Media: injection moulded plastic
Reviewed by Kenneth Østergaard
It seems as if the Leopard 1 tank is a hot issue at the moment. We keep getting new models, conversion and update sets, photo-etch and barrel offerings and now, of course, some replacement tracks. If you can afford it, it is not difficult to build a 100+ euro model of this Cold War icon.
The latest offering is a set of replacement tracks from Meng Models. The tracks are the later and most common type, the Diehl D640A tracks. There are already seven other offerings for these tracks. The eldest are plastic individual links from Hong Kong Creative Workshop, white metal offerings from Space Ace (2 alternatives) and FruilModel (2 alternatives), resin link-n-length tracks from Perfect Scale Modellbau and finally, the recent Orochi offering. In my view, the Orochi track holds the high ground up until now.
The rather small box contains three bags of pre-cut parts, plus one with a more familiar sprue. The pre-cut bags contain the guide horns moulded with track pins and connectors as one piece, the outer half of the track pads are in the second bag, and the third bag has the inner parts. The pre-cut parts do relieve the modeller of a lot of trimming, but there is a small amount of flash on some parts. However, they are pretty much ready to use as they are. The sprue contains 24 snow grousers (a first) and an assembly jig. For one, I find it a plus that you do not have to spend an enormous amount of time cutting and preparing the endless number of parts before you can assemble the tracks.
This set is assembled without any glue, which I find is a nice innovation.
Keep on doing this until you have a complete track x2. In the beginning it is a bit cumbersome, but one quickly gets the hang of it, and it is actually a quick build in the end.
The general layout seems to be accurate when compared to pictures of a real Leopard 1 tank.
The level of detail is high. The 'shoe' that the rubber pads are placed in is very accurately depicted.
Any Leopard 1 tanker will immediately identify every part, and you have the feeling that you would actually be able to change the rubber pads.
The guide horns are equally well detailed with a very well-moulded nut to assemble the two half parts. The connectors are also well detailed. However, I am left with an impression that the guide horns and end connectors are a little too small though, but it might just be me. All in all, I am very happy with the level of accuracy and detail in this kit.
The instructions suggest that the snow grousers are fitted only to the outside edge of the track. They are designed to replace every eighth or ninth shoe on EITHER side of the individual track. I have photos of them fitted side by side on a Norwegian tank, so there are no real world rules. Check your references.
For the price (mine were € 8 plus P&P), I would recommend this set. You get a truly workable set of Leopard 1 tracks that are fairly easy to assemble with little work needed. They have a high degree of accuracy and detail, too. They fit the drive sprocket of the Meng/Takom models perfectly, but need some adjustment with Italeri/Revell models.
The big question however, is are they better than Orochi's offer? I am really split between them. Much of this is probably that they have to be assembled in a way that I am not accustomed to. This makes it more cumbersome, which naturally is not Meng's fault. Orochi's guide horns and connectors have a more familiar size. However, as I have never measured them I can't tell which one is correct. All in all, I have decided to recommend both sets equally. I can't honestly tell which one is better.
I've just found a big problem with the Meng tracks. I was adding a wash using oils mixed with white spirit and the track-pins started to break up. This was after a protective coat of gloss as well. The white spirit must get into the joints (where the varnish can't reach) which weakens the pins.
So don't use white spirit! Use water-based washes for weathering.I don't want to put anyone off these tracks as - in my personal opinion - they are the best ones on the market. Just be warned please!
Todd Michalak has come up with a good solution.