Tracks are always a problem: rubber tracks are often too short and usually don’t look that great on your kit, and sometimes don’t take paint that well. Link-and-length tracks are better, molded in plastic they look good enough but can be tricky to assemble. And then there are Dragons Magic Tracks and the likes: plastic track links that look great. But they can require a lot of work.
They often come with separate guidehorns or other tiny parts that need to be glued onto the link. That’s a lot of work, but they are relatively cheap, and are often included in kits. Then there is Friul, a Hungarian company that makes metal workable tracks. You assemble them like real tracks: put two links together and insert a pin. They look very realistic, and because they are workable the tracks sag realistically without any extra work. One downside: they are expensive. But are they worth it?
This kit is for the Pz. Kpfw. II and Wespe (and of course their respective derivatives). Inside the small box we find a length of brass(?) wire to be used as track pins, two bags with tracks and a small instruction leaflet. The links look great, because they are made from metal they have a nice feel to them and look just like their 1/1 examples. Some clean-up is required as some of the links have little stubs, left overs from the molding process. A sharp hobby knife will take care of it however, and this won’t take much time per link. There are 230 links in total, so it will be a fairly time-consuming job, but remember that real life tracks aren’t 100% perfect either, so there’s no need to make them perfect.
One problem I noticed was that the instructions don’t mention how many links you need to assemble for one track, so when assembling the tracks you need to test this out. It probably also depends on the kit you’re using these for, as some kits are more accurate than others. Assembly is pretty easy after you cleaned up the links, click the links together, insert the pin and apply a little superglue on the end and you’re done. 230 times.. It isn’t a huge problem, but it is something you need to keep in mind when you get to the assembly stage. You’ll need to glue the track pins with superglue, and when you’ve glued everything together you might run into problems if you needed for example 110 links instead of the full 115.
Assembling the tracks requires cleanup, I spent an evening cleaning up the tracks from stubs, and thanks to the soft metal (which by the way contains some lead) it’s easy. You even need to be a little careful because the metal is so soft you can easily remove too much. The next step is taking your 0.4 mm drill bit and drilling out the holes for the pins. On the ‘short’ side you can drill through both holes, but on the ‘long’ side you don’t, there should be some metal left in the end of the last hole, no need to drill through these holes as some YouTubers mentioned. After that wash the links in (not too!) warm water with some dish soap, as the links have some sort of oily substance on them. Let the tracks dry thoroughly and continue onto the next step.
After cleanup and drilling and washing you have to cut the supplied brass wire in pieces of about a centimeter, leaving enough wire to protrude a few mm out of the tracks. Be careful though, because you can easily punch through the closed end with the wire. With full track assembled it is time to test them on your tank to see how they fit. After the test fit you can cut off the protruding pieces of track pins. And to make sure the pins don’t fall out it’s recommended that you apply a little superglue to the end of each pin.
Friul tracks are an excellent addition to your 1/35 scale tank. At €27 a kit they are pricey, but they are definitely worth it in my eyes. Are they really necessary? No, you can make most rubber tracks look at least decent enough, and lots of (recent) kits include excellent plastic tracks. Still, they look awesome and I think you can even use them for some light RC duty. They’re definitely not for people who hate repetitive tasks though. But I found cleanup and assembly quite fun with a coffee or beer and some music.
Vehicle: Pz. Kpfw. II / Wespe
Number of parts: 230