Spade Ace Models
M41 Tracks
Spade Ace Models 1:35 Scale Track Sets # SAT-35093
Review by Terry Ashley

AFV ClubAFV Club
The Set:
This set of individual T91E3-Tracks from a relatively new comer in the aftermarket track field Spade Ace Models is simply labelled M41 and doesn't specify any particular target kit.

The set consists of 160 white metal links and a coil of 0.65mm steel wire to cut up for the track pins, there are no instructions or other notes included with the set.

Metal parts
Spade Ace Models

The actual T91E3 track links are 21 inches wide with a pitch of 6 inches (the pitch is the distance between the track pin centre lines), this equates to 15.24mm and 4.35mm respectively in 1:35 scale. The kit links are 15.7mm wide and pitch of 4.4mm to give a difference of .46mm in width which isn't a lot but it has some implications when fitting to the available M41/M42 kits.

The track links are quite cleanly cast with nicely done link details that includes the inner track retaining bolt and the amount of clean-up varies with some links not requiring any clean-up while on others there is quite a bit of excess metal to be removed.

The track pin holes are all fully hollow and there is no drilling required before assembly which is nice to see but the biggest problem is the steel wire provided for the track pins. The wire is extremely hard steel and cutting to the required 15mm lengths is very difficult and requires the need for heavy duty clippers, this makes getting the pins cut to the required 15mm precisely is not easy at all. To add to this when cut the ends have a sharp point due to the clipping process and filing this square is again very difficult if not impossible given the hardness of the metal and small file area, I also tried annealing the wire through a flame but while this made it a little more pliable cutting the wire was till extremely difficult.

In short after using heavy duty clippers to cut three pins and finding the sharp ends dug unto the sides of the wire holes in the track links during assembly I simply gave up and substituted the wire provided with softer 0.6mm copper wire which allowed the pins to be cut precisely to the required 15mm with nice square ends using a #11 blade for a better appearance when fitted.

Link details and the three steel pins cut as per above, note the sharp ends due to the cutting process.
Also shown are three pins cut from the softer 0.6mm copper used to assembly the tracks.

Spade Ace Models

When cutting of the copper wire into the 15mm track pins it's best done using a steel ruler as a cutting board so you cut (using a #11 blade) each pin to the exact 15mm required and after sorting the wire pin issue and cleaning those links requiring it was on to the assembly.

Assembly itself is quite straightforward really by fitting one link into the next and inserting the wire pin and securing with a dab of thicker cyanoacrylate on each end to hold the pin in place, once into a rythem the track run was assembled in no time. The assembled track runs are extremely robust being metal and articulate freely allowing easy fitting to the target kit.

The actual late M41/M42 uses 75 links per track run and you will need to use only 74 kit links to get the correct track tension when fitted to the kit, this 1 link difference is probabaly due to the small difference in track pitch and the extra "play in the track join but is of little consequence and is not at all noticeable with the track runs added to the kit.

Link assembly
Spade Ace Models
Spade Ace Models

Fitting the tracks:
The tracks fit to the AFV Club M41 and M42 kit drive sprockets was very tight and quite a bit of pressure was needed to fit them over the drive teeth but the main issue is to do with the extra width of the track links that leaves very little clearance between the edge of the track and hull and you need to be careful when fitting. The actual track is "live" meaning there is tension on the link joins and the track will curl up on itself when not fitted to the vehicle, this also means there is no appreciable track sag between the top return rollers as is seen with "dead" track used on WWII German and most Soviet tracked vehicles.

I also test fitted the track to the older Tamiya M41/M42 (re-issued kit) drive sprockets and the fit was not good as the spacing of the drive spocket teeth and the track tooth holes didn't quite match and the track won't fit around the sprocket as it should, also the extra width makes it quite hard to fit the links over the sprocket and some modification will be needed to get the tracks to fit properely.

Track links fitted to AFV Club M42A1 Duster kit suspension.
Spade Ace Models
Spade Ace ModelsSpade Ace Models
Track links fitted to Tamiya M41 drive sprocket showing the fit issues as above.
Spade Ace Models

This set of metal tracks from Spade Ace Models is nicely detailed with good track link definition and has the usual cleanup required for the links prior to assembly but the hard steel wire provided for the track pins is extremely difficult to work with and replacing this with softer wire will make life easier.

The assembled links are robust and articulate very well although the extra width has some implications when fitting to the kits but nothing too dramatic. As there is no requirement for track sag on the M41/M42 kits they can be used if you prefer metal track.

Rating 7.5/10

M42 Duster
Walk Around #5705
Squadron Signal Publications
M41 Walker Bulldog
in action #2029
Squadron Signal Publications
A History of the
American Light Tank Volume 2
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
US Army Manual
TM 9-2350-201-12

76-mm Gun Full Tracked Cambat Tanks
M41 (T41E1) and M41A1 (T41E2)
Thanks to my credit card and Hobbyeasy for the review kit.

Page created April 17, 2012

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