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Takom - M3A1 Lee CDL - Full Build

Kit Number:
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Michael Reeves

M3A1 Lee CDL Full Build Review


For the First Look- check here...

I was really looking forward to trying out some Takom WWII armor after having built some modern and WWI armor from them. When I was offered this unique variant on the M3 series, I jumped at the chance because I thoroughly enjoy researching and building the 'out of the ordinary'.

So...let's get to it! The build is broken up into 20 steps and Takom has things set up pretty straight-forward for building.

Steps 1-5 involve the build of the lower hull, road wheel and suspension, and track assembly. The lower hull proved to be a flawless fit with no real issues. Parts were crisply detailed and with no flash or flaws. The transmission cover has beautiful cast markings that really stand out after painting.  The suspension assembly was quite intricate and results in a moveable, workable assembly. Looking back now, I might have glued everything in place to help keep things steady for the track installation as it proved a bit tricky when it was all coming together. Takom includes a jig to get the right curvature for the top run of the tracks.


Steps 6-9 continues the lower hull construction with the addition of the smaller bits and bobbles- including tow hooks, exhausts, fenders, and horn and headlights. Modelers may choose to leave much of this off until towards the end of the build and before painting to avoid knocking things off. The exhaust covers include some very tiny, intricate PE details that put the Optivisor to work but look quite nice.


Steps 10-17 feature the start of the gun and upper hull assemblies. Takom has parts for the gun that the Canal Defense Light assembly replaces so care is needed to be sure to use the correct parts.  The gun, as assembled, is poseable. The side hatches provide the option of having the vision blocks open or closed. I chose closed as I had an idea I wanted to try out and needed as few open spaces as possible. The antenna mounts are quite nice but need some aftermarket or scratchbuilt antennas. The PE screen on the rear deck is a nice touch. Another part is included that serves as a jig to get the correct bending of the blackout light guard- but the PE springs back a bit when using it so take your time.



Step 18 has you place the upper hull onto the lower and the fit is quite nice. Steps 19 and 20 add more details and yet one more jig- this one to bend the headlight guards. These last steps also include building the CDL turret. It's made up of a base ring, turret top, and four sides. There was a slight gap in fitting the last side which required some filler. The clear parts include a nicely crafted lens for the CDL.



Painting and Finishing

I started painting using Vallejo Model Air Olive Drab but found it to be a bit too dull. I recently picked up Tru-Color paints Olive Drab set and decided to give their Olive Drab No. 3 1942-1944 a try. I like the results much better. Out of the four schemes described in the First Look, I chose to go with the scheme from the 738th Tank Battalion, the only one to really see action. This occurred during the Battle of Remagen at the Ludendorff Bridge where the tanks were used to spot German frogmen attempting to plant explosives under the bridge. The decals went on smoothly and needed only a little nudging with Micro Sol on the rear deck. I highlighted areas on the tank and turret with Tamiya black and brown Panel Wash.






Takom's new series of Grant and Lee tanks really come as a treat for those wanting to build early war armor. The fact that they released this rather obscure and out of the ordinary variant sealed the deal for me. The kit really went together we'll and it was quite an enjoyable build. The use of the PE might cause the skill level to be upped a bit but there was nothing all too complicated and I feel that most modelers who have dabbled with such bits should have no troubles. 

Pros: Interesting subject, easy to assemble kit with included jigs for track assembly and light guard PE parts, great fit

Cons: Addition of small parts early on invites issues, decal and painting instructions entirely too small to read in detail


M3 Lee/Grant in Action, Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1995

M3 Lee Grant, Wojciech J. Gawrych, Wydawnictwo Militaria, 2000

Tanks-Encyclopedia Online:

Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.

Thanks goes out to TAKOM for this review kit.

Reviewed by Michael Reeves, AMPS Albany


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