by: Matthew Lenton [ ]
Itís unfortunate that Dragon Models tend nowadays not to pack their 1/72 scale armour kits with accessories beyond the basic vehicle, with one of the pretty consistent and disappointing omissions being a lack of spare track links. Not every photo of a StuG III in action shows spare track links, but it was certainly common for them to carry some, and in some cases, a lot of spare track.
Czech company J.K. Resin provide a solution for those wishing to add spare links to their StuG III Ausf.G or StuH 42 models, and here we take a look at their Spare Track set.
This set arrives in a small end opening box, with the parts further protected within a small zip lock bag (photo 1), and an instruction sheet which shows the location for which each of the numbered parts is designed.
A total of 15 separate parts moulded in black polyurethane make up the set. While some are just plain lengths of track, others have various forms of mounting moulded in place.
1: for the lower front plate, complete with mounting rack which attaches to the edge of the plate.
2: for the glacis plate x 2, again with racking strips.
3: to go either side of gun x 2, plain lengths of six links each (all photo 3).
4: for sides of fighting compartment x 2, with bolt heads at the upper corners to attach to the hull side (photo 4).
5: individual links x 3 for the commanderís hatch.
6: for rear of fighting compartment x 2, one of 5, one of 6 links, plain lengths, intended to slot, either side of the ventilator, into the rack that was provided with the (2007) Dragon Ausf.G kit (both photo 5).
7: curved sections x 2, to surround spare wheels mounted on top of engine deck.
8: a single length for the rear deck with three vertical indentations, which I suppose are there as location guides for three vertical brackets (not included) to be added to the angled rear plate (photo 6).
The track links measure about 5.5mm wide, scaling to 396mm, which is near enough to 400mm. Lining them up next to the DS tracks on a Dragon Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.M shows the length or pitch of the links to be a little longer than those in that kit, and this possibly contributes to what I think is a slightly chunky appearance, with the actual tread part of the link looking quite thick. The guide horns are solid, not open, and although it seems that the open type is more often seen in photographs, I believe the solid type started to appear in 1943, so is contemporaneous with the StuG Ausf.G. The small openings in the side linkages are not open, although the shape of them is detailed well enough. Generally I would say that the level and the accuracy of detail is good, as is the quality of the moulding.
The parts are very easy to remove from the numbered moulding blocks by simply bending them a little to snap the thin attachment points which protrude from where the track pins would be (photo 7). The remnants of the attachments can be clipped off with sprue cutters and smoothed off with fine abrasive. Any tiny bits of flash can be removed with a toothbrush or similar, with the very small amounts of webbing across the drive holes being pushed out with a toothpick. So, easy to clean up, although the parts are quite delicate, with two of the single links having fallen off block number 5 into the bag, and I lost a part of one of the glacis set through over-vigorous cleaning.
As I only have a StuG Ausf.F, I was able to try out just a few of the links. Photo 8 shows the back and 9 the front of the length designed for the lower hull plate, noting the rack strip under the guide horns. Photo 10 shows the length intended for the hull side, with the detail of the small rectangular plate secured by a bolt at the top corners, photo 11. To make this part fit between the headlamps on the upper nose plate of my Ausf.F I removed the last link on the right, which left the bolt detail still in place on what was now the last link, photo 12. In photo 13 is the front and back of the pair designed for the upper nose plate of the Ausf.G, one of which I broke, again showing the mounting rack; one of these is shown on the plate to the left of the gun on the Ausf.F in photo 14. Photo 15 shows the two lengths mounted on the nose plates, while photo 16 also shows the plain length from block 3 in its intended position on the sloping plate to the right of the gun.
As can be seen in the photos, these links from J.K. do look good in comparison to the poor tracks that come with the recent Dragon StuG Ausf.F kit, although of course they are intended to be used with the superior, older, Dragon Ausf.G kit which I am sure had DS tracks, as well as etched parts, but which is now out of production.
I think this is a nice set, about as comprehensive as it could be for adding links to a single vehicle, and in fact enough is included that you could perhaps use this set across two or three vehicles. The inclusion of the means of attaching the tracks is very good, meaning that you donít have to devise your own means, or resort to just having them appear to be attached by nothing. Overall they are nicely detailed on both sides, and the price seems fair at around 8.20 Euros.