Today Mark reviews the new M3 Lee kit produced by BF, primarily for the Fighting First releases.
Whats in the box?
Matching the force organisation of a platoon of 5 Lees, you funnily enough get 5 in a box. This is also enough to do an HQ and platoon of 3. Each Lee is a single sprue, and you also get a set of decals, commander sprue and the MW staple, gaming cards. This time the cards are bigger (matching those in the US starter set).
All of this will set you back an RRP of £30.00 or $45.00 US. That works out at £6.00 a tank which is quickly becoming the going rate for most companies main battle tanks (whether plastic or resin). Of course if you are buying from a retailer you will most likely get 10% (if not why not!). So £5.40 which is pretty fair.
The model itself is easy to assemble without any major dramas. Top tip, make sure you test fit the skirts before gluing. I inserted mine the wrong way and it was horrible to get it back out. I did find 2 slight issues with joins. The rear panel often left a slight gap to the top of the hull and the back of the turret mount seems to leave a slight gap. To be fair that might just be my assembly, I did manage one without the issue. Just go carefully….
Worth noting is that the sprue comes with what I think is the turret for a Grant allowing you to field either tank (if you don’t mind the colour between US and British armour and decals being a bit off).
Below are some assembled examples, I managed to do all 5 in about 1 hour.
In order to paint these I did the following
- Undercoat with a light grey spray.
- Airbrush 4 gradually lighter shades of green (all of which come with the US Armour Mig paint set)
- Wash with a yellow filter.
- Tracks painted with Vallejo track primer.
- Paint the wheels panzer grey.
- The tools are done with boltgun metal and saddle brown.
- Apply a gloss varnish where decals will go and then, when dry, put on the decals.
- Target wash the tools with a dark wash.
- Dry brush the tank the tank with 50/50 buff/khaki
- Coat the tank in a matt varnish.
Here is what you should end up with.
I think the Lee is somewhat overshadowed by the Sherman in Fighting First. Sure the Sherman is a great all round tank and with FA6, surprisingly survivable, but at 8 pts each its a pricey beast. In comparison for 5pts you get a FA5 tank, with 1 less AT (can be the same AT for 6pts), but you get a second gun (which can fire smoke!). That is a nice affordable tank at a reasonable point cost, so perfect for supporting your infantry. I like to target gun teams, shore the odd hit with smoke and then fire my main gun at the uncovered guns with the hope of a quick kill. If things are going wrong 3 rounds of smoke per stationary tank can also do wonders to your advance.
I am not hugely sold on running tank formations (beyond the Crusader/Stuart junk tank horde) however for 50 pts you can field 2 HQ tanks and 2 pltns of 4. Not a bad sold formation base. Add in some M10s, 105 guns, recce and air and you have a 14 FA 5 tanks with serious punch along with a good template, spearhead plus scary Marder killers with the P40 Warhawks all for 100pts (Also quite a cheap army to buy which a bonus).
Comparing the tank to the also 5pt Panzer 3 and you get the same armour but better AT and a second gun, although the Panzers have better to hit, skill, moral and remount. Actually a nicely balanced trade off from my perspective.
Another solid plastic kit from Battlefront containing everything you need to field it in your MW games. If I was to ask for more it would be a bit of stowage to allow me to make the tanks a bit more unique, however I wonder if the inclusion of the Grant turret meant they were too tight on space.
In game the Lee packs a well priced punch and is cheap enough to field a solid base along with some interesting support choices. However for me its in the infantry support role that it really shines.