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1:1 Scale Model of M3 Lee "Lulubelle"
"Lulubelle", is a full size wood model of a 1940 M3 Lee Tank built by Jim Romans of Parma, Michigan, USA. The inspiration began with the 1943 WW II film "Sahara", starring Humphrey Bogart. The project was thought about for several years and upon retirement Jim decided to attempt to make "Lulubelle", a reality.
Construction of the tank began in 1996 after many weeks of planning. Wth no actual blueprints available, only a small scale drawing, some photographs and dimensions from a book about the M3 Lee, much of the project was left to the skillfull observation of the builder. From a distance of a few feet it is hard to tell this 1:1 model is not metal but the hull is assembled from 3/4" plywood. Approximately 700 rivets were turned out of hardwood and the track and suspension were made from various types of lumber and sheet metal.
Shaping the curved front of the hull of plywood was particularly challenging. There are very few square corners, most are rounded or angled. Track pads or "shoes", connectors and guide horns were fashioned from several pieces of wood and then the track was assembled for a total of 395 pieces. Although the tracks, bogie wheels and sprockets move, the track would not withstand the tension created by the movement of the finished tank at 2850 lbs. The tank is mounted on a wheeled frame which is hidden by the suspension, a system which allows the tank to be moved around. Normally she is carried on a trailer, pulled by a pickup truck to take her to parades and other events.
The 75mm and 37mm guns were shaped by gradually tapering a plywood "backbone" which was fitted with ribs a spaced intervals and then covered with sheet metal. PVC pipe inserts form the black openings at the muzzles. The sponson-mounted 75mm and the 37mm guns as well as the machine gun can be traversed and elevated by hand. "Lulubelle's" complex turret consists of fiberglass over wire mesh, on a wooden frame and rotates 360 degrees. All ports and hatches open and are mounted on wooden hinges. The interior of the tank is left unfinished at present.
Born from a fascination with tanks and lifetime of skills she is a very true replication of the M3 Lee. There is an estimated 1,300 hours and $1,200 over the course of three years of building in "Lulubelle". Bogey would be proud of this tribute to his "Lulubelle".
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
My thanks to Jim Romans for the article and photo's
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