M3 Lee (MiniArt) Build #2 – Whereupon I Get Back to the Workbench, Engine Parts Get Painted and Some Assembled

I had to go out of town at the beginning of June so I’d spent some dedicated time at the bench so that I would be ready to get back to work when I got back. Yeah, well, that didn’t exactly happen. What exactly happened was that I got back okay, and then did nothing worth noting for the rest of June, all of July and August, and just a wee bit in September (which is what comprises this post).

I picked up a couple of sets of Master-Model’s M1919A .30 caliber (7.62mm) barrels (two per set) part number GM-35-004, which are the earlier two-piece conical muzzle version. Whenever I do armor models that have machine gun barrels hanging out in the breeze, I use Master-Model’s product. They’re fantastic. As usual, I used Birchwood Casey’s Brass Blackening compound to darken them. I let them soak in the solution for an hour or so and took them out. They’re covered in something that looks like soot, but once that soot is buffed off, one ends up with these:

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Having already assembled some of the lower hull and interior, I hit the assembly with Tamiya’s XF-1 Flat Black. This is my pre-shading coat. Then I added the sides of the hull, the differential cover (there’s a gap where the gear covers meet the differential covers that should not be there, as the parts were cast as a single unit, so I used the white acrylic putty to close those gaps) and final drive covers (one on each side where the sprocket wheels attaches), and the bulkhead between the crew compartment and the engine bay (I also added a number of parts that will also be done in preshaded white). In my last post I warned that parts Db3 (of which there are two) should be added later than the directions call for. Parts Db3 are easily seen in the following photo because the replacements for the kit parts that snapped off and vanished are the only white parts (I used styrene rod) in the photo (I don’t count the acrylic putty as a “part”):


Some of the interior parts that were preshaded were then painted. The breech blocks were painted Humbrol Steel #27003, and everything else was painted Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab (3 parts) and scale-color-corrected with Tamiya XF-2 Flat White (1 part). The radio is in the upper left, below that are .30 caliber (7.62mm) ammunition cans, a 5 gallon (18.93L) gas can and its handle, the auxiliary power unit (APU) at the bottom left, the 75mm cannon and the 37mm cannon to the right:


Next up I started cleaning up the parts (some very small and very delicate parts) for the engine. As I performed that task, I started dry-fitting things check for fit (pretty good) and then decided that I might as well start putting some of the engine assembly together:

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A suggestion when you (if you) start building either this kit or use MiniArt’s engine set for something else. Small and delicate parts can be (frequently) a tedious hassle. In assembling the rocker arm covers, I realized that one method of construction was (relatively) easy and would help support the DELICATE section that connects one rocker arm cover to the next. Part Dn2 should be added before part Dn3. This way having Dn2 already in position not only keeps the small section of Dn3 that connects the two parts supported, assembling in this order will help reduce the chance that this small section will be caught by an errant finger and sent flying, thereby ensuring that one spends a stupid amount of time trying to find such a small part (yes…speaking from experience) (and yes, the photo of the plastic part and the printed instruction don’t match…I flipped the part over, took the photo, and am just too sodding lazy to re-shoot the photo):

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Once I had all the rocker arm covers glued in place, I dry-fit the engine parts on one side to see just how much could be seen once all the parts were glued on. Short answer, very few:

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So once the parts are painted, using Tamiya’s rattle can lacquer AS-6 Matt Black, no details need be added (this is the side of the engine closest to the bulkhead between the engine bay and the crew compartment), and dry-brushing edges (or, more likely, using a silver colored pencil to do that) will be minimal and limited to the sections of the cooling fan and shroud at the top. The crankcase, which is the conical shape in the center of the engine, is supposed to be gray. As you can see, I could paint it paisley and NObody would see it anyway, so it stays black:

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I had considered using Tamiya XF-1 Flat black for the engine cylinders and heads and cooling fan but so little will be seen once this is placed into the engine bay that there’s no point to doing that. (I also like the AS-6 Matt Black because it’s more satin than matt and certainly more scale (to my eye) than the semi-gloss which appears to me to be far too shiny.

And that’s it for this update. Perhaps my sloth will now subside and next month’s post will be chock full of Modeling Glory ™ and clever repartee.


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