When Germany invaded USSR in 1941 their army encountered Soviet heavy tanks KV-1 and KV-2 which could resist fire from most of the German anti-tank arsenal and especially tanks like Panzer II and Panzer III. This led to the use of 88mm anti-aircraft guns as anti-tank weapons (Flak36, etc). But despite being well armoured and well-armed, KV tanks suffered from a lack of mobility, had problems with transmission, engine, gear box and were basically too heavy for wooden bridges that were typical of the western areas of the USSR where the initial stages of the German invasion took place. Soviet military command demanded a reduction of the weight by removing extra fuel tanks, tool boxes, reducing thickness of some of the armor plates, etc. One of the recommended measures was to reduce the weight of the tracks and to achieve that goal the split tracks were put into production. These had a similar pitch and width (700mm) like a regular stamped tracks with guide horns, but were made from 2 halves and had only small rudimentary protrusions in the place of guide horn. The track chain was assembled from both regular and split tracks so that every other track link had a guide horn. Although all these measures reduced the total weight of the tank, it was not sufficient and production switched to the KV-1s and later to IS heavy tanks as with the appearance of German up gunned Panzer IV’s and Tiger’s the advantages of the KV-1 were reduced to a minimum.
Many modellers would like to make an accurate model of the late production KV-1 which had these “halves” or “split” tracks. Earlier only Friul tracks (set ATL-51) were available, but now we have a choice of Masterclub’s new set that is supplied with realistic track pins that do not require any drilling or gluing for assembly. The new offering (MTL35025) is provided in a regular Masterclub package – clear plastic box with a paper tray and clear plastic bags with the parts inside. Overall there are 200 links (100 split and 100 regular) plus 400 track pins (one bag with flat pin head and one with large bolt, 200 each).
As with all Masterclub metal tracks the holes are already bored out and you can start the assembly right away without any hassle. Both tracks and pins are quite large and it is easy to align and build them. No clean-up was necessary in my sample and the quality of casting is exceptional. Judging by the reference images from surviving examples the appearance of both full and split track links is captured very well, with the only thing you might complain about being that the split link is not actually “split” so that if you would like to depict track assembly or tank with broken track you might need to cut the track link into two halves. But how many of us would do that?
When you get use to the assembly with fine tweezers, the process will go very quickly, I spent less than 1 hour on the full track chain. The fit of these tracks to Trumpeter’s KV1 sprocket is perfect and so I can only recommend the set to everyone who enjoys adding realistic detail to models. As I already mentioned in other reviews these metal tracks can be treated the usual way (burnishers/blackeners) and then the pins should be primed before painting. The assembled track length is fully articulated and I haven’t heard of any problems with holding the weight.
"This item was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of a review direct to the author.”
Highs: Proper sized accurate tracks for late production KV-1 model. No need for glue, drilling or extensive cleaning before assembly. Full articulation with realistic track pins. Lows: The split track link is not made of 2 halves. Verdict: Highly recommended.