Soviet 203mm B-4 Howitzer
Friulmodel 1:35 Scale Track Set No. ATL-109
Review by Terry Ashley

The Set:
This set of track links from Friulmodel is designed for the Pit Road/Trumpeter kit of Soviet 203mm B-4 Howitzer (kit # 02307)

The set consists of 80 white metal links and the usual coil of wire to cut up for the track pins. Also included are a set of metal drive sprockets to replace the kit sprockets.

Metal parts

Cleanup of the drive sprockets is minimal with just a few casting burs to trim and each track link is cast with nicely done link details, there is some minor cleanup required with a couple of small pour burs and some fine metal flash but it is quite minimal. Dimensionally the links and drive sprockets match available data and 1:35 plans well although the links are fractionally longer in pitch (length) with a minor baring on the number of links used.

One small quibble is the shallow sink mark in the middle of each link due to the large guide tooth on the inside of the link, the same problem existed on the kit plastic links for the same reason. There is not a lot you can do about this but they are quite shallow and from some angles not that noticeable but you should be careful during the painting process not to accentuate the blemish.

The track pin holes are mostly open but you will need to use a 0.5mm drill bit to check all are clear of any obstruction and again only a small portion of the links required actual re-drilling of some holes, you should set the drill bit into your pin vice with only 9mm of the drill bit exposed so you don't drill all the way through the links

The basic links prior to cleanup

After cleanup of the links and cutting of the 9mm track pins from the wire supplied, this is best done using a steel ruler as a cutting board so you cut (using a #11 blade) each pin to the exact 9mm required the links can be assembled.

This is very straightforward really by fitting one link into the next and inserting the wire pin, occasionally the links may not align exactly and you can simply re-drill with the two links together the properly align the pin holes. The drill bit in this instance tends to align the link hole rather than drill new holes so the fit will still be good.

After fitting each track pin secure with a dab of thick cyanoacrylate on the end of the pin so it won't come loose at any time while handing the track runs, repeat the sequence for each of the 37 links required for each track run.

The actual B-4 uses 39 links per side and the very minor increase in the metal track pitch accounts for the two less links required in the overall track run, not that I think anyone is really going to notice on the completed model but you never know?

The assembled track runs are extremely robust being metal and articulate freely allowing you to get a very natural track sag when fitting to the kit which is a big plus for the metal Friulmodel tracks.

Track assembly

The drive sprocket halves fit together easily but take note as the three locating pins are note symmetrical with two closer together than the third, this is to ensure they are correctly aligned to get the correct cup effect of the sprocket "teeth" after assembly. Unfortunately you don't really see much of this once the sprockets and track are fitted to the kit.


Track fitting to the kit:
Fitting the metal drive sprockets to the Trumpeter kit is very easy as they simply replace the kit sprockets at the appropriate assembly sequence without any modifications required.


Initial fitting of the track run with the 37 links results in the top track sag being excessive and you need to move the idler wheel forward by about 1-1.5mm depending on the amount of sag you prefer? While the actual B-4 idler wheel can be repositioned the kit idlers can't as they are fixed into position between the bogie sides, this requires you to shorten the axles stubs and just glue the idlers to the insides of the bogies in the required position.

 I added some plastic rod reinforcing to help keep the idlers in position and you should ensure the idler wheel is set perfectly square and vertical in its new position before the glue dries.

Once repositioned the correct amount of top run sag is achieved for a very good appearance on the model.

Image showing the initial top run track sag and after moving the idler wheel forward as per the text above
Views of the track compared to the plastic kit track showing the marked improvement in appearance
Fruilmodel Fruilmodel

This set of metal tracks from Friulmodel for the big B-4 Howitzer are nicely detailed with good track link definition with just the usual cleanup required for the links prior to assembly. The new drive sprockets are far more accurate than the kit sprockets it's just a pity you don't get to see much of this after assembly.

The assembled links are robust and articulate very well and while there is a little work in repositioning the idler the marked increase is detail achieved by the use of these tracks far outweighs and work that may be needed along way.

Rating 9/10

Thanks to Friulmodel for the review Set.

Page created January 22, 2011

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