When I got my model tank, the natural course of action was that at the soonest available moment, I would open it and examine the sprues and see what was in store for me. All told, despite some -really- small parts, I was not daunted or even that worried about the assembly of the vehicle until…
…well. The tracks. You see, this particular Dragon Model Panther has individual track links. Which is pretty neat. But I recognized, right away, that I would have the most issues and most time spent trying to get the tracks sorted out.
Indeed, I spent most of the build actively ignoring the fact that I would someday need to work on them. However, the time has arrived where I can no longer disregard their existence. With grim determination I began to paint them on the sprue, as I have already figured out that trying to paint them individually by hand, would correspond with a regional increase in homicides and generally violent crime.
Joking aside, I set about the task and accomplished to my satisfaction. In order to paint the links, I decided to go with a mix of the following colours:
Tamiya Matte Black
A small amount Tamiya Red-Brown
Model Master Metallic Steel
I thus created a very dark grey colour for the tracks with just a little (tiny) bit of metal shine and sparkle. Overall, I’m pleased with the effect that this, a black wash, and metallic steel highlights on the segments has produced.
So far, so good, yes?
One would think so. However, painting the segments, sanding the edges and touching them up was pretty time consuming. Like… surprisingly time consuming. Keeping track of them also was surprisingly tedious. The little piles I made seemed to get mixed up despite my efforts to avoid precisely this. And then one comes to the point where they must actually assemble the track links into a coherent whole. On the drive sprocket, this is relatively simple, but getting the angles for the wheels has been a painstaking process. I found it helped to glue two together and adjust their angle bit by bit. On longer sections of the track (the side in contact with the ground, for instance, I’ve found that connecting multiple sections together and forming a longer chain has been useful, but it’s still very time consuming to do and even in its own way, exhausting because of the tedium of placing a track link, making sure it’s more or less even and adjusting the heck out of it until it is, just to repeat it. Over and over again.
Now, for all my griping, there are some advantages I found as I considered a few things. First off, the overlapping wheel suspension the Germans created may not have been the most practical in extremely muddy environments during the war, but when applying track segments, the large surface area is a godsend for setting them down without a massive headache.. Next, I’m overall rather pleased with the effect the individual track segments provides, making the tracks feel… more authentic (I suppose that’s the word I’m looking for). What I mean by this is that on looking at tanks with one or two piece tracks as opposed to those that do not, there is usually a very clear difference in the level of detail one can put in. Not always, but frequently (there are some extremely skilled model-builders out there that could make anything look jaw-dropping amazing) it stands out to my eye.
If I were to state my biggest gripe is simply how much effort is put into trying to keep the segments consistently linked and placing them. It makes me yearn for a model upgrade kit of metal track that I could link together. Despite the painstaking nature of doing this, placing the track once they’re all linked is significantly easier by all appearances (provided you get the right scale and a kit for the right model). The only downside I can see is making sure they’re all painted before linking them and the cost normally associated with such (marvelous) detail sets, easily costing 1/2 to 2/3rds of the cost of the model itself. For my first model, I figured this would not be a good route to go, if I somehow ruined things.
Here’s some progress shots of the tank:
Thank you and I hope to show you all the finished product soon!