The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

M31 (T2) Tank Recovery Vehicle with Panzernest - case report

      Tankers !!! 
       Now, let's see a specialized vehicle, who worked hard to keep the tanks in action. We are talking about the M31 TRV (Tank Recovery Vehicle) derived from M3 Medium Lee.
      The T2 (M31) was a conversion of the American M3 Lee Medium tank for use in the recovery of disabled armored vehicles during the Second World War. The designation T2 was later changed to M31.
M31 'Little Caesar' from 1/13th Armored, 1st Armored Division.
      British recovery vehicles were called Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), the US Army term for the M31 and M32 (based in M4 Sherman tank)  was Tank Recovery Vehicle (TRV). While the M3 Lee tank was taken out of front line service in Europe by 1943, the M31 remained in service till the war's end, never being fully replaced by the M32 TRV, The M31 made his debut in operational use with  1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides - US Army) in Tunisia, during 1943.
M31B1 (welded) recovering a M10 Wolverine, Anzio - 1944.
      The turret of the Tank Recovery Vehicle T2 (M31) mounts a Gar Wood power boom crane with 4,5 to 14 tons capacity, depending on how supports are deployed. These boom was attached in the 37mm gun's place. There is also a 30 ton winch mounted inside the hull which can operate with its cable over the boom crane or hooked directly to a load.
      The guns of M3 Lee were replaced by dummies to obscure the identity of the vehicle. The 75mm main gun was replaced by a hatch with a dummy gun barrel and the 37mm gun in the turret was replaced by a similar barrel welded at the rear portion of the turret.
M31 BIG WELDON in Italy, 1945. Notice the 75mm dummy gun barrel
      The turret machine gun mount was the British style seen on the cruiser tank Grant I instead of the normal Lee cupola. The crane could lift 4500kg without the supporting boom jacks extended, 5400kg with the jacks attached to the front hull, or 14,000kg with the support legs on the ground. A 27,000kg capacity winch was added in the fighting compartment, and the cable was spooled out of the turret and over the crane boom or out the rear of the TRV.
Internal winch (27 ton capacity)  in the fighting compartment of M31
      Tool boxes were also added to the rear sponsons and above the dummy 75mm gun.
M31 pulls a damaged M4 across a Bailey Bridge, Germany - 1944
Notice the spare vertical volute spring below the M31 comander
and the tool box above the 75mm dummy gun
  • M31 (based on M-3 Lee Medium Tank with Continental R-975-C1 9 cyl. radial gasoline engine, riveted hull)

      The M31B1, introduced in October 1942, was based on the M3A3 Lee, and the conversion was similar to the M31 except that the power takeoff on the diesel TRVs was at the front and powered by the engine, rather than being at the left rear and driven by the transmission on the radial gasoline-engined vehicles. This difference necessitated some modifications to the winch operator's position and controls. Almost 296 M31B1s were manufactured by Baldwin Locomotive works. M31B2, also built by Baldwin, was based on the M3A5 Lee.
M31B1 welded hull
      Just over 800 of the Tank Recovery Vehicle T-2 (M31) were produced in all variants, in service through 1945. The T2 (M31) was slowly replaced by the M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, based on the M4 Sherman tank, starting in 1944.

      The British converted M3 Lee tanks (called Grant in the UK, with minor modifications) to armored recovery vehicles, known as the Grant ARV I. This is similar to the T-2 (M31) but of simpler design. When M31 vehicles were obtained by Britain under Lend-Lease, they were referred to as Grant ARV II. About 125 T-2 (M31) vehicles were sent to the Soviet Union during WW II. Other Allies also received units or converted their own M3 tanks.
      The M33 Prime Mover (for towing artillery) was based on the Vehicle, Tank Recovery, T2 (or M31) minus the crane, turret and recovery equipment, but with the 75mm dummy gun:
M33 prime mover (artillery tractor)
      As the M31 TRV was being replaced by the M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, over 100 of the M31 TRVs were converted to the M33 Prime Mover in 1943-1944 to be used as an alternative to scarce high speed tractors.
M33 snorting when towing a 240mm howitzer near Mt.Porchia, Italy, 1944.
M31 (T2) Tank Recovery Vehicle
TypeRecovery tank
Place of origin                                             United States
Service history
WarsWorld War II
Production history
Produced1942 - 1944 (Baldwin Locomotive Works)
Number built+ 800
Variants03: see text
Weight34 t
Length5.64 m (hull)
Width2.72 m
Height3.12 m with crane lowered

