by: Darius [ ]
Just like the shiny wheels on the car, independent track links dramatically improve the appearance of a model. Especially, if we are talking German armor, where track sag can be quite dramatic. The Panzer III/IV is no exception. Some time ago, almost all panzer III/IV series models made by major manufacturers had independent track links. Until Dragon invented DS styrene that is. While the rubber band tracks are cost effective, they have certain drawbacks. Paint and weathering is easily chipped off by even the slightest mishandling, reaction to the modeling paints/solvents/glues is another potential issue, difficult to represent track sag and many other reasons makes those tracks less attractive to advanced modelers. In the scope of this review, is AFV Club’s 35179 German 40cm Steel workable Track for PzKpfw III (Late) and PzKpfw IV (Mid) set.
Inside the box you get 6 sprues with 40 track links each (240 total), and 6 sprues with 42 track horn plates on the each (252 total). The parts are molded in “rusty track” color plastic, which is good, as paint chipped during handling will be less evident. Molding quality of the parts is excellent, with only minor flash around some links, and minor sink marks on the horns. It is possible to make a clean cut directly from the sprue, making cleanup of the links obsolete. Removing the track horn pads, especially one on the side of the sprue can be tricky, care should be taken not to break those parts. I would suggest to cut entire line with 7 pads off the remaining sprue, this will make removal much easier and safer (note there are indentations on the both sides of the sprue, cut there!). Assembly is very straight forward using thick or medium modeling glue. I would not recommend thin glue, as it might run into the track pins rendering tracks non movable. Assembled tracks articulate with little to no friction. Assembled tracks fit perfectly on the AFV Club Nashorn kit. They also fit very well on the range of Dragon panzer 3 and panzer 4 sprockets.
These track links represent Kgs 61/400/120 type 3B tracks. This means tracks are 400mm wide and the pitch is 120mm. The track link itself, is just 380mm wide, with 400mm being the pin length. This has caused some misunderstandings in the past, interpreting what is the width of the panzer III/IV tracks. Whatever width is, official designation states its 400mm wide tracks (not track links). How it translates to 1/35 scale? Tracks should be 11.42mm wide, links should be 10.86mm wide, and the pitch should be 3.42mm.
Dimensions of the AFV Club tracks are: track width - 11.86mm ( 0.44mm), link width - 11.26mm ( 0.4mm), and track pitch is 3.45mm ( 0.03mm). Measurements were done using a digital calliper (0.02mm declared accuracy). How does it compare to Dragons magic tracks? The tracks released by Dragon are Kgs 61/400/120 type 3A. Track width - 11.5mm ( 0.08mm), link width - 10.82mm (-0.04mm), and track pitch is 3.40mm (-0.02mm). This makes them very accurate dimension wise.
Although slightly wider (only by 0.4mm) AFV Club tracks look much crisper than ones supplied by Dragon. They both have split pins molded on, unfortunately those will be hardly visible once the model is painted/weathered. None of those tracks has molded cast marks on them.
Overall this is a very nice set of tracks. At a half cost of the metal/resin track sets, it is affordable to most modelers. Modelkasten has released nearly every version of the panzer III/IV track links, but those are in a similar price range to metal ones. There is also a chance we will see separate link track sets by Bronco models, as those are included in their stugs. But until then, if you need to replace rubber bands on your tank, and you are on the tight budget, it’s the only game in town.