Takom 1/35 M3 Lee (early)
KIT #: 2085
PRICE: $50.00 SRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2017 new tool kit.


The M3 Lee, officially Medium Tank, M3, was an American medium tank used during World War II. In Britain, the tank was called by two names based on the turret configuration and crew size. Tanks employing US pattern turrets were called the "Lee", named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Variants using British pattern turrets were known as "Grant," named after Union general Ulysses S. Grant.

Design commenced in July 1940, and the first M3s were operational in late 1941. The U.S. Army needed a medium tank armed with a 75mm gun and, coupled with the United Kingdom's immediate demand for 3,650 medium tanks, the Lee began production by late 1940. The design was a compromise meant to produce a tank as soon as possible. The M3 had considerable firepower and good armor, but had serious drawbacks in its general design and shape, including a high silhouette, an archaic sponson mounting of the main gun preventing the tank from taking a hull-down position, riveted construction, and poor off-road performance. They were extensively used in northern Africa.

Its overall performance was not satisfactory and the tank was withdrawn from combat in most theaters as soon as the M4 Sherman tank became available in larger numbers. In spite of this, it was considered by Hans von Luck (an Oberst (Colonel) in the Wehrmacht Heer and the author of Panzer Commander) to be superior to the best German tank at the time of its introduction, the Panzer IV (at least until the F1 variant).

Despite being replaced elsewhere, the British continued to use M3s in combat against the Japanese in southeast Asia until 1945.


I like armor kits. I really do. However, my purchase to completion rate is about the same as it is for 1/48 multi-engine aircraft; pretty poor. I was delighted to have won this kit in a raffle as one military kit I built and really liked was by Takom.

The detailing is first rate and from the look of things, they seem to have hit a nice spot between Tamiya and Dragon in terms of the number of parts and the use of photo etch. There is a p.e. fret, but it is relatively minimal . Itssems that most of the bits are for an engine screen, some fasteners, light guards (and there is a form included around which these are bent), and that seems to be it. I looked through the instructions several times and have to guess the other bits are for other kits.

The kit also provides link and length tracks, which I know many modelers prefer as they are a good compromise between the single piece flexible tracks and the individual link tracks. Takom has provided a build up form to help you assemble these prior to installation on the kit. Both of the side entrance doors and the turret hatch are separate and while there is no interior, you could easily place figures in them. The 75 mm gun is designed so it can be elevated and operate thorough its limited azimuth. The upper turret is installed with the usual bayonet attachment.

Takom's instruction books are very well done and while I personally wish the printing was darker, it isn't that great a detriment. On construction steps where several subassemblies need to be brought together, each separate little 'box' has an arrow on one edge to guide you in the proper sequence. All four markings options are in olive drab (go figure). One is the Soviet box art tank with all the slogans on it. The other three are US, but oddly, none of them are markings used in combat. One with the interesting colored insignia is from the 2 AD when based stateside in 1942. The other two options are also from 1942 and based at the Desert Warfare Center. Decals are nicely done and the instructions use Mig color references. Not very convenient for most of us.


This is not the first Lee every done in this scale or those close to it, but it may well be the best. I have not paid any attention to the reviews of the kit as I think it unfairly influences me one way or the other. It is one that I fully intend to build and the coming break may well be a good opportunity for me to get started on it.



December 2017

Thanks to Gateway IPMS for allowing me to win this in a raffle.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page

Back to the Previews Index Page