As we all know, the Panther tank in its many variations is perhaps the most kited and built AFV model with the possible exception of the Tiger I or Sherman. However, until Dragon began producing their Magic Tracks, none of the kits came with correct tracks, the most obvious omission being the open guide horn. To get accurate tracks, it was necessary to use Modelkasten or Friulmodel sets, which often cost more than the original kits. Recently these aftermarket sets have been joined by several resin companies, but again the cost is a major factor. Even more recently has been the development of the Dragon DS rubber band tracks, which have the advantage of having the open guide horns as well as not having to fight the individual link assembly, not to mention being inexpensive. Now Bronco has given us an aftermarket workable track set that comes in at about half the cost of everything except the DS tracks, which DML is offering separately, but they are hard to find in my experience. Ironically DML is also offering Magic Tracks separately, but the cost is almost the same as the expensive aftermarket sets.
The kit comes in a farily small box with instructions on the back. The box contains two bags, each with 8 sprues containing 12 links each. The two bags are significant because the tracks are handed, meaning you get right hand tracks and left hand tracks. The only difference is the track pin, but this does matter to some. This is the first advantage you will find over Magic Tracks, which are generic. That makes a total of 96 each, and the box says 86 are needed for a run, so you will have extras for spare track hanging.
- Front box art.
- Link with cast rectangles.
- Link with cast numbers.
- Track run around DML sprocket.
The casting is very good, I had to look very closely to find any flash, and then only very occasionally on some of the links. Each link has 4 sprue attachment points and NO ejector pin marks. The open guide horns were apparently accomplished via slide molding, and there are faint traces of the slide points. These are not as pronounced as on the Magic Tracks, but still visible to close inspection. When I say slight, depending on your level of AMS you could just ignore this and probably few people would notice.
One thing I found interesting when looking over the face (road contact side) of the links is that there are actually 3 different links molded on the sprues. One is plane, with no markings, one has two rectangular markings on each of the outmost faces, and the third has tiny casting numbers clearly readable.
Another nice touch is seen on the face of the guide horns, where a nice cast texture can be found inside the ware points.
I compared the links with the 1/35 plans in Panzer Tracks No.5-3 and they are spot on. I then compared them to a Magic Track link from the DML Panther G (6268) and a set of Modelkasten late Panther tracks (I don’t currently have any Friulmodel links on hand). The Bronco links are just slightly wider, though not really noticeable, they do match the Panzer Tracks drawings better.
I know many people are put off by all the work necessary with link to link tracks so when considering assembly, I tried to think of ease and quickness. Therefore, when detaching the links from the sprues, I tried just bending back and forth at the sprue attachment. Some may shudder at this, but actually it worked well on one side of the link, and almost on the other. The concave nature of Panther tracks don’t lend themselves well to close clipping with sprue cutters. I then cleaned up where necessary with a #11 xacto blade. The results would probably not be noticeable except to the most critical eye once assembled and painted and weathered.
These are click together links and once detached from the sprues they simply snap together. The pins are not the usual pins you find on many clip together resin sits, but shorter and more rounded. This is significant because in the initial batch I assembled, none of the pins broke or were damaged. Therefore, these links can be quickly put together without needing to bend or tweak the links, and no more that usual care is needed. I found it worked best to insert one end, then turn the link being inserted so that the guide horns touched the receving links guide horns, then the remaining pin easily slids into its hole. The result is a robust set that articulates well, though is somewhat stiffer that a set of ModelKasten or Friulmodel links. You may need to position any sag your after, but they will freely accept, and stay, in any position you would need.
As for time involved, I detached, cleaned and assembled one track run (86 links per the box top) in under an hour. However, as the run grew I could see it was taking a definite outward curl. With the whole run assembled your looking at about almost 1.5 inches of curl. Being click together track, it may be hard to straighten this when adding to the model. I am currently quickly assembling a Panther suspension to test fit to.
Fit to Kit
Besides the track curl I also found problems with the drive sprockets. I test fitted using a drive sprocket from the above mentioned DML Panther kit, and a sprocket form the Italeri BergPanther kit. Unfortunately I did not have any Tamiya sprockets available. There are two problems, width of the drive wheel holes, and pitch of the sprocket teeth to track holes.
Track sprocket holes: While the tracks fit on the Italeri sprockets that was not the case for the DML sprocket. The sprocket teeth holes are just like those on the Magic Track, which are too narrow (or the kit drive sprocket teeth too wide) to allow the links to sit down flush on the drive sprocket.
Pitch: With both sprockets, the pitch (tooth to hole) was just slightly off, so that with a run around the sprocket, there was left a slight pucker.
These issues would need to be addressed by changing the sprocket teeth slightly, or perhaps finding some aftermarket sprockets that would work. I chose to file the sprocket because I like to attach the sprockets so that they rotate (making installing the tracks easier), and add the tracks after everything is painted and weathered. Therefore it can be difficult to know where the “corrected” links would end up.
These links are very accurate, exceptionally well cast, workable, robust and easy to assemble. Nothing assembles easier unless you go with a set of the DML DS rubber band tracks. The down side comes with the fit issues of curl, and drive sprockets. At the time of writing this review, I still have not actually got them on a kit. At half the cost of most any aftermarket tracks, these are very nice looking tracks, if they can be made to fit on an actual kit, they will be well worth the cost.
I have no affiliation with Bronco, DML, or for that matter any manufacturer. Review sample thanks to my debit card.