SEARCH FINESCALE.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

My First Tamiya Tank - Again!

4109 views
89 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
My First Tamiya Tank - Again!
Posted by Real G on Monday, August 3, 2020 3:48 PM

A long time ago, in a childhood far, far away...

In 1976 I got my first Tamiya kit as a Christmas present from one of my dad's friends.  Being a little kid busy with Revell, Aurora, and Monogram kits, I had never heard of Tamiya.  When I opened the box, I knew this was not an ordinary kit.  The instructions were unlike those of any other manufacturer, and the whole package felt very "grown up".  The MRC gatefold flyer in the box was pretty cool as well.

The tank itself was kind of ugly in my eyes, and my dad explained the reasoning for the triple stacked armament.  He also pointed out the riveted construction and compared the design to its successor the M4 Sherman.

But being a little kid, I didn't care about how good (or otherwise) the M3 Lee was in real life.  I just tore into the kit to have some fun.  Now, there were two things that needed to be done that I had never attempted in a kit.  Using a heated screwdriver to secure the track pins required an open flame, which my mom would have never approved of - so lucky I was building it under dad's supervision!  The second thing was stretching sprue for the radio antenna - another activity requiring an open flame!  I cannot believe we did it in the living room on an end table, but both the tracks and antenna came out fine in one go.  And the furniture survived un-scorched, thank God.  Sprue stretching seems to be regarded as a black art by some, but this experience made it seem natural for me.

Fast forward 44 years.

A friend had "rescued" one of these kits from an estate sale and knew of the above story, so at our monthly get together he presented me with it.  By the condition of the box, the kit must have been purchased around the same time as I got mine!

The instructions had yellowed and was brittle, and the decal sheet was nowhere to be found.  The rubber bands holding the belt type tracks had solidified into a clear dark brown substance that crumbled away when touched.  But the plastic parts were fine, as were the tracks.

I decided I would try to build this kit OOTB as much as possible (including using those inaccurate tracks with the end pin connectors in the wrong place).  The only modifications I will allow myself will be simple things like closing off the open sponsons, making an antenna, and sourcing fresh decals.  I also want to try to modify the commander figure to resemble the box art, with him deep inside the cupola.  No aftermarket PE, resin etc. will be allowed.  Pinkie promise.

So here is where I am at after a couple of hours work:

As I get older, I have to accept that my modeling horsepower is declining, so I need to practice dialing things back to keep on enjoying building.  This will be a good exercise to that end.

 

 

 

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Monday, August 3, 2020 4:05 PM

   Nice find Real G, welcome to the Dark Side.Wink

    Good start for just a couple hours of work.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Dripping Springs, TX, USA
Posted by RBaer on Monday, August 3, 2020 5:04 PM

I can't say how many of those kits I've built, but I have two in the case and one in the stash.....   Always fun. I promise one day to do one with some corrections, but hey.

Apprentice rivet counter.

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Monday, August 3, 2020 5:55 PM
Nice work RG. I built the Tamiya M3 when I was around ten or eleven. For whatever reason I had a very hard time getting the upper hull fit right as I recall. Think it was the first time I was tempted to throw a model at a wall. I eventually got it built  but was never happy with it.

 
  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Monday, August 3, 2020 6:33 PM

GreySnake,

I was around the same age as you when I built the M3! But I don’t remember any problems because my standards were very low!  I didn’t paint the kit, except for a completely spurrious camouflage using glossy charteuse.

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Monday, August 3, 2020 6:45 PM

Thanks for the fond memories of Tamiya tanks, G. Motorized versions were a big deal in the late 60's and into the 70's....I don't know when they phased out. I think I got as much enjoyment out of those as anything i've ever done with modeling.

Very cool you found a childhood kit. That is always a real treat.

It's looking good so far.

-Greg

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Monday, August 3, 2020 8:54 PM

G those old Tamiya kits are a delight to work with. May not be super duper detailed as the new ones but they build up with low parts count and easy assembly. I recently built the old Tamiya Tiger I and it looked pretty nice. I'm sure your's will look great too.

 GIFMaker.org_jy_Ayj_O

 

 

Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    June 2014
Posted by BrandonK on Monday, August 3, 2020 9:43 PM

I am currently working through the old Tamiya M41. It's definately not up to todays standard, but it's been a fast build and kinda nice to just toss one together quick fast and in a hurry. I'm looking forward to watching you do this M3.

BK

On the bench: Alot !

On Deck: Alot more !

 

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 10:59 AM

Real G

GreySnake,

I was around the same age as you when I built the M3! But I don’t remember any problems because my standards were very low!  I didn’t paint the kit, except for a completely spurrious camouflage using glossy charteuse.

 

I didn’t have many standards either when I built it other then I knew there shouldn’t be a massive gap somewhere on the hull. I can’t even remember what was wrong with it and I think my father ended up fixing it in the end and the problem was me putting something upside down. I didn’t do any painting and put the decals on the bare plastic.

 
GAF
  • Member since
    June 2012
  • From: Anniston, AL
Posted by GAF on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 8:12 PM

RG,

Been wanting to get one of those to do a 14th Army version in Burma.  Got a PDF on unit insignias just in case!  Big Smile

Might want to pick up a Grant instead.

Gary

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 5:53 PM

Armornut and RBaer - Keeping this one as simple as possible, so no major mods.  I am a pathological liar though...  Wink

Greg - I just noticed that the M3 has no provisions for motorization!  No holes to fill in the hull, which is great.  Maybe Tamiya did not want to go through the trouble of making a fancy gearbox to accomodate the external final drive?

Plasticjunkie - Thanks, will try not to disappoint (but see the first response).

BrandonK - I gotta get back on my M41 too, even though it's not "my" kit.

GAF - Star Decals makes sheets for North Africa and Burma theaters for the M3/Grant.

So anyway, I got a little more work done on the M3.  Aside from the lack of motorization provisions, the kit has no polycaps.  There are some plastic polycap-like inserts for the sprockets and idlers, but they allow too much lateral slop.  I'll just glue them in place.  The 37mm turret gun is already floppy, so I also glued it.  At least the sponson mounted 75mm can still be used for battles in the sandbox!

The other thing I noticed is that all the parts need seam line cleanup, most likely due to the age of the molds.  Pretty much all separately molded items needed their mounting holes enlarged to allow proper fit.

On to some piccies!

The transmission cover fits pretty good, except there is a gap you can see on the left side.  But with a little adjustment of the upper hull, it can be minimized.

The gas caps are all separate parts.

Hollow sponsons!  Sheet plastic will be used to blank them off.  Note lack of motorization holes.

I dry fitted the suspension parts to have a look at the M3 on its legs.

 

 

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Thursday, August 6, 2020 7:47 AM

    The Force is STRONG with this one, you don't know the power of the dark side.....lokks good G and sound like your having fun. Keep it upBig Smile

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Thursday, August 6, 2020 1:22 PM

Oh, I'm all about the Dark Side, Armornut!  Cool

I had lunch with a friend the other day, and he was trying to push resin tool clamps, stowage, and other aftermarket stuff on me to use.  I politely declined, but he had an excellent idea to replace the skinny, smooth 30 Cal gun tubes without recourse to AM.  I have several Stuart models he had given me, and being the type that throws nothing away, still have all the unused parts including the sponson mounted 30 Cal barrels.  Since the Lee uses three of them, I'll use two from the new Tamiya Stuart, and one from the Academy Stuart.  Or the other way - the nicer one will be used for the commander's cupola, and the other two will go on the 37mm mantlet.

My friend also mentioned he had ordered Star Decals' Tunisian M3 Lee sheet for me to use (darn it, he really wants me to finish this one), so I'll post pics of the guns and decal shortly.

I have a hard time figuring out who is contaminating who.  I'm the one who is the troublemaker who makes people buy stuff, but the wheel has turned and it is me who is doing the buying!

Perhaps I am NOT so strong with the Dark Side...

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Thursday, August 6, 2020 2:15 PM

The classic Tamiya kit is looking good. 

 
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, August 6, 2020 2:34 PM

Real G

Oh, I'm all about the Dark Side, Armornut!  Cool

I had lunch with a friend the other day, and he was trying to push resin tool clamps, stowage, and other aftermarket stuff on me to use.  I politely declined, but he had an excellent idea to replace the skinny, smooth 30 Cal gun tubes without recourse to AM.  I have several Stuart models he had given me, and being the type that throws nothing away, still have all the unused parts including the sponson mounted 30 Cal barrels.  Since the Lee uses three of them, I'll use two from the new Tamiya Stuart, and one from the Academy Stuart.  Or the other way - the nicer one will be used for the commander's cupola, and the other two will go on the 37mm mantlet.

My friend also mentioned he had ordered Star Decals' Tunisian M3 Lee sheet for me to use (darn it, he really wants me to finish this one), so I'll post pics of the guns and decal shortly.

I have a hard time figuring out who is contaminating who.  I'm the one who is the troublemaker who makes people buy stuff, but the wheel has turned and it is me who is doing the buying!

Perhaps I am NOT so strong with the Dark Side...

 

You only need two .30 cal barrels for the Lee, one for the cupola, and one co-ax alongside the 37mm gun. The tube under the 37mm gun is not a machine gun barrel. It is a counterweight for the gun when fitted with a stabilizer.

This is a nice old kit. Its always fun to go back and have another go at those early build kits from childhood. 

 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Thursday, August 6, 2020 5:49 PM

Stik,

You are a true doyen of armor information!  When the instructions said the M3 was equipped with five(!) 30 Cals, I assumed the one under the 37mm gun was one of them - and Tamiya has you use one of the barrels.  Before I use my Google, are there any decent photos showing what the counterweight looks like?  Or is it just a skinny tube?

That's great news that I only need two 30 Cal barrels - now I don't have to unearth the Academy Stuart parts!  Thanks again Stik!  Yes

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Thursday, August 6, 2020 6:08 PM

Okay I flexed my Google-Fu and came up with some shots showing the counterweight thingy as a stub with a bolt.  Is this correct?

Now to decide whether or not to replace the flexible (but inaccurate) tracks.

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Thursday, August 6, 2020 6:21 PM

Real G

Now to decide whether or not to replace the flexible (but inaccurate) tracks.

 

Well if you want workable ones the Miniart T41 tracks are nice. Of course they take almost eight hours to clean up and build. Not sure if they’d fit the Tamiya sprocket.

 
  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: Cygnus X-1
Posted by ogrejohn on Friday, August 7, 2020 4:10 PM

Looking good G! 

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Friday, August 7, 2020 5:52 PM

Greysnake - Yeah I was eyeing the Miniart tracks.  But I HATE end pin connector type link to link!  I need to think it over.

Ogrejohn - Thanks!

Oh man, rookie mistake!!!

I removed the seam down the split transmission case flanges.  Arrrgh, they should have been left alone!  Am I going to scribe recessed lines down their centerlines?  Ha-ha, nope!  Big Smile

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Friday, August 7, 2020 6:54 PM

Such a classic kit. Yes, it's been ripped to shreds, but many of us cobbled that Lee together with tube glue.

I remember my first Tamiya kit. It was the M113 that was motorized. I was very surprised that it came with German markings. Back then, I didn't know the difference between WW2 German markings and modern German markings.

BTW that M113 really traveled well in the sand and gravel of my driveway. Man, I need to find another one of those little hotrods.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, August 7, 2020 7:02 PM

Real G

Okay I flexed my Google-Fu and came up with some shots showing the counterweight thingy as a stub with a bolt.  Is this correct?

Now to decide whether or not to replace the flexible (but inaccurate) tracks.

 

If there is no counterweight rod under the 37mm, the gun is not equipped with a stabilizer. So you can build it either way. Photos show both.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Friday, August 7, 2020 7:10 PM

This is an old build log of the kit, it might have some information for you: http://www.usarmymodels.com/ARTICLES/Building%20M3%20Lee/1%20intro%20and%20research.html

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Saturday, August 8, 2020 6:46 PM

Oh that's cool. I really need to get back to one of those old classic kits.

Maybe it's just me but adding aftermarket PE and resin parts to these classic kits kinda defeats the purpose of building it. If I want more detail I'd just buy a newer kit.

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Saturday, August 8, 2020 7:43 PM

These sites are pretty neat.  A lot of folks are getting into the hobby again  I built this kit when it came out in 1974 or 1975, I forget when exacly.  I know it was right after the Monogram kits with the great Shep Pain dioramas in them.  Wow!  2 models of the same type!  Why they were different scales did not bother me a whole lot,  I was only 23 years old, the hobby seemed new to me, they semed to be growing up as well.  Sure, I was a veteran of Tamiya models of the Panther, Tiger 1 and 2, even the 1/24 Tiger ( yes I bought 1 of those at K-Mart for the princly price of $5.00.  I'm rambling again.  Well, the point is I still have it.  It was repainted in 1988, that I remember,  it was right when I moved to house in Coloado.  I did some airbrush counter shading on it. Ahhh, that takes me back.

 

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, August 8, 2020 7:49 PM

Real G
Greg - I just noticed that the M3 has no provisions for motorization!

The Tamiya kit number will be "MM" and "MT" as the M3 was oe of the first released in the then new "Military Miniatures" line instead of the "Motorized Tank" line of kits.

Been too long, and Scalemates is not terribly clear, but I think the MT version was a Grant, and the Lee was an MM.  But, it could be the Lee was kitted both ways.

What's odd, in retrospect, is that the motorized kits had figures, typically, four, and the Miniatures versions did not.  So, with the MT Walker Bulldog you got 4 GI's in ETO attire, I think you got the same four figures with a Lee, and there were four Desert Rats with the Grant.  But, I could be remembering that wrong.

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, August 8, 2020 7:57 PM

Real G
M3 was equipped with five(!) 30 Cals, I assumed the one under the 37mm gun was one of them -

The "missing" two are to the driver's left in the left forward part of the hull.  Only about two inches of muzzle poke out (just enough to get the jacket nut wrench on.

They were ot alligned to anyone, and the driver was expected to not drive into a ditch or other obstacle while watching the fall of shot via tracer (through the tiny slits in the driver's hatch or through a periscope).

But, Armor Branch just loved MGs on early tanks.  And the further from the field the more they were loved.  Nick Moran has a decent bit of content on the topic.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Saturday, August 8, 2020 8:14 PM

One way I learned  to tell the Grant and Lee apart, was the Grant and  was redesigned by the British and named for the winner in the US civil war while the Lee, which was the original American design was named for the loser. 

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:46 PM

Gamera

Maybe it's just me but adding aftermarket PE and resin parts to these classic kits kinda defeats the purpose of building it. If I want more detail I'd just buy a newer kit. 

Gamera, being that you are the trusted friend of all children of the world, I will obey and promise not to add any aftermarket to this kit!

But stuff lying around in my parts box don’t count.  And neither do the sheet plastic and punch & die sets!  Wink

I made more progress, so I’ll post some pics soon.

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:51 PM

tankboy51

One way I learned  to tell the Grant and Lee apart, was the Grant and  was redesigned by the British and named for the winner in the US civil war while the Lee, which was the original American design was named for the loser. 

 

The US Army did not use the names. The Lee was simply the M3 Medium. The Brits were the ones who came up with the name. The British used both the Lee and the Grant tanks. But yes, the Grant had a different turret that had room for a radio installation, while the Lee used a hull mounted radio. Later versions of the Lee used by the British in CBI removed the commanders cupola and had a simple split hatch.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

SEARCH FORUMS
FREE NEWSLETTER
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.