AFVisual 019: The M3 Lee
by David Doyle
By David Doyle, Letterman Publications, no ISBN, 80 pages.
I’ve included the covers in the page count here since
they display two good wartime colour photos of Lees. The book starts with
a two-page introduction and list of Lee versions for M3 to M3A5, complete
with production figures for each type. The British version, the M3 Grant,
is not included though I believe a second book will cover it, but the
M31 Tank Retriever is here.
The first 18-page section deals with M3 itself on the production
lines, at its initial press call and in interior closeups. Here there
are 32 photos and a September 1942 multi-view plan complete with the interior
layout. There’s a good selection of views, including side, front
and rear shots with a one-foot grid superimposed. Next comes the M3 in
training, 7 pages with 17 photos of tanks in US manoeuvres and training
in England, again showing variations in roadwheel type and the presence
or absence of side doors. The M3 in combat takes up the next chapter,
another 7 pages with 15 photos taken in Tunisia. Here there’s a
selection of the posed pre-combat photos of crews with their tanks as
well as actual campaign shots and photos of the results of enemy action.
The cast-hull M3A1 comes next, the first 4 pages with 5 photos taken at
APG and another of the wartime multi-view plans. After that there are
another 18 photos of training in the US, spread over 6 pages and showing
both early and late versions. The welded M3A2 follows, but with only 12
built this only needs 3 pages and 8 photographs.
Then there’s the diesel-powered M3A3 with its very
different hull rear. No in-service photos here, but five pages another
of the wartime multi-view plans and seven photos including one of the
engine are followed by five pages with 19 photos of the example preserved
at Fort Know. The M3A4 follows, with its longer hull to accommodate the
Chrysler multi-bank engine as fitted to the M4A4 Sherman. 4 pages with
8 photos cover the pilot and trials tanks, then there are another seven
photos on 2 pages dealing with training in the US.
The final gun tank version was the M3A5, a diesel-powered
M3A3 but with a riveted hull instead of welded. Eight photos on three
pages show this one clearly, and are followed by two rare photos of this
version in combat on Butaritari in the Makin Atoll, its only known active
service in the Pacific. Britain bought M3A5s as well as M3s, but as already
mentioned the British use of the series is not included in this book.
The M31 TRV gets a section to itself, with two full-page
photos showing it admirably clearly as well as a further five in-service
photos on two pages, two Tech Manual illustrations showing the equipment
locations and a wartime plan of its general dimensions. The plan is not
as good as the ones earlier in the book, but does show the general layout.
To end the book there are two pages of Tech Manual excerpts with interior
views of the gun tank.
This is as good a reference on the Lee as you could ask
for! I’m sure some of the photos have been seen before, but not
reproduced so clearly and with their points of interest drawn to the reader’s
attention, and many are new to me.