Armorup to 51 mm Steel
1 or 2 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns
9,200 rounds
EngineM-31:Wright (Continental) R975 EC2
400 hp - gasoline
M31B1/B2: General Motors GM6046 twin 6-cylinder
375 hp - diesel 
TransmissionSynchromesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Suspensionvertical volute spring
Ground clearance0.46 m
Fuel capacity662 liters gasoline
560 liters diesel
190 km gasoline
240 km diesel
Speed40 km/h (road)
22 km/h (off-road)
Controlled differential

The kits:
      For this project, I'll use parts of the M3 Lee medium from Tamiya (#35039), the M3 Lee Medium tank from Academy (#13206)  and the M31 conversion resin kit from Legend (#LF1135):

      And this picture really poked my imagination: Italy, 1944. M31  M31 lifting a Panzernest, german prefabricated pillbox...
M31 with Panzernest in Mt. Lungo, italy. January, 1944.
      For this composition, the RPM kit MG-Panzernest (#35018).
      The building starts by the Lee chassi. I had, in my souls basin (scrap box), parts of Lee tanks from Academy and Tamiya (remains of old projects). The Tamiya's hull is oversized, but I used the tamiya's chassi. The challenge was to join the upper hull from Academy with the chassis from Tamiya. But until the thing flowed cool ...!!!
The Frankenslee tank growing...
      I honestly think that someone in the Legend hates me. I have a damned unlucky with the resin of this manufacturer parts.The crane booms came warped as screws. The turret seemed a crumpled pie...
      After warm up the pieces in boiling water and try to align the spears of the crane, the thing looked like this:
Horrible !!!  The option was to redo these parts with Plastruct...
      In short, I had to redo many parts that do not have time to take pictures... This was one of the few that I took in the process. notice that I used the Academy turret with some modifications ...
Notice the different colors of the parts: many origins
The Girl almost done: Saturday and Sunday of hard work...
Notice the steel cables...
Other parts and colors...

The crane boom...left side
The crane boom...right side
Notice the manual lighthouse: it's a poetic license ...
But the Grunts should have lighting for work in low visibility conditions ...
       My intention is not reproduce the photo faithfully (life is too short...) , but build something based on the real image:
The real composition...
My interpretation...

Panzernest History:
      In Italy the Germans have been using a mobile steel pillbox, nicknamed the "Armored Crab," which made its first appearance on the Russian front in 1943. These prefabricated bunkers, without rotation, had an armored casting carapace armed with a machine gun. 
Preserved Panzernest in expositio
      These pills boxes were manufactured by various companies in subassemblies contracts being transported to local use by train, trucks or tractors. They were very simple but extremely effective equipment.
Panzernests and Bergepanther in railcars, waiting transportation

Panzernest being towed by a  Opel Blitz 2.5 ton
     This pillbox was mounted in an inverted position on wagon-like wheels, and usually is hauled by tractor or lorry to a designated site, where it is overturned into a prepared cavity.:
Brand new panzernest under GI's inspection.
Notice the wagon like wheels, in wood and metal.

      After this, the exposed upper half of the pillbox (which is non-rotating) is camouflaged with rocks, earth, or local vegetation.
The panzernest's snout well camouflaged
      In the front of the pillbox, there is a small embrasure for the machine gun, with an observation peephole above. When necessary, these openings are covered outside by a heavy metal shield, which can be moved either to the right or left of the embrasure by means of a lever inside the pillbox. On top of the pillbox are two collapsible periscopes, also regulated from the interior. The entrance to the pillbox is a small door in the rear; this is locked from the inside by means of two brackets. 
rear view
      These pillboxes are usually situated in the second defense zone. It takes 15 men to change one from traveling to fire position. When it's emplaced, the usual procedure is to dig a hole and sink the entire lower section and part of upper section. The panzernest does not rotate, so that only the machine gun aperture in front and the opening in the rear top with the two periscopes and pipe must be exposed.
Panzernest - schematic drawing
      The machine gun is mounted on a single bracket mounting which allows a free horizontal traverse on a semicircular grooved slide. The field of fire is 60 degrees. Elevation and depression, which are limited, are accomplished by a small handle to the left of the machine gun.
Internal view of MG mount (without MG)
      Forward of the machine-gun trigger, there is a leather cover to channel off the gases from the gun and also to receive spent cartridges. Attached to the cover is a metal tube. In turn, this tube is connected to a metal box fastened to the floor. The gases are expelled by a small fan situated beside the metal box. The fan is operated by two small foot pedals, one on each side of the pillbox. Each pedal may be worked independently. Air is expelled through a slit above, and to the right of, the door. Fresh air enters through a vent in the ceiling.
      Two folding seats are provided for the crew. There are two iron rungs which serve as steps to facilitate entering and leaving. Two leather straps are hung from the ceiling, near the periscope openings.

