and Su Family Split Link
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
I must say when I got these track sets from Anvil Miniatures I was puzzled at first, for I could not recall ever having seen any split tracks that consist of two parts to make a single link. Knowing that their research has been first rate, I went back over all of my references (most of which are the same ones they used in producing the kits) and found out some interesting information.
First off, both sets are correct and dead on the money. They are worth the cost (I think they run between $22 and $28 US with the current conversion rate) and are the best for the money unless you have to have pewter for the "scale weight" effect. They also assemble faster than any other after-market track set around.
The history of the actual links can be laid at the feet of one factory: Factory No. 185, better known as the Chelyabinsk Kirov Tank Factory. This was the main factory which produced first the KV series tanks, and then the IS series, from the fall of 1941 until 1945. They were under the immediate control of Zhosif Kotin, who had his own ideas about tank production. One of the things which I never understood in translating Russian texts was the reference to "three piece cast track links" which were listed on early IS series tanks.
This kit explains the reference. What Factory No. 185 - better know as the ChTZ - did was cast one link with the guide horn in the center, and two half-links which joined in the middle without a horn. The reason for this is unknown, but one reason for having every other tooth missing was a problem noted with the KV series (which used a similar design of track, albeit with only one design) where mud and debris would build up between the wheels and horns and jam the track, or worse, cause them to be thrown. Partway through the production run of the IS-2 tank, it was realized that this was not a big problem, and the cost was too high for the Peoples' Commission on Tank Production which ordered them to economize. A new single design with a guide horn was used; it was found to be simpler and faster for those who still believed the extra guide horns were a problem to simply cut the tooth flush with a torch.
The tracks were designed to be assembled with odd-even pairs, i.e. one toothed link to every two half-links. However, photos exist of the tanks with a string of toothed links together, so there was not a fit problem. This was probably due to mines or other damage necessitating repair.
The same is probably true with the T-34 links. Anvil states that they have been seen on a number of different T-34 models, but the only ones I could find after 90 minutes of searching my library were T-34 Model 1943 tanks with the ChTZ turret. If they did it for one, it is likely during the period of time that the ChTZ also produced T-34s they did it for both. They also did some production work for the Ural Tractor Factory which was then producing SU-85s, so they may also have used the same tracks.
Wow, you learn something new every day!
Thanks to James and Bill at Anvil for the review samples. If you cannot find them near you, Anvil can be reached at:
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 1999 by Cookie Sewell