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16
M3 Lee

Guns & cupola
On the tankís bow I wanted to make the sponson mounted 75mm gun able to pivot and elevate. The kit was designed to have this part static and the rotor was molded into the hull casting. I had to first remove the molded in rotor and a replacement was fabricated out of a large diameter PVC pipe. The gunís elevation rotor was fabricated out of a turned resin disk. On the interior, an extension spring was added which prevented the gun barrel from drooping downward. I down a barrel out of PVC and fitted it to the unit. The new unit was installed to the hull via a single counter sunk bolt to the hullís roof. This bolt would be covered up with the top rotor drum detailing, and a lock nut was added on the interior portion to keep everything in its proper place. The rotor overhanging roof accompanied by body work and cast texture was applied to the sponson completing this portion of the model.

Once the sponson gun was completed I was then off to finish off the front detailing. Parts like the bow dual M1919 MG mounts, front visor, corner visor, 75mm counter weight, and early head lights were all tooled up in resin. Other details like the M1919 tripod holders, front fenders, and brush guards were all fabricated out of sheet metal. The front fenders have their rigidity bulges pressed into them, and along with their interior details all of the visors were made to be fully functional.Once the rivets were completed, all that was left to focus on the modelís turret. The modelís turret was a single rotomold casting that was the correct size and shape. The kit supplies you with a resin commanderís mini turret copula, and 37mm gun mantlet. On the turret itself I fabricated the missing turret molded in details. These would include the lift eyelet mounts, and the right hand side blister. Rough cast texture along with casting numbers completed the turretís body. The turret mounts to the turret via a single bolt and nut which allows the turret to spin freely, but allows the turret to stay affixed to the model.

For the tankís 37mm gun, the kit supplied gun mount and mantlet had adequate molded in casting marks, cast numbers and was in scale with the proper proportions. The mantlets gun rotor drum was casted as one solid piece into the gun mount. I wanted to make this part functional so to make the part functional I needed to carefully remove the molded in mantlet along with the optic bar. A new mantlet and optic bar were fabricated and were mounted to gun mount with a custom made bearing system which allows the 37mm gun and optic bar to elevate in unison.

The one part of the model that I was looking forward to working on was the commanderís mini turret cupola. The kit supplied cupola turret was a single casting which was not designed to rotate, had the M1919 mount molded in, no interior detailing, and whoís hatches more or less designed to be glued In the open or closed locations. For my build I wanted to have the mini turret be fully functional with interior detailing. The copulaís interior was all scratch built out of styrene PVC, and resin.

The cupolaís 1919 molded-in mount was carefully amputated and a newly designed and better detailed gun mount / rotor were developed. The cupolaís 1919 was not only designed to elevate but was also designed to be able to pivot from left to right. These functions were built into the model. For the M1919, I used the dragon 1/6th scale M1919A4 plastic kit. For the hatches I deleted the molded in static hinges and replaced them and the other molded in details with new functional versions. In addition to all of the new additional functions I was also able to make the mini turret fully rotate on the main turret. Retaining locks were added to the copulaís ring which lock the copula to the turret in the same fashion as are found on 1/35th scale tank turrets.
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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