B1-bis Track Links
Friulmodel 1:35 Set No. ATL-88
Review by Terry Ashley

One of the main issues talked about with the excellent Tamiya Char B1-bis (kit #35282) is the thickness of the track shoes and Friulmodel have released this set of metal B1-bis tracks to address this and other minor track detail issues.

The box contains 130 metal track links in two plastic bags plus separate connecting tubes and the usual length of wire for the track pins but there is a fair bit of cleanup needed on these links before assembly.

Metal track links, inner ribs and wire to make the track pins

Each link has a small pour burr (hardly noticeable on some) to be removed as does the small connecting tube plus you have to open out the four lightening holes on each track link using a 1.0mm drill bit and also drill out the track pin locating holes with a .55mm drill bit. Thankfully I didn’t need to drill out the connecting tubes as these were hollowed out enough for the wire to fit through.

Close-up of metal track links with pins cut to length, note small burr on rib to remove

The instructions indicate to cut the wire into lengths with a L shaped bend at one end to make fitting easy but while this bend can be hidden on the inside of the track runs you can see the insides of the track around the front idler wheels and so this is not the best method for fitting the track pins.

When assembling the track links I cut the wire into 8mm lengths and on a flat surface meshed two links together and then laid the connecting tube in the small indentation provided on the links and slipped the wire pin through the holes. If you make sure the holes and connecting tube are lined up there is enough play for the pin to fit through without problems but occasionally I had to re-drill the locating holes for proper alignment but overall things went smoothly after getting into a rhythm.

As you fit each pin add a small dab of thick cyanoacrylate on each side to hold the pins firmly in place and once painted this will help hide the end of the wire pin and better represents the actual track in this area.

View of assembly sequence, opening link holes and connecting the links

After assembly the track runs articulate freely and fit perfectly around the kit drive sprockets and idler wheels but fitting them between the road wheel guides will have you pulling out your hair as they just want to pop out at the slightest provocation and getting them to stay put got very frustrating resulting in me gluing them firmly into the road wheel guides with cyanoacrylate to stop them jumping out.

But after this the tracks have a better scale appearance than the kit tracks when compared directly to photos and also the front lip of each link is thinner than the Tamiya links which also better represents the actual track links.

Assembled track links around the Tamiya B1-bis sprockets and idelr wheels
with Tamiya track for comparison

Close up of links showing finer finish of Friulmodel links
Images of real track links, note no ribs on links in picture at right

One small point of interest with the B1 tracks is while most have the rib down the middle of the side section there are also track links that do not have the rib as can be seen on one of the preserved B1-bis vehicles today, I presume this is just a production variation as most photos show the links with the rib as per the Tamiya and Friulmodel tracks.


While there is a fair bit of cleanup needed with all the holes to be opening up and fitting the connecting tube between the links could pose problems if not careful the assembly was quite straightforward overall and the resulting track runs look considerably better than the kit racks as they also have the detail around the track pin recess better detailed than the kit links.

It is of course possible to just thin the kit track links but these tracks not only do that for you but as mentioned better represent the pin location points as well as having the thinner track shoe lip to offer other advantages other than just the plate thickness.

Highly recommended 8.5/10

Thanks to my Credit Card and Blast Models for the review set.

Page created May 13, 2007