T-34 Separate Track Links Early
u m m a r y
|Stock No. &
||Kit No. 35025; T-34 Separate Track Links Early
|Contents and Media:
||160 parts in white styrene
||Price is right!
||Finding the right T-34 kit to put them on (see
||Highly Recommended for use on T-34s built before
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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
Page Created 09 October, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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