|Fruil Model Challenger 1 individual link tracks|
Fruil Model Challenger 1 individual link tracks
Review by Dan Hay
Fruil Model of Hungary have recently released a set of cast white metal individual link tracks for the Challenger 1 main battle tank in 1:35 scale. The tracks are appropriate for use on a Challenger 1 gun tank or ARRV. To the best of my knowledge the design of the tracks did not change over the lifetime of the Challenger 1 and its derivatives.
The set (ATL-81) is intended for use with the Tamiya Challenger 1 injection molded model kit. The Tamiya offering is currently the only 1:35 scale model of this vehicle and it is worth noting that the Accurate Armour ARRV conversion uses the Tamiya chassis as a base. This Fruil track set is long overdue (in my humble opinion) as the Tamiya vinyl tracks are the only real short coming of an otherwise nice kit.
The tracks are neatly packaged in the usual small white cardboard box with the individual links in separate bags (for the left and right track run I presume). The box also contains several coils of malleable wire (that will be used to join the track links) and a set of general assembly instructions.
The tracks are cleanly cast with few blemishes or imperfections noticeable. The links have good detail cast on both sides and it does not appear that there is a separate left or right handed link. Each track has a connecting pin bolt on its right side while the left side is left open to allow the supplied wire to be fitted.
The links require a little cleanup (flash is minimal) with the drilling of the connecting rod bore being the major task involved. I cleaned the connecting bores using a pin vice with a #73 drill bit as I found the .5 mm drill bit recommended in the instructions made for a very tight fit of the supplied wire. I chose the #73 drill bit by employing the tried and true method of trial and error. Once the links were cleaned up I was able to very quickly dry fit a short run of track (see figure 3).
To test the fit of the links with the kit drive sprocket, I wrapped the dry fitted run of track around the Tamiya Challenger 1 drive sprocket. The fit of Fruil tracks [on the kit drive sprocket] seems to be very good and doesn't differ much from the fit of the Tamiya vinyl tracks on the sprocket (see figure 5).
In a side by side comparison with the Tamiya vinyl tracks, it is my opinion that the Fruil tracks are more detailed (particularly with the link articulation detail which is completely lacking on the Tamiya tracks) and the molding quality is cleaner and more consistent than the vinyl kit tracks. I own several Tamiya Challenger 1 kits and most of the supplied vinyl tracks are borderline unusable due to excessive and impossible to remove flash (I haven't figured out how to clean up soft vinyl tracks) or deformed links (the malformed links are visible in figure 6). The Fruil tracks do not feature the prominent and impossible to remove (by me at least) mold seam that are common to all of the Tamiya tracks I own.
Cleanup and assembly of the links was very straight forward. I was able to completely assemble one full track run in approximately 2-3 hours. I test fit the completed track to the kit chassis and was extremely satisfied with the results. The Fruil tracks fit the kit perfectly and they look fantastic (a huge improvement over the rubber band tracks). If one wishes to model the Challenger 1 with the side skirts removed then replicating realistic track sag will be a non-issue if and only if this lovely Fruil track set is used.
I would strongly recommend this track set as I feel it is extremely well done. This new Fruil track set represents a great improvement over the kit supplied vinyl tracks.