Modeling the M3 Medium Tank in 1/72 Scale

Article by Stephen "Tank Whisperer" Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Al Magnus

The British M3 Grant Medium is differentiated from the M3 Lee tank primarily in the lower and wider cast turret. During development of the M3 Medium the British government urged a lower turret with the radio set mounted in the turret bustle, rather than having the radio in the hull like the Lee used by US forces. Other differences are that the Grant turret dispensed with the machine gun cupola, the Grant typically had sand skirts, a canvas cover around the gun mount, and WE210 rubber block tracks with what was referred to as a waffle, double-H, or double-I pattern.

Looking at the Box Art, what is supposed to be inside.

M3 Grant box Hasegawa.jpg

Hasegawa Kit 31105/MT5

I've always liked Hasegawa's box art paintings. Here we have depicted an accurate looking M3 Grant tank. Starting at the top we have a commander figure scanning the battle. An initial problem I see is by its height and shape the hatch looks to be a Sherman-type rotating split hatch with 50-calibre machine gun, not normal for a Grant tank. In fact I am pretty sure that at the time of this battle seen in 1942 this type of commander's hatch was not available, even if it could be fitted onto the Grant turret. No 50-cal. machine gun is included in the Hasegawa kit.

The turret has the M5 37-mm gun without counterweight underneath. On the turret and hull sides are combination pistol and vision ports.

The sponson-mounted M2 75-mm gun has the canvas dust/rain cover. Below the turret rear is the antenna pot and an antenna. The engine deck has storage bins on each side with a large wood storage box straddling the engine deck. This box is included in the kit but in WW2 period photos I have only seen it on a US Army M3 Lee tank. On the side is the side hatch common to early M3 Mediums with a grab handle above, and a sand skirt particular to British M3 tanks covering the top of the track run. The M3 and the M4 tanks used a "live track" so it has little if any track sag. On the bow we see the three part bolted transmission (differential) cover.

The tank is depicted in a monotone sand color with the red and white Jerboa marking for the British 7th Division. The vehicle number beginning with the white T indicates a tank used by the British or allies they supplied (New Zealand, Australia, and Poland, etc.)

The road wheels are the 5-spoke open type typical of the M3 and early M4 tanks with what I have heard called a "fancy" sprocket wheel. Notice how the return rollers are immediately above the bogie center with no track skid, typical of the M3 and initial VVSS M4 bogies. The rubber block track is the T41 type rather than the WE210 type.

M3 Grant box Mirage72804.jpg

Mirage's Kit 72804

The box art for their "El Alamein" version kit shows a colorful Grant tank in the western desert. We see a vehicle with basically the same features as in the Hasegawa painting above except the turret hatch looks more correct. The title Grant Mark 1 specifies that it is the M3 version with riveted hull and air cooled engine like that in the M4 and M4A1 tanks.

The main gun does not have the canvas cover around the gun mount. In front of the gun and on the other fender are metal racks for British "flimsies" fuel cans (not included in the kit). On the glacis plate just above the 3-part bolted transmission housing we see the muzzles of the two fixed machine guns.

Like the Hasegawa box art the road wheels are the 5-spoke open type typical of the M3 and early M4 tanks with what I have heard called a "plain" sprocket wheel. There are rails on the side of track guards for hanging gear (stowage) but this rail is not included in the kit. This rack is easy to replicate with plastic stock and it is included in one or two of Dragon's M4 kits that we can steal it from. Hasegawa's Grant model should probably also have this rail added.

The tank is painted in a green, brown and desert tan camouflage with the colors outlined in black or dark gray; reminds me of the Polish and French camouflage of 1939 and 1940. On the fenders above the suspension bogies are unit markings of a rhino and number 40 for the 1st Division.

M3 Grant box Mirage72805.jpg

Another release by Mirage Grant Mk 1 Kit #72805 is of the famous M3 tank Monty, a command tank for the British 8th Army. The Grant Mark 1 is the version of the M3 known as just the M3 in USA service, with the radial, air cooled, petrol engine. Up on the turret is a mounted 30-caliber machine gun which the real tank actually had and is included. Off the rear of the turret is a radio antenna for the turret bustle mounted radio.

Four crew figures are shown but only one is included in the kit. The 75-mm main gun has a cover over its gun mount, but the cover is not included in the kit. The main gun appears to be the shorter M2 model and with no counterweight at the muzzle. Like with kit 72804 a rail along the side is shown but is not included within the kit. The track appears to be the T41 rather than the WE210 type.

(An odd thing about this kit is that when it arrived it had the correct decals and white-metal figure and roof machine gun, but mistakenly came with the M3 Lee turret, not the Grant turret' all sealed in plastic bags and a shrink wrapped box. How odd.)

The Grant is painted in desert tan and olive green camouflage. The markings are for General Montgomery's command tank during the El Alamein battles in 1942-43.

