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M3 Lee Suspension Update Set

Armoured Brigade Models 1/35 M3 Lee Suspension Update Set First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Armoured Brigade Models
Subject M3 Lee Suspension Update Set Scale 1/35
Kit Number ABM013 Media 50 parts in grey resin
Pros Fixes the most egregious faults with the suspension of the Academy M3 Lee kit; provides for maximum use of the kit parts where applicable Cons Sources of supply for ABM kits have been erratic in the past
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $17.00

First Look

Back during the AMPS 2000 International Show well-known Canadian modelers Sid Arnold and Dave Dean brought down their first samples of a new line of kits which were dubbed Armoured Brigade Models. These were focused on correcting the rather elderly and quite awful Tamiya M3 Grant and M3 Lee kits, and were either modularized for use by modelers to fix specific parts of the kit or combined into a complete kit of the M3 Lee which made its debut at AMPS 2001. Their one drawback was availability, for at both shows ABM could have sold far more items than they brought.

Fast forward six years, and the new Academy M3 Lee was released in May 2006. But while it corrected many of the massive failings of the 30 year old Tamiya kits, unfortunately it added some new ones of its own, primarily a bad suspension set and an exaggerated cast turret. ABM has now modified its older moldings, which were first rate when released, reorganized them, modified them to fit the Academy kit, and re-released them.

This is the suspension set, which provides an integrated set of parts to fix the unfortunately erroneous Academy suspension. As many modelers now know, Steve Zaloga built the kit and found the main suspension mounts used the springs from the previous M4 kits and as a result wound up a bit more than 2mm too high, which caused the model to sit high and look wrong when completed. They also made some simplification errors and as such really hurt the finished product.

With this kit, ABM provides six new suspension brackets (dubbed "bridges" in the instructions, six new return rollers, two new drivers, and two very nicely done idlers with new mounts.

First off, the directions describe what has to come off the hull pan of the kit and provide photos of the parts to be removed and the new parts in situ on the modified hull pan.

The "bridges" come with new springs and a new lower spring mounting plate, but all of the remaining parts less the return roller come straight from the Academy kit. The directions give a very good description of how to simply modify Academy parts to fit on the new "bridges" and thus get the tank to sit at the correct height.

The only major cleanup in this kit are the return rollers, which come with a "flake" of resin for protection and should clean up in a couple of minutes with a sharp Xacto knife and a mouse-tail file.

The new drivers are very nicely detailed on both sides and are an upgrade from the workmanlike but pedestrian kit ones.

The idlers use an ingenious method of assembly with a center casting and two separate outer sections in order to provide the accurate rim to the wheel not found in any plastic kit.

Overall, this fixes the most annoying problem in the kit and one many modelers cannot or will not do on their own. It can also be used to backdate an early M4 if Academy suspension parts are used to flush out the suspension bits.

Thanks to Sid Arnold of ABM for the review sample. For further info on distributors contact Sid at