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Re: Chris’s M3 project

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


Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:52 pm
by Phil Woollard
Good to see and hear your back on the ball Chris, I will look forward to your posts as always 8)

Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:03 pm
by Stephen White
Nice cupola Chris, good to see you back on the case.

Re: Chris’s M3 project

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

Re: Chris’s M3 project

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


Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:50 am
by Jerry Carducci
Pete Nash wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:25 pm
Hi CVhris

I used Mark Lawson's M£ castellated Nuts for the transmission cases, they are about twice the height of standard M3 nuts and hide the exposed threads.

Don't forget the Oil Level plugs :P
Apologies for dredging up this old topic but what's this I hear of M3 castellated nuts? Does Mr Lawson yet have these? I recently purchased an M3 kit, with only a few bits actually put together by the previous owner the diff/transmission cover being one of those- I'd like to revise this cover. The change is to have nuts/ bolts that look closer to the original and castellated nuts would help. This cover is a fairly prominent feature of the model so I'd like it to appear true to the original. I've actually considered using proportional American SAE 4-40 nuts and bolts that were made to a proportional dimension
height to hex flats perspective. I was contemplating how I could make some 32+ castellated nuts for these on my mill without going bonkers. So if there is an easier way out pray tell!


Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:48 am
by Adrian Harris
Mark Lawson:


Steve Winstone:


Or if you're really brave, you can use a Dremel or similar to cut three slots in the top of a Nyloc nut to achieve a similar effect :lol:


Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:59 pm
by Chris Hall
Jerry -

Firstly, welcome to the M3 builders ! You've obviously been trawling though the build threads - I hope you've found it useful. The M3, be it Lee or Grant, is proving to be more fascinating the more I get into it .........

The issue (it's not a problem) with the M3 is the sheer diversity of fasteners on the thing ! Button heads, CSK's, slot heads, hex heads, cap heads .... all in a bewildering collection of sizes and lengths. Given that, it's hardly surprising that some of the instructions are different from pictures of actual tanks, especially when it's done for strengthening reasons.

From the pictures I'm working to (largely David Doyle's M3 walkaround book, and his new huge book - check my book list thread for more) I agree that nearly all the button heads should actually be castellated to some degree. I'm not expert enough to say whether Mark Lawson's German ones would look good on an American tank. But I'd question whether it's worth it. The button heads need filling anyway, so they could just be built up with filler and filed a bit. We are talking 1/6 scale after all ! And there are a number of other issues with the kit that only a true rivet counter would identify, probably while on their knees with an electron microscope :roll: - the sort of people it's best to try and avoid.

And, while we're on the subject of fasteners, be mindful of the rear idlers (which should be button heads on the outside, not hex nuts - thanks, Adrian !), the rear deck (which should be hex heads around the outside and across the middle, not button heads - again, thanks Adrian), and the final drive casings (which should be hex heads, as Pete identified, but Kian says the cap heads are there for reasons of sheer strength, so it's up to you). Those are the ones I know of so far. But, given the profusion of fasteners in this kit, it's best to double check with original sources (I wasted an hour this morning replacing incorrect bolts :oops:).

Please let us know what your opinion is ! And please start your own build thread, so that we can all learn from each other and swap advice.

Best wishes, and stay well,


Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:09 pm
by Christoffer Ahlfors
Chris Hall wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:59 pm
... that only a true rivet counter would identify, probably while on their knees with an electron microscope :roll: - the sort of people it's best to try and avoid.
We are your friends, and we are here to help... :wink:

Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:10 pm
by Chris Hall
Christoffer Ahlfors wrote:We are your friends, and we are here to help... :wink:
From a member of our happy band of pilgrims, friendly advice is always welcome. But, from the Great Unwashed who march up to you at shows to tell you your build is rubbish in World of Tanks ...... :roll: :wink: :lol:

Re: Chris’s M3 project

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:42 pm
by Adrian Harris
WoT is a missed blessing. It's nice to get groups of kids at shows who can rattle off all the tanks in the line up, but these are balanced out by the people who tell you that your shovel is mounted the wrong way round.