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16
M3 Lee

Once the Bottom and sides were detailed it was time to mount the M3’s VVSS suspension. For the suspension I used the functional Resin M3 VVSS suspension system that I already had developed. Unlike the Shermans VVSS the M3’s, (which were evolved from the M2’s) were lighter than the sets for developed for the Shermans. Because the suspension is functional when the model is placed on uneven terrain the suspension will contour and flex with the terrain giving for a very realistic feel.

In addition to the VVSS suspension I had to tool up the early open spoke Idler wheels. Once the molds and castings were created they were mounted to a set of my resin M4 series idler mounts. As with my other builds I used my lock pin system which keeps the wheels secured to the model, but allows the wheels to spin freely.

To mount the model’s sprockets were a little more complicated and required more work. First the tank’s molded in 3 piece transmission cover needed to be reworked, etch lines, and fasteners were added to the flanges, tow eyelets were added to the outer two units, mounting blisters were added to the transmission top corners, and an allover cast texture and cast numbers was added to the entire housing. Completing the cover was the addition of two Panzerwerk.com M4 series final drives.

The kit supplies you with a set of very nice ABS early open spoke VVSS sprockets. To mount the sprockets to the panzerwerk final drives I had to turn away a recess in the rear portion of the sprockets, which was facilitated with a lathe. After the sprockets were mounted I turned my attention to the tank’s rear wall. I started with the fabrication of the engine hatch.

While I was tooling up the masters for the engine hatch I wanted to add the interior hatch detail. Even though I will not be building an interior on this model I wanted to add the detail to the hatches in case I was to build an interior model in the future. To aid with the interior detailing of the engine hatch I was able to freeze and capture a scene from Sahara where Bogie and another cast member are working on the engine.

Once the hatches were added the rest of the rear details (air filter canisters, exhausts) were added. I went with the M3 with the air filter and overhead exhaust manifold upgrade. This was done because I already had these components on hand from a previous M4 Sherman build and it offered the most detail for the model while saving tooling time. Once the entire lower chassis was completed it was time to move up to the tank’s superstructure. I first started with the rear portion, adding the correct number and size of rivets, tail lights and fabricating the tank’s sheet steel “claw” style rear mud flaps. Adding the engine deck tool posts, functional fuel cap covers, functional rear storage boxes, and engine cooling grill were also details that were added. Like the mud flaps the boxes and the cooling grill were all fabricated out of sheet steel that was soldered together.

Once these details were added the entire model’s hull was riveted, Great care was given to the number and spacing of the rivets so that the correct number and sizing was used. It was a repetitive, but therapeutic procedure that once complete really made the model pop, and on this vehicle the rivets are what gives this model’s it’s true character.
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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