ARM: Review - Fruil M2/M3/LVTP-7/MRLS Track Sets

Kit Review: Fruilmodel 1/35 scale track sets:
Kit No. ATL-78; M2 Bradley/LVTP-7/MLRS track (early type); 365 parts (180
links in white metal, 180 white metal bolt heads, 4 white metal drive wheels,
and one length of wire); price $30.00
Kit No. ATL-79; M2 Bradley/LVTP-7/MLRS track (late type "Big Foot"); 365 parts
(180 links in white metal, 180 white metal bolt heads, 4 white metal drive
wheels, and one length of wire); price $30.00
Advantages: nicely done metal tracks lend "heft" to a model; fit a number of
vehicles beside those listed
Disadvantages: use of separate bolt heads is novel but will frustrate some
modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all American medium armored vehicle fans
The US Army, like many other countries, finds things it likes and stays with
them over the years. There are some things that do meet the criteria "if it
ain't broke don't fix it."
The Army changed over in the early 1950s to families of vehicles sharing
engines, component parts, and running gear. The earliest of them were the FMC
designed T18 armored personnel carrier and T37 light tank, both of which came
out right at the very beginning of the 1950s. The APC was first to go into
service as the M75, seeing service in Korea in 1953. The tank took longer,
finally being redesigned to produce the M41 light tank, the M42 twin 40mm SP AA
gun, and the M59 APC later in the decade, as well as the M44 and M52 SP
howitzers.
All of them shared the same basic parts: a Continenal air cooled flat 6
engine, transmission and the same 25.5" x 4.5" road wheels and T91E3 tracks.
These were single-pin live tracks with a triangular rubber pad in the center
that could be replaced without replacing the entire track link. They had a
width overall of 21" and a pitch of 6".
These tracks served well over the years, and a slightly modified design was
used when FMC created the LVTP-7 in the late 1960s, as well as with the same
company's use of them and parts from the LVTP-7 when creating the M2/M3 Bradley
family of fighting vehicles in 1976. These tracks, obviously a favorite of the
FMC design teams, worked well and were a good match with vehicles in the 25-30
ton range.
As a result of lessons learned during Operation Desert Storm, the tracks were
finally redesigned in the late 1990s and a new larger track pad was fitted;
this was formed in the shape of a rectangle with a tab at the wide end of the
link. This is the track currently fitted to the M2/M3 family.
Fruilmodel is now producing sets of both of these tracks, and they will match
up well with the Tamiya Bradley kits, the Academy and Tamiya LVTP-7/AAV-7
series kits, as well as the DML MLRS launcher. However, photos are a good idea
if trying to match vehicles as the changeover period appears to be based on
wearout and not a firm date. Likewise, early model vehicles ? unless you have
photos of one in a current unit ? only used the early style tracks.
These kits both provide the now-standard Fruilmodel system of a length of wire
for pins and metal links with hollow cast hinges. The wire is inserted into the
hinges to join links, a touch of ACC cement, a snip with wire cutters, and off
to the next link. While tedious at first, the system is not that hard to learn,
and some tricks do help. By putting a slight kink in the wire before insertion,
friction will hold the nascent hinge pin in place until cemented down.

(There's another solution: as they are roughly 0.020" size holes, drill them
out with an 0.020" drill and use styrene rod to joint them ? faster and
easier with less hassle.)
Some modelers have complained that this system is not prototypical, as it
leaves a small hole at the end whereas the actual tracks have bolts or nuts
(based on which end you look at.) As a "shut up" for them, Fruilmodel now
includes a matching set of 1/35 scale white metal bolt heads to fill up or seal
the open end of the pin cavity. These are molded laterally to the sprues so
they have to be cemented on flat (you can't "cheat" as with a Grandt Line bolt
head and leave a section of .010" rod from the sprue for mounting in this
case.) They also redefine the term TINY.
Overall, these tracks are nicely done and as far as I know this is the only
set of the new so-called "Big Foot" tracks available for the M2/M3, AAV-7A1
UGS, and MLRS as serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review samples.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
AMPSOne
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Nice to see that current Bradley family tracks are accounted for. Still, I remain puzzled that Friul, AFV Club and Model Kasten have neglected some very prominent vehicles. Nobody does any individual link track for the AMX-13 or AMX-30 French tanks. The -30 is pretty much limited to French, Spanish and Saudi service, but the AMX-13 family was used all over the world for decades. And apart from a weak attempt by Model Cellar, nobody offers single link tracks for the WW1 British tanks. Accurate Armor does strips of resin track for some of these, but this is little improvement over vinyl. All the mentioned kits are re-released every few years, and somebody must be buying them. There are thousands of unbuilt kits stashed away that might be brought out and built if the aftermarket guys would just step up to the plate. While I'm ranting, how is it that nobody has ever done photetch for the M47 Patton? Thus endeth the pontification (my pope hat is now going back in the closet). Gerald Owens
Reply to
GERYO
"GERYO" wrote
Remember, "prominence" means nothing.
1. The kits are about two steps above Renwal. 2. No one's really interested in these kits.
1. The kits are about two steps above Renwal. 2. No one's really interested in these kits.
At this point I'm leery of spending $50 on new tracks and PE for an ancient kit and then seeing a Trumpeter make a new one for $25.
A good point. Try using a M46 set.
It's called a miter.
KL
Reply to
Kurt Laughlin

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