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Review: Zvezda M3 Lee

The M3 Lee is a fine tank.  Well, the Russian soldiers that used it may have had a different opinion of it: “Riveted freak,” “three-storey overgrown,” “grave for six.”  But our concern here is Zvezda’s 1/100 scale M3 Lee used in Flames of War.

An M3 Lee crewman see a bright future ahead

An M3 Lee crewman sees a bright future ahead


The United States developed the M3 in 1940.  At the time U.S. Army doctrine used tanks primarily as infantry support weapons.  However, after the fall of France it become clear that the anti-armour capabilities of the M3 would need to be improved.  Designers adopted a 75mm gun but they didn’t have a turret that would take a gun that large.  Thus was born the hull-mounted mediocrity you see here.  The M4 Sherman, incidentally, is basically a Lee chassis with a turret to take a 75mm.

The sponson mount of the 75mm prevented the tank from firing in a hull-down position and even small calibre anti-tank rounds could penetrate the Lee’s expansive flat surfaces.  To make matters worse, the gasoline-powered aircraft engine easily caught fire.  Nevertheless, during the crucial year of 1942 the M3 played an important role.  It was an important counter to panzers in Africa and the Lee contributed to the British victory at Gazala.  The following year over a hundred Lees fought at the Battle of Kursk.  However, by then superior tanks were widely available.


In Flames of War

The stat line of the M3 Lee in a U.S. force is as follows:


The stabilisers and the two guns produce a fierce amount of fire power.  The armor is unremarkable, but in MW facing a far amount of AT9 the Lee will have a fighting chance.

The M3 can be used in British, U.S. and Soviet forces.  It is primarily a Mid-War tank, but it can have some utility in a Late-War Soviet list.  Let’s see how the Lee looks in a few different lists.  The first list is one Bill Willcox sent us:


This list is not for the reckless.  You’ll need to use terrain and all that smoke to your advantage.    Harmon is a great character, and the M10s will make any Panther player cautious.  The list is vulnerable to AT gun spam, and I’d hate to run into any British or Italian infantry lists that have multiple gun and artillery platoons.  Nevertheless, this is a fast, fun list.

The British, of course, used the Lee in Africa.  They swapped out the turret for a different one and called it the Grant.  The Zvezda kit does not have the Grant turret so if you use your Lees in the following list you may incur sour looks from rivet counters.  Some sources indicate that British troops saw the Grant as an improvement over their Crusader tanks.  However, this says more about what a dreadful tank the Crusader was rather than the merits of the Grant.  In any case, you can run a decent Lee list with the British:


The Grant uses the short 75mm (AT9) and loses the cupola MG.  It retains smoke and instead of stabilisers it has the semi-indirect fire rule.

The problem with both of the above lists is that the Lees are trained and front armor 5.  They say the best armor is being hard to hit and those small trained Lee platoons could melt away quickly under enemy fire.

Now for two soviet lists.  The first one, well, it will do fine against infantry but you may struggle against tanks:


Unfortunately the M3 Lee in this list is armed with the short 75mm so it is AT9.  Yes, this means the best AT in the list is either AT9 or the I-153’s rockets.  Nevertheless, you have an impregnable unit of KV tanks to move resolutely forward and two agile units of tanks to run the flanks.

Perhaps a more well-rounded list using the Lee is the regular Tankovy:


The list will do well against opposing tank lists and Mariya’s two 2+ swings in assault are potentially decisive.  The SU85 unit is static and fragile, so you might consider swapping it out for either a unit of light tanks or some artillery (heavy mortars or katyushas) .

What about Late War?  Well this is an interesting list:


Thirty-five points for a trained Lee is perfectly reasonable in Late War.  The two units of cat-killers provide ample anti-tank assets and either the Lees or the T34s can handle anything if they get side armor shots.


Our five-star rating system is an aggregate based on price, utility of the model in various lists and periods, and hobbying-model kit characteristics.  We award the Lee four stars.


Although the Lee is certainly not at the top of every player’s list, it is a great model to add to your collection if you are looking to play some interesting historical lists (e.g., a Kursk list).  It will be a rare sight on the table, but we like the Lee.  It is one of Zvezda’s better 1/100 kits in terms of details and the price is right—the U.S. tank list above is easily put together using a combination of Zvezda, PSC, and Battlefront kits.

The European Team Championship in Athens this year is Mid-War and the Lee is being fielded by many tankovy players.   Roll on M3 Lee!



Public domain image credits:






Warheads Episode 23

We take a brief interlude in the latest research on the Eastern Front before moving on to Irish tournament reports, Mid-War ramblings, Team Yankee, Trafalgar and other games. Brian informs us of the horrors of a American childhood during the Cold War and we congratulate Baz on his continued survival. On that note, Floody remains deceased. Enjoy!

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Warheads Episode 22

We resume our 2016 broadcasting utilizing new technology.  We have higher expectations for this new equipment than Hitler had for the Panther at Kursk.  Significantly, it appears that the transition to Brian’s technological management, and access the Glenroyal’s Wifi, has resulted in same day podcast publishing.

In this broadcast we muse about the recent MW update, discuss an imminent Late War tournament, and conclude with a morale parable concerning hubris.  Along the way we are outed as RPG players.

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Warheads Episode 21

Welcome to an On The Road episode. We take a day trip to the Flames of War tournament at Nordicon in Queen’s University Belfast. Reputations are made and shattered over the course of a day of gaming. Thanks for listening.

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Warheads Episode 20

The hosts break their long silence to bring you Episode 20. Excuses rain from their lips like water over a fall, there is a heroic effort to deliver a tournament report under trying conditions, we run through our hopes for Nordicon and potential Mid-War lists and conclude with a discussion of Battlefront’s new Cold War offering, Not Red Storm Rising. We also praise a less-popular WW2 tank and a very special plane.

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Warheads Episode 19

Welcome listener,

This is our ETC after-action episode detailing our trumphant progression to not-first place. We discuss our games, strengths and weaknesses of the ETC, Brian damns entire nations on flimsy pretexts as the rest of us embrace an era of peace, love and international cooperation. And congrats, again, to the Yankee imperialists on their 2015 win!

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Live from the ETC in Prague

We are coming at you with a podcast from an abattoir in Prague on the eve of the ETC.

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Warheads Episode 18

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Warheads podcast.

We report briefly on the last two Irish Flames of War tournaments and the eternal binary struggle between Good and Evil. The meat of the episode focuses on the European Team Championship including imbittered self-justification from our list-designers, vicious national stereotyping of our opponents, dire predictions about slow play and some list analysis. For those interested, all lists can be found here: http://sirehermann.wix.com/barbus-in-game

We go completely off-topic at the end, discussing the joys of Prague, the importance of goodwill towards all and defenestration.

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Warheads Episode 17

I release this podcast under duress as my co-hosts relentlessly badger me about the importance of timely releases. Shame on them, they lack all understanding of the artistic process. We discuss our experiences in Derry/Londonderry/Doire, chat about our upcoming tournament (it’s tomorrow) and dole out patronising advice to our neighbours. My warnings of a great evil rising in the North go unheeded.

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Warheads Episode 16

Welcome to Episode 16,

We discuss the spate of Irish tournaments that have appeared since the last podcast, tease out the exact degree of villiany required to run an EW Strelk list, Baz reveals his Luddite tendencies and we deal with a discourteous listener. This is all punctuated by ranting and drinking.

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