -'late' Sherman drive sprockets As far as some other small details... -both gun rotors are too small diameter, and appear to be 'sunken' into the tank a bit too much. -the rear hull boxes should be welded on, with no gaps -the hinges on the hatch over the 75mm gunner position don't match the APG Grant. -on the right rear 'diagonal' part of the upper hull, you've got rivets which should be bolts -the rear thin armor plates that were installed to protect the air cleaners were welded to the rear hull plate, not riveted. -where the final drive cover meets the front upper hull, it should sit proud. So proud that the final drive had to be ground down a tiny bit where the forward firing machine guns fired. Again, please please don't take this in any way but to point out some historical accuracy issues. It's a fantastic build, great fabrication skills, and I'm particularly fond of the paint and markings. Very nicely done. And of course it's YOUR tank, so you built it like you wanted to. I also like the homage to the famous training photographs from 1942 with the figures.
APR 12, 2013 - 11:44 AM
Thanks for the compliments, I was aware of the APG grant / Lee hybrid nature. As for some of the things you noticed. 1. The 75mm rotor was as good as I could make it...with what I was given to start with. This also applies to the transmission bolting strip. 2. I disagree with the 37mm concern, From the ocean of images I was working with they all appear to look similar to mine in appearance, and doesn't look to be sunken in to me. 3. The Bin detail I got from seeing a M3 grant with the bins riding over the rivets...Honestly I did't realize that the bins were welded to the deck flush on US M3s. 4. The sprocket was the closest I could get in this scale for the early style. 5. For the air filter protectors I built them as per these images. There are two rows of bolts...but when I was building the model they looked like rivets. which is what I used 6. I'm not sure what your referring to with the diagonal plate, every image that I have seen these parts are riveted. Also I did do a construction blog on this forum when I was building this model. During the duration of the build no one stepped forward with any concerns or mistakes at the time. LINK As for the mix of early and late parts, it is possible that a tank got updated and repaired with some parts from different salvaged / repaired tanks.
APR 12, 2013 - 12:33 PM
Hi John, Well, I didn't much about M3's until this past year. It's funny that a TON of details are known about the M4 Sherman, but for the M3, a lot of the knowledge just isn't out there, or at least it's hidden pretty well. I asked a number of questions on various forums, and got a lot of silence, so I had to use multiple references to figure out some of the details. Here's a photo from prime portal regarding the rear plates being welded as opposed to riveted. The photos you have kinda obscure this area, so I see why you assumed rivets. The 4 rivets on the sides were the mounting point for the air cleaners, but the plates themselves were welded to the rear hull plate. As far as the diagonal... here's what I'm talking about: That top strip is also bolts/screws. This was to allow that entire corner piece to be removed, which was required to replace the 75mm gun and mounting. You've got the screws on the vertical piece of armor nicely done, but the top row as rivets. Looking through your build thread, it's clear that what you had to use as a starting point definitely had some weak points. Well done on making a nice finished product! By the way, the only reason I know anything about the M3 is for my own build here: LINK
APR 12, 2013 - 02:34 PM
Yeah you are right about the gap in reference material there is for the M3...while the sherman has several volumes. I knew about the removable plate...but I didn't know that the top portion was screwed, although it makes sense. When I was at APG I couldn't get to the top of the vehicle...too many people watching. Your model looks great and reflects your research. BTW currently I'm working on a 222 armored car LINK so far it's a lot smaller, but turns out to be more complex.
APR 13, 2013 - 04:02 PM
The 222... all those angles, and a full interior... ouch. Looks really nice though. I don't know a single thing about those, so you don't have to worry about me picking that one apart.
APR 13, 2013 - 06:25 PM
By the way, on Thursday of last week, I was able to photograph the interior of the old APG "Grant". It's definitely a Lee hull, complete with the roof hung 37mm ammo bin on the left side of the hull.
APR 22, 2013 - 04:19 AM
I think its Fantastic John !!
AUG 20, 2013 - 01:15 PM