Miniart - T-34 Wafer-Style Halved Workable Track Links Set
Miniart has been releasing a series of stunning SU-85 and SU-122 kits, with full interiors and exquisite detail. They have also released a number of accessories for T-34-based vehicles including several track and wheel sets. This set, "T-34 Wafer-Style Halved Workable Track Links" is part of this series.
The Red Army had to confront the problem of ensuring tank mobility on challenging terrain such as very deep snow and mud. They tried quite a few experiments that never made it into production, such as wooden track extensions on BT tanks, to enable flotation in snow. One idea that did make it into production on both T-34 and KV tanks was halved or 'split' track links. The idea was to split the links in half longitudinally, so that in deep snow, a full width (i.e., normal) link could be inserted in place of one of the halves, keeping the inner half in place, and thus creating track links that were 1.5 times the normal width. I have never seen a photo of the tracks fitted out this way but it could be done. It's analogous to the extended end connectors used on US tanks. These tracks were used on vehicles assembled at UZTM, including some T-34s and SU-122s. They are hard to spot in photos because they look pretty close to the normal track types used on those vehicles.
Miniart's all-plastic kit consists of 176 links. T-34 tracks had 'A' and 'B' links, alternative with a tooth on every other link. A real T-34 or SU needs 72 links per side, or 144 total. Miniart provides 10 sprues of 'toothed' links with eight links per sprue for a total of 80 toothed links, and 8 sprues of 'flat' links of 12 links each for a total of 96 'flat' links. The total of 176 links in this kit is more than enough to fit out a model with about 30 spares left over. I should mention that, although the real 'flat' links were obviously split in two pieces each, in this kit they are given as one piece each.
The kit comes in a box similar to a set of figures. Instructions are printed on the back of the box, along with illustrations of the typical vehicles to which these tracks were fitted - SU-122s, SU-85s, and hex-turreted T-34s. A painting guide is also included.
The links are very cleanly cast with no flash, mismatches or short shots. The detail is excellent, and includes, for example, foundry/casting numbers on the links. They measure precisely the correct size.
The toothed links have three sprue attachment points each; the flat links have four sprue attachment points per link. That makes for some fairly tedious cleanup before the tracks can be assembled. However, there are no knockout pin marks anywhere. So, once cleaned up, they assemble very easily and look terrific.
Closeups below show how the link is split longitudinally
Detail is excellent. Very sharply-defined features and perfect size. Note the small pins to click the flat links into place, below.
Note the casting numbers on the links.
Due to the number of sprue attachment points, it took me an entire evening just to remove the parts from the sprue and clean up the attachment points. I found a very sharp x acto knife and a small sanding stick worked well. Care is needed removing the parts so as not to damage the links. Because the sprue attaches on the 'hinge', a careless cut from the sprue would damage the hinge. A positive aspect is that there are no knockout pin marks anywhere. I damaged two or three links beyond use during cleanup, but, with 30 or so to spare that's not really a problem.
Cleanup time....note the little sprue nubs that need to be cut off.
But look at the casting number on the inner face
Once the tracks are cleaned up, assembly of an entire run can be done relatively quickly. It took me about 30 minutes on the first side, and less than 20 on the second, to fit out a T-34 hull. I noticed the fit was not strong enough to make the track workable, but it was tight enough to make assembly a little tricky. What I did is assembled short runs and pressed them flat and straight with a heavy file, then did a few more links etc. The links 'set' slowly using Tamiya cement.
I used a Dragon T-34 I happened to have in progress to test-fit the track. The roadwheels, below, are deflected slightly because the model will be on a terrain base. The outer wheels are just press-fitted, not glued. So if you think the wheels don't look right, you're right ;)
These tracks are advertised as workable. That is true only to a very limited extent. They will click together and can move, but, they fall apart easily. I strongly recommend gluing them as you assemble them, as you would non-workable tracks. They will not withstand much handling at all without glue, and I would not recommend trying to installing them as a single set of unglued links as you would with true workable tracks. I didn't even try because it was obvious from handling a few links that it wouldn't work. The 'workable' design actually seems to make them slightly harder to assemble than some other plastic T-34 track sets I've used.
That said - they look great on the tank. The detail is extremely sharp and fine. You will want to use these on T-34s that haven't been in the mud !
Pros: Excellent detail; no knockout pin marks to clean up; nice variation for a T-34 or SU track set. Great variant to add to a current kit or to upgrade older kits that need track replacement. Probably the most highly detailed T-34 links available in plastic.
Cons: Not truly workable; many sprue attachment points makes for tedious cleanup.
Very Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Miniart Models for this review kit.
Reviewed by Danny Egan
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