A Modeling Guide to:

Assembling Separate Link Tracks for 1/35 Military Models

 

by Neville Lord

 

Separate link tracks can add realism to military models. The most common form of these tracks are one-piece separate link tracks which are found in many popular 1/35 military kits including Tamiya's late and mid production Tiger Is and Sturmtiger; and most Dragon armored vehicles kits including their Panzer III & IV series, Panthers, Shermans and JS-II Soviet tanks. Being injection plastic, these links can be assembled using standard modelling cement and compared to standard one piece tracks are effective at replicating the sag seen on many tanks and self-propelled guns.

This article presents a straightforward and in my opinion low risk technique that I have found effective for working with one-piece separate link tracks. The accompanying photos illustrate this technique using Tamiya's King Tiger (production turret) with the optional Tamiya King Tiger track links. Like other recent Tamiya kits this model goes together extremely well.

Separate link tracks on the sprue

 

Step 1: Assemble Kit's Hull

Assemble the lower hull and fit the road-wheels, drive sprockets (wheels with teeth) and idlers. By fitting the tracks before attaching the upper hull you have more space to work in.

Hint: to avoid damage don't fit small parts such as hull machine guns until after the tracks are fitted.

Step 2: Prepare the Links

Remove the links from the sprues. For Tamiya and other high quality links this can be done in one step with a hobby knife and cutting mat. Some older and East European kits require the parts to be removed using side cutters before being finished with a knife. If this involves removing injection marks this can be time consuming and if you can afford it, the use of aftermarket tracks such as Fruil or Model-Kasten is particularly advantageous.

Separate Link Tracks Ready for Assembly

I always use a fresh blade as it saves time and gives tidy results. Remove any flash as you go.

Hint: To save time later on, put the correct number of links for each track in a zip lock plastic bag.

Step 3: Assemble the Tracks

In this step, I usually build two half-lengths as I find shorter runs easier to handle. For this step you need a steel or wooden ruler.

Step 3: One completed half-length of track

Hint: By using a glue with at least 20 minutes curing timing (e.g. Tamiya's Liquid Cement or Revell Contacta Professional), you will have ample time to fix the tracks to the kit in the next step.

Step 4: Fitting the Tracks

By now the first run of track should be ready. If it is ready, the links will stay together when you lift the track and you will experience some resistance when you bend it. If the joins are weak, wait a few minutes. Always check the instructions to see which direction the track should face.

The kit after fitting the first half of the track. Notice the loose track on the top and that the links have been pushed firmly onto the sprocket.


Step 5: Final Adjustments

As this kit has large links that touch the road wheels, I used coins to hold the tracks in place while the glue sets.

More Hints


The King Tiger hull with tracks in place. The model will be detailed using a set of etched metal fenders with bent and missing panels to replicate a battle weary vehicle.



Related Kits

This article was prepared using Tamiya's King Tiger (Henschel turret) and optional Tamiya King Tiger track links (35165). Tamiya have released three versions of the King Tiger:

King Tiger - Henschel Production turret (kit 35164) is the standard version of the King Tiger and if built straight out of the box will represent a typical mid 1944 production model.

King Tiger - Porsche turret (kit 35169). Features the Porsche designed turret fitted to early production King Tigers.

King Tiger -Ardennes Front (kit 35252). This, consists of the production turret version but includes two additional crew figures, a DKW motorbike with dispatch rider, alternative decals and a choice of mantlets (stepped (as per original kit) or a smooth tapering profile. Both mantlet styles were widely used.


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