by: Roman [ ]
Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks together with self-propelled guns and tank destroyers on their chassis were the “workhorses” of the German army during WWII. There exist a large number of kits from various manufacturers and they keep coming due to constantly high interest in these subjects even though some might say that we don’t need another Panzer IV made on 15 kits we just wish to get the best possible level of accuracy and detail on our models and I am happy to see that small companies created by modelling enthusiasts follow our expectations.
MasterClub from Moscow are quite known amongst people who like adding detail for their excellent range of resin rivets, washers, nuts, bolts in different sizes and configurations. Now, they bring us the white metal tracks. Although there are already a few players and some sets of metal tracks for Panzer III/IV, MasterClub has something special.
The set MTL35008 (Tracks for Pz.Kpfw.III , Pz.Kpfw.IV 1941-44 open horn) contains 240 white metal track links and 480 resin track pins. The latter one are present in 2 variants – the light grey resin with track pin head and dark grey resin with cotter keys. Track links and pins are packed in individual bags and the whole set is packed into a colorful plastic box with a lid and small piece of paper with name of the set and some basic information.
The track links are dimensionally correct and represent 40cm tracks that were seen on various modifications of Panzer III/IV and vehicles based on their chassis through 1941-1944 (Panzer III Ausf. E-N, Panzer IV Ausf. F-H, StuG Ausf. C-G and others, please refer to war time images). The casting is sharp and realistic to scale and the tracks even have the track pin groove (might be useful on the last track on broken vehicle or on spare tracks). The assembly is very straightforward – first the tracks are joined together, then using thin tweezers I inserted the light grey track pin (inner side of the tracks) and the dark grey track pin with cotter key (outer side). The dark grey pins had very tight fit and after braking 3 of them in a row I decided to probe the holes with the same tweezers first. After that they were fitting the tracks smoothly and without any breakage. Apart from excellent detail this concept allows full articulation of the track chain without need for cyanoacrylate glue (good news for those who have an allergy!).
I briefly compared them with tracks that I had at home (Dragon, Modelkasten, Trumpeter) and as you can see from the image the detail level on MasterClub’s tracks is superior. Dragon and Trumpeter lack the groove for pins (should you use them as single links on the model), Modelcasten has the groove, but still lacks detail on the cotter keys (this is absent on Dragon and Trumpeter too). Overall, the styrene tracks would require more time and clean-up for the assembly, especially where the pin marks have to be fixed first. Unfortunately, I do not own any of the competing white metal tracks, but judging from the information online they also lack the detail that you get with resin track pins and require CA glue for assembly.
To be sure before recommending these tracks to someone else I tested the fit of MasterClub product with drive sprockets from Panzer III and Panzer IV from different manufacturers (thanks to Sergey Glubyshev for providing these). As you can see from the images the fit is excellent (Grey styrene Panzer III sprocket – Dragon, grey Panzer IV sprocket – Trumpeter, yellow styrene – Panzer III and Panzer IV from Tamiya).
The only problem I see so far is a limited range of distributors of MasterClub products. Ebay? Hobbyeasy? Smaller shops? I hope there will be a better distribution in the future as these tracks are simply amazing. Another thing I have not tested yet –whether it is possible to burnish the tracks together with resin track pins attached or if you need to do that before assembly (if you have experience – please comment the review).