by: Roman [ ]
The Tiger 1 was a German heavy tank first deployed in combat in 1942 when Axis forces were approaching Leningrad in the USSR and overall it was an impressive piece of machinery that utilized up to date (some say over-engineered) equipment and solutions together with very powerful 88mm gun capable of dealing with most of the tanks at the time and well armoured (at least until appearance of T-34-85, SU-100, IS-2, SU-152, etc.). Despite the fact that less than 1500 actual vehicles were built, the Tiger 1 is one of the most popular subjects for modelling, and it is well covered by Tamiya, Dragon, AFV club, Academy, Italeri and Zvezda. Different brands released different versions of the tank trying to follow up the development and improvement of the original vehicle with Dragon being the most dedicated to that vehicle basically having the whole range in the catalogue.
As with any model there is room for detailing, and one the items that modellers like to replace in the kits are tracks for different reasons. There are plenty of options here - flexi vinyl tracks from Dragon kits, plastic tracks from AFV club, Modelkasten and Dragon (in re-release of Zvezda kit as well), metal offerings from Karaya, Friul and now Masterclub. The subject of this review is a set of metal tracks for a late Tiger 1 variant and while I wish I could do an extended comparison review with other brands I lack all the possible solutions available on the market. Therefore I recommend you to visit a comprehensive research article on tracks from Alexander Chibisov (http://www.dishmodels.ru/gshow.htm?p=1593). It is in Russian but you get the overall feeling together with measurements from each individual kit and the images speak for themselves. Note that the article featured resin tracks from Master club, not the metal ones which are brand new release.
Masterclub’s set of metal tracks for a Tiger 1 (ref MTL-35005) comes in a regular plastic box with a small piece of paper with the catalogue number and basic information regarding the set. Inside there are 3 plastic bags – 1 with 210 track links and two bags with track pins. The casting quality shows no defects and the appearance of late tracks is nicely captured. On the outer surface there are ribs and cleats and on the inner surface we see most noticeable feature of Tiger I tracks – lightening holes on the guide horns. The holes for the track pins on the links are already opened and there is no need for drilling, unlike with other metal tracks on the market. Some of the tracks from my set required minimal clean up due too small burs, however these can be ignored as they are soft and when you press the links together and articulate them a couple of times they will be gone. The pins are simply inserted into corresponding holes when the links are aligned and there is no need for glue to hold the track length together. Be sure that you insert the pin with washer from the outer side of the tracks (I did it wrong on the review images!). After the assembly the track length is fully articulating, which is especially good on vehicles with articulating suspension and uneven ground (don’t forget about characteristic sag on Tiger I from sprocket to road wheels).
Dimension-wise these tracks are very accurate with minor discrepancies reflecting imperfections of my measurement equipment. Here is what I got (numbers in the bracket indicate original size downscaled to 1/35th): width 20,5mm (20,7), length 5,2 (original 5,2), height 5,6 (original 5,57), guide horn width in the middle point 0,48 (0,46), distance between guide horns 6,48 (6,46). The fit was tested on 2 drive sprockets – from a Dragon Model kit (light grey styrene) and Tamiya kit (dark grey) and as you can see on the images it was good. I wish I could have tested it on other manufacturers, but I don’t possess their kits.
I think these are a very good set of metal tracks, which are competitively priced to other metal tracks on the market and provide an accurate rendition of original tracks in miniature. Easy assembly and realistic tracks pins are absolute advantages. The choice is of course up to modeler and modeler’s budget.
"This item was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of a review directly to the author.”