Chris’s M3 project

Forum for discussion relating to the M3 Lee nd Grant Medium Tank
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Chris Hall
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Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:24 pm

This is one I’ve been keen to do for some time. Indeed, I was talking to Mark about it on the day he and Gill announced that they were selling the company, and I’ve been gently (well, perhaps :wink:) sounding Kian out about it ever since. So I was delighted when Armortek announced it as their latest project, and felt duty-bound to actually commit to it (once my lovely tolerant wife had approved the expenditure, of course ..... :D)

There’s a surprising amount of history in the M3 when you start to dig a bit, which is perhaps surprising for a tank that was only in production for just over a year and was always a stop-gap until the Sherman came in. Many base variants (up to M3A5), the different turrets (of course), different guns (75mm M2 and M3) and, of course, all the conversions such as Priest, Sexton and APC’s. And a range of theatres from the Western Desert (probably the obvious one), Operation Torch, Lend-Lease to Russia, the Far East and even island-hopping in the Pacific with the US Marines. The Canadians used them for training (although not in combat), the Australians used them in New Guinea, and I’ve seen at least one picture of the Free French using one in Normandy. Certainly enough choice to satisfy the engineers and the historians among us (I freely admit I tend to the latter).

As a British Citizen I’ve naturally gone for ........ the Lee. That may be a surprise. But the Grant was a one-off to meet specific British requirements (although the British used the Lee in the Desert too), whereas the Lee was in production for the whole run. So the Lee, to me, has much greater development potential. I’ve no doubt, though, that the Grant will appeal to Western Desert fans, where it can go up against the Panzer III’s and the early Tigers (and has some great colour schemes, and can even be disguised as a truck !).

It won’t surprise those who’ve followed my ramblings about Liesel that I like to go a bit off piste, and this project is no exception. There’s lots of research to do yet, but my M3 is going to represent the 25th Dragoons at the Battle of the Admin Box, Burma, in February 1944. Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve even heard of that oddly-named battle ! But it’s well worth looking up, as it was the first time that British and Allied (Indian, Gurkha) forces held, threw back and decimated a Japanese attack and, incidentally, saved India from invasion. It therefore stands alongside better-known battles like El Alamein and Stalingrad, as marking the beginning of the end for the Axis forces in WW2.

That’s probably enough to be going on with. More details on my project will emerge when I’ve got into some serious research, and had a chance to see Armortek’s prototypes. But I’m very excited by this – who doesn’t love a new project ? And this is the first time I’ve got in on the ground floor (so to speak).

Now to finish off Flaming Fire II – I don’t want a backlog, and I haven’t got room just to store all those boxes !

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Pete Nash » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:48 pm

Hi Chris

I knew that you'd be delighted, I remember our conversation at Amiens 100.

I'm going to do my Grant in western desert and Make up a 'truck cover' for 'Operation Bertrum', I found a couple of Images on the net

The 'battle of the Admin Box', if I'm right was the battles of Imphal and Kohima where, as you say the Japanese invasion of India was thwarted amongst vicious close combat fighting, at times across the width of a tennis court. Ammunition and supplies were dropped by Dakota aircraft into the box and enabled the defenders to keep going until relived.

On the Imphal memorial is inscribed, I believe,"When you go home, tell them of us. Say for your tomorrows we gave our today's" Words often repeated on remembrance Day.

Pete

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Stephen White » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:24 pm

What an inspiring choice, Chris, forgotten armour from the Forgotten Army. Bill Slim was fulsome in his praise for 25DG in "Defeat Into Victory," although he clearly was hedging his tank identification bets by describing their tanks as "Lee-Grants".

Pete, I always thought the Kohima Epitaph was the more poignant of the two acts of Remembrance (compared with "At the going down of the sun...."). , There's a hint of the Forgotten Army in it ('tell them of us.... ). "When you go home, tell them of us and say "for your tomorrow, we gave our today".

This is Kohima Military Cemetery today:
kohima-war-cemetery-monument-tennis-court.jpg
kohima-war-cemetery-monument-tennis-court.jpg (106.39 KiB) Viewed 4128 times
kohima-war-cemetery-memory-stone.jpg
kohima-war-cemetery-memory-stone.jpg (122.89 KiB) Viewed 4128 times
kohima-war-cemetery-inscriptions.jpg
kohima-war-cemetery-inscriptions.jpg (184.02 KiB) Viewed 4128 times
kohima-war-cemetery-city.jpg
kohima-war-cemetery-city.jpg (197.93 KiB) Viewed 4128 times
and one of the best accounts of the campaign (other than Defeat Into Victory):
51qR5kfd-8L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
51qR5kfd-8L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (44.27 KiB) Viewed 4128 times
Looking forward to seeing your research Chris. It'll make a welcome change from the Panzerwaffe.

Stephen

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Adrian Harris
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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Adrian Harris » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:05 pm

Will be following your journey with interest, having seen how well your other projects have been researched.

I'd forgotten the Grant also wore the Sunshade in the desert. I wonder if the IWM or Bovvy ones still have the fittings ?

Maybe we'll have to put in a request to the new Armortek seamstress for some ?

Adrian.
Contact me at sales@armortekaddict.uk for details of my smoker fan control module and other electronic gadgetry

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:33 pm

Thanks, Chaps - it's good to spark some interest in the M3, as it's a lot more important than most people realise ..........

