Soviet Heavy Tank, World War II
650mm Narrow Split Links
The third release in Tankraft's ProTracks series of KV tracks is the 650mm split link variant, which was fitted to the KV-1S from November 1942 onwards, as well as the SU-152 and KV-85. The same track variant was also used on early IS series tanks including the IS-85/IS-1, IS-122/IS-2 and ISU-152.
The set is packaged in a sturdy, heavy cardboard box, with assembly instructions on the inside of the lid.
The set consists of 100 toothed links, 200 split links (which are provided in halves, like the original), and 400 track pins. The different types of components are individually bagged and clearly marked, to minimize the chance of getting them mixed up.
The track pins are in halves, and are of two types: a flat-headed pin that inserts from the hull side of the track link, and a pin with a washer and cotter pin that inserts from the outside of the track link.
The links scale out well compared to the original, with a width of 18.6mm and a pitch of 4.5mm between track pins. This corresponds to the real thing, wherein the dimensions were 650mm and 155mm respectively (based on published dimensions in the KV-1S technical manual).
Assembly is straightforward with the aid of a pair of tweezers. A few of the holes in the track links in the review sample required cleaning out. The instructions recommend a 0.7mm drill for this task. However, I only needed to clean up less than a dozen holes over the course of both track runs.
The pins feature tiny ribs at their bases, which are intended to lock into the ends of the track links and avoid the need for glue. This technique worked for most pins, but I found that some required glue. In fact, Tankraft mentions this in the instructions and recommends a tiny dab of CA glue. I followed their advice, using the tip of a #11 blade to apply the glue, and found that the pins remained workable. Obviously, you must take care not to be too generous with the glue here.
Having the split links actually split into two parts each, makes for slower assembly, but gives an excellent representation of the real thing and also affords you some room for creativity when it comes to mounting spare track links on your model.
Note that the split links are 'handed'. There is a left- and a right-hand split link, so take care to match the orientation of the rib pattern on the outsides of the links with that on the toothed links.
The tracks fit cleanly around the sprockets of the Trumpeter kits (yes, that's an early sprocket hub which would not typically have been seen with these tracks, but the sprocket ring is identical on all Trumpeter KV kits). I do not yet have an example of the new Rye Field Models KV-1 to test their fit on that kit. I donated my Bronco KV-85 and SU-85 kits to a raffle some time ago, so I couldn't test fit the tracks to those kits, but other tracks that fitted the Trumpeter sprockets also fitted the Bronco sprockets, so you should have no problem using these tracks with the Bronco kits.
Since these tracks were also seen on early IS series vehicles, I test-fitted them onto the drive sprocket from Tamiya's ISU-152 kit. They fit perfectly around the sprocket.
Like all 3D-printed products, you must be careful not to expose the tracks to direct sunlight or UV light until they are painted, since they can become brittle if you do so. Tankraft mentions this in the instructions.
In summary, Tankraft's latest ProTracks set provides a useful alternative to the link-and-length tracks supplied in the Trumpeter kits, Bronco and Tamiya kits.
The tracks will require care when assembling them, and when handling them afterwards, but they should not be beyond the skills and patience of the average modeler.
For full transparency, this reviewer assisted Tankraft with the design of this product by providing drawings and other reference material.
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Tankraft for this review kit.
Reviewed by Neil Stokes
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