Mirage 1/72 M3 General Lee
|$16.98 (14.96 at Squadron)|
|Scott Van Aken|
|Includes small etched brass fret|
In addition to being used by Britain, Australia and the Soviet Union, those M3s in use by US forces were put into combat by the 1st Armored Division in North Africa during 1942/43 and by the 193rd Armored Brigade on Makin atoll in the Gilberts during November of 1943. Because of the large losses suffered by the 1 AD in Tunisia during 1943, thanks to its inability to handle the German Tiger tanks, the type was quickly replaced by the newer and more capable M4 Sherman.
Mirage continues its devotion to 1/72 armor kits by venturing outside Europe for their next series of kits. This time, they have picked the US M3 Lee as their subject. A good choice it is as well for the vehicle was used quite a bit in North Africa by both Commonwealth and later by US forces once America came into the war. This offers the ability to do several variants with the same basic molds, a near requirement anymore for a model maker to spend the funds to have a kit designed, molds cut and then put into production. Rare will it be to find a kit of just one type of subject with little or no possibility of doing variants. In the olden days, that wasn't a problem as makers could count on hefty sales regardless of what was produced. When the electronic age started that all changed and these folks are building to what is really a smaller consumer base.
Well anyway, the kit itself is all that we have come to expect from Mirage. The molding detail is really excellent. As befits a piece of armor from this period, it is properly festooned with rivets and bolt heads. The turret, which I believe is cast on the real thing, is very well done with the proper amount of 'roughness' to the surface. There are the usual large number of parts for the running gear, though not as much as on some German tanks that I've seen. All of the suspension pieces are very well formed and attach to a multi-piece hull.
The tracks and tow rope are made of a vinyl material that the instructions suggest cementing with superglue. Not sure how well that will hold, but there it is. I'd put the attachment point on the bottom! The photo-etched fret is for a grille and a few hatches and other small bits. Speaking of small bits, this one has quite a few that one might mistake for dust mites when they are off the sprues so assisted vision devices would be recommended! I should also mention that some of the parts have sink areas where the plastic is thicker than normal or opposite ejector towers. Most will be pretty easy to fill without damaging surrounding detail.
Instructions are well done and in the new '3-D' style that seems to be favored by several European model makers. I find it well done and it appears quite helpful. There are some notes about having to make a modification or two to get things to fit properly which is appreciated. They also note any colors needed and where you can substitute etched bits for the plastic ones. There seems to be an option of three different main guns, though no notes on which is applicable to which decal option, though when one gets to the decal portion, they do show which goes where. Color information is provided for Humbrol and Vallejo paints. Generic names are also given.
Markings are provided for six different tanks, all of them finished in a base color of US Army Olive Drab. In no particular order, here is what you get: 1st AD, 13 AR, 2nd Bat, Nov 1942, Souk El Khermis, Tunisia; 2nd AD Ft Benning GA Feb 1942; 1st AD, Northern Ireland, mid 1942; 1st AD, Kasserine Pass, Feb 1943; 193 AD, Makin, Nov 1943; and finally, 1st AD, Bizerte, Tunisia, May 1943. Decals are well printed and judging from past performance, should work quite well with minimal hassles.
As an extra bonus, tactical signs are provided for the 13th armored regiment. A page in the instructions explains which are which.
It seems to me that Mirage has produced another winner. This kit looks to be highly detailed and a worth successor to the now rather old Hasegawa offering in this scale.
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