Pete -

Close, but no cigar :lol:. Imphal and Kohima followed on from the Admin Box a few months later, and delivered the hammer blow against Japanese forces. But the Admin Box was the first step. You're right about the air supply, though. I'll look forward to seeing your Grant with the camouflage truck body on it - that's a story in itself ! You need to research the Magic Circle .... :wink:

Stephen -

Confusingly, the M3A5 (which I think I'll be modelling) was called the Grant II by the British ! So Slim was probably right to be cautious. I'm intending to start a thread on information sources, and the books you mention will definitely be on it. And the Kohima Epitaph always brings a lump to my throat - I guess most people know it, but far fewer know where it comes from.

Adrian -

I see you're on board too, so I'll race you ! I prefer 'project' to 'journey', though, which I think is one of the most abused words in the English Language ... :evil:

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Michael Cecil » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:25 pm

Some other books about the India/Burma campaign that M3 builders (and others) may find of interest are:

James Lunt: A Hell of a Licking: The Retreat from Burma 1941-42.
Frank McLynn: The Burma Campaign
Louis Allen: Burma, the Longest War. 1941-1945.

The most compelling book I've read on the campaign is that of Field Marshal Viscount William Slim's own account: Defeat into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India 1942 - 1945. I can recommend it very highly.

Chris: the Australians used the M3 light tank in NG, not the M3 Medium, and soon learned that the little recon tank was not good for hard slogging in jungle, so subsequently deployed Matildas. The only operational deployment of Australian M3 series tanks that I'm aware of was to Balikpapan late in the war, when three (?) dozer conversions were deployed but did not see combat. Australia received a mix of several hundred Grant and Lee tanks during the war, some Lees being late production without the side doors. They were used for training. The M3A5 version, with the twin 6-71 GM diesels, remained in service in Australia until the mid-1950s.

There was also the post-war (early 1950s) Australian conversion of the M3A5 to the Yeramba SP 25-pdr, and one converted to a BARV.

Mike

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:30 pm

Mike -

Thanks for that - no shame in being corrected by an expert :) And I'll add your books to my (growing) list.

One conversion I forgot to mention in my original list is, of course, the CDL. Anyone thinking of doing that ?

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:57 pm

Well, I picked up my Lee yesterday, directly from the factory (which is only about an hours drive away). It was very kind of Kian and Monique to let me do it, what with all the other things they've got on (packaging, posting, Chieftain, King Tiger, normal everyday orders, planning for the 2020 releases ..... ). They assured me that I was the first person to get one, which I'm stupidly proud of (although It'll be a very short-lived honour !). I paid for that honour by bring treats for Bosco, the Company Mascot (who was my faithful shadow for the rest of the visit :lol:).

There were lots of boxes awaiting collection by the courier:

Boxes at Armortek.jpg

My experience of buying directly from Armortek, which may surprise you, as actually limited to one Mark IV ! So the first thing I noticed was only 3 small boxes instead of 4 huge ones:

Lee boxes.jpg

So this is going to be a much smaller, and lighter, tank. But, looking at the models around the factory (including the excellent painted one by Simon Manning) it's going to have a lot going on - Kian says that, if you want everything r/c'd you'll need 9 channels ! The electrical side is yet to be finalised, though.

The only thing I've done so far is to find the certificate and instruction manual. The certificate is now safely filed away. The manuals just seem to get better and clearer - the drawings are as good as with the Mark IV, but there's a lot more guidance, particularly relating to helpful tools. I'll be doing a lot more reading before I start bolting things together !

For those of you who will be diving in over the weekend, Kian advises that you leave off the differential housing (the front bit) until you've got the motor pack fitted. It can apparently be done later, but it's a lot easier to fit the motors first. You have been warned.

And, following a useful chat with Chris Fry, I now know how I'm going to swap the Silly Top Turret (TM) with the Grant hatch. A fairly simple job, and a very pleasing historical change. I'll get to that ......... eventually :wink:.

So, all-in-all, I'm very pleased with what I've got, as I'm sure you all will be. This is going to be a great project ! And it'll be wonderful seeing all those Lee's and Grants zipping around in due course, either in Real Life or on YouTube - with the many variants and field adaptations available, there's no reason why there should be any two alike.

An enthused,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Robert Marshall » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:48 pm

Happy building Chris, I must admit I like the P38 more than the M3 ;)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Kevin Hunter » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:41 pm

Congratulations Chris, enjoy!
Looking forward to reading about your journey.....
Kevin

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Vince Cutajar » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:59 pm

Congratulations on the new toy.

Vince

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Pete Nash » Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:57 pm

Robert

I must admit I like the P38 more than the M3

P38 Robert? That's an Aeroplane! :P :shock: 8) :lol:

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:01 pm

Pete -

Robert and I have been chatting about this all afternoon. The P38 is one of the names for my second-generation Range Rover, which is what all the boxes are loaded into ....... :lol:

All the best,

Chris
Mark IV (Liesel, Abteilung 14, France 1918)
Morris Quad, 25-pdr & 2 x limbers (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (10(RN)AMB, German E. Africa 1916)

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Robert Marshall » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:04 pm

Yeah at least we didn't swamp the build thread with our other love of Range Rovers!

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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Pete Nash » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:35 pm

OOOOPS! :oops:

Box 3 weighs 12 Kilos, it is marked 'Turret'.

This is why it weighs 12 Kilos, it is one big machined block of Aluminium (aluminum for those on the far side of the pond), the rear end is SOLID!
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