by: Roman [ ]
The T-37A, T-38 amphibious tanks together with T-20 Komsomolets artillery tractor were developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930’s and they were based on the military doctrine at the time. However, when the real war started a lot of shortcomings of these designs became obvious and these machines were lost during the early days of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Germany into the USSR. The T-37A amphibious tank was developed first and T-38 was an improved version that utilized many of the components of T-37A. T-20 was developed using T-38 components as well, while appearing quite different from the amphibious tanks as is was designed for pulling artillery pieces. Around 4000 tanks and almost 8000 tractors were made and you can see them on the wartime photographs used by the Red Army, German Army, Finnish Army and even Romanian Army; although only USSR used it in large quantities. Moreover, some T-20 were equipped with Zis-2 57mm AT guns in the Red Army and with Pak36 37mm AT gun in the German army converting artillery tractor into open mobile anti-tank gun. Geography wise they were used from China (Soviet-Japanese conflict) to Northern Europe (Winter War) and Eastern parts of USSR. Very often the vehicles showed poor performance due to tracks and running gear that shared similar components, although slightly different. The tracks were absolutely similar – cast steel with 2 guide teeth. Although the might appear similar to Panzer I tracks, they are different in dimensions and design.
Until recent years the T-20/Zis-30/T-37A and T-38 were rarely seen as 1/35th scale models, thanks to really old and poor kits made by Aer Moldova, Maquette and Eastern Express. However, Hobbyboss produced both amphibious tanks and T-20/Zis-30 is covered by Mirror models. These kits are a huge step forward from the old generation models, however, due to the small size of the plastic tracks they are not really capturing the original steel track detail and add clean-up on these small parts. This will result in some, modellers looking for replacement tracks who might be interested in the latest MasterClub offering in white metal.
Packed in a small clear plastic box the set contains 200 white metal track links and 400 grey resin track pins. The latter are identical and there is no information provided on why there are 2 separate bags of the similar pins. The casting has very good definition; however there was some leftover metal in some of the guide horns in my sample. This should be scrapped off with a sharp hobby knife. This is not surprising as these track links are the smallest I have ever seen in white metal and I assume that technologically the casting is a bit more demanding than other sets of tracks. Otherwise they build rather fast and without any issues during alignment of the tracks between each other or inserting the resin pins. The holes are bored throughout the whole track should you wish to replace resin pins with steel wire. From my experience these tracks hold the resin pins very well and the only drawback is the necessity to prime the pin heads with primer after burnishing the tracks.
A friend of mine, Erik Ahlström, kindly lent me drive sprockets from both Hobbyboss and Mirror models kits to test the fit these tracks to plastic. The Hobbyboss sprocket I had to thin the teeth a bit as they appear too thick, after that the fit was like a glove. Mirror models had good fit but I had the feeling that there is too much space between the teeth and the tracks as they are sitting a bit loose (should not be a problem when the full chain assembled and put on a model).
Overall this looks a nice set of tracks that would be of interest to modellers as the tracks included in the styrene kits are far from perfect and Modelkasten tracks are very difficult to find for replacement.
"This item was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of a review direct to the author.”