      At the rear of the pillbox, and near the top, there are two holes into which steel bars may be inserted to lift the pillbox on and off its trailer. When these holes are not in use, they are closed by metal plugs.
      Ammunition is stored on shelves below the machine gun, in the forward part of the pillbox. There are also two boxes for tools and spare parts for the gun. Space is provided for a field telephone. The pillbox accommodates two men, and was armed an M.G. 34 or 42.
Panzernest pillbox cutaway
      Under combat conditions the observer looks through one of the periscopes to observe and direct the gunner's fire. The gunner observes through the forward slit. Protection from the front against rifle, grenade and artillery fire is by means of the iron slit cover which is manipulated to cover or open slit from the inside.
      Inside the pillbox there is sufiicient room for both members of the crew to sit comfortably and move around to a limited extent. There is a small heating stove and a ventilating apparatus, operated by a foot pedal, which provides suificient changes of air when all vents are closed. There is enough ammunition for 5 to 10 hours of fire.
Methods of Combatting:
       As only about one meter of this pill box shows above the ground, it is very difficult to detect. Thorough reconnaissance is imperative. It can best be detected by the outline of its embrasure, by its periscopes, flue pipe, and flash and powder when firing.

Panzernest light bunker
Typeprefabricated light bunker
Place of origin                                        Germany
Service history
In service1942-45
Used byGermany and its allies
WarsWorld War II
Weight3 tons
Length1.66 m (without towbar)
Width1.70 m
Height1.82 m

Armor138 mm - level with embrasure
89 mm - below embrasure
4 mm - sides, rear and top
1 mm - lower section and floor
MG-42 or MG-34 machine gun with 60° horizontal field of fire 

Max. towing speed10 Km/h

      The kit from RPM is nasty, awful, horrible !!! Burrs and defects simply unbelievable!
Eeeeewww !!!!
Trying to improve the thing ...
Notice the shelves made with balsa wood
The reaçl thing !!!
I'll build the bunker with the hatch open and
wanted to do some interior details ...
       The kit's engineering is horrible: the seams are wrong in comparison of the real bunker: in the kit the seams are vertical and in the real Panzernest they are horizontal.
Horrible !!!
Kit seams are vertical and in the real Panzernest they are horizontal.
After tons of sanding and putty.
Notice the other Panzernest
(towing condition - next project)
Rear view
      I found this reference, about a warning placard in the interior of Panzernest:
Achtung !!!
      Well...  let's do the decals: The warning placard and the limit of towing speed;
Maximum speed:10 km/h. Maybe because the spoked wheels in wood...
The marking in close...
The Panzerserra decals...
Decal in place - internal right side
The RPM kit comes with artillery table (decal) - left side
sorry about picture...
The Panzernest in gray (standard from plant) and
with decal in place

rear view

The 2 panzernests: firing and towing position

The M31 in the final details: notice the 2 barrels of .30 (RBModels)
for the Fifty !!!
       Painting and decal time: I always try to make a template of the markings for my project. I redesigned the (fantastic) drawing of George Bradford (George, you are the man !!!). My girl was in Italy, 1944, after the Battle of San Pietro Infine, near Mount Lungo, with 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalion. My hypothetic Girl will be "CARINE", TRV number 4.

CARINE was born !!!

    Gents, finally my M31 was ready... M31 CARINE from 5th Army753rd Tank Battalion, Mt Lungo (Battle of San Pietro Infine), Italy - January,1944.
M31 TRV "CARINE" - 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalion, Italy, 1944.

      But here, a correction: After publishing the pictures, I realized that I made a huge mistake: to take advantage in to use the complete suspension of Tamiya's Lee, this noob forgot to change the wheels.
      The kits Tamiya Lee and Grant comes with spoked wheels with a huge mistake: six spokes and six holes instead of five.  Surgery time:
Removing the wheels of the suspensions ...
The Devil is doing without breaking any detail ...
The wrong and the right stuff...
      But after a little blood, sweat and tears ... (when the head does not work, the body suffers ...)
M31 TRV "CARINE" - 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalion, Italy, 1944.

M31 TRV "CARINE" - 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalion - left side

M31 TRV "CARINE" - 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalion - right side

M31 TRV "CARINE" - 5th Army, 753rd Tank Battalionwith Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Notice the MG-34 in the Panzernest

M31 TRV "CARINE" with my M32 ARV "OLD BALDY" (case report, soon...)

Two working Girls...

 Thanks for follow, Gents !!!