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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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:33 pm

My build spreadsheet tells me that I haven't done any work on the Lee since 30 March 2019 :shock:. Where, and why, has all that time gone ? Well, 2019 was taken up with looking after my widowed Mother's affairs, and moving her into a Care Home. But I did have some fun, as I repainted my Korean War Quad and limber (the 25-pdr still needs to be finished off :oops:). Then, in 2020, I started a new job - supposed to be part-time, but you know how these things develop ..... and then the Covid lockdown. That should have been the perfect time to do some tank building, but I fell seriously ill with an infection (not Covid, fortunately) that put me in hospital for almost 3 weeks, and which I'm still recovering from. "You only get one life" they say, and I feel it's slipped away from me over the last 2 years. Time to turn that around !

The new magnum opus on the M3 by David Doyle has got me all enthused again - it really is a must-have for all M3 owners. So time to get going, with a view to finishing it in time for the next show season (whenever that might be :?). For the first time in ages I put in some serious shed time today, and completed the lower hull (Stage 4):

Stage 4 - lower hull small.jpg

This was made a lot easier as I'd already glued in all the rivets, and finished the diff case, so it's just a matter of bolting everything together. I'm already calling it "the tub", and it's useful so that I can start to work out where all the modules and the batteries are going to go. Despite the massive height of the M3, I think it's going to be tight in there .............

The other thing that's been worked on is the revised turret. Monique kindly supplied a Grant cupola and hatch, so all I had to do was fit it to the Lee turret. But it's not a straight swap, so I needed help from a friend with a lathe .... I'll spare his blushes, but I owe him a lot.

The key issue is that there's a flange on the bottom of the Grant cupola that is much bigger than the hole in the Lee turret !

Turret - Grant hatch ring small.jpg

My original idea was to cut the flange off. But my friend, being clever, said it would be easier and stronger to make the hole bigger to take the flange:

Turret - wider flange in turret ring small.jpg

So, in summary, this is how a Lee turret was designed to look:

Turret - with Lee cupola small.jpg

And this is how my Burma version looks:

Turret - with Grant cupola small.jpg

All I need to do is glue it in, cut the slotted bolts down to fit the holes (with are now out of alignment, so will have to be glued - top bodging ! :lol:), fill any gaps around the cupola and it's done. It's a distinctive change for the Burma Lees, and I'm very happy with the look. Incidentally, the hatch ring on the Grant should actually rotate, but Armortek have made it a single-piece casting so it won't. Personally I'm not bothered (the vast majority of my Burma Lee photos show the hatch doors opening side to side, not front to back or anything else) but, for the perfectionists amongst us, it's something to be considered.

So that's the story so far. Normal service has (hopefully) been resumed. I'm going to try and make some time every day for this, even if I only bolt two plates together. Gotta have a plan ............

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)

Phil Woollard
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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Phil Woollard » Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:52 pm

Good to see and hear your back on the ball Chris, I will look forward to your posts as always 8)
Mechanical engineer.
Youtube channel, Magpiespyro. For 1/6th scale video action!

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Stephen White
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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Stephen White » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:03 pm

Nice cupola Chris, good to see you back on the case.

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Robert E Morey
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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Robert E Morey » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:47 pm

Chris,
Great to see you back on the M3. I lost my dad last January, and then Covid hit here in Feb/March 2020. Those events set me back a while and hammered my motivation. I agree 2020 has been a tough one. Feels good to now make some progress on hobby stuff - a small snippet of normal life again.

Hope your health continues to improve as well. Here's hoping 2021 will be brighter.
Best regards,
Bob

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Chris Hall
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Re: Chris’s M3 project

Post by Chris Hall » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:23 pm

Another good day in the build shed. Working on Stage 10 - the front glacis plate. There's a lot going on here, with lots of brackets holding the various armour plates together at some very strange angles - the hallmark of the M3 !

I've made a decision that I will only use the glued 2.5mm rivets where they are purely decorative. Where they actually bolt things together I will use appropriate M2.5 button heads, and fill in the heads later. It just seems a stronger build to me. Mark Watkins accused me of over-engineering my Liesel build, and he was right ! But it's not a bad habit to get into.

Anyway, it's starting to show signs of being an M3:

Stage 10 - front plates (1) small.jpg

There's a lot more to do yet until this stage is complete, at which point I will probably paint the inside and fit the motors. Otherwise I'll have to dismantle everything later on just to get back in there.

There's a somewhat enigmatic comment at the bottom of this sheet that says "Easier to fix EN0694 now". That's the plate holding the twin fixed Browning machine guns, which goes in the hole at the bottom of the lower glacis plate EN0301. But, before you do, there's an historical decision to be made. The records show that, in March 1942, the US Army Ordnance issued an order to remove the fixed front m/g's, and the British Tank Workshops in the Middle East approved and implemented the change a month later. The Desert war isn't my 'thing', and I don't know the chronology of the key battles but, depending on when you're dating your particular build, you need to decide whether to leave the m/g's in or not. Personally, I'm going to remove them, as they were definitely gone by early 1944. You still need to fit EN0694, but there were a number of ways to fill the gaps: plating over the inside, welding steel rods into the holes (to still look like m/g's), or plating over the outside. Again personally, I'm going for the last option, by bolting a thin sheet of metal (probably from a beer can :wink:) over the whole plate gently hammered to follow the shape of the plate below. Hope that makes sense - I'll put up a picture when I've done it.

There's a lot of work in this build, but I'm definitely rediscovering the joy in it !

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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