Trumpeter U.S. T156 Track Links

Jakko

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This is a set of tracks for the Korean K1 and the American M1 and M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. This type of track was used on the M1 until the mid-90s, after which it was replaced by the T158 with flat rubber blocks without the profile of the T156. This set was released about ten years ago, but a review is never late, is it? :smiling3:

The packaging is done well: a simple but sturdy box with a picture of the tracks and one of the tanks they’re suitable for. On the back are the assembly instructions, but you need to get the box open first, of course. Because that went a little differently than I had expected, here’s a photo:

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The printed outside is a sleeve around the actual box, so you need to push it out of that. Inside the box, everything is neatly packaged:

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Two compartments, each with a plastic bag holding eleven sprues. Those look like this:

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That’s the front and back, not two different sprues. Note that the end connectors are on the side of the sprue, which sits above it a little so that holes could be moulded right through the connectors.

The sprue contains all parts needed for eight links, so in all that gives 8 × 22 = 176 links in the box. According to Trumpeter, 82 to 84 links are needed per side, but no indication of whether this is for the M1 Abrams or the K1; the real M1 apparently has 76 links per side (152 per tank). The set therefore should contain enough links to take care of a little breakage and/or to hang from a model as spare track. Especially when you realise that all the tanks that these tracks are for, have large skirts over the tracks, you don’t even have to build the full tracks and so probably only need perhaps two-thirds of a set for a model.

The plastic feels hard, smooth and a little oily, not like polystyrene — but the packaging claims it is. A little test with a few bits of sprue shows that you can just glue these together, so the links are made from normal modelling plastic. In other words: you can build the track and then glue the links together if you don’t want to run the risk of it coming apart later on.

Every link consists of six parts: the blocks, two side plates, the guide tooth in the middle and two end connectors. The easiest way I’ve found so far to put them together is to cut the blocks and guide teeth from the sprue and clean them up, but leave the other parts on the sprue for now. Take care not to bend the pins at the ends of the blocks, as that can be easy to do accidentally.

After that, you can take a block and stick it into one of the side plates while that’s still on the sprue, and only then cut the plate loose with sharp cutters; repeat with the other side and the remaining links. If you do this right, you can cut just beside the plate so it doesn’t need any more cleanup. Do note that the pins don’t always fit through the holes easily, but turning the block over or trying a different plate usually works. The reason for the separate side plates is because they have three holes, so one between the pens, that could not be easily moulded directly into the blocks.

The guide teeth are a bit difficult to clip onto the links, largely because they’re difficult to hold as you try to get them on; it’s probably a matter of finding the right technique, I think. Just make sure to put all of them on the same side of the blocks. After that, you can clip the blocks together using the free side of the tooth. This is easiest to do by putting them face down and then just pressing them together.

The end connectors are exactly far enough apart on the sprue that you could, in theory, take a length of track and slide it into the connectors while they’re still on the sprue — just like the M48 and M60 tracks by AFV Club. However, unlike those, this is only barely doable with this set because the fit of the pins into the connectors is very tight. After a few attempts, I decided to cut the sprue between every connector, so each had a small bit of sprue attached that I could use as a handle to slide the connector over the pins. The side of the connector with the bolt should go on the inside, that with the oval depression on the outside.

Here’s a block, a block with side plates and two links with end connectors on one side:

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As you can see, in principle the end connectors fit fine while they’re still attached to the sprue. The point is that it costs so much trouble to slide them on that it’s not practicable to do this with larger lengths of track.

All eight links from one sprue:

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And around the drive sprocket of a Tamiya M1A1:

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After having assembled this bit, even though putting them together is a bit of work, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these tracks.
 

Allen Dewire

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Thanks for the review Jakko,

The tracks do seem to be a bit of work and care must be taken to get them together, but the end result on the sprocket looks good!!! I know you can get Trumpeter tracks pretty cheap too, on evilbay. I'm sure builders of modern era armor will find this review useful…...
 
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