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T-34 Separate Track Links Early Version



S u m m a r y

Stock No. & Description: Kit No. 35025; T-34 Separate Track Links Early Version
Contents and Media: 160 parts in white styrene
Price: RRP USD$6.98
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Price is right!
Disadvantages: Finding the right T-34 kit to put them on (see text)
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for use on T-34s built before November 1940


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Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


F i r s t   L o o k


T-34 track shoes have been a bone of contention among modelers for some years now. Part of the problem was that, unlike the US which used "T" numbers to designate specific designs, German use of Werknummer diagrams and parts, and others such as the British WE210 series, the Soviets used no such designator system for their track shoes.

Recently noted Russian armor historian and writer Mikhail Svirin published an excellent history of the evolution of T-34 track links in the low-circulation Russian magazine "Poligon" (Spring 2000). In this he covers the tracks in quite a bit of detail.

To provide a "Reader's Digest" version of the article, initially the T-34 was equipped with a wider version of the stamped steel track shoes used on the BT series tanks. These were similar in design to the last BT-7 "short pitch" tracks but 550mm wide. But experience showed that they tended to bend, shatter and break as the tank was too heavy for them, and in late 1940 a new design was created. The new one was a cast link with built-in stiffeners, and was much more durable. It was also 550mm wide, and was much more durable. The tracks were fitted to the developed first production series T-34s ("Series 1.5") and the improved series 2. They were also fitted to most of the tanks produced at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory (STZ).

In early 1941, tests showed that the projected T-34M 450mm tracks worked better on the T-34 itself, and plans were made to switch over to this track. They also used a single pin (the first two types of T-34 track used two pins or "half-pins" held in by shims; the new ones simply used a "pin knocker" bracket on the hull to knock them back in when they became loose.)

In summer 1941, a new design of shoes, based on the T-34M track but 500mm wide, was placed in production. Due to the problems with relocation to the Urals, however, this track did not enter widespread use until mid 1942, where they became known as the "waffle" tracks to modelers and "webbed" tracks to the Soviets. Several different designs were made, but all shared common dimensions and were usually cast in pairs (one with and one without a guide tooth, as they had to be used in matched sets of two).

One last basic design was created, called the "split" link. The T-34 had much better mobility over snow and swampy terrain than any German tank, but it was not as good as the Soviets wanted. After trying a number of grousers and bolt-on extensions, all of which caused problems, somebody came up with the idea of "splitting" the "smooth" link in two and simply using a longer pin and a regular "smooth" track shoe to exend every other link out to 750mm. Only a few T-34s were fitted with this type of track, but it was heavily used for a short period of time by UZTM on SP guns such as the SU-122 and SU-85, as well as adopted by the Chelyabinsk factory for a small number of IS-2 and ISU SP guns.

The last major modification to the tracks was to standardize the links used by the T-34 and the T-44 tanks.

Having said all that, Maquette has produced a very nice model of the first "pressed" steel 550mm track shoes for the T-34 Model 1940 series 1 tanks. They nearly "click" together and only need a minimum of cleanup. However, one will have to find the right model to use them on! While two T-34 Model 1940 kits have been announced from Eastern Europe (Maquette being one, no surprise) none are currently available! It should be noted that the shoes on the box top illustration are those from the later Model 1940 series 1.5 and 2 and STZ production tanks, not the ones which come inside the box.

Now to wait for the Model 1940 series 1 kit...

Cookie Sewell AMPS

Review Copyright 2001 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 09 October, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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