Home > Reviews > USA WWII > Friulmodel ATL-77, US M-26 Pershing T81 steel track links in 1/35-scale white metal for Tamiya or DML kits


Friulmodel ATL-77, US M-26 Pershing T81 steel track links in 1/35-scale white metal for Tamiya or DML kits

by Frank De Sisto

Friulmodel ATL-77, US M-26 Pershing T81 steel track links in 1/35-scale white metal for Tamiya or DML kits. Contains 180 links and 180 nut/bolt castings, plus steel wire for track pins. Price: $30.00 USD.

This track set heralds the second change in the way Friulmodel manufactures their track sets since they went to the “pin” attachment system. When they went to that system, tracks were supposed to be “handed” so that the sides with the pins would face in towards the vehicle’s hull. However, for as yet unexplained reasons, Friulmodel track sets rarely, if ever, had right- and left-handed tracks. With some track sets it was a moot point, since the tracks themselves had no “direction”, (for instance, T-34 tracks) meaning that they could simply be placed with the pins on the inside, regardless. Other sets, such as the mislabeled PzKpw III/IV Ostketten, (actually, Winterketten) had to be “handed” since each side had extensions that had to face outwards in a specific manner, in relation to the vehicle’s hull.

Well, for good or ill, Friulmodel has finally come to grips with the situation by including cast metal nut/bolt combinations on separate sprues. So, the modeler, after inserting the previously sized track pin, is now instructed to seal the opening with these nut/bolt castings, held in place with a tiny drop of superglue. Problem solved, although with much more work for the modeler.
The first of these new-style tracks represent the T81 single-pin steel skeleton tracks, as seen on the T26E1 and the so-called Super Pershing as used in World War II, as well as on some M26s in Korea. They are cleanly cast and require virtually no clean up. Some holes for the track pins may be slightly clogged, so if using a drill bit to clear them out, use one smaller than the actual hole, so that the track pins, once inserted, will not tend to slip out again during handling. According to Hunnicutt’s Pershing book, there should be 82 links per side

Although some modelers, myself included, originally used the model railroad product called Blacken-It, to finish these tracks, I no longer do so. If not properly neutralized, the acids in this product may eventually cause deterioration of the links. This is especially problematic if the modeler uses this method on the earlier, non-pinned tracks. The crimped connections seem to be especially vulnerable to becoming brittle, and along with their natural weight, often cause the links to become separated.

These days, after first polishing the assembled track run with a wire wheel on a Dremel tooI, I finish the tracks with a mixture of one part Floquil Grimy Black, one part Floquil Rust and one part Floquil Dio-Sol thinner. I pour this mixture into a wide mouth jar, and then dip the fully-assembled track band into it. I then hang it to dry, after getting most of the excess to run back into the dipping jar. This very thin mixture also has the advantage of helping to hold the track pins in place as it will fill the holes around the wires with just enough paint to provide holding power. The tracks are then finally over painted with the earth color of choice, and the contact surfaces are hit again with the wire wheel to give a worn metallic appearance.

NOTHING compares to this!

Highly recommended.

Chesapeake Model Designs is the exclusive North American importer and distributor of Friulmodel products, but will ship worldwide. Note also, that the price of these sets has again dropped down to $30.00 USD as a result of currency fluctuations. Friulmodel products are available from CMD at: www.chesapeakemodels.com. New e-mail address is: bill@chesapeakemodels.com. Telephone/Fax: 410-357-5496.