The Upper Hull
VP set requires some surgery to the Lee hull. I removed the fake
wall sections from the front sponson gun opening, the wall above
the engine deck, and the molded engine screen. To cut out the large
circle needed for the turret basket, I first glued a sheet of scrap
plastic to cover the bottom of the opening that accommodates the
kit's turret. That allowed me to find the center point and used
a scribe to mark my circumference. Rather than trying to saw out
a perfect circle, I just used my Xuron nippers to nibble away at
the plastic until I hit my mark, followed with some filing, sanding,
and plenty of dry fitting.
kit does not have an opening for the driver's visor, so that needs
to be cut out as well. I sized it according to a resin front driver's
visor I purchased from Paul Roberts to replace the undersized kit
part; Tamiya's visor and surrounding bullet splash is as wide as
just the visor in its correctly scaled counterpart. Since I wanted
to have the visor opened, I removed the splash from the resin piece.
The separation between the splash and visor in the Tamiya piece
was filled and sanded, giving me the correct width of the visor
to fit into the pocket of the resin splash. Again, the reason for
using the styrene visor was to get a better bond to the plastic
hull and lessen any chance of breakage. The visor, which was tricked
out with photoetch and a casting number, was the last item glued
into place after painting and weathering.
Tamiya instructions have you attach the front left fender (#A8)
to the left front edge of the lower hull, but I glued it directly
to the bottom edge of the upper hull after trimming off the back
corner as specified by the Verlinden instructions. That way, if
there were any gaps when mating the top and bottom hull sections
together, they would appear on the underside of the fenders (the
right fender is molded onto the hull) and less conspicuous if filled
in. All of the locating holes for various pieces were filled with
Testors' Contour Putty.
the rear, I cut piece #A13 below the vertical rivet third from the
top to give me the right overhang for this version of the Lee; this
was before I'd purchased the Grant, which has the correct overhang.
I also drilled out the "keyhole" opening for the manual
engine crank. I added the square-mesh screening across the opening
from the top of the rear hull wall to the underside of the engine
deck, which allowed increased ventilation through the engine compartment.
The screening was left over from a Tamiya German armored car, set
in a Plastruct frame. I added the triangular plate metal gussets
that were welded on to helped reinforce the wall between the mufflers
and track and protect the mufflers from thrown tracks and, to a
lesser extent, battle damage. On later versions of the Lee, these
plates were larger rectangular shapes and covered more of the mufflers.
a lot of casting numbers on the tank, pulled from Academy's tank
destroyer sets. The appear in two places on the transmission casing,
on the cupola (purposely upside down, as seen on a real cupola),
atop the 75mm housing, and on this inside surface of the driver's
visor. Both gun barrels were replaced and some Eduard p/e was applied
around hull in the later stages of construction.
were repositioned according to the Squadron Signal drawings; it
appears that Tamiya's is a very early layout.
headlights were ground out and replaced with MV 116 lenses. Wiring
was run from the lights to their entry points in the hull in both
the front and back of the tank.
a spare folded .30 tripod that I wrapped in some tissue paper and
tied it off, and added a couple pieces of thin metal to serve as
the hangers that appear on the front left wall of the hull above
the fender. Based on an Allied and Axis photo, I added a
retaining bar across the back of the engine deck, undoubtedly used
by this crew to keep gear from sliding off the back and providing
attachment points to secure their stowage. Another crew had welded
some braces to the rear fender to hold a box of rations in place,
which I copied.
and Research Notes
The Suspension and Tracks
The Lower Hull Exterior
The Lower Hull Interior
The Upper Hull Exterior
The Upper Hull Interior
Painting and Decals
Diorama (coming soon)