by: Andras [ ]
In this review of a PE track set by Armory, I would like to start by a short explanation why it fits so many, seemingly different, vehicles.
The story of the Opel Maultier halftracks and the Sd.Kfz 4 is quite interesting. During Operation Barbarossa the Germans quickly realized that their trucks were inoperable on the Eastern Front once Summer was over. The terrain and the road conditions made their use impractical and impossible during the wet seasons of Spring and Autumn when everything turned into mud. However, halftracks, which were able to operate under these conditions, were in short supply, so the Germans started to retrofit panzer I (as the tank itself was obsolete by that time) and Carden Lloyd running gear onto the rear axle of different trucks in service. Opel modified its own Maultier trucks into halftracks for carrying cargo, which became the Sd.Kfz 4 when they received an armored superstructure. So from four-wheeled trucks, we arrive to an armored halftrack, resembling the 251 series. Like the 251 series, the Sd.Kfz 4 has received several modifications as well, the most notable being the 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Selbstfahrlafette Sd.Kfz.4/1.
I have started to build the Roden Sd.Kfz 4/1 kit mainly because of two reasons. First of all, I like half-tracks, and second, I saw a couple of photos of the Armory PE sets available, and they really intrigued me. Only in larger scale have I seen an extensive detailing set like this before, so I really wanted to try my hands on them. I bought both the interior and exterior sets, but somehow the tracks were unavailable, no matter where I turned. I settled for using the kitís rubber tracks, until I tried to fit themÖ and found them too short. I contacted the owner of Armory, and he very graciously sent me a set. (As a side-note: the Roden kit is a very nice, detailed model, but it will only shine if you use the detailing sets; they really do make this kit stand out.)
After this long introduction it is now clear that the Sd.Kfz 4 halftrack used the panzer I tracks; the Armory tracks will, therefore, be perfect for any 1/72 panzer I or Opel Maultier kit. In most braille scale models the tracks are usually not very well defined; they are usually supplied as a rubber band, which makes the small details impossible to reproduce. PE replacement tracks have been around for several types of vehicles and by several aftermarket companies; their advantage is that they represent the real thing the best in this scale. The detail and thickness is up-to scale, and reproducing the characteristic sag on the top is much easier than with rubber or plastic tracks. I suspect depicting thrown tracks is much easier this way, too, but Iím reluctant to try it on my precious set.
The tracks arrive in a ziplock bag. The set consists of two sheets of identical PE frets attached to a sheet of cardboard, a cover photo which shows the tracks installed onto the Roden Sd.Kfz 4/1 kit, and an instruction sheet.
As you can see from the photos, there are extra track links included, which will come handy should you need a longer track, or if you want to mount the links separately as stored extras onto your vehicle.
The PE is very thin and delicate, and must be treated carefully. Once cut, the tracks will bend very easily, so itís best to handle them with a pair of tweezers, and keep them in a separate box.
The assembly is very straightforward. The tracks are made of two parts: the bottom, flat part, and a thinner part with the double set of teeth, which is perpendicular to the bottom part. You have to fold up the parallel track teeth, and then glue this assembly onto the bottom part. Job done. (Itís probably best to do it before cutting the bottom part off the fret.) From here, you only have to fit it onto your vehicle, and cut it to size. As I mentioned the PE is very delicate, so the fitting is a very easy (although fiddly) process. Once itís on, you apply glue, and you are finished.
This is a much needed update for most panzer I, Opel Maultier and Sd.Kfz 4 kits.
My thanks to Taras Karabyn for the review set.