Building Tamiya's M3 Lee
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Turret Exterior

I puttied up Tamiya's turret to something more akin to the proper dimensions because I wanted the top cupola hatch open. Paul Roberts makes a very nice solid resin hull, which I bought thinking I could hollow it out. But the block of resin was a little more imposing than I had anticipated. I decided a putty job on the Tamiya would be a lot easier. Paul's turret became a good template, and I built out the kit's turret with Apoxie Sculpt, including the flat portion of the wall below the back of the commander's cupola. I added the three distinctive nodes where, I believe, eye rings were attached so the turret assembly could be lowered onto the hull. The casting number and surface details were added and the turret was given a cast finish of Mr. Surfacer 500.

Another problem with the Tamiya kit is that the sight for the 37mm gun is rotated upward about 45 degrees, meaning the gun should also be rotated upward, rather than parallel to the ground. Even though I ended up with two sets of gun shields between the two kits, I didn't feel like trying to Frankenstein them. And what the hell, what's wrong with a jaunty 37mm pointing to the North African sky.

The slender tube beneath the 37mm barrel is often mistaken for a .30 machine gun. It is actually a stabilizer for the 37mm. Not all guns had this stabilizer, and I found conflicting information as to whether the stabilizer for the 37mm directly corresponded with the use of a stabilizer for the 75mm—and hence the need, or not, for the collar seen on the shorter 75mm barrels. (This is probably an instance where the Zaloga or Hunnicutt books would have provided quick and reliable answers.) However, as one can see from the picture on the front page of this article, the profile of the North African Lee in the color Army motion picture shows the use of the 37mm stabilizer with the longer 75mm barrel, which my build up reflects.

The actual coax .30, by the way, is positioned to the right of the gun (looking out from the turret).

Turret Interior

Since you can only look down into the turret through the cupola, the skewed dimensions of the roof and wall transition are not apparent. The ready rounds from Verlinden were added to the walls, and I did a bit of detailing on the port. The visors on the cupola got some additional detailing as well. I decided to have the .30 machine gun removed for maintenance, and fashioned a cradle and spring to fill the space. (How a man was supposed to navigate around that MG and in and out of that hatch is beyond me!) Without any detailed photos to guide me, I just added some bolts and a handle to the cupola hatch based on the layout of hinges on the kit piece.

I added a binocular holder, flashlight with holder, and some wiring to the 37mm gun controls. I built an ammo can and feed chute to accompany the coax .30 to the right of VP's cannon. Again, VP provides no backs for the two wall-mounted seats, and I made my own.

Turret Basket

I had troubling deciphering VP's instructions for the turret basket and the top ring as to exactly where they attached (the ring interior seems undersized). It fits the Tamiya turret well. However, I had to remove a portion of the left sponson in order to allow the turret to sit properly on the hull; I don't know if was a result me fouling the turret ring attachment or if VP fouled their measurements. But since my adjustments shorted the length of the turret from top to bottom, I think the problem is with Verlinden's accuracy or construction method.

When I dry fitting the top and bottom hull parts and dropping the turret in place, I discovered that I needed to break apart and reposition the generator on the rear left sponson because it was in the way of the basket.

Introduction and Research Notes
The Suspension and Tracks
The Lower Hull Exterior
The Lower Hull Interior
The Upper Hull Exterior
The Upper Hull Interior
The Turret
Painting and Decals
Final Construction and Weathering
Diorama (coming soon)


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter