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Found 9 results

  1. Hi there everyone, this is my entry into my first group build. Talking about first's, I have never built an M3 or an M4 (shame on me), so this will be really interesting for me doing something totally new. I have chosen a Miniart M3 as I have read good reports about them, plus the fact that I love doing Miniart kits anyway. I already had an M3 in my stash, a Miniart interior, but with 3 months to build, It would have been a bit of a stretch, for me at least to complete in time. So this is an external build, having said that It still comes with a good parts count. So on to a few pictures, this is the box art, I really like the look of this.... This will be the version that I hope to build... Kit comes with rucksacks and bags, interesting to see how these look... Some shots of a few sprues... You get a small PE set , some decals and clear parts. I have purchased the tow rope from Eureka XL. The kit will be pretty much OOB, along with the purchased tow rope and I have purchased last night some North Africa tank crew figures and some Hornet heads to go with them. So there you go, I'm looking forward to this, see you soon Ed
  2. Grant Mk.II (35282) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics to over-run a large portion of Europe. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but it was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Grant eschewed the mini-turret on the commander's cupola that resulted in a reduction in height and a minor simplification of construction and maintenance for very little loss in flexibility, due to the coaxially mounted Browning machine gun in the turret. It was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where 2nd line equipment was often fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. The Grant II replaced the more inflammable petrol engine for twin diesel units, retaining the controversial riveted hull, and often fitted with the Lee machinegun turret, although this was sometimes removed in the field. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and have expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The primary changes in this boxing are the inclusion of a new cast turret with no machine-gun turret on top, and the inclusion of British equipment inside and around the exterior. We've come to expect great things from MiniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included. The original release we reviewed here was the full interior kit, now for those of us who don't build full interior kits we have this great option without all of the interior gear. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 54 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the front and rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed together to form a shallow box. The curved lower glacis part is also added, and the final-drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsons. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added as are the radiator baths. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are made up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver, or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield that overlaps the elevation/traverse slot. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior, it’s best close them up or place a figure in the aperture. The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue instead of rivets, which are there purely for show. A large stowage bin is added to the rear with towing cables and pioneer tools spread around it, plus PE tie-downs and filler caps on the diagonal edge panels. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm of cable from your own supplies suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Grant's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two wide wheels on a bogie with a return wheel at the top, and there are three per side. The wheels with their moulded-in rubber tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return-roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. I built a test section up with the earlier interior kit, and each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, flexing well as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. With the tracks in place, the side skirts can be installed and the additional stowage boxes can be fabricated from their parts and attached to the hull with PE brackets, their shape conforming to the surfaces that they are placed on. The side skirts are finished off with mudguards at the rear by boxing in the tops of the track runs. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull, then the single-part main gun barrel is nipped from the sprues, has its seamlines removed and is joined to the optional two-part blast-bag that has excellent realistic-looking canvas wrinkle and sag moulded in. For some decal options a muzzle-mounted counterweight is fitted, made up from two halves that clamp around the barrel. We're still not quite ready for the turret though, as there are a number of PE parts at the front for some of the decal options, and others use the metal side-skirt hangers that stretch the full length of the sponsons, and are detailed with PE hinge and bracket parts. More PE parts are added around the light clusters, and as tie-downs for additional pioneer tools on the angled parts and sponson tops. A small PE basket is folded up for two of the decal options, with two mudflap stiffener plates fixed to the front. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some convincing casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The 37mm barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret halves are joined, then the aerial bases are added, with aerials from either stretched sprue, carbon rod or anything suitable you have lying around. Next up is the low-rise British spec cupola with grab handles and a choice of open or closed clamshell hatch with periscope in the port side. The commander's .30cal weapon is mounted on a curved fitting on the front of the turret and is fitted with a drum magazine that has moulded-in bullets plus a separate short length that feeds into the breech, sandwiched between the two end-caps with built in mounting frame. The barrel has a PE cooling jacket fitted after rolling it, which requires the tip cutting off to slide it on, then re-gluing the tip in place. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim along with the hatches, then the turret can be fitted to finish the model. Markings The decal sheet is quite large for an AFV model and you can make one of six options from the box, as shown below: 500th Grant produced by Baldwin Locomotive Works, Eddystone, Pennsylvania, USA, June 1942 Tac HQ’s Defence Company 8th Army, El Alamein, General Montgomery’s Command Vehicle, Nov 1942 4th County of London Yeomanry, 8th British Army, Tripoli, Jan 1943 2/4th Armoured Regiment, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, New South Wales, Australia, early 1943 Advanced Base No.5, Workshop in Al Mussaiyib, Iraq, June 1943 2/9th Armoured Squadron, North Queensland, Australia, Spring 1944 The decals are printed by DecoGraph as usual for MiniArt, and have good register, colour density and sharpness, with thin matt carrier film cut closely to the printed areas. Conclusion There are additional parts for British Army specific stowage included in the box, which is good to see as a personalised model often looks better than a stock kit. Their locations and colour are shown on separate colour diagrams that can be found at the front of the painting diagrams. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. British M3 Lee (35270) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Grant eschewed the mini-turret on the commander's cupola that resulted in a reduction in height and a minor simplification of construction and maintenance for very little loss in flexibility, due to the coaxially mounted Browning machine gun in the turret. It was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and have expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The primary changes in this boxing are the inclusion of a new cast turret with no machine-gun turret-let on top, and the inclusion of British equipment inside and around the exterior. We've come to expect great things from miniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included The original release we reviewed here was the full interior kit, now for those of us who dont build full interior kits (like myself) we have the great kit without all of that stuff. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 70 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, 2 sprues of equipment/tarps; and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsors. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior best close them up! The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Two large bins for the rear are then built up. When we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return wheel at the top, and there are three per side. The wheels with their moulded-in rubber tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. There are two different types of track in the kit depending on which marking option being done. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. Mike built a test section up with the interior kit, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. There are both WE-210 & T-41 track links included, and use depends on marking option. With the tracks in place, the side skirts can be installed and the additional stowage boxes can be fabricated from their parts and attached to the hull with PE brackets, their shape conforming to the surfaces that they are placed on. The side skirts are finished off with mudguards at the rear by boxing in the tops of the track runs. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull, then the single-part main gun barrel is nipped from the sprues, has its seamlines removed and is joined to the optional two-part blast-bag that has excellent realistic-looking canvas wrinkle and sag moulded in. We're still not quite ready for the turret though, as there are a number of PE parts stretching the length of the side-skirts which are used to hang additional stowage in the real thing. These fit onto small depressions on the sides of the hull, and scrap diagrams show the correct way to fold the perpendicular front sections. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret halves joined, the aerials are then added. Next up is the reduced height British spec cupola with grab handles and a choice of open or closed hatch with periscope in the port door. The commander's .30cal weapon is mounted on a curved fitting on the front of the turret and is fitted with a drum magazine that has moulded-in bullets plus a separate short length that feeds into the breech, sandwiched between the two end-caps with built in mounting frame. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim along with the hatches. The turret can then be fitted. There are additional parts for British Army specific stowage included in the box, which is good to see as a personalised model often looks better than a basic kit. Their locations and colour are shown on separate colour diagrams that can be found at the front of the painting diagrams. Decals There are 4 options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, split between camouflaged, green and sand coloured vehicles, as the Grant and Lee served mainly in warmer climes. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options. From the box you can build one of the following: Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (overall sand) Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (earth / sand) Eighth ArmyNorth Africa 1942 (green / sand) - without top machine gun turret Captured tank , North Africa 1942 (overall sand) - without top machine gun turret Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed area Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Grant as it was supplied to and used by the British Army. The detail incorporated in styrene even without the interior is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. M3 Lee Late - Exterior Kit (35214) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Lee was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. Another major user was the USSR under lend lease, the Soviets did not like the tank and its nickname was "a coffin for 6", not surprising in a way as at the time they were facing panthers and Tigers with it. The tank underwent some substantial changes including cast, welded and back to riveted hulls plus changes in the power pack and loss of the side doors to stiffen the hull. The riveted hulls suffered from rivets popping off and becoming projectiles when hit, which could be just as lethal as a penetrating round and was never fully eliminated. The Late version deleted the side doors and left only one pistol port, it also had different wheels and drive sprockets. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and are expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The full interior kit of the Early Lee was reviewed here. This boxing now comes without an interior. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 60 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the front and rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsors. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior best close them up! The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Two large bins for the rear are then built up. When we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. At the read the exhausts are added with their protective plates and the rear mudguards are added. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. The lower hull is finished off with a pair of short plates over the drive wheels and a host of additional equipment filling up the interior with more shell storage, tanks and auxiliary generator. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. Before it can be installed the super-structure must be built up to accommodate it, including the sidewalls, the curved surround and the angled front panels of the glacis. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, and an instrument panel is fitted to the inside of the glacis. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Fuel caps are added along the way, and when we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and armour plates protect the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted.. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Lee's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return roller at the top, and there are three of these assemblies per side. The wheels with their moulded-in tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. Mike built a test section up fro the previous reveiw. That said, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret ring is added. Next up the US machine gun turret is added to the top of the main one. The small turret is built up with the gun and it mantlet being added, the lower ring is added as the main two part hatch. This is then fitted to the main turret, and the main turret then added to the hull. Markings There are a generous eight options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, all but one of them in green, one being overpainted with a coat of white distemper winter camouflage, and one with some kind of brown. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options including captured tanks. From the box you can build one of the following: US Army, 752 Tank Battalion, Perham Down, UK 1942. US Army, 1st Armoured Division, Northern Ireland 1942. Unidentified Soviet Unit, Rzhev District, Winter 1942-43. Red Army, 91st Separate Tank Regiment, Karelian Front, Summer 1943. Red Army, 193rd Independent Tank Regiment, Central Front, Battle of Kursk, July 1943. Red Army, Presumably 193rd Separate Tank Regiment, Central Front, Battle of Kursk, July 1943. Unidentified German Army Unit, Eastern Front 1943-44. Red Army, 244th Independent Tank Regiment, 4th Ukrainian Front. Crimea, April 1944. Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Lee as it was supplied to the US, Canadian and Red Army, plus a couple the Germans pinched. The detail incorporated in styrene is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering that's going to be echoed with the Grants and further Lees very soon. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Looks like Takom are expanding their M3 Lee range with a cast hull A1 and a CDL (Canal Defence Light). Great to see the available range of M3s getting larger all the time. Andy
  6. M3 Lee Update Set (36373 for Takom) 1:35 Eduard Takom brought out their first of a growing range of M3 Lee kits late 2017 (reviewed here), which is filling out nicely, and brings a lot more detail to the party than the ageing Academy kit. As usual with Eduard's Photo-Etch (PE) and Mask sets, it arrives in a flat resealable package, with a white backing card protecting the contents and the instructions that are sandwiched between. The single brass fret contains parts to replace the front fenders with more in-scale parts, which have the stiffeners added, as well as the bracket that holds the kit's lamp cluster parts. A number of brackets and tie-downs are supplied to improve the realism of the pioneer tools, which requires some minor modifications to the tools so that they fit their new brackets. The side doors have hasp and staple locks added, as do the other hatches, and the fuel cap is fitted with a retaining chain, while the tow-rope is fitted with new tie-downs, and the rear-facing mesh grille on the engine deck is scrubbed of moulded-in detail before a PE part replaces it. Another finer mesh panel fits to the forward section of the engine deck, replacing the kit part, which is also PE. The turret rear is fitted with a couple of additional panels with brackets, but check your references about these parts, as they aren't visible on many of the examples I've seen. An extra track stowage area is folded up into a tray, with a pair of straps strung across to keep the contents safe, which is then attached to the glacis plate with a triangular stiffener helping keep it in place. Review sample courtesy of
  7. M3 Lee Late Medium Tank 1:35 Takom via Pocketbond The US Army had been remarkably complacent with regard to tank development in the lead-up to WWII, and approached war with precious few that were hopelessly outclassed. This realisation resulted in a frantic clamour to produce a modern tank that could hold its own in combat, with the M3 Lee coming into service as a stop-gap measure within a year of its first design while the M4 Sherman was in development. As a consequence of its rather rushed introduction, it was known to have a number of fairly serious flaws, but it also had some strengths that (at least in part) made up for them. Its high profile and sponson mounted main gun gave the enemy a large target, but when the 75mm main gun was brought to bear on a target, it was surprisingly powerful and effective, gaining a reputation in North Africa. A great many examples were exported to the British and Russian forces in the early stages of WWII, and after the majority of British armour was left on the beaches of Dunkerque, the need became even greater. The British required some changes to improve the vehicle's performance, which most visibly included a new larger turret with a bustle to accommodate radio gear, and a cupola instead of the sub-turret with machine gun mount, which was named the Grant after general Lee's opponent. Due to the pressing need for suitable numbers however, the British did take a number of Lees, and the Soviet Union also took delivery of a substantial number of Lee variants, although some ended up at the bottom of the sea thanks to U-Boat action. The Soviets disliked the Lee intensely and gave it a wide berth wherever they could in favour of the more modern and capable T-34, the production of which ramped up substantially after the initial shock of Barbarossa, which led to its retirement from front-line service by 1943, while the other Allied continued to use them (mainly in Africa) until the end of the war. The Late version deleted the side doors and left only one pistol port. The Kit There have been three kits released initially, one being the Early Lee, the other the British specification Grant (see here), and the M31 Recovery version (see here). This kit does share a core of common parts.. Inside the box are ten sprues and two parts in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with headlights, a PE sheet, decal sheet and instruction booklet as mentioned above. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has a rear bulkhead and final drive housing attached at the front, with three stations on each side for the VVSS (vertical volute-sprung suspension) units, which held a pair of wheels each. The drive sprockets are fitted to the front, and idlers at the rear. The individual double wheel units are made up. 12 wheels are made up and fitted into 6 bogie units. The tracks are link and length, with a jig supplied for the top run, which has an upward curve at the front as it rides over the drive sprocket. The highly curved areas have individual links supplied, with the diagonals under the drive and idler wheels fitted in short lengths. The tracks fit under the sponson floors, with separate sides added. The complex angles of the glacis plate and casemate of the 75mm gun are formed over a number of steps, with the roof having a cut-out for the turret and the limited-traverse mantlet of the main gun attached before it is flipped over and fitted to the rest of the hull. The engine deck is fitted last, and has a choice of pioneer tools and towing cables, which require some holes to be drilled from the inside before fitting. The exhausts and mudflaps are fitted to the rear bulkhead along with a number of panels and towing eyes to the rear, with the driver's hatch and caged light cluster on the wings. The turret has a simple two-part construction, with the mantlet inserted into the lower half, allowing the gun to elevate, while the top machine gun turret actually has more parts, including vision ports, a split hatch, lifting eyes and machine gun barrel. The 37mm gun and coax machine gun are fitted last before the mantlet cover is installed, which makes one wonder what the purpose of the additional machine gun on the top of the turret was when there was already one mounted coaxially. Markings There are four markings options spread over the inner cover pages of the instructions, All of which are in Olive Drab, the captured example featuring applied winter camo. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown captured tank Pz.kpfw M3 744, probably on the Eastern Front? 1st Armoured Div , England Dec 1942 Tank #9 1st Armoured Div , England Dec 1942 Tank #4 1st Armoured Div , England Dec 1942 Tank #7 The decals are printed anonymously, and have generally good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  8. From their facebook page;
  9. M3A1 Lee Medium Tank (Cast Hull) 1:72 Mirage Hobby The M3 was an American medium tank design which was intended as a stop-gap measure to provide both the US Army and the British Army with a reasonably well-armed tank whilst they awaited development of the more modern M4 Sherman. The resulting product was configured in a similar fashion to the French Char B and the Soviet T-35 in that it employed a large (in this case 75mm) gun mounted in the hull and a smaller (37mm) gun in a turret. This was intended to give the M3 both anti-tank and anti-personnel capability. The design had obvious limitations but was put into production owing to the chronic shortage of tanks available to the Allies (in fact the British had asked their American allies to produce Crusader or Matilda tanks in the States, but were refused). As with the M4 Sherman, the M3 was first deployed by the British during the North African campaign. In this role it was valued for its reliability and sound choice of main armament, although its high silhouette was found to be a serious drawback. The M3 was also supplied to the Russians, although it was somewhat less popular within the Red Army who named it "a grave for six"! The rivited hull of the tank was found to provide shrapnel inside in the form of the rivits when rounds failed to penetrate which lead to the M3A1 cast hull and the later M3A2 welded hull, though in comparison to the rivited hulls not that many were produced. The Kit The Mirage Hobby range of M3 tanks has been with us since the early 2000s and looks on opening the box to be a fairly comprehensive kit. There are four main sprues of parts, two smaller sprues, the main cast hull, a flexible sprue with the tracks and tow cable on, a small sheet of photo-etch and a small decal sheet. All the parts are wellmoulded with no flash or defects, the cast texture on the hull is very approriate for this scale. Construction starts with the main lower hull. The sides and front are added to the lower part. The main bogies are then made up. One wheel is moulded to the upper return roller, the other wheel is then added as the parts are sandwiched between the front and rear parts. Once three bogies are made up for each side they are added along with the single piece idler wheels and the two part drive sprockets. The plates over the wheels and the rear plate is then added. The mudguards for the rear are also added at this stage. Construction can then move to the main hull. The 75mm gun is put together this is two sides with a two part muzzle. This along with its mount are then put into the main hull. The main side hatches which are a combination of plastic and PE are then added. Once this is done the upper and lower hulls can be joined up. The upper turret is completed along with its 7mm gun. This is a complicated part with 14 separate parts. Once built this is set aside for late. Next up a complete set of handles, hatches, tools, and ancillary parts are added to the hull. Once all of these are on the tracks and turret are added. The last touch for the model is to add the flexible tow cable. Decals A small sheet of their own making provides markings for two tanks; Armoured Force School & Replacement Center - Fort Knox - 1942 Aberdeen Proving Ground - 1942 Conclusion This is a comprehensive kit in 1/72 and no doubt will look the part once built up. Highly recomended for the small scale armour builder. Review sample courtesy of
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