G:\EMCHA\M3 profiles.jpg

Above is an M3 Lee vehicle silhouette with measurements helpful for later checking our model to check for scale accuracy. The M3 Grant does not have the Lee's cupola so will be lower in profile, but the M3 Lee and the Grant Mk 1 will have the same length and width.

The Kits

Hasegawa M3 Grant model kit #31105/MT5

1. About 60 gray color, injection molded styrene plastic parts. The issues with the Hasegawa M3 Grant wheels, tracks, and minor detail fittings also go with their M3 Grant model also (see article Modeling the M3 Lee Medium Tank, the "Iron Cathedral" in 1/72 Scale Part 1, The M3 in Soviet Service for further information on the Hasegawa model.

2. The figures with this kit are the same as that with the Lee version and are American uniformed tankers, not British or Australian tankers. Like with the Mirage model we'll have to use after-market 1/72 or 1/76 scale crew members.

3. The Grant turret is a cast steel turret designed for the British to be of lower silhouette and is different in having no cupola and has a rear bustle for the tank radio, a British requirement. The Hasegawa Grant turret is poorly shaped. Like the Lee turret, it will need a gun-sight. The commander's hatch can be modeled open or closed. No interior detail is included.

4. The 37-mm turret gun is the same part as with the Lee version however the Grant's 37-mm gun did not have the counterweight under this gun, so cut off this rod when assembling the turret.

5. I recall seeing one photo of an American M3 Lee Medium with a large wood box resting on the rear metal storage boxes and over the engine deck , but not one on a British Grant as depicted in the Hasegawa models. What is inconsistent is that Hasegawa offers two storage boxes that are the same size. In reality, the Grant rear-storage boxes were of different sizes and shape than what Hasegawa gives us (making it hard to rest a large wood box atop two bins of different heights). Hasegawa offers the same boxes with both the Lee and the Grant versions. It is not consistent to have this box on the Grant engine deck with metal boxes of different height.

6. The Hasegawa T-41 rubber block tracks are too narrow and the wheels are 5-spoke type but not open. This tank should use the WE210 rubber block tracks anyway.

7. Hasegawa's road wheels are sold with no rear-side detail. These are fine for a wargaming model but can be replaced with aftermarket resin wheels available or stolen from a Trumpeter or other M4 kit.

The Mirage M3 Grant kit 72804 and 72805

i. Mirage's Grant kit has about the same number of parts as the Mirage M3 Lee model: about 110 injection molded styrene parts, a small etched-brass fret with eight parts and a sprue of soft band tracks and single tow cable, but comes with a new turret sprue and with the sand skirts. The wheels, tracks, and hull are the same, but the correct British-style storage boxes are given.

ii. The Grant kit comes with the same hull parts as their Lee model and comes with the same sink holes, but take heart, while some modelers report their kits also have sinkholes, some modelers I have communicated with say they do not have sinkholes in their kits. A recent purchase of an additional M3 Lee also confirms fewer sink holes so this must be a production run problem.

iii. Mirage's Grant has the protruding counterweight below the 37-mm gun barrel indicating the gun has a horizontal stabilizer. In historical photos some Grants appear to have the counterweight but about 75% do not. Do not mistake this for a machine gun barrel.

iv. Mirage gives us the standard issue T-41 rubber block tracks though the British M3's typically used the WE210 track which has a double-H raised pattern to provide additional traction. We can either purchase resin WE210 tracks from MR Models or purchase Mirage's etched brass detail set if available (Kit # 72804) to convert the Mirage T-41 tracks into the WE210 tracks.

v. Kit 72804 comes with no crew figures, while kit 72805 comes with one white-metal half-figure that resembles General Bernard Montgomery.

The Parts

M3 superstructure compare

Above is a scan of the Hasegawa and Mirage M3 superstructures, with the gasoline (petrol) engine deck common to both their Grant and Lee versions. Both superstructures have similar dimensions and angles except for the front upper glacis plate where the driver's visor is: Mirage offers a less vertical glacis plate which looks more correct.

The roof hatch on the Hasegawa hull is open but the hatch underside has no detail if you do model it opened. Mirage gives us more accurate bow machine gun ports visible on the front left of the glacis. Notice that the Hasegawa engine deck is missing one fuel filler cap on the port side. Note also Mirage's sink holes on the fuel fill caps. Both hulls are missing the ventilation domes on the roof common to late production M3 Mediums. (A resin conversion/update set for both of these kits including the ventilation domes and interior parts would be appreciated. With all these open hatches these models are calling for an interior!)

M3 gun compare

The Hasegawa main gun is the shorter M2 75-mm main gun with no breach on the gun. Mirage offers a choice of long M3 or short M2 75-mm gun with or without counterweight, both with breach and recoil cylinders.

M3 sides compare

Mirage's and Hasegawa's superstructure sides, doors and rear are comparable but with noticeable differences. Mirage gives us a more accurate rear plate (top) and side doors (far left) though both the side plate and the door visors have vexatious sink holes.

