The Medium Tank, M3, also known as the M3 Lee or General Lee was one of the predecessors of the famous M4 Sherman. Armed with a 75 and 37 mm gun it proved to be an effective tank against the early Pz.Kpfw. IV. But it was soon replaced on most theaters by the aforementioned M4 Sherman tank.
Mirage Hobby is a Polish manufacturer that produces plastic kits, pigments and books among other things. They make vehicles that are either Polish or somehow linked to Poland with the occasional foray into other countries.
The M3 Lee saw service in all theaters with the US, USSR and UK. It was designed in 1940 as an answer to the British demand for 3650 medium tanks. Production started in 1940, but because it was designed in such a short time the design was a compromise and it was probably not the most modern tank to see the light in 1940. It was however considered superior to the Pz.Kpfw. IV by famed Panzer Commander Hans von Lück until the arrival of the Pz.Kpfw. IV F1 with the long-barreled 75 KwK.
It was the first time I’ve bought a Mirage Hobby kit but the ‘PE Included’ badge on the box was at least a sign that I didn’t buy a bad kit. So I opened the fairly heavy box. Oh boy! I did not expect that! The box is full of parts, 127 plastic and rubber parts and with the icing on top: two cards with PE with a total of 21 parts. Yes, this kit has a total of 148 parts. It’s safe to say this kit won’t be a weekend build.. And its not like some Dragon kits where you don’t have to use a bunch of parts. This kit has two variants: a Canadian and a British variant. The Canadian variant has a longer 75 mm gun and no MG cupola on top of the turret, lowering it’s profile somewhat. The British variant has the short 75 mm gun and the MG cupola.
And everything is beautifully molded, no flash is visible at all. even the tiniest parts are nicely molded. There is one downside however: the 75 mm gun is a two-piece affair, where the 37 mm is a single piece. Both are as well molded as the rest of the kit. The upper hull of the Lee is also great, and I’d imagine that the engineering on this wasn’t easy, as it is a fairly complex bit of plastic. A major part of the gun mount for the 75 mm gun is molded with the hull as are various details like rivets. Speaking of which, the Lee was an all riveted tank, and the rivets on this kit are everywhere and look good.
The instruction sheet is nicely printed, but it’s all in a CAD exploded view which is ok but it can be a bit confusing with complex constructions. But I’ve spent some time studying the instructions and they seem clear enough. The color call-outs are in Humbrol and Vallejo paint numbers, which is nice. The color schemes lack a bit of detail, but you can only choose between sand yellow and olive-green, so it’s not an issue for this kit. It would be nice to have this printed in color, because the black and white printing is not really clear enough for anything but a single color.
The two sheets of PE are littered with parts for the cupola’s, fenders and an assortment of tiny bits for various mounts and straps. They all look nicely detailed and you need to take extreme care not to have those tiny parts ping off into the carpet.
Decals and color options
This kit comes with a total of two color schemes: Sand and Olive-Green. And this is entirely dependent on the version you choose to build. The decals leave enough options to add some variety in unit numbers which is nice. That way you won’t have a hundred Lee with number 112 on the side at your local model club. The decals are as you would expect nicely printed and in register.
Due to the amount of (tiny) parts and PE this is probably not the most beginner friendly kit. But if you’re up for a challenge or just looking for a good Lee kit in 1/72 scale I would say there isn’t a better one out there that I know of.