The M3 Lee was the first
U.S. medium tank to see action under American command in WWII during the North
African campaign, and it wasn't long before it was recognized as outgunned by
it opponents. The 37mm turret gun was effective only against thin-skinned targets,
with a close shot capable of taking out a Pz. II. The 75mm gun on the sponson
was critically hampered by a lack of mobility. The tall silhouette made it a conspicuous
had been employed by the British, where it was reconfigured with a new turret
and rechristened the "Grant." The Russians accepted it as it was, though
they nicknamed it "the coffin for six brothers."
initial M3 was bolted together, but it was followed by the cast hull M3A1, the
welded M3A2, the welded and diesel-powered M3A3, and the M3A4 equipped with the
Chrysler multibank engine. After the tank fell out of favor, it was modified to
become the M31 tank recovery vehicle. Its chassis was put to further use as the
platform for the M7 Priest 105mm self-propelled gun.
produced the M3 Lee and Grant early in their catalogue, circa 1973. These tanks
were plagued with problems such as poorly designed tracks and misshapen turrets.
Prior to that, Monogram had issued the tanks in 1/32 scale, and they won a following
due to Shep Paine's imaginative rendering of the kits displayed in booklets included
with the kits.
there was well receivedand relatively pricey resin kit from Armoured
Brigade Models in the late 1990s, it took until 2006 before a new M3 Lee hit the
shelves. Produced by Academy, it was an improvement over the Tamiya kit, but the
oversized suspension bogeys were a sorry disappointment. The company did come
out with properly scaled bogeys for the 2008 M7 Priest and M3 Grant, and offered
replacements for the oversized parts.
photos below show the similarities found on the M3 Lee and Grant, essentially
everything below the turret.
Baumgardner provides the first set of photos of M3 Lee serial number 2, located
in Detroit, MI. This nicely preserved specimen gives a good overall impression
of this early tank.
This second set
comes from Ian Sadler, showing the fourth produced M3 Grant, shipped to the UK
for evaluation, where it remained. According to Ian, it ended up on the firing
range as a target, thus the pockmarked complexion. Photographed by Ian at the
War and Peace Show in 2006, the tank is in running condition but is past the point
of restoration. The measuring rods are marked in 3" segments, to give an
idea of the dimensions of the suspension.