M3 Grant turrets.jpg

This scan compares the teardrop-shape Hasegawa M3 Grant turret at left with the larger and rounder, more accurate, M3 Grant turret. Mirage puts their turret hatch correctly on the port side of the turret. At the rear starboard corner of the Mirage turret is the location of an antenna mount. The Mirage instructions in step-XIII advise us to mount two stretched sprue antennas but includes no mounting post for the antennas.

The Mirage Grant turret is missing what looks to be a smoked grenade launcher, seen as a large hole on the forward turret roof to the right of the gun. Sometimes this hole is covered by a thick metal plate.

Assembly Instructions
Hase M3 Grant instr

Though Hasegawa's painting and markings diagram shows open spoke road wheels, the ones in the kit are molded closed (see photo of the Hasegawa kit to the right of the diagram. There are markings for two British Grants serving in North Africa. I do not have a set of the decals with my kit but you may see them at Henk of Holland website.

I the Hasegawa kits only the early 75-mm M2 main gun is offered, without counterweight. Note that on the 3-piece bolted differential cover there are no bolt heads. On Mirage's kit they do mold on the bolts.

The Grant kit's T-41 tracks are the same as in the Hasegawa Lee kit but British Grants and Lees predominately used the WE210 waffle-type tracks (available from Mirage and in OKB Grigorov and MR Models).

M3 Grant instruct.jpg

Hasegawa's exploded-view instructions are clear and pretty standard for Hasegawa and other manufacturers. An exception to this is that there are written assembly instructions in English/American. The instructions show the simplicity of the kit. The molded on hand tools do not lend the model to a great display model.

In Step 6 we see the two crew figures which are in American tanker uniforms not British.

M3 Grant instruct Mirage72804.jpg
This page from Mirage's exploded-view assembly instructions is representative of the instructions for Mirage's other M3 medium kits. The instructions show the significantly more complex assembly and greater number of parts compared to the Mirage M3 model kits. Mirage's model will be easier to detail the interior and gives some interior detail to start with such as the inside of the side doors and the gun breach.

We should appreciate the choice of etched brass brush guards for the headlights of simple plastic guards, and the separate hand tools.

My notes on the instructions describe sinkholes on the rear engine plate, side plates and the storage boxes.

12 M3 Grant instruct 1.jpg

This bit of Mirage Kit 72805 instructions shows the Grant turret assembly including assembly of the white metal 30 calibre machine gun for the rooftop, and painting instructions for Monty.

M3 Grant instruct Mirage72804 2.jpg

Above is the scan of Mirage's M3 Grant kit 72804 decals, from the El' Alemain version. The Mirage version of the British Grant turret is still flat at the rear bustle but is more round than Hasegawa's Grant turret.

Mirage offers us a choice of decal markings for at least six British tanks in North Africa and extra, assorted unit markings for us to play with: 2nd Dragoon Guards of 1st Armoured Division, a Grant in service with US Army under Major Henry Cabot Lodge, 4th Armoured Brigade of 7th Armoured Div.

The etched brass fret at right has parts for the side door interior, light brush guards, and the engine deck vent.

M3 Grant instruct Mirage72805.jpg

Mirages painting and marking guide for Kit M3 Grant kit 72805 Monty included information and markings for one British tank Monty, three Australian Grants and one Polish Grant tank. At lower left are some additional, supplemental markings for one of the Australian Grants.

At right is the etched brass fret which is the same as for kit 72804.


[1] Gunpower 32 M3 Lee/Grant Vol. 1, by Patryk Janda, A J Press., ISBN 078 83 7237 203 1. This is one of the best references on technical details of the M3 Medium tank.

[2] BRITISH AND AMERICAN TANKS OF WORLD WAR TWO , Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis. Cassel & Co., (2001). A great reference book on most all of the tanks and many other AFV's used by the American and UK forces.

[3] M3 Lee/Grant In Action, Armor Number 33 , by Jim Mesko & Don Greer, Squadron Signal Publications (1995). An excellent and inexpensive modeling and historical book on the M3 Medium tank.

[4] The LEE/GRANT Tanks in British Service, Osprey Vanguard 6 , by Bryan Perrett, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (1978).

[5] Sherman Medium Tank 1942-1945, New Vanguard 3 , by Steve Zaloga & Peter Sarson. Osprey Publishing Ltd. (1993). A very good soft cover book on the M4 but also covering the 75-mm gun and engines common to the M3. [This review was written before Osprey released their Vanguard book on the M3 medium.]

[6] Military Miniatures In Review (MMIR) Magazine, Volume 2, Number 2. The Sherman Tank: A Fragmented Look. Part 2a: M3 Glacis Armor. An excellent comprehensive treatise on details of the M3 Medium tank.

[7] henk.fox3000.com/Hasegawa.htm

[8] the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/index.html

Back to Articles Page
Back to Mirage kit list.
Back to Hasegawa kit list.
Back to Home Page

Article Last Updated: 02